NOTABLE VISITORS AND CONVERTS
The one-eyed kadi - Mr. Roosevelt - Two great sheikhs - The new bell - Wm. E. Dodge - Abu Selim and Moosa Ata - The monthly concert at home.
AT the close of 1873 the stations were manned as follows: Beirut, Drs. Thomson, Van Dyck, Dennis, and H. H. Jessup. Abeih, Messrs. Calhoun and Bird. Sidon, Messrs. W. W. Eddy and Pond.
Tripoli, Messrs. S. Jessup and Hardin, and Dr. Danforth. Zahleh, Messrs. Dale, Wood, and March.
The theological seminary was opened in Beirut in premises adjoining Dr. Dennis's house, the teachers being Dr. Dennis, Dr. C. V. A. Van Dyck, Dr. Wm. M. Thomson, and myself.
The Syrian Protestant College at this time had eighty-four students in all its departments and all its friends were much encouraged. They little thought that in 1907 the number would be 878.
In September the notable meeting of the International Evangelical Alliance, postponed from 1870 on account of the FrancoPrussian War, was held in New York. My paper on "Missions to the Oriental Churches" was read in my absence by my dear friend, Rev. D. Stuart Dodge. It was subsequently the basis of a booklet on "The Greek Church and Protestant Missions," written at the request of the Christian Literature Society of New York and a special edition of which was published in England by my friends Canon H. B. Tristram and Rev. H. E. Fox, and sent to hundreds of clergymen of the Church of England. The object of this act of Canon Tristram was to counteract the efforts of the High Church Anglican Clergy to fraternize with the Greek Church ecclesiastics, ignoring the anti-scriptural teachings of the Greek Church. A reformation of the Greek Church is possible, but not very probable. With education and the Bible the people some day will demand the abolition of Mariolatry and ikon worship.
Early in March Dr. Van Dyck, manager of the press, was sent for by Kamil Pasha, the governor, to come to the seraia, as he was about to shut up the press for a violation of the press laws. Dr. Van Dyck proceeded to the seraia and asked the pasha what he meant. The pasha, holding up a little tract, said, "Was this printed at your press?" "Yes." "Then it must be confiscated, as it contains an attack on the Turkish government." Dr. Van Dyck asked, "Wherein does it attack the government?" The pasha pointed out several passages which criticized the bribery and corruption everywhere prevalent, perjury and lying among witnesses and public officials; and the fact that "truth had fallen in the streets and equity could not enter." Dr. Van Dyck replied, "Are not these statements true? Your Excellency ought to put a copy into the hands of every government official in your pashalic. Is it not so?" asked the doctor. "Yes," said the pasha, "but we don't like to be so constantly reminded of it. Have you never heard the story of the Kadi el Ah-war?" (the one-eyed judge). "And what is that?" asked the doctor. "Well, once there was a famous one-eyed kadi. One day a man came into the court and addressed him as follows: 'Goodmorning, oh, one-eyed kadi! May your day be blessed, oh, one-eyed kadi. I have heard of the noble character and justice of the one-eyed kadi, and I would ask the distinguished and revered one-eyed kadi to do me justice, and,' 'Stop,' said the kadi, 'supposing I am one-eyed, do I want to be everlastingly reminded of it? Get out of my sight,'
And so," said the pasha, "we know that these reflections on our country and our courts are true, but we don't want to be publicly reminded of them. Who wrote that tract?" Thedoctor explained that it was a prize tract on veracity and the prize was won by Rev. Sarafirn Potaji of Shefa-Amr near Nazareth. But the pasha insisted that it be destroyed. The doctor withdrew and the case was taken up by the British consulate, as the tracts belonged to the London Tract Society. Then the pasha insisted that the consul seal them up in a box and send them out of Syria. The consul sent a dragoman and sealed the box, and left it at the press. Dr. Van Dyck sent and asked the consul to remove the box. He did not do it. Then the doctor gave him a week's notice that if it were not taken away in that time the press would not be responsible for its safekeeping. The British consul never sent for it and it disappeared, being scattered throughout the land.
The prohibition by the Sultan of all criticism in the newspaper press is one great cause of the universal official corruption in the empire. Bribery exists in civilized lands, but is kept at a minimum through fear of exposure in the press. Here there is no such fear, and it is at a maximum.
On Saturday, March 22d, I called at the hotel on Mr. Theodore Roosevelt Sr., of New York, and the next day he spoke to our Arabic Sunday-school on his work among the newsboys of New York. His son Theodore was with him and was a boon companion of Frederick and Howard Bliss, sons of Dr. Daniel Bliss. The three boys rode together on one donkey, the property of Mrs. Bliss. One of those boys is now President of the United States, while another is president of the Syrian Protestant College, and, as a witty Arab remarked on hearing this reminiscence, "The donkey is now the Waly of _____!"
Mr. Roosevelt gave $500 to the college in Beirut. His visit was memorable and an inspiration to young and old.
In February, 1871, we were favoured with a visit from a celebrated Arab sheikh, the noted Sheikh Mohammed Smeir Ibn ed Dukhy, the emir of the Anazeh tribe, who can command ten thousand horsemen and who receives 280,000 piastres annually from the Turkish government to keep the Bedawin in order.
