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son so much to heart, the tract distributor writes to me; but, knowing the Jews, I dreaded that man more than the father of the girl. And with regard to my question, whether the young man and his cousin Sarah had spoken the truth, the tract distributor communicated to me, that every word of the history they had given me was most correct, according to truth,
Christian in the place that knew them, corroborated their statement.
I brought Sarah to a Christian family, who a year or two ago had left the Roman Church and had joined my congregation, persons upon whose piety and prudence I could fully depend; the young man I brought to another member of my flock. Their being both in the house of the same believing relative, would have been too great a burden for the family.
“I meet the young converts daily, reading and praying with them; and under the assistance of my gracious Master, I endeavoured to prepare them for the approaching storm, which I fully expected. The girl's faith surprised me, her great simplicity and love to the Lord Jesus Christ refreshed and animated me. Sarah stood prepared for the greatest trials and troubles, which, alas ! too soon rushed upon her in floods. I say, she stood prepared, for she felt her weakness, and in that weakness she held firm to the rock of ages.”
(To be continued)
THE GREEK FIRE IN THE CHURCH OF THE
HOLY SEPULCHRE, JERUSALEM. In our estimate of the evils of superstition, practised by professedly Christian people, it is too
common to omit the evil results which it has with respect to unbelievers. The Jews look on with pity or with scorn. They regard the image-worship of the Papist, and the picture-worship of the Greek as detestable things, and the system which sanctions them (which they have been told is Christianity) as one into which they are forbidden by the holy law of God to enquire Thou shalt not enquire how these nations serve their gods.” And how can the Jews regard the scenes which occur in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in their Holy City. True it is that none of them are permitted to enter. If they approach, they are driven away with violence, their lives are in jeopardy; yet the notoriety of the sad mockery which recurs there year after
the thousands of pilgrims who come to take a part in it; the cheating, the strife, the violence; Turks robbing Christians ; Christians robbing each other ; speak, alas ! too plainly and forcibly, and the inference of the Jews almost necessarily is—what an imposture, what blasphemy, what jugglery, what utter folly is this !
The account which we here give of the exhibition at Jerusalem is taken from a very interesting volume, published by the Religious Tract Society, on “Magic, Pretended Miracles, and Natural Phenomena.”
** At the church of the Holy Sepulchre, at Jerusalem, there is annually a ceremony to which multitudes are attracted. It is pretended by the Greek priests, that on a particular day, a sacred fire proceeds from the sepulchre : the pilgrims, therefore, congregated at Jerusalem, attend to light tapers at its flame: these are extinguished, and carefully preserved, to be added to the
garment dipped in the Jordan, when they are buried. All, however, await the arrival of the Turkish governor; for, 'till he arrives, the miracle is not certainly to take place.'
“ To quote from some travellers who were present at the ceremony, in the year 1846, we are informed that it was a very remarkable scene. The large area of the Church was densely crowded; but around the sepulchre, a space of about four feet wide was kept clear by a double line of Turkish soldiers. At short intervals of time, a number of infatuated and highly-excited men and boys entered in and rushed round and round with desperate energy, screaming and hallooing like so many maniacs. Some stood upright on a friend's shoulders, who ran with the rest till an unlucky stumble threw both to the ground. One old man was particularly conspicuous; he generally headed the rest, and seemed to be fitter for a strait waistcoat, than to be the leader of a religious procession. He danced, shouted, and threw himself into all sorts of postures. At last he mounted on another frantic devotee and urged him to his utmost speed : they continued their mad course till he was thrown down violently against two of the soldiers ; they seized him by the hair of his head, and hauled him out of the church. In a few minutes, however, he returned, and was more outrageous than before. Thus for two hours, the church was a scene of noise, confusion and frantic excitement. At two o'clock the
governor arrived and quietly took his seat. The racing pilgrims were driven off the course, and shortly after, a procession of priests, headed by the Patriarch, and followed by a motley group of ragged fellows, bearing shabby banners, walked slowly round three times, chanting some prayer. The Patriarch was a grey-headed old man, with a cunning expression of countenance ; his very look seemed to say, 'I am about to act a lie—what fools you are to believe it!' There is a circular hole in the side of the little chapel built over the sepulchre ; close to it a man was posted, protected by the soldiers. He was a rich pilgrim, probably an Armenian, who had paid handsomely for the privilege of being the first to light his tapers by the holy fire. The old Patriarch, having divested himself of most of his fine trappings, entered alone into the sanctuary. In a minute after, he pushed through the hole a quantity of flaming cotton, dipped in spirits of wine : the favoured pilgrim eagerly lighted a bunch of tapers by it, and escorted by the soldiers hurried out of the church. The excitement was now at its height;
scene followed which buffled description. There was a tremendous rush towards the flame, still held out by the Patriarch, and each strove who should light his taper the earliest. Those who could not get up to head-quarters were obliged to procure a light from the more fortunate, and in the three minutes the church and adjoining chapels were in a blaze. Thousands of wax candles and flambeaux were glittering over the space; some had forty or fifty long thin tapers bound together, which were intended as valuable presents for friends at home. It was for the time, like Bedlam let loose; some kneeling in ecstatic adoration, others screaming, dancing and jumping; the more zealous put the flame into their mouths or applied it to their faces or naked breasts. It is asserted that the
holy fire does not burn or hurt any one, but few kept it long enough near to give it a fair trial. In ten minutes every taper was extinguished, and the pilgrims were dispersed, carrying away the precious relics.”
How low must be the state of instruction, and small the amount of Christian knowledge, when so many are found who believe in this wretched imposture! Thus, too, the lying wonders of Popish miracles find men ready to believe in them. The word of God is kept from the people. The Lord Jesus is not preached as the allsufficient Saviour. The creature is exalted, and created mediators are imagined, and human merit pleaded ; and men, being deluded, believe many lies. Meantime the true believer, looking on, is sad. The infidel justly scoffs, and our
elder brethren are confirmed in their unbelief. Truly it is matter of great joy that we have now on mount Zion a Christian Church, where Christ, the true light is exalted, and where apostate Christians and unbelieving Jews may learn the true way of salvation-faith in an almighty and ever-willing Saviour.
THE JEWS ACCUSED OF CAUSING THE PLAGUE IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY. The awful visitation with which it seemed good to the Lord of life and death to visit the European nations in the fourteenth century, was the source of barbarous cruelty to thousands of poor Jews. They were not only involved in the same calamity with their Gentile neighbours, but were also condemned to torture and death, on the false