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Of our Saviour's Journeyings, from his Birth to his Baptism, į and Entrance upon his public Ministry or Preaching of the
TIHEN the time appointed by the Divine Wisdom
V for the coming of the Messias into the world drew nigh, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, to let her know that she was so highly favoured, as to be made choice of for the mother of Him, who should be called the Son of the Highest, and should reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of whose kingdom there should be no end, that is, in short, of the Messias, or Redeemer of the world, The blessed Virgin then lived in a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, situated in the south-west part of Galilee, and so not far from the confines of Samaria to the south, and nearer to the coasts or territories of Tyre and Sidon to the north-west. It is at present (as we are informed by the late reverend and ingenious Mr. Maundrel *, who visited it but ten years ago, viz. A. D. 1697. in his return from Jerusalem to Aleppo) only an inconsiderable. village, situate in a kind of round concave valley on the top of an high hill. Here is a convent built over what is said to be the place of the Annunciation, or where the blessed Virgin received the joyful message brought her by the Angel. Here is also shewn the house of Joseph, being the same, as the friars of the convent tell you, wherein the Son of God lived for near thirty years in subjection to man, Luke ii. 51. And not far distant from hence they fhew likewise the fynagogue, wherein our blessed Lord preached that sermon, Luke iv. 16. by which his countrymen were so exasperated, or filled with wrath, that they rose up and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto
* Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 110, 115.
the brow of the bill whereon their city was built, that they CHA P. might cast him down headlong, Luke iv. 28, 29. This fame 11. precipice they now call the mountain of precipitation, for the reason just mentioned. It is at least half a league distant from Nazareth southward, and in going to it you cross first over the vale in which Nazareth stands; and then going down two or three furlongs, in a narrow cleft between the rocks, you there clamber up a short but difficult way on the right hand. At the top of this you find a great stone standing on the brink of the precipice, which is said to be the very place whence our Lord was designed to be thrown down by his enraged neighbours, had he not made a miraculous escape out of their hands. There are in this stone several little holes, resembling the prints of fingers thrust into it: these, the friars will tell you, are the impresses of Christ's fingers, made in the hard ftone, whilst he resisted the violence that was offered to him. At this place there are seen two or three cisterns for saving water, and a few ruins, which is all that now remains of a religious building founded here by the pious Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. And whereas the places, where are shewn the house of Joseph and the synagogue wherein our Saviour preached, were anciently digni. fied each with an handsome church by the same Empress, these monuments of her piety are now likewise in ruins.
Before we leave Nazareth, as it will not be altogether im- The cham. pertinent, so neither may it be altogether unuseful (namely, ber of the
Annunciain order to lay open the unreasonable and absurd bigotry of tion said by the Papists) to observe, that in how mean a condition soever the Papists
" to be re- ' Nazareth may be at present, yet some part of its ancient moved by buildings, I mean the chamber wherein the Virgin Mary is Nazareth to
w in angels from said to be fitting, when the Angel brought her those joyful Loretto. tidings above related, has had better luck, even at the no less expence than of a downright miracle, if we can believe the popish legends : for in these it is said, that this fame chamber being after the blessed Virgin's departure had in great reverence by Christians, and remaining in Nazareth till the Holy Land was subdued by the Turks and Saracens, A. D. 1291, it was then most miraculously transported into Sclavonia.
PART But that country being unworthy of the Virgin's presence, it
was by the angels carried over into Italy, and at length fettled ar Loretto, then a village in the Ecclefiaftical State, or Pope's dominion, his Holiness's territories being, without doubt, the most worthy in the world to be the receptacle of such an holy apartment. So extraordinary an arrival of fo extraordinary a relict was quickly noised about; and not only the people of all ranks came to visit it with great veneration, but even the popes themselves have paid it more than ordinary respect, one of them building a moft stately church over this chamber, which is now become, by presents made to the Lady of it, the richest in the world; another erecting the village of Loretto, where it stands, into a city and bishop's fee. So that Nazareth and Loretto have as it were changed conditions one with the other, Nazareth being formerly a city and bishop's or archbishop's fee, but now a village ; and Loretto being for
merly a village, but now a city and bishop's see.