He had just sent off a detachment of his tribe with the great Mohammedan caravan of pilgrims from Damascus to Mecca and was sent for by Rashid Pasha, Waly of Syria, to come to meet him in Beirut. While here, he was the guest of a friend of ours and we invited him to call. He came on Thursday, February 2d, at 2 P. m., first calling at my house and then at the female seminary. He looked through the institution and after examining the appearance of the pupils, turned to them and said, "Our Bedawin girls would learn as much in six months as you learn in two years." I told him we would like to see the experiment tried. He said, "Perhaps it may be some day. Our friend had informed us that although the sheikh could not read, one of his wives could both read and write well, being the daughter of a sheikh near Hamath, so we had prepared an elegant copy of the Arabic Bible bound in green and gilt with a waterproof case to prevent injury on his long return journey of twelve days into the desert, and when we reached the press it was presented to him. He received it with the greatest respect and asked what he would find in it. We told him it was the complete "Tourah" and "Ingeel" (Old and New Testaments) and he said it would be profitable to read about Ibrahim the friend of God, and Ishmael the father of the Arabs, and Moosa (Moses) and Soleyman the king and Aieesa or Jesus the son of Mary. The electrotype apparatus deeply interested him but when Mr. Hallock showed him the steam cylinder press rolling off the printed sheets with so great rapidity and exactness, he stood back and remarked in the most deliberate manner, "The man who made that press can conquer everything but death." It seemed some satisfaction to him that in the matter of death the Bedawy was on a level with the European. [Mr. Waldmeier, who was formerly in Abyssinia and is now in Beirut, informs me that one of the Abyssinian princes once made a precisely similar remark when looking at a piece of European machinery.]
From the press the sheikh went to the church and after gazing around on the pure white walls, remarked, "There is the Book, but there are no pictures. You worship only God here."
He was anxious to see the tower clock, and although he has lost one arm and had the other nearly paralyzed by a musket shot in the desert wars, he said he would climb up the long ladder to see that clock, whose striking he had heard at the other end of the city. So up he went and it would have done the maker, Mr. Hotchkiss of Cortlandt Street' New York, great good to see this son of the desert gazing admiringly upon that beautiful piece of mechanism. We helped him down the ladder, greatly to his relief, and then he went to the college where he heard Dr. Van Dyck deliver a lecture on chemistry, and the doctor performed several brilliant experiments for his benefit. Dr. Bliss showed him the large electrical machine and he took several severe shocks in hopes of deriving benefit to his left arm.
The botanical collection, the library of Arabic books, the cabinets of minerals and fossils, and the anatomical museum all interested him and he finally left us expressing his gratitude for what he had been permitted to see, and especially for the Book. He left by diligence stage early the next morning for Damascus and was soon in the desert again as another tribe had revolted and he hastened to quell the revolt.
On Wednesday, February 8, 1871, one of the notable characters of Syria died in Beirut. Sheikh Nasif el Yazigy was the greatest living Arabic poet, author of fourteen different works in Arabic, and formerly for years the companion and assistant of Dr. Eli Smith in the translation of the Bible into Arabic. He died aged seventy-one years. He had been partially paralyzed for two years past but never forgot Dr. Eli Smith. He often said to me, "When Dr. Smith was on his death-bed he preached to me a sermon which I have not forgotten and never can forget. No, sir, I cannot forget it. Dr. Smith was a man of God."
An immense crowd followed the sheikh to his grave, among them nearly 800 pupils from the schools and seminaries of Beirut, a noble tribute to his great learning. Such a sight had not been seen in Beirut since the days of Justinian.
On Sunday, February 12th, the little stone church in Kefr Shima, six miles from Beirut, was dedicated, with more of state and formality than had been known by any Protestant church in Syria. Among those present were H. E. Franco Pasha, Governor of Lebanon, Mr. Johhson, American consul-general, Mr. Eldridge' H. B. M. consul-general, Mr. T. Weber, German consulgeneral, Dr. Daniel Bliss, president of the Syrian Protestant College, Dr. Thomson, several of the Prussian deaconesses who had pupils in the village and a great crowd of Syrian villagers. I preached the Arabic dedication sermon. Five years later I preached the same sermon at the dedication of the churches in Judaideh and Zahleh. At the latter place the kaimakam (a Papal Greek) was present, and a fortnight later sent a formal complaint to Rustam Pasha that I had taken advantage of the presence of Roman Catholic officials to attack the Holy Catholic Church. The pasha sent the complaint to the British consul, to whom I sent a copy of the sermon reminding him that it was the same one I delivered before Franco Pasha and himself and others in 1871. I heard no further complaint. It was afterwards proved that the complaint was instigated by the Jesuit priests of Zahleh. [In January, 1878, Mr. James Black, a noble specimen of the British Christian merchant, whose word was sworn by both by Moslems and Christians, and who had taught the Syrians a lasting lesson in business integrity, erected at his own expense a bell tower on the Kefr Shima church, which stands today a monument of his liberality and true Christian zeal. His self-denying labours in the erection of the Beirut church are commemorated in a beautiful white baptismal font erected after his death by the congregation.]
On Saturday morning, April 15, 1871, the American bark Marguerita Blanca came into port bringing the new church bell. The captain said that he had a tempestuous voyage across the Atlantic and for three days gave up all hope of deliverance. The bulwarks of the vessel were carried away, 10,000 feet of lumber on the deck were swept overboard, the kitchen and water casks were swept away, and the bell was about the only thing that remained. The fixtures were in the cabin and although the sea broke in and deluged the cabin, nothing was damaged. The only effect that we could observe was that the yoke of the bell (which was evidently meant to be a revolving yoke so as to change the place of the stroke of the tongue) was so firmly welded on to the bell by rust that we found it impossible to remove it when elevating the bell into the tower. We were thankful however that it was not lost during that Atlantic hurricane.
