THE question has often been asked me during my visits to America, "Were you and Dr. Bliss the first missionaries to Syria?" At times it has been hard to answer such a question with patience. In 1878 a good elder at the synod in Rock Island asked me if I was the son of Dr. Jessup of Syria? "No," said I, there was none of my name there before me. "Well," said he, "I thought you must be eighty years old, for I have read of you ever since I was a child." I asked him, "How old are You?" He said, "About fifty years." I replied, "And I am forty-six!" I can only account for this idea by the fact that in the providence of God -I have had to visit the United States seven times during these forty-nine years, and as my health has been uniformly good, I have traveled thousands of miles and by rail visited hundreds of churches and Sunday-schools, and many colleges and theological seminaries, "stirring up the people," and thus, in spite of myself, becoming known to multitudes.
If one asks, “Why did not you in your addresses give the people the early history of the Syria Mission?” I can only say that the pastors and people always ask for facts as to the present state of the work, and when one is allowed half an hour in a pulpit, twenty minutes in a synod and ten minutes at a general assembly, the only course is to give a brief, succinct account of the present state of your work and that of your colleagues, Unembarrassed by moderator's gavel I would fain revive the memory of some of the saints, men and women, who were the real pioneers in Syria and whose shoe latchets I am not worthy to unloose.
While I have been introduced in America as "the father and founder of the Syria Mission," "the bishop of the Bible lands," "the president of the Syrian Protestant College," the manager of the American printing-press," and as several other persons, yet when introduced thus under false pretenses, I have generally let the minister have his own way, lest he lose caste with his people, for ignorance of missionary history, and hastened to use the brief time allotted in endeavoring to arouse interest in God's work for the Arab people of Syria.
I. LEVI PARSONS, THE EXPLORER
Parsons was born July 18, 1792, graduated at Middlebury, 1814, sailed November 3, 1819 with Pliny Fisk as missionaries to Western Asia, with reference to a permanent station at Jerusalem. They sailed in the bark Sally Ann, reached Matta December 23d. and remained until January 9, 1820. Rev. Mr. Jowett of the British and Foreign Bible Society gave them some excellent advice: "Learn the modern Greek at Scio, go in the character of literary gentlemen, make the circulation of the Bible the ostensible object of traveling, exercise in the morning, eat sparingly of fruit at first, dress warm, wear a turban when on the passage to Palestine, appear as much like common travelers as possible."
I have before me Mr. Parsons' journal in his own handwriting and it is full of religious meditation, new resolutions and morbid self-introspection. He was constantly struggling with indigestion, which naturally caused great depression. But his strong faith shines through it all with great beauty and power. They reached Smyrna January 14th, spent five months in Scio until October, studying modern Greek and Italian, and on December 6th, Parsons sailed alone for Jerusalem, Fisk remaining in Smyrna, studying and acting as chaplain to the British Colony. He arrived in Jerusalem, February 17, 1821, the first Protestant missionary who entered that city to found a permanent mission. He remained until May 8th, being cordially received by the Greek clergy and especially by Procopius, secretary to the Greek patriarch, who was also the agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society. While there he sold and gave away "ninety-nine Arabic Psalters, forty-one Greek Testaments, two Persian Testaments, seven Armenian Testaments, one Italian Testament, and twenty-three other books." The demand for Armenian Testaments was very great among the pilgrims. He also distributed 3,000 tracts, chiefly Greek. He gave them to priests, bishops, and pilgrims. He was shocked that his friends among the Greek clergy should take part in the disgraceful farce of the Holy Fire. Yet he cherished the vain hope that the Greek Church , would soon be consecrated entirely to the promotion of true piety among all classes of Christians, have the spirit of Peter on the day of Pentecost, and boldly open and allege the Scriptures and lead thousands by a blessing from above to cry, "Men and brethren, what shall we do? If I am not greatly deceived, I behold even now the dawn of that glorious day!"
He found a wide open door in Jerusalem for reading the Scriptures to pilgrims and regarded it as the most effective means of doing good at Jerusalem. He also advised the sending of a missionary to the Armenians in Asia Minor.
Leaving Jerusalem May 8, 1821, he sailed to the Greek Islands, spent several months in Samos and Syra, and after many perils from pirate ships, both Greek and Turkish, reached Smyrna December 4th. Here he joined his beloved colleague Fisk, and January 9, 1822 they both sailed for Alexandria by medical advice, arriving there January 14th, Here he found the malady with which he had long contended greatly aggravated. Diarrhea rapidly reduced his strength. He was carried from the boat in a chair to his room. His journal shows a heavenly spirit, holy aspirations, devout meditations, clear views of Christ.
February 10, 1822, at half-past three A. M., he breathed his last, aged thirty years and five months. The day before, his conversation was redolent of heaven. At evening, Fisk watched by his bed as he slept, and heard him saying in his sleep, “The goodness of God-growth in grace-fulfillment of the promises-so God is all in heaven, and all on earth." At eleven o'clock Fisk bade him a loving good-night, wishing that God might put underneath him the arms of everlasting mercy. He replied, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him."
These were the last words he spoke on earth. Towards evening, he was buried in the yard of the Greek monastery where the few English residents bury their dead. I wrote recently to Alexandria to ascertain whether there is any trace of his grave in the Greek monastery, but learned that since that time the edifice has been rebuilt and the old cemetery obliterated.
Pliny Fisk conducted the funeral service, which was attended by the entire English Colony, and Maltese merchants, some sixty or seventy in all.
Fisk wrote: “To me the stroke seems almost insupportable. Sometimes my heart rebels: and sometimes I hope it acquiesces in the will of God. I desire your prayers, that I may not faint when the Lord rebukes me."
Dr. R. Anderson says of Parsons: “His character was transparent and lovely. Few of those distinguished for piety leave a name so spotless. His disposition inspired confidence and gave him access to the most cultivated society. He united uncommon zeal with the meekness of wisdom. His consecration to the service of his Divine Master was entire."
His two years of service were years of struggle with disease, incessant study, indefatigable labours in traveling, preaching and reading the New Testament to the people in Greek and Italian. His grave no man knoweth.
II. PLINY FISK, THE LINGUIST AND PREACHER
No name is more familiar to missionaries in Syria than that of Pliny Fisk. He was born June 24, 1792, was ordained in Salem, November 4, 1818 and sailed with Parsons, from Boston in the bark Sally Ann, November 3, 1819 Touching at Malta, December 23d, he reached Smyrna January 15, 1820. His missionary life covered six years. During this time he lived in Smyrna, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Aleppo, Tripoli and Beirut. He distributed 4,000 copies of the sacred Scriptures, and parts of Scriptures, and 20,000 tracts. He traveled with Dr. Jonas King, the eccentric Dr. J. Wolff, the many-sided Goodell, and the studious, hard-working Bird. His teacher was the scholarly poet-martyr, Asaad es Shidiak, the first convert, and the proto-martyr of modern Syria. He could preach in Italian, Greek, and French, and had just begun a regular Arabic Sabbath service, and had nearly completed an English-Arabic dictionary, when he was called to his rest October 23, 1825, aged thirty-three years.
Fisk was the pioneer missionary of Beirut, and it was a fitting tribute to his memory that one of the largest buildings of the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut should be named after him as the " Pliny Fisk Hall."
He was appointed originally to Jerusalem, but never spent more than nine months there. He arrived in Beirut July 10, 1823, where he spent two years and three months before his death, having spent the first three years in Smyrna and Alexandria. He was "in journeyings oft, in perils of robbers, in perils in the sea," and from war and pestilence.
