SITT MIRIAM AND THE SHAZALIYEH
It was during this summer that Sitt Miriam, a Mohammedan lady of the Shazaliyeh sect from Koraun in the Bookaa, north of Mount Hermon, set out on a preaching tour in Syria. She advocated reform and an upright life, denounced bribery and corruption and insisted that all, Moslems, Christians and Jews, are brothers. She preached in the mosques in Damascus, Hasbeiya, Sidon, Tyre, and other cities, rebuking the sins of the people. Telegrams were sent to Constantinople asking for orders to silence her, but orders came to let her alone.
This sect is numerous in Syria and its members advocate the reading of the Old and New Testaments and fraternization with the Christians. One of their sheikhs once called on me, and in the course of a very calm conversation, repeated from memory a large part of the Gospel of St. John, explaining the meaning of the first chapter in a peculiar, mystic sort of way in which the true spiritual intent seemed lost sight of and vapourized. But the man was in earnest and he said he was one of a company of twenty-five who meet to study the Bible.
Another eccentric character, who had been in Beirut several years, was banished in September. He was a Persian named Bakir, and professed to have discovered a new compromise religion on which Moslems, Christians, and Jews could unite. He had lived in England and came to Beirut as a Christian in 1884 and asked aid for his sick wife who was placed in St. John's hospital. March 5, 1885, Rev. Dr. H. A. Nelson, who was visiting Beirut, had hired Bakir to translate into English a Persian farewell address presented to Dr. Nelson during his recent visit to the missions in Persia, and Bakir brought the translation to my house to read it to Dr. Nelson. Bakir had with him a package of tracts in English setting forth his peculiar mystic incongruous views on religion and gave them to Dr. Nelson. The doctor took his hand to say good-bye and said in substance, "I thank you for your translation, and am soon to leave for America. We may not meet in this world, but I hope that through the merits of Jesus Christ, our atoning Saviour and Redeemer, we may meet at the last in the heavenly home on high." Bakir flew back, his eyes flashed fire, and he screamed so loud that the cook came running in from the kitchen to see what was the matter. He raved and shouted, "I scorn your Christ, your atonement, your sacrifice. You Christians are idolaters, the enemies of God, and accursed. Let me hear no more of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. No, we shall not meet above unless you receive Mohammed as the Prophet of God!" His language at times was too coarse and vile to bear repetition. I tried to soothe him and change the subject, but he acted like a lunatic and stamped across the court and out of the house, shouting and storming until the whole neighbourhood was roused, and we were glad to get rid of him. He worked upon the young son of Ramiz Beg, the Kadi of Beirut, and was forming a society of religious reform (1) on the basis of a union of Islam and Christianity by all Christians becoming Moslems. The old story of the lion and lamb lying down together, the lamb inside the lion; but Bakir was reported by telegraph to Constantinople and both he and the kadi's son, Jemal-ed-Din, were banished, Bakir in September and the other youth at a later date.
The Fast is still fertile soil for religious vagaries, but the West bids fair to bear off the palm. One only needs to spend a month in Jerusalem to see and bear of men and women from the West who have views, who are inspired, who out-Dowie Dowie, and who have visions and gifts of prophecy.
Some years ago, a friend of mine visiting Jerusalem met a queer-looking solitary stranger pacing back and forth in the streets of the Holy City and accosted him, and after the usual greetings, said to him, "You are an American, I infer." "Yes, I am." "And what are you doing here, if I may ask? "Ali, yes. I'm glad you asked. You see I've come here to preach the new doctrine, that there is to be no more death. If men will only accept it, we'll abolish death and there'll be no more dying, nor graves, nor coffins, nor funerals. We shall just live right on." Our friend said to him, "But supposing you should sicken and die, what then?" "Oh," said he, "that would bust the whole thing!" And it did. The poor delirious apostle died a few months later and with him his "new doctrine."
October 26th Professor Hilprecht, who was on his way to Bagdad, asked me to go with him to the Dog River to find if possible a Latin inscription discovered by Professor Paine but not identified since. As I had not seen it for several years, I doubted my ability to find it. But by dint of examining every rock face along the old Roman road, at length, about eighteen paces cast of the stone pedestal on the summit, I found the smooth surface of the limestone rock and the traces of the inscription. Professor Hilprecht proceeded to take a "squeeze" of it and found it to be an inscription of ten lines, mostly effaced.
He also read the famous so-called Sennacherib cuneiform inscription, and found it to be of Esar Haddon and not Sennacherib. Across the river next to the mill is the inscription in cuneiform characters of the great Nebuchadnezzar, in which the principal sentence remaining unobliterated reads, "the wine of Helbon is good" showing that the people of Helbon, north of Damascus, who to this day have fruitful vineyards, brought over wine to the King of Babylon and he immortalized again the wine already made famous by the prophet Ezekiel (27: 18) in speaking of the widely-extended commerce of Tyre - "Damascus was thy merchant in the wine of Helbon and white wool."
