THE PREPARATION-THE CALL TO SERVICE
Appeal published when the Foreign Board suffered from a heavy debt.
Tell it not among the Heathen, that the ship is on a reef;
It was freighted with Salvation, our "Captain," Lord and Chief.
But the tide at length receded, and left it high and dry,
The tide of gold and silver, the gifts of low and high,
The eagles and the dollars, the nickels and the dimes,
Flowed off in other channels, from the hardness of the times.
Tell it not among the Heathen, that the train is off the track,
The oil all gone - a heated box-the signal come to slack;
The Foreign Board is side-tracked with its passengers and freight,
Its Messengers of mercy, though so eager, all must wait.
The oil was once abundant, and the wheels went smoothly on,
But drop by drop it lessened, and now 'tis wholly gone.
Tell it not among the Heathen, that the stream has ceased to flow,
Down from the lofty mountains in rain and dew and snow.
It flowed in floods and rivers, in rivulets and rills,
It gladdened plains and mountains, the distant lakes and hills.
But now 'tis dry! The thirsty ones, they cannot drink as yet,
For the Foreign Board is threatened with a paralyzing debt!
Tell it not among the Heathen, tell it not among the Jews!
Tell it not among the Moslems, this melancholy news;
Lest sons of Gath deride us, and tell it to our shame
That Churches sworn to true and full allegiance to His Name
No longer do His bidding, no longer heed the cry
Of millions, who in sadness, must now be left to die!
Tell it not among the Heathen, but tell it to your Lord.
Drop on your knees, ye Christians and speak the truthful word
"We thought we gave our all to Thee but now, with breaking heart,
We see that in out giving, we bad kept back a part.
So with complete surrender, we give our all to Thee."
Then tell it to the heathen, that the Church of Christ is free,
That the tide of love is rising to float the ship again,
That the oil of Grace is flowing to start the stranded train,
That the rivulets of mercy are rising to a flood,
For a blessing to the nations, and the Glory of our God
H. H. J.
The Preparation-The Call to Service-Sailing for Syria (1832-1856)
IN preparing my reminiscences of my missionary life of fifty-three years in Syria, I wrote out at some length the account of my boyhood days, the happy recollections of my father's and mother's lives and characters, and the influences that in school, college and seminary shaped my life purpose.
These, however, are of an intimate character, personal in their interest to my children and grandchildren, not wholly appropriate to a history of missionary endeavour.
Suffice it here to preface my history of my life in Syria by a brief sketch.
My father, Hon, William Jessup, LL D., was born at Southampton, L. I., June 21, 1797, and my mother, Amanda Harris, at North Sea, near Southampton, August 8, 1798. My father graduated from Yale in 1815, and shortly afterwards emigrated to Montrose in northeastern Pennsylvania, where I was born April 19, 1832, being the sixth of eleven children, ten of whom grew to adult years. Montrose was then a mere "clearing" in the unbroken forest extending from Newburgh on the Hudson to Lake Eric; and my parents went by sloop to Newburgh, thence by wagon. He borrowed $50 to start on, and taught school until he had qualified for admission to the bar.
The Jessup family (also spelled Jessop, Jessoppe and Jesup), emigrated from the vicinity of Sheffield, England. John was the first to come over, and Professor Jesup, of Dartmouth, has written the genealogy of the different branches.
My dear friend Morris K. Jesup was the shining culmination of the Connecticut branch. When, many years ago, he joined the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, he still spelled his name with two s's.
My father was chairman of the platform committee of the Chicago Republican Convention which nominated Abraham Lincoln, and that platform, which he read to that body, was largely the result of his wise and patriotic labours. A fellow delegate wrote to the New York Mail, years afterwards, his record of the venerable judge, in the hotel bedroom they shared, kneeling in prayer the night before the platform was read, and commending it " to the God who would judge of its uprightness and was alone able to give it success." My father's interest and activity in the work or the Presbyterian Church, his service in the General Assembly, his successful defense of Albert Barnes in 107, his unswerving adherence to the cause of temperance, his unselfish acquiescence in my determination to become a foreign missionary, are all matters of record elsewhere.
I date my decision to be a foreign missionary in the summer of 1852, I had conducted the Missionary Concert at the dear church in Montrose. I gave the missionary news and appealed to the people to support the work or to go in person to do it.
I then realized the incongruity of asking others to do what I was not yet willing to do myself.
But on the day of prayer for colleges, February 24, 1853, at Union Seminary, my impulse was crystallized into purpose, and in March my chum, Lorenzo Lyons, and I decided to offer ourselves to foreign mission work. I cannot here dwell on the details of that decision, the conference with my dear parents, their sympathy and Christian self-denial. But from that day my choice was made, and my preparations all directed to making myself available and useful. I attended medical lectures in the Crosby Street Medical School; "walked" the New York Hospital with my cousin, Dr. Mulford, for two months, to learn I "first aid" to the sick and wounded; I studied practical dentistry under Drs. Dunning and Dalrymple - engaged in tract distribution for the City Tract Society, experiencing rude rebuffs and learning wisdom thereby, and also finding how welcome the gospel message ever is, even in the most unlikely quarters.