When he reached Jaffa, March 29, 1825, the town was full of rumours as to the object of his labours. He and Dr. Jonas King were reported to pay ten piastres (forty cents) a head for converts, and that these ten piastres were self-perpetuating, and always remained the same however much the convert expended. Others said the -missionaries drew pictures of their converts, and if one went back to his old religion, they would shoot the picture, and the renegade would drop dead. A Moslem heard that they hired men to worship the devil, and said he would come and bring a hundred others with him. “What?" said his friend, “would you worship the devil?” “Yes," said he, "if I were paid for it."
That idea of foreigners drawing pictures probably came from the habit of travelers to sketch the scenery and costumes of the Last. My colleague, Mr. Lyons, of Tripoli, made a tour in August, 1858, and camped in Zgharta, a Maronite village near Tripoli. The men were grossly insolent, entered the tent, sat on his table, sprawled on his bedstead and knocked things around in an ugly style, He said nothing, but, taking out a note-book, began to sketch them. One of them looked over his shoulder and, seeing a face and eyes, shrank back and bolted from the tent, yelling to the rest to follow him. Soon after, one of them came to the servant and said, “Do entreat the Khowaja not to take our pictures or harm us. We will protect you. Whatever you want we will bring, water, milk, chickens, eggs or barley for the animals." The Khowaja did promise and soon all his wants were supplied.
Mr. Fisk had a strong constitution but was often exposed to drenching rain and chilling winds when traveling. In October, 1825 he was attacked by malignant fever and died October 23d, lamented by all who knew him. He “died without the sight." Asaad-es-Shidiak was the only convert to evangelical Christianity in Syria up to that time.
In 1824, the year previous to his death, both he and Mr. Bird were arrested in Jerusalem by Musa Beg, sheriff of the governor, and taken before the Kadi and to the governor, on the charge of wearing the white turban, and trading in unlawful books. The judge said, “These books are neither Christian books, nor Mohammedan, nor Jewish, and contain fabulous stories that are profitable for nobody and which nobody of sense will read." The governor remarked, that “The Latins had declared that our books were not Christian books." The two brethren were thrown into prison, and kept until the next day. Their rooms were searched and then locked, but finally, the governor finding that they were under English protection, released them, gave back their keys, charging them to sell no books to Moslems.
One of the Greek priests in Jerusalem made to Mr. Fisk the astounding confession that they had in Jerusalem a hundred priests and monks, but among them all, not a single preacher.
On February, 1824, a firman of the Sultan was issued throughout the empire, at papal instigation, strictly forbidding the distribution of the Scriptures, and commanding all who had received copies, to deliver them up to the public authorities to be burned, The copies remaining in the hands of the distributors were to be sequestered until they could be sent back to Europe.
This firman was something new for the Turks. They cared nothing for the Bible, pro or con, but the minions of Rome had induced them to issue it, and it was never executed with any vigour. Rome is Rome in all ages, in her bitter hostility to the Word of God. Mr. Fisk was an uncommon man. "With a vigorous constitution and great capacity for labour, fie possessed a discriminating judgment, an ardent spirit of enterprise, intrepidity, decision, perseverance, entire devotion to the service of his Master, facility in the acquisition of languages, and an equipoise of his faculties, which made it easy to accommodate himself to times, places and companies." He was highly esteemed as a preacher before leaving home for Syria. And who, said a weeping Arab, on hearing of his death, smiting on his breast, "who will now present the Gospel to us? I have heard no one explain God's Word like him."
As to the results of the labours of Parsons and Fisk, we may say that,
1. They did a remarkable work of exploration.
2. They brought to light the religious condition of these Bible lands.
3. They met the leading men of all sects, Christian, Moslem and Jewish, and preached Christ to them frankly and openly.
4. They distributed great numbers of Scriptures and religious tracts.
5. They studied the climate and prevailing diseases, and urged the sending of medical missionaries.
6. They had no definite plan with regard to organizing a Native Evangelical Church, as there was but one convert, and he soon after suffered martyrdom,
7. They were sent to found a permanent mission in Jerusalem, but the early death of both of them prevented the fulfillment of this plan. Parsons spent only three months there and Fisk nine months in all.
8. The Arabic Bible which they distributed was that printed in London from a translation made by Sarkis er Rizzi, Maronite Bishop of Damascus in 162o, and printed in Rome in 1671 This version was printed by the British and Foreign Bible Society, and circulated for many years by missionaries and Bible agents. But it was so full of errors, that a new translation became necessary.
9. Fisk decided that Beirut was preferable to Jerusalem as the headquarters of a mission, in view of its climate, the character of the people, the proximity of Mount Lebanon as a summer retreat, its accessibility, its communication with Europe, and the ease with which books could be sent from it to Damascus, and the cities of the coast. This decision to occupy Beirut, then a town of less than 5,000 population, was divinely directed. It has more than fulfilled the highest hopes of him who selected it and whose body rests in the cemetery in Beirut. He rested from his labours and his works do follow him.
10. These pioneer missionaries unmasked the batteries of the Oriental hierarchy. They were at first welcomed by priests and people of all sects, but when it became known that their object was the distribution of the Scriptures, and making God's Word the only guide and rule in religious belief, the Oriental hierarchies stirred up opposition and resorted to excommunication and Bible burning. It was evident that the chief priests and rulers of church, mosque, and synagogue in Bible lands, did not want the Bible.
III. JONAS KING, THE APOSTLE OF MODERN GREECE
Jonas King was the third of the remarkable trio who began the work of giving the Bible to Bible lands. He served out his enlistment of three years in the Jerusalem Mission with his dear colleague Fisk, and then, soon after, began his work of forty-one years in Greece.
He was born July 29, 1792, in Hawley, Massachusetts. His father was a Christian farmer. Under his instruction, Jonas read the Bible through once between the ages of four and six, and then once yearly to the age of sixteen. His conversion was at the age of fifteen. Without funds or aid, he determined on an education, learned the English grammar while hoeing corn, read the twelve books of Virgil's "Aeneid " in fifty-eight days, and the New Testament, in Greek, in six weeks. He graduated at Williams College in 1816 and Andover Seminary in 1819. Wishing to study Arabic with reference to future work in Persia or Arabia, he went to Paris to study with the famous De Sacy. Meantime, he was appointed Professor of Oriental Languages in Amherst College, the trustees approving his studying in Paris. While in Paris, he received a pressing invitation from Pliny Fisk to come to Syria in the place of the lamented Parsons. Mr. S. V. S. Wilder, then in Paris, agreed to pay $100 a year for three years, and the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society made up the balance; and he went to Syria as really the missionary of the Paris Society. He traveled largely with Fisk in Egypt, Palestine and Syria, as far as Aleppo, becoming a good preacher and writer in Arabic. His teacher in Deir el Komr was Asaad es Shidiak, the fine Arabic scholar and martyr. Dr. King was invited by some of the Oriental papal clergy to join the Church of Rome. He replied, in his famous , “Farewell Letters," giving his strong reasons for being a Protestant, and rejecting the errors of Rome. This letter contained thirteen objections to accepting the invitation of a Jesuit priest, that he join the Church of Rome, It contained thirteen chapters, of which we give the headings.
1. Because Christ, and not the Pope, is the head of the Church on earth.
2. Because Rome requires celibacy of the clergy, contrary to Scripture.
3. Because Christ is the only Mediator, and Rome has many; the Virgin Mary, saints and angels.
4. The Bible prohibits, and Rome allows, the worship of pictures and images.
S. Purgatory is contrary to the Bible.
6. Prayer to the saints is unscriptural.
7. Rome forbids the communion cup to the laity.
8. Rome uses unknown tongues in worship.
9. Faith in the Pope is unscriptural.
10. We are saved by the merits of Christ alone and not by the merits of saints.
11. Rome authorizes and approves persecution and extermination of Protestants, as in the Inquisition and St. Bartholomew's day 30,000 in one day.
