By Martin Knapp
The Evangelist had long felt that for God's glory and his own good he should cross theocean and learn lessons from Oriental lands that would enable him to still more successfullyaccomplish the great work which God had given him to do. Especially was he desirous himself totravel in
Galilee, sweet Galilee,
The place where Jesus loved to be."
Preliminary preparations having been perfected, January 16 finds him at New York City onboard of the steamship Aurania, his native land receding from his sight, and new and longed-forscenes about to burst upon his vision.
"Going out," he writes, "we passed every boat we came in sight of. Saw one vessel sunken;it looked sad. Another on the ground, with several boats attached to pull it off So in life we seepeople, some on a sand-bar, others sunken, others passing all."
As usual Mr. Weber had his eyes open and pen busy, and gathered much valuable material,which of itself would make a very attractive book. It is hoped he may some day see fit to prepare itfor the public; here we can give but brief mention of some of the many points of interest.
At London, Britain's great metropolis, he tarried for a time both on his going and hishomeward trip Here he visited many places sacred in history, and others full of interest because ofpresent worth. Among them were St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, each magnificentbeyond expression and replete with tablets and statues- of the good and great; the far-famed BritishMuseum sparkling with wonders as the sky with stars; the nation's great granary of gold, the Bankof England; the services of Spurgeon and of Joseph Parker; the Salvation Army in this the greatcenter from which that mighty movement sprang, and where marvels of God's grace, in the shape ofsouls saved from the deepest depths of sin, outvie the wonders of the outer world collected in theMuseum. Also the grave of Bunyan, the Bedford tinker, who became by God's grace the world'steacher, his courage the common jail; and last but by no means least, City Roads Chapel, whichwas built by John Wesley, the Father of Methodism, the mightiest movement of his century. Hereour traveler had the honor of STANDING IN WESLEY'S PULPIT.
After his visit to this church he wrote as follows, --
"It is not as spacious as I thought it was, a gallery is seen on three sides with a high pulpitup about seven feet out from the tribunal. In this chapel the mighty Wesley stormed the gates ofhell. With solemn awe I ascended the pulpit and stood where he stood so often. Then I passedaround to the rear of the church, where I saw the tomb of this most godly man. I took off my hat as asign of obedience to such a man of God. O Jesus, let my days be like his, full of love for the churchand souls.
"Stood by the side of the graves of Adam Clarke and Joseph Benson, two mighty men ofGod, whose commentaries speak if they have passed into the heavens."
From London he passed to giddy Paris, which he also revisited on his return. Herfountains, her museums, her palaces, her works of art by the great masters, and mammy other pointsof interest made tarrying here a delight, and as France was the birthplace of his father herattractions had a double charm to him.
"It would take many books," he writes, "to describe what I saw at Versailles."
Among many things mentioned in his glowing description of the French capital he says, --
"Here are fountains, forests, drives, walks, flower-beds, statuary, with many varieties oftrees, giving it the appearance of a little Paradise. I never was so charmed with a place asVersailles Palace and its gardens; but much of its history is sad and some of it shocking, but this isthe way of all earthly places.
"Thank God, in the Paradise fashioned by the Great Master Hand of the worlds, no sorrow,no unhappy recollections can ever come. I am going to do my best to go there."
Our desire to follow Mr. Weber in his travels increases, and as we hear him say, "Wish sooften that my friends were along; get very homesick at times," we take in our imagination the samejourney. We pass from Paris to Turin, Bologna, Brindisi, and reach Corfu, Greece, February 13.Here we take passage for Cairo, Egypt, which we reach on the 11th. In the midst of a terriblesea-sickness on this part of the journey Mr. Weber writes: "When I was so sick I would say, 'I willpraise Thee; bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.' Stood itbetter than if I had complained." Would that others might try the same remedy. Passing by many ofthe sights that lure us in Egypt, -- the land where the "great Jewish lawgiver" was born, hereJoseph served and reigned, where Pharaoh fought with God and was conquered, and whitherJoseph, Mary, and the Babe divine took refuge, where once a mighty empire and au advancedcivilization held regal sway, and which now is covered with antiquities that attest the glories ofthe past, -- we will pass at once to
THE GREAT EGYPTIAN PYRAMIDS
Alluding to his visit here, Mr. Weber wrote as follows:--
"When part of the way up my head would whirl when I would look down; and then theArabs began to talk bout bakshish and to buy some old coins, and I looked at them dourly and said,'Let us go on.' On we went and rested three times in the ascent, which was very fatiguing. Then inexactly eighteen minutes we reached the summit, and I said, 'Praise God.' Was given some water,and put or' my coat, as it was very cool. The sight was one long to be remembered. The delta couldbe seen for miles with its feeding herds and working fellahin [sic]; the waving palms, the sandydesert, the Sahara Pyramids, the flowing Nile, the moving ships, the minarets on the mosques, thepalaces, the fiat houses, the lazy, sleeping Sphinx, were all calculated to stir one to the very depthsof his nature."
