THIS year was crowded with hard work, interesting events, laborious correspondence, and sad experience in the death of many native friends and one missionary lady, Mrs. Shaw, of typhoid fever.
Our plan of making the theological class a summer school precluded our having a summer vacation, as I had to teach in Suk el Gharb, two miles from my summer home, for six months, driving over daily, and at the same time keeping up editorial work for the Beirut Press and a heavy correspondence. I have copies of five hundred pages of letters, English and Arabic, written in that six months.
Sir William Muir kept up regular communication with me about printing his book, "Call to the Moslems to Read the Bible," and a new book by the author of the "Bakurah," entitled "The Torch of Guidance," or, "Masbah-ul-Huda." This latter work Sir William translated and printed in English in London. In our correspondence, we were agreed as to the unseemly miscarriage of the Gordon Memorial Fund of 100,000 pounds raised in England to found a Gordon University in Khartoum The British authorities in Egypt saw fit to found with this fund a purely Mohammedan university from which all allusion to Christ and Christianity should be excluded. The Christian people of England and other places who gave this money never dreamed that it would be used to rear a barrier against the Bible and Christianity, and to teach the Sudanese that the Christian English are ashamed of their faith; that it would be open for work on Sunday and all teachers forced to labour on that day; and that no Christian boy could enter it unless he would study the Koran.
Had this policy been honestly announced before the fund had been raised, probably the great part of it would have been withheld. When the news was first printed, the Moslems of Syria exclaimed, "If the Christian English will give such a sum for a school in Khartoum, we Moslems should give as much to found a Moslem school there." They took it for granted that it would be a Christian school, for Gordon's high Christian character was known everywhere among the Moslems, and they respected him for it, as they do not believe in a man who has no religion. Great, then, was their surprise when they learned that it was to be a mere Moslem "Medriseh." The whole policy of the British rulers of Egypt with regard to Christianity is simply shameful. They ignore the Christian Sunday. All employees of the government, Moslem, Christian, and Jew, must work on Sunday. Hundreds of our Christian young men who have gone from Syria to Egypt and found employment and high salary under the government, are forced to work on Sunday and given a holiday on Friday, the Moslem holy day. Thus compelled by Christian Englishmen to break the fourth commandment, it would not be strange if they should break the eighth commandment. The Hon. William E. Dodge sold out all his stock in the New Jersey Central Railroad because it would run its trains on Sunday. He told the directors, "If you teach your employees to break one commandment, do not wonder if they break another and rob your treasury."
Had the English in the outset given all Christian employees the option of working on Sunday or Friday they would have been respected by all. As it is, the Moslems are beginning to say, "After all, the English have no religion. They violate their own sacred law because they are afraid of us and want to win our favour."
Instead of gaining the respect and favour of the Moslem population they have gained their contempt. The Moslems despise a Jew who opens his shop on Saturday and a Christian who opens his on Sunday.
The Gordon College should have two departments made optional to all, one with Christian teachers and one with Moslem teachers, This would have been regarded as fair and honourable, and no one would have complained. As it is, Christianity, the religion of General Gordon and the millions of English people, is ignored in the Sudan and Egypt, and the Christian sacred day of rest is shamefully dishonoured. English prestige has lost and not gained by this truckling to imaginary lions in the way, this denying their own faith, this ignoring what has made England great and honoured among the nations. No Englishman knew the Moslem mind both in India, Arabia, and Egypt better than Sir William Muir. He knew their Koran, their sacred books and commentaries and all their history. He had governed millions of them in India; he had among their eminent Ulema and scholars many personal friends, and he loved the Moslem people and laboured to lead them to Christ their Saviour. But he felt that the true policy of England is to obey the laws of Christianity and act according to its own professions. To give up one's own principles to win favour of others is a suicidal policy. It cannot be that the blessing of God will crown this present Sabbath-breaking and Bible-ignoring policy of England in Egypt and the Sudan, It was adopted to win favour and tide over a crisis. It has won no one and has forced a worse crisis and every month's delay makes it more and more difficult to return to an honest Christian course. Could Sir William Muir have been consulted, and had be been younger and been given the Sirdarship of the Sudan, Christianity would not have been, as it is, trailing its skirts in sorrow in the dust. Let us hope that a change will be made ere it be too late.
On the 26th of February, a novel event occurred in Beirut. The Orthodox Greek Committee of St. John's Hospital unveiled a white marble bust of an American missionary, Rev. Cornelius V. A. Van Dyck, M. D., D. D., L. H. D.
