The features, it should be further said, were ruled by a certain expression which, as the viewer chose, might with equal correctness have been called the effect of intelligence, love, pity, or sorrow; though, in better speech, it was a blending of them all- a look easy to fancy as the mark of a sinless soul doomed to the sight and understanding of the utter sinfulness of those among whom it was passing; yet withal no one could have observed the face with a thought of weakness in the man; so, at least, would not they who know that the qualities mentioned- love, sorrow, pity- are the results of a consciousness of strength to bear suffering oftener than strength to do: such has been the might of martyrs and devotees and the myriads written down in saintly calendars. And such, indeed, was the air of this one.
Slowly he drew near- nearer the three.
Now Ben-Hur, mounted and spear in hand, was an object to claim the glance of a king; yet the eyes of the man approaching were all the time raised above him- and not to Iras, whose loveliness has been so often remarked, but to Balthasar, the old and unserviceable.
The hush was profound.
Presently the Nazarite, still pointing with his staff, cried, in a loud voice- “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”
The many standing still, arrested by the action of the speaker, and listening for what might follow, were struck with awe by words so strange and past their understanding; upon Balthasar they were overpowering. He was there to see once more the Redeemer of men. The faith which had brought him the singular privileges of the time long gone abode yet in his heart; and if now it gave him a power of vision above that of his fellows- a power to see and know him for whom he was looking- better than calling the power a miracle, let it be thought of as the faculty of a soul not yet entirely released from the divine relations to which it had been formerly admitted, or as the fitting reward of a life in that age so without examples of holiness- a life itself a miracle. The ideal of his faith was before him, perfect in face, form, dress, action, age; and he was in its view, and the view was recognition. Ah, now if something should happen to identify the stranger beyond all doubt! And that was what did happen.
Exactly at the fitting moment, as if to assure the trembling Egyptian, the Nazarite repeated the outcry- “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”
Balthasar fell upon his knees. For him there was no need of explanation; and as if the Nazarite knew it, he turned to those more immediately about him staring in wonder, and continued- “This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it, abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which batizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw and bare record, that this”- he paused, his staff still pointing at the stranger in the white garments, as if to give a more absolute certainty to both his words and the conclusions intended- “I bare record, that this is the SON OF GOD!”