12. Rome forbids the Bible to the people.
13. With the Bible open in my hands I cannot become a Romanist. I wish you all to become true Christians. The name Protestant I care nothing for.
Young Asaad es Shidiak corrected and polished the Arabic of Dr. King's farewell, entitled “Wedaat Yonas Keen," and became so much interested in it that he determined to write a reply to it.
The result of this was his conversion to the evangelical faith. Then began a series of persecutions against him, incited by the Maronite patriarch, which ended in his being walled up in the convent of Kannobin, near the Cedars of Lebanon. He died from disease induced by the dreadful filth of his narrow cell, and the torments of those who visited the convent. A favourite custom of the passers-by was to jerk on a rope tied to his neck and passed through a hole in the door. Asaad's life, written by Rev. Isaac Bird, was published in 1864 by the American Tract Society.
In 1828 Dr. King went to Greece in charge of a ship-load of clothing and food for the sufferers from Turkish despotism. His distribution of food and clothing opened the way to preach Christ. The people crowded to him, begging for Testaments. The President of Greece favoured his work. In 1829 he married a Greek lady of influence, who became his efficient helper. He preached, opened schools and distributed the Scriptures, under the auspices of the A. B. C. F. M. He had a life of trial and strenuous toil, persecuted, misrepresented, imprisoned, through the jealousy of the Greek hierarchy. When arrested and brought before the Areopagus, the highest court in Athens, on a charge of reviling the “mother of God," and the “holy images," the judge asked him if he had anything to say. He replied, “Those things in my book with regard to Mary, transubstantiation, etc., I did not say, but the most brilliant luminaries of the Eastern Church, St. Epiphanius, St. Chrysostom, the great Basil, St. Irenaeus, Clement and Eusebius Pamphylii, say them." He was condemned to be tried before a felon's court in Syra, but the trial never occurred. Fifty men conspired against his life. In 1847 the king advised him to leave as his life was in danger. In March, 1851, he was appointed United States consular agent. He was, even after that, imprisoned, threatened and persecuted.
In 1863 he was anathematized by the Holy Synod of Athens. In his latter days he drew up a plan for the organization of a distinctively Protestant Greek Church, aided by his pupil, and my classmate, Dr. Kalopothakes.
On November 6, 1867, when in Paris, en route for the United States, I called with my dear friend Rev. Edward Porter on Dr. King. The next day he called and brought me an invitation from Count Laborde to speak at a missionary meeting the next day in the Salle Evangelique, Rue Oratoire. We went at the appointed hour, with that saintly lady, Mrs. Walter Baker. The meeting was held by the Paris Evangelical Society to greet Dr. King, their missionary to Palestine forty-two years ago. There were present Pasteurs Grandpierre, Fische, Pressense, M. de Casalis, Monod and others. After an address of welcome to Dr. King, he spoke in French, giving an account of Syria and Palestine in 1825. I then spoke in English, Pasteur Fische interpreting, of Syria in 1867, and all departments of the work, evangelistic, educational and publication. Dr. King was like a prince and patriarch among those noble French Protestant ministers and laymen. On my return to Syria, after reporting my visit to Paris and meeting Dr. King, and his early connection with the French Protestant Society, the Beirut Church and Sunday-school sent several contributions, as an act of gratitude to the Paris Evangelical Society for use in its work in South Africa through M. Coillard. We sent it as the “Jonas King memorial contribution" for South Africa.
In 1874 a neat evangelical church was erected in Athens. Dr. King passed away May 22, 1869, in his seventy-seventh year. He was a thorough linguist, having studied eleven languages and speaking five fluently. His original works, in Arabic, Greek and French were ten in number, some of them being widely read and translated into other tongues.
He revised and carried through the press eleven others. He distributed 400,000 copies of Scriptures, Scripture portions, religious books, tracts and school-books in Greece and Turkey. When in Paris in 1826 he bought a font of Armenian type For the Malta Press, and in England a font of Arabic type for the same press.
Dr. Anderson says, “Dr. King has left his impress on the Greek nation. To him preeminently is it owing that the Scriptures, since 1831, have been so extensively used in the schools, and that in Greece the Word of God is not bound: also under God, the visible decline there of prejudice against evangelical truth and religious liberty."
Dr. Rufus Anderson
IV. ISAAC BIRD, THE HISTORIAN
The early history of the Syria Mission needed a historian. Syria and Palestine were then a "terra incognita," and the American Church needed men of careful observation and facile pens, to report on what they saw and heard in the East. The journals of Parsons, Fisk, King and Bird drew attention to the spiritual and intellectual needs of this people. Mr. Bird was a man of great powers of observation, a ready and accurate writer, and of methodical turn of mind. He left on record a history of “Bible Work in Bible Lands," which is the best account of those early days.
Associated with Fisk, King and Goodell, he made numerous journeys, exploring Syria and Palestine. And when the whole missionary company retired to Malta on account of the Greek war in 1829, he visited the Barbary States of North Africa. In his journal published in the Missionary Herald, 1830, he gives an account of a tour in the Island of Jerba off the southern coast of Tunis, where, after a battle on the 12th of May, 1560, in which eighteen thousand Spanish soldiers were slain, their bones were -gathered by the Moslems and built up with mortar into this grim trophy of their victory. He also gives descriptions of the grand reservoir of ancient Carthage, consisting of seventeen cisterns side by side with vaulted roofs, and covering a space of four hundred and twenty feet by fifty-four, with a depth of twenty feet, which were filled by an aqueduct fifty miles in length from Mount Zguan. He had previously described the ruins of the ancient subterranean corn magazines of Tripoli mentioned by classic writers.
Returning to Syria May 1, 1830 he resumed his visits among the people. He had interviews with all classes, Moslems, Greeks, Maronites, Druses and Jews. He called on the higher ecclesiastics and tried to persuade them to reform their Churches and thus remove the stumbling-block of Mariolatry and creature worship which repelled the Moslems from Christianity. But, as he says, he found "Ephraim joined to his idols." They rejected all ideas of reform and began to denounce him as a "Biblianus" and a "Rabshoon" (lord of the infernal world), terms which they bad applied to Asaad es Shidiak, the martyr of Lebanon.
Curse followed curse and excommunication followed threatening, until it became difficult for any American to hire a house or buy the necessaries of life outside of Beirut. The Maronite patriarch and the Maronite Emir Bushir ruled Lebanon with a rod of iron, and orders came from Rome to persecute, drive out and exterminate the accursed Angliz or English as all Protestants were called.
Mr. Bird and his colleagues saw from the very outset that these idolatrous Oriental Churches were the great obstacle to giving the Gospel to the Mohammedans. The Moslems whom they met taunted them with worshipping pictures and images, and were greatly delighted to find out that they did not. Then they charged Christians with having three Gods, and the subject of the Trinity proved a real difficulty in the minds of men who insisted that they would not believe what they could not understand, Early in Mr. Bird's career he met the papal legate, Monsignor Gandolfi of Antoora. He was seventy-four years old and had lived in the country thirty-nine years, He had suffered greatly, had been assaulted and stabbed by Druses, deceived by Maronites and Catholics, and had lost all confidence in the people. His salary had not been enough to save him from poverty. He told Mr. Bird that he had always enjoyed the calls of English and American travelers, but, said he "This terra sancta, this land of holiness, has become a land of devils. It is no longer the blessed but the accursed land. I have had transactions with princes and people of various grades, with patriarchs, bishops, priests, monks and laymen, but not one man of integrity have I found among them all!" This was a damaging indictment from the Pope's nuncio in Syria, and he evidently had come in contact with the class of men known throughout the East as masters of political intrigue and hypocrisy, viz., the Oriental ecclesiastics. Yet there can be no doubt that the Oriental Christians in general have been sadly demoralized by the confessional and priestly absolution. Ignatius Peter, Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, living in the Convent of Mar Efram in Lebanon, declared the Pope to be not merely Bishop of Rome, but "General Director and Head of the whole habitable world." In 1825 Mr. Bird had a school with eighty-five pupils, all Arabs, and all boys but two. Three of the boys were Mohammedans. Three ecclesiastics of high standing in the Armenian Church at this time abandoned their errors and took a noble stand as reformers.