Ten porters brought it up from the custom-house swung between two oak poles, and a fine set of tackle blocks from the American bark enabled Mr. Hallock, our efficient press agent and electrotypist, to hoist it into place with comparative ease. It is the largest bell in Syria and its clear sweet tones can be heard to the very suburbs of this widely scattered city.
We were honoured in 1871 by a visit from Rev. N. G. Clark, secretary of the American Board, and Rev. George W. Wood, D. D., who after labouring as a missionary in Singapore and Constantinople and then as district secretary of the Board in New York was returning to Constantinople to renew the work he so much loved. Dr. Clark's visit was especially gratifying. We had separated from the American Board, but not from the love and confidence of this beloved man with whom we had corresponded for years. He had often intimated that we should not erect expensive buildings on mission ground, and he had many misgivings when we were building the girls' school, the church, the Bible depository and press. But on this visit he expressed his gratification with all he saw in Beirut. He said, "Brethren, you are right. These buildings are a credit to your taste and judgment. Protestantism looks as if it had come to Syria to stay and not merely to pitch a tent and then decamp. There should be substantial buildings of a superior character in our chief centres of labour and influence." He was delighted with the large plot of ground owned by the college at Ras Beirut and gave the mission much credit for wisdom and broad views, as might be expected from a man of such large experience and wide observation as he is. The purchase of that college site is universally regarded as one of the master-strokes of Dr. Daniel Bliss, and it is to this day (1908) still looked upon as the finest college site in the East. [Dr. Bliss states that John Jay Phelps, father-in-law of Rev. D. Stuart Dodge, was the first person to insist on the purchase of the Ras Beirut property.]
Syrian Protestant College
In December 1871, we were favoured with a visit from the Hon. Wm. E. Dodge and Mrs. Dodge. Their presence was a benediction. They showed interest in every detail of all department of our work, and his laying the corner-stone of College Hall of the Syrian Protestant College, December 7th, was an occasion long to be remembered. An immense crowd assembled and Mr. Dodge made a brief but eloquent address. His son Stuart, after accompanying his parents to Egypt, returned here and laboured for many months with Dr. Bliss during the progress of the new edifice. The use of iron beams and flat stone arches between the girders, for the first time in Syria, awakened great interest. The building, finally completed in 1872, is a monument to their patient and faithful attention to all the details of the architect's plans. The same may be said of all those who superintended the construction of all the buildings on the college campus. The names of Ron. Wm. E. Dodge and Dr. D. Stuart Dodge will be forever linked with the history and success of the Syrian Protestant College.
The closing months of 1871 were full of hope and cheer. The congregations in Beirut were crowded and the Sunday-school flourishing, the church-members active and willing to work, and some twenty young people asking admission to the church. Rev. Samuel Jessup had returned from Scotland to Tripoli and been joined by Rev. O. J. Hardin and Galen B. Danforth, M. D., who had married Miss Emily Calhoun of Abeih. Rev. and Mrs. Frank Wood had arrived in November and were stationed in Sidon. Dr. Danforth opened a clinic in Tripoli which was thronged, and the faithful Moslem friend, Saleh Sabony, was constant in his attendance, aiding the doctor for three and one-half years till his death, July, 1875, and keeping the crowded throng of patients in order.
At this time I conducted the Sunday-school of 300 scholars, preached in Arabic twice every Sunday, Monday evening held a neighbourhood prayer-meeting, Wednesday a class of catechumens, Wednesday evening a Bible class of eighty young men, Friday morning short services at three boarding-schools, and Saturday evening a teachers' meeting of thirty young men and women.
This year, 1872, is said to be the year for the final crisis or cataclysm of the Druse religion. Their prophet, El Hakem, who claimed to be an incarnation of the deity, and is worshipped by them, promised when he died, 1021 A. D., to return again with an immense army from China, overthrow Islam, and subject the earth to his sway. This year, according to certain Druse authorities, is the year for the return of El Hakem, but the educated and thinking men among them have the sense to know, firstly, that there are no Druses in China, and secondly, that if there were, there would be no prospect of their getting to Syria without such a conquest as the world has never seen. Despairing of this, some of them, though not many as yet, are asking what is to be done. If El Hakern does not appear in 1872 the Druse religion is false, and we must cast about for another. One of their leading men said a few days ago, "If the crisis comes some of us will turn Moslems and some Protestants. God only knows; God knows all things."
We have had one extraordinary Protestant on the docket in Beirut but now he has returned like the sow that was washed, etc. He was asked for an extra donation in the Maronite church and was so enraged that he turned Protestant. He remained Protestant two months, and had several prayer-meetings at his house. He acknowledged to me that he had committed not less than twenty murders. He sleeps with several loaded pistols under his pillow, and one day threatened to kill his wife. He presented the loaded double-barrelled pistol to his own breast in the presence of two of the brethren, exclaiming, "Bear me witness, that I die a Protestant and give three-fourths of my money to the Protestant Church and one-fourth to my wife." They snatched the pistol and brought it to me; I declined to harbour it. He afterwards calmed down and came with his wife to call on me. We laboured with him faithfully, but when he heard that we had collections in the Protestant Church, he went back to the Jesuits. It is one of the marvels of this Eastern land that so many men of that kind go unhung. This hopeful character murdered his first wife and may at any day despatch his present one. It was a relief to us all when he ceased entangling the Protestant community with his iniquities. Crimes and sin have hardened his nature and though he has amassed great wealth by his crimes as a highwayman and villain, he will not loose his grip on a cent without a struggle.