After Dr. Van Dyck's resignation of his professorship in the Syrian Protestant College, he could no longer, according to the rules of the Knights of St. John, attend the clinics of the German St. John's Hospital. But his heart was in medical work, as it was in Arabic Bible translation, and he offered his services to the Greek hospital which was sorely in need of his aid, And although his house was nearly two miles from that hospital, he drove there several times a week in a carriage sent by the hospital, and for years treated the sick and diseased, and from his own private funds built an airy ward to increase the capacity of the hospital. The Greek community, which fully appreciated his long, faithful and self-denying services, prepared this beautiful bust which stands in the open area of the quadrangle and was unveiled with imposing ceremonies. It was made of Carrara marble by an Italian sculptor. A great crowd of people was present, Greeks, Protestants, Mohammedans, Maronites, and Jews, and some very eloquent and beautiful addresses were made by Syrian scholars and physicians expressing their admiration of their friend, teacher, and benefactor.
Mr. William T. Stead of London has recently visited Constantinople with his eyes and ears open. He made a study of Robert College and all the American colleges, seminaries and schools in the empire and wrote to the Associated Press a letter which naturally made a sensation. He was shrewd enough to see the moral and intellectual benefits of this great system of Christian institutions and their uplifting influence among the varied population. But as a politician he looked through a politician's eyes at all this and saw in it a propagation of Free Republican ideas. [A change has come over Turkey in 1908-1909. No one will now fear to claim that American schools have had great influence in bringing about the new era of liberty in Turkey.] But he did not know that the American missionaries studiously avoid politics, living as they do under an absolute monarchy and that they pray for the Sultan and the "powers that be" that "are ordained of God," and enjoin obedience to the laws of the land. Such letters as that of Mr. Stead do no good to the work of Christian missionaries who are labouring for the spiritual welfare of the people and have no political object whatever, and, however well meant, they utterly misrepresent the real spiritual and moral aims of the whole body of missionaries and stir up official hostility. Fortunately the great body of the educated Turkish officials appreciate the good which has been done and not only favour the American schools but are glad to send their own children to them for education.
It is not often that a foreign missionary feels impelled to warn young Christian medical graduates against joining a medical mission. But a letter just received from Kingston, Canada, obliges me to speak out.
A young final-year student in medicine at Queen's Medical College, Kingston, Ontario, writes me, under date of January 11th that he and two other students have been invited by Dr. E----. "president of the White Cross Medical Missionary Alliance," to go with him as medical practitioners to Palestine, their fare to Palestine being paid by the Alliance; a complete outfit to be given them for going into the field of medical work, on arrival at Jericho, the headquarters of the mission ; a location for practice to be provided; a guarantee of plenty of work, for which they must accept pay in cash in all cases where patients can afford it, and otherwise accept labour, produce, various articles, etc. Dr. E----- also guaranteed $425 a month, and says that no doctor of those already in the work has yet made less than $75 a month. In return for these privileges, the young men are to agree to remain with the organization for two years, to give twenty-five per cent of their earnings to the society for that period, and to be subject to the Turkish government.
The young student asks whether the work will be fully as remunerative as Dr. E------ promises, and whether there is any danger of their being left in the lurch among a wild people. He explains that they have not been asked to go as missionaries in the true sense of the word. "Our only missionary work is to treat all who need it, on the above terms." He also adds that the doctor is taking with him twenty-five young graduates in medicine, and that the treasurer is Count C----- of Brooklyn, N.Y. The writer also says that his family friends wish some guarantee of the correctness of Dr. E----'s statements and also proof of the financial backing and the surplus funds of the society.
I have no knowledge of Dr. E---- or of the treasurer Count (who had evidently begun to count his chickens before they were hatched) but I know something of Jericho and the surrounding country, and therefore wrote the ingenuous medical student, dissuading him and all other medical students from entering on such an extraordinary undertaking. It is difficult to be patient with such a Quixotic scheme. Of all the spots on the face of the earth, Jericho would be the last one to be chosen as the headquarters of a paying medical mission. I have written to this young man:
"1. Jericho is the lowest village on earth, being nearly 1,300 feet below the level of the sea, and as low morally as it is physically.
"2. It is about the hottest place, has a pestilential climate, and from May to November is practically uninhabitable by white men.
"3. The entire population, according to Baedeker, is not more than 300, and, if they were equal to the peasants of Syria, could not support a single medical man.
"4. These Arabs of Jericho are of the lowest, most vacant and worthless type, a byword and a proverb in the whole land. They are theivish, lying, filthy, and morally degraded, poor, beggarly, and abject, lazy and half naked. Their highest aim is to dance around the tents of pilgrims and tourists and beg for a reward.
"5. There are two or three small hotels, used only in the tourist season, but the huts of the wild Arabs are abject and filthy. It is doubtful whether the entire population could raise five dollars in cash.
