« PreviousContinue »
summits, ranging north and south, the middle overtops the rest, and is that which faces the centre of the city and the mosque of Omar. The path leading to it, rises from the garden of Gethsemane. About half way up the ascent, is a ruined monastery, built, as the monks tell us, on the spot where our Saviour wept over Jerusalem; and it is from this point, indeed, that the most agreeable view of the city may be obtained. On reaching the summit, we find a small village, so inconsiderable, however, as not to be noticed at a distance. From this point the appearance which Jerusalem presents has already been given; but the general prospect around, is over a waste and dreary region. Towards the southeast, appears the Lake Asphaltites or Dead Sea: a noble expanse of water,' says Dr. Clarke, while surveying it from this height 'seeming to be within a short ride; but the real distance is much greater. Lofty mountains enclose it with prodigious grandeur, and resemble, by their position, the shores of the Lake of Geneva, opposite to Vevay and Lausanne. To the north of the lake, are seen the verdant and fertile pastures of the Plain of Jericho, watered by the Jordan, whose course may be distinctly discerned. For the rest, nothing appears in the surrounding country, but hills whose undulating surfaces resemble the waves of a perturbed sea. These were bleak and destitute of wood, and seemed to be without cultivation. However, this cannot be ascertained by a distant view: we often found that mountains, which, when remote, appeared like naked rocks, were, when we drew near to them, covered with little terraces, like a series of steps, and abundantly productive.'
Such is the state in which the city and the principal objects around, present themselves to our view, at this day. Here we must take our leave of the modern, and go back to former times.
The Ancient City. The period of its greatest splendor was undoubtedly the seventy years from the birth of our Saviour onwards to its destruction by Titus. In no other age has it ever held so numerous a population, amounting to some hundreds of thousands, to say nothing of the extravagant
We have omitted to observe, in our account of the modern city, that the population at present is judged to be from fifteen to twenty thousand; of which about one half are Mohammedans, a quarter Christians, and another quarter Jews.
computation of certain writers who swell the number to nearly three millions; and at no other time has it covered so large an extent of ground. Its circumference is stated, by Josephus, at somewhat more than four miles. The directions in which it so much exceeded the limits of the modern town, were north and south. To the west it was prevented from spreading, by the trench or narrow ravine which we have described in that quarter; on the east, it could not overpass the deep valley of Jehoshaphat. But it occupied the whole of the space now vacant on Mount Zion at the south, lifting its battlements on the very cliffs that overhang the depth of Hinnom; and to the north it stretched probably about a mile beyond the present walls, to what are called the sepulchres of the kings of Judah. Accordingly, in order to form a correct idea of the site of the ancient Jerusalem, we have only to extend the limits of the modern, to the north and to the south, and at the same time, perhaps, to contract them at one place on the western side, so as to exclude the scene of our Saviour's crucifixion. We shall then have before us a long, narrow city, about two miles in length, and averaging half a mile in breadth, but very irregularly bounded on the west. The rocky eminence which it so entirely covered, was broken into several smaller elevations and hollows; but its general form may be described as running lengthwise towards the south, rather ascending in that direction, and terminating abruptly on the top of Mount Zion; and along the larger part of its course, its side also slanted off to the east, so as to resemble an inclined plane towards the Mount of Olives. The reader will finish the picture, by circumscribing the area with deep. ravines, except on the north, and by surrounding the whole with the neighboring hills.
On this rocky eminence, great and melancholy overturns have taken place, since the Christian era. Part of the site, as we have already seen, has been entirely deserted; in the part still occupied, not a vestige perhaps of that age remains, among the monuments of art. A new city has risen, and in its turn become old. All but the everlasting features of nature itself has passed away; and even in these, the effacing hand of change has been at work. Elevations have been levelled or reduced, and hollows filled up, so that the surface has taken a different appearance. So particular is the account, however, which is left us of the ancient city, that we may still
trace its principal divisions on the plan, obliterated as it is. It was divided into four parts. The northern, which was called Bezetha, was probably the largest in extent, and reached as far towards the south as Mount Moriah, the quarter in which the temple stood. From this section, however, it was separated by a deep trench dug for that purpose, in order to add to the security, by the ease with which all communication could be cut off. South of Bezetha, were the two slight elevations, Mount Moriah on the east, and Mount Acra on the west. Of these, the latter was the most extensive, as well as the highest, and was spread out in the form of a crescent, before Mount Moriah. The valley which originally lay between, had been filled up, so that, in the time of our Saviour, both of the elevations appeared to constitute but one inclined plane descending from the west towards the spacious court of the temple. The site of this magnificent structure, it is well known, bore the name of Mount Moriah; but after it was thus connected with Acra, it could not be well distinguished as a separate elevation, and appeared rather like a plat of ground at the foot of the latter. Along the southern side, however, both of Moriah and Acra, ran a valley of considerable depth, from east to west, cutting them off from Mount Zion, or the Upper City. This division, rising above all the rest, commanded a view of Bezetha, or the northern extremity, and of Mount Acra, which was called the Lower City, and looked down, at the northeast, on the court of the temple, whose southern wall towered to the amazing height of four hundred and fifty feet from the bottom of the valley.
