« PreviousContinue »
tries of the earth compared with this reservatory!—What are all the superb edifices, erected by royal magnificence, compared with yonder concave of the skies! And what are the most pompous illuminations of theaters and triumphant cities, compared with the resplendent source of day!
2. Let us examine a single drop of water-the very least quantity the eye can discover. In this almost imperceptible speck, a famous philosopher computes no less than thirteen thousand globules. Amazing to conceive! Impossible to explicate! If, then, in so small a speck abundantly more than ten thousand globules exist, what myriads of myriads must float in the unmeasured extent of the ocean!
3. Let the ablest arithmetician try to comprehend in his mind, not the internal constitution, but only the number of these fluid particles. As well may he grasp the winds in his fist, or mete out the universe with his span, as execute the task. Great then, inconceivably great, is that adored and glorious Sovereign, who sitteth upon this flood as upon a throne; nay, who holds it, diffused as it is from pole to pole, in the hollow of his hand, and before whom, in all its prodigious dimensions, it is but as the drop of a bucket.
4. Nor are the regions of the ocean without their proper and peculiar inhabitants, who are clothed and accoutered in exact conformity to the clime-not in swelling wool, or buoyant feathers; not in a flowing robe, or a well trimmed suit-but with as much compactness, and with as little superfluity as possible. They are clad, or rather sheathed with scales, which adhere closely to their bodies, and are always laid in a kind of natural oil-than which apparel, nothing can be more light, and at the same time nothing more solid.
5. It hinders the fluid from penetrating their flesh; it prevents the cold from coagulating their blood; and enables them to make their way through the waters with the utmost facility. They have each an air bladder, a curious instru ment, by which they increase or diminish their specific gravity; sink like lead, or float like a cork; rise to what height, or descend to what depth they please.
6. It is impossible to enter on the musterroll of those scaly herds, and that minuter fry, which graze the sea weed, or stray through the coral groves. They are innumerable as the sands which lie under them; countless as the waves which cover them. Here are uncouth animals of monstrous shapes, and amazing qualities. Some that have been disco
a Re-splen-dent, bright, very splendid. b Ex'pli-cate, to unfold, explain.
c Ac-cout'-er-ed, dressed in arms.
d Buoy'-ant, that will not sink.
vered by the inquisitive eye of man, and many more that remain among the secrets of the hoary deep.
7. Here are shoals and shoals of various characters, and of the most diversified sizes, from the cumbrous whale whose flouncing tempests the ocean, to the evanescenta anchovy, whose substance dissolves in the smallest fricassee. Some, lodged in their pearly shells, and fattening on their rocky beds, seem attentive to no higher employ than that of imbibing moist nutriment, These, but a small remove from vegetable life, are almost rooted on the rock on which they lie reposed; while others, active as the winged creation, and swift as an arrow from the Indian bow, shoot along the yielding flood, and range at large the spacious regions of the deep.
8. In this region is the tortoise, who never moves but under her own penthouse -the lobster, which, whether he sleeps or wakes, is still in a state of defense, and clad in jointed armor --the oyster, a sort of living jelly, ingarrisoned in a bulwark of native stone,-with many other kinds of sea reptiles, or, as the Psalmist speaks-"Things creeping innumerable." How surprising are the varieties of their figure, and charming the splendor of their colors.
9. Unsearchable is the wisdom, and endless the contrivance, of the all-creating God! Some are rugged in their form, and little better than hideous in their aspect; their shells seem to be the rude production of a disorderly jumble, rather than the regular effects of skill and design; yet we shall find, even in these seeming irregularities, the nicest dispositions. Their abodes, uncouth as they may appear, are adapted to the genius of their respective tenants, and exactly suited to their particular exigencies. Neither the Ionic delicacy, nor the Corinthian richness, nor any other order of architecture, would have served their purpose half so well as their coarse and homely fabric.
10. Some, on the other hand, are extremely neat. Their structure is all symmetry and elegance. No enamel in the world is comparable to their polish. There is not a room of state in all the palaces of Europe, so brilliantly adorned, as the dining-room and bed-chamber of the little fish that dwells in the mother of pearl. Such a lovely mixture of red, and blue, and green, so delightfully staining the most clear and glittering ground, is no where else to be seen. The royal power may covet it, and human art may mimic it; but
a Ev-a-nes'-cent, vanishing, fleeting.
c Sym-me-try, proportion of parts to eaca other.
d En-am'-el, a substance like glass.
neither the one nor the other, nor both united, will ever be able to equal it.
11. But what we admire more than all their streaks, their spots, and their embroidery, is the extraordinary provision made for their safety. Nothing is more relishing and palatable than their flesh. Nothing more heavy and sluggish than their motions. As they have no speed to escape, neither have they any dexterity to elude the foe. Were they naked or unguarded, they must be an easy prey to every freebooter that roams the ocean.
12. To prevent this fatal consequence, what is only clothing to other animals, is to them a clothing, a house, and a castle. They have a fortification that grows with their growth, and is part of themselves. By this means they live secure amidst millions and millions of ravenous jaws; by this means they are impraked as it were in their own shell; and, screened from every other assault, are reserved for the use and pleasure of mankind.
13. How admirable is the ordination of that great Being who thus causeth all to minister together for good, and who while he protects the most defenseless, provides for the pleasures of the most distinguished of his creatures. Thy tender mercies are over all thy works, O Lord! and thou neglectest nought thou hast made." Enfield.