Leaving Cairo and vicinity, we now pass through a town where the children of Israel madebrick, and behold the land of Goshen, now, as then, a beautiful country with green fields andwaving palms. We finally reach Port Said, and for the sake of such a companion and for the sightsto be seen we are willing to meet the mad fury of the Mediterranean, as spiteful now as when inother days it stranded Paul, and so take passage on the steamer Mars for the long-desired land ofthe nativity of Jesus. During this part of the journey a storm burst upon the pathway of our voyager,which he describes in the following words, --
"The winds were blowing furiously, the boat was dancing like a chip on a mill pond, andfew were ready for breakfast. On the deck men and women were pacing to get an appetite, but bythe blueness of their faces and the haggard look of their eyes one could soon discover that theywere almost ready to land. The time wore heavily, the storm increased, the captain had a look ofuneasiness, and soon we were told that it would be impossible to land at Jaffa, as it was verydangerous, many having found a watery grave here. Discouraged, with a desire to put our hands onour stomachs and make a home run, the deck was cleared and all passengers had returned to theirstate-rooms.
"The waves increased, the ship leaked, the angry waters were dashing against her side;when the elements were loosed a more terrific blast came, yet the dinner-bell sounded; but not oneof the passengers responded. It seemed the ship could not live in such an angry sea. The angrywaves beat more furiously, the ship rolled as never before, when suddenly a gust came and theboat lay over as if to rise no more, then back she came; and now a scene took place that shall neverbe forgotten by those on board. The dishes were breaking, the glasses going to pieces, the sailorsrunning hither and thither, the passengers frightened, and avalanche after avalanche of waterpouring into the cabin; there were hand-bags, valises, clothing floating in the cabin, andconsternation written on every face. 'The boat has sprung a leak!' says one. There is a man clingingto the sideboard, another being dashed against the side of the ship, some trying to make their wayacross the room to get something to cling to.
"These are some of the joys a traveler has abroad. All that night and the next day the stormraged. Had the boat gone down with me, I believe I would have been with Jesus. About noon wecast anchor in the Bay of Acre."
Having escaped the threatened shipwreck, Mr. Weber landed at Haifa, Palestine, February25, from the back of an Arab, as the passengers had to be thus carried ashore because of thebreakers. MR. WEBER ON MOUNT CARMEL.
Putting up at the hotel, Mr. Weber went from there to visit at Mt. Carmel. The following isfrom his pen:--
"We first visited the reputed place of the 'School of the Prophets.' Found many inscriptionson the walls in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Turkish. The room is eighteen by twenty an about tenfeet high, with a place for an altar. It is cut out of the solid rock. This might have been the placewhere Elijah really was.
Describing the scene on the summit, he says, --
"There lay the restless ocean many hundred feet beneath; across the bay lay Acre. Then Ithought of Napoleon being defeated, then that city laid in ashes. There were the hills of Galilee,there again Little Herman; yonder the modern style houses built by an enterprising colony ofGermans, the green olive trees, the beautiful flowers decking the hill with rich beauty over themountain. As I thought of that tragic scene of Israel waiting to see the Prophet of God match theenemy, what feelings of awfulness poured their fire in my soul."
Returning to Jaffa by boat that night, the next morning with Seven others in carriages he setout for the Holy City. Passing through Kirjath Jearim, with its "castle-like gardens and vine-cladhills," and also through the "valley of Ajalon" where "Joshua commanded the sun to stand still,"after a ride of eleven and a half hours, he reached the city which in sacred annals is famed aboveall others, the city towards which both the Jew and the Christian feel drawn by an attraction whichat times seems well nigh irresistible. The Evangelist had learned many a lesson from the HolyBook, had sat reverently under the teachings of the holy prophets and apostles, had been followingin the footsteps of the Holy Son, and guided by the Holy Spirit, and now, in the Holy Land and theHoly City, he will learn new lessons, never to be forgotten.
