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Romans. His followers, however, in their first warlike attempts, were entirely routed and dispersed. Yet so deeply had he infused enthusiasm into their hearts, that they never rested, till they had involved the city and temple in their own destruction.
At the time of our Lord's advent, a large number of the Hebrew nation had imbibed the principles of the Oriental philosophy ; one leading article of which was, that all things proceeded by emanation from God, the eternal fountain of being. Zoroaster, a Persian, is supposed to have formed the principles of this philosophy into a regular system. He supposed spirit and matter, light and darkness, to be emanations from one eternal source. These, the active and passive principles, he conceived to be perpetually at variance; the former tending to produce good, and the latter evil; but that, through the intervention of the Supreme Being, the contest would at last terminate in favour of the good principle. It appears that several of the Gnostic sects, by whom the doctrines of the Oriental philosophy were blended with Christianity, were founded by Jews. The history of the Christian church, by Mosheim, which I wish you to read, after studying the Scriptures, will give you an account of the Eastern notions, and the opinions of the Gnostics.
The rapid increase of the Jewish nation constrained multitudes among them to emigrate from their native country. Hence, in the time of our Lord, they were to be found in every part of the known world. In particular, they were numerous in all the provinces of the Roman empire. The wisdom of divine Providence appeared conspicuous, in the dispersion of a people, to whom alone were cominitted the oracles of God, that they might be a check to superstition; and thus prepare the way for that clearer discovery of divine truth, which was to enlighten the world from the Gospel of the Son of God.
Of Palestine, and of the Cities in which our
Lord taught, and performed Miracles.
MY DEAR NIECES,
While you are pursuing your study of the New Testament, I would direct your attention to the country in which most of the stupendous miracles, recorded in Scripture, were performed; the land which has been honoured by the residence of patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and, above all, by the immediate presence of the Redeemer of mankind. As the geographical situation of this part of the globe occupies your attention at school, I will only point out some of the remarkable places which have been consecrated by the footsteps of the Son of God.
Various names have been given to this interesting country.
It was called Palestine, the Philistines or Palestines, with whom, we learn, from sacred history, that the Israelites
had frequent wars, being, at a very early period, the inhabitants of a large part of it. The pame Judea, is derived from Judah, who possessed the most fertile part of it; and it was called the Promised Land, from its being promised to Abraham and his descendants. It is also styled the Holy Land, from the unspotted holiness of our Lord, who fixed his residence there during his abode on earth ; and as being the place where our holy religion was first taught.
The mother of our Saviour resided at Nazareth, which was considered as his native town; but he was born in Bethlehem, according to the prediction of the Prophet, “And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee shall come a governor, who shall rule my people Israel.” This city was not considerable for its extent or riches, but derived its glory from being the place of our Lord's nativity. It is about six miles distant from Jerusalem.
Galilee, a fruitful province of Palestine, was most honoured with our Saviour's resi
dence; it was divided into upper and lower Galilee. Io Nazareth, a small village in lower Galilee, he passed the early part of his life, from which he took the name Nazarene. It was a custom among the Jews, that when a child was twelve or thirteen years old, he should be examined by the rulers of the synagogue, concerning his proficiency in religion. Wben our Lord was presented for this purpose to the learned doctors, “all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
The Evangelists give no further account of our Saviour, until the time immediately preceding his public ministry, when he went to Bethabara, on the banks of Jordan, and was baptized by John. When our Lord returned to Nazareth, and began to preach in the synagogue, the people at first listened with admiration, and “ wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” But when he reproved them for their unbelief, they were offended, and would have put him to death. But he confounded their sight in a miraculous manner, passed through the midst of them