In 1827 Mr. Bird took his family to Ehden near the Cedars of Lebanon, by advice of a foreign physician, on account of the illness of a child. They leased the house of Lattoof el Ashshi, a Maronite friend. This was too much for the patriarch, and he issued a "curse" against him and all his family. The language of the curse reminds one of the Spanish Inquisition. “They are accursed, let the curse envelop them as a robe and spread through all their members like oil, and break them in pieces like a potter's vessel: let the evil angel rule over them by day and by night . . . let no one visit them or employ them or give them a salutation . . . but let them be avoided as a putrid member and as hellish dragons." The result of this was a riot in the village, an attack by the mob on Sheikh Lattoof and his family, and Mr. Bird's removal to another village, B'Whyta, under Mohammedan rule, where he had peace.
On the return of the missionaries from Malta, in May, 1830, the entire Protestant community in the Turkish Empire came out in a shore boat to meet them. It consisted of three persons. That was indeed, “a day of small things."
On his return from Malta in 1830, Mr. Bird with Mr. Goodell, purchased the plot of ground in Beirut now occupied by the church, press, Sunday-school, girls' boarding-school and cemetery. He also built a mission house, which was called Burj Bird. It was, at the time, the largest building outside the city walls, and the pasha, fearing he was building a fort, demanded explanations. Being satisfied, he let the work go on. In 1833, Mr. Bird wrote his famous “Thirteen Letters " in reply to the Maronite Bishop Butrus. They were printed in Arabic at the American Press in Malta, which was removed to Beirut in April of that year.
The bishop had replied in print to Dr, King's “Farewell Letters," and as no rejoinder appeared, the Romish party gave out that the Protestants could not reply to it. This occasioned Mr. Bird's "Thirteen Letters," on the following subjects:
2. Papal Supremacy.
3. Clerical Celibacy.
5. Linage Worship.
7. Worship of Saints and Angels.
8. Transubstantiation and the Mass.
9. Use of Unknown Tongues.
10. Faith in the Pope.
13. Tradition and the Scriptures.
14. Letter to Peter Paluchet, the Jesuit.
These letters were reprinted in Beirut in a neat volume and have been kept on hand up to this day. The book is based on the Bible and the testimony of the early fathers against the innovations of the papacy. It shows great research and is written in a candid and courteous spirit, and has been the means of enlightening multitudes. The original in English is in the mission library in Beirut written in a beautiful hand, and ranks with Kirwan's Letters and Gavazzi's Lectures. It should be published in the English language.
In 1835 Mr. Bird left for Smyrna on account of the health of Mrs. Bird and reached Boston October 15, 1836.
He was afterwards professor in the theological seminary at Gilmanton, New Hampshire. Removing to Hartford, Connecticut, he taught a high school for many years. His son William, afterwards a missionary in Syria from 1853 to 19o2, taught in this school, and had among his pupils Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan.
Mr. Bird died in Hartford in 1876, aged eighty-three years. His name will never be forgotten in Syria. He fought a good fight with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. Two of his children and a granddaughter entered the missionary work: Mrs. Emily Van Lennep, Rev. William Bird, the beloved evangelist of Lebanon, and Miss Emily G. Bird.
V. WILLIAM GOODELL, THE SCHOLARLY SAINT
Syria can claim William Goodell as one of her pioneers and benefactors. He spent five years and sixteen days in Syria. He was appointed to Jerusalem but never saw Jerusalem. He came to an Arabic-speaking land, but studied chiefly the Armenian and Turkish languages with Armenian ecclesiastics who had become Protestants, and thus prepared for his great work of translating the Bible into the Armeno-Turkish, i. e., the Turkish language with Armenian characters. He arrived in Beirut November 16, 1823, left for Malta May 2, 1828, and reached Constantinople, the scene of his life-work, June 9, 1831, having been transferred to that post on account of his proficiency in the Turkish and Armenian languages.
In many respects his character was unique. He seemed saturated with the Bible and Bible phraseology, so that it flowed naturally from his tongue and pen. His letter, entitled "The Missionary's Father," is a gem of pure English and devout expression, and has been perpetuated in tract form. His sense of humour was refreshing, bubbling over on all occasions, and sparkling even in the darkest hour of persecution and tribulation.
His chum and loved colleague, Daniel Temple of Smyrna, was of a grave and serious temperament, looking on the dark side, while Goodell's buoyant spirits were always rejoicing in the sunlight. One day at Andover, while they were sitting in their room together Temple said to Goodell with a heavy sigh (ab imo pectore), "Ah me! I don't see how I shall ever get through the world!" " Why," replied Goodell, "did you ever hear of anybody who stuck fast by the way?"
Just before they went abroad as missionaries, they were visiting together at the home of a hospitable lady in Salem Mass., who said, after welcoming them, "Mr. Temple, take the rockingchair." "No, madam, if you please," said Mr. Temple, "I will take another. Missionaries must learn to do without the luxuries of life." "Well," said the lady, turning to Mr. Goodell, "you will take it." "Oh, certainly," he replied; "missionaries must learn to sit anywhere!"
Dr. Hamlin says of Mr. Goodell that he bad substantially Puritan theology, Puritan saintliness and Puritan patriotism, and this saintliness was adorned with the most sparkling cheerfulness. His wit and mirthfulness made perpetual sunshine. When his colleague, Father Temple, reproved him, saying, "Brother Goodell, do you expect to enter heaven laughing?" "I don't expect to go there crying," was his quick reply. His sagacity and judgment were remarkable, and it was owing largely to his good judgment, with that of his associates, Riggs, Schauffler, Dwight and Hamlin, that the Earl of Shaftesbury said in 1869, "I do not believe that in the whole history of missions, I do not believe that in the history of diplomacy, or in the history of any negotiations carried on between man and man, we can find anything equal to the wisdom, the goodness and the pure evangelical truth, of the 'body of men who constitute the mission."
When in Beirut in 1826, during the Greco-Turkish war, Greek vessels of war cruised along the coast and attacked Beirut, the Pasha of Acre sent to Beirut a large detachment of Albanians, and Bedawin to protect the city. As the Greeks who landed had evacuated the city, these troops began to plunder, A party of seven Bedawin attacked Mr. Goodell's house which was a quarter of a mile east of the city wall. They knocked at the street door at the foot of the stairs. Mr. Goodell opened the second story window at the head of the stairs, told them he was a European and warned them to desist. But they cut down the door with their hatchets and rushed up-stairs. Some city Moslems rushed up after them and took their station at Mrs. Goodell's door, not allowing a Bedawy to enter. As they passed with the plunder, Mr. Goodell and these friendly Moslems snatched from them all they could and threw it into the "hareern" of Mrs. Goodell, which they dared not enter. At length Mr. Goodell reproached them severely and told them he had already sent word to the pasha, and that Mrs. Goodell's condition prevented their going to the mountains. The villains prayed that God would bless Mrs. Goodell and make her exceeding fruitful! Some of the rogues came a few days afterwards to inquire after her health and one came to ask for some tobacco in a pouch, which he said Mr. Goodell had stolen from him when he called the other day! A Greek artist made a painting of the house and pictured the Bedawin (according to Mr. Goodell's sketches at the time) in their striped ahbas. This picture was shown to the pasha by the British consul, Abbott, and he at once recognized the men and ordered them to be bastinadoed and full indemnification ($230) to be paid at once.