During the year 1888 I rode on horseback infrequent tours nearly six hundred miles through the gorges and ridges of Mount Lebanon.
Mr. Bird returned from America in December, Rev. and Mrs. W. S. Nelson arrived with Miss Holmes for Tripoli, and the missionary corps was well reinforced.
In December, with an expert scribe, I made a new Arabic map of Syria which was lithographed at our Beirut Press.
Map making in general is difficult in this empire. You must not allow the word Armenia to appear in any map or atlas of ancient or modern Turkey. Neither will it do to make a map "of many colours," as is the rule in all maps made in civilized countries, We made a map of the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, and Arabia, and had copies neatly coloured, showing clearly the outlines of the different provinces and presented one to the Governor of Beirut and another to the "Mudir el Maarif," or Superintendent of Public Instruction. They were both brought back by the mudir, who indignantly asked, "Why is Egypt coloured one colour and Syria another and Arabia another and Asia Minor another? Do they not all belong to the Sultan?"
It would not do to insult the zealous official by laughing in his face, but we apologized and explained and humbly promised hereafter to make Egypt and Arabia the same colour as the rest of the empire. A polychrome means to the watchful officials polyglot and polynational and polypolitics. So we try to conform to the laws and avoid having our press suppressed by using anything beyond a monochrome.
From their standpoint, Turkey is a unit. All subjects are Osmanlies, and the great father in Constantinople will have nothing of Arab or Egyptian or Armenian or Macedonian. All are Ottoman subjects and divisions, names and designations are absolutely prohibited. We have no fault to find with this. We are strangers and the guests of the Sultan, and we are bound in honour to conform to the laws. This we have always done and intend to do in the future. We really enjoy greater liberty than the native subjects of the Porte. It is hard to see the people around us taxed and overtaxed, oppressed and outraged by unscrupulous petty officials with no appeal. This to me has been my greatest trial of my fifty years in Syria, to see wrongs which you cannot right and sufferings which you cannot relieve, while the American flag protects our persons and frees us from oppression.
1889 - On the 16th of January, my brother-in-law, Radcliffe B. Lockwood, Esq., of Binghamton, accompanied me on a horseback trip sixty miles south to visit the out-stations and conduct a communion service in Ibl, west of Mount Hermon.
February 21st, I baptized Jedaan Owad, the converted Aneyzy Bedawy, a fine, clear-headed, sensible young man who had been under instruction for two years. He came to Lebanon to sell sheep, fell in with Christians, determined to learn to read, persevered, and at length became convinced that salvation was in Christ alone. He afterwards studied in the school at Suk el Gharb, and, while a fellow student with Kamil, made a tour with him among the Arab tribes, summering near Hums and Hamath, and then returned to his tribe. For nineteen years he has stood firm, coming to visit his Christian friends every year. In March I visited Egypt with a party of friends as their guest, and preached in Alexandria, Cairo, Asioot, Luxor, and Assowan. The Egyptian pronunciation of the Arabic differs from the Syrian, but I had no difficulty in understanding them and they seemed to understand me.
On the 29th of May, 1888, we received the official "Permit" for the American Press, which had existed since 1834, a term of fifty-four years. In accepting this permit, Dr. Samuel Jessup agreed to abide by the press laws of the empire, which we had always done since finding out what these laws were.
June 12th my brother Samuel sailed for America on furlough, and on his arrival, was appointed assistant secretary of the Board during the absence of Dr. Arthur Mitchell on his journey around the world. Mr. Pond and family also returned to America and subsequently laboured in Colombia and Venezuela. Dr. Ira Harris and family returned from America July 15th.
In July the Waly, Rauf Pasha, removed to Bitlis and Aziz Pasha came in his place.
It was my painful duty to go to the custom-house and bid farewell to forty-six English books which had been ordered by various American citizens, but which were refused admission to this empire as being "dangerous, obnoxious, and unsafe." At first the censor resolved to burn them, but at the protest of our consul, changed the sentence from burning at the stake to exile. Even exile was no easy matter. The box was sealed and a list of the books given to the censor for transmission to the Turkish consul in New York who was to be notified by the treasurer of the Board of Foreign Missions to be present at the opening at the New York custom-house, and to give a certificate (and receive his fee) that the very books which were banished from Syria bad reached New York. Among them were the Koran, "The Land and the Book," Stanley's "Sinai and Palestine," "Minutes of the General Assembly," "Catalogue of Union Theological Seminary," "Introduction to the New Testament," "History of Russia," "History of Persia"' etc.