The people at present who inhabit the city resort to tricks innumerable to deceive people,and make what they can out of them, but despite all this there is much to remind of sacred incidentsand persons.
To copy all that Brother Weber said or has written about this city would make a book ofitself; we can simply follow him to a few of the many points of interest. Let us go with him as hevisits the "Tomb of David;" the room that is said to be the upper chamber where "the Holy Spiritcame on the one hundred and twenty, and the next day, that most wonderful sermon of Peter's fromwhich the world vibrates today; the reputed palace of Caiaphas, the place where Peter deniedJesus." Mr. Weber says, "The Catholics have every sacred place that can be thought of to deceivethe people." At the church of the Holy Sepulcher nearly all the events which occurred when Jesuswas crucified are pointed out.
AT THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE.
The location of the garden is known, and to the sacred spot this man of agonizing prayernaturally wends his way. Concerning this place of holiest memories, and his thoughts when there,he wrote, --
"Took a walk on the east side of Moriah in the Kedron. As I strolled along how my mindwent out as I looked at the Garden of Gethsemane, to that awful night of our Lord. How the fleshpleaded, if it were possible, that the bitter cup might pass, but his Father's will, not Isis own, thenhis betrayal and death for you and me."
"With my Bible in my hand, I made my way to the brow of Olivet, read there of the awfulnight with the place really before me, and got more light, and saw more meaning in the Word, thanever before. After prayer and meditation, I passed through a low gate in the Garden ofGethsemane, which is walled with high walls, kept by monks; they have planted flowers allthrough the garden. There are eight very old olive trees which may be the original trees, but thetime Titus destroyed Jerusalem, in A. D., all the trees were cut down, and these may have sprungup from the roots, or even may have been but very little trees. They look very old. There is nodoubt that Jesus prayed and agonized some place near here. I took off my hoots and hat, wasovercome, and had to weep. I knelt down by the roots of one of those old olive trees, and prayedthat I might be with Him in His glory, and that my dear friends, and the converts who wereconverted and who should be, should meet over there in heaven's golden land."
Now he is beholding the "valley in which the shepherds kept watch over their flocks bynight," where "a small chapel is built, called the home of the shepherds. Here it was that the angelsproclaimed a Saviour come, and sounded the glad tidings which vibrate from pole to pole." TimeEvangelist has de voted his whole life to the proclaiming of the same glad message. What wonderthat his heart dilates with new rapture on this hallowed spot. Now he enters the church of St.Helena, at Bethlehem, the oldest church in the world, and now he nears the very spot of which ourmothers sang, Soft and easy is thy cradle;
Coarse and hard thy Saviour lay,
While his birthplace was a stable,
And his softest bed was hay.
And finally he reaches the very place that marks
THE BIRTHPLACE OF OUR SAVIOUR
"I thought, (he writes), of the thousands and even millions who have worshipped at thebirthplace of Jesus. The grotto showing where Jesus was born is common property of the Greeks,Latins, and Armenians. The Chapel of the Nativity is thirty-eight by eleven, on the east end is asemicircle apse, and under the altar is a silver star, and on it in Latin is, "Here Jesus Christ wasborn of the Virgin .Mary." Near the star are suspended sixteen silver lamps kept continuallyburning, and in the grotto thirty-one; on the west, cut in the south side a little lower down, is amarble manger, with lamps suspended. My soul here bowed with my body in reverence to the Kingof men, the Prince of life. As I knelt, and poured out my soul to Him who is and was and ever shallbe, my feelings overcame me, and I prayed and re-prayed that in His kingdom I might worship withthe redeemed of earth, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Kissed the star seven times, oncefor myself, and the other for my mother, and five of my most loving boys."
The boys mentioned are some of those whom he is helping to educate for God's great work.
The American Consul, Hon. S. Merrill, aided him in many ways, and thus he was enabledat great advantage to see the sights and to study the ways of the people.
We regret that we cannot tarry with him longer at "David's well" and Rachel's Tomb, "thesite of which is known," at Jericho the scene of Joshua's mighty triumph, the Dead Sea, the Jordan,where John baptized and Jesus received the baptismal rite, where Elijah ascended to heaven in thechariot of fire, and Elisha wrought marvels, and at Golgotha and other places sacred beyondexpression to Christian hearts. .
