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PERVERSENESS OF PHILOSOPHERS.
It would be curious if any one were to maintain, that Daniel is not yet dead, and that these words were written but yesterday .... I do not think so. And I am at Jerusalem; and I see but too plainly, that the desolation still continues.
O, my dear friend! what a comfort it is to believe in Jesus Christ our Saviour! and what violence we are forced to do to reason and common sense, if we would withdraw ourselves from his holy law !
WAY OF THE CAPTIVITY
ROAD OF THE CROSS.
Jerusalem, February 9th, 1832. I do not believe, my friend, that, among the men whom the interest of the passions, and pride in particular, has most violently inflamed against christianity, there is one who has carried his perverseness so far as to deny the existence of Jerusalem. Not but that, in reading the travels of some of those scientific men, who, from such disgraceful motives have turned their science against God, you perceive, on their arrival in the East, that the sight of Palestine is unpleasant to them, and that they would rather have found no traces of it. Unfortunately for their perverse desires, it is not possible to raise, on this point, the slightest doubt capable of misleading minds ever so disposed to suffer themselves to be seduced. The name of the capital of Judea is connected, as it were, from its very origin, with
the history of contemporaneous nations. Advancing through the intermediate ages to the time of Jesus Christ, it is found so frequently repeated in books and in monuments, that, to get rid of it, you must tear out the most remarkable pages, not only of the Jewish but also of the Pagan historians: and again, those annals, thus mutilated, would proclaim, by the chasms which they would present, what mutilations they had suffered from hands inimical to truth.
It would not be less difficult to dispute, with any show of reason, in its essential points, the situation of ancient Jerusalem, of its stream, of its fountains, of its walls, of its quarters, of its temple, of its principal buildings, &c. Had we but the description left us by the Jew, to whom I referred in my last letter, that alone would be sufficient to justify the greater part of Christian traditions, relative to places. The plan of the holy city transmitted to us by Josephus is so detailed, so precise, that, after the eighteen hundred years which have passed over these ruins, the genius of architecture would be capable of setting it again, in a manner, before our eyes, if the curse of divine justice did not oppose an invincible obstacle to the attempt.
On the other hand, the public personages, the legislators, the kings, the princes, the great men, those who exercised any power, religious or civil, who, by the importance of the part which they acted on the stage of the world, have acquired any celebrity — who, by splendid actions, by virtues, or by crimes, have influenced the destinies of nations - all these personages are so closely connected with the places, that the names of both,
CONNECTED WITH JERUSALEM.
according to the periods, are met with together as though they were indissolubly united. How then is it possible, with any appearance of reason, to deny the authority of history ? The first temple of Jerusalem will ever remind you of Solomon and his glory; Calvary will ever repeat the sufferings and death of Jesus, much more strongly than Rome and Athens, in their origin, will call up recollections of Romulus and Cecrops.
To these considerations, my dear friend, add the continuity and character of the evidence. At Jerusalem, before it was destroyed, there were Christians, and in great number. Among these numerous Christians, several had become so on seeing the miracles which the life of Christ is full of : they had frequently been among his followers, both in Jerusalem, and even in the mountains and the hamlets of Judea : some had been particular objects of his beneficence. Others, eye-witnesses too, of the same transactions, had been converted after the resurrection, or later, by the early preaching of the Apostles : all of them, full of confidence in the words of their divine Master, and expecting no other happiness but that which his doctrine promised them, habitually fed their hopes with the recital or the remembrance of the wonders which had accompanied his birth, his life, his sufferings, his death, his glorious resurrection from the grave; all of them were accurately acquainted with the places where such great things were accomplished : they conversed about them, visited them, made it a duty of religion to point them out to the piety of the new believers, who were daily joining the infant Church; and it may be affirmed that their faith, their knowledge,
their love, had not only followed and watched, but, in some sort, marked every step of the Saviour's. Have the war with the Romans, the desolation of the city, the destruction of its walls and its temple ; in short, all that at this day a lying incredulity opposes to the truth of the traditions, been able to change, to distort, the positions, to displace the hills, the stream, to cause the respective situation of places so often traversed, visited, honoured with such reverence, to be forgotten? Of all that impiety has made such a noise about, it is the buildings alone that have mostly disappeared; and what thence results for the traditions ? why this — that the fathers of those days, when it was impossible for them to point out to their children those edifices standing, used, in describing them and indicating their sites, a language, alas ! too much like that which, amidst the desolations of our days, other fathers, our contemporaries, have been obliged to address to their sons :
“ Under that heap of stones is the site of Herod's palace”-“ Beneath the ruins of those walls was the Lithostrotos, where Jesus was condemned to death”“ Under those fragments of pilasters our Saviour met his mother"_“ Near those shattered arcades the Son of God spoke to the holy women"_" That pillar, which stands alone amidst so many destructions, was on one side of the door of the Judgment hall, and to it was affixed the sentence pronounced by Pilate," &c. &c.
And whatever there was sad or painful in the contemplation of the ruins served to engrave the facts more deeply upon the mind, by more powerfully affecting the heart.
CONNECTED WITH JERUSALEM.
But the means to which I have been referring, my dear friend, and by the aid of which, in general, facts are preserved for ages, and transmitted from generation to generation, seem on this occasion not to have been sufficient for the wisdom of Providence. In the divine economy of its designs, it decreed that the greatest enemies of the cross should be the very persons who should point out to the Christians the various theatres of the ignominy, the insults, the sufferings, of the Son of God, and that of his death. Assuredly, nothing was farther from the thoughts of the pagan emperors than the intention to undertake such a task. When, however, absolute masters of Jerusalem, out of hatred to the new religion, and with the sole aim of strangling it in its cradle, they selected in preference the places which it recommends most to the reverence of its children, for the purpose of erecting on them temples, altars, statues, to the deities of Rome; what did they but proclaim that, on the very spots where paganism dared set up its vain idols, its Jupiter, its Adonis, its Venus, were accomplished the most awful mysteries of redemption and salvation ? And since the Crescent has in its turn ruled over hapless Jerusalem, what else is again done by the avarice of the pachas, in selling at a high price the access to those same places, the approach to which was formerly prohibited by the impurity of an idolatrous worship or by menaces of death, without, however, being able to cause them to be forgotten? There is nothing, not excepting the very filth with which the Turkish populace takes a hideous delight to pollute certain spots, certain buildings, certain ruins, but serves to keep up