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The extent of the country was indeed narrow, yet being intersected with numerous ranges of hills that were capable of cultivation to the very summit, its surface was in reality extensive, and the variety of its climate multiplied. • At the foot of the hill,' says a traveller describing the scenery of Palestine, "grew the products of the torrid zone; on its side those of the temperate ; on its summit the robust vegetation of the north. The ascending circles of the orange-grove, the vineyard, and the forest, covered it with perpetual beauty. The most careless reader of the Bible must have seen how the names of Lebanon and Carmel were connected in the imagination of a Hebrew with all ideas of fertility and delightfulness. The very appellation of the latter indicates the fruitfulness of its mountain ranges and of the valleys which they form ; for Carmel literally signifies the garden of God.' But why do I repeat to you mere second-hand opinions ? Take as a specimen of the feelings of a Hebrew whenever he thought of his native land, the beautiful description of the sweet singer of Israel :'
“Thou visitest the land, and makest it to overflow, Thou enrichest it exceedingly with the river of God
which is full of water; Thou providest grain, when thou hast thus prepared it; Thou causest the furrows of it to drink, Thou settlest the ridges thereof; Thou softenest it with showers, Thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, And thy paths distil fatness ; They distil upon the desolate pastures ; The little hills gird themselves with joy; The pastures are clothed with flocks, And the valleys are covered with grain; They shout aloud—they also sing.”—Ps. lxv. 9—14
66 And is Judea now so beautiful and fertile ?" asked George Homer. • Is Gethsemane still to be seen in the valley of the Kidron ?"
“ Alas! my dear boy,” said Mr. Anderson, "under the withering influence of Turkish despotism and barbarism, that once fertile country has become a parched desert. A writer on the spot thus describes the appearance of the country around Jerusalem : The face of the country presents nothing but stones and ashes, and a few thorny shrubs. The sides of the mountains present an aspect at once grand and barren. By little and little,
the scanty vegetation languishes and dies; even mosses disappear, and a red, burning hue succeeds to the whiteness of the rocks. In the centre of this amphitheatre there is an arid basin, enclosed on all sides with summits scattered over with a yellow-coloured pebble, and affording a single aperture to the east, through which the surface of the Dead sea and the distant hills of Arabia present themselves to the eye. In the midst of this country of stones, encircled by a wall, we perceive extensive ruins, stunted cypresses, bushes of the aloe and prickly pear, while some huts of the meanest order, resembling whitewashed sepulchres, are spread over the desolated mass. This spot is Jerusalem.'
“ This description, though suggested by the state of Jerusalem two or three hundred years after our Saviour's death, is not inapplicable at the present time. And the same general description will apply to all the countries under the dominion of the Turks. The Rev. Mr. Smith, one of our American missionaries, speaking of the country east of Constantinople, says, Sitting down under a spreading walnut, by the side of a murmuring
mill-stream, I was led to reflect upon
mysterious providence by which so beautiful a country has been placed under such a blighting government, and in the hands of so indolent and barbarous a people. By the industry and cultivation of our own countrymen, it would be made • even as the garden of the Lord.' Surely the religion of the false prophet, by being allowed to spread over such fair portions of the globe, has been placed in the most advantageous circumstances to meliorate the temporal condition of man, if such be its tendency. The result is found in fertile regions depopulated and run to waste, and people surrounded by nature's richest gifts, debased and destitute of the comforts of civilized life. Could God have taken a better method of showing to the world that the religion is false, and a curse to man? Skepticism itself must now admit the conclusion. *
6. As to Gethsemane, about which you particularly inquired, I can say that it both is, and is not to be seen. Gethsemane, as Jonathan and Simon saw it, is no more. Maundrell, who visited Jerusalem in 1697, says,
* Researches of Smith and Dwight, vol. i. p. 78.
• On the west side of Olivet they show you Gethsemane, an even plat of ground, not above fifty-seven yards square, lying between the foot of Mount Olivet and the brook Kidron. It is well planted with olive-trees, and those of so old a growth, that they are believed to be the same that stood here in our blessed Saviour's time. This cannot be true, for Josephus testifies that Titus cut down all the trees within a hundred furlongs of Jerusalem.' But I hold in my hand the Missionary Herald of 1824, in which there is an account of Mr. King's visit to Gethsemane. I will read it: • It is a small plat of ground, with a low enclosure of stones. In it stand eight venerable looking olives, which seem as if they might have remained there from time immemorial. The side of the hill was covered with Turk
and the road was full of armed Turks of fierce appearance, occasionally firing off their muskets for amusement. den of sorrow lies at the foot of the Mount of Olives, and within a stone's cast of the brook Kidron. The ancient olive-trees stand at a little distance from each other, and their verdant branches afford a refreshing shade.