We bade them farewell with the confident hope of seeing them again some day, and we did see them. The New York agent, Mr. Dulles, after receiving the books, wrapped them in packages and sent them by the French mail via Paris, and in due time they all arrived and were delivered to their respective owners, costing $2.90 postage in all. Not one of them contained a word contrary to law or good morals, or an attack on the Turkish government.
In September the Turkish authorities began a new campaign against our schools and closed the Hamath school by force. The instigator of this action, as has generally been the case in that district, was the Greek bishop, who bribed the local officials, and thus secured the closing of the school. The school was afterwards reopened after long correspondence and telegraphing to Constantinople.
In August an interesting character called, a Syrian Mohammedan, Jaafar Mohammed. He had been fourteen years in Irak and Teheran and had been twice in prison for associating with Christians. I gave him a Testament and he set forth, bound, as he said, for Algiers and Morocco. He claimed to be a Christian and was well acquainted with the Scriptures. While in Beirut he wrote a Kos idi, or Arabic poem in praise of me, and an elegy on my father and grandfather, in the most effervescent panegyric. As he probably did it in imitation of the old Arab poets, who recited poetry before the caliphs of Bagdad to receive largesses of money, I could not do less than give him a mejeedie or Turkish dollar to help him on his way. I think he inflicted a similar poem on Dr. Van Dyck. Not a few men of his stamp are constantly floating restlessly about the East. They may be sincere. The Lord knoweth them that are His, and the intolerant spirit of Islam will not allow an "apostate" to dwell in peace among them, and this intolerance is a confession of weakness. Neither Rome nor Mecca will let alone a convert from their ranks.
Protestantism is virtually the only non-persecuting system of modern times, for it has long since repudiated the use of force in religion. There will never be another Servetus tragedy.
In November Rev. O. J. Hardin returned to Syria and occupied the Suk el Gharb station, nine miles from Beirut on a spur of Lebanon, 2,500 feet above the sea, thus maintaining the work begun by Mr. Pond' and reopening the boys' boarding-school.
During the fall Beirut was visited by another epidemic of the dengue fever called by the Arabs Abu Rikab or "father of the knees," a short, painful fever, never fatal, but leaving the system greatly debilitated. Thousands of cases were reported in Beirut and both Drs. Van Dyck and Post were prostrated by it.
We were in Aleih, Mount Lebanon, and had the privilege of opening our house to our beloved missionary brother, Rev. Dr. Harvey of Cairo, who was suffering from malarial fever. His daughter was with him, and he improved steadily. Dr. Wells gave him seventy grains of quinine and the fever was broken. Not long after, Dr. Wells was taken down with Abu Rikab in Beirut.
About this time the little son of one of the missionaries made considerable amusement by trying an original prescription for fever. A missionary from Arabia was lying sick at his father's house, and one day the little fellow came to his bedside with a measuring-tape and began to measure him. "What are you doing?" said the invalid.
"I am measuring you so as to make you a coffin."
"Why do you do that? "
"Because it will cure you. My rabbit was ill and father said he was going to die. So I made him a coffin and put him in, but he jumped out and ran off and after that he was perfectly well. So I thought I would make you a coffin and you would get well!
In September Dr. Harris. Graham, of the American Board's Mission in Aleppo, accepted a call to the medical department of the Syrian Protestant College.
News came of a great revival of religion in Aintab and 600 conversions. That city has been marvellously blessed with revivals, and its three churches are models of liberality and Christian work. No such congregation can be found anywhere else in the Turkish Empire and the pastors have been men of learning and spiritual power.
During this year I had charge of the press, reading proofs, conducting all the business correspondence, ordering materials, and paying the men. The custom-house business was large and consumed much valuable time, but it must be done, and this pressure on the time of ordained missionaries led the mission to insist on the sending out of a Christian layman with a business training, to take up this entire secular work. This was effected in 1895, when Mr. E. G. Freyer, the present able and efficient manager of the press, came to Beirut and has continued to do the work to the satisfaction of both the mission and the Board.