...! It is time to take leave for the prefent of Nazareth, and Of the Hill Country of to attend the Virgin Mary in her journey thence to visit her Juded. cousin Elizabeth, who, the Angel acquainted her, had already
gone six months with the child, called afterwards John the Baptift. Elizabeth was the wife of Zacharias, a priest, and they dwelt in the hill country of Judea, Luke i. 39, 65. in the city, as is probably enough fupposed, of Hebron, this being one of the cities given to the priests in the tribe of Judah, Josh. xxi. 10, 13. and also faid exprefsly to lie in the mountains or hills, Josh. xi. 21. and xv. 48, 54. which running across the middle of Judea from south to north, gave to the tract they run along the name of the hill country. The blessed Virgin having staid with her coufin Elizabeth about three months, then returned to her own house at Nazareth. .
Some time after there went out a decree from Cæfar AugufOf Bethle- tus, that all the Roman world or empire should be taxed, that is,
fhould have their names and conditions of life set down in court-rolls, according to their families. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Fofeph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the native city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was
hould have ne Roman a went out a due at Nazaroahout three
of of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary his CHA P. espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that while II. they were there, the days were accomplished, that she should be delivered; and she brought forth her first-born son, our' ever A. D. s. blessed and to be adored Redeemer Jesus, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn, Luke ii. 3-7.. Now this Bethlehem * is distant from Jerusalem but two hours travel, or six miles to the south-west. And as it has been all along much honoured by Christians of all nations, on account of its being the place of our Saviour's birth : so at this very day it is generally visited by pilgrims, and it is furnished not only with a convent of the Latins, but also with one of the Greeks, and another of the Armenians; the two latter being contiguous to the former, and each having their several doors opening into the chapel of the holy Manger. For here are shewn at this very day the place, where, it is said, our blessed Lord was born, and the manger in which it is said he was laid; as also the grot of the blessed Virgin, which is within thirty or forty yards of one of the convents, and is reverenced on account of a tradition, that the blessed Virgin here hid herself and her divine babe from the malice of Herod, for some time before their departure into Egypt. The grot is hollowed in a chalky rock ; but this whiteness they will have to be not natural, but to have been occasioned by some miraculous drops of the blessed Virgin's milk, which fell from her breast when she was suckling the holy infant. And so much are they poffeffed with this opinion, that they believe the chalk of this grotto has a miraculous virtue for increasing women's milk; and it is very frequently taken by the women hereabouts, as well Turks and Arabs as Christians, for that pur- • pose; and, they will add too, that with very good effect.
There is likewise shewn to pilgrims now-a-days within about half a mile eastward, the field where it is said the shepherds were watching their flocks, when they received the glad tidings of the birth of Christ; and not far from the field,
* Maundrel's Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 85, 86, 8cc. VOL. II.
PART the village where they dwelt; and a little on the right-hand 1. of the village, an old desolate nunnery, built by St. Paula,
and made the more memorable by her dying in it.
But to return to Bethlehem itself: you have there shewn you the chapel of St. Joseph, the supposed father of our blessed Saviour; the chapel of the Innocents, as also those of St. Jerom, of St. Paula, and Euftochium. Of which three persons, St. Jerom was a celebrated writer in the latter end of the fourth century; and Paula the mother, and Euftochium the daughter, were two (among many other) Roman ladies instructed by St. Jerom in learning and piety, and that retired hither to Bethlehem with St. Jerom, whose school is likewise shewed here to pilgrims at this very day.
We are next to attend on the holy babe Jesus to Jerusalem. Of Jerusa
For when the days of the Virgin Mary's purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they brought him to Jea rusalem, &c. Luke ii. 22. This city first occurs in Scripture under the name of Salem, Gen. xiv. 18. which is by interpretation Peace, Heb. vii. 2. Of what race or extraction was Melchisedec, the first King of Salem we read of in holy Writ, is not known ; forasmuch as he is mentioned by Moses in the forecited chapter of Genesis, without father, without mother, without descent or pedigree, as is observed Heb. vii. 3. But in the times of Joshua we find the city possessed by the Jebusites, one of the nations descended from Canaan, Gen. x. 16. Joth. xv. 63. from whom it had the name of Jebus, Josh. xviii. 16, 28. Judg. xix. 10. being their principal city; and from these two names, Jebus and Salem, some imagine it to be called Jebufalem, and for better found fake Jerusalem. The Jebusites, we read, were not driven out by the children of Judah, but lived together with these at Jerusalem, Josh. xv. 63. For though the Israelites had taken the city, Judg. i. 8. yet it seems the Jebusites had a very strong fort adjoining thereto, which was not conquered till King David's reign, who, notwithstanding the strong opinion the Jebusites had of its being impregnable, which made them think David cannot come in bither, 2 Sam. v. 6. yet we read, that David took the strong hold of Zion, and dwelt in the said fort after he had
A. D. 1.