MARKING TIME - REPROVAL OF AMBIGUITY
REPROVAL OF AMBIGUITY
April 11, 1896
The imperial government issued orders to the Walys of Anatolio (Asia Minor) to expel from the kingdoms preserved of God all foreigners who had bad a hand in disturbing the public tranquility. The Waly of Bitlis supposed that these orders referred to the American missionaries living in his district. This has obliged the imperial government to remove the ambiguity. It has therefore issued other orders enjoining the protection of the aforesaid rnissionaries, and that they continue to carry on their work as usual, and that they enjoy what they have enjoyed and still continue to enjoy, of rest, security and liberty, in their religious works.
This was done, and thus the intrigues of the Russian agents who instigated the Turk to this action were thwarted. Hopkinson Smith's theory of American responsibility for the massacres was about as logical as that the Bible was to blame for the massacre of St. Bartholemew, or the Spanish Inquisition, or that the English Magna Charta was responsible for the horrors of the French Revolution.
It was an important element in the case that owing to the fact that the American missionaries were acting as disbursing agents of British charity to the Armenian widows and orphans, Sir Philip Currie regarded them as so far under British protection, and thus Mr. Riddle could act jointly with him in all representations at the Porte. Had judge Turrell been at his post, he might, with his Texan independence, have declined to join with Sir Philip in the forcible protest to the Sultan, and thus the representation failed of its immediate object. As it was, the dual intrigue of the Cossack and Tartar was thwarted by the joint action of the Anglo-Saxon representatives.
Hopkinson Smith stated to the American journals that judge Turrell told him that "the missionaries are to blame for the massacres and that they have fomented rebellion, sedition," etc. judge Turrell utterly denied this statement of the American artist.
Mr. Smith seemed incapable of appreciating the great work done in Turkey by his countrymen in founding schools, colleges, seminaries, printing-presses, and hospitals during the previous seventy years.
On May 2d I went aboard the French steamer to see Rev. Geo. Knapp, an American missionary from Bitlis, who informed me that he was forcibly arrested and expelled from the city, leaving his mother, wife, and two children behind him. False charges were made against him and he only consented to come away, as a massacre was threatened if he did not. At Diarbekir they refused to let him send a telegram to his minister in Constantinople and he was expelled in midwinter. They offered to release him in Aleppo if he would sign a pledge not to return to Bitlis. Of course he refused. They endorsed his passport "expelled from Turkey." At Alexandretta they refused to give him up to the American vice-consul, Mr. Walker. Mr. Walker telegraphed to Consul Gibson in Beirut who at once telegraphed Captain Jewell of the United States ship Marblehead to go to Alexandretta. The Turks heard of this telegram and on Friday released Mr. Knapp, who went at once to Mr. Walker's. The Marblehead arrived Sunday, April 26th, and Captain Jewell sent his boat and took Mr. Knapp to the French steamship bound for Constantinople via Beirut. He went to Constantinople to demand a fair trial there. The British consul in Bitlis declared the charges against him to be utterly unfounded.
Senator Sherman in the Independent of April 3oth, replying to Prof. A. D. F. Hamlin, makes the announcement that "if our citizens go to a far distant country, semi-civilized and bitterly opposed to them, we cannot follow them there and protect them," etc.
This is an astonishing statement. Can it be that Mr. Sherman never heard of Daniel Webster's letter to the United States minister in Constantinople in 1841 that "an American citizen will be protected as an American citizen always and everywhere no matter what his business or occupation." Fortunately, Senator Sherman did not voice the policy of our government. It would be well if our public men, especially the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, could take a journey around the world and see something more of the world than their own states and districts, and perhaps enjoy the privilege of being kicked out of the "semi-civilized" lands by men who have no fear that America will protect her sons. He seems to think that a "declaration of war" is the only way of protecting our citizens. But surely England' France, Germany, and Italy protect their citizens without declaring war, because they know how to speak in plain language.
Should Mr. Sherman's views be adopted by the American government, it would be wise for our citizens in the interior of Turkey, Persia, and China to put themselves under the protection of the British consuls who would protect them against all comers.
The 18th of April was a memorable day for the suffering people of Syria. The executive committee of the "Lebanon Hospital for the Insane" was organized in Beirut.
In May, the scarlet fever appeared in Beirut for the first time and many children fell victims to it. It was thought to have been brought in the baggage of emigrants returning from America, as it also appeared among them in Zahleh.
In June the Presbytery of Mount Lebanon and Beirut was organized in Zahleh, and has continued an efficient working body until the present time.
In October Miss Bernice Hunting arrived from America as colleague with Miss La Grange in the Tripoli Girls' School.
September 20th, to the great regret of the entire American community and all the Europeans and natives who knew him, our excellent consul, Thomas R. Gibson, of Georgia, died of smallpox in the hospital of the Knights of St. John in Beirut.
Mrs. Gerald F. Dale, having written from America resigning her connection with the mission, the members in attendance at the semi-annual meeting in June embodied in a minute their deep regret at this sundering of our official connections and commending her to the care and guidance of the Great Head of the Church. She has endeared herself to not only her fellow labourers, but to the women and girls in many towns and villages in Syria. She is now (1908) superintendent of the Maria DeWitt Jesup hospitals for women and children and trainingschool for nurses in the-Syrian Protestant College in Beirut.
In July a now rebellion broke out in Hauran and the Druses surprised and massacred two battalions of Turkish troops and tore up the railroad tracks and the telegraph wires. Twenty-five hundred troops were brought on from Macedonia to quell the insurrection. Only last winter the Druses were defeated, crushed, and nominally brought into subjection. The Lebanon Druses claim that the reason of the present outbreak is the outrages committed by the Turkish troops on their women and girls.
The Turkish government with great military sagacity have now (1906) opened three railway lines of approach to the Druse strongholds, the two roads from Damascus to Mezeirib from the north, and the Haifa railroad from the west, so that a future Druse rebellion in Hauran is well-nigh impossible.
During this year the Zahleh manse was erected but not completed. Mr. Hoskins sailed for America in September, having ably superintended the work of construction. But the funds were exhausted and the building was roofless, and in peril from the coming winter rains and snows. I went over September 18th and with my son William contracted with Omar, the head carpenter, to put on the tiles at once, raising the necessary funds from private sources.
It has been the policy of the mission not to erect residences for missionaries where suitable dry native houses can be leased. But years of leaky roofs and vermin-infested ceilings and walls in Zahleh and the large amount expended annually in rents, convinced the mission and the Board that Zahleh was an exception to the rule. Hence through the liberality of intelligent friends in New York, Pittsburg, and other places, the funds were provided, and the members of the station have a dry, clean, comfortable house.
1897 - In January I was at Helouan, the desert city southeast of Cairo, trying to recover my voice lost by whooping-cough.
In February, the mission having again changed its mind as to the desirability of conducting theological education in Beirut, voted to sell the fine edifice known as the "Theological Building" on the college grounds to the college trustees' the same being changed to "Morris K. Jesup Hall" in honour of the donor of the purchase money. The fund received was retained by the Board for use in case of future need for theological education.
Our, Argus-eyed friends, the censors, suppressed our Arabic geography, which the government had officially approved in several editions, as the word "Armenia" was used to describe that province in Eastern Turkey which has been known by that name since the days of the kings of Israel; and Arabia was spoken of as an independent province.