In October an event occurred which was striking in itself and far-reaching in its results. Miss Mary P. Eddy, daughter of Dr. W. W. Eddy, was dangerously ill with high burning fever and an alarming temperature which yielded to no remedies, until Drs. Van Dyck, father and son, pronounced the case hopeless. She asked the prayers of the native and foreign Protestant Churches, and one by one, bade farewell to all her friends. She lingered on, seemingly on the brink of dissolution, when suddenly an abscess broke, relief came, a large number of gall-stones were removed, and convalescence set in. During her illness she had resolved that if she were spared, she would study medicine and devote herself to relieving the sufferings of the women of Syria. On her recovery, she went to America, completed her studies, received her diploma, came to Constantinople, and after overcoming the seeming insurmountable difficulties and objections of the imperial medical faculty, passed the severe examinations and received the imperial diploma as physician and surgeon; the only woman thus far who has been permitted to receive the imperial diploma. Up to the year 1908 she has visited hundreds of villages, treated thousands of cases, and wherever she goes, she is surrounded by throngs of the impotent folk begging for treatment. Now appeared on the scene what seemed to be two tall white turbaned Moors with black burnouses, no stockings, and red pointed shoes. They called on me and stated that they were missionaries to Morocco in Mogador. One, Baldwin, was an American, and the other, Richmond, an Englishman. They always wore the native dress. They set out from Morocco to come to Syria first, to seek Syrian Christian helpers to go back with them, and to arrange to send out their young missionaries to Syria to learn Arabic, preparatory to work in Morocco. They said they left Morocco in white woollen ahbas or burnouses, but they were so blackened by coal smoke that they had them dyed black at Port Said.
But their whole appearance was impressive. They looked like dervishes or fakirs. One missionary lady, who invited them to dinner, said afterwards that when they entered her house and she saw their John-the-Baptist-in-the-wilderness appearance, she felt she ought to provide for them a repast of locusts and wild honey!
I took them to the college and the theological classes where their addresses in English (they had not learned the Arabic) were translated and deeply affected the students. Their ascetic mien and devout language impressed us all, and one young Syrian, Hassan Soleyman, volunteered to go with them to Morocco. On November 27th Mr. Baldwin sailed for Morocco and Mr. Richmond went to Suk el Gharb to study Arabic. On Sunday Mr. Baldwin preached in English on Isaiah 6, and in the afternoon addressed a mass meeting of Sunday-school children calling for twelve volunteer Syrian missionaries, who would go to Morocco in faith without any pledged support. He told of the dozens of Mohammedans whom he had baptized and the glorious results of his work.
He afterwards sent out two fine young Englishmen to study Arabic in Mount Lebanon. He then began to publish in the London Christian a series of articles on "the Matthew 10 theory of missions"; that foreign missionaries should go forth with neither purse nor scrip, dress like the natives and live on the natives with no salary, trusting in God. He clinched his arguments by his asserted actual experience, in that, by going from town to town, sleeping in the mosques and coming close to the people, he had won over the Moslems to Christ and baptized them in large numbers. The articles attracted attention, indeed made a sensation. Various missionaries wrote, controverting his theory and insisting that the twelve disciples whom Christ sent forth were natives of the land, knew the language perfectly, and that the customs of Oriental hospitality were, as at the present day, affording a native shelter, food, and lodging without expense, but that there is no evidence that the apostles acted on this principle in journeys to Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy.
He also wrote to the Missionary Review that virtually nothing is being done for the Moslems of Syria. I wrote at the time to Rev. Henry Grattan Guinness that the whole system of missions in this empire is designed to reach eventually the Mohammedans whenever the door of religious liberty is opened, that accounts of converted Moslems cannot be published, and moreover that the Word of God, Christian books, Christian education, Christian example, and private conversation will effect vastly more than spasmodic efforts and hasty tours, especially when made by those comparatively ignorant of the languages.
The discussion waxed warm. But at length the bubble burst. Good men sent out from England travelled through Morocco, looking for Mr. Baldwin's converts in order to report the glorious news of converted Moslems to the Christian world. But alas, not one could be found. Mr. Baldwin had never learned the Arabic language so as to preach. He bad done all through an interpreter, and that a gay deceiver, who induced Moslems to accept baptism by Mr. Baldwin, either as a joke or for a bucksheesh, and thus the whole claim of the great success of a "Matthew 10" policy vanished like the "baseless fabric of a vision."
The revulsion of feeling in England and Scotland was painful, and the whole mission was reorganized by level-headed men who set about learning the language. Mr. Baldwin left Morocco, having abandoned his wife, and brought a number of his children to Beirut. Dr. Mackie asked him to preach, though with some misgivings. His sermon was a painful exhibition of a mind partially disordered, full of dark, pessimistic forebodings. He declared that the dispensation of preaching the Gospel had come to an end; that the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the earth; that all things were going to the bad, and Christians now should give up all teaching and preaching and sit down and wait the appearing of the Lord. His Morocco fiasco was either the cause or the result of his dark inky despair. Only one step remained. In spite of the protests and entreaties of his children, he went to Jerusalem, joined the Spaffordite colony, and there he has remained "sitting" until this day, resisting the earnest request of his wife, his daughter, and son-in-law to "come out from among them."
