The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Those Holy Fields *

by the Rev. C.H. Chase
Volume 3, 1892/93, pgs. 454-460

Being Sunday Evening Thoughts for Our Children Concerning

                     "Those holy fields,
       Over whose acres walked those blessed feet
       Which eighteen hundred years ago were nailed,
       For our advantage, to the bitter cross."--Henry IV

* [Having had the great happiness of a ride through the Holy Land, I write these short papers with the hope that they may make some dear children happier on Sunday evenings, and help them to picture more perfectly the scenes of Holy Scripture.]


       "Let brotherly love continue." Hebrews xiii. 1.

What are these women doing at work here in the fields, sitting on the ground, and with great care picking out some small plant? They are gathering out the tares from among the early green wheat. Thompson, in his "Land and the Book," tells us that only the most practised eye can do this, and that, though he had been years in Palestine, he could never tell which was tare and which was wheat.

We have now come to a grassy plain, with a wooded hill on our right, covered with almond and olive trees. This is Dothan, "the two wells," as the name means.

Pits abound just in this neighbourhood. Was it not here that Joseph found his brothers, and was sold by them to the merchantmen? It is said the old caravan road to Egypt passed through Dothan. Joseph must have had a long way to go before he found his brothers, for Hebron is at least twenty-five hours' ride from this place.

Very unbrotherly were those brethren of Joseph, were they not? How indignant we have felt when reading of their jealousy and cruel, untruthful ways!

How we have admired Joseph in his loving forgiveness, not taking advantage of his position for revenge, but giving his brothers the best of the land! Have you any brothers and sisters, dear child? How are you treating them? Are you jealous or angry if one of them is chosen for some pleasure and you are passed over? Because you are stronger and bigger, do you sometimes ill-treat the little ones?

The time will come for you to leave home, and go away among bigger boys or girls at school. How you will miss the ones at home then! How you will long for brother's arm to be once more around your neck, or sister's cheek laid against yours at night. "I wish I had been kinder," you will say to yourself, as you lie awake then. "I wish I had not spoken that cross, sharp word; I wish I had not given that rough, unbrotherly blow."

See to it that from this day, Joseph be your copy. Yes, and one still more loving than Joseph, that Holy Jesus, who was gentle, meek, and lowly. For His sake, see to it that "brotherly love continues"--

       "When deep within our swelling hearts
              The thoughts of pride and anger rise,
       When bitter words are on our tongues,
              And tears of passion in our eyes;

       Then we may stay the angry blow,
              Then we may check the hasty word,
       Give gentle answers back again,
              And fight a battle for our Lord."


       "I will make Samaria as an heap of the field . . . I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley." Micah i. 6.

What is this stone amphitheatre? What are these rows of columns? This is the ancient Samaria. Here is a very miserable modern village built amid the ruins. Curious, indeed, is it to see beautiful pieces of carving lying close to some mud dwelling, or some tall pillar standing up amid thorns and nettles. Ruins of a beautiful old Crusaders' church stand close by the pool where Ahab's chariot may have been washed after the fatal battle. A shepherd boy, with his short club (the "staff" of Psalm xxiii.) and a sling, follow us as we wander along the ruined arcade which leads to the western gate of the old city. An underground dungeon is shown us, with a most curious stone door. This door is said to be like some found in the giant cities of Bashan. Was St. John shut up in this very dungeon? At Samaria Herod had his court, and here his wicked wife schemed and wrought evil.

This old city, built by Omri, is full of ancient story. Take your Bible, and look out all the passages where it is mentioned. Truly its glory has departed; it is now but a heap. Literally the stones are poured down into the valley. Nowhere else have we seen such masses of ruins. Terrible is God's judgment when it falls on nation, city, church, or individual.

There is a law, and it is a very awful one: As a man sows, so he reaps. Every one and every thing is always worse for wrong-doing. How many men and women to-day are bearing the consequences of sins committed in their boyish or girlish days?

Those columns lying outside our tent--we nearly stumbled over them in the dark--remind us how certain it is sin shall not go unpunished. Avoid, then, evil--resist it, hate it. "Be sure your sin will find you out." Think not a few early sins won't matter; that what others do you may do without the flush of shame.

At the same time, never forget that there is One who forgives sin. Our Creed tells us this: "I believe in the forgiveness of sin." Sin may, and often does, leave its terrible consequences, even forgiven sin. Yet Samaria, poor, miserable, ruined Samaria, had the Gospel preached here. Philip the Deacon preached Christ on this very hill-top. Here the Holy Ghost was given when SS. Peter and John came down and prayed for the Samaritans.

Judgment, yet mercy too--such is ever our Father's way of working. Judgment is "His strange work." He delights in mercy--"Mercy rejoiceth against judgment."

       "Sowing the seed by the dawn-light fair,
       Sowing the seed by the noonday glare;
       Sowing the seed by the fading light,
       Sowing the seed in the solemn night--
       Oh! what shall the harvest be?"


       "Even unto this day when Moses is read the veil is on their heart." 2 Cor. iii. 15.

