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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

In Sight of Jerusalem

page 50

In Sight of Jerusalem

from the hills of Judea. On entering the city I found a suitable simple lodging kept by a. German. My little white-washed cell window looked towards the Mount of Olives, and the small number of my fellow lodgers were thoughtful and intelligent companions. During my stay in Jerusalem I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of Bishop Gobat and the British Consul, both of whom showed me much kindness and hospitality. On my first Sunday morning I was up before the dawn and treading the long silent streets towards the Golden Gate. The Turkish guard at once opened the gate and let me out, so that I was able to get down into the Valley of Jehosophat, across the channel of "the Brook Kedron," and to reach the summit of the Mount of Olives just as the sun was rising over the mountains of Moab, shining on the distant Dead Sea, and gilding the walls and towers of the Holy City. Such a comprehensive view of a scene, familiar in imagination to all readers of the Scriptures, viewed from a spot consecrated by having been the resort of Christ Himself in His visits to His dear friends at the little village of Bethany, still to be seen embowered amongst peach trees on the other side of the Mount, made a deep and solemn impression on my mind which can never be effaced. Returning to the city, I passed the enclosed clump of page 51 olive trees said to have been the Garden of Gethsemane, and was in time for morning service at the handsome modern Protestant church on Mount Sion, and dined with the good Bishop and his family, after which the ladies kindly entertained me by singing the Songs of Sion on Sion's Hill. In the evening I rode out to Bethlehem over hills adorned at this season by cyclamen and other beautiful wildflowers. The most prominent object at Bethlehem is a church built over the cave in the side of the rock, said to be the stable containing the manger in which Jesus Christ was born; but, like other remarkable localities fixed by tradition, the precise situation of the birthplace is very uncertain. The most imposing building in Jerusalem is the magnificent mosque of Omar, on Mount Moriah, held in great veneration by the Mahomedan population and by all pious believers in their Prophet. To Christians the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is most sacred; to it the pilgrims of the Roman, Greek, and Armenian Churches hasten to pay their vows, and lay down the burden of their sins, with tears and other touching signs of penance, at the marble tomb under the grand dome, and to join in processions, singing hymns and reciting prayers, as they move from one sacred spot to another in the immense edifice, said to cover Mount Calvary, which is more than doubtful, as the Crucifixion is related to have taken place "outside the city." The poor Jewish inhabitants page 52 and pilgrims have also their days of pathetic lamentation over the forlorn condition of their nation, and the departed glory of the Temple of Jehovah, at the spot where a few stones of that sacred edifice are believed to form part of the ancient city wall.