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“Even the lifeless stone is dear
Of all the topographical questions relating to Jerusalem those connected with the site of the Holy Sepulchre are so incomparably the most important, that no further explanation will be asked for giving them precedence; and if any apology be required for attempting a defence of the tradition relating to this Vol. II. 1
site, it is offered in the consideration that the credit of the whole Church for fifteen hundred years is in some measure involved in its veracity. The interest which every Christian must feel in the establishment of a fact, which was appealed to in former ages as an evidence of our Lord's Resurrection", might not unnaturally predispose us to believe it on insufficient grounds; and however we may pity or despise the credulity, we may well envy the simplicity of the devout pilgrim, who with real sincerity of heart gives himself up to the influence of those associations which these sacred localities are calculated to awaken, ignorant alike of arguments for or against their identity with the scenes of his Saviour's humiliation and glory, and undisturbed by any doubts. Granting it to be a delusion, it is to him at least a pleasing and a profitable delusion, implicating him in no guilt; and he might reasonably regard the wisdom, which would rob him of his gratification, as folly, and count his ignorance the greater bliss. But were nothing more serious than this involved, the question would be one of comparatively little importance, and we might be content to relinquish the point, with a feeling of regret for ourselves, and of surprise at those who had taken so much pains to perform the thankless office of shaking our confidence in a harmless opinion so long and so fondly cherished. But when the moral character of one important branch of the Church, if not of the whole Church, is at stake, the question assumes a graver aspect, and we are bound in charity, if not in gratitude, to weigh with the most suspicious jealousy the evidence which would convict of deliberate fraud and shameless hypocrisy, not only the Bishops and Clergy of the Church at Jerusalem, but the brightest lights of the universal Church at a period which we have been taught to regard as “uncorrupt,” when Christianity was “most pure and indeed golden.”.” For the plea of ignorance can hardly be admitted in their behalf, and would scarcely be an extenuation of their fault if it could. They were impostors, and not dupes, or they had sufficient evidence to believe that they had really recovered the Sepulchre of our Lord. And it is remarkable that the strongest objection that has been urged against the authority of the tradition is such as it would have been most easy to obviate, such as an impostor, if he had any of the art of his profession, would have been certain to foresee and most careful to anticipate. Supposing Macarius to have failed in his endeavours to ascertain the true site, and his principles to have allowed him to commit “a pious fraud.” in the invention of a fictitious one, it is inconceivable that he should have presumed so much on the ignorance or credulity of Constantine and all his contemporaries, to say nothing of succeeding generations, as to fix upon a spot which common sense or common observation would shew them to have been within the ancient city. So that instead of arguing against the tradition, as its impugners are accustomed to do, from the probable
| St Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. x. 19. See Eusebius, Vita Constantini, cap. xviii.
* Our Homilies invariably speak of Researches, the bishop Macarius and the Church of the 4th century in these his clergy are charged with ambition, and such-like terms, and of its bishops, fraud, falsehood and hypocrisy, of the Ac., as “godly learned men.” most aggravated character—and “no
* In Vol. 11. p. 80, of the Biblical injustice done them" |