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" Why, travellers have been here whom with these same hands and with this same rope we have let down into the well. Some of our folk went down along with them, and we were well paid for it. We will let you down as carefully as we did them.”
Oh, thought I, Dr. Wilson, is your generons reward the cause of the disturbance I experience ? No wonder, after having given these moneywolves such a baksheesh as they probably never received before, and no wonder when other travellers after you, overborne by the vociferations of the Arabs, have paid them as much, that they expect to get the same from me, and from all others that visit Jacob's well. But thus it ought not to be. We are greatly obliged to Mr. Bonar and Dr. Wilson for the examination they made of Jacob's well; but now as we know that whereas in Maundrell's time it had a total depth of 105 feet, with 12 feet of water, according to Dr. Wilson's measurement its depth is only 75 feet, with very little water, proving how careful travellers, from Maundreil's to Wilson's time, must have been to convince themselves, by dropping stones into it, of the truth of what Scripture says, “ the well is deep." We know, chiefly from Dr. Wilson, the appearance of the inside, namely, a shaft cut through the solid rock, of about 9 feet in diameter, covered over with a cupola-shaped vaulted roof, of which the small hole now seen on the ground above forms the entrance. Now is it high time for these troublesome Arabs, who live in the ruins at the foot of Mount Ebal, to learn that travellers from henceforth can do without them, and that they must do without extorting baksheesh from travellers. Once more only will there be any need for people going down into the well, and that will be when the children of Jacob shall again inherit the ground which belonged to Jacob, and when they will have to clean out froin the well the rubbish that has fallen into it.
Meanwhile my troublesome company kept by me. Now and then, indeed, one would go away muttering with a sigh, “Insh' Allah !” (as God will), as if he would say, “ Well, as it cannot be helped, I must go without baksheesh ;” still, for one that went two came in his place. In short, they remained about me, sitting smoking and talking, clamouring and yawning, over the never-ending repetition of “Baksheesh, chamadja, baksheesh !"
Great was my disappointment, and my patience was sorely tried. I had hoped that they would weary of their fruitless efforts, and leave me in peace. But the heart of an Arab seems tougher than leither, and knows nothing of concession. For four hours and a half I held out, and remained quietly sitting at the well ; but then I gave it up to them. The “speaking with Jesus” at the well of the woman of Samaria, was not granted to me. I had enough to do to restrain my resentment at these troublesome Arabs, and returned homewards with a very oppressed mind, while disappointment on their side led them to send not a few curses after me.
After my return, I once more turned up the chapter in John's gospel, Nothing disturbed me now. And though cast down at first by what I had met with at Jacob's well, I could now comprehend what the Lord said: “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father secketh such
to worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Not at Jerusalem, not on this Mount Gerizim, not at Jacob's well, not on any of the holy places of Palestine, does God desire to be worshipped. The" God, that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things."
The lesson I learned at Jacob's well will, I trust, be salutary to me. I learn from it, that with all the aversion which may be cherished for the gross idolatry of so many of the tourists in Palestine, our own hearts may be filled with a refined but not the less dangerous sentimentalism in religion, which seeks for a foundation for a holy and godly life, and for a touchstone of the genuineness and sincerity of one's faith, in pious impressions and sensations. Oh, the heart of man! Who shall fathom it ? Deceitful above all things ! And for nothing so unfitted, so indisposed as for the believing acceptation of what God hath spoken for our everlasting redemption ! We often fancy to ourselves, especially after some one or other strong proof of God's grace and love, that nothing thenceforth shall be able to shake our faith. But no sooner does the lively idea or feeling of that love decline, than it soon appears, from our anxiety and depression, how far we are still removed from “walking by faith and in faith, and not by sight.” And thus with respect to the holy places in Palestine. We condemn the worshipping of such places by the Greeks and Latins ; but we cherish, at the same time, a secret notion that the visiting of these places cannot fail deeply to impress us. The occurrences which happened there must, we think, come vividly before us when thus transferred to the very spot, and such lively conceptions of them must soften our dead stony hearts. The Redeemer's love will thus, we imagine, come more plainly and more powerfully before our eyes, and the return of love, on our part, towards him, will be awakened even to tears of gratitude! In the awakening of that feeling, we will love the very ground that once was trodden by the Saviour's feet, and it will be a blessed thing for us to be able to pray on such a spot. Call not this any worship of the dust, we further argue; for the dust is endeared to us only through him by whose bodily touch it was sanctified-and it is thus he alone, not the dust itself, that is worshipped. Who can be scandalised at this?
Oh, lamentable self-deception !