In January, 1827, Dr. Goodell wrote of a delightful communion season. It was the day of the monthly concert of prayer, and the ingathering of the first-fruits: Dionysius Carabet, formerly Archbishop of Jerusalem, Gregory Wortabet, an Armenian priest (whose distinguished and learned son, Rev. John Wortabet, M.D., died in a ripe old age in Beirut, 1908), and Mrs. Maria Abbott, wife of the English consul, born in Italy and formerly a Roman Catholic.
(Mrs. Maria Abbot, afterwards left a widow, married, August 3, 1835, Rev. Dr. William M. Thomson, author of “The Land and the Book." One of her daughters, Eliza, married Mr. James Black, an English merchant, whose sterling integrity, high business principles and unflinching veracity gave him an influence for righteousness in Syria never surpassed The Mohammedans, when wishing to use an oath stronger than the oath 41 “by the beard of Mohammed," would swear “by the word of Khowaja Black, the Englishman." Another daughter, Julia, married Rev. Dr. Van Dyck, translator of the Bible into Arabic. Another daughter, Miss Emilia Thomson, is the senior teacher in the Beirut Girls' School.)
At the communion above mentioned, prayer was offered for our beloved Asaad es Shidiak, “who would have been with us were he not in bonds for the testimony of Jesus." Dr. Goodell wrote, “Oh, that this mission might henceforth be like ‘the tree of life’ bearing twelve manner of fruits, and yielding her fruit every month! "
In 1862 Dr. and Mrs. Goodell visited Beirut, and remained two weeks. He preached twice in English and visited old friends. I went with him to the house in which the Bedawin attacked him, and we found the aged couple, who owned the house in 1826, still living in it, and they were rejoiced to see Dr. Goodell. He says in alluding to the visit, “One of our first visits was to the Protestant cemetery, a retired and pleasant spot, which I myself purchased of the sons of Heth for a possession of a burying-place thirty-seven years ago, in 1825. Here we stood by the graves of the well-known and beloved brethren, Fisk (who died at my house in Beirut), Smith and Whiting, whose memories are as fragrant as ever and whose works still follow them. The changes that have taken place in Beirut are great, and those that have taken place on Mount Lebanon are still greater. The pride of Lebanon is broken, those high looks are brought low, and that terrible power which trampled upon all who thirsted for God or desired a knowledge of His ways, is cast down." Dr. Goodell refers to the prostration of the Maronite hierarchical power in the civil war and massacres of 1860
He then says, “I was amazed at the amount of influence and confidence possessed by the missionaries. Their character is now known and respected, and their names, which were once odious to a proverb, are now held in honour."
In 1863 his labours in the work of translating and revising the Holy Scriptures came to a close, in the completion of the final revision of the entire Bible in the Armeno-Turkish language. This work will now remain a monument to his accurate scholarship, his sound critical judgment, his lifelong perseverance and his Scriptural piety. Before leaving Constantinople he published forty-eight of his sermons in Turkish which he had preached to the people. They were afterwards translated into Bulgarian and Armenian.
Dr. Edward Prime, in his life of Goodell, says, “The trials of childhood and youth, his struggles into the work to which he was called; perils by land and sea; plundered by Arabs; his life attempted by poison among the Turks; living in the midst of the plague that killed a thousand and more daily, and fires that swept off every house but eight, where he dwelt: such is an outline of the life he has led, yet he is the same genial, pleasant, cheerful man that he was when he took the rocking-chair in Salem nearly a half century since." When he came to Beirut in 1862 he had strong hopes of being able to visit Jerusalem, but the movements of steamers prevented, and he said to me, “I came from America in 1823, appointed to Jerusalem, but I never got there, and now I am disappointed again. It must be that the Board meant that I was bound for the heavenly Jerusalem, which I am sure of reaching in the Lord's good time."
When he finished the final revision of the Armeno-Turkish Bible, he wrote to Dr. John Adams, his teacher at Andover, “Thus have I been permitted to dig a well in this distant land at which millions may drink, or, as good Brother Temple would say, ‘to throw wide open the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem to this immense population!"
In 1851 he visited his native land, where, in two years, he traveled 25,000 miles, addressing more than 400 congregations in aid of foreign missions, besides meeting students of colleges, theological seminaries, and Sabbath and select schools. In 1853 he returned to Constantinople, having published his volume, "The Old and the New." Here he laboured until 1865, when at the age of seventy-three he requested a release from the Board and returned to the United States. He continued to preach until his death in 1867, at the age of seventy-five, at the residence of his son in Philadelphia. He was rarely gifted, full of genial humour, sanguine, simple, courageous, modest, above all, holy. He won hearts and moulded lives.
My father heard him address the New School General Assembly in Washington, D. C., in May, 1852. I was teaching in the academy in Montrose at the time, and father came home full of missionary enthusiasm and admiration of the eloquence, the saintliness and fascinating humour of this veteran missionary, The following winter, I heard him several times in the churches in New York and felt the same fascination. And now, at the age of seventy-seven, I am glad to pen this brief record of the works and the worth of this American pioneer in Syria.
VI. ELI SMITH, D, D., THE LINGUIST AND TRANSLATOR OF THE SACRED SCRIPTURES
When God has a great work to be done, He raises up great men to do it. Western Asia needed the Bible in the languages of the people; Arabic, Turkish, Armenian, Modern Greek, Bulgarian, Persian and Kurdish, and the Lord raised up and thrust forth into the field those brilliant scholars and remarkable linguists - Eli Smith, Elias Riggs, William Goodell, Justin Perkins, W. T. Schauffler and Cornelius Van Dyck, who have prepared the Scriptures for more than 100,000,000 of men. One of these belonged to Persia, two to Syria, two to Constantinople, and one, Dr. Goodell, to both.
I remember well my first interview with Dr. Eli Smith in the Susa house in Beirut, It was in February, 1856, the day after my arrival. As I passed up the narrow stone staircase I saw in a niche in the wall a box of waste paper, which I learned consisted of proof-sheets of the Arabic Genesis. These were a curiosity to me, and he told me to take all I wanted. I did so, and sent them to my friends in America. He had just begun to print Genesis, after labouring eight years on Bible translation, he spoke very modestly about his work, and gave me some excellent advice about Studying Arabic. He inquired warmly about his old classmate and fellow explorer of Palestine, and my seminary professor, Dr. Edward Robinson, and was much amused when I told him that on account of Dr. Robinson's frequent allusions to the valleys of Sinai and Palestine as wadys, the seminary students called him Dr. Waddy! He asked me if I had seen in the papers Dr. Prime's account of his (Dr. P.'s) ride to the Dog River on a white, blooded Arab steed with curved neck, flowing mane, flashing eye and distended nostrils! “And would you believe it, that was my old Whitey?"