The lessons to be learned from this sad history are various. First, every missionary should master the language before attempting to preach, and avoid interpreters. Second, the Moslem citadel is not to be taken by theories but by faithful instruction, personal acquaintance, and persevering effort. Third, that missionaries should be sure of their facts before publishing them to the world.
Just as the year was closing, we were refreshed by a visit from Rev. D. Stuart Dodge and his wonderful, dear mother, who at her advanced age was full of vigour and vivacity, abounding in good works, affable and courteous to all, and enduring "functions" and journeys with as little apparent fatigue as her active and energetic son Stuart. His presence has been always felt to be a benediction by all Christian workers in Syria, and the college owes more to him than his modesty will allow to be made public.
At the same time arrived Dr. T. D. Tallmage, Mrs. Tallmage, and their daughter Mary. On Christmas day, Dr. Tallmage preached in the church a Christmas sermon to one of the greatest crowds ever assembled in Beirut. His text was, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will to men," and his fervent eloquence and evangelical spirit kept the audience spellbound. It was a fitting close of the year 1889.
1890 -The year 1890 was marked by several notable events, the fiftieth year jubilee of Dr. Van Dyck, the conversion of that beautiful Moslem youth, Kamil, the suppression of our Neshrah journal, and the visit of Dr. Arthur Mitchell of the Board of Foreign Missions.
For "ways that are dark," the officials of Beirut are "peculiar," They have laws enough, and good ones, the Islamic Sheria, a system well adapted to the Arabs in Mohammed's time, and the Code Napoleon, which covers modern law, civil and commercial. But the execution of the laws is done in a manner which the Orientals seem to understand, but which we Occidental strangers fail to comprehend.
The press censor in Beirut, who was at that time the Maktoubji, or letter writer for the Waly, knew that all journals, newspapers, etc., must have an official irade or permit from Constantinople. Now, according to the strict letter, that law was enacted in 1869, but was not translated into Arabic for many years after, and then was so largely ignored that various high officials had never heard of it.
The Amerian Mission weekly Neshrah had been published for twenty-five years, and copies sent every week to the censor for approval before printing, and two copies to the Ministry of Education in Constantinople. It antedated the press laws by four years and an objection had ever been made to it. In equity, the fact that the government at Constantinople had kept copies on file during the years constituted a permit. But the Beirut censor, finding that we had no official irade for the paper, decided that we must have one. The Occidental way would have been to inform us that as the law required a permit, we must apply for one and ample time would be given us to secure one from Constantinople But men do not always think alike. On January 4th, I was summoned to the seraia, and informed that the Neshrah was suppressed temporarily for printing in No. 46 an obnoxious telegram. I asked, "Which telegram?" The officer on duty did so know. Two days later came a letter from the Maktoubji ordering the stoppage of the paper on account of printing a telegram which alluded to the British ambassador at the Porte. On examination, I found At this telegram was copied from the Lisan, Arabic journal in Beirut, and three other papers had printed it without objection from the censor. When I had confronted the official with this fact and showed him the other journals, he said, "That makes no difference. You are suspended." I then went with Dr. Graham, who speaks Turkish, to call on the Waly Aziz Pasha. He was most courteous, and promised to telegraph in two days to Constantinople to have the order rescinded. We were then ordered to publish in the coming issue of our paper the government "Ikhtar" or order of suppression. After this, on January 25th, the Mudir el Maarif sent word that I must draw up a legal petition, to be approved by all the requisite bureaus at the seraia, asking permission to publish a journal, and that he would forward it to Constantinople. This official was most courteous, liberal minded, and obliging, and we deeply regretted his subsequent removal to another part of the empire.
On the 29th, after various consultations and finally securing the legal form for such a petition, I signed it and had my signature authenticated in the American consulate, and then took it to the mudir. He examined it, pronounced it correct, and then said, "Take it now to the prefect of police for his signature and seal."
In my unsophisticated inexperience, I asked, "Why?"
He smiled and said, "It is the law that a journalji must give evidence that he is not a criminal, has not been arrested, and that his portrait is not in the rogues', gallery. Only the police can give this testimony."
I went to the chief's office. He was out. I went again and again and finally found him. He looked surprised and I handed him the document. He very promptly called his clerk, who wrote in Turkish the usual form and then signed and scaled it and said to me, "It is all right. Now please take it to the Bash Katib, or chief clerk of the Mejlis el Idarat or Political Council."
