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The land where the Word-made-flesh dwelt with men is, and must ever be, an integral part of the Divine Revelation. Her testimony is essential to the chain of evidences, her aid invaluable in exposition. Mournful deserts and mouldering ruins rebuke the pride of man and vindicate the truth of God; and yawning gulfs, from Tophet to the Sea of Death, in its sepulchre of bitumen and brimstone, warn the wicked, and prophesy of coming wrath. Even the trees of her forests speak parables, and rough brambles bear allegories; while little sparrows sing hymns to the happy, and lilies give lessons to comfort the poor. The very hills and mountains, rocks, rivers, and fountains, are symbols and pledges of things far better than themselves. In a word, Palestine is one vast tablet whereupon God's messages to men have been drawn, and graven deep in living characters by the Great Publisher of glad tidings, to be seen and read of all to the end of time.
The Land and the Book—with reverence be it said—constitute the ENTIRE and ALL-PERFECT TEXT, and should be studied together. To read the one by the light of the other has been the privilege of the author for twenty-five years; and the governing purpose in publishing is to furnish additional facilities for this delightful study to those who have not been thus favored. The Itinerary commences with eighteen hundred and fifty-seven, but the scenes described were visited many times during the preceding quarter of a century. These almost innumerable excursions are not imaginary, but real; and the results, so far as they bear on Biblical Illustration, appear in the current narrative.
The "conversations," also, are equally genuine-are, in fact, a part of the tours—held in the open country, on horseback, or beneath the pilgrim's tent. Each reader is at liberty to regard himself as the compagnon de voyage; but, in the mind of the author, his fellow-traveler is not a mythical abstraction, whose office is merely to introduce what needs to be introduced, but a true and loving brother, who thus announces his arrival and the object of his visit to the Holy Land:
“Ras Beirût, January 20th, 1857. “MY DEAR W- , I this morning woke to find life's long dream a beautiful reality. For twenty years and more, as you well know, a visit to Palestine has been the unattained object of my fondest aspirations; and now here am I safely landed on her sacred shore, in perfect health, and ready to prosecute our pilgrimage with cheerful courage and high hope. The compact of our boyhood is to be realized, and I summon you to fulfill your part of it. This land of the Bible must become familiar to me as childhood's home. There are lessons in every thing around me, I feel quite sure, and teachers on every side, did I but know their language. You are to be my dragoman to interpret this unknown tongue of the Holy Land. Such, you remember, is our compact.
“I am told that the necessary preparation for our travels can only be made in this city. Come on, therefore, without delay, and let us gather together whatever will contribute to our comfort, safety, and success. This will reach you by messenger express. The answer, I hope, will be yourself.”
This summons was neither unexpected nor reluctantly obeyed; and a few hours' ride along the shore brought the author from Sidon to Beirût, where the long-separated met in the hospitable mansion of a mutual friend. And now, kind reader, I trust that, like ourselves, you are eager to commence this tour of the Holy Land. But we must begin our preparations for it with “the garment of patience." Horses, and mules, and tents, and canteens, and beds, cooking apparatus and servants to use it, with many other things too trifling to be mentioned, yet too necessary to be omitted, can not be secured in a day. Meanwhile we may employ some of the hours of unavoidable delay in excursions to sites and scenes in and around our beautiful city. Indeed, we invite you to join us in such a ramble at once through these charming suburbs.