They also struck out of the book, "The Right Road," the verse quoted from Titus 1 :5, "For this cause left I thee in Crete that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city." The censor argued, "Crete is tinder the Sultan, and who dares assert that anything can be wanting, in his imperial domains?" So they struck out the disloyal passage, although every verse in the Bible has the official sanction of His Imperial Majesty's government!
Alas, protest is useless. Were His Majesty cognizant of the lack of brains in his press censors, he would probably order them to be put on a diet of fish and phosphorous. When a jealous general complained sanctimoniously to President Lincoln that General Grant, the captor of Vicksburg, drank whiskey, the President replied, "Is that so? If you can tell me what brand of whiskey General Grant uses, I will order a supply for all the generals, as he seems to he the only one who does things." It would be well if educated men could be put in charge of the department of public instruction. We have had censors in Syria who knew neither geography nor history, and who pronounced on books whose language they did not understand.
In March we were favoured with another visit from my dear friend, the venerable Canon H. B. Tristram, who was travelling with Miss Kennaway, daughter of Sir John Kennaway of the Church Missionary Society. We drove together to the Dog River and examined again the locality of bone breccia which he discovered thirty-three years before, and from which I had quarried a camel load for him and his English scientific friends. He viewed with interest the great progress made in all the Protestant missionary institutions, and spoke as a scientific botanist with the highest appreciation of the great work of Dr. Geo. E. Post on the "Flora of Syria and Palestine."
We. were grieved to learn afterwards from Jerusalem that he was kicked by a horse at Bethany and had his leg broken.
The friendship of such men as Canon Tristram and Sir William Muir I greatly prize. They both were fine specimens of the learned class in England, who are at the same time earnest Protestant evangelical Christians, in warm sympathy with Christian missions as well as with the progress of learning. Canon Tristram had no sympathy with those mimics of popery in the Church of England, who repudiate the name Protestant, nor had he any sympathy with the attempts to fraternize with the ikon worshipping and Mariolatrous Oriental Church.
During the month of April I was visiting the well-known Mohammed Effendi B--- of Beirut during Ramadan and the conversation turned to the subject of fasting. He remarked that some of the Christian ecclesiastics who compel their people to fast in Lent are not very scrupulous themselves about fasting. He said that he was once invited during Lent to dine with a company of officials at the house of a Christian bishop. The bishop was fasting and had special dishes prepared for him and his priests. The rest of the food consisted of meat and chicken and the usual courses. He sat next the bishop around the Oriental table and each one was helping himself with his hands from the dish before him. In the midst of the meal the light went out, and they were left in darkness. While the servant went for another lamp they continued eating, and as he extended his hand to help himself to chicken, he grasped the hand of the bishop in the platter of chicken! There was mutual laughter and the matter passed as a capital joke, One can imagine the effect produced upon the mind of this intelligent Moslem by the insincerity of his ecclesiastical friend. When he told it to me, he added, "We have Moslems who cat in Ramadan on the sly." This is notorious. The back room of a well-known druggist in Beirut is frequented in Ramadan by young Moslems who lunch there unseen by the public. Not a few Turkish officials lunch openly during Ramadan at the hotels and restaurants.
The summer of 1897 was a season of sorrow and anxiety throughout mission circles in Syria.
On the 6th of June Rev. Archibald Stuart, of the Irish Presbyterian Church in Damascus, died of typhoid fever. His friend, Dr. McKinnon, brought him in from Nebk to the Victoria Hospital in Damascus, but he sank rapidly and passed away. He was probably the most promising young missionary in Western Asia, of great intellectual and spiritual gifts, a preacher of power and unction and beloved by the people. He gave a series of sermons to the college students in Beirut in February, and won the hearts of all. On the same day, Miss James, recently directress of the British Syrian Schools, died in England, greatly lamented. Her influence while in Syria was profoundly spiritual and uplifting.
The week previous, Rev. David Metheny, M. D., the veteran missionary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Mersina, the port of Tarsus, died of heart failure. He was a man of great medical and surgical skill, a good Arabic preacher, of extra-ordinary energy, tender hearted and self-denying, generous and sympathetic with the poor. He was on the point of sailing for America with his family, when heart disease, which had kept him long in expectation of sudden death, culminated in instant release from pain and suffering. I loved the good brother. We differed on the subject of hymn singing, but he was a great lover of good music. In 1886 we sang together the old Negro melodies and he accompanied on the violin, as Mrs. Jessup and I sang the words. We taught him "Old Black Joe," whose pathetic weirdness seemed to touch a tender spot in his refined nature. But at family prayers nothing but the psalms could be used. And we did not discuss the hymn question. I used to tell him that we have one advantage. "You can only sing psalms. We also sing psalms, and hymns besides." He would sing hymns as musical practice in off hours, but never in public or private worship. His successors are good and true men and I long for the day when we can all meet in religious conferences and sit together at the table of our common Lord.
After his removal from Latakia to Mersina, he purchased land on the seashore near the port and proceeded to erect a mission house. The Waly at Adana ordered him to stop, after the house was nearing completion. He did not stop. The Waly then sent word that he would come down on the railroad with troops and force him to stop and tear down the building. Before the train arrived, a telegram reached the doctor, "The United States ship Marblehead will be in Mersina to-morrow."
Just then the train came in, and the troops began their march with the Waly at their head. The doctor gave-the telegram to his teacher and said, "Take this to the Waly wherever he is, on the street, and ask him to appoint a suitable officer to escort the American admiral to-morrow to the American premises!" The Waly read the telegram, gave new orders, and the troops wheeled and after marching around the city, brought up at the railroad station headed for Adana. The doctor was not molested after that episode.
The Zahleh station was severely smitten. My son William was ill with typhoid fever for forty days and during his illness, when too weak to know what was transpiring, his infant son
Henry, died of cholera infantum. I was there at the time, at midnight left Zahleh in a carriage with an aunt of the dear child and drove to Beirut, bearing the little casket for burial ill the old mission cemetery. That midnight drive over the heights of Lebanon, with that little dead grandchild, was one of those solemn scents which can never be effaced from human memory.
The father was not informed of his death for two weeks, when fever had ceased and his strength began to return. The Lord gave him strength to bear it patiently but it was a bitter trial.
While William was at the most critical stage of the fever, a fire broke out in the flue of the kitchen fireplace. The walls were of sun-dried brick and the chimney was simply a hole between the outer and inner walls made of clay and cut straw or tibn. The tibn had ignited and when the cook discovered the fire at 3 P. m. the entire chimney up to the roof was a glowing coal of fire. A terrific wind was blowing at the time and the only available water was a few jars in the house brought from the river a quarter of a mile distant. I went up a ladder to the roof and gave the alarm to the neighbours. Owing to the gale we could hardly stand on the roof and as jar after jar of water was brought by the kind neighbours, we poured it down the chimney. For a full hour we fought the fire and finally thought we had subdued it. The tiled roof which adjoined the chimney was made of timber dry as tinder and extended over the court and over the room of the sick one. Had the cook not discovered the fire just as he did, the flame which had already licked the ends of the beams of the tiled roof would have swept over the whole house and blocked all exit from the sick-room. Before sunset the watchman whom we had left on the roof shouted that the fire had broken out afresh and we had another half hour's struggle, using all the water in the vicinity until at length the whole wall was water soaked and the house was saved. It was one of those providential deliverances which fill the heart with gratitude and praise to Him who careth for us. I cannot think of that hour of peril without a shudder.