How very different is the language of the apostle :-“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” Had enjoyment of religious impressions, and a life of holy sensations been dependent on the visitation of such holy places, God's word, instead of the oft reiterated and express command of the Lord Jesus, to pray to our Father which is in heaven for the Holy Ghost, would have contained an injunction, ordering us to make pilgrimages to Palestine ; and, alas! for those who either from remoteness of residence while living at the ends of the earth, or from sickness, or from want of money, should not be able to undertake such pilgrimages ! Such is not the doctrine of Jesus. The life of communion with God, the secret converse with the Saviour, are quite independent of place and country. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them,” saith Jesus, “he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him.” “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
You will not, then, my dear friend, grudge your not having, like me, had it in your power to visit Jacob's well. For my part, I must look back with gratitude on the disappointment I experienced there. May I not likewise recognise in that experience the accomplishment of what the Saviour said to the Samaritan woman : “ The Father seeketh such to worship"? Truly it was a seeking, that disturbance by the Arabs at the well, which prevented my wandering into the error of an excited religious sentimentalism.
Edtork amoug the Lost. “SHE stoops to conquer.
66 HE stoops to conquer.” The lower mercy descends the loftier
are her triumphs. When grace reached the level of the Jewish tax-gatherer, loathed by his countrymen, it found a gem in the publican whose heaven-accepted prayer has taught millions how to approach their God; and when it dived still lower and sank to the infamy of the harlot, it brought to light a pearl of priceless worth in that woman who loved much because much had been forgiven her. Glory to God in the highest is the sure result of the salvation of those lowest in sin. Hence it is that Christ-like work among the most depraved is evermore, in the deepest sense, satisfactory ; not because it yields a large harvest, as computed statistically, nor because the results always turn out to be what hope had expected ; but partly because one such sinner saved is a plain miracle of mercy, and usually becomes a fervent lover of “The Sinner's Friend;” and yet more because the very desire to bless the fallen is incense offered to Christ's honour, and every sustained and self-denying effort for their good is a testimony to the power of Jesus in the hearts of his people. Whatever part of the service of the saints may flag, it may well be the prayer of all wise Christians that there may be no dimination of effort for reclaiming the outcasts.
We received the other day for review a little book, from the publishing house of Mr. Macintosh, entitled, “Work among the Lost,” by the author of “Home Thoughts for Mothers and Mothers' Meetings,” and we sat down to give it such a reading as it might deserve. The perusal of its pages was a means of grace to our soul, and we could not refrain from saying in soliloquy, “We wish every Christian in England would read it.” The book is not written in the common sensational style, but aims at describing facts plainly and without colour. It treats of a work more or less in connection with the Church of England; butamong loving, earnest, soul-winners, sectarianism is overleaped, and usefulness in any denomination is honoured, even by those who could not endorse all its modes of operation. Whatever of Churchianicy may be in the enterprise, there appears to be so abundant a mixture of Christianity in it that it matters not. All we know of the mission i; drawn from the book under our eye, and so far we are charmed with it.
Mrs. V., of the Albion Hill Home for Female Penitents, at Brighton, is the heroine of this interesting narrative, from which we hope to be forgiven if we make too copious extracts. We have no design but to aid the noble work by tempting friends to purchase the record before 118, which will not distress their purses, and is sure to benefit their souls. Mrs. V. is of the seed of Abraham after the flesh, and indirectly owes her conversiou to Christ to the influence of a Christian maid-servant who was engaged in her father's family. That godly “servant sat and told the little Jewish children of the rejoicing deaths of Christians ; how faith in the Nazarene is strong enough to overcome the last enemy, and transform the grave into the footprint of an angel' sent to fetch us to our Father's hoine, the dying eyes no more beholding the king of terrors,' but the King in his beauty. Years after that seed was sown, a near relative of one of those children then grown up into a Jewish maiden-came to die. He had been a devout and honourable Jew, faithfully serving the God of his fathers; but alas! the hope full of immortality brought to light by the gospel was not there, and none dared tell him of the danger his life was in before it was too late, and all was over. This struck the Jewish girl as the strangest contradiction, that they, who had the truth, should have to die in the dark, unable to face death ; while those Nazarenes, who believed in a lie, could welcome death and go home rejoicing; and she resolved that after the days of mourning were accomplished, she would get a New Testament and search into the matter for herself. The New Testament was procured and carefully read; and it ended, after a time, by the same cry springing from the heart of the Jewish girl as once burst from the Roman centurion, Truly this was the Son of God;' and by her being publicly baptised as a Christian.”
