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. 922-928

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.]


"And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building."--1 Kings vi. 7.

Near the Damascus Gate in the north wall of the city is a small door. With a guide and party of friends we pass through this door: lighting a torch, we grope our way till we find ourselves in an old quarry beneath the houses and streets of Jerusalem. Around us are huge blocks of stone, and the rough rock from which they have been hewn. Here there are to be seen marks where wedges of wood were driven in to split the stone. We notice little cup-shaped hollows where the lamps were placed to give light to the stonemasons. The roof is supported by great pillars of rock left for the purpose.

This ancient quarry was only discovered in 1852. It reaches a great distance, and not nearly the whole of it has yet been explored. In all probability it was from this quarry that the stone was brought for the walls of the city and for the Temple of Solomon. It is easy to understand that the stone could be wrought here, and so "neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house," when "Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprang."

Here possibly worked those Tyrian workmen whose marks were found on the stones of the old wall (see chapter xxxiv.)

What that stone quarry was to the beautiful Temple, such, dear children, your childhood is to your future life.

"The child is father to the man," wrote the poet Wordsworth; this means that your future life grows out of your present.

Those great Temple stone were wrought in the quarry with many a blow, many a stroke. First this tool, then that, shaped, squared, polished them. So all the discipline of home, or the difficulties of school, all the hard lessons which trouble you now, are fitting you for a place of usefulness in after-life--are preparing you to take your place in the race which is swift, in the battle which is strong.

"If Jesus Christ, the chief corner-stone, was made perfect through a childhood of learning and discipline, the stones which are shaped as He was are most fit for a place in His building."

       "Christ is our corner-stone,
              On Him alone we build:
       With His true saints alone,
              The courts of heaven are filled.
                     On His great love
                     Our hopes we place,
                     Of present grace,
                     And joys above."


"The stone shall cry out from the wall."--Hab. ii. 11.

"Suddenly, as by the wand of the magician, the ancient world has been reawakened to life by the spade of the explorer and the patient search of the traveller, and we now find ourselves in the presence of monuments which bear the names and tell the deeds of the heroes of Scripture. One by one these 'stones crying out' have been examined and explained. Thus striking confirmation of the Bible story has been afforded, and light thrown upon facts and statements before not easy to explain."--Professor Sayce.

One afternoon we take donkeys to ride all around the city of Jerusalem. We pass out of a gate in the north wall, cross the bed of the brook Hedron, and come to the so-called Spring of the Virgin. We get off our animals, and descend a flight of some thirty steps to look into the fountain. After a further ride of some twenty minutes, we come upon the Pool of Siloam (or the Tunnel, as the name means), in the Valley of Hinnom, not far from the Field of Aceldama, the scene of Judas' terrible death.

Now for the story of a discovery. In the summer of 1880 a lad was wading in the Pool of Shiloah, or Siloam, when he saw some marks on a tablet in the wall which looked like letters. These proved to be an ancient inscription in Hebrew, probably of the time of King Solomon.

The following is a translation of the inscription:

"[Behold] the excavation! Now this is the history of the excavation. While the excavators were still lifting up the pick, each toward his neighbour, and while there were yet three cubits to [excavate, there was heard] the voice of one man calling to his neighbour, for there was an excess(?) in the rock on the right hand [and on the left] (?).

"And after that on the day of excavating the excavators had struck pick against pick, one against another, the water flowed from the spring to the pool for a distance of 1200 cubits.

"And part of a cubit was the height of the rock over the head of the excavators."

And what does this tell us? That the navvies 2500 years ago worked just as they do to-day; in making the channel for the water they began at the two sides of the hill, and worked with the pick and shovel till the rock which divided them was removed and they met face to face.

Explorers have examined the tunnel or channel which connects the Spring of the Virgin with the Pool of Siloam. The height of it is only 18 inches, and its length is 1708 yards.

Now, what do we find in our Bible? In 2 Chron. xxxii. 30 we read:

"Hezekiah stopped the upper watercourse of Gibeon and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David." In 2 Kings xx. 20, we read: "He made a pool and conduit, and brought water into the city."

The ancient Jerusalem, as ruins show, covered the spot where the pool now is. Have not the explorers then possibly found the very watercourse and pool of Hezekiah's days?

Let us be thankful to God that in days when some are trying to shake our faith in our Bible story, "the stones from the wall" are bearing out the truth of God's own written Word.

Any of you who would like to read further about other marvellous discoveries will find them told in a little book called "The Bible Student in the British Museum," by the Rev. J.G. Kitchen, price 1s. For those living in London, a few hours spent in the Museum, that book in hand, would prove a real help to faith.

       "Lord, Thy word abideth,
       And our footsteps guideth;
       Who its truth believeth
       Light and joy receiveth."


"Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar which is in the King's dale."--2 Sam. xviii. 18.

In the valley of Kedron, not far from "the Spring of the Virgin," there are several ancient tombs.

One bears the name of Jehoshaphat, another that of St. James, while a curious rock-cut pyramid of great age is said to be the tomb of Zacharias. The one which interested us most was a building some forty-seven feet high, with Doric columns and capitals, for it is called the tomb of Absalom. The present building is said to be about 1560 years old, but it is probably built on the same site as the pillar which "Absalom reared up for himself in the King's dale."