A few days after my arrival Mrs. Smith invited me to lunch, and at 2 P. M. Dr. Smith asked me if I would not like to take a walk. I gladly accepted, and we went out, I on foot and he on horseback. We soon entered on the great sand-dunes west of Beirut and I went wading and struggling through the light, deep, drifting sands about a mile to the Raushi or Pigeon Islands overlooking the sea, and then south another mile through still deeper sands to the sea beach, then up again over sand-hills and sandstone quarries, in the hot sun, and I reached borne, after nearly two hours, drenched with perspiration and ready to give up exhausted. As we neared home, Dr. Smith told me that I could see that walking in Syria is not so easy as it seems. He then explained that some years ago Dr. Anderson, of the A. B. C. F. M., visited Syria, He told the brethren one day that good Christians in New England disapproved of missionaries keeping horses, and, said he, “I think you had better make your tours on foot." They acquiesced, and the next day proposed a visit to a mountain village some nine miles away. They all set off boldly on foot, but after climbing stone ledges, and along dizzy precipices, the Syrian sun pouring down upon their heads, they sat down to rest. They then set out again, over even a harder part of the road. Dr. Anderson was about exhausted, and at length said, “Brethren, I should say on the whole, for such a journey as this, you would be justified in riding horses." They said, “Exactly so, and we thought of it before we started, and we shall find horses awaiting our whole party just around the next turn in the road." The result was that the American Board after that time enjoined the Syrian missionaries to own horses and use them. The missionary had to buy his own horse, but the Board Supplied the barley to feed him.
Dr. Smith put me through that pedestrian ordeal in order to prevent my attempting to repeat it on a large scale in the future. And I have many times thanked him for it, I have known several stalwart evangelists come to Syria, full of enthusiasm and desire to “endure hardness," and by exposure to the blazing sun in walking over mountains induce brain fever, and die after a few days in delirium.
Dr. Smith had a delicate physical frame, was pale and highly intellectual in appearance, courteous and hospitable. It was evident that he was struggling with some occult form of disease. The following summer he visited Trebizond, on the Black Sea, with his old companion of 1829, Dr. Dwight, but fatal disease had fastened upon him and he died of cancer of the pylorus, after much suffering, on January if, 1857.
Eli Smith was born in Northford, Connecticut, September 13, 1801, graduated at Yale College in 1821 and after teaching two years in Georgia, graduated at Andover in 1826. He was ordained and sailed for Malta to take charge of the mission press May 23, 1826. In 1827 he came to Beirut to study Arabic, and in 1828, during the terrors of the Greco-Turkish War, left with Messrs. Bird, Goodell and their families for Malta. March, 1829, he traveled through Greece with Rev. Dr. Anderson, and then with Rev. G. O. Dwight explored Armenia, Persia and Georgia, thus opening the way for the establishment of the Nestorian Mission at Oroomiah. Returning to America in 1832, he published, “Missionary Researches in Armenia " (2 vols. Boston, 1833) and a small volume of "Missionary Sermons and Addresses." In December, 1833, he embarked for Beirut with Mrs. Smith (nee' Sarah Lanman Huntington), whose bright missionary career was terminated by her death at Smyrna, September 30, 1836. Mrs. Smith commenced, in 1834, soon after her arrival, a school for girls in Beirut, which was the first regular girls' school in Syria, and under her auspices was erected the first edifice ever built in the Turkish Empire for the education of girls. A memorial column in the churchyard in Beirut marks the site of that edifice, which was removed when the church was built in 1869. Dr. Smith visited Constantinople, in quest of the best models of Arabic calligraphy in preparation for his new font of Arabic type. He then proceeded to Egypt by authority of the Board of Missions, and accompanied Dr. Edward Robinson in his celebrated tour of research to Sinai, Palestine and Syria. By his experience as an Oriental traveler, and his intimate knowledge of Arabic, he contributed largely to the accuracy, variety and value of the discoveries of Biblical geography, recorded in "Robinson's Biblical Researches." Dr. Robinson fully recognizes this in his volumes. Dr. Smith was worth more to him than a score of Oriental dragomen, many of whom are only too ready to show travelers what the travelers want to see. A famous savant of Europe, when at the Dead Sea, asked his dragoman, "Is this place Sodom?" "Certainly," said the dragoman, anxious to please, and the discovery was recorded in the savant's note-book. But Dr. Smith, who was eyes, ears and tongue to Dr. Robinson, on reaching a supposed Scripture site, called the village sheikhs and shepherds, and said, "Will you please give me the names of all the hills, valleys, ruins, streams and rocks in this region?" They then began, and Dr. Smith wrote them down in Arabic, and in this way many lost sites were discovered. One day north of Nazareth, a shepherd, in reply to a question as to the name of a low hill covered with pottery, came out with the word "Kana el Jalil" or Cana of Galilee, which satisfied both Dr. Robinson, Dr. Smith and afterwards Dr. Thomson, that Kefr Kenna is not the site of Cana of Galilee.
After this tour be went to Europe, and in Leipsic superintended tended the casting by Tauchnitz of the most beautiful font of Arabic type the world had ever seen. In the mechanical preparations for this noble achievement, he was greatly indebted to Mr. Homan Hallock, the missionary printer in Sniyrna, whose ingenuity and inventive genius enabled him to cut the punches and matrices for the new, so-called, “American Arabic Type." The original written models of Arabic calligraphy, gathered from the best Moslem penmen in Cairo, Damascus and Aleppo, were lost in his shipwreck, but he afterwards replaced them at Constantinople to the number of two hundred: so varied, that the punches formed from them would make not far from a thousand matrices.
An ordinary font of English type contains not more than one hundred separate types. A font of Arabic vowelled Arabic type contains about 1,800 separate types. Each letter has three forms, initial, medial and final, and each letter may have several different vowel points above or below it, and the types of the letters are grooved on the sides to admit of the insertion of the fine needlelike types of the minute vowels.
After a visit to America, Dr. Smith returned to Beirut in June, 1841, having married Miss Maria W. Chapin, of Rochester, New York, who died in about one year, July 27, 1842, leaving a son, Charles, now (1907) professor in Yale College, the alma mater of his father. After five years spent in preaching, traveling and close study of the Semitic languages, he revisited the United States and returned January 12, 1847, having married Miss Henrietta S. Butler, sister of Dr. Butler, of Hartford, Connecticut. In his new reconstituted home in Beirut he now devoted his energies to the preparation of a new translation of the Bible into the Arabic language. He collected a library of the best critical books on the Semitic languages, and on the text of the Scriptures, in English, French and German, and laboured for eight years incessantly, aided by the famous Arabic scholar and poet, Sheikh Nasif el Yazigy, and Mr. Butrus el Bistany, a learned convert from the Maronite faith. He obtained from Dr. Mashaka, of Damascus, a treatise on Arab music, which he translated into English. It was published by the American Oriental Society in 1850.
Dr. Smith was a man of great business capacity, giving attention to the minutest details. For many years he read the proofsheets of nearly every work that was printed at the mission press, and he bestowed much thought and labour upon the mechanical apparatus of that establishment. To him every pursuit was subsidiary to a faithful translation of the Word of God into the Arabic language. Yet he did not neglect the regular preaching of the Gospel, which he regarded as the first duty of every missionary, and having early become a fluent speaker in the Arabic, this was ever his delight. It was said of him when I came to Syria, February, 1856, that Dr. Smith could not only read Arabic poetry, but could preach in such "buseet" or simple Arabic that the women of the Lebanon villages could understand him. Yet he was disposed to question the practicability of translating children's hymns into simple and yet classical Arabic. We have, however, proved by experience that our most beautiful children's hymns have been put into beautiful and simple Arabic, quite intelligible to the children in the common schools. Dr. Smith published in Arabic a book on the, "Office and Work of the Holy Spirit," "El Babel Maftuah," which was a revelation to all speaking the Arabic language.
In 1850, he had received the merited degree of D. D. from Williams College.
Dr. Smith was familiar with the ancient classics, and with French, Italian, German, Turkish and Arabic. His ideal of perfection was so high that it was difficult for him ever to be satisfied with his work.
