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VISIT TO PALESTINE.
MR RIGHTER's stay in Egypt was short—the principal part of his time was spent in Cairo and the vicinity; and having accomplished all that seemed immediately practicable, he returned to Alexandria, and took passage for Jaffa in company with Mr and Mrs Wm. C. Prime, whom he met in Egypt, Mr De Leon, United States consul to Egypt, and several other friends whom he had met since leaving Constantinople. It was quite a remarkable coincidence that he should be the travelling companion of three brothers in three separate years. When he left home for the first time in 1853, it was in company with Rev. S. Irenæus Prime, who was leaving to spend a year in foreign travel to restore his wasted health. Mr R. was with him during that whole year of travel. When he set out a second time, in 1854, it was in company with the Rev. E. D. G. Prime, who was leaving to take charge of the American chapel at Rome, where they parted after being together nearly two months.
On reaching Egypt, in January 1856, he very unexpectedly met with Mr William C. Prime, with whom he afterwards travelled through the Holy Land and to Constantinople.
Arrived at Jaffa, Mr R. says :-"I made a visit to the so-called house of one Simon, a tanner, by the sea-side, where Simon Peter lodged, and as he went up on the housetop to pray, saw heaven opened, and a vision of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth; teaching him that what God had cleansed, he should not call common or unclean ; but that ‘on the Gentiles also would be poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost,' and henceforth he became a preacher of righteousness to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
Thence I proceeded directly to Jerusalem, passing across the plain of Sharon, and over the mountains of Judea. It was with peculiar emotions that we entered the Holy City, around which cluster so many hallowed associations, whence we received both the law and the gospel; where our divine Saviour lived, taught, and died, rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, where 'He ever liveth to make intercession for us.' From the New World we have come to bring back the same Bible and gospel in its purity to this distant land, whence we had received it through the apostles and primitive Christians 1800 years ago."
He records his impressions more at length in his letters from which large extracts are made. The following letters, were addressed to the editors of the New York Observer :
“At length our feet stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.' • Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole
earth is Mount Zion. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem : they shall prosper that love thee.' How rich and thrilling are the associations that throng upon the mind as you enter the Holy City! The abode of the prophets, apostles, and Saviour himself; where the sublime scenes of our faith transpired-atonement, resurrection, ascension; where the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost, to the disciples, in cloven tongues as of fire, and all spake in strange languages the wonderful works of God. Next to walking the golden streets of the New Jerusalem, to stand within the earthly city, and gain a vivid, realising sense of these spiritual scenes, yields perhaps the highest joy to the Christian heart. To look upon Mount Zion, Mount Moriah, and the mountains round about Jerusalem, Gethsemane, Calvary, the Sepulchre, and the Mount of Ascension, where the heavens were opened, and the Saviour received into glory, quicken one's faith and zeal in the service of his Divine Master, as no other influence can, save the movings of the Spirit of God upon the heart.
“The first day that I spent in Jerusalem was one of the most deeply interesting of my life. In the morning (though not the Sabbath), we attended service in the English church upon Mount Zion, an elegant Gothic building, and a fitting sanctuary to worship God in His ancient chosen dwelling-place. The Scriptures were read, embracing the preaching of John the Baptist, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth ; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.' Also the baptism of Jesus, when the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a
bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased.' The gospel comes to us as the oracles of salvation from the lips of the earnest preacher, and the songs of praise, and the voice of prayer ascend as incense before the throne, to call down the blessing of Heaven upon the worshipping assembly. Surely, “This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven,' to our souls, and here we do sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
“It was a scene and impression never to be forgotten. • They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth, even for ever.' After service, we were introduced to good Bishop Gobat, and an excellent circle of Christian friends, faithful watchmen on the walls of Zion. Then we went forth in company with Dr Bonar, of Scotland, and Dr Tyler, of America, to gain our first views and impressions of the Holy City, and the sacred localities around.
“We first examined the town of David,-a quadrangular fortress built in the walls upon the western side of Mount Zion. It is partly of modern, and partly of ancient construction. The lower stones are large, and levelled in the ancient Jewish style of workmanship, which is as distinctly marked as the Roman or Grecian. The foundation must therefore undoubtedly be referred to the time of David, when he took the fortress of Mount Zion from the Jebusites, and strengthened it, and made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom. Then passing beyond the Jaffa gate, and ascending a flight of stone steps, we climbed to the top of
the city walls. They are built of square masses of limestone, and strengthened with towers and battlements in the Saracenic style. A wide space is left upon the top, and a parapet upon the outer edge gives security to the walk, that commands a beautiful view both within and without the city. From this point, at the north-west angle of Mount Zion, we looked westward to the upper and lower pools and valley of Gihon, that terminates in the valley of the Sons of Hinnom. It is recorded that 'Hezekiah stopped the upper water-course of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David.' This aqueduct is still traceable, and conducts underneath the walls to the pool of Hezekiah within the city. At this fountain of Gihon, Zadok the priest took a horn of oil out of the tabernacle and anointed Solomon king of Israel. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon. And all the people came up after him; and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.'
“As we looked down upon this valley, and the reservoir still remaining, around which the anointing of the Wise King was celebrated, the whole scene was vividly impressed upon the mind. From this point also we traced the course and direction of the ancient walls of the city, and the whole was spread out as a physical map before us. Turning to the right, we saw the gardens of Bath-sheba within the walls now planted with green growing grain, and portions of Mount Zion under the plough of cultivation. 'Zion shall be ploughed like a field.' Also piles of ruin and rubbish were heaped around, and an air of deso