The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Those Holy Fields *
by the Rev. C.H. Chase
Being Sunday Evening Thoughts for Our Children Concerning
"Those holy fields,
* [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.]
"These stand upon Mount Gerizim to bless." Deut. xxvii. 12.
A steep ride brings us to the top of the mountain which over-shadows Shechem or Nablous. Glorious is the view: far away to the east we are shown the ford Jabbok, where Jacob wrestled with the Angel, and beyond it the hills of Gilead.
Around us are ruins of a church built before the Crusades, and some little distance further, what is said to be the site of the old Samaritan temple. To this sacred spot, once a year, come the small body of Samaritans, now only some 200 in number, to keep their Passover. For seven days they live in tents. Here they kill their lamb and eat it.
We see one pit where the lamb of last year was roasted, and another where bones were burnt. We find a few small pieces of charred bone which we carry away as treasures.
On descending by a most dangerous path we reach a place near the base where the mountain is shaped like a huge armchair. Opposite us is Mount Ebal, and we can easily picture the tribes gathered, six on one side the valley and six on the other, while the Blessings and Curses were read in the ears of all. Indeed, such is the formation of the two mountains that it is said a voice can easily be heard from mountain to mountain.
Our little company gathered close together on this holy ground, and one of our party reads the Blessings promised to the obedient Israelites in the days of old:
"Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed thou shalt be in the field."
"Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store."
"Blessed shalt though be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out."
The same gracious Father who promised His Blessings to His own Israel still waits to bless you and me.
"He visiteth the earth and blesses it."
Some people only speak of God's visitations when troubles come, whereas our Father loves to visit that He may bless. He delights to fill our basket and our store. But, remember, it is the willing and obedient still on whom the Blessings abide. Seek to find out His will and do it. Then, in city or field, work or play, lying down or rising up, going out or coming home, you shall be blessed indeed.
"We thank Thee, then, O Father,
Accept the gifts we offer
All good gifts around us
"The child . . . ministered." I. Sam. iii. I.
Shiloh, or Seilûm as it is now called, lies in a wide valley with hills to the north, east, and west. In the center of the valley is a curious knoll. This small hill, covered with loose stones and the remains of former dwellings, has a flat top, which gives it the appearance of having at some time been levelled. May not this be the very ground on which stood the sacred tent or Tabernacle? In the plain around on all sides could easily have been pitched the tents of the tribes, each tribe with its standard. Reuben away there on the south, Judah on the east towards the sun-rising, with Dan, Asher and Naphtali to the north.
The valley is lonely enough now, the few poor Arab children who follow us are so miserable, one little lad quite blind. The blue sky, the grey hills, the old ruins are a blank to him, and, what troubles us still more, he knows not--how should he know?--of One who came to give sight to the blind, and loves, oh, so tenderly, the afflicted and the sad.
Here it was Samuel ministered. On yonder knoll in the old tent he used to light the lamps and wait upon the old High Priest in his little white dress. Here he slept one night calmly until, amid the awful stillness, he heard the voice calling him:
"The child . . . ministered."
We read in one place that God makes use not only of great vessels to do his work, but of cups of small measure.
Sometimes we see very little boys leading the praises of God's people in the church choir. We watch some little one as she carries the basket of pudding to a sick child. We say these are true ministering children.
But there are other ministers: The little daughter who rocks the baby's cradle without a grumble, the little son who runs to the shop cheerfully for mother, the child who sews away patiently in play time, or helps the little ones with the home-lessons, ministers.
There is a day coming when One who was often weary, and very often did disagreeable things for others, will Himself say, "Well done. Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, ye did it unto Me." How that glad welcome will ring out for all ministers, yes, for all ministering children; and won't they say then, "Oh, we are so glad we did it, for He is glad, we see it in His face, and He says it too."
"There's not a child so small or weak
XXIX. STONES FOR PILLOWS.
"He dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." Genesis xxviii. 12.
Leaving Shiloh we pass through a well-cultivated valley--the vine is here growing in terraces. These terraces are partly the natural rock, and partly built with loose stones.