We wend our way through the streets of the town Nablous, the ancient Shechem, till we reach the door of an old building. This is the Samaritan synagogue. The High Priest of this small Jewish sect joins us, and we ask to see the old scroll under his charge. After many requests for much backsheesh he lets us into his synagogue, a small, cold-looking building. Our shoes are left at the door, but our hats remain on our heads.

From behind a curtain at one end of the synagogue, the High Priest brings out a scroll in a case covered with a green veil; this, however, is not the one we came to see. Again he brings another in a similar case also with a green veil, but this does not satisfy us. At last, after a great deal of bargaining, he shows us a very old scroll. It is written in old Hebrew or Samaritan characters, and is said to be a copy of the Pentateuch, or the Five Books of Moses. What its age is no one knows, but the Samaritans claim for it the time of Abishu, a grandson of Eleazar, the son of Aaron.

This ancient roll of parchment is covered with a beautiful silver case, engraved with a ground plan of the Tabernacle. It is covered with a red veil worked with gold thread.

How true is it of these poor Samaritans that, just as a veil covers their books of the Law of Moses, a veil covers their hearts and minds, so that they know not the Lord Jesus as their Messiah.

Have you ever thanked God that, as a Christian child, God's Word is open for you, that you may read it when you will? That He has called you to the knowledge of His grace, and faith in Him? That He has given you the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, to teach you and to make you wise?

How do you read your Bible? Do you read it every day? Do you really love it?

Let no one laugh you out of reading your Bible daily. You may not be able to understand all about it or how it was written. Take it as God's own message to your soul.

Read some book such as St. John's Gospel, or the Psalms, or Proverbs straight through. Do not try to read too much--rather read a few verses and think about them. Then try and gather out one verse to take with you through the day. Above all, ask the Holy Spirit to give you an unveiled heart as you read it.

He can take away the veil of ignorance, or the veil of unbelief, or the veil of prejudice. He can make that Word a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.

The Church of England has given four lessons for every day, and at the beginning of the Prayer-Book there is a table of these.

During the last few years Bible Reading Unions have been formed for children, and cards printed of daily portions suitable for the young. The addresses of two of such Unions are here given; it might help some of you to feel you were reading daily what thousands of other children all over the world are also reading:

       The Secretary
              Bible Reading Union for Young Churchmen
                     Sunday School Institute,
                                   Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street,


       Children's Scripture Union,
              Mr. T. B. Bishop,
                     13A Warwick Lane, Patercoster Row,

Just as I had written this paper, a schoolboy wrote home for two Bible Reading cards for companions. Will not you send for one, dear child?

       "It floateth like a banner
       Before God's host unfurl'd,
       It shineth like a beacon
       Above the darkling world;
       It is the chart and compass
       That o'er life's surging sea,
       'Mid mists, and rocks, and quicksands,
       Still guide, O Christ, to Thee."


       "Living water." St. John iv. 11.

Shechem, or Nablous, is often called the little Damascus, because of its beauty and situation. It lies in a valley between the two hills Gerizim and Ebal, which, unlike other valleys in the Holy Land, is wooded and well watered. After visiting a potter's house, and seeing him make little clay lamps on his wheel, we leave the dirty streets and by-lanes, and ride out into the country. Passing the so-called Joseph's Tomb, we arrive at the open fields. Getting off our horses, our guide leads us to a sort of pit; climbing down some six feet, we find ourselves over the mouth of a well. Round the opening of this deep hole bored in the earth, the stones are very old and worn, showing marks of the ropes used in days long gone by. The well is now only some thirty-five feet deep, but formerly it must have been nearly double that depth.

The place is strewn with stones, the ruins of some old building. We are told a church was built here by the Crusaders, and the well was in the arched crypt beneath the church.

What a sacred spot this is! Here Abraham first halted after he crossed the Jordan. Here Jacob bought a piece of ground, and dug the well. Here the tide of pilgrims passed to and fro to the great feasts at Jerusalem. Are we not sitting where Jesus sat when He was very tired? Are we not touching the very stones He touched? Are not our eyes resting on the same hills He saw?

"Living water." Our Master's message for the poor woman, who came in the hot sunshine with her pitcher on her head to draw water, was this: "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water which I shall give them, shall never thirst." She was weary, sinful, sorrowful, and only living water could satisfy her. And what did the Lord Jesus mean by Living Water? The Holy Spirit. "He that believeth on Me," He said, at another time, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." "This spake He of the Spirit."

"I believe in the Holy Ghost," so you often say. Do you really believe in Him? Do you try not to grieve Him? Do you listen to His still small voice, when He says "do this" or "don't do that"?

Some day, before very long perhaps, you will go to the Bishop to be confirmed. Then he will pray over you, "Defend, O Lord, this Thy child with Thy Holy Spirit." Oh, what a beautiful prayer! What a strong defence! How ready the Father is to give His Spirit. Are you ready to receive? May His own loving Spirit lead you forth and guide you all your journey through:

       "I heard the voice of Jesus say,
              Behold I freely give
       The living water; thirsty one,
              Stoop down and drink, and live--
       I came to Jesus, and I drank
              Of that life-giving stream,
       My thirst was quench'd, my sould revived,
              And now I live in Him."

(To be continued.)

Proofread by LNL, Sept. 2023