Later in the season, his daughter Elizabeth was prostrated with typhoid and December 18th, Mrs. William Jessup, the mother, perceiving symptoms of the same malady, took the train for Beirut and entered the St. John's Hospital, where, under the care of Dr. Graham and the German deaconesses as nurses, she came through safely. Meantime, a lovely English girl, Miss Kitty Dray, teaching-in the British Syrian School in Zahleh, died of the same fell disease and was brought to Beirut for burial.
Our hearts were gladdened by the arrival of my son Frederick, who, after graduating at Princeton, had come to serve a three years' course as tutor in the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut.
At this time came a staggering blow from the West. The Board of Missions, in view of financial stress, cut off at one stroke fifteen thousand dollars from the annual appropriation to the mission. That is, more than one-fourth of the allowance for the foreign and native labourers, the seminaries, schools, itineracy, publication, and hospital work. The bitter pill was sugar coated with fraternal assurances of great regret and sympathy with us in our distress. The mission was called together and the surgeon knife of vivisection had to do its work. About forty village schools were closed, about one-half of which were kindly taken up by the British Syrian Mission.
Many teachers, trained and experienced, were discharged others resigned and entered the employment of other societies with our full approbation. Who could blame a man with a wife and nine children for resigning when his salary was reduced from thirty to twenty dollars a month?
Every department took its share of the "cut." The native churches and congregations were urged to assume more of their expenses. The missionaries gave of their scanty means to relieve the pressure. Owing to the extraordinary rise in the cost of living, hardly a missionary in Syria can live on his salary, and but for private resources would have to resign and go home.
We have had frequent "cuts," as they are called, but this was the most unkindest cut of all, not because of any conceivable unkindness on the part of the Board or the Church at home, but from its placing us in the position of discriminating in our own favour, when applying the excision to others. It would be a happy day for missions if they could be carried on without money; and the most trying feature of the work is making the foreign missionary an employer and the native labourers employees. In a great press like that in Beirut, we have nearly fifty male and female employees, but the press manager, fortunately now a layman, pays all the wages. When Dr. Van Dyck, myself, Dr. Samuel Jessup, and Dr. Eddy, in turn and for years had the management of the press, and at the same time were preaching to the people and doing pastoral work among them, our souls were vexed beyond measure with begging letters and begging visits, asking for employment or for increase in wages, or complaining of each other, and, in case of disappointment, threatening to leave the church and accusing us of partiality or severity.
Alas, that although we have transferred this odious business relation in the press to the broad shoulders of Mr. Freyer, whose nine years in the United States Navy enable him to carry on the business like clockwork, and whose "Savings Bank" system has won the admiration and secured the loyalty of all his employees, we still have to act as school superintendents and paymasters to a small army of helpers and teachers allover the land. Happy the missions, like Korea and Uganda, where the people support their own mission churches and schools, and glad will be the day when Syria follows in their train.
This mission began years ago by giving everything gratis and hiring men to teach and preach. Many "false brethren" were thus foisted upon the mission "unawares" who afterwards denied the faith and went back worse than before." And when in the period between 1860 and 1870 the question of paying for education and church support was raised, the missionaries were openly charged with robbing the natives of money intended for them.
The news of the severe retrenchment of our work was accompanied by a letter suggesting a contribution from every missionary of the Board towards paying the debt of the Board. The letter implied that some have already given to the extent of their ability to relieve the work in the field from the cut. This was true of us all. Yet we were willing to do and did even more.
I received from England a contribution which touched me much. Miss Mary P. Bailey, one of the secretaries of the British Syrian Mission, wrote me as follows:
British Syrian Mission, Wimbledon, England, July 7, 1897.
DEAR DR. JESSUP:
I was very much touched yesterday, by receiving from an officer's servant a gift of two shillings six pence for the American Missions in Syria. So I forward it at once to you in English stamps.
The man's address I enclose. The gift is small but it comes from a man of prayer, and I believe God will use it as a lever to raise a large sum of money to supply your need. He has used small, weak things before. He still uses them. This man (although only an officer's groom gives six pence every month for the British Syrian Mission. Writing to him the other day, I told him of the sad sorrow you were in and asked him to pray that your helpful, beautiful work might not be reduced for want of funds.
We cannot spare one of your stations in Syria. May the Lord increase you more and more.
A little boy was once present in a church in London, when one of out missionary societies was in terrible need, and the cause was being earnestly pleaded. When this child got home, he said to his mother,
"Mother, did you hear what the minister asked for, so very much money? I am only a little boy, but I would like to give him my silver mug for the missionaries: may I?" The mother said, "I am not quite sure, my boy, if your father will like you to do that, but we will ask him." The father gladly agreed and the mug was sent to Mr. Bickersteth and sold. He told the story of the child's love to his congregation next I Sunday, and in the two following Sundays the whole of the necessary money was raised. "A little child shall lead them." That child is now a missionary in India.
May this be so with you, and may your hearts be gladdened by your treasury being filled, and your work extended. I well remember our prayer-meetings in Beirut in your drawing-room and long to join you again one day. Till then, and while my Lord keeps me working at home, Believe me.
Yours in the hope of His speedy coming,
MARY P. BAILEY.
Deputation Secretary British Syrian Mission
The gifts of the poor, transfigured by prayer, and winged with love, will surely stir up the more favoured members of our churches to give liberally and upbraid not.
There will be a good deal of heart searching and new dedication of all to Christ awakened by this movement of a universal offering of the seven hundred missionaries of the Board! There will be much giving out of straits and distress, but none the less it will be a joyous offering.
For many years, the smaller missions in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, and the irrepressible "independent" one-man and one-woman missions, having few native agents, and having no better principles about self-support than we had fifty years ago, would offer higher salaries than we with our 120 native agents could possibly pay, and hence our best trained young men and women, naturally desirous of improving their condition, would suddenly resign and leave us in the lurch. "Served you right," our Korean missionary brethren would say to us. "You set the pace and now they're only following your example." "'Tis true 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true."
But the experience of this year, 1897, has helped to forward the cause of self-support and now, in 1909, owing to the increasing self-respect of the Syrian brethren, and the fact that many who have emigrated to America, Brazil, and Australia are either returning with ample means or sending money to pay for the education of their kindred, the native contributions show a constant and hopeful increase.
In response to a request of the Board, I prepared an article for the Church at Home and Abroad on "From whence does the Church derive its Missionary Inspiration?" and argued that it is not from our church standards which have only remote allusions to the subject, nor from spasmodic appeals in public meetings. The then recent Lambeth Conference admitted that "the Thirty-nine Articles do not allude to the Church's duty to the heathen world." That conference of 194 bishops in its encyclical letter declared that "The cause of missions is the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ. For some centuries, it may be said, we have slumbered. The Book of Common Prayer contains very few prayers for missionary work." Why did not these good men add some new missionary prayers to their prayer-book? And why does not the Presbyterian Church inject a missionary spirit into its Confession of Faith?
The only conclusion is that we must depend for our "inspiration" upon the Word of God, the commands of Christ, and the example of the apostles. [Since this was written, the Presbyterian Confession has been 11 revised," and a better showing given to the work of missions.]
Two epidemics scourged Beirut in the fall, in addition to the typhoid, malignant black smallpox and rabies among the dogs, Scores died of the smallpox and patients walked the streets and rode unmolested by the police in the public carriages. It is not safe for any foreigner, tourist or scholar, to come to this land without revaccination, for smallpox lurks everywhere and numerous tourists have taken it while here or soon after leaving.