The robber's fountain, a wild spot, is left on our left hand; here are caves and rock tombs. The luncheon tent is pitched in a very garden of wild flowers, and forty-five different specimens are added to our collection. At length we reach Bethel--it is a dreary spot. A few stone huts, a high tower, and some scanty olive-trees, are all that remain of Bethel--the house of God. An old cistern presented us with clusters of maiden-hair fern, so fresh and green, the only beautiful thing to be seen amid this bare waste. Stones, stones abound everywhere. Large boulders, any one of which might have formed a step in the dream of the poor out-cast Jacob.
How differently do we rest to-night, in our comfortable tent with a soft pillow under our head, to Jacob with stones for his pillow. Yet the same stars are above us, the same hills round us, the same ground beneath us. It has been beautifully said every child's bed is at the bottom of a ladder such as Jacob saw.
The angels of God are nearer to us than we think.
He shall give His angels charge concerning us to keep us in all our ways, sleeping or waking.
My Angel! Have you ever tried to picture what your good angel is like; God's messenger who sees His face, yet watches you?
Have you ever said to yourself: I must not be foolish or timid; I must not give way to those naughty thoughts as I lie awake, "because of the Angels"?
But you say: I cannot see my Angel; nor could Elisha's servant till his eyes were opened; nor did Jacob till he had his vision. Yet angels were round about them all the while.
What a bright joyous message Jacob's angels brought him:
"I will keep thee in all places whither thou goest."
Is not this a pillow worth going to rest upon to-night, not a hard pillow like a stone, but a nice soft pillow?
"I will keep thee in all places."
A very little girl said once, as she came over a rough road:
"Mother, this reminds me of what my life will be, full of ups and downs."
"In all places," rough places and smooth, His had will lead on.
Perhaps some dear child who reads this is soon leaving home for school life, with its unknown temptations.
"In all places," the angel of His presence will save you and keep you.
"Still through the cloven skies they come,
"The flowers appear on the earth." Song of Songs ii. 12.
Spring time has come. In Palestine the early rains are generally over by the end of March, then the flowers appear.
Yesterday's forty-five specimens are pressed in blotting-paper with numbers of others.
Truly this is a land of flowers. The old forests are all gone, every tree of any size has been cut down for firewood, but flowers remain. It is said from 2000 to 2500 plants may be found in Syria and Palestine, of which some 500 are the same as our British wild flowers. Amongst those we gathered are the marguerite, white and yellow, the cyclamen, the poppy, the tulip, the pheasant's eye, the corn cockle, the mignonette, the pimpernel, the star of Bethlehem, and, chief of all, the glorious scarlet anemone, seen everywhere in large patches, so that it is no wonder the touching name is given to it of, "The Saviour's blood drops."
Curious is it that with such a wealth of flowers the natives seem to have no love for them. Never do I see a flower in the hand or dress of man, woman, or child, nor are any offered to us as in Switzerland, Italy, and other countries.
Flowers, how beautiful are you! Some of you hang your heads or hide away in the crannies of the old walls, while some of you crown the tops of the rocks, or wave to and fro in the sunshine.
Flowers, how sweet smelling are you in this early spring, and most of all high up amid the Lebanon and Mount of Hermon.
Flowers, you died down in autumn. "Mother earth gathered you into her bosom," but now, "Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone," you appear bright and beautiful in your Easter dress.
Flowers, teach us to live and die; teach us that living truly, dying sweetly, we too shall rise to live again.
Dear children, love the flowers.
Be beautiful in thought, and word, and deed in your quiet nook like the lily. Hide your head from all proud ways like the violet. Be sweet in disposition. Different to others you are sure to be. Unlike brother or sister, for the good God makes not two flowers or two children just alike. Study to show yourself approved of Him. Your character strong, noble, pure, true.
In the spring-time of life grow daily in wisdom, grace, in trust in Christ your Lord, and so make all around you happier for your presence. The when the autumn of your life comes, and you seem to die, you will have a hidden life in Him who said: "I am the Resurrection and the Life."
"On many a ruined shrine and fallen tomb,
The oleander near the water's brink
* [The Sea of Galilee]
By cool Siloam's shady rill
Lo, such the child whose early feet
By cool Siloam's shady rill
Dependent on Thy bounteous breath,
(To be continued.)
Proofread by LNL, Sept. 2023
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