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fering are complete, and the whole band of Levites break forth into the chant of praise, the sudden emotion lends a thrilling tone to every voice. And as, at every pause in the chant, the trumpets sound with a more thrilling energy, and the people worship, something of the old spirit of the days of David seems waking there, and the loud responses come with heartier zeal.
And the sound of this mighty song, borne upon the voices of thousands, rolls down from that glorious temple upon the silent city below, and echoes, billow after billow, across the surrounding vales and hills.
It is the great national anthem of praise; and doubtless, as it rises up, in the pure morning air, to the serene summer heaven, there goes with it some pure worship out of at least a few hearts in that vast multitude.
And now the last note of the song has died away; the last echo from the deserted streets is hushed, and, treading backward, the people reverently leave the sanctuary.
The gates upon the east, west, and south disgorge the living tide down the long marble stairways, pouring along the streets, but now as silent as the tomb. They disperse through the various parts of the city, or through the city gates to their homes in all the adjacent country, carrying with them, as they go, the news of a strange event, and discussing the same, with industri. ous ingenuity, into all conceivable attitudes and exaggerations.
Let us follow the steps of two who turn northward, and, passing leisurely along, saunter beneath the grim walls of the tower Antonia.
“What is this new marvel, comrade ? for methought I saw thee most devoutly attentive by the railing of the priests' court!"
“ Nay," replies the other, “I could make naught thereof. A vision, so they whisperedan angel—I know not what; priest's juggling all.”
“Ay, these ambitious, sanctimonious knaves, they would juggle us into a war with the Romans if they could, and themselves into that ancient splendor they prate so loudly on.”
“For my part,” responds the other, “I have naught to do with their whole jargon of worship; by this token, which shows with what dexterity I have pursued my avocation;" and he held to his admiring comrade a valuable bracelet, which he had purloined in the press.
" Thou sayest !” he exclaims; “right praiseworthy avocation! a true priestly dexterity! for while yon mitred knaves tithe the multitude in one way, we do the same more quietly in another."
"And a less laborious,” is the reply, as they pass beyond our hearing.
Leaving thus the young Barrabas and his comrade, just starting in their career, and whom we may meet again in after years, let us stand by this corner of a public square and listen to others as they pass.
“ It is said," cries one of three or four of the common people, “it is said that Messiah is come, and that there will be no more taxes !"
Nay,” rejoins another, "not Messiah, but Elias is come."
These go by, and two Levites and a scribe appear.
“Behold, now," says one of them, “ how this accursed populace are gone crazed after the prating of yon driveling dotard !
An angel, quotha ! and a son from his withered loins ! Yet any dream suffices to kindle this rabble like tow.”
Ah,” rejoins a scribe, “this is well for thee, who art known to lean to the dogmas of the Sadducees; but there be many wiser heads than thine, which do not wholly make light of this matter; besides, is it not the day when Daniel said Messiah should come ?”.
The reply of the first speaker we can not hear in the distance.
An aged matron, bowed with near a century's weight of years, now totters slowly by, supported by a youthful damsel. Though both are closely veiled, we hear the matron feebly saying,
“God grant, my daughter, thine ears did not deceive thee! An angel ? and a son, in the spirit of Elias? Heaven be praised! To turn the hearts of the fathers, and prepare a people for the Lord ? Full bitterly we need it in these awful days of sin and shame! But ah! can it be possible that these old eyes shall yet live to look upon the Lord's anointed ?"
And thus, passing round from point to point in this great city, we find that one subject is every where discussed, and that, the wonderful event of the morning's worship. Every possible version of the matter seems already afloat, and noised upon the very house-tops. One affirms that Zacharias himself is Elias; another, that he saw Elias and conversed with him; a third, that Messiah is come or coming. And so, from top to bottom of the community, from priest to Levite, Pharisee to Sadducee, Jew to Roman, honest man to knave, some word is passing concerning the vision, some thoughts
astir concerning future events. The future alone is thought of; the close-impending, mysterious, doubtful, gloomy, glorious future is discussed by every knot, in every corner, and in every market-place. Nor can the loudest scoffers quite suppress a secret sensation of disquiet and foreboding.
One thing, indeed, remains notorious and palpable to all, and undisputed. There is Zacharias fulfilling his weekly ministration under the visible mark of divine visitation. He is dumb, and that in the midst of all the chief men of his nation. And, with all their crossquestioning, they can elicit from him only one plain, unvarnished tale. This fact alone can not fail to afford matter of infinite speculation to all, far and near.