A young German was taken ill in Beirut with smallpox and removed to the pest-house of St. John's Hospital where he was attended by Dr. Graham and the deaconesses. Delirium set in and his whole body was black with the virulent disease. One day Dr. Graham entered the room and found the patient a raving maniac, having stripped off all his clothing. He sprang like a tiger upon Dr. Graham, caught him by the throat and hurled him to the floor. Then followed a terrific struggle, and the doctor succeeded at length in throwing him off, and calling for help. He was smeared with blood but made out to bind the poor sufferer, who soon expired. The doctor's account of that loathsome wrestling match almost curdles one's blood. He did not contract the disease, however, and his example must have had a wholesome influence upon his medical pupils who were cognizant of the facts.
The epidemic of rabies among the street dogs, for the first time in my knowledge, alarmed the Moslems. They dread to kill a dog. Dogs are the scavengers, living in colonies in the streets and making night hideous with their howling. But several Moslems were bitten by a rabid dog and were hurried to the Pasteur Institute in Constantinople. Other dogs had been bitten. Something must be done. The example of the English in Alexandria, who had annihilated the whole dog population, was resorted to. The edict went forth and in one week 1,300 dogs were poisoned or shot, and were buried a mile distant in the sands. For once, Beirut was quiet at night. The Moslems felt lonely. Two years after, they sent to Sidon and Tripoli and imported two slooploads of "curs of low degree" and repopulated the deserted streets, and now the dogs own the city once more, and are increasing with fearful rapidity.
A Moslem convert, Naamet Ullah, who was converted in 1895, came to Beirut in the spring. He was arrested, thrown into the army and wrote me a letter from the military barracks. He was taken with his regiment to Hauran where he deserted' reappeared in Beirut, thence to Tripoli, where he took ship to Egypt and disappeared from view.
Three Maronite priests and one Coptic monk called at different times and offered to become Protestants on condition that their expenses be paid to America. They were treated kindly but we informed them that we were not an emigration agency, and tried to convince them of the sin of such a hypocritical profession. It is to be taken for granted that the most hopeless, spiritually, of all the Orientals are the priests and monks. Their consciences seem seared as if with a hot iron.
In November I mailed to America the manuscript of the life of Kamil to which allusion has already been made. I cannot but regret that the dear young man requested me to return to him the original of all his A rabic journals and the correspondence with his father. Providentially I had translated them all into English, and it would be possible to retranslate them into the original Arabic, but the aroma of his beautiful style could not be reproduced.
A those manuscripts fell into the hands of the Turkish soldiers in Bussorah and whether they were kept or destroyed cannot be ascertained.
In August Naoom Pasha, Governor of Lebanon, was reappointed for five years. He was a good governor. A deputation of five members of our mission called upon him and congratulated him on his reappointment. He was most courteous and showed us through all the apartments of the B'teddin palace.
In October I received a letter from Chicago inquiring about Mr. Ibrahim Khairullah, the Syrian, who was attempting to propagate Babism in the United States. I sent to Mr. Stowella "Life of Mr. Ibrahim Khairullah," written by his relative and intimate friend in Beirut. I give here a copy of my letter, but the "Memoir" is not of sufficient value to be reproduced. His temporary success in the occult art business is only another instance of the gullibility of human nature. Three years later I visited Abbas Effendi in Haifa and an account of the interview was published in the Outlook of June 22, 1901. A recent book by M. H. Phelps of New York, 1904, gives a very fair account of this Persian bubble, showing that it is nothing new in religious history but a revamp of ancient Pantheistic theories. Mr. Phelps' summary of Abbas Effendi's teaching as "Love to God and Man" shows it to be as old as Christ and Moses. It is the essence of New Testament ethics, and there are millions of Christians to-day living according to this standard as far as they can by the aid of divine grace. Abbas Effendi is almost a Christian. But his latitudinarian views that all men, pagans, idolaters, and all are accepted of God, would seem to make any attempt to propagate Babism a work of supererogation.
The letter to Mr. Stowell is as follows:
I received yours of September 24th in due time, and last week sent your letter to a reliable person in Beirut who is a relative of the man you mention. It is evident that the man has been at his wit's end to know how to make a living and is now trying a new religion. The enclosed brief chronicle you can rely upon as being correct.
"The book you speak of as 'Bab el Din,' Revelation from the East, is either that mongrel mass of stuff written by the Greek priest, Christofory Jebara, for the World's Parliament of Religions, in which the author would bring about a union between Christianity and Islam by our all becoming Moslems; or some new rehash of Professor Browne of Cambridge, England, on the 'Episode of the Bab,' the Persian delusion whose head man, Beha-ullah in Acre claimed to be an incarnation of God and on his death a few years ago his son, Abbas Effendi, succeeded him and is running the 'incarnation' fraud for all that it is worth, and that is worth a good deal, as pilgrims constantly come from the Babite sect in Persia and bring their offerings of money with great liberality.
"Such men as Jebara and the Babites of Persia turn up now and then in the East, 'go up like a rocket and down like the stick.' The priest Jebara made no converts as far as I can learn, unless Mr. Khairullah be one. The fact is there was nothing to be converted to. You can't love or pray to a mere negation.
"The Babite movement in Persia started out as an attempt at a reform of Islam and ended by the leader claiming to be divine and invulnerable in battle, but when he died, another was found ready to succeed to his pretensions.
"They teach a strange mixture of truth and error, of extreme liberality and unscrupulous persecution of those obnoxious to them. I had a friend a few years ago, a learned Mohammedan of Bagdad, who was feeling his way to Christianity. His father, a wealthy man. died when he was young, and his uncle, a Babite, determined to train up the lad as a Babite. But the boy as he grew up refused to accept Babism. The uncle then robbed him of his property and drove him out of Bagdad. A few years ago he came here, professed Christianity, and was baptized in Alexandria, Egypt. While here, he went down to Acre to visit one of the Babites whom he had formerly known. After remaining there a few days he found out that his uncle had written to Acre about him and one night he received word that his life was in danger if he stayed through the night and he escaped to Beirut in great terror.
"Some months ago, an elderly Persian Babite called at our press in Beirut, and some time after brought a beautiful gilt motto on a large wall card which he gave us. He said he prayed to that motto for twelve years, and now, after reading the Bible, he has decided to give up such folly. (On the card was written in Arabic 'O glory of the most glorious,' the mystic prayer of the Babites.)
"The Greek Jebara wants the Moslem lion and the Christian lamb to lie down together, only the lamb must be inside the lion.
"The Babites want all to become lambs, even if they have to use force to make them so. Their blasphemous claim aim that the Acre sheikh is God is quite enough to condemn them.
"I earnestly pray that Mr. Khairullah may be led by God's Spirit back to the pure faith of his youth when he covenanted to take the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour.
"It is easy to be specious and plausible but secret religious sects are dangerous and secret propagandism which you say is his method, is a confession of weakness. Truth loves the light and if the 'Bab el Din' is afraid of the light and of open discussion, it should be avoided by every God-fearing man and woman.
"We have two secret religions in Syria, that of the Druses and the Nusairiyeh, both bound to secrecy by awful oaths and imprecations. Our divine Lord in the third chapter of John says, 'Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.' 'But he that doeth truth cometh to the light that his deeds may be manifest that they are wrought in God.'