In April, 1890, I took my old Yale friend, Dr. Daniel C. Gilman, of Johns Hopkins University, through our mission premises, and as we entered that little upper room in the female seminary building, formerly the mission house, or "Burj Bird," where the Bible was translated into Arabic by Drs. Eli Smith and Van Dyck, he said, "Dr. Smith was a Yale man and we are Yale men. Why not put up a memorial tablet on the wall of this room commemorative of the great work of Bible translation done here?" I replied, "The only objection is the want of funds to do it." "I will pay the expense," was the ready reply, and this tablet was prepared and set in the wall.
VII. WILLIAM M. THOMSON, D. D., EXPLORER AND AUTHOR OF “THE LAND AND THE BOOK"
As God raised up men in the West to give back the Bible to the East, so He chose among these men those who should illustrate the Bible to the West, And there was divine wisdom in sending Thomson, Robinson and Eli Smith to explore the Holy Land, while still in its primitive state, before the irruption of Western customs, implements, dress and means of communication. Dr. Thomson was a born traveler. He loved the saddle and the tent, the open air exercise, the evening talks at the tent door with Arab sheikhs and villagers, the glorious sunrise and sunset effects of the Syrian sky, the wild flowers and sweet odours of the fragrant herbs on the moors, the lofty mountains and dark ravines, the waving grain of early spring, the early and latter rains, the long rainless summer and the thunder and lightning of winter when, “the voice of the Lord breaketh the Cedars, yea the Lord breaketh the Cedars of Lebanon."
Of a high poetical nature and brilliant descriptive powers, he seemed called of God to picture to the Christian world of the West the unchanged and unchanging witness of the land to the verity and veracity of the Book.
Dr. William M. Thomson was born of godly ancestry in Springdale, Ohio, December 31, 1806 son of Rev. John Thomson, a Presbyterian minister. He graduated at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1829, and at Princeton Theological Seminary, under Dr. Alexander, in 1832. He arrived in Beirut, Syria, February 24, 1833 and thus was the eighth American missionary in Syria, two having died, and two removed from Syria before his arrival.
In April, 1834, He removed with his wife to Jerusalem. One month later, after seeing his family settled in his new home, he went to Jaffa to attend to the forwarding of his goods. Civil war then broke out in Palestine. The fellahin, from Hebron to Nazareth, rebelled against Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt, and besieged Jerusalem. For two months a reign of terror prevailed in Jerusalem; siege, war, several violent earthquakes, plague in Jaffa, pillage and murder in Jerusalem. Dr. Thomson was detained in Jaffa and was unaware that an infant son (now Prof. W. H. Thomson, M. D., of New York) had been born to his wife. She was in circumstances indescribably terrifying, amidst the roar of cannon, falling walls, the shrieks of the neighbours, the terror of servants and constant expectation of massacre by the enraged mob of fellabin besiegers. After two months, Ali Mohammed having reached Jaffa with 12,000 troops, and marched on Jerusalem, Dr. Thomson followed the army and hastened to his wife. He found Mrs. Thomson nearly blind from opthalmia, accompanied with a high inflammatory fever, and twelve days after his arrival, exhausted by the trials of the previous sixty days, she fell asleep in Jesus and was at rest. Her own letters written during the days of agony and suspense are a beautiful illustration of the sustaining power of Christian faith. Dr. Thomson removed to Beirut, in August, 1834, with his infant son. He was afterwards married to Mrs. Maria Abbott, widow of H. B. M. Consul Abbott.
In December, 1835, he opened a boys' boarding-school in Beirut. Rev. Story Hebard joined him in this work in 1836 and continued it until 1840-41. On New Year's Day, 1837, a terrific earthquake devastated Syria and Palestine, especially the town of Tiberias, where 700 of a population Of 2,500 perished, and Safed, where from 5,000 to 6,000 perished out of a population of 10,000 Dr. Thomson and Mr. Calman, English missionary to the Jews, were sent as a deputation by the people of Beirut to carry relief to the sufferers: and his reports as published, giving a graphic account of the dreadful and heartrending scenes at Safed, the horrible wounds, the mangled bodies of the dead, the groans of the hundreds of victims still alive and half buried under the ruins, sent a thrill throughout the Christian world. They built a temporary hospital, distributed money and food, and relieved the suffering Jews, Moslems and Greeks as far as it was possible to do. The survivors seemed paralyzed. One Jew refused to aid in extricating his wounded brother from under a pile of stones, unless paid for it! Spiritual comfort seemed out of the question, for it was the testimony of Dr. Thomson on this as on other similar occasions, that great overwhelming calamities seem to harden rather than soften the hearts of men. Dr. Thomson wrote, "There is no flesh in the stony heart of man. No mail would work to help us, except for enormous wages. Not a Jew, Christian or Turk lifted a hand to help us except for high wages."
In 1835, the same year in which the first building erected for female education in Syria was built, at the expense of Mrs. Todd (an English lady from Alexandria), in Beirut for Mrs. Eli Smith, on the lot in front of the present church, a seminary for boys was commenced in Beirut, by Dr. Thomson, in which work he was afterwards assisted by Mr. Hebard. English was taught, and some of their pupils have since been prominent men in Syria.
In May, 1840, in company with Mr. Beadle and Dr. Van Dyck he made an exploration of Northern Syria. In one of his letters his description of a sunrise in the desert is a masterpiece of brilliant imaginative writing. This description was printed in the Missionary Herald and reached the Sandwich Islands, where one of the missionaries cut up the whole passage into elegant Miltonian blank verse, without altering a word. Indeed his journals printed at length in the Missionary Herald were eagerly read and universally admired.
On the 14th of August, 1841, the English fleet under Sir Charles Napier arrived in Beirut harbour to drive Ibrahim Pasha out of Syria. The combined English (twenty-one vessels), Austrian (six) and Turkish fleets (twenty-four Turkish transports) anchored off Beirut, being in all a fleet of fifty-one sail, The United States corvette, Cyane, Captain Latimer, took on board all the missionaries and landed them safely in Larnaca, Cyprus. The bombardment began and continued while the Cyane was still at anchor, and kept on for a month when Soleyman Pasha evacuated the city. In October, the missionaries returned, expecting to find the mission house in ruins. But on the contrary, although the ground on the mission premises was ploughed by cannon-balls, and two bombs had burst in the yard, the house and printing-press were uninjured! The library, the costly apparatus for the boys' seminary, the invaluable manuscripts and books, and the large folio volumes of the Christian fathers, remained safe just as when the missionaries left them.
Soon after, Ibrahim Pasha was driven back to Egypt, and Syria and Palestine were restored to Turkish rule. But for the interference of England, the Egyptian dynasty would have subdued the whole Turkish Empire. While Ibrahim Pasha was in Syria there was universal security and a better government than had been known for centuries. On his departure, things returned to their old Course. Again in the Crimean War, England saved the Turkish Empire from destruction. It did the same at the close of the Bulgarian War, after the treaty of St. Stephano. And it may be said that in x861, by insisting on the evacuation of Syria by the French army of occupation, it again saved Syria to the Turk. And yet the Turks do not love the English!
In 1841, war broke out between the Druses and the Maronites. Many refugees were fed and clothed by the missionaries.
In 1843, Dr, Thomson and Dr. Van Dyck removed to the village of Abeih in Mount Lebanon, and carried on the boys' seminary, now transferred from Beirut. They continued teaching and preaching until they were stationed in Sidon in 1851.
July 18, 1843, Dr. Thomson went to Hasbeiya where 150 men had declared themselves Protestants, and on August 1st., the entire body left for Abeih to escape attack by armed men from Zahleh and the region of Hermon, but they returned in the fall, the fury of their foes being exhausted.
