Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ministers. His habit and manner of living was exceedingly plain. To the poor he was always tender; but severe towards the idle and counterfeit. In his office he laboured not merely as a hireling, but watched over his flock as one who knew he must answer to God for those souls committed to his charge.

While he was thus labouring at home almost unknown, in Ireland his fame was spread; and though he was not known either to Archbishop Usher, or to any of the fellows of Trinity College; yet he was chosen head of that college, by their unanimous consent, A.D. 1627.

As soon as he was prevailed on to resign his benefice and remove to Ireland, he applied himself with all the energy of his mind to the government of the college; correcting such abuses as had crept in, and instituting such laws as were required. Two years afterwards he was appointed to the sees of Kilmore and Ardagh, in the province of Ulster, in the fiftyninth

year Finding himself in this most important and responsible station, he resolved to spare himself in nothing by which he might advance the interest of religion among his flock; knowing that the forms of church government must appear amiable and valuable to the world, not so much for the reasonings and arguments of learned men respecting them, as from the real advantages mankind derive from them; so he deter, mined not merely to perform the duties of his office, but “ to give wings to the soul, to rescue it wholly from the world, and to dedicate it to God; that so his

of his age.

might be an unsullied mirror, on which he might receive and represent the impresses of God and divine things, unallied with the characters of lower objects.”

(To be continued.)

BETHLEHEM. BETHLEHEM, a city of the tribe of Judah, and likewise called Ephrath or Ephratah, to distinguish it from Bethlehem of Zabulon, is situated about six miles from Jerusalem. Here it was that king David spent his early days as a shepherd; and here also is supposed to be laid the scene of the beautiful narrative of Ruth. But its highest honor is, that here our Divine Master condescened to be born of woman. " And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little

among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel ; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Dr. E. A. Clark writes thus of this interesting place: “The town appeared covering the ridges of a hill, on the eastern side of a deep and extensive valley, extending from east to west. The most conspicuous object is the monastery, erected over the supposed cave of the nativity.

“ The church is built in the form of a cross, the nave being adorned with forty-eight Corinthian columns, in four rows; each column being two feet six inches in diameter, and eighteen feet high, including the base and capital. The nave, which is in the possession of the Armenians, is separated from the other branches of the cross by a wall; so that the uniformity of the edifice is destroyed. Here is an altar, dedicated to the wise men of the east, at the foot of which is a marble star, corresponding, as the monks say, to the point of the heavens where the miraculous meteor became stationary. A flight of fifteen steps and a long passage, conduct the traveller to the grotto of the nativity. The precise place of our Saviour's birth is marked by a glory in the floor, composed of marble and jasper, with a border of silver, and encircled with these words, “Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est.' (In this spot Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.) Over it is a marble table or altar, which rests against the side of the rock, here cut into an arcade. The manger is at the distance of seven paces from the altar; it is a low recess hewn out of the rock, to which you

descend by two steps, and consists of a block of marble raised about a foot and a half from the floor, and hollowed out in the form of a manger. Before it is the altar of the Magi. The chapel is illuminated by thirty-two lamps, presented by different princes of Christendom. Chateaubriand thus describes this imposing scene :'Nothing can be more pleasing, or better calculated to excite devotional feelings, than this subterraneous church. It is adorned with pictures of the Italian and Spanish schools, representing the mysteries of the place. Incense is continually burning before the cradle of our Saviour. I have heard an organ here, touched by no ordinary hand, play during mass the sweetest and most tender tunes of the best Italian composers. These concerts charm the christian Arab,

who, leaving his camels to feed, repairs, like the shepherds of old, to Bethlehem, to adore the King of kings in the manger. I have seen this inhabitant of the desert communicate at the altar of the Magi, with a fervour, a piety, a devotion, unknown amongst the christians of the west.'

“Such are the illusions which the Roman superstition has cast over the spot. In another subterraneous chapel, tradition places the sepulchre of the innocents. From this the traveller is conducted to the grotto of St. Jerome, who passed a great part of his life in this place, and is said to have made that translation of the Bible here, called the Vulgate, and adopted by the church of Rome.

“The village of Bethlehem contains about three hundred inhabitants, the greater part of whom gain their livelihood by making beads, crucifixes, &c., which are purchased by the pilgrims.

“On the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is to be seen a well, supposed to be the same of which David speaks in 2 Sam. xxiii. 15, when he says, “O that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! Although many ages have elapsed, this well still maintains its pristine renown; and many an expatriated Bethlehemite has made it the scene of his longing and regret."

DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. WERE we desired to adduce evidence to shew that the great leader of the Israelites was a prophet of Jehovah, we should, perhaps, have direct recourse to the supernatural interposition of the Almighty, in delivering that people from the yoke of Pharaoh. We might point to the marvellous things in the field of Zoan, the waters standing on a heap, and the cleaving of the hard rock in the wilderness; but second to none of these, as a proof of the divine mission of Moses is his last address, contained in that amazingly prophetic chapter, the twenty-eighth of the book of Deuteronomy. The astonishing accuracy and minuteness of the lawgiver, scarcely find their parallel in any prophecy. That they did not “hearken to the voice of the Lord their God, to observe and do all his commandments and his statutes,” is sufficiently known to every reader of holy writ; and that the curses denounced did overtake them, is briefly told in the following faithful narrative.

The Jews had assembled in their city from the surrounding country, to keep the feast of unleavened bread. It was crowded with inhabitants, when they were all imprisoned within its walls. The passover,

which was commemorative of their first great deliverance, had also collected them for their last signal destruction. Before any external enemy appeared, the fiercest dissensions prevailed: the blood of thousands was shed by their brethren : they destroyed and burned in their fury the common provisions for the siege : they were destitute of any regular government, and

« ForrigeFortsett »