"If a Druse or Nusairy leaves his sect, his life is regarded as forfeited. American Christians believe that Christ is the Light of the World. The Lord deliver them from the delirious blasphemies of the Asiastics who claim to be God Himself!"
In reply to a letter from Dr. Paul Carus, I wrote the following: "I owe you an apology for so long delaying in acknowledging the receipt of the 'edition de luxe' of the secretary's report on the Religious Parliament Extension. You request an expression 'of your views of the outlook of the religious life as it appears to you both in your own sphere and the world at large.'
"The Parliament had little influence on the public mind in Western Asia. No Mohammedan from this part of the globe attended it, and the Greek archimandrite who read a paper, represented no-one but himself in advocating a union of Christianity and Islam by surrendering the cardinal doctrines of the former.
"The Mohammedans would not go and had they gone they would have been prohibited from publishing any report on their return.
"Liberty of the press on religious questions is unknown in this empire, and any journal which should criticize Islam or the Koran would be summarily suppressed.
"The events of the past two years, whatsoever their cause, have brought out into bold relief the worst features of an exclusive and uncompromising religious system.
"Murders, robberies, rapes, spoliation, the abduction of women and girls, and enforced apostasy from Christianity have been sanctioned not only by the officials of the dominant faith, but by a responsive awakening of popular fanaticism.
"Thoughtful men who are restless under the suppression of free thought are compelled to be silent and cry to God for relief. There is no such thing as public opinion. The press simply echoes the views of the local censor, and the censor, the views of the central authority.
"With regard to the Maronite, Orthodox Greek, and Papal Greek sects of Syria, there is little to hope for from the higher ecclesiastics. One prominent patriarch purchased his chair by bribes, amounting, it is publicly asserted, to ten thousand pounds. A notable exception to the simony intrigue and avarice of the higher ecclesiastics is the Orthodox Greek Bishop of Hums (the ancient Emesa), who has placed the Bible in all his schools where twelve hundred children are taught and is labouring efficiently to enlighten and elevate his people.
"The influence of Protestant education and literature on the rank and file of the people is palpable on every side. The rising generation of all sects is better informed, more liberal and tolerant, than the past. Schools which have been founded to keep out the light have let it in. Public sentiment with regard to the honour and dignity of woman has undergone a wonderful change. The veil continues and the hareem seclusion continues, but the veiled and secluded have begun to think for themselves. Mohammedan young men will no longer consent to marry girls they have never seen, but now in Beirut, visit them and drive out with them on the public highways with the mothers as chaperones.
"A visit to the homes of educated Christian young women in Syria is an impressive object-lesson as to the value of a Christian education for girls. Their houses are well ordered, tidy, cheerful, and happy. The more attractive features of Oriental hospitality have a new charm in these enlightened Christian families. The general religious outlook in the empire is hopeful, not past withstanding the dreadful Armenian massacres of the two years. The healing touch of the divine hand and the awakening tones of the divine voice have brought life and thoughtfulness and spiritual quickening' whereas before the massacres all was apathy and death. God's judgments, instead of hardening, have softened men's hearts. In Anatolia the schools are crowded with pupils and the churches cannot contain the thronging worshippers. Old enemies have become friends of the Gospel. The very means used for the extermination of gospel light have ended in its wider dissemination. The Gregorian Armenian hierarchy have become the friends of the Protestant missionaries. As the massacres of 1860 in Syria broke up the fallow ground and prepared the way for the new sowing of the gospel seed, so the events of 1895-1896 are proving to have turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel.
"Taking a wider view of religious thought in the Eastern world, the truth is not lost and will not lose by the 'brotherly exchange of thought' that is now more and more pervading the world. Insincere and designing men may deceive all of their countrymen some of the time, and some of them all of the time; but they cannot cheat all men always.
"Truth is patient, God is patient. It can afford to be condescending though misunderstood, and generous though it be called weak, but it is never impatient for the harvest before the seed has had time to grow.
"Western Asia, India, China and Japan may be misled for a time by those who assure them in obscure and misty phrase that the citadel of Christian truth is fallen forever; but when the mists have cleared away, the shining battlements will 'look forth, bright as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.'
"In diplomacy, nothing baffles cunning like the frankness of simple truth, and in the sphere of religion, nothing defeats the sophistries of Asiatic heathenism and the assumption of Islam like the plain preaching of salvation through Christ and Him crucified."
The missionary statistics for the year 1897 were as follows:
The whole number of children in Protestant schools in Syria and Palestine is about 17,000, of whom at least 8,000 are girls.
Enrolled Protestants as a civil sect, 7,000.
American Press, Beirut
Number of publications on press catalogue 601
Publications issued in 1896 and 1997 . . . 782,000
Pages printed from the first . . . . . . 578,000,000
Syrian Protestant College, Beirut
1896-1897, whole number of students . . . . . . 309
Graduates to date, collegiate . . . . . . . . . 164
Graduates to date, medical……… 163
Graduates to date, pharmaceutical . . . . . . . 53
Number of professors and instructors……………..25
Protestant orphanages in Syria and Palestine. ………5
Protestant hospitals and dispensaries in Syria and Palestine, 36
Hospitals in Beirut
Protestant, St. John's.
Roman Catholic, St. Joseph's.
Orthodox Greek, St. George's.
Turkish military hospital.
Arabic Journals in Beirut
Orthodox Greek . . . . .…..2
Turkish official . . . .…….1
A New York gentleman wrote asking me to give him an account of all the missionary work and "societies of a political character " at work in Turkey. I replied, giving an account of the various missions but stated that, "I know of no political societies but the order Of Jesuits. All the Americans in Turkey, an empire of absolute despotism, keep entirely aloof from political questions. In our published books and periodicals we cannot mention politics. The censorship of the press is more severe than in Russia. Our object is to introduce light, to educate the young to care for the sick and suffering, publish good and useful books, and let the government alone."
In September, my daughter, Ethel Hyde Jessup, was married in Aleih, Mount Lebanon, to Franklin T. Moore, M.D., of the Syrian Protestant College. In October Miss Ellen Law was obliged to leave for America on account of her health and my daughter Anna took her place for a year and a half.
Rev. Messrs. Hoskins and Hardin returned from America, the former in October and the latter in December.
1898 - March 13th we had a visit from President Angell, United States Minister to Constantinople.
That visit was a benediction to us all, nationally, intellectually, and spiritually. He arrived with Mrs. Angell on Sunday morning, March 13th, on the steamship Aller, which had been lying at Jaffa, as its excursion tourists had gone up to Jerusalem. A protracted gale of wind had prevented the usual steamer from communication with Jaffa and consequently the volume of detained travellers who had returned from Jerusalem to Jaffa was very great, and all the hotels were crowded. Dr. Angell, Mr. Isidor Straus of New York, and about twenty others tried to catch English and Egyptian steamers which came to Jaffa to take them to Beirut' but in vain. At length the captain of the Alter having extra time on his hands, agreed to bring the party to Beirut for $1,000. They arrived on Sunday morning. I preached at the college in Arabic that morning at nine o'clock and just as the last bell was ringing for the service, and Dr. Bliss and I were entering the chapel door, the carriage drove by with Dr. and Mrs. Angell, and the kavass of the United States consul on the box. We bade them welcome.
I recalled the time when, at Dr. Angell's invitation, I addressed the students at Ann Arbor University. He was in excellent health and spirits. We found that Dr. and Mrs. Angell and their party were booked for Baalbec and Damascus the next morning, Monday, and must return and sail for Constantinople on Saturday.
