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THE LAST JUDGMENT.
According to the prophet Joel, mankind shall here appear some day before the supreme Judge. “I will gather all nations, and will bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and plead with them there."
I had brought with me Massillon's Sermon on the Last Judgment : imagine, if you can, what conflicting feelings and emotions seized my soul, when, seated on a solitary rock in that valley, the genuine region of death, and full of the thought of the dreadful day of retribution and punishment, I read the following words :
What a change of scene in the world ! Then will all scandals be removed from the kingdom of Christ, and the righteous, completely separated from the sinners, will form a chosen nation, a holy race, the church of the firstborn, whose names will be written in heaven; then will the commerce with the wicked, inevitable upon earth, no longer cause the faith of the just to mourn, and their innocence to tremble; then, their lot having nothing farther in common with that of the infidels and the hypocrites, the righteous will not be constrained to be witnesses of the crimes of the wicked, or ministers of their passions ; then, all the bands of society, of authority, or of dependence, which attached them here below to the impious and the worldling, being dissolved, they will no longer say with the prophet : O Lord, why prolongest thou our exile and our abode here? our souls
sorrow at the sight of the crimes and the iniquity of which the earth is full. — Then will their tears be changed into joy, and their lamentations to thanksgiving; they will pass to the right like the sheep, and the left will be for the goats, for the wicked.
THE LAST JUDGMENT.
“The world being thus arranged, all the nations of the earth thus separated, each motionless on the spot which shall have been allotted to them; surprise, terror, despair, confusion, painted in the face of the one; in that of the other, joy, serenity, confidence; the eyes of the righteous uplifted towards the Son of Man, from whom they expect their deliverance; those of the wicked, fixed in a frightful manner upon the ground, and almost piercing the abysses with their looks, as if to mark already the place that is destined for them : the King of Glory, says the Gospel, placed between the two masses, will advance, and turning towards those on his right, he shall say, with a look full of benignity and majesty, capable of itself to console them for all their past afflictions :
Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ... The wicked have ever considered you as the refuse, the most useless part of the world ; let them now learn that the world subsisted for your sake only, that all things were made for you, and that the end of all things is come now, that your number is completed. Leave at length that earth where ye have ever been but strangers and travellers; follow me in the ways of my glory and my felicity, as ye have followed me in those of my humiliations and my sufferings. Your toils have lasted but for a moment; the happiness which ye are about to enjoy shall never end.'
“Then, turning to the left, with wrath in his eyes, darting hither and thither looks terrible as avenging lightnings on the multitude of the wicked, with a voice, says the prophet, which shall rend asunder the bowels of
THE BROOK CEDRON.
the abyss to swallow them up, he will say : 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels! Ye were the elect of the world, ye are the accursed of my Father. Your pleasures have been rapid and transient; your torments shall be eternal.'
“ Then will the righteous, caught up into the air with the Son of Man, begin to sing this heavenly song: Thou art rich in mercy, O Lord, and thou hast crowned thy gifts! .... Then will the wicked curse the author of their being, and the fatal day which gave them birth ; or rather they will be filled with fury against themselves, as the authors of their own misery and ruin: the abysses will open, the skies will descend. The wicked, says the Gospel, shall go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to life eternal.”
At this place, my friend, the book dropped from my hand; my agitated spirit was no longer master of itself: I heard the awful trump; the graves around me opened before my face; I saw phantoms, confused shapes, issuing from them. My blood curdled in my veins. I felt ready to faint at the thought of that abode of happiness to which the righteous were about to be called, of that place of horror into which the wicked would be hurled. Covering my face with both hands, I exclaimed, in consternation: O, my soul, what shall be thy lot?
The brook Cedron, I have already told you, runs through the valley of Jehoshaphat; it is about twenty paces from the garden of Gethsemane. David crossed it when pursued by Absalom: it is most celebrated on account of our Lord's passion. Several writers have asserted that at certain times its water is of a reddish colour; I can
CHURCH OF THE VIRGIN MARY.
affirm that such is not the fact. Never was there so wet a year as this: for six successive days the rain fell in torrents ; nevertheless, I have always found the brook so dry, that I should scarcely have been able to wash my hands in it. I have been assured that in several places the water has been turned off for the purpose of being conducted into reservoirs.
The Church of the Virgin Mary, opposite to the garden of Gethsemane, and by the side of the grotto of the Agony, is itself an immense grotto, a work of extraordinary labour, inasmuch as it has been hewn out of the rock: it is indisputably one of the most considerable works executed by the inhabitants of Palestine and Asia Minor. You descend to it by a magnificent flight of steps, fifteen feet wide; these steps, fifty in number, are of marble. At bottom is the tomb of the Virgin, in a small chapel, where a great quantity of silver and golden lamps are kept burning, night and day. A dome rises above the altar, at which mass is performed.
Nearly in the middle, on the left, is the tomb of Joseph; on the right, are those of Joachim and Anna.
This church belonged formerly to the Latins; it is now the joint property of the Greeks and the Armenians; and M. de Chateaubriand is mistaken when he says that the Catholics “ are in possession of Mary's tomb.”
About a hundred paces from this tomb, and not far from Gethsemane, is the spot where, notwithstanding the uncertainty of the traditions on this subject, the Christians of the East maintain that the wonders of the Assumption of the mother of Jesus took place.
From this spot you begin to ascend the Mount of
MOUNT OF OLIVES.
Olives, which is very steep. Nothing can exceed the surprise which you feel when, having reached mid-way, on turning about you perceive Jerusalem before you. It no longer appears to be that ruined city, whose filthy, narrow, and crooked streets make such a profound and disagreeable impression upon strangers. The tower of David; the cupolas of the church of the Holy Sepulchre; the mosque of Omar, built in the centre of the space, where of old stood the temple of Solomon; the houses which surround it; that multitude of minarets; the convents of St. Saviour, of the Greeks, and of the Armenians; those embattled walls that encompass the city; the Gilded Gate; the gate of St. Stephen; those forsaken churches, the ruins of which distance prevents the eye from discerning-all these impart to the holy city an aspect of grandeur and magnificence which strike the pilgrim and long rivet his gaze.
From the summit of the mount, directing your steps to the left, you pass through a field of olives, and then arrive at considerable remains of buildings known by the name of Viri Galilæi, As these are the first words addressed by the angels to the disciples who witnessed the ascension of our Saviour, when they asked them,
why stand ye gazing up into heaven ?” (Acts, i. 9) several have conjectured that this was the spot where Mary, the Apostles, and the one hundred and twenty disciples, beheld our Lord ascend to heaven. Others assert that the appellation given to these remains is derived from the circumstance that, before the time of Jesus Christ, they were the resort of the Galileans who came to Jerusalem to hold the Passover. What gives