We are told that to the present day any Jew who passes by casts a stone at it, out of abhorrence for the memory of one who was "a bad son."

Let us stop for a moment or two beside this monument of Absalom, and ask what caused that sad end of one born to such splendid prospects? We find as our answer: "He loved his own way; he did not control himself, till at last he rebelled against his own father and died as a rebel."

Now let us think about a good son. "You have heard of that great general, Sir Henry Havelock, one of the bravest soldiers of his age. When a little boy he lived near London. One morning his father took little Henry with him to London, and was out all day. On coming home at night, he said, 'Where is Henry?' His mother said: 'I don't know; I thought he was with you.' 'Oh, I remember,' said his father, 'it is my fault. When I parted from his this morning, I said, "Henry meet me at twelve o'clock on London Bridge," and I should not wonder if he is there still.' Late as it was, the father travelled back to London, and there on London Bridge stood the boy. He had learned to obey the very letter of a command thus early. So he laid the foundation of a great life by the rule of obedience at home." ["Children's Sermons." By Rev. J. Vaughan]

There was One who, in the village home at Nazareth, "continually submitted Himself" to His mother, and Joseph His stepfather, "though he was Lord of all"--shall not we follow those holy feet of the children's King here? There is nothing brave or manly in speaking roughly to your mother. There is nothing plucky or great in setting up your opinion against that of your father.

Want of respect, disobedience, independence, all these will bear a crop of bad fruit in after-life.

A good son will make a brave, honourable man; a good husband, a good father. A good daughter will become a gentle, tender-hearted woman, a light in the home and a comfort to many.

A bad son or a bad daughter will cause shame to their parents, and bring misery on themselves and others. Oh, the unspeakable blessing of good parents--love them, honour them, help them. If ever you fall into sin, or get into bad ways which conscience pricks you about--if your sin had been ever so horrible, if you hated yourself ever so much, and there was no other refuge for you on earth, you would find it in your father's and your mother's arms.

"Take this belief once for all to your heart. To omit to come to your parents in your trouble or in disturbances of mind is itself a sin. The thought that would make you shun your father and mother is itself an evil thought. Give them your full confidence, and half the battle of life will be won." [Francis Burdett Coutts]

       "And through all His wondrous childhood,
       He would honour and obey,
       Love and watch the lowly maiden,
       In whose gentle arms He lay;
       Christian children all must be
       Mild, obedient, good as He."


"Peter went up upon the housetop."--Acts x. 9.

At last our backs are turned upon the Holy City, and we are driving towards the sea coast on our homeward journey. We wave a sad farewell to those of our party who stay behind.

We pass the valley where David gained his victory over the giant of Gath, and pick up five smooth stones out of the brook Elah, to accompany a sling bought at Damascus.

When we reach the plain of Sharon we find flowers more varied and beautiful than we have ever seen before.

At last a strong scent of orange blossom warns us we are near Jaffa, "the beautiful," and in another quarter of an hour we drive up to an hotel pleasantly situated outside the city, and surrounded by lovely gardens and orange groves.

The townspeople are keeping holiday, and it is funny to see whirly-go-rounds and penny peep-shows, and little brightly dressed Moslem children enjoying them as heartily as their English brothers and sisters would have done.

We wander through the steep and dirty streets of Jaffa, till we come to the house by the seaside which is called the house of Simon the Tanner. Of course the house is a modern one, but we are probably on the very ground where the old house stood, and the waves beat against its walls. In the courtyard is a tank of fresh water, needful for the trade of a tanner. We go up upon the housetop, and we look out to sea, as did St. Peter, now more than 1850 years ago. No vision comes to us of a sheet let down from Heaven. But we think how true that message was which St. Peter received, and how Gentiles have come to the light, and Christ's kingdom become worldwide.

On this flat housetop we must part, dear children, you and I, who in thought have journeyed through "the Land of the Children's King." We have together followed "those Holy Feet which, eighteen hundred years ago, were nailed for our advantage to the bitter cross." We have thought of the King at Bethlehem, His birthplace; Nazareth, the home of His childhood; Galilee, the scene of His ministry; Jerusalem, where He suffered; Olivet, where He rose to meet His Father. We have followed Him in thought; has it all helped us to follow Him in reality?

There are ever two voices calling us. One is the voice of the world--it is a treacherous voice. It says: "Take the pleasant, easy path. Do as others do; you can't go far wrong if you keep with the crowd."

The other voice calls us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, sometimes to stand alone; to follow One who was often weary, often misunderstood, often sorrowful, but One who was always at peace, because He had a conscience clear as the blue sky above His head, that He always pleased His Father.

There is a grand passage in one of the "Idylls" of our late Poet Laureate which I want you to learn by heart.

A mother tries to persuade her boy to stay at home, and not to follow his father, who has gone to King Arthur's Court, but rather to enjoy the pleasures of sport and games at home: and how does the lad answer this appeal?

       "Follow the deer? follow the Christ, the King;
       Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow the King;
       Else, wherefore born?"

                            THE END.

Proofread by LNL, Nov. 2023