We close this account, with the description which the contemporary Roman historian, Tacitus, gives of the city at the time of its siege by Titus: The natural strength of the place was increased by redoubts and bulwarks, which, even on the level plain, would have made it secure from insult. Two hills, that rose to a prodigious height [from the bottom of the ravines,] were enclosed by walls constructed with skill, in some places projecting forward, in others retiring inwardly, with angles so formed that the besiegers were always liable to be annoyed in flank. The extremities of the rock were sharp, abrupt and craggy. In convenient places, near the summit, towers were raised sixty feet high, and others, on the declivity of the sides, rose no less than a hundred and twenty feet. These works presented a spectacle altogether astonishing.
To the distant eye, they seemed to be of equal elevation. Within the city, there were other fortifications enclosing the palace of the kings. Above all was seen, conspicuous to view, the tower of Antonia, so called by Herod, in honor of the triumvir who had been his friend and benefactor. The temple itself was a strong fortress, in the nature of a citadel. The fortifications were built with consummate skill, surpassing in art, as well as labor, all the rest of the works. The very porticos that surrounded it, were a strong defence. A perennial spring supplied the place with water. Subterraneous caverns were scooped under the rock. The rain-water was saved in pools and cisterns. Since the reduction of the place by Pompey, [133 years before,] experience had taught the Jews new modes of fortification; and the corruption and venality that pervaded the whole reign of Claudius, favored all their projects. By bribery they obtained permission to rebuild their walls. The strength of their works plainly showed, that in profound peace they meditated future resistance.
H. B. 2d.
The Scripture Doctrine in relation to Judgment.
'For all his ways are judgment.' Deut. xxxii. 4.
No reasonable person can feel indifferent with regard to the judgment of that almighty Ruler, to whom we are unavoidably accountable, and whose government disposes of us. Perhaps no word has been more abused in its application, than has the word judgment in the Scriptures, in its popular use by modern theologians. Rather than being understood of those wise decisions of God, by which his government is in all things directed for the wise discipline and ultimate subjection of his moral universe, it has been applied to a supposed future grand assemblage of the human race, to hear at once an arbitrary sentence, pronouncing their final doom. So familiar has been this application of the word judgment in its theological use, that most persons, at the mere sound of the word, are
carried in their thoughts to such an assemblage of all mankind, receiving their final sentence.
But we are persuaded that this view of the judgment of God does not redound to the praise of his glory. It does not represent him as the governor of mankind for their good. We are satisfied that by a careful attention to the Scriptures, we shall find this subject presented in a more pleasing and profitable light. We shall be presented with that adorable view of the wisdom and goodness of God in his moral government, which will inspire us with confidence and love towards him, and a filial reverential fear before him.
We are informed concerning God in the record which heads this article, that all his ways are judgment.' The original word which is here rendered judgment, and from which the word judgment generally comes in the Scriptures, signifies in its most literal definition, light, discernment, or decision. From the same root comes the latin cerno, to discern or see. With God, therefore, judgment is a discernment and decision of what is right. It is sometimes used to express his discernment and decision of what is right in general; sometimes, his discernment and decision of what is right in particular cases; and not unfrequently it signifies the execution of these divine decisions. In the words, All his ways are judgment,' the sentiment expressed is, that all the ways and works of God proceed upon a wise and just decision of what is good and right.
But we shall not attempt at present to examine the judgment of God in all his ways. It must suffice for the labors of this communication, to consider the judgment of God in the ways of his government and discipline over his intelligent and moral creatures.
I. The first step in the establishment of a moral government over mankind, was the giving to them of suitable laws. And though this work of God is not usually designated in the Scriptures by the term judgment, yet this is one of the' ways' of God which required and received the direction of true and perfect judgment. If laws had been given without a right discernment and decision, they might have been unsuited to the constitution, the capacity, the wants and circumstances of mankind. But God has wisely adapted his laws to the constitution of his creatures, for the promotion of their happiness.