I had with me our ever faithful and polite press secretary, Mr. A. Kheirullah. He knew that Bash Katib, but he was out. His office boy said to come at 2 P. M. We returned home and came at two. He was then at a meeting of the Mejlis with closed doors. "Come bokra" (to-morrow). We came the next day and sat an hour and finally secured him. He looked over the document, said it was all right, took a copy of it and its number, date, and signature, and then wrote his part of the complex commentary and affixed the seat of the great Mejlis. "That is all straight," said he. "Now, please take it to Effendi, Mudir en Nefoos " (director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics). In this office are innumerable volumes of records containing the names of all Beirut subjects of the Porte and foreigners. The lists of the foreigners are supplied annually by the foreign consuls. The old effendi was a model of suavity, ordered coffee, and treated us as friends. After a thousand effusive salutations and compliments, be asked if he could serve us. We handed him the petition, which he looked at carefully. He then rang a bell and called for a "deftar," or record book, which his clerk found after turning over a big pile of similarly bound books in the corner. The effendi found the right page in his register of foreigners resident in Beirut, and then catechized me.
"Henry H. Jessup."
"Your father's name?"
"Your wife's name?"
"How many children have you?
"Anna, William, Henry, Stuart, Mary, Amy, Ethel, and Frederick."
"Right," said he. "You are the man. You are all right - no arrears of taxes charged against you." He then read the petition, scanned the previous notes and seals, and then endorsed his own "no objection" on it and affixed his seal, and remarked, "This must now go to the Bash Katib of the Court of First Instance."
We could not imagine what that worthy had to do with it, but we had to go, found him at lunch, waited for him. He apologized for detaining us, looked over the paper, declared it all right and regular, and affixed his views and his seal. I began to fear the paper would not hold many more certificates of approval, and also to feel that I was getting to be a well authenticated and recommended individual. He handed me the document, now spotted with seals, and politely remarked, pointing across the corridor, "This will now have to be submitted to the prosecuting attorney-such and such an effendi." "Certainly," we responded, and away we went. What, now, would this functionary do? We found him in his office, an educated gentleman. He saw at a glance the purport of the petition, ran his eye over the seals, and at once with his own "no objection," sealed it and handed it back, saying that we had only one more stage in the matter. "Hand it to the Bash Katib of the Political Council. The council meets to-morrow, and after it is read and approved. the Waly will affix his seal and order it to be mailed to Constantinople." We did as we were bid.
In the course of the fortnight it was mailed. We got the official number of the "Mazbata," or decision of the council, and sent it to our agent in Constantinople to follow it up. In eight months the irade came, authorizing us to print a literary, religious, and scientific paper, but not to interfere with politics or religion. We had asked a permit for a general news paper. For some occult reason this was omitted in the permit, and we have apprehended, from that time to this' in trying to make up a religious paper without interfering with religion, that we should be suppressed for sheer imbecility. The empire is now full of newspapers. Few of them make both ends meet. No public questions can be discussed and the public soon weary of endless accounts of the visits of European kings, and miscellanies from Tid Bits.
The Mohammedan papers are allowed full swing in religious matters, but no Christian paper is suffered to reply. The government is constituted on a theocratic basis, and Islam being the religion of the state, including the public service, the army, and the navy, the Christian sects merely exist by sufferance.
This confining of all official promotion to one sect makes the empire a mere sectarian machine, and any attempt to conform to modern civilization must fail, until this wretched, narrow bigotry is set aside, and the army and navy and civil offices thrown open to the worthy of all sects.
The jubilee of Dr. Van Dyck which occurred April 2d has been fully described in the account of his life on a previous page.
In April, 1890, my old Yale College friend, President Daniel C. Gilman of Johns Hopkins University, called to see us and the mission work. He was much interested in the press, the old historic cemetery, and the girls' school building. When we were looking at the upper room in which the Bible was translated into Arabic, he asked, "Why not have a memorial tablet in this room?" I told him the only reason was the want of money to erect one. He immediately said, "Eli Smith was a Yale man, and I am a Yale man and so are you, and I will gladly pay the cost of such a tablet to be put up in Arabic and English." And it was set up.
The brightest event in the year 1890, if not in my whole missionary life, was the conversion to Christianity of a young Mohammedan effendi, Kamil el Aietany. He came of his own accord on February 10th, inquiring as to the nature of the Christian faith. He was a youth of twenty, with an unusually attractive face and a courteous, winning manner. He had met a Maronite priest and a Jesuit father but got no satisfaction from either of them, and came to Dr. Van Dyck who sent him to me.
His whole history, his profound spiritual experience, his delight in the Scriptures, his loyal and enthusiastic love for Jesus Christ as his Saviour' his zeal and fearlessness in preaching the Gospel, his blameless life and delight in prayer, his wise and winning way of dealing with both Mohammedans and Oriental Christians, his filial devotion to his father and his remarkable correspondence with him, and his fidelity to Christ even to death, make his life one of profound interest, as showing what the grace of God can effect in the mind and character of a Mohammedan youth trained for seven years in a Mohammedan school.