No mills, no cars, no wagons even: Jerusalem lacked nearly all the advantages thatcivilization brings. This, doubtless, is a part of her doom for rejecting Jesus. Not only is the markof God's displeasure seen in this and in the Scattering of the Jewish nation, but the furtherawfulness of the meaning of those words uttered at our Saviour's crucifixion, "His blood be on usand our children," is vividly pictured at
THE JEWS' WAILING-PLACE
Concerning this sad scene Mr. Weber writes, --
"There were over two hundred Jews at their wailing-place. Many of these were women. Itis here they come and weep over their doom, and ask God to avenge them. Some of them weresincere, and the tears would flow very freely. Was very much touched myself. Came near weepingto see how sad they were. What a sad lot tiny have. If they had accepted Jesus how changed theworld might have been."
What a striking commentary on the Scripture. "Then shall they call upon me, and I will notanswer they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me."
Mr. Weber visited the Mosque of Omer and many other places of deep interest; heobserved carefully the customs of the people, now nearly the same as in Jesus' day and earlier; hemet Willie Rosenzweig, a "nice, pure Syrian boy," for whose salvation he was greatly burdened,who afterwards was saved, and whom he has brought to America and who is now being educatedin the Ohio Wesleyan College, Delaware, O. He made valuable collections of views of importantpoints, garments worn by the people, olive wood, and other relics of the sacred land; and then onMarch 17, with a company of seventeen persons, he left Jerusalem.
From the sacred city the company journeyed to Ramah, where Samuel was born, and, asthey moved onward through the Holy Land, paused at Beroth, and took lunch at Bethel, whereJacob had the wonderful vision. Here Mr. Weber "took a stone for his pillow and lay down andprayed, but did not see any angels." Riding on and the ruins that greet on every side, under the wiseleadership of Bernard Heilpern, a man thoroughly posted on every Scripture site that is possible topoint out, and who gives Scripture, book and verse, as proof of every place, the company tarry forlunch at ' Jacob's Well," the site of which is certain, where prophets, apostles, and Christ himselfhad been. They behold Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim and ascend the summit of Samaria, whereis "pointed out the prison and the tomb of the Apostle John." While riding along the plains ofDothan a caravan of camels was coining over the plains in the same direction also that theIshmaelites were proceeding when the brothers of Joseph, who were feeding their flocks on thisplain, being jealous of Joseph, sold him to them and they carried him to Egypt. God was withJoseph, and he will be with us if true to him.
NAZARETH, THE HOME OF JESUS
Passing Mount Gilboa and Jezreel and Nain, where Jesus raised the widow's son fromdeath, at about 4.4 P.M., March 21, the company reached Nazareth, the city of Joseph and Mary,and which in his childhood, youth, and young manhood was the home of our adorable Lord.
"Went to the Franciscan convent, writes Mr. Weber, where we were shown the placewhere the angel announced to Mary that a child should be born. A beautiful altar made of marblemarks the spot where Mary was apprised of the fact that she was to become a mother ...
"Went on the hill back of the city and had the finest view of Palestine there is around here.We could see over the plains to the Jordan, and the deep cut through which the river runs, and theMoabite bills as a background, then the famous Gilboa with Jezreel at its base; Little Herman withNain and Shunem at its feet; Tabor towering far above like a cap rounded, covered with trees, anda convent on the top; then the blue Galilee hills with Big Herman way up in the clouds coveredwith snow; then, as we come around the circle, the hills and valleys produce a most pleasingeffect, and as we come around the dark Mediterranean with its shores lined with yellow-lookingsand, then the Bay of Acre and the Carmelite range uniting with the Dothan hills circling on to meeton the other end near Jordan. A most wonderful panoramic view it was. It was here that Jesuslived for twenty-five years, and then at last the people rejected Him. The brow or ledge fromwhich they wanted to throw Him is located about two miles from the city."
Next visited was Cana, where Jesus turned the water into wine, and then Tiberias, and thena ride upon the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus and the apostles oft resorted and to whose waves Hecommanded, "Peace, be still," and they obeyed Him. They camped near Bethsaida, the formerhome of John, James, Philip, Peter, and Andrew, and, before leaving the vicinity, Mr. Weber"went to the Lake of Galilee and took a bath, gathered some shells and flowers, and also fished,but, like the disciples, 'caught nothing.' Saw many fish, but they would not bite."
