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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin

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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin
page 119



flames which burst from the foundations of the Temple when Julian made his vain attempt to rebuild it were reported throughout Christendom, and added to the general enthusiasm. For the feeble faith of the nations had to be supported by miracles ever new. Moreover, the dangers of the way were diminished ; more countries day by day became Christian ; the Pagans, who had formerly intercepted and killed the pilgrims on the road, were now themselves in hiding ; the Christians destroyed the old shrines and temples wherever they found them ; and all the roads were open to the pious worshipper who only desired to pray at the sacred places. But the passion for pilgrimages grew to so great an extent, and was accompanied by so many dangers to virtue and good manners, that attempts were made from time to time to check it. Augustine teaches that God is approached better by love than by long travel. Gregory of Nyssa points out that pilgrimage of itself avails nothing ; and Jerome declares that heaven may be reached as easily from Britain as from Jerusalem, that an innumerable throng of saints never saw the city, and that the sacred places themselves have been polluted by the images of idols. But this teaching was in vain. Going on pilgrimage served too many ends, and gratified too many desires. Piety, no doubt, in greater or less degree, had always something to do with a resolve to undertake a long and painful journey. But there were other motives. The curious man, by becoming a pilgrim, was enabled to see the world ; the lazy man to escape work ; the adventurous man to find adventures; the credulous and imaginative man to fill his mind with stories ; the vain man to gratify his vanity, and procure life-long honour at the cost of some peril and fatigue ; the sincere to wipe off his sins ; and all alike believed that they were doing an act meritorious in itself and pleasing in the sight of heaven. The doctors of the Church protested, but in vain.


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