How different this man from Abu Selim, the blind Damascene, who has lately united with the church, a man once steeped in iniquity, but now a gentle and loving disciple of Jesus. Kind, affectionate, prayerful, zealous, going about the streets led by a little boy, preaching the Gospel early and late, bringing strangers to the church and the prayer-meeting, and thinking only of one great theme, salvation through Christ, who sought him when a stranger, and sent blindness of natural vision five years ago, in order that his spiritual eyes may be opened! He said the other night at a prayer-meeting, "Would that He had sent this blindness twenty years ago before I had spent so much of my life in sin. Praise to His name for not leaving me now."
On April 5th, Antioch was destroyed by earthquake. The shock continued for several days. Sixteen hundred were killed, 1,000 wounded. The Turkish governor, Ali med Beg, was a marvel of efficiency and humanity. More than 15,000 people were without food or shelter. Help poured in from Alexandretta, Aleppo, Beirut, Damascus, and Constantinople. Theraia Pasha, Waly of Aleppo, sent 100 tents and soldiers to guard the city and prevent plunder. The stench from bodies buried under the ruins became intolerable. A series of shocks continued for ten days. Suadiyeh on the coast, Bitias, and scores of villages were in ruins and hundreds perished. The house of Mr. Powers, the American missionary, was not injured, though surrounded by ruins. He raised $800 in Alexandretta to aid the sufferers. Caravans with provisions, bread, flour, rice, and butter came daily from Aleppo, and we. were distributed by the Aleppo committee, Sheikh Beha ed Din Effendi Rufaiee, Mustafa Agha, Siyas Effendi, Rizkullah Effendi Bulleet. The commercial council of Aleppo sent $3,200 in cash. Edward Van Dyck, United States vice-consul in Beirut, Rev. 0. J. Hardin, Dr. Galen Danforth and wife of the American Mission in Tripoli and two graduates of the medical college, went on to Antioch, April 27th, with medicines and blankets to aid in the care of the sick and wounded. The desolation and suffering were heartrending. The entire population were living in the open country, and daily shocks for three weeks added to their terror and distress. No such earthquake had occurred since the days of Justinian in 526 A. D., when the ancient Antioch was destroyed and according to Gibbon 250,000 perished and the city thereafter was only an abject village.
On April 12th the Greek priest Jebra was searching amid the ruins of the Greek Church for the silver ornaments and furniture buried under the debris when he heard a faint groan. He at once informed the government, and the Greek bishop and the entire body of government officials repaired to the spot with labourers who dug away the debris. The groans gradually grew louder and louder until they found two persons, the one clasping the other in her arms. They were a girt of twenty and her younger brother., As they drew them out after digging three hours they found them still alive. They had been entombed seven days. They begged for water. Dr. Franki gave them wine and water in very small quantities. They bad no sign of wound or bruise on their bodies but the girl did not survive long. The boy, aged twelve, revived and recovered.
Sabbath evening, April 7th, I retired about midnight, exhausted by the labours of the day, and was just losing myself in sleep when the door-bell rang, and the telegraph messenger brought me a telegram from Miss Wilson, the English teacher in Zahleh, stating that Moosa Ata was dying, and my presence was absolutely necessary. No reasons were given and I was seriously perplexed. The Damascus diligence would leave at 4 A.M., and this was the only way of getting there unless I rode ten hours on horseback, which I was quite too weary to attempt. There was no time to consult the brethren, and such was the pressure of duties on hand in Beirut that it seemed impossible for me to leave. At last I decided to leave the question to the divine Providence. If there proved to be an empty seat in the diligence I would go; otherwise not. I went down to the office at half-past three and found a seat. On reaching the house of Miss Wilson in Zahleh at noon, I found the town in a state of great excitement. Moosa had died one hour before my arrival. He was the first Protestant in Zahleh and had been a steadfast evangelical for fifteen years. The town numbers 12,000 souls, all Greek or Greek Catholic, and the people have been noted in years past for their insubordination to the government and their blind devotion to the priests. Years ago they boasted that the Protestants should never enter Zahleh, and twice have they driven out missionaries by Violence. The town was sacked and burned by the Druses in 1860, and the great church of Mary, the citadel of Mariolatry in Lebanon, was destroyed. It is now rebuilt, the houses being constructed of stone and sun-dried brick. It stands in a narrow valley which runs down the eastern slope of Lebanon to the plain, and is built on both sides of the river, the north and south quarters of the city rising abruptly from the river and facing each other, the roof of one house often forming the court or floor of the house above. The power of the Jesuits and the native Catholic and Greek clergy was once supreme and is now enough to incite the masses to almost any act of rowdyism, unless restrained by force or fear. A month since the young heroes of the town, of various aristocratic families, attacked the governor and threatened to kill him. He barely escaped with his life and an army was despatched for his protection. Numerous arrests were made and six of the finest young men of the town were sent for six years to the penitentiary in Acre. This condign punishment has somewhat tamed down the fire of the masses or we might have had serious trouble in burying our deceased brother, Moosa Ata. Ever since he had become a Protestant the priest had vowed vengeance upon him, and although a venerable man, respected by all, and admired for his skill (he was a gunsmith, and received a reward from the London Exposition for a curiously wrought and inlaid weapon), they resolved that when he died, he should be dragged through the streets and be denied decent burial.