June 16, 1854, at a conference with Dr. Rufus Anderson, at the Missionary House of the American Board, at 33 Pemberton Square, I read a letter signed by Dr. Eli Smith, Dr. William M. Thomson, and Rev. D. M. Wilson, pleading for a reinforcement of five men, to occupy Antioch, Hunis and Northern Syria.
The appeal seemed to be the definite voice I had been waiting for. I made my decision and agreed to go to Syria.
August 12, 1854, my brother Samuel, twenty months my junior, decided to give up his mercantile business and to begin study for the gospel ministry and missionary work. He entered Yale, thence going to Union Seminary, served as chaplain in McClellan's army until the battle of Malvern Hills, and came to Syria with his wife in February, 1863.
During my course at the seminary I gave myself to home missionary work around my home in Pennsylvania and, in New York City, at Blackwell's Island, the Five Points, the Half-Orphan Asylum, and in Sunday-school work.
On the 23rd of December of that year, I became engaged to be married to Miss Caroline Bush, daughter of Wynans Bush, M. D., of Branchport, Yates County, New York. She was an experienced teacher, in perfect sympathy with my life purpose.
On the 27th of October, 1855, 1 attended the morning missionary prayer-meeting at Union Theological Seminary, and met some of the beloved brethren who were expecting to go abroad: Harding (India), White (Asia Minor), Byington (Bulgaria), and Kalopothakes (Athens).
The next day I spent in Newark, N. J., in the church of that scholarly and saintly man, Rev. J. F. Stearns, D. D. I preached in the church, addressed the Sunday-school, and promised to write to the scholars, if they would first write me. I also proposed to them, that if they felt inclined on reaching home, they should write a resolution as follows: "Resolved, that if the Lord will give me grace, I will be a missionary." One little boy, James S. Dennis, did write such a resolution, as I learned thirteen years afterwards, September 23, 1868, when I went to Newark to give the charge at his ordination, and was a guest in his house. Mrs. Dennis told me that in October, 1855, her son Jimmy came home from hearing me speak, went to his room, and soon after brought her a written resolution: "Resolved, that if God will give me grace, I will be a missionary." She said to him, "James, you are too young to know what you will be." Yes," he said, "I did not say, I will be, but, if God gives me grace, I will be."
And now, "to-day, you are to give him his ordination charge as a missionary to Syria!"
Surely, the Lord must have inspired me to make that suggestion when I did, for Dr. Dennis has done more for the cause of foreign missions than almost any other living man. We have always been dear and intimate friends, and in Syria, where he laboured for twenty-three years, he is beloved by all who knew him. His Arabic works; "Christian Theology" (two vols., Oct.), "Evidences of Christianity" (one Vol., Oct.), "Scripture Interpretation" (one Vol., Oct.), are classics in Arabic theological literature; and his three volumes of "Christian Missions and Social Progress," with his "Centennial Survey," form an epochal work and an acknowledged authority in all Christian lands.
I was ordained November 1, 1855. My chief memory of that occasion is my father's address expressing his joy that a beloved son was called to participate in the trials and self-denials of the "grand enterprise" of the missionary work. One thing he said, that, when he stood before the altar of his God years before, he had consecrated all his children to God; nor would he wish to keep back part of the price, nor take back now aught of what he then had given.
December 12, 1855 – "His Word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jer. 20: 9).
I was in Boston, about to sail. I had parted with the dear woman who was to be my wife. Her health necessitated the postponement of our marriage, and her immediate companionship in my missionary life. My father and mother were with me to see my departure on the following day, and the precious season of prayer, in the Tremont House, comforted our hearts, and has been in memory a source of solace and strength ever since, particularly when I myself have had to part from my own dear children for years of separation, as front time to time they have had to leave us for their education in the home country.
The sailing bark Sultana, three hundred tons, with a cargo of New England rum, sailed for Smyrna the next day in a storm of snow and sleet. There were eight missionaries on board: Rev. Daniel Bliss and his wife, Rev. G. A. Pollard and his wife, Miss Mary E. Tenny and Miss Sarah E. West, Rev. Tillman C. Trowbridge, and myself. It was a stormy, wretched voyage. My brother Samuel was the first missionary of the A, B. C. F. M. to cross the Atlantic comfortably in a steamer.
We reached Smyrna, January 22, 1856, and sailed on the 29th on the French steamer for Beirut, passing Patmos, Rhodes, Adalia, stopping at Mersine, near Tarsus, and at Alexandretta, Latakia and Tripoli, and landed in Beirut Thursday morning, February 7, 1856.
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