"6. As to the population accessible from Jericho and available to furnish paying patients, the Bedawin of the Ghor, or Jordan Valley, on the north; of the mountains of Moab on the southeast, and of the wilderness south of the Dead Sea are poor, predatory, and uncertain. These tribes are wild, migratory, living in black goat's hair tents. They are all experienced robbers and cutthroats. The Ghor Arabs yield to none in thievishness and rascality. To the west, it is eighteen miles to Jerusalem through a waste, howling wilderness, where it is never safe for a man to travel alone.
"7. As the object of the mission is to charge fees for medical practice and gain from twenty-five to seventy-five dollars a month for each doctor, it must be borne in mind that Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jaffa, Gaza, Nablus, Haifa, Nazareth, Tiberias, and Safed are already supplied with a large number of foreign medical missionaries, many of whom are forbidden to take fees, so that independent medical practitioners cannot earn their bread. Graduates from our medical college in Beirut find it next to impossible to earn a living in Palestine, as the people will not pay for what they can get for nothing.
"8. The proposition to send twenty-five or ten or five or even one medical missionary to Jericho as headquarters of a mission, which is to be supported by fees, strikes our medical men here as absurd.
"9. If any of your medical friends do actually decide to establish a ' White Cross Mission ' in Jericho, they would do well to provide themselves beforehand with coffins, as wood is not obtainable there, and they would hardly wish to be buried in the Bedawin style, and I take it for granted that they would succumb to the first summer heat and malarial' poison.
"10. Missions are generally established where there are men, at great centres of population, or where large numbers are accessible, but this is the first society to my knowledge to propose work in a 'howling wilderness.'
"What Dr. E----- proposes to do with twenty-five medical graduates I cannot imagine, The Turkish government will not allow Europeans to live among the Bedawin, as they suspect them of being military agents, fomenting rebellion against the government. And the Bedawin are virtually the only people there. It is incredible to me that the 'floater ' of this scheme should propose it, if he has actually been in Jericho.
"As a friend and as an American, not to say as a Christian I would warn you against involving yourself in such an undertaking. It could only end in disaster.
"There are hundreds of cities in China where the people swarm in thousands and hundreds of thousands, and you would have more actual medical practice in a week than you would have in five years in desolate Jericho.
"When King David sent his servants across the Jordan on a kindly errand, and the suspicious Hanan shaved off one-half of their beards, David sent word to them, 'Tarry at Jericho until your beards are grown.' I would recommend these young men to tarry in the United States until their beards are grown, or, at least, until some better field of labour is opened to them. When you can find men by the hundred thousand in other lands, why go to such a deserted spot as Jericho or even to Palestine, which is already overstocked with medical practitioners?"
I never received an answer to this letter and I never met Dr. E-----, but in 1903 I was informed that a man with his name was lecturing in Northern Pennsylvania on his adventures in the Holy Land.
February 14th I baptized a beautiful Druse maiden of a high Lebanon family, who had been ten years under instruction in Miss Jessie Taylor's school in Beirut. She gave the best evidence of a work of grace in her heart and intelligently took a bold stand for Christ.
The last week of the year I attended the funeral of another Druse girl, Dhiya el Kadi, of a once eminent family in Lebanon, whose father and grandfather were warm friends and pupils of Dr. Van Dyck. This delicate girl, a victim of consumption, lingered for weeks in growing infirmity and was visited by English and American ladies and Syrian Bible-women. Her whole conversation was of the love of Christ, She always asked me to pray with her. The father, who loved her tenderly, watched her ebbing strength with great agony. Her last words were those of trust in Christ and seeing Him as her Saviour. After her death the Druse sheikhs crowded into the house. The father sent for me to conduct the funeral. The Druses claimed the right to bury her. I told them it could make- no difference to her who buried her. I then read the Scriptures, made some remarks, and offered prayer. The crowd were silent and reverent, and they bore the frail body away to their burial-ground on the summit of the sand-dunes west of the city.
Two sudden deaths in the college from the use of firearms made a deep and sad impression on the community. Tutor John Mitchell, while cleaning a revolver, accidentally shot himself through the head (in October). The investigation instituted by Consul Ravendal proved this to be the case.
A student from Jerusalem, who had been greatly depressed and had written bitter things against himself, obtained a revolver, and in a fit of temporary mental disorder, took his own life.
As a contrast to this latter, we were called to conduct the funeral of one of the Lord's Syrian saints, Mrs. Lulu Araman, widow of Mr. Michaiel Araman. She was a pupil of the first girls' school in Syria, under Mrs. De Forest, from 1848 to 1852, and was one of the original eighteen members of the first evangelical church, founded in Syria in 1848. She laboured in the Beirut Girls' Boarding-School from 1861 to 1869. She was truly a mother in Israel, amiable, calm, trustful, and faithful in training her children. Her home was a beautiful testimony to the value of Christian education and her daughters follow her lovely Christian example in their well ordered households. The Lord raise up many such daughters of Syria to take her place.