On March 23 the company turned their steps towards Damascus, the city of which it is saidthat "Mohammed loathed to leave it, as it was such a paradise." Passing the place where "Saul sawthe light and heard the voice from heaven," on the 27th they reach this beautiful queen city of theEast, spend here a number of days in profitable research, then pass on to Beirut, where Mr. Webertakes a boat for Smyrna.
"Stopped at Cyprus, he writes, where we landed and had a fine time seeing the town andthe church, in which was a festival. This church boasts as having the tomb of Lazarus, who, as theguide said, 'died twice.' This may be so, as we read that the Jews were planning to kill Lazarusafter he was raised from the dead, so he might have fled here. When one stops to think of theancient glory of many of these places and their desolation now, how different the book of Godseems, as in it we read about the judgments pronounced against them."
He visited Smyrna, where once was one of the churches of Asia Minor, of which it wassaid, "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life," and where Polycarp wasbishop, and where, when burning at the stake and offered freedom if he would recant, he said,"Eighty and six years have I served the Lord Jesus; and he has never forsaken me; I will notforsake him." From here he paid a flying visit to Ephesus, in other days second only to Athens inthe fine arts and in culture; now a heap of ruins. Here it is claimed that Homer and Crassus bothwere born, and Alexander the Great, Anthony, Cleopatra, Augustus, and Diocletian have beenhere. Here is "a reputed tomb of St. John," and here Paul preached the Gospel for two years; and itwas here that he laid his hands on John's disciples and they received the Holy Ghost. Here too wasthe great heathen temple of Diana. "The once proud Ephesus," writes our traveler, "is like a heap,and the place where her temple stood is a place for the frogs to serenade the weary traveler who isfortunate enough on a hot day to walk around and be hurried at a breakneck speed by a guide whosimply knew nothing but to get his bakshish." From Smyrna we follow our friend to Athens, wherehe reveled among antiquities too numerous to name, among them "the prison of Socrates, where hedrank the deadly hemlock," and Mars Hill that had listened to the eloquent of the ages, where Paulpreached his immortal sermon, his text, " To the unknown God." From Athens he went to Corinth,where Paul founded the church to which two of his epistles are addressed, and then by way ofVenice and Florence on to Rome, where Paul and Peter both preached and died the death ofmartyrs. During this trip the "inspiration "came, and he wrote the song "To Save a Poor Sinner likeMe," No. 109 in his song-book, "The Evangelist."
At Rome Mr. Weber met Bishop Fowler and family, whose society be highly prized. Hereand in other cities of Italy be visited the many places which always attract the tourist, and then byway of Lucerne and Interlaken, Switzerland, and Strasburg, Germany, be passed on to Paris andfrom thence to London. At London be purchased a
With which to illustrate the lectures he was preparing on his travels. These illustrated lectures theEvangelist sometimes gives in connection with his revival meetings to the great delight of largeaudiences. It would take volumes to describe what be saw in all the places of interest visited, butthrough these lectures and the magnificent views accompanying them a person is made to feel theirreality almost as vividly as if there. Having, aside from the precious impressions received atPalestine, visited the chief places of interest on the continent and caught the inspiration that comesfrom viewing the works of the master painters, sculptors, and architects of the ages, Mr. Weber, onJune 12, took a passage on the steamer Servia from Liverpool to his native land.
On his travels he had often done personal work with souls which was to bear lasting fruit.He had also composed a number of the sweet hymns that the people in his meetings have learnedso much to love.
On his homeward journey through his words a man was
SOUNDLY SAVED,and gave evidence of his conversion by saying, "When I crossed before, when a storm wouldcome, I would say, 'Oh, if the boat goes down!' Now I sleep and say, 'It's all right.'
Carefully preparing the discourses on the Holy Land, which be feels that God is callinghim to give, and breathing the prayer, "Jesus, bless them to thy glory," time speedily flies, and,borne swiftly homeward by giant steam, be soon is in the midst of joyous greetings from waitingloved ones.
He had received the assurance, before he went, of a safe and prosperous journey, and suchit had been.
Soon we shall see hum, qualified as never before, in the midst of new scenes of revivalvictory.