On Sunday, April 7th, he was very ill. The Protestant native helper, Giurgius, went to see him and was refused admittance. The Greek Catholic priests had gone a dozen strong to his house, fastened the doors, and sent out word that Moosa had recanted and returned to the papal church. His son Abdallah, who is a Protestant and a lovely young man, told the brethren that this was not true. Still none of the brethren could get access to him. At length Miss Wilson sent word to Jebran. Meshaka, city judge, and, since the riot, acting governor, asking leave to visit Moosa, the Protestant. He at once sent the chief of police and two of his men to accompany her. Giurgius, the preacher, and several of the brethren went with her. The roof of Moosa's house and all the adjoining houses were covered with thousands of women and children and the roughs of the town hooting and cursing and railing at the Protestants. The chief made his way through the mob, and took the party with him into the room of the dying man. The room was crowded with the black-robed and hooded priests. Said the chief, Butrus Agha, to Giurgius, the Protestant preacher, "You may now question Moosa as to his faith." Giurgius sat down by his side and said distinctly, "My brother, are you still in the faith of the Gospel, or have you returned to the papal church?" He replied in a clear voice, "I am a Protestant and die a Protestant," At the request of the agha, the question was repeated, with the same reply. Then the agha ordered the priests to leave at once. "What business have you here by the death-bed of a Protestant? Leave him without delay." Moosa then asked Giurgius to read and pray with him. When Miss Wilson left, the mob began to shout and threaten the life of Giurgius. "Bring out the dog and we will kill him! Break down the door and let us shoot him! etc., etc." Giurgius went to the door and told them, "I am ready to die, but I will not leave my brother while the breath of life is in him. If you kill me I will die between his feet." The agha then drove back the crowd but they soon returned instigated by the priests. The agha stayed with Giurgius all that night and the next day until 11 A. M., when Moosa died. For three years the papists had been threatening that when Moosa died he should not be buried. As no Protestant death had ever occurred in Zahleh they gave out word that Protestants have no funeral service, no clergy, no honour for the dead, and that no Protestant dog should ever be buried in the sacred (?) soil of Zahleh. When he died they would drag him through the streets and throw his corpse into the river. The gathering of these thousands on the housetops meant mischief. As soon as Moosa's death was known, his wife and sons, and Abdallah's wife, arose and left the house, declaring that as none but street dogs would follow a Protestant to his grave they would not attend the funeral. The brethren had telegraphed to me but my coming was uncertain, and they sent for Mr. Rattrey, a Scotch gentleman living a few miles away, to come and aid them. When my arrival was known, a great change came over matters, and although I was almost faint from exhaustion, loss of sleep and riding in a burning sirocco, I forgot my weariness in the joy of the brethren at my coming. At half-past two I went over to the house with Miss Wilson and instead of finding none but street dogs, we found the entire body of Zahleh aristocracy assembled to condole with Abdallah and to attend the funeral. All the parties in the late riot who had taken up arms against one another were sitting side by side. Outside the building the scene beggared description. Thousands were surging against the house or on the adjacent roofs screaming, cursing, and calling us dogs and wild beasts. One woman cried out, "If they bury that dog in the sacred soil of Zahleh the earth will vomit him forth." Another said, "They cut up their dead and burn them." "Let me see." "See the heretics." "God curse them and their preachers and their books," and volleys of similar vituperation and insult, to all of which we paid no attention whatever. Butrus Agha, the chief of police, charged upon them repeatedly, but the crowd rolled back again like the waves of the sea. The clamour outside and the roaring of the sirocco wind made it most difficult to speak, but I conducted a short service standing in the door between the crowd inside and the mob outside. When it was ended, the body was placed in a coffin, wrapped in a white cloth, as there was not a woman in the family who would make a shroud, and the crowds of young men, seeing the chief dignitaries of the town in attendance, vied with one another in carrying the body to the chapel on the opposite side of the town. The procession was immense. Five of the Protestant young men walked in advance singing in Arabic, "My Faith Looks up to Thee," and "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds," and their loud, clear voices had a palpably soothing effect upon the tumultuous throng. On reaching the chapel (Miss Wilson's large schoolroom) the crowd was excessive so that they literally trod upon one another. The doors and windows and the fields outside were jammed with the curious multitude, anxious to see what we were going to do. I was getting hoarse from sheer exhaustion, but when the agha had literally cudgelled the crowd into silence at the request of some of the leading men, though against our solemn protest, it became quiet enough to speak, and I conducted a funeral service. The service was brief. I had to speak with the voice of a sea-captain giving orders in a hurricane, yet the people gave good attention and some seemed to be effected by the truth. The singing was good and on leaving the chapel for the cemetery, the young men again sang as we passed through the streets' and the interment took place decently and in order. I walked by the side of Abdallah as he followed his father to his grave, and he was sad to think that not one of his family was present. I told him that it was just so with Christ in His hour of extremity. All His disciples forsook Him and fled, and He could sympathize with His bereaved and lonely children now.
