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THE PROPHECY, THE winter wears tranquilly past, and Mary, according to custom, remains closely concealed for forty days; but, as these approach their close, she must needs visit the Temple to offer sacrifice for her own ceremonial purification and for the redemption of her first-born. We behold them, therefore, journeying as before, Joseph leading the way, and drawing nigh to the Holy City. Their hearts expand with the purity and brightness of the vernal scene, and they beguile the way with many an ancient psalm; while close to her bosom Mary presses her sleeping child, and wonders at the happiness she feels.
A chariot thunders by, preceded by a score of spearmen, with burnished armor, waving plume, and glancing shield. A few casual glances are wasted on the tardy family of Joseph, and in a minute the cavalcade whirls out of sight. Pass on, proud Roman! thou leavest a greater king than Cæsar behind thee, one even of those " miserable Jews !"
As now they begin to wind to the left, through the vale of Hinnom, with palpitating bosoms and low voices they sing,
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness !!! And a mountain indeed rises, lofty and crowned with splendor, before them.
“ Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great king! Walk about Zion, and go round about her; tell the towers thereof; mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces!"
“ We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in."
Cry out and shout, oh inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee!"
Thus, from out the stores of their retentive memories, from childhood imbued with knowl. edge of the ancient Word, they rehearse responsive strains of jubilee and glory. ?
Thus they draw nigh that degenerate city, unworthy of the lowly guest now approaching her walls, filled with tyranny, concupiscence,
and self-righteousness, governed by Rome's bloody vassal, Idumean Herod. Did no thought of this, and of the impending future, mar the triumph of their song? Did no fatal forebodings rise? Did no voice whisper in their souls an oracle out of olden scrolls, “ Jerusalem shall become heaps; and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest ?"
Did Mary look unhesitatingly down upon the placid features of her child, and think, “ Yet a few years, and thou, my son, shalt possess these stupendous bulwarks, and the Lord shall give unto thee the throne of thy father David ; yea, the diadem, the crown, so long removed, so trebly overturned, the Lord will give to thee whose right it is?" And yet, as they come up by the western wall to the entering of the Bethlehem Gate, what waste and barren hill stands just before them, staring them gloomily in the face? That sullen mound is Calvary!
They scarcely see it; but, leaving it all ominous there upon the left, pass eastward through the gate, and along that road that leads to the Temple; a mournful road, to be called, in after generations, Via Dolorosa ; for why ?—this little one, who is now carried so tenderly in a mother's arms for the first time over its stones, shall, in a few years, stagger back over it, un
der the fatal cross, followed by this mother weeping, amid the howlings of a mob.
Unconscious, however, of this, they arrive in the spacious area at the base of the great stairway leading up to those dizzy heights; for the square side of Mount Moriah spreads her beveled masonry up before them, surmounted by the outer temple-parapet.
A little to the right, and almost over their very heads, springs the first of a series of mighty arches, spanning the Tyropoëon, and abutting upon Mount Zion. There, full many a score fathom in the air, seem almost to float those massive stones, as if of feathery lightness, by reason of the symmetrical proportions of the gigantic whole, whereon have beat the storms of ten centuries unheeded.*
* Speaking of ruins still visible, a modern writer says: “Can it be doubted, then, that this was the site of the viaduct mentioned by Josephus ? And it is just where we should, on grounds of probability, expect to find them, if any where, that we discover the huge commencements of an arch; an arch which, if its curve be calculated with an approximation to the truth, would measure sixty feet, and must have been one of five sustaining the viaduct (allowing for the abutments on either side) in running from side to side of the Tyropoëon.
“The piers supporting the center arch of this bridge must have been of great altitude, not less, perhaps, than one hundred and thirty feet; and the whole structure, when seen from the southern extremity of the Tyropoëon, must have had an aspect of grandeur, especially as connected with the lofty and
Little do they comprehend that these stupendous structures, apparently transcending human power to erect, or to remove, or even to disturb, are written to come down and be leveled with the dust, and in after ages speak out of the ground to the stranger from far-distant shores, as with wizard whisper, calling low from out the dust. *
On the contrary, as they go up the broad marble steps, we hear them chanting in suppressed voices,
66 And the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts, and in this place will I give
Arriving in the outer court, they travel leisurely round, beneath the magnificent southern portico. Corinthian columns of white marble support a roof of cedar, more than a hundred feet above their heads; columns so vast that three men in vain would try to clasp them, and so far apart that ranks of infantry might march between.
sumptuous edifices of the Temple and of Zion, to the right and to the left."— Traill's Josephus, vol. i., p. 29.
* Isaiah, xxix., 4.