At 3: 30 P. M. after seeing other parts of the work he came to the Arabic Sunday-school, accompanied by the United States consul and his kavasses, and made a brief address to the 250 children urging them to the study of God's word and to trust in Christ as their Saviour. It was delightful to hear his testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Sunday evening Dr. Angell made an address to the college students on "Intellectual, Moral, and Spiritual Culture" which was a most impressive and beautiful address and will never be forgotten by those who heard it. I took careful notes and on Monday translated it all into Arabic. On Friday it was published in our weekly Neshrah and I had half a dozen copies struck off in gilt letters which I presented to him on Friday evening, when Mrs. Bliss gave a reception to all the American community for Dr. and Mrs. Angell.
On Saturday morning before leaving on the French steamer for Constantinople, he visited the press and went through all its departments and I then went down with him to the wharf. His visit was brief but he manifested the deepest interest in all departments of the work.
We said little to him about the United States claims against Turkey for indemnity for losses during the massacres. His hands are tied by the diversion of our government's attention to Spain and Cuba. England can carry on half a dozen wars in different parts of the world and grapple with the knottiest diplomatic questions all at one and the same time. Our government, with its frequent changes of administration and diplomatic officials, seems to be able to deal with only one question at a time. Dr. Angell evidently accepted this post at great sacrifice, in order to do what others had failed to do, and now finds himself unsupported. (Mr. McKinley evidently needs a Secretary of State able to deal with foreign questions with promptness and vigour.)
President Angell was succeeded by the Hon. Oscar Straus of New York whose great ability, loyal devotion to his country's honour, and conscientious attention to business gave him the confidence of his countrymen and great influence with the Sultan and his ministers.
Our consul, Colonel Doyle, was now removed and in his place President McKinley appointed Mr. G. Bie Ravendal who has proved himself an efficient business man and a loyal American in full sympathy with the work done by his fellow citizens in Syria. This consulate, having become in 1906 a consulate-general, will now have greater influence and do better work for American commercial interests in the East.
In April, Mr. A, Forder, an independent missionary, attempted to penetrate Arabia from the north by the way of Bashan and Moab. He secured seven hundred Arabic New Testaments from our press and had them bound in special red morocco binding, with broad flaps, in imitation of the Arab binding in Cairo and Damascus. The box was sent to Damascus and he set out from Jerusalem with his cameleers, intending to pick up the box in or near Damascus, so as not to give the Turks an idea that be was a military spy or correspondent, but unhappily he fell from his camel near Nablus and broke his leg. In May he was still detained there with his Danish companion until it was too late to undertake the trip that year. On a previous trip he was robbed so often that one wonders what he had left to live on in a region where, for two days, he found neither food nor water. No one could question his courage and pluck and some day Christian men may get into Central Arabia. But the new Mecca railroad, and the jealousy of all European influence in that great peninsula, will make it difficult for any one hereafter to enter Arabia from the north or west. The vulnerable sides are the east and south, and for the reason that where the spirit of British rule prevails there is liberty. And yet, there was once a foreign young woman of comely appearance, who seriously proposed making a trip to Arabia by that robber-infested route where every man claims the ancestral right to rob every stranger he meets, taking with her only a woman attendant and a cameleer. It was with great difficulty that we dissuaded her. Had she tried to do it, we should have felt called upon to ask the interposition of the consul. It is a pity that deep piety and personal loveliness should sometimes be linked to an utter want of common sense. Faith sometimes becomes spasmodic with high nervous exaltation. It then becomes unreasoning, harmful as serpents, and foolish as doves. Believing itself inspired, it will take no advice and will sacrifice all the capacity for usefulness attained by long years of preparation, study and spiritual equipment for the sake of making one grand leap into certain destruction with no possible thought of any corresponding or compensating good. I have often said to one of then "inspired" friends, "Be careful, protect your head from the son; if you take that journey, take at least some proper food and clothing." "Thank you," they would say, "we do not need these worldly wise precautions for we can trust in the Lord who has called us." So away they went. Not long after there was a funeral - a life thrown away that might have been a blessing to many. It only made others say, "What a fool not to take advice!" Dr. S. H. Cox, of Brooklyn, was told by a ranting Mormon apostle, "God does not need your learning!" He replied,"God does not need your ignorance!"
The news of war with Spain made a great stir in this land. The Moslems and Jews could not say enough in praise of America. They recalled the days of Ferdinand and Isabella, when Moslem power was crushed in Spain and when hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from Spain and found refuge in North Africa, Constantinople, Salonica, Smyrna, and Aleppo. And in the year 1906, the Jews are rejoicing that a granddaughter of a Jew has become Queen of Spain. [We may add that in T907, the Jews were again glad to hear that a Jew had been elected mayor of Rome.]
I recalled April, 1861, when we heard of the firing on Fort Sumter and the beginning of the Civil War, when we all felt like going home to defend the flag. The Cuban War was a smaller matter and we had no fear of the result, but we apprehended financial disorder and the crippling of the Board's resources.
Happily, the war was brief and the only effect from a missionary standpoint was opening the millions of Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines to the enlightenment of Protestant Christianity.
On March 17th my very dear friend and classmate, Dr. Charles S. Robinson, of New York, arrived on the Alter. The ship only remained twelve hours. I went on board in a rough sea and a pouring rain to bring him ashore.
It seems to us residents in Syria a great shame that tourists in the Holy Land should be "hustled" through in such a hurry that they can only gain the most superficial idea of the land and its people.
On May 2d the Lebanon Presbytery met in Beirut; eight churches were represented by fifteen Syrian and seven American members. Nine subjects were discussed and it was the most thoroughly spiritual assembly we have ever known in Syria. A report was given by Dr' S. Jessup of the religious conference in February conducted by Dr. Elder Cumming and Rev. Messrs. Luce and Paynter, and one of the Syrian brethren gave an account of his visit to Mildmay and Keswick and the new apprehension he gained of the spiritual life. Meetings were held with the children, a social gathering for the local congregation, and a joint communion season. It was altogether a model meeting of presbytery, a minimum of ecclesiastical routine and a maximum of uplifting spiritual conference on religious and missionary subjects.
In May, our able and accomplished consul-general, Charles M. Dickinson, of Constantinople, visited Syria and Palestine and presented an elaborate report to the government at Washington of the so-called Spaffordite colony in Jerusalem. Any persons desirous of knowing the facts with regard to that phase of religious communism should consult the documents in the State Department.
Two somewhat remarkable Christian women passed away in the months of February and May, Mrs. Giles Montgomery, formerly of Central Turkey' and Mrs. Hannah Korany, a Syrian lady from Kefr Shima, near Beirut. Mrs. Montgomery came out with her husband in 1863 and laboured for thirty-five years in Marash and Adana. She was a woman of rare Christian character, one of those bright, radiant spirits who make the Christian life so attractive. She had long struggled with that fell disease, consumption, and was the guest and patient of Dr. and Mrs. Graham, who, felt it a benediction to have her in their home. It was touching to see a little Armenian girl laying white flowers on her grave - she was baptized by Mr. Montgomery and narrowly escaped being carried off by the Turks during the massacres and came here to our seminary as a refuge. Mrs. Montgomery was a missionary of the American Board, which supported the Syrian Mission until 1870, and four former missionaries of that Board, Dr. W. W. Eddy, Dr. Daniel Bliss, Rev. W. Bird, and Rev. H. H. Jessup conducted the funeral services.
