Imatges de pÓgina

date than this, without previously determining the precise year of the memorable events, and making an astronomical calculation of the lunar changes in that year.

We will now devote a few pages to the Geography and Natural History of the Holy Land.

Palestine is situated in the south-western extremity of Asia. Its boundaries varied at different times; but, in its greatest extent, it had Syria on the north, Syria and Arabia Deserta on the east, Arabia on the south, and the Mediterranean Sea on the west.

Its extreme length was about 180 miles, its extreme breadth about 80, and its greatest number of inhabitants was about 3,000,000.* It is described in many passages of the Old Testament, as a land of mountains, and this, as a general description, is sufficiently accurate. Froin Lebanon in the northern extremity of the land, came forth two parallel chains of mountains, running from north to south, one on each side of the Jordan, and stretching out into many different branches. Here and there are the chains broken 'by plains and spacious vallies; and, after they have traversed the whole extent of Palestine, “they both unite with the mountains of Horeb and Sinai. As you go from Joppa," on the shore of the Mediterranean, “ to the interior, the whole region is diversified with hills and the richest and most beautiful vales.-In the southern part of the country, the hills are of middling height, are uneven, and of irregular form. The hills nearest to Jerusalem are composed in great measure of chalk-stone, which is very much like the flint-stone, and has a white color, or rather, fades into a whitish yellow. Farther still in the interior, towards the Dead Sea, the hills are of a looser species of the chalk or lime rock, which is partly white and partly grey, through the substance of which are scattered in separate strata, red glistening stones. Near Jericho, the hills are barren and unfruitful, and the vales are desert, without buildings, without plants, full of quartz stones. In the northern half of the country, the mountains present a more pleasing appearance ; they are not so high as those in the southern half, are more like hills, and are covered with plants and trees. The vales are productive and frequently abound with gardens of fruit. The interior of the whole country presents an extended, in great part, fruitful valley. Through this valley the Jordan, the only important

The size of Palestine then, appears to he less than that of Massachusetts. That its number of inhabitants has been estimated much greater, I do not deny. Very little dependence can be placed on the ancient enrolments of citizens. Rosenmuller says, that the land of Canaan could not well contain more than 3,000,000 inhabitants. See pp. 243—247 of his Alterthumsknund, vol. 2, part 1.

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stream in Palestine, flows; and then loses itself in the great Salt Sea, at the southern extremity of the land. The western declivities of the hills, towards the Mediterranean, contain many ample fields, which are, however, by no means so fertile as the fields near the Jordan. The western part of the country is almost altogether without à river, and in summer without even a brook ; but in winter one finds some streams from the woods. Yet even in this part, the soil is black and rich, and brings forth an abundance of corn and vegetables, when the winter rains do not fail."

This is the face of the land now; but before the inhabitants were bowed down under the yoke of the oppressor,

when they furrowed their fields and planted their vines, the soil was doubtless far more prolific than now, and the scenery more charming. Then, doubtless, it was the land of beauty, as well as of interest ; of attractions for the richness of its soil, as well as for the grandeur of the events which transpired upon it.

As the surface of the country was very uneven and unequally exposed to the sea, it may readily be perceived that the temperature of the climate differed in different sections. Josephus remarks, that at Jericho, in the southern part of the land, "the winter was so moderate, and the air so mild and pleasant, that the inbabitants clothed themselves in linen garments, on the very day when it was snowing in other parts of Judea. Van der Vyenburg and Heyman, when at Jericho, found the heat very troublesome, and heard that, on the year before their visit, the heat, at the festival of Easter, which occurred in March, had proved fatal there to many persons. On the contrary, at Safet in Galilee, which is not many miles north of Jericho, but which has a much greater elevation, these travellers found the air fresh and cold; and though in the surrounding countries the heat was intense, it was felt here scarcely at all. Many difficulties in our scriptural reading may be removed, by considering this unevenness of temperature in the climate of Palestine.

As the country lay between latitudes 31° and 33° 35', the inhabitants must have been far more sensible to cold than in the more northern latitudes. Travellers from the north of Europe even, have found that they needed less clothing in their own countries, than in Palestine; for, though they did not find the mercury in Palestine to fall below 40 or 16 degrees during the severest months, yet they had become so tender, by residing on these sunny plains, as to shudder at such moderate cold. On a summer's day, the atmosphere is generally clear and the heaven unclouded; and the inhabitants suffer much from the intenseness of the heat, especially in those parts where all the brooks are dried, and water is scarce. But after the sun has gone down, such a heavy dew falls, powerful almost as rain, that often men are as badly affected by the cold “ drops of the night," as by the “ drought of summer."

* Rosenmulleri Alterthumskund, vol. 2, pp. 98-100, part 1. I have preferred to translate the words of this distinguished writer, rather than give my own opinion on a subject so variously represented by different men.

+ Rosenmulleri Alterthumskund, Vol. 2, Part 1, Pages 223, 224.

It is interesting to inquire, what was the state of the season during the memorable months of April, May and June, 1800 years ago.

