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VISITS TO THE HOLY SEPULCHRE.
sentiments which I owe to the infinite mercy that has snatched me from the abyss. Oh! how delightful, my dear friend, how delightful have been the moments that I have passed at the tomb of my Saviour ! How delightful in particular have been the hours of night and silence ! how different from those when, intoxicated by an insensate joy, amidst dancing and festivity, the worldlings, forgetful of their salvation, forgetful of Him who has redeemed them, sacrifice their rest, destroy their health, and ruin their souls !
Kneeling, prostrate, on the stone where lay the sacred body of Jesus, I called to mind all that this Saviour, so tender, so merciful, so kind, so generous, had done for me; I followed him in thought through all the moments of that life of poverty, toil, and suffering, to which he doomed himself, from his birth in the humble manger, in which I had lately worshipped him, to that cross on which he was pleased to consummate his sacrifice of atonement for our sins, to that sepulchre in which he remained three days under the empire of death. Never had I so clearly perceived, so strongly felt, that excessive love with which he loved the world, and that excessive ingratitude with which the world rejected him ; and from the bottom of my soul I implored pardon for that ungrateful world, and for myself, who have participated in its aberrations.
One thought in particular engaged my mind. Alone, in the silence of night, in presence of that tomb, I felt happy, happy from a kind of happiness that no other expression can render. The love of Jesus for me spoke not less strongly to my heart than if the sepulchre,
VISITS TO THE HOLY SEPULCHRE.
opening of itself, had shown him to me in the state to which he had been reduced by the torments and death over which he has triumphed. I beheld that sacred head, that brow, torn by the thorns, that blood-stained hair, those pierced hands .... what do I say? I beheld him living, victorious; I felt myself clasped, as it were, in his arms; I felt with rapture how benevolent he is to those who are willing to serve him, who are willing to be entirely his; and at the same time an inward voice called to me: What hast thou done to deserve the favour of being this day separated from the wretched creatures, who, at the moment when such pure felicity floods thy heart, are indulging in vain pleasures, in false joys, and demanding from them certain transient gratifications, which must terminate in remorse, lassitude, disgust ?.. And, in the transports of a gratitude which farther heightened the sense of my unworthiness, I could not be sufficiently thankful to Heaven for having granted to the repentance of a sinner a boon that would have been the worthy reward of a saint.
Site of the ANCIENT TEMPLE ERECTED BY SOLOMON — Mosque or OMAR.
Jerusalem, March 14th, 1832. Last Wednesday, my dear friend, I quitted the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Before I went into it, I had desired my dragoman to seek out a place where it would be easy for me to examine closely the site of the ancient temple erected by Solomon. I had already taken occa
MOSQUE OF OMAR.
sion to view it from Pilate's palace, now the residence of the governor; and still better, by the aid of a telescope, from the Mount of Olives, one of the most convenient points for examining it thoroughly. Still I was not satisfied : I wished to get closer to it, to seize not only its details, but to embrace in the same view, if possible, the surrounding buildings and the mosque of Omar, which likewise deserve the notice of travellers in the Holy Land. This was not an easy matter. A strict prohibition forbids Christians to enter it : any one caught in the mosque, or even in the place leading to it, would incur the penalty of death, which he would have no means of escaping but by an infamous apostacy. On this point, perhaps more than on any other, the Turks carry their fanaticism to the last extreme. The Sultan himself cannot grant permission, or, if he does, his Jerusalem subjects conceive that they have a right to pay no regard to it. It is related that a foreigner one day called upon
governor, and, firman in hand, applied to see the mosque. “Thy firman," said the governor, in a passion, “purports that thou shalt be admitted into the mosque; thou mayest go in; but, take notice, that it says nothing about letting thee come out again.” The foreigner deemed it prudent to relinquish his intention. Sir Sidney Smith, who, by the defence of Acre, had gained high consideration throughout the whole country, took some steps with the same view, but all to no purpose. It is said, however, that two or three Christians have succeeded by means of a disguise in eluding Mussulman vigilance, as I shall presently have occasion to
relate to you.
MOSQUE OF OMAR.
My dragoman was not long before he informed me that my commission was executed. He had spoken to a Turk, whose house was nearer to the mosque
any of the surrounding buildings; its windows overlooked the place itself, and he had obtained permission for me, in my pretended quality of physician, to go and gratify my curiosity behind the blinds of one of his apartments.
I went thither at ten in the morning. The Turk, having made his women withdraw, ushered me into the room with a sort of mystery. The house, though in a slovenly state, appeared handsome. It needed some repairs which time had rendered necessary, but which, as far as I could perceive, were never thought of. The Turks—I am frequently obliged to repeat it of ruins. A broken column, pilasters cloven or that have tumbled down, are never without some charm for them. This house had originally belonged to the Templars, who had possessed on the same spot several others that were still handsomer.
After the first compliments, I went towards the window to make my observations. The Turk did not lose sight of me for a moment; he kept constantly beside me and my dragoman, and, whenever he saw any of his people crossing the place, he warned me to step aside. Once, in particular, when he was particularly urgent for me to step back, he exclaimed, in a tone of alarm : “There is the Capidgi-verde ! I am afraid that he has seen you !” Notwithstanding the air of sincerity with which he expressed his apprehensions, I shrewdly suspected that it was but a clever trick to make me think more highly of the complaisance which he showed me;
I had not passed the prescribed bounds, and I do not think that he ran the least risk of being punished, even if I had been discovered.
The platform on which the Temple was built was an area of six hundred square cubits, or about twenty-five thousand feet. Towards the city it is bordered by a series of buildings, among which are distinguished the governor's palace, formerly the palace of Pilate, and the house of the cadi, once that of the patriarch. On the opposite side, it is bounded by the ramparts, which it overlooks, and beyond which the view extends over the valleys of Siloa and Jehoshaphat. In the centre stands the mosque of Omar; at the farther extremity is another mosque, of a reddish colour and much smaller. It was formerly a church, by the name of the Mother of God. It was built on part of the site of the Temple, where, it is said, the Virgin passed ten years of her life.
There is not a spot on the face of the earth that calls forth recollections so grand, so august, as that which was before my eyes. Here stood the richest, the most magnificent temple that ever man reared to the glory of the Most High. Solomon laid its foundations in the year of the world, 2992, finished it in the year 3000, and solemnly dedicated it in the following year. The first book of Kings, the second of Chronicles, Ezekiel, and Josephus the historian, will give you particulars concerning the construction and the riches of this edifice, which I cannot introduce here on account of their length.
In the year of the world, 3416, this famous temple was plundered and consigned to the flames by Nabu