In the evening the brethren all called and said that though they were all sad at the death of Moosa, their patriarch and chief, yet the providence of God had made this day the gladdest and
most auspicious in the history of the Gospel in Zahleh. Opposers had been silenced and the enemies had heard the truth, the priests had been foiled in their lying plots, God's truth had been openly honoured, and Protestantism had been recognized by the government. Early in the day they had telegraphed to Franco Pasha, the governor of Lebanon, for authority to select a cemetery from the Government lands in the 'suburbs. For years they had tried to get this concession but priests and bishops had prevented. While we were assembled in the evening, a telegram came from the pasha ordering the judge to set apart a cemetery for the Protestants at once and without delay. So the next morning we called at the Mejlis with Miss Wilson and several of the brethren. The judge sent a high official with us and we selected an appropriate place near the cemetery of the other sects, and before one o'clock the deed was made out, signed, sealed, recorded and given to the Protestant brethren. I made various calls on the people and was everywhere courteously received, and in the house of one of the leading families a young woman whose husband is in the penitentiary asked me to read the Scriptures and offer prayer, in which request the whole company joined.
The effect of my visit to Zahleh in my mind was this: that it is a most important centre and should be occupied as our mission previously voted and that as speedily as possible. It is surrounded by important villages, is easy of access, a good climate, and could be manned by two families to-morrow were they on the ground.
On Wednesday evening, April 8th, Mr. Calhoun and brother Samuel Jessup arrived from Tripoli after a tedious ride of nineteen hours on horseback, and on Friday, April 10th, at sunrise, Samuel and I embarked on the Austrian Lloyd steamer for Jaffa en route for Jerusalem. It was a trip for mental rest and recreation on the part of both of us for the sake of seeing the land in which we live and the Christian labourers in Palestine, to say nothing of the sacred associations of the Holy Land. I had not been to Jerusalem in fifteen years, and he had never been either to Jerusalem or Damascus and it seemed high time for him to go. The Austrian steamer was crowded with Russian and Armenian pilgrims going to Jerusalem. These Russian pilgrims are the most abject and filthy creatures to be seen in the East. They must be chiefly if the lowest of the serfs. They are herded together like cattle and seem lost to all sense of decency. They lay up money for many years to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Bethany, and the Jordan, and go back fleeced and plundered by the priests and monks to spend the rest of their lives in poverty. They carry back the clothes in which they bathe in the Jordan and keep them to be buried in. How long they will keep with so much filth matted on them I cannot surmise. Their ignorance and infatuated superstitious devotion to saints' pictures, and holy places, make one ashamed of Christianity. No wonder the Mohammedans scoff and ridicule Christianity when thus identified with the grossest idolatry. I saw two Moslem sheikhs from Shechem (Nablus) standing at a Christian shop in Jerusalem with a view to purchasing cotton cloth, when the eye of one of them fell upon a piece of carved and painted wood designed to represent the Virgin. "Do you see this?" said he to his companion. "These are the gods of the Christians," and he turned away. I stopped him and said, "My friend, these are not the gods of true Christians. Such things are contrary to the Old and New Testaments and against the law of God and His Son Jesus Christ. They are the gods of mere nominal Christians who have forsaken God's Word and followed the traditions of men. True Christianity is a spiritual religion and forbids all worship of the creature." The shopkeeper blushed, and the Moslems said. "that kind of Christianity would suit us Moslems, but this idolatry never."
On board our steamer were three Russian gentlemen of the higher class, tall, slender, gray-bearded men, with long black coats and flat black caps, and they paced the deck side by side with faces of the most awful solemnity, as if the responsibility of some momentous task was weighing them down. I soon learned that they were bringing two ponderous bells, one of them weighing 6,600 pounds, as a present from Russia to the Russian convent in Jerusalem. The bells were on the main deck and the problem as to how they were to land them at Jaffa and transport them to Jerusalem was probably tasking their minds day and night. I have since learned that the bells were landed and that 400 of those poor Russian women who were at the convent in Jerusalem came down to Jaffa and drew the bells up to Jerusalem, thirty-six miles, on trucks, as a work of religious merit, thus adding to their stock of good works and increasing their chance of getting to heaven.
We took breakfast at the hotel kept by our courteous vice-consul, Mr. Hardegg, in one of the houses of the defunct Adams Colony. That colony has been brought out principally by the industrious and God-fearing German sect of Hoffmanites, who are now firmly settled here and in Haifa under Mount Carmel. They are steady, honest men who tolerate no drones in their hive, and have set about their work in earnest. Their numbers in Wurtemburg are large, but they will allow no new immigrants until they have work provided in advance. The great problem in their future will be whether the Turkish government will protect them or allow them to be harassed and gradually worn out with petty annoyances until they finally break up in despair and leave. The wooden houses in Jaffa will not last long but they can be replaced with stone in due time.
It is twelve hours' ride from Jaffa to Jerusalem but Mr. Hardegg gave us animals that took us up the thirty-six miles in six hours, without great effort on their part or ours. Fifteen years have made great changes in this ancient land. This road is an incalculable blessing and a Greek lady who broke her arm in riding down to the Jordan has expended 6700 in making a fine, broad, and easy road all the way from the gates of Jerusalem to the banks of the Jordan.
