The children of Jerusalem once loved the Lord, and sang his praises in the temple. Their young voices pleased their Saviour, though not half so sweet as angels’ songs.
Which is the place where the temple stood?
It is Mount Moriah. There is a splendid building there now.
Is it the temple? O no, that was burned many hundreds of years ago. It is the Mosque of Omar that you see; it is the most magnificent mosque in all the world. How sad to think that Mahomedans should worship now in the very spot where once the Son of God taught the people. No Jew, no Christian may go into that mosque. The Turks stand near the gate to keep off both Jews and Christians.
Every Friday evening a very touching scene takes place near this mosque. There are some large old stones there, and the Jews say they are part of their old temple wall: so they come at the beginning of their Sabbath (which is on Friday evening) and sit in a row opposite the stones. There they read their Hebrew Old Testaments, then kneel low in the dust, and repeat their prayers with their mouths close to the old stones: because they think that all prayers whispered between the cracks and crevices of these stones will be heard by God. Some Jewesses come, wrapped from head to foot in long white veils, and they gently moan and softly sigh over Jerusalem in ruins.
What Jesus said has come to pass, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” The thought of this sad day made Jesus weep, and now the sight of it makes the Jews weep.
But there is a place still dearer to our hearts than Mount Moriah. It is Calvary. There is a church there: but such a church! a church full of images and crosses. Roman Catholics worship there—and Greeks too: and they often fight in it, for they hate one another, and have fierce quarrels.
That church is called “The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.” It is pretended that Christ’s tomb or sepulchre is in it. Turks stand at the door and make Christians pay money before they will let them in.
When they enter, what do they see?
In one corner a stone seat. “There,” say the monks, “Jesus sat when He was crowned with thorns.” In another part there is a stone pillar. “There,” say the monks, “He was scourged.” There is a high place in the middle of the church with stairs leading up to it. When you stand there the monks say, “This is the top of Calvary, where the cross stood.” But we know that the monks do not speak the truth, for the Romans destroyed Jerusalem soon after Christ’s crucifixion, and no one knows the very place where He suffered.
On Good Friday the monks carry all round the church an image of the Saviour as large as life, and they fasten it upon a cross, and take it down again, and put it in the sepulchre, and they take it out again on Easter Sunday. How foolish and how wrong are these customs! It was not in this way the apostles showed their love to Christ, but by preaching his word.