« PreviousContinue »
teresting and instructive. “You are aware,' said be, *that it is the fashion among those who profess to understand our Scriptures better than we do ourselves, either to explain away by some shadowy interpretation what is declared of the natural fertility of this good land, or else assert that God has smitten it by an irreversible decree of barrenness, so that it shall never recover its former fruitfulness. According to them, the soil and its inheritors are alike shut out from the life-giving favour of the Almighty: their former distinction existing but in name; or rather indeed, as they would make out, rendered more conspicuous by the very marked reverse of all that they once were. It may be so, as regards the race of Israel; it may be,' he added, with a proud and scornful smile, as he encouraged his fiery steed to prance, and shew forth his own and his rider's stateliness, it may be that we are all a race of abject, spirit-broken slaves ; that among us is no intellect, no wealth, no enterprise, no worldly wisdom or spiritual knowledge : it may be that every man's foot is still on our neck, and that Israel is yet trodden down as the mire of the streets-but look at yonder patch of corn; narrow though the field be, how rich, how abundant is its produce! See that magnificent palm, rearing its tufted head on high, while the brown olive boughs beneath it are bending with the weight of ripening fruit; and see to the left what a carpet of gorgeous flowers is spread out, springing in pore wanton defiance of human culture from the recesses of this neglected soil-I tell you this country shall again bloom as Eden, when once its own sons bave it under their fostering hands.'
. And I tell you,' answered Ryan, 'that they too,
the seed of Jacob, shall again blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.'
* And you very well know,' said Mrs. Ryan, 'that your description of what Israel, through grinding oppression, and fearful persecution, has been in Europe, no longer exists. The Lord bath begun to take away the reproach of his people: the wealth that formerly was wrung from them by inhuman tortures is now borrowed by states and rulers, on terms most advantageous to the lenders, affording them an interest in, and an influence over the destinies of empires. In art, in science, in literature, the Hebrew continually stands before us successfully competing the highest prizes of emolument and fame. Your position now is, in reference to Ezekiel's vision, not that of separated bones, scattered bleak and bare, and very dry throughout the valley, but of bones re-united, and rapidly receiving their covering of flesh and sinew, preparatory to the reception of perfect, glowing life.'
* And that once received,' added Captain Ryan, • you will rise up an exceeding great army, against whom no people shall be able to stand ; for the Lord your God will be with you, and the shout of a king be among you.'
Da Costa smiled kindly: 'I believe we are well agreed as to the end, however we may differ concerning the means of its attainment.'
Daring this time, Alick never once spoke, nor did his attention appear for a moment diverted from the little carriage in which Charley was slung, by a contrivance of his, more independent of the motions of the male than before. That child had been to him in an especial manner the bearer of glad tidings if he would receive them as such ; and he felt as if to lose him would be a disjunction from the good that he was secretly longing to grasp. Incessantly was he gazing into the little litter, through the aperture that for ventilation was left in its curtain; and often did the dull, heavy cast of a countenance ever bright with restless animation excite a fear lest the last smile had passed away. The short dialogue just recorded had allowed him a more protracted contemplation of that sunken face than he had before enjoyed: and when Captain Ryan again addressed him, tears had gathered in his eyes.
• Dear Cohen! this trial falls heavily on you. To us it is indeed a heart-piercing stroke; but we have a consolation, the strength and the sweetness of which how gladly would we share with you!'
• It is my greatest comfort, sir, to see you and his dear mother so supported.'
• We need a divine support, indeed, for, even were he not as he is, our only one, the sole survivor of the five over whose early graves we have been taught submission to the will of the Lord, still there is that in his character which makes our hearts cleave to him with a fondness no words can pourtray. But thanks be to the Giver of all good gifts, what most endears him to us now, will prove the best source of consolation under the bereavement which I feel but too sure awaits us.'
' I never loved any living thing half so well,' said Alick, struggling with his grief: "but no wonder, for who even among mature men loves my people as that babe does ?'
It is really marvellous. You know, Cohen, I have for some years been much devoted to the cause ;
and Charles has heard a good deal on the subject at home: but there seemed to be a sort of preparedness in his young heart to receive the promise of God's gracious purposes towards Israel with a fulness and a gladness that I never saw equalled. Child as he is in temper, in manners, ia language, on all other points, he is there the enthusiastic man; and I cannot tell you what a gloom steals over my spirit while thus conducting him, insensibly I may almost say, through the land be so ardently longed to visit. It is teacbing me a sad, but I hope a profitable lesson of my own deficiency in single-eyed devotion.'
They continued for some miles to pass over a country of smiling plains ; but at length the ascent began, the road narrowed, and became extremely rugged, while before them, with occasional intermixture of a verdant and cultivated spot, rose piles of frowning rocks, and towering mountains, which gradually closed in upon them, until their path became a narrow, rugged, steep defile, where two could not without difficulty pass abreast; and where the motion was such that with all the anxious care of his tender guardians poor little Charley was rocked in his rough cradle with a rudeness that completely dissipated bis heavy slamber, and drew forth exclamations of surprise, if not of suffering, He fancied himself on board ship, and talked of a storm.
• We are not at sea, darling,' said Alick, but travelling through the mountain-passes of Judea, on the way to Jerusalem.'
At that word the boy lifted up his head, and exclaimed, “Let me look at Jerusalem!'
• You shall when we come within sight of it,' answered his father; 'but some hours must elapse be
fore then. Lie still, Charley, and I will tell you when we approach the holy city.'
' I would rather talk, papa. Is this Mount Lebanon, or is it the Mount of Olives, or Mount Zion, or what is it?'
* Lebanon,' answered Da Costa, “is at some distance from this place; the Mount of Olives is over against Jerusalem ; and on Mount Zion the city itself was built.'
Ah, I forget, but my head is very foolish, somehow. What mountain is it, Mr. Dockster? Is there any thing about it in the Bible ?'
. I do not remember that there is; but we shall soon see a place about which you have surely heard much : the plain wbere young David fought Goliath, and destroyed him. The armies, you know, were drawn up opposite to each other, Saul and the Israel on one side, on the other the Philistines, and Goliath came down into the plain every day to threaten and to taunt them.'
* And David chose some pebbles out of the brook,' said Charles, and he put them in his shepherd's sling, and slung them, and hit the giant in the forehead, and killed him, and took his own sword, and cut off his head with it.'
• Exactly so; presently I will shew you the brook where David got the pebbles, and the place where the giant fell.'
• The Philistines were bad people, observed Charles: 'they were always persecuting the Jews.'
Only when they sinned; when they repented the Lord always raised up some deliverer whom they followed, and under whose command they put all their enemies to the rout-as they shall do again.'