The Plain of Sharon was covered with waving grain, as if literally groaning under an excess of luxuriance. Amateur missionaries abound in Palestine, some of whom hold extraordinary views. We met a white-bearded patriarchal apostle, Dr. Zembal, when encamped at the Fountain of Elisha at Jericho. He sat in his tent door at sunset, looking out on the mountains of Moab, now tinged with purple and gold by the rays of the setting sun. He had just returned from a journey, with no companions but his guards and muleteers, to Ramoth Gilead, Rabbath Ammon, and Heshbon, where Sihon, king of the Amorites, lived, and had only recrossed the Jordan because his supply of bread had failed. He said, "Do you know what I have been there for? I have been to find a place for 'the Woman' in the wilderness. The time is at hand, rapidly approaching. A fine tract of land here in Jericho is offered for sale. It must be secured. Napoleon must soon become King of Rome, and then the Jews will begin to return in thousands. Everything must be ready." It was really affecting to witness the tearful and intense earnestness with which the old man expressed his views. He is very aged and fears lest he may die before the Messiah actually appears.
On our way to the Jordan we were escorted by Sheikh Rashid, a stalwart and dignified Arab, with whom I had a two hours' conversation on our return when riding slowly up the long ascent. It was pleasant to have an opportunity to preach the Gospel so practically to one of the sons of the desert. He listened most patiently and with apparent interest to a full exposition of the gospel plan by which God can be just and the justifier of them that believe. The idea was new to him and I trust that it will not be lost upon him.
While in Jerusalem we were invited to view Mr. Shapira's unique and unparallelled collection of Moabite pottery, just brought, as he said, from Makkedah, east of the Dead Sea. It is covered with Phoenician and other antique characters, and was claimed to be of immense importance and value. A small selection of the vases, tesseras, and earthern goods, was offered for 100 pounds. German savants examined the collection and it was purchased for the Berlin Museum for a fabulous sum. But soon after, M. Ganneau, a French savant, let the whole Moabite cat out of the bag and proved that Shapira had manufactured the whole collection at a pottery of his own in a secluded place and hired trans-Jordanic Bedawin to bring them in on camels, as if just discovered at Makkedah. The exposure subjected Shapira to such indignity and contempt that it was reported that he had committed suicide.
During this visit we met the genial and godly Bishop Gobat and had full conference with him about the basis of missionary comity established between our missions. We were told that the recent Episcopal invasion of Aintab was in spite of his protest.
We received on Sabbath May 19, 1872, to the communion of the Beirut church nine persons. One is a Damascene, a Jew of a wealthy family, who have now disowned and disinherited him. He gives good evidence of being a true disciple of Christ. In 1906 three of his children were received into the same church. The Jews in Syria are in a sad condition. There is not a more superstitious or fanatical class in the community and they arc hated intensely by all the sects, but more especially by the Greeks and Latins. In the gradations of Oriental cursing, it is tolerably reasonable to call a man a donkey, somewhat severe to call him a dog, contemptuous to call him a swine, but withering to the last degree to call him a Jew. The animosity of the nominal Christian sects against the Jews is most relentless and unreasoning. They believe that the Jews kill Christian children every year at the Passover and mingle their blood with the Passover bread. Almost every year in the spring, this senseless charge is brought against the Jews; senseless because blood is unclean among the Jews, but an impossibility is no obstacle to Oriental fanaticism.
The Jews of Beirut and Damascus are obliged to pay heavy blackmail every year to the Greek and Latin "lewd fellows of the baser sort" who threaten to raise a mob against them for killing Christian children. Quite a number of Jewish children are gathered in the missionary schools of the Scotch and English missions in Beirut, but the chief rabbi of Damascus ordered them all removed on hearing of the recent bloody assault of the Smyrna Greeks on the Jews of that city. It is one of the most practical comments on the degraded character of these Oriental so-called Christian churches, that they never lift a finger for the instruction or conversion of Jews, Moslems, or Druses, but hate them with a perfect hatred and not only in theory regard them as children of hell, but would rejoice to send them there if they could.
One of the most remarkable items of news in this part of the world just now is the recent discovery in Diarbekir of one of the shoes of the Prophet Mohammed! It is generally supposed that Mohammedans are above the superstitious relic worship of the Greeks and Latins but those who live among them know very well that they sanction some of the most foolish, superstitious practices and revere sacred places and footprints and tombs with what is akin to idolatrous homage. To give you a correct idea of the wonderful relic just discovered, I will translate from the Turkish government official organ published in Damascus and called La Syrie or Suriyeh.
"The long-lost sister of the noble prophetic shoe which has long been preserved with distinguished honour in the treasury of the imperial wardrobe in the new sultanic palace in Constantinople, has now been found in the possession of Derwish Beg, a descendant of the family of the Abbassides, living in the province of Hakari east of the Tigris, and under the government of Diarbekir. The beg has brought it to Diarbekir with the most ancient testimonies, which prove beyond a question that it is the mate of the famous shoe of the prophet, and in view of these facts the entire population of Diarbekir great and small went out a distance of several hours to meet it, and it was brought in and placed in a special room prepared for it in the house of the mufti of the city, and the curious and eager multitude thronged the house in crowds to visit it.
"Now it is clear that the noble and holy relic, wherever found, ought to be most sacredly preserved and guarded, and his Imperial Highness the Sultan, caliph of the two worlds and imam of all Mussulmen, being entrusted with the protection of the two Harams (at Mecca and Jerusalem) most honoured and noble and delegated for the preservation of all the exalted prophetic relics, will doubtless preserve this relic also in the holy treasury above mentioned. The effendi above mentioned has left Diarbekir for Constantinople, after allowing the entire population to visit it. The celebration and pious rites performed by the Mussulman population of Diarbekir in high honour of this sacred relic are sufficiently described in the Diarbekir official journal in an extra edition, and there can be no doubt that the lords of Moslem orthodoxy will feel under great obligations for its perusal and show to the editor some substantial proof of their appreciation.