In the middle of February the winter begins to relent, and between this time and the end of March, the thermometer rises from 44 degrees to about 60. March is the forerunner of spring; the latter rains however do not cease falling until the middle of April; then is the season delightful, the sky very clear, the air pure, the heat generally from 60 to 66 degrees of Fahrenheit. During the week of the crucifixion, the temperature was probably from 70 to 74 degrees ; summer had just dawned ; " the pastures were clothed with flocks; the valleys were covered with corn." The almond and the orange trees were loaded with their ripe fruits : the rice and wheat and barley were just ready to be gathered. As the Saviour was journeying around the country, during the weeks before his crucifixion, he beheld in March the fig tree putting forth her figs, and the apple and palm trees blossoming ; in April the grass waving high in the fields, and the corn just ripening. As he went from place to place after his crucifixion, the apples and figs and dates were hanging ripe on the trees, and the harvest-men were busy by day in gathering into their barns, and by night were resting themselves on the tops of their houses. He walked about under a bright sun, and amid the heat of the day enjoyed the refreshing breezes of the west.

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Concluded from page 226.

5. In the fifth place, the history of Judas shows us the wonderful energy of conscience. It does not appear from the narrative, that he had been the subject of great remorse during the time that he was forming the murderous plan ; though from what passed afterwards, it is probable that he had many twinges of compunction at every stage of his horrid work; but if it were so, he contrived to resist and overpower it. Be that as it might, it is certain that conscience awoke to the faithful discharge of his office, as soon as the deed was done. It forced itself upon her view in all its blackness, and all its malignity; and the never-dying worm gnawed so fiercely, that the agony seemed intolerable; and forthwith he went out and hung himself. “I have betrayed innocent blood," said he; and the voice of that blood, though it was not yet shed, seemed to cry to heaven for vengeance against him; and he hurried down to hell, because he dared not to stay upon the earth. The thirty pieces of silver which had been counted out to him, and the sound of which doubtless was music to his ear, now weighed like a mountain upon his soul; and he felt like Cain, and with no less reason than he, that his burden was greater than he could bear.

Who needs be told that what Judas suffered on this occasion, was substantially the same which has been the lot of many other wicked men ? Wherein was the case of Belshazzar, or Herod, or Francis Spira, or Newport, different in its general features from that of Judas? Be it that they were not actually driven to suicide; yet terror and trembling took hold on them, and made them feel, in spite of all their efforts to the contrary, as if they were then standing in the presence of the Eternal Judge, with all their guilt upon their head. And how large a part of the cases of suicide which occur, do you imagine, are to be referred directly to the operation of conscience ? The individuals have done that, it may be in all the darkness of midnight, which will not bear to be brought within the light of conscience; and when it really comes up to recollection, and stares them in the face, though it may be known to no other being, there is a tumult created in the soul which they cannot endure; and hence in the anguish of desperation, they betake themselves to the balter or the pistol. In many instances, I am aware, in which this tremendous catastrophe occurs, there is little or nothing known in respect to the cause, and some conjecture one thing, and some another ; but I doubt not that in not a small number of these cases, if we knew all, we should see that it had its origin in a guilty conscience. And there are facts enough which are acknowledged and unquestionable, to show that there is an energy in conscience, which is capable

be so;

of rendering life a burden, arming the sinner for that most unnatural crime, self-destruction.

I can suppose that there may be some who scarcely know how to credit this statement, on the ground that it is not conformed to their own experience ; for though they have been going on in a course of sin, and are not altogether strangers to the power of conscience, yet they have experienced nothing like the horror to which I have here referred. It may doubtless it is so; and in this respect your case is not peculiar; for it is possible for the conscience to sleep, though it is not possible for it to die. There are instances in which it has seemed, during a course of crime, to be entirely without sensibility; and it has suddenly waked up, like a giant from his slumbers, and filled the whole soul with consternation and agony. It is not long since an individual, in telling me the story of his life, lent his testimony to this truth, in a way which I can never forget. He told me of a crime of fearful magnitude, of which he had been guilty, and to which he had sacrificed his character ;-a crime which could not be committed without deliberation and forethought; and he remarked, that in all his previous reflection on the subject, he had thought of nothing but how he could most successfully accomplish it; the fact that it would expose him to the displeasure of God, had not even come into mind; but when he marched up to the guilty act, and really set himself about it, a chill of horror stole over him; and “from that hour to the present," said he, “I have never had a moment's rest, nor do I expect to, on this side the grave." The god of this world blinded his eyes to the turpitude of the act, as long as was necessary to secure the performance of it; and then he removed the film, and let conscience begin its work, and let the soul abandon itself to the horrid anticipation of eternal torment. In all these cases, rely on it, the devil looks well to his own cause ; he cares not how profoundly conscience slumbers, when the sinner is tempted to the commission of crime; and he cares as little how fierce and bitter are its accusations when the deed is done, provided only they may no: lead him to repentance.

I repeat then, sinner ; vain is the idea that you have nothing to fear from conscience, because it has given you little trouble hitherto. You cannot annihilate it, or change its character; for it makes part of your moral nature. You may indeed suc ceed, by long resistance to its suggestions, in bringing upon it a lethargy which will last to your dying day; but I tell you, it is there in your bosom notwithstanding; and sooner or later it will assert its dignity and authority, and will visit upon you

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