On April 10, 1904, Sir Win. Muir wrote as follows:
"Dean Park House, Edinburgh.
DEAR DR. JESSUP
I have been for some time deeply engrossed in your "Life of Kamil," a book that should be known over all our possessions, especially those in Europe and the East. Would it not be well to have it reprinted and circulated again ? i. e., the book itself without the appendix. Please think how this can be done. I should be glad to do anything for the purpose. The wider it can be known the better. What do you say?
After the Bible, the life of this saved disciple is one of the best things we can circulate, especially among the Moslems. Will you think over this and let me know what is best to be done ?
Ever yours truly,
That new edition has not yet been printed, although the publishers gave their cordial permission to Sir William to reprint if he desired. His death not long after interrupted the correspondence. As I have already published his life, there is no need of entering into details with regard to his character and work. He studied in the boys' boarding-school of the Rev. 0. J. Hardin in Suk el Gharb, where he met a young Bedawy Arab convert from the Aneyzy tribe, Jedaan, and in the summer of 1890, these two zealous young disciples spent two months of the vacation in the Bedawin camps in the region of Hums and Hamath. Kamil said on his return that Jedaan had the advantage of him in knowing the pure Bedawi pronunciation and idioms, and Jedaan said at times he felt very timid lest the Arabs injure them for speaking of Christ, but that Kamil was bold as a lion.
In the latter part of September they returned and gave a full account of their journey. They had been in every camp for miles east, west, north, and south of Hamath, and had read the Scriptures to hundreds of Arabs, sowing good seed that may yet spring up to the glory of God. Kamil brought as a present to my family a beautiful live bird, a rail, or blue heron, which he got in the Bookaa near Baalbec. He said he brought it as a thank-offering because he had been permitted to accomplish his journey in safety.
After completing their Bedawin labours they came into the city of Hums one Saturday to spend the Sabbath. Taking a room in a khan in the quarter of the Greek weavers, they called on the Protestant pastor. The news soon spread through the city that a young Beirut Mohammedan who had become a Christian was in the khan. Towards evening five young Syrian weavers of the Greek sect called upon them in the khan, curious to see a Moslem convert to Christianity. After the usual polite salutations they began to ply Kamil with questions as to his name, and whether it was actually true that he had become a Christian. He said, "Certainly." They asked, "How did it come about?" "By reading God's Word and by prayer," he replied. "Are you a member of the Orthodox Apostolic Greek Church?" they then asked. "I don't find the name of any such church in the Bible," said he. They then began with great zeal to try to convince him that he should be baptized by a Greek priest and should believe in prayers to the saints and to the Virgin, and in the doctrine of transubstantiation. Kamil took out his Arabic Testament and began to explain to them the doctrine of free salvation and of justification by faith, with the most earnestness. Then standing up he offered prayer for them and when he had finished, they were all in tears.
They thanked him and went away, full of wonder that a Moslem convert should have to show them the way of salvation through Christ alone. The next morning they all went to the Protestant church and proposed to be enrolled as Protestants. News of this was carried to the Greek bishop, Athanasius Ahtullah. This bishop is one of the most enlightened of the Greek clergy in Syria. When a lad, he attended the Protestant common school in Suk, and he has opened large and well-conducted schools in Hums, with 1,200 pupils; and the Bible printed at the American Press is used as a text-book in them all. He sent and invited Kamil to visit him. On Kamil's arrival in the large reception room, the bishop sent out all the priests And servants and brought Kamil to the raised divan at the upper end of the room, and seating him at his right hand, saluted him most cordially. On learning his family name, the bishop said: "I know of your family and am glad you have become a Christian." Then he began to urge him to enter the Orthodox Greek Church, and used the usual arguments of the traditional Oriental Christians. Kamil asked, "What does Your Excellency believe about Christ? Is He a perfect and sufficient Saviour?" The bishop said, "Yes." "Do you believe, as St. Paul says, that, ' being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ?" "Yes," replied the bishop. "Then," said Kamil, "we are brethren in belief; and what more do we want?" But the bishop urged him to accept trine immersion at the hands of a true priest of the Apostolic Orthodox Greek Church and then he would be all right. Then Kamil, turning to the bishop, said, "Your Excellency, supposing that you and I were travelling west from Hums and came to the river Orontes; and the river was deep, muddy, swift, and broad; and there was neither bridge nor boat, and neither of us could swim. Then if I should say to you, 'Bishop, I beg you to take me across,' what would you say? You would say, 'Kamil, I cannot take myself across, and how can I take you?' And there we stood, helpless and despairing. But supposing that just then we should see a huge giant, a strong, tall man, coming towards us, and he should take you by the arms and carry you across. Would I call out, 'Bishop, come and take me across'? No; I would call to the strong man. Bishop, there is only one strong Man - the Lord Jesus Christ. Is not He enough?" Turning to Kamil, the bishop asked, "My dear friend, how long have you been a Christian?" "Seven months," was the reply. "Seven months! And you are teaching me who have been a Christian in name from infancy. Kamil, you are right. If you will stay here and teach Turkish in my school, I will pay you a higher salary than you can get in any school in Syria." "Your Excellency," replied Kaniil, "I thank you for your offer; but I do not care for money or salary. God has called me to preach the Gospel to the Mohammedans, and I must complete my studies and be about my work."