"There can be no question that this most precious and holy relic is one of immense value and importance, the flood of whose benefits, material and moral, will overflow the whole Mohammedan world. There is therefore the most assured hope that it will be borne into the Court of Happiness (Constantinople) on a special steamer, with the most exalted honour and ceremony and may God grant (may he be exalted) that we may yet receive the particulars of its grand entrance into the Sublime Porte.
The girls' school in Hamath is proving a great success. It is one of the darkest cities in Syria and one of the most beautiful. For years the brethren of the Tripoli station have had a native preacher, Nasif Sellum, working away in Hamath knocking at the Ear Gate and looking in at the Eye Gate of that Man Soul, but none replied. During our recent visit on June 5th, we met a young woman, Raheel Weider, who had been for eight years a pupil in the orphan house of the excellent Prussian deaconesses in Beirut. She had married and removed to Hamath, and the native preacher found her out. I called on her with him and asked her what she was doing for the good of the people of Hamath. "What can I do, a lone woman in such a dark place? My husband is poor and I have no means of doing good." "Would you be willing to gather a few girls around you from among your neighbours and give them instruction every day? We will furnish you a room and pay you for your time." "I will be delighted to do it and will do my best" "Very well. Do you begin next week? If you have less than ten girls you shall have two dollars a month, and if more than ten, four dollars." After giving her earnest advice as to how to carry on the work, and the need of looking to God for aid, we bade her goodbye.
She commenced. The Greek bishop and his priests, with the bishop's Mejlis or council came together in great indignation. A deputation waited on both her and her husband Daud, and entreated her to desist, or the rather, to teach a school for them, but on this condition that no Protestant child should be allowed in the school, and they would pay her a good salary. "Never," said she, "will I consent to such a plan. I shall invite Moslems, and Jews, Jacobites, Greeks, and Catholics to my school, and shall I reject Protestant children, when for eight years I have been taught and trained by Protestants?"
They then threatened excommunication against all who would send their children to her, and in the Greek Church the great curse was fulminated against all such erring and foolish ones as should send children to the heretics. Raheel held on her way. Nasif Sellum encouraged her and soon they had twenty girls of all sects. The bishop was in a rage. He is a foreign Ionian Greek and hates Protestants in the most senseless and fearful manner. A Prussian prince visited Palmyra and Hamath last spring and on reaching Hamath, sent to the Greek bishop and asked his hospitality. The brutal ecclesiastic, on hearing that he was a Protestant, refused to entertain him, and the prince went to the little upper room of the Protestant preacher Nasif and spent the night. The bishop raged against the new girls' school with such violence that the Greek community became divided in two parties, one for the school and one against it. The last letter from Raheel states that she has sixty pupils.
At this time the mission decided to occupy Zahleh. In November, 1872, Rev. Gerald F. Dale was stationed in Zahleh. The Zahleh church was organized June, 1873, and Rev. F. W. March joined Mr. Dale November 19, 1873. On November 19, 1876, the Zahleh, church edifice was dedicated.
I have often thought of the monthly concert as the great link between the Christian Church and a perishing world. One hour a mouth is certainly little enough to devote to prayer and information about the hundreds of foreign missionaries in various empires and nations, engaged in preaching, teaching, writing, and translating books, editing journals, visiting the people, travelling by land and sea, training a native ministry, overseeing the native churches, planning new modes of reaching blinded and hostile populations, conducting Sunday-schools, Bible classes, and having under their influence more or less directly, thousands of children and youth, and hundreds of thousands of heathen, Mohammedans and nominal Christians ; with seminaries, schools, colleges, hospitals, printing-presses, and type foundries, to say nothing of that most responsible and difficult of all works, the translation of the Word of God into the language of millions of our race. On the foreign field are combined all the Boards of our Church: Home Mission, Foreign Mission, Publication, Sustentation, Church Erection, Church Extension, Education, Primary, Collegiate, and Theological. There are hundreds of native churches, whose members, pastors, and teachers, need the sympathy and prayers of the whole Church. Your missionaries are a mere handful thrown out into the frontier line of the Lord's host among organized and mighty foes. The great source, the only source of their strength and success, is in the sustaining hand of the Lord Himself in answer to the prayers of the Lord's people. The thoughts and hearts and sympathies of the churches at home are naturally and inevitably taken up through the month with interests that are near and visible and pressing. The home work in all its branches must and ever will be linked to the very heart and life of the Church, and all through the month, it must and will be remembered in earnest prayer. But let the Church give that one sacred hour in the month, twelve hours in the year, to the work they are doing among the kingdoms of darkness. Let all missionaries and mission churches be assured that this one hour is the hour of contact between them and the great heart of the Church; that they and their colabourers, the churches and pastors, the schools and seminaries, the translators and physicians, the editors and itinerants, the colporteurs and teachers, the persecuted and the suffering, the inquiring and awakened, as well as the great perishing myriads of the ignorant, superstitious and fanatical, are being thought of, prayed for, wrestled for and borne up on the arms of faith before the interceding Saviour, the faithful Promiser, who is Head over all things to the Church!
The thought that the Church at home is praying is a tower of strength to the missionary in distant lands. Whatever else is neglected let not the Church forget to pray; and what time more fit and more hallowed than the monthly concert, when those at home and their brethren and sisters abroad bend around one common mercy seat.
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