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We went, however, and the gnarled olive - trees, some of which are said to have been there at the time of Christ-and look it-were worth while. The garden as a whole, however, was less interesting than from above, and it was only the feeling that somewhere near here the Man who would die on Calvary asked that the cup of sorrow might pass from Him which made us linger.
It was verging on twilight when we climbed to the city, and the others were for going to the hotel. But there was one more place I wanted to see. That was the hill outside of Jerusalem which the guide-books rather charily mention as “Gordon's Calvary,” because General Gordon once visited it and accepted it as the true place of the Crucifixion. I knew that other thoughtful men had accepted it, too, and had favored a tomb not far away called the “Garden Tomb” as the true Sepulchre. I wanted to see these things and judge for myself. But two of our party and the guide spoke no English, and my Biblical German needed practice. There seemed to be no German word for Calvary, and when I ventured into details I foundered. Still, I must have struck a spark somewhere, for presently a light illumined our guide's face:
“Golgota! Das richtige Golgota” (the true Golgotha), he said, excitedly, and then I remembered that I should have said Golgotha, the “Place of the Skull," in the beginning.
We were away immediately, all of us, hurrying for the Damascus gate, beyond which it lay. It was not far-nothing is far in Jerusalem-and presently we
(Notice the large eyes and mouth of the skull formed by cavities in the cliff. The place of execution is marked by the little heap of stones above.)
were outside, at the wicket of a tiny garden-a sweet, orderly little place—where a pleasant German woman and a tall old Englishman with a spiritual face were letting us in. Then they led us to a little arbor, and directly—to a tomb, a real tomb, cut into the cliff overhanging the garden.
I do not know whether Jesus was laid in that tomb or not, and it is not likely that any one will ever know. But He could have been laid there, and it is not unlikely that He was laid there, for Golgotha—the hill that every unprejudiced visitor immediately accepts as the true Golgotha-overlooks this garden.
We could not ascend the hill—the Mohammedans no longer permit that—but we could go to the end of the garden and look up to the little heap of stones which marks the old place of stoning and of crucifixion. It was always the place of public execution. The Talmud refers to it, and the Jews of Jerusalem spit toward it to this day. We could make out the contour of the skull which gave it its name, and even the face, for in its rocky side ancient tombs and clefts formed the clearly distinguished features.
It is a hill; it is outside the walls; it is the traditional site of executions; it is the one natural place to which Jesus would have been taken for crucifixion. The Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was never a hill; it was never outside the walls; it was never a traditional site for anything until Queen Helena began to dream.
Perhaps the reader may say, “With all the tales and traditions and disputes and doubts, what does it matter?” Perhaps it does not matter. Perhaps that
old question of Pilate, “What is truth?"' need not be answered.
Yet somewhere amid the mass of confliction there follows a thread of fact. Sifting the testimony, it is difficult to deny that there once lived a man named Jesus—later, and perhaps then-known as the Christ; that He was of humble birth, and grew up to teach a doctrine of forgiveness and humility (a doctrine new to the Hebrew teachers of His day, whose religion consisted mainly of ceremonial forms); that He was able to heal the sick; that He had a following who, perhaps, hailed Him as their king; that it was because of these things that He was crucified on a hill outside of Jerusalem.
I think this is as far as general acknowledgment goes. The Scriptures declare more, the sceptic allow's less; but the majority of mankind unite on the foregoing admissions. At all events, a great religion was founded on this man's life and death-a doctrine of gentleness when creeds are stripped away--and it is proper that such truth as can be established concerning the ground He trod, especially on that last dark day, should be recognized and made known. Of our little party of four there was not one who-standing there as the stars came out, and looking up at that hill outlined against the sky-did not feel a full and immediate conviction that this was indeed the spot where that last, supreme expiation was made, and that this sweet garden, guarded by these two gentle people, was the truer site for the Sepulchre which was "nigh at hand.”