The family of grace gained no feeble and sickly member when the young Jewess found the Messiah. A mother in Israel was that day brought to Jesus, to be sent forth with a commission to gather together the captire daughters of Zion and proclaim liberty unto them. Soon after his settlement, the late Mr. George Wagner, of St. Stephen's Church, Brighton, an earnest lover of souls, had his heart anxiously set upon the rescue of the erring girls who so sadly abound in towns like Brighton. For this work he needed a sister's aid, and he found it, beyond all he could have expected, in the Jewish lady who had by that time been married to a missionary, had become a widow, and with matured judgment and tried faith stood ready for the service. Never was woman better fitted for her appointed task. She cared for the fallen as a mother for her babes, not because it was her duty, but because compassion for them was an instinct of her soul. Her zeal supplied her with wisdom, and educated her common sense. She became, is, and we trust long will be, a mighty hunter before the Lord for the souls of fallen women. The institution which sprang out of her labours has been one of the most successful homes of the penitent in England, and is regarded by many as a model Refuge. The brain
and heart which planned, as well as the active hand which carried out the enterprise, are alike worthy of commendation and imitation. Every visitor to Brighton can see the house, which shelters sixty-two inmates, and will regard it with the more interest when he knows what has been done in connection with it.
“Her first case was a remarkable one. She had resolved to pass over none as too bad to be saved, but to go boldly to the vilest with God's free offer of pardon ; and accordingly, being told of a certain Mrs. P., whose house was a moral cesspool to the whole neighbourhood, but who was such a known virago that no one dared to go near her, she at once set off to seek her. She stopped at the entrance of one of the worst streets in Brighton, and knocked at a door, in order to inquire for the number of Mrs. P.'s house. The woman of the house was a respectable person, and, strange to say, as it afterwards turned out, a sister-in-law of Mrs. P. In answer to Mrs. V.'s inquiry, she replied, 'Well, yes ; sure enough I can tell you the number. But it isn't a place for the likes of you to go to ; she's one of the worst characters in Brighton. You can't stand before her.' Yes, but if we all pass her by, how is she to become any better ?' But, feeling her courage rapidly ebbing away, she added, 'I want to tell her about her Saviour. Will you let me come in, and let us pray that God may soften her heart, and incline her to listen to me?' The woman at once seemed touched, and after a few words of prayer together, she pointed out the house to Mrs. V. The door was opened by Mrs. P. herself, and four young women were in the room into which Mrs. V. entered. No sooner had she begun to intreat them earnestly and affectionately to come to their Saviour, than Mrs. P. flew out at her, and poured forth upon her a torrent of vile abuse of so unspeakable a kind that every word pained liked a blow, at the same time threatening to use personal violence if she remained a moment longer in the house. It was a sharp ordeal, but courage was given her to bear it calmly in remembrance of him who bore to be called a wine-bibber, and a devil, by his own creatures; and she only said, gently, “ You should not abuse one who comes to be your friend.' She was comforted by one of the girls, Mrs. P.'s own daughter, exclaiming, 'Oh, mother, you shouldn't use such dreadful words to the lady, when she tells you she has come to do us good!' But, as nothing could be done with the woman in her present temper, silently lifting up her heart to God that he. would melt her hard heart, Mrs. V. left the house, feeling much discouraged, and tingling all over with the insults that had been heaped upon her.
Two days after she resolved, however, to go again. She was met at the entrance of the street by Mrs. P.'s sister-in-law, who exclaimed, 'Oh, ma'am, I am so glad to see you! Betsy is so sorry for the way she treated you. She came into our house after you were gone, and cried like a child ; and it takes a great deal to make Betsy cry. I haven't seen her shed a tear for years. She do hope you'll forgive her. She says she never would have behaved so bad to you if she hadn't been the worse for drink. Maybe, ma'am, you wouldn't mind stepping in to see her? for she has been longing to see you again.' With a glad and thankful heart Mrs. V. went to her house. She was received with open arms and many an ex. pression of sorrow ; and seated on the sofa with Mrs. P. on one side of her and her daughter on the other, she talked to them, prayed with them, and finally Mrs. P. thankfully accepted Mrs. V.'s offer to take her own daughter and one of her lodgers up to a reformatory in town.
". From that time Mrs. V. became known as one who had devoted herselt to seeking and saving poor lost girls."
Such a beginning augured great things. The difficulty and the success would act as a double spur to the mind of a woman like Mrs. V. Her hand was on the plough, and she had no will to look back, nor indeed was it possible for her to do so. She went on; the way cleared, and the work grew.
It is noteworthy how holy zeal solves knotty points connected with social morality, and puts aside as so many cobwebs those business excuses with which men cover unlawful gains. Adam Smith's hard and fast laws of political economy are kicked at by Mr. Ruskin in his