« PreviousContinue »
wonder he was willing to lie down in Mount Nebo and be at peace.
Yet they are a chosen people—a people apart-a race that remains a race, and does not perish. Chosen for what? To make a bitter example of what a race can do when it remains a race—how high it can rise and how low may become its estate of mişery? Remember, I am not considering the Jew as an individual; he is often noble as an individual; and it was a Jew who brought light into the world. I am considering a race—a race no worse than any other, and no better, but a chosen race; a race that without a ruler, without a nation, without a government—that outcast and despised of many nations has yet remained a unit through three thousand years. I am maintaining that only a chosen people could do that, and, without being able even to surmise the purpose, it is my humble opinion that the ages will show that purpose to have been good.
I have already inferred that the landmarks and localities of Jerusalem may be viewed with interest, but not too seriously. They have all associations, but most of them not the particular and sacred associations with which they are supposed to be identified. The majority of them were not located until Christ had been dead for a thousand years, and the means of locating them does not invite conviction. Inspiration located most of them, dreams the rest. That is to say, imagination. Whenever a priest or a dignitary wanted to distinguish himself he discovered something. He first made up his mind what he
would like to discover, and then had an inspiration or a dream, and the thing was done. The eight Stations of the Cross, for instance, were never mentioned earlier than the twelfth century, and the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, was not so known until the fourteenth. Still, it must have been along some such street that the Man of Sorrow passed between the Garden and the Cross.
We visited the Garden first. It was now late in the afternoon, and the sunlight had become tender and still and dream-like, and as we passed the traditional places — the house of Pilate, under the Ecce Homo arch, and the others, we had the feeling that it might have been on an evening like this that the Son of Man left the city, and with His disciples went down to Gethsemane to pray.
We were a very small party now—there were only four of us and the guide, for the others had become tired and were willing to let other things go. But if we were tired, we did not know it, and I shall always be glad of that fact.
At St. Stephen's gate (the tradition is that he was stoned there) we stopped to look down on Gethsemane. Perhaps it is not the real site, and perhaps the curious gilt-turreted church is not beautiful, but set there on the hillside amid the cypresses and venerable olive-trees, all aglow and agleam with the sunset, with the shadow of the dome of Omar creeping down upon it, there was about it a beauty of unreality that was positively supernatural. I was almost tempted not to go down there for fear of spoiling the illusion.
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 floundered. 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