« ForrigeFortsæt »
mingling with those which his ineffable charity caused him to shed, as though I had been one of the happy witnesses who had come with Mary.
And, as if the words, “ Come and see,” had been addressed to me, too, I felt impelled, in my turn, to approach the tomb, and to look closely at it, to gather from it the awful and wholesome lessons that are given by death. Then, having come to this remarkable circumstance, recorded by the evangelist :-“And some of them (the Jews) said, Could not this man which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died ?” — I could not help sighing, on recognizing in it a language, alas! too common in the world which I have quitted; that language of human pride, which foolishly deems its paltry wisdom wiser than the divine wisdom !
How, my friend, shall I describe to you the effect produced in me by the all-powerful words which raised Lazarus from his sepulchre, and restored him alive to his disconsolate family!
“He (Jesus) cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth bound hand and foot with grave-clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him and let him go.”
Ah! my dear Charles, know you not that he who writes these lines was another Lazarus, whom the same all-powerful voice had called forth from another tomb ? And could there be a place that more strongly reminded his gratitude of the miracle of mercy by which his bonds were loosed and he was restored to a new life?
Having finished reading, and passed a few moments in meditation on the grave thoughts to which it gave rise, I began to descend. At the foot of the twentyfourth step, you come to a sort of vestibule, where stands an altar of stone, at which the Franciscan Fathers perform mass twice a year. You are obliged to stoop in descending the last six steps, after which, you find yourself in a grotto, about twenty feet long and five wide, to the left of which you see a vaulted cell : here it was that Lazarus was deposited, and that he remained four days after he was buried.
The house of Martha and Mary was at a considerable distance from the tomb of their brother. My dragoman conducted me to the spot where it is said to have stood ; I could not discover there any other vestige of a dwelling than a ruined wall.
Thence I went to see the stone, where, according to tradition, Christ rested before he entered Bethany, when Martha, apprized of his coming, went forth to meet him. This stone is about three feet long and two wide ; it is of granite. Around it have been placed stones of less size, which serve to cause it to be remarked. The pilgrims repair to this stone, before which they kneel and pray. To prevent the injuries which their pious thefts might occasion, they are forbidden, upon pain of excommunication, to break off fragments, by means of a hammer or any other implement; but they are allowed to pick off little bits, if they can, with their nails.
On my return to Jerusalem, I passed through Bethphage, formerly a small village, the fertile fields of which subsisted part of the animals, principally lambs, destined
DEATH OF JUDAS.
for sacrifices. A few wretched huts only are left. It was from this place that Jesus sent two of his disciples to a neighbouring village, to fetch the ass on which he rode at the time of his triumphant entry into Jerusalem ; thus fulfilling the prophecy made several centuries before by Zachariah to the Jewish nation : "Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold thy king cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass,” &c.
At some distance from Bethphage, I saw the spot rendered for ever horrible by the death of Judas. The remembrance of this victim of despair, who sold his master for a few pieces of money, which remorse would not allow him to enjoy, produced a most painful impression upon my soul.
The day was dull and gloomy, and served to increase the sadness and the melancholy that oppressed my heart. Seized with an inward shudder, I had scarcely courage and strength to approach this theatre of the divine vengeance;
I seated myself a few paces off, on a detached rock. Assailed by a thousand painful thoughts, I felt a desire to be alone. I ordered my dragoman to return, and continued to meditate. My reflections dwelt with inexpressible horror on the awful fate of those sinners, whom the Scripture speaks of, and into whose mouths it puts these words of anguish : “ Our transgressions and our crimes are upon us; they dry us up: how can we live ? ” — of those great culprits, whom remorse pursues and tortures, and who fancy that they are escaping from it by rushing with blind fury into the presence of divine justice.
And then my soul was led gently back to infinite
RETURN TO JERUSALEM.
mercy. Oh ! how kind is that Jesus, who wishes that the most guilty, as well as the most righteous, of his children, shall retain and practise hope; who, persecuted, betrayed, delivered up to his enemies, still desires to be himself the hope of the persecutors and the traitors ; who declares that he has always his eyes open upon those who hope in him; that he will be their helper, their protector ; that he will heal them; that he will save them; that, in short, the only sin not to be forgiven is, not to apply for his mercy, or to say with Cain : “My crime is too great for me to obtain pardon.”
Meanwhile, night approached : I was afraid that I should not have time to get back to Jerusalem. I had to descend a very steep part of the Mount of Olives; then to cross the valley of Jehoshaphat; and afterwards, to ascend the steepest side of the hill on which St. Stephen was stoned.
The Turkish tombs which were before me, and among which, a few moments before, I had perceived some women, were all at once deserted. It came into my mind, that the chiefs of some of the Bedouin tribes, in the vicinity of Jordan, had been summoned to appear that very day before the governor, as being accused of a hostile disposition towards the Egyptians. I was not without apprehension, when at that very moment I discerned, behind heaps of stones, points of lances, which glistened in the twilight; and presently several Bedouins descended the hill at full trot. They had seen me.
I repented, I must confess, having staid there alone. To get out of the scrape, I had no other resource than to put on a bold look: I went straight up to them. The first
RETURN TO JERUSALEM.
that I came to stopped before me, eyeing me stedfastly. I saluted him, by laying my hand on my heart, and repeated the same gesture to the others. They passed on without saying a single word, without even asking me for tobacco, a thing which they never forget when they meet a Frank. My dress indicated nothing that could tempt them. An enormous straw hat, a shabby white robe, a black threadbare scapulary, were no doubt thought by them not to bespeak a wealthy pilgrim; and to this air of poverty I was probably indebted for the favour of returning safe and sound to Jerusalem.
The gates were just going to be shut: a few minutes later and I must have passed the night outside, without a shelter, which, in a country like this, is never without danger.
Farewell, my friend. Unless unforeseen obstacles derange my plans, I shall as soon as possible make an excursion to the Jordan and the Dead Sea, of which my next letter shall give you an account.
EXCURSION TO THE JORDAN AND THE Dead Sea — TRAVELLING Com.
PANIONS-PRECAUTION FOR THE SAFETY OP THE CARAVAN-BEDOUIN ESCORT - ARABIAN HOUSES — PROVISIONS STOLEN - JERICHO—The AGA AND HIS SUPERB Horse — ELISHA's FOUNTAIN — MOUNTAIN WHERE OUR SAVIOUR PASSED PORTY DAYS IN FASTING AND PRAYER
-RUINS OF JERICHO - The JORDAN - THE DEAD SEA — SALTSTATUE OP Lot's WIFE - RETURN TO JERUSALEM – NIGHT SPENT AT THE GATE OF THE City.
Jerusalem, March 28th, 1832. I have succeeded, my dear friend, in executing the plan which I mentioned to you at the end of my last letter. I have visited the Jordan as well as the Dead Sea,