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"I was told, just now, that there were no letters for
"It was a mistake, sir."
I was confounded. But fancy now, I open one of the letters, the address of which I recognized, and the first thing that met my eye was a bank-note. I open a second, and a bank-note accompanies that too; and so, too, with the third; while the fourth contained directions from a friend, but slightly known to me, to draw bills of exchange to the amount of so much at this place and that, in order to meet the difficulties that might arise from the robbery committed at Hâsbeiya!
A moment before, helpless-now all my wants at once relieved! It was too much for me! . I made my way out with all haste; I needed to be alone and in the open air. I again rode along the road up to Bethlehem.
When out of the din of the city, I took the letters out of my pocket, and now began to read them.
"MY DEAR SIR,
"In proportion to our delight at the favourable commencement of your expedition, was our grief when we heard of the robbery. We feel for your position, but we hope you may still recover your property. But, in case you should not succeed, and rather than that you should abandon your object, I send you inclosed a bill on London for £ . . which I hope will put you all right. In case you require any more, will you please let me know, and we will be glad," &c.
Another letter ran thus :
"MY DEAR FRIEND,-The inclosed Bank of England note for £. . is a little contribution, of which we beg your acceptance, towards the loss you sustained from thieves. Mr was kind enough to send me your letter to him, in which you mention the vexatious circumstance; and, when I had read it at the breakfast table, we all felt for you, and at once made a collection, to which my good wife and children, as well as myself, contributed, and now with very great pleasure I send you the amount. It will do a little at least towards replacing what the thieves carried off. We do not forget to pray that a gracious Providence may watch over all your steps, and direct them all, so that you may, as the result of your travels in those scenes of deepest and undying interest, promote the glory of Him who there lived and laboured, and died for our salvation."
The third letter contained these words :
"MY DEAR SIR,—From a letter from you to learned what had befallen you at Hâsbeiya. I feel very much for you; it is a severe trial to begin with, but I am sure that you rest your trust in the right place. He knows what is best for us, and though His dispensations taste sometimes hard to us shortsighted worms, yet we will at last acknowledge that everything was calculated for our good, for our everlasting welfare. "I do not know in the least what is the extent of
your means, and if the amount stolen from you is to
you a very serious loss, or if it does seriously interfere with your prospects. My opinion is (and it cannot be the wrong one), that our property belongs to our Creator. I am not rich, nor even at this moment in easy circumstances; but what I can spare I will willingly share with you, if you have occasion to be in want of it. If so, write to me with the same frank and open Christian and brotherly feeling as dictates this offer to you, and I will try and help you to the greatest possible extent.
"I am aware that you have several brothers that may help you probably more efficaciously than I can ; but if my share of help is needed in the least, I shall consider it a blessing coming from God, to be able to give a glass of water to one of my Christian brothers.
"I hope to hear from you soon, and that you have been enabled to resume your toilsome work. May a Saviour's blessing rest on your endeavours!"
The friend who wrote to me thus I had seen but a very few times.
The last letter, in fine, contained among other things what follows:
"Beloved brother! The Lord has opened the hearts of his children here to send you a small contribution, which I hope will come safe to hand. 'Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God' (Phil. iv. 6). Should you be able to complete your survey, it will be greatly for the advantage of the Israel of God. He will be with you in all places whither you go. He will never leave you nor
forsake Did He not bless Job's latter end more than his beginning? And is He not able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think?' (Ephes. iii. 20). Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,' and you will find that 'His will be upon eye you' (Ps. xxxiii. 18), and His ear open unto your cry' (Ps. xxxiv 15)."
This unexpected result, the tender love of the heavenly Father, the affectionate words of my friends, accompanied as they were with these proofs of their sympathy, all this overpowered me, ay, almost more than I could bear! Such goodness on God's part towards such a sinner! O that I could have a deeper comprehension of it, and could more thankfully acknowledge it! The ride along the Plain of Rephaim to Bethlehem, belongs to those moments of my life on which I shall ever look back during times of trial. Then did the Lord deliver me out of great distresses, He caused me to experience His love, and put joyful songs of deliverance into my mouth.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within me bless his holy name.'
And as if this eminent proof of God's love were an introduction to a right understanding of the infinitely greatest act of His compassion, the gift of His Son for sinners,* there lay Bethlehem before me, with the never dying chorus of the heavenly host:
"Glory to God in the highest,
ROAD TO BETHLEHEM.
To be approaching Bethlehem at the very time when the Lord Himself, by the leadings of His Providence, was disposing my mind to contemplate His love to us in Christ, was indeed a great and unlooked-for satisfaction. I quite sank under the idea of His incomparable compassion. And fancy now, nobody was with me to disturb my reflections; Philip and Ferez were already far ahead with the mule-driver and the baggage; I was quite alone, and could, with an enlarged heart, lift up my voice in praise
Good news to earth-to mankind grace!
That my thoughts were little directed to earthly objects, or, to speak more plainly, that my soul was too much engrossed with higher things, to be able to fix its attention on the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, you can easily understand. It is well that this subjects you to no great loss; for, besides that at present this road has nothing remarkable about it, many travellers have already passed along it, and have described it. I recollect, as its general features, that the road is very wide; that it runs on, with a few undulations, to the Greek convent of Elijah, which stands precisely half way, or one hour from Jerusalem; that on its west side the broad plain of Rephaim lies, which plain is very fertile (as may be seen from Isaiah xvii. 5), and is bounded on its western side by low hill-tops, while towards the east