Description of Jerusalem and the surrounding country.
1. ALTHOUGH the size of Jerusalem was not extensive, its very situation, on the brink of rugged hills, encircled by deep and wild valleys, bounded by eminences whose sides were covered with groves and gardens, added to its numerous towers and temple, must have given it a singular and gloomy magnificence, scarcely possessed by any other city in the world.
2. The most pleasing feature in the scenery around the city is the valley of Jehoshaphat. Passing out of the gate of St. Stephen, you descend the hill to the torrent of Kedron. a bridge leads over its dry and deep bed: it must have been a very narrow, though, in winter a rapid stream. On the left is a grotto, handsomely fitted up, and called the tomb of the Virgin Mary, though it is well known she neither died nor was buried near Jerusalem.
3. A few steps beyond the Kedron you come to the garden
Em-broid'-e-ry, variegated needle work. c Grot'-to, a cavern.
of Gethsemane, of all gardens the most interesting and hallowed; but how neglected and decayed! It is surrounded by a kind of low hedge; but the soil is bare; no verdure grows on it, save six fine venerable olive-trees, which have stood here for many centuries. This spot is at the foot of Olivet, and is beautifully situated; you look up and down the romantic valley; close behind rises the mountain; before you are the walls of the devoted city.
4. While lingering here, at evening, and solitary,—for it is not often a footstep passes by,—that night of sorrow and dismay rushes on the imagination, when the Redeemer was betrayed and forsaken by all, even by the loved disciple.— Hence the path winds up the Mount of Olives: it is a beautiful hill: the words of the Psalmist, "the mountains around Jerusalem," must not be literally applied, as none are within view save those of Arabia. It is verdant, and covered in some parts with olive-trees.
5. From the summit you enjoy an admirable view of the city it is beneath and very near; and looks, with its valleys around it, exactly like a panorama. Its noble temple of Omar, and large area planted with palms; its narrow streets, ruined palaces and towers, are all laid out before you. On the summit are the remains of a church, built by the Empress Helena; and in a small edifice containing one large and lofty apartment, is shown the print of the last footstep of Christ, when he took his leave of earth.
6. The fathers should have placed it nearer to Bethany, in order to accord with the account given us in Scripture; but it answers the purpose of drawing crowds of pilgrims to the spot. Descending Olivet to the narrow valley of Jehoshaphat, you soon come to the pillar of Absalom: it has a very antiqued appearance, and is a pleasing object in the valley; it is of a yellow stone, adorned with half columns, forined into three stages, and terminates in a cupola.
7. The tomb of Zecharias, adjoining, is square, with four or five pillars, and is cut out of the rock. Near these is a sort of grotto, hewn out of an elevated part of the rock, with four pillars in front, which is said to have been the apostle's prison at the time they were confined by the rulers, The small and wretched village of Siloa is built on the rugged sides of the hill above; and just here the valleys of Hinnom and Jehoshaphat meet, at the south-east corner of Mount Zion: they are both sprinkled with olive-trees.
8. Over the ravine of Hinnom, and directly opposite the
a Lit'-e-ral-ly, with adherence to words.
b Pan-o-ra'-ma, complete view, a paint
c-re-a, the superficial contents.
e Rav-ine, a long deep hollow.
city, is the Mount of Judgment, or of evil counsel; because there they say the rulers took counsel against Christ, and the palace of Caiaphas stood. It is a broad and barren hill, without any of the picturesque beauty of Olivet, though loftier. On its side is pointed out the Aceldama, or field where Judas hung himself: a small and rude edifice stands on it, and it is used as a burying-place.
9. But the most interesting portion of this hill, is where its rocks descend precipitously into the valley of Hinnom, and are mingled with many a straggling olive-tree. All these rocks are hewn into sepulchers of various forms and sizes: no doubt they were the tombs of the ancient Jews, and are in general cut with considerable care and skill. They are often the resting-place of the benighted passenger. Some of them open into inner apartments, and are provided with small windows, or apertures, cut in the rock.
10. In these there is none of the darkness or sadness of the tomb; but in many, so elevated and picturesque is the situation, a traveler may pass hours, with a book in his hand, while valley and hill are beneath and around him. Before the door of one large sepulcher stood a tree on the brink of the rock; the sun was going down on Olivet on the right, and the resting-place of the dead commanded a sweeter scene, than any of the abodes of the living.
11. Many of the tombs have flights of steps leading up to them: it was in one of these that a celebrated traveler would fix the site of the holy sepulcher: it is certainly more picturesque, but why more just is hard to conceive; since the words of Scripture do not fix the identity of the sacred tomb to any particular spot, and tradition, on so memorable an occasion could hardly err. The fathers declare, it long since became absolutely necessary to cover the native rock with marble, in order to prevent the pilgrims from destroying it, in their zeal to carry off pieces to their homes; and on this point their relation may, one would suppose, be believed.
12. The valley of Hinnom now turns to the west of the city, and extends rather beyond the north wall: here the plain of Jeremiah commences, and is the best wooded tract in the whole neighborhood. In this direction, but farther on, the historian of the siege speaks "of a tower, that afforded a prospect of Arabia at sun-rising, and of the utmost limits of the Hebrew possessions at the sea westward." The former is still enjoyed from the city; but the latter could only be had at a much greater distance north, where there is no hill in front.
a Pic-tur-esque', beautiful to the eye. I-den'-ti-ty, sameness.
c Tra-di"-tion, transmission from father to son.