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PART I. might cast him down headlong, Luke iv. 28, 29. This same
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 stone, 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 dignified each with an handsome church by the same Empress,
these monuments of her piety are now likewise in ruins. The cham-. Before we leave Nazareth, as it will not be altogether
impertinent, so neither may it be altogether unuseful Annunciation said by (namely, in order to lay open the unreasonable and absurd the Papists
bigotry of the Papists) to observe, that in how mean á moved by condition soever Nazareth may be at present, yet some part angels from Nazareth to of its ancient buildings, I mean the chamber wherein the
Virgin Mary, is said to be sitting, when the Angel brought her those joyful 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 same 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
ber of the
to be re
was then most miraculously transported into Sclavonia. CHAP. II. But that country being unworthy of the Virgin's presence, it was by the angels carried over into Italy, and at length settled at Loretto, then a village in the Ecclesiastical 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 so extraordinary a relick 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 most 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 see. 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 see, but now a village; and Loretto being formerly a village, but now a city and bishop's see.
It is time to take leave for the present of Nazareth, and to attend the Virgin Mary in her journey thence to visit of the Hill her cousin Elisabeth, who, the Angel acquainted her, had Judea. already gone six months with the child, called afterwards John the Baptist. Elisabeth 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 supposed, of Hebron, this being one of the cities given to the priests in the tribe of Judah, Josh. xxi. 10, 13. and also said expressly 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 cousin Elisabeth about three months, then returned to her own house at Nazareth.
Some time after there went out a decree from Cæsar 3. Augustus, that all the Roman world or empire should be of Bethletaxed, that is, should have their names and conditions of
PART 1. life set down in court-rolls, according to their families.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph 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 of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were
there, the days were accomplished, that she should be deA. D. 1. livered; and she brought forth her first-born son, our ever
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 bis 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 possessed 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
Þ Maundrell's Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 85, 86, &c,
the women hereabouts, as well Turks and Arabs as Chris- CHAP. II. tians, for that purpose; 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, the village where they dwelt; and a little on the right hand 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:
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 Eustochium. Of which three persons, St. Jerom was a celebrated writer in the latter end of the fourth century; and Paula the mother, and Eustochium 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 shewn here to pilgrims at this very day.
We are next to attend on the holy babe Jesus to Jeru- 4. salem. For when the days of the Virgin Mary's purifica
Of Jerusation, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, A. D. 1. they brought him to Jerusalem, &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. Josh. 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
PART I. called Jebusalem, and for better sound sake 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 hither, 2 Sam. v. 6. yet we read, that David took the strong hold of Zion, and dwelt in the said fort after he had taken it, and called it the city of David, 2 Sam. v. 7, 9. After this Jerusalem became not only the principal city of the tribe of Benjamin whereto it appertained, but the capital of the kingdom of Judah, and the most celebrated city of the whole land of Israel; and, on account of religion, the most renowned city of the whole world among Christians as well as Jews, it being dignified by the inspired writers with the most illustrious, title of the Holy City; in allusion to which it seems, with a little variation from the Hebrew, to be termed by the Evangelists, Hierosolyma, which in the Greek language imports as much as Holy Solyma. There will be more proper occasions to speak of this city elsewhere: and therefore I shall add no more here, only that the reader may have a particular account of it given
by Josephus, b. vi. chap. 6. of Wars of the Jews. 5. Before the holy child Jesus was brought from BethThe child lehem to Jerusalem, there came wise men from some carried into country lying east of the Holy Land, probably Arabia, to Egypt. .
Jerusalem, enquiring after him, who was lately born King of the Jews. Hereupon Herod, then King of Judea, being alarmed, resolved forthwith to provide for his own security in the throne, by cutting off the new-born King. The better to bring this about, he sends the wise men to Bethlehem, (where he understood that Christ was to be born,) giving them directions to bring him word again, when they had found the young child, that he might come and worship him also. Thus usual is it for wicked men,
A. D. 1.