Mrs. Korany was educated, as was her mother before her, in the Beirut Girls' Seminary, and, after teaching for a time, went with her husband to the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 and remained in America several years, engaged in the sale of Syrian fabrics and in lecturing on Syrian themes by invitation of a society of American ladies. The American climate prostrated her and she was obliged to flee to milder climes, struggling like Mrs. Montgomery with consumption. I met her at Cairo and Helouan in the winter of 1896-1897. Her mind seemed to grow brighter as her body grew weaker under the relentless progress of the disease. She had fine conversational powers and wrote English with great facility and force. At length she returned to her home, six miles from Beirut, where a loving father and mother watched over her. But such is the dread of the Syrian people of this malady that no one would come near the house. No woman would do washing or baking or any service for the family. The American ladies, her former teachers, and Miss C. Thompson of the British Syrian Mission were frequent in their visits and I was greatly comforted to hear her words of faith and hope as I sat by her dying bed.
She died May 6th, and the funeral was an impressive scene. It is the custom in Lebanon villages for the women to give themselves up to fanatical grief' wailing, screaming, and often throwing themselves upon the body and trying to prevent its removal. But in this Christian home there was perfect silence, the mother, Im Selim, showing a Christian resignation and quiet self-control which filled the village women with astonishment. It was an object-lesson which they will not soon forget.
About that time a remarkable conversion took place in the Syrian Protestant College. A Jewish student son of a prosperous Hebrew family, declared himself a Christian and began at once the most earnest and intense labours for the conversion of all his fellow students. He walked with them, talked with them, and prayed with them and spoke in the college prayer-meetings and in the church meetings in town. He was most fearless and resolute in trying to bring all around him to Christ. His friends were dismayed and his father threatened to disinherit him. He applied for baptism and communion in the Arabic Evangelical Church and a day was appointed to receive him. But he disappeared suddenly - we heard of him afterwards in Port Said and later as marching in the Salvation Army procession in London.
I have known several similar cases of sudden religious enthusiasm, great promise for usefulness, which have afterwards withered away, not having depth of root or stability. Yet this young man may have found his proper sphere in the Salvation Army.
Our good secretary, Dr. Brown, was convinced that the missionaries should do more itinerating work, and administered a gentle rebuke to the tendency among our number to yield to the claims of confining literary and educational work. As usual, the appeal wrought most powerfully upon those least able to respond to it. We all felt, even those of us tied down to one place by teaching and literary work, that more should be done to reach the outlying districts and to lead to a personal decision the hundreds of youths in our schools. One member of the mission, my good brother Samuel, of Sidon, was so wrought upon by the stirring appeal that he nearly sacrificed his life. He is never perfectly well, and hardly a week has passed in his thirty-five years of service in Syria but he has had turns of severe pain and prostration. The mission removed him from the "horseback" station of Tripoli to Beirut in 1882 to relieve him from the wear and tear of long journeys in the interior. And he removed to Sidon to engage in quiet educational work and the management of the station treasury. But that appeal was like fire in his bones. The latter part of May, true to his centrifugal instincts, he rose from his bed, hired a horse, and with his boy riding a mule with the bedding and a few cooking utensils, rode down the coast to Tyre and the next day to Bussah, east of Acre, wracked with headache. Preaching there and working among the crowds who gathered, he went on east over a frightful breakneck road to Dibl, where he had dreadful pains and sinking turns. Miles away from a doctor, he lay a whole day on the floor, faint, and rolling from pain and nausea, his host, a kind, elderly man, doing his best to help, but unable to relieve him. The next day he rode on horseback six hours to Tyre, almost falling from his saddle many times. On reaching Tyre, he could not walk to the Syrian pastor's house and fell prostrate. The next morning he rose at six and rode six and a half hours to Sidon. He now writes that he must "do more itinerating." He says the Cuban War reminds him of 1861-1862, when he was ill of typhoid fever at Drainsville, and then went through McClellan's Potomac Campaign ending at Malvern Hills. And now like a veteran cavalry horse at pasture, the bugle call sets him all on fire. If it be true that some of the best of men need urging, others, as truly, need restraining. It is my experience that most missionaries work up to the full extent of their ability and opportunity. When men get "views" about sitting still to see the salvation of the Lord, they need stirring up. I was once told the following story of Mr. Moody: Young George Barnes, the Kentucky evangelist, whose words were burning and inspiring, fell into that trap. Mr. Moody left him in Chicago to carry on the work. On his return, he could not find George. After inquiry, he was told, "Oh, he has joined the little circle of -ites, who are sitting down to await the coming of the Lord." Mr. Moody rushed to him and taking him by the collar, said, "George, out of this. The Lord calls you to go work in His vineyard. Out of this, or you are ruined." Mr. Moody was right. What became of George I do not know, but an able-bodied evangelist can make no greater mistake than "To sit down and wait" for something to turn up.
At the request of Consul Ravendal I prepared in July the following statistics of the Americans, their schools and property in Syria:
Number of Americans, old and young . . . 115
Number of American schools . . . . . . 150
Value of mission property in Beirut . . . . .$410,000
" " " " Lebanon field 36,108
" " " " Sidon 73,535
" " " " Tripoli 31,875
" " " " Zahleh 23,236
The only purely American hospital is that of Dr. Ira Harris in Tripoli. Dr. Mary P. Eddy does clinical medical work and itinerating camp work in different parts of Syria.
The American medical professors in the Syrian Protestant College are the physicians of the German Hospital of the Knights of St. John in Beirut which treated the past year 545 in-door patients, 11,816 polyclinic patients.
A conference of Christian workers from all parts of the empire was held in Brummana, Mount Lebanon, August 9th to 14th. The missionaries of different societies had long felt the need of such a conference to promote the spiritual life, fraternal cooperation, mutual help and counsel in our common work. A committee was formed in Beirut with officers for correspondence and preliminary arrangements, and a circular letter was sent to all the missions in Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt.
The conference met in Brummana August 9, 1898, and was opened by Rev. Dr. George A. Ford. One hundred and ninety six persons were present, of whom seventy-six were British, fifty-seven Americans, eight Germans, four Danes, twenty-three Syrians, eighteen not reported.
Eleven Protestant denominations were represented: Church of England, Established Church of Scotland, Free Church of Scotland, American Presbyterian, Irish Presbyterian, Reformed Presbyterian, Congregational, Lutheran, Friends, Baptists, Methodists.
Thirty-four papers were read and about twenty-five addresses given, besides remarks often of great interest offered by members of the conference. There was a half hour sunrise prayer-meeting every morning and a forty-five minutes' sunset service daily. The regular sessions were from 9:30 to 11:30 A.M., and from 2:30 to 4 P.M.
Brummana, the place of this remarkable conference, is three hours' drive by carriage from Beirut on a spur of the Lebanon range, 2,5 00 feet above the sea, seeming to overhang the seashore and looking directly down upon Beirut, its fertile plain and harbour. It has in summer a clear sky (there is no rain for five months), beautiful forests of the Lebanon pine, several good hotels and many private boarding-houses. The grounds and buildings of the Friends' Mission were offered freely to the conference and many of the members were given free board. Some had rooms at the hotels and others encamped in the pine groves.