I shall never forget the truly eloquent and affecting manner in which he described this interview with the Bishop of Hums. It showed how completely he was imbued with the spirit of faith and Christian love, and how his exquisite courtesy and sweetness of disposition disarmed all opposition. Kamil and Jedaan returned to the Suk school and resumed their studies. Kamil's religious influence continued undiminished and he took part heartily in all religious meetings. Mr. Hardin states that it was refreshing to see how new and striking were his views and applications of gospel truth.
In October he wrote to me of his welfare and stated that the Greek priest in Suk had offered to teach him Greek in order to help him understand the New Testament, but his studies and his teaching left him no time for taking up Greek. Some of the monks of Deir Shir, a papal Greek monastery near Suk, made several attempts to persuade him to become a Romanist, but he finally told them they would better preach to the Moslems than attempt to pervert a Christian believer to Romish tradition and superstition.
Early in January he wrote me again asking for certain books, and closed by saying, "We have been reading Acts 8: 36-40, and I would ask, 'Who shall forbid that I be baptized?'"
Up to this time he had been on probation, and it was thought better to give him time to take the step deliberately. But now there seemed no reason for further delay. He was rooted and grounded in the faith of Jesus Christ, and he was baptized January 15th, rejoicing thus to take his stand for Christ, his Saviour.
Dr. Ellinwood, in his introduction to the, "Life of Kamil," says,
"The story of this young man cannot fail to be regarded as a valuable accession to the missionary literature of the day. First, it proves the utter falsity of the oracular assertion so often made by transient travellers, that no Moslem is ever converted to the Christian faith. We have never known clearer evidence of the genuineness of the work of the Spirit of God in connection with his truth. The transformation in Paul's life was scarcely clearer or more impressive.
"Second, an admirable example is afforded to missionaries in heathen and Moslem lands, and indeed to preachers and evangelists at home as well, of that alert and ever wise tact which finds 'the line of least resistance' to the heart of one's adversary. There are those who stoutly deny the necessity of learning anything whatever concerning the non-Christian religions, who deem it utter folly to study the Koran, even though one labours in Syria or Persia, and equally senseless to disturb the musty tomes of Buddhist or Hindu lore if one's field is India; all that is needed is the story of the Cross. This young Syrian did not thus believe. If he had been a student of the Koran before, there was tenfold necessity now, for it was upon the. teachings of the Koran and the entire cult of Islam that he purposed to move with an untiring and fearless conquest. He would, have to deal with men of intelligence and intellectual training, and if he would show the superiority of the Gospel of Christ, he must know how to make an intelligent comparison. If he would inculcate the supreme truth, he must generously recognize any particles of truth already possessed. Paul on Mars Hill before a heathen audience of Greeks, Paul before Agrippa, a ruler versed in the doctrines of the Jews, was not more wise and tactful than Kamil.
"Third, if there were no other motive for studying this little sketch by Dr. Jessup, it is thrice valuable as a personal means of grace. Such a life of clear faith and of untiring devotion is tonic, and must be to every truly Christian heart. Fourth, the life of Kamil affords another proof that the Gospel has a universal application to the hearts of men, that it is indeed the wisdom of God and the 'power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.'"
In the fall of 1890, after his baptism, he joined Rev. Messrs. Cantine and Zwemer at Aden, Arabia, where he preached and sold Arabic Scriptures to the Arabs, then accompanied them December, 1891, to El Busrah at the head of the Persian Gulf in Turkish territory, where, after indefatigable labours in preaching and witnessing for Christ, he died suddenly in suspicious circumstances, June 24, 1892, and the Turkish soldiers buried him so suddenly and so secretly that his grave could not be found, nor a post mortem examination be secured. But it mattered not to him who buried him or where he was buried. He was safe beyond the reach of persecution and harm. I have rarely met a more pure and thoroughly sincere character. His life has proved that the purest and most unsullied flowers of grace in character may grow even in the atmosphere of unchristian social life. His intellectual difficulties about the Trinity vanished when he felt the need of a divine Saviour. He seemed taught by the Spirit of God from the first.