One day Dr. Thomson and two deacons went up the side of Hermon to the solitary lodge of a poor vine-dresser, who was deeply interested in spiritual things. He wrote of this visit, “It was good to be there on that mountainside, in the lodge beneath that olive tree, among those clustering vines, with that old man of humble mien and tearful eye, the voice of prayer ascending from full hearts to the canopy of heaven above our heads. Yes, it was good to be there. I crept forth from this humble lodge with eyes bedimmed with tears."
In April, 1845, civil war broke out again in Lebanon, and a battle took place in Abeih. Dr. Thomson bore a white flag to the Druses' camp, and through his prompt action in securing the interference of the British consul-general in Beirut, a truce was agreed on and a general massacre of the unfortunate Maronites was prevented.
Whereupon the Greek and Maronite bishops of Beirut ordered their people to protect the American missionaries. In September the missionaries were ordered down from Abeih by Chekib Effendi, the Turkish commissioner, and returned again in December
From this time on, during his residence in Abeih and Sidon (to which place he removed in 1851) until 1857, Dr, Thomson was engaged in making extended missionary tours in Syria and Palestine. It was my privilege to accompany him, on his invitation, in February, 1857, through Palestine, when he was engaged in elaborating his great literary work , "The Land and the Book."
That journey, made one year after my arrival here, and with such a guide and companion, marked an epoch in my life. It "established my goings " in Bible study and gave me a familiarity with Bible scenes and localities which has been to me of priceless value. On reaching camp at night, when we younger men were well-nigh exhausted by long stages, through miry roads and swollen streams, he would sit up to a late hour writing up his notes of travel with the greatest care, apparently as fresh as in the morning. His buoyant spirits, his thorough understanding of men, his facility in settling difficulties, his marvelous knowledge of Scriptural scenes and sites, his hearty good nature, willingness to impart useful information about the sacred localities, and his devout and reverent spirit, made him a most charming and invaluable traveling companion. Every mountain and hill, every stream and valley, every rock and castle and cavern, every village and hamlet were familiar to his practiced eye. His trusty horse, which had borne him often through the "Land," seemed to know every road and by-path.
Dr. Thomson was an enthusiastic geologist, and in this we both heartily sympathized. He discovered the greater part of the fossil localities of Mount Lebanon and directed me to them. I never travel, or visit these localities, without recalling his valuable information.
He felt deeply that the Bible could only be fully and clearly understood by remembering its Oriental origin, and that it was important to study and record, with scrupulous exactness, the mariners and customs, the language and salutations, the usages and peculiarities of the modern inhabitants of Syria and Palestine, before the influx of European ideas and habits should have swept away their distinctive features as illustrative of the language and thoughts of Bible characters.
His studious habits, his ready pen, his almost microscopic powers of observation, and his habit of recording conscientiously every new discovery and impression, enabled him to accumulate, during his missionary life, a mass of material such as no one had ever been able to secure. And he felt that he could not do a better service to the Church and the world, than to turn the searchlight of the land upon the pages of the Book.
He was well fitted for the task and he did it well. He did it as missionary work in the broadest sense, and how well he did it, can be learned by seeing his volumes in the libraries of universities, colleges and theological schools, in the homes of pastors and teachers, in Sunday-schools and public schools; quoted by scholars, preachers and teachers, in commentaries, books of travel, and encyclopedias. Nearly, if not quite 200,000 Copies of "The Land and the Book " have been sold.
When in the troublous war crises of 1841 and 1845 a number of men left the mission for America and urged the abandonment of the field, Dr. Thomson with Mr. Calhoun, and Drs. Van Dyck, Eli Smith, De Forest and Mr. Whiting resisted the suggestion, and stood to their posts, and saved the work from destruction.
In June 23, 1859, on his return from a two years' visit to the United States, he was stationed in Beirut, where he remained for seventeen years, until his final departure for the United States, August 7, 1876. He laboured as his colleague during those seventeen years and learned to love and admire him and trust in his judgment.
In the fall of 1859, the population of Lebanon was in a state of agitation and preparation for a renewal of the old war between the Maronites and the Druses.
In the spring of 186o the war-cloud burst, and for sixty days, civil war, the burning of villages, outrage and massacres devastated Southern Lebanon, the Bookaa, the Anti-Lebanon, and Damascus. Thousands of refugees, men, women and children widows and orphans, crowded into Beirut. Dr. Thomson was most active in the practical management of the distribution, by a committee, of nearly £30,000, in money, food and clothing to the wretched sufferers. He had the special charge of the clothing department, and distributed the material for 100,000 garments.
When Lord Dufferin, and his successor, Colonel Frazier, wished judicious counsel in matters pertaining to the reorganization of the Mount Lebanon government, they consulted first of all the two veterans in missionary experience and knowledge, Dr. Thomson and Mr. Calhoun of Abeih.
Lord Dufferin, in an official report sent to England at the time, in speaking of the part borne by the Syrian missionaries in the work of relieving the refugees, states that "without their indefatigable exertions, the supplies sent from Christendom could never have been properly distributed, nor the starvation of thousands of the needy been prevented."
On the 29th of April, 1873, his devoted wife, Mrs. Maria Thomson after more than forty years of a lovely and consistent Christian life in this community, passed to her heavenly reward, universally beloved and respected by people of all nationalities.
On reaching the United States in 1877, he resided in New York for several years, and then removed to Denver Colorado, where he enjoyed the clear skies and the towering mountains, which he said reminded him so vividly of his beloved Syria. In that city, in the home of his daughter, Mrs. alker, and with the faithful ministrations of his unmarried daughter Emilia, he remained until April 8, 1894, when he was summoned to the heavenly Canaan, the unfading and unclouded "Land of Promise," by the great inspirer of the "Book" he had so faithfully laboured to illustrate and exalt before the minds of his fellow men.
His actual connection with the mission in Syria covered a period of forty-three years and five months. His sojourn in America lasted seventeen years and eight months. His latter days were serene and happy; enjoying the full possession of all his faculties, he retained his interest in all that pertains to the kingdom of Christ. His life and work were a blessing to Syria, in laying the foundations of the work now going on in all parts of the land. In the annual meetings of the mission, when grave questions were under discussion, he would rise to his feet, walk to and fro, and give utterance to his views in terms so clear, concise and convincing, that they generally settled the question.
His life is an illustration of the fact that in the foreign mission service there is scope for every kind of talent and acquisition. Dr. Eli Smith could not have written "The Land and the Book," and Dr. Thomson could not have translated the Bible. Dr. Thomson found in Syria and Palestine a vast unexplored field of Scriptural illustration. The land of the Bible, its topography and customs, were well-nigh unknown among the great Christian nations of the West. With unequalled facilities for travelling in the land and studying the people, he used the talents God had given him in illustrating the Word of God. Others engaged more especially in translating that book into the Arabic language, in founding schools and seminaries, in preparing a Christian literature, and in preaching the Gospel from the pulpit or in the homes of the people. While he did what he could in several of these departments of labour, he gave more especial attention to that for which God had prepared him by special gifts and graces His works do follow him. His name will be remembered, with those of Eli Smith and Edward Robinson, as one of the three Americans who were the pioneers of exploration of the Bible lands, as a means of illustrating the Word of God.
1. Rev. and Mrs. J. Edwards Ford. 2. Mrs. George E. Post. 3. Rev. and Mrs. William Bird. 4. Rev. and Mrs. Eli Smith, 5. Rev. and Mrs. J. L. Lyons. 6. Rev. and Mrs. D. Bliss. 7. Dr. and Mrs. H. A. De Forest.