The conference proved to be a blessing and a means of spiritual uplifting to all and it was agreed to hold another in 1901. One of the most interesting features was the presence of Miss C. Shattuck of Urfa, who held her post alone during the awful massacres of 1894-1895, when 8,000 were killed. She protected hundreds, gathered the widows and orphans, opened industrial work, until she had 1,800 women at work making laces and embroideries for the European markets. She brought affecting messages to the conference from nineteen of her widows and helpers, which brought tears to all eyes.
After the conference I baptized in Beirut another convert from Islam, a young baker from a Lebanon village, who had been long in Beirut attending night school and working in a public oven. I afterwards baptized his younger brother. He is now working in a print mill in Rhode Island and is helping the younger brother in his education.
During the summer, I was closely confined with literary work for the weekly Neshrah and correcting proof sheets.
The Syrian Protestant College had 375 pupils, a large increase on the previous year. The statistics of the theological seminary show that sixty young men have been trained for the ministry in this mission.
On the 9th of October, the Protestant Orphanage at Dar-es-Salam on the Sidon Industrial Farm was formally dedicated. It was the gift of Mrs. George Wood of New York who has placed the people of Syria and the missionary body under lasting obligations by her munificent gifts of buildings, land and endowment
On the 5th of November, His Imperial Majesty, William III, Emperor of Germany, with the Empress Augusta, reached Beirut from Haifa on the ship Hohenzollern. The city was decorated with triumphal arches, festoons, flags and greens, and the streets covered with sand. The whole population turned out to greet them. They did not land until the next day, Sunday, when they paid official visits, and visited the German Hospital of the Knights of St. John. A decoration was conferred upon Dr. Post, dean of the American College medical faculty.
At night the villages of Lebanon were ablaze with bonfires. No potentate in modern times has had such a regal reception in Syria. He had already visited Jerusalem and dedicated the new German Protestant cathedral, delivering a sermon full of high evangelical sentiment; had been to Bethlehem and Nazareth, and went from Beirut to Baalbec and Damascus. His journey had apparently a threefold object, religious, political, and commercial. His visit to Jerusalem was religious; to Damascus, commercial; to Constantinople, political. The promotion of German commerce was, no doubt a prime object. The Bagdad Railway, the opening of new markets for goods made in Germany, and securing special privileges for German subjects in business and archeological concessions, were all direct or indirect proofs of the Kaiser's friendship for the Sultan. Politically, no European power can compare in influence at -the Porte with Germany.
Religiously, his simple gospel sermon in the German church in Jerusalem was a truly missionary work. It was copied into all the Arabic journals and read all over the land. In his outspoken, evangelical sentiments, he witnessed for the great truths for which Martin Luther contended.
In preparation for his coming, we prepared a life of Luther and an Arabic translation of his famous Theses with illustrations, and published it on the occasion of the emperor's arrival. The Turkish censors made no objection. We published an edition of it in gilt letters, which was presented to the emperor on his return from Damascus and Baalbec, through Dr. Schroeder, the German consul-general.
At the official banquet in Damascus, which was worthy of the days of Haroun el Raschid, the Sheikh Abdullah greeted the Kaiser in the name of His Imperial Majesty, Abdul Hamid II, the caliph of three hundred millions of Mohammedans. (The actual numbers, according to the latest statistics, are nearly 200,000,000.) The Kaiser in reply quoted this number as if it were correct and since that time the Moslem journals, near and far, have quoted him as announcing that three hundred million Moslems look to the Sultan as caliph.
There was one curious feature in the entertainment of the emperor. Jowwad Pasha, who was sent down as the Sultan's representative to oversee the welcome to the Kaiser, was not allowed to come near him. The Germans said that as this pasha was governor of Crete at the time of the massacre of Christians and foreign troops, the Kaiser would not even allow him to come into his presence. Jowwad Pasha, after the departure of the Kaiser, visited the college in Beirut and spent a long time in the observatory with Professor West. He greatly enjoyed the large twelve-inch refractor and the Brashear spectroscope. He said that he had translated books on astronomy and taught it but had never seen a good telescope before,
Before leaving Damascus, the emperor placed a green wreath on the tomb of Saladin and promised to send one of bronze. Months afterwards, a German war-ship reached Beirut with high military officers, who went in state to Damascus and hung the beautiful bronze wreath on the marble tomb. Subsequently, a devout sheikh visited the tomb of Saladin, but stepped back in horror, pointing to the wreath, which had on it the Maltese cross of the Knights of St. John. He said, "Take that cross away! A Crusader's cross on the tomb of the Sultan Saladin! God forbid!" It was then removed and hung in a deep niche in the wall, facing the tomb, where it is greatly admired by tourists, but that cross costs the keeper of the place many moments of effort to explain its presence to die faithful.
There is another story connected with that tomb. When Dr. Crawford discovered it in the early '60s, I was in Damascus, and he took me to see it. Up to that time, it was virtually unknown, both to tourists and to the sheikhs of Damascus. Not long after, a Russian prince visited Damascus and the kavass of the Russian consul took him to see this tomb. At that time, it was badly neglected, covered with dust, and the floor piled with rubbish. But the tomb itself was encased in an exquisitely carved walnut sarcophagus of delicate tracery with the name of Saladin in ornamental Arabic and the date. It was dusty and neglected and the prince very shrewdly said to the sheikh through his interpreter, "It is a shame to leave the tomb of so great a hero in a perishable wooden case. Give me permission and I will put in its place a beautiful polished marble tomb." The sheikh eagerly accepted. The prince's servants took away the old walnut case and boxed it carefully and shipped it to Russia where it is considered a priceless treasure. The present marble tomb is beautiful, but the old was better.
In, Baalbec a memorial tablet was placed on the interior wall of the reputed Temple of the Sun commemorating the emperor's visit. But his visit will ever be memorable, not on account of that marble tablet, but from the fact that through his influence the German scholars at enormous expense cleared almost the entire temple area of the debris and rubbish of ages and brought to view the exact configuration of the interior, exposing the exquisite sculpture which had been before unknown. They identified the beautiful Temple of the Sun, so many of whose columns are standing, as the Temple of Bacchus, certainly not a very appropriate place for the tablet of a Christian emperor.
There must be a divine plan and purpose in giving this Protestant emperor such an extraordinary hold on the confidence and enthusiasm of the whole Moslem population of Turkey from the Sultan down through all the ranks and grades of military and civil officers to the common peasantry.
In one sense, his visit has already had its effect. It has diminished sensibly the prestige and influence of France in Syria and Palestine. The emperor not only dedicated a Protestant Church in Jerusalem on the anniversary of Luther's Theses at Wittemburg, October 31, 1517, but he has also taken all the German Catholic clergy, laymen, and institutions away from the French protectorate and put them under German control. French influence here has been identified with the worst phases of Jesuit intrigue and anything that weakens it is a public benefit. In 1906, the French government had almost ceased to aid the Roman Catholic orders in Syria owing to the open rupture between France and the papal curia.
During the entire period of the emperor's stay in Palestine and Syria, the sky was cloudless and the heat intense. On the plain of Caesarea south of Carmel fourteen horses of the cavalcade died of the heat. The whole country was dry and parched as not a drop of rain had fallen for six months. He sailed November 12th and on the 16th the windows of heaven were opened, a pouring rain refreshed the land and the mountain summits were frosted with fresh snow.
In December, Mrs. Gerald F. Dale, Jr., who had returned from America, entered the Beirut Girls' Boarding-School, owing to the absence of Miss Alice Barber who had been summoned to her home in Joliet by the infirmities of her aged parents.
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