Dr. Thomson, so long identified with the Syria Mission and famous for his great work, "The Land and the Book," used to quote the saying of old Yusef el Malty, a Maltese ship-chandler of early days in Beirut. Turkish officials had kept Dr. Thomson waiting for hours at the port and then disappeared, leaving word -for Dr. Thomson to come the next day. Old Yusef said, "Doctor, this, is a plenty patience country." So Dr. Daniel Bliss has found it. In 1870, after the college premises had been bought, a Moslem neighbour who owned a fig orchard within the college plot refused to sell. His family begged him to sell and move away from the neighbourhood of the great crowd of students but he would not yield. The college waited and waited, until, after tenty-nine years of patience, the heirs sold the fig orchard, the old walls were demolished and the college line straightened along the street.
In like manner, I waited eighteen years to secure the Misk property which was bought in 1905. It adjoined and overlooked our church, Sunday-school, and girls' seminary. Colonel Shepard gave the money to buy it. We had to wait eighteen years and then our patience was rewarded.
Our good secretaries at home sometimes ask more questions in a letter than we can answer in a dozen letters. Dr. Brown asks, "Are you not sacrificing evangelistic for institutional work?" I tried to reply:
1. That missionary institutions are the press, the theological seminary, translation of the Scriptures and good books, the preparation of commentaries, etc., the boys' and girls' boardingschools, and hospital work.
2. The evangelistic work is regular preaching in the churches and itinerating among the villages, distributing tracts, holding religious meetings, and personal work for individuals.
3. In Syria, we have four stations, Beirut, Lebanon and Bookaa, Sidon, and Tripoli. There are twelve ordained missionaries, one physician, one lay teacher, and one lay press manager, and one Free Church of Scotland missionary teacher and doctor. Five out of the twelve ordained missionaries are free lances, horseback missionaries, constantly moving about the fields of Sidon, Lebanon, and Tripoli. Three are tied up in the work of theological instruction in Beirut, doing also constant literary work in the press. Four are confined the most of the year in the boarding-schools in Sidon, Suk el Gharb, and Tripoli. The medical missionary, Dr. Harris, divides his time between hospital work in Tripoli and itinerating work in the interior. And with regard to those engaged in theological instruction, they are in a truly evangelical work. The training of native preachers is of vital importance and is the hope of the future Syrian church. The boarding-schools are the nurseries of the church and the effect wrought in moulding character and building up the Christian life by one year's continuous instruction in a boardingschool is worth more than five years' transient visits to scattered groups in the villages.
The real evangelistic work of the future is to be done by native evangelists and these can only be fitted for their work by large and systematic Bible study. One such preacher as Mr. Yusef Aatiyeh, now preaching in the Beirut church, is worth years of our time in training him. He has no peer as an Arabic preacher. Dr. Brown suggested that Dr. W. W. Eddy was leaving evangelistic work to enter upon the "institutional." But in fact, Dr. Eddy was giving six hours a day to the preparation of a commentary on the New Testament for which the native preachers and people of Syria have been waiting for years, and which will be a blessing to the Arabic reading races through all time. And in addition, he has a regular Arabic preaching appointment.
Teaching the Bible is evangelistic work. Translating, editing, and training theological students are only different forms of evangelistic work. And as the missions grow older and one thing after the other is handed over to the natives, the foreign missionaries, with their long experience and thorough training, will more and more confine themselves to the training of a native ministry and preparing helps for their work. There is a charm in the name "evangelistic" work, but there is just as great a charm in the same work done in the same spirit and by the same persons under a different name. Let us not say "institutional versus evangelistic work," but, "the institutional for the sake of the evangelistic work."
Then came another momentous question. We had written urging Dr. Brown to visit the Syria Mission and by personal conference aid in deciding the question he had raised as to our telescoping our four boys' boarding-schools into one and our three girls' boarding-schools into one or two. It was intimated from our transatlantic friends that secretarial deputations are expensive and should only be resorted to in case of pressing necessity. Whereupon I was moved to write a somewhat prolix defense of such visits, under the following heads
1. The secretary needs such a visit for his own information. No commander of an army can conduct a campaign ten thousand miles away by post and telegraph. . . . Secretaries need the information which comes through the eye and ear. Seeing is believing, and so is hearing.
2. The secretary should know the missionaries personally. Few missionaries can make the personal acquaintance of the secretary when home on furlough. The missionary may get a snap-shot at a secretary at the mission house in the whirl of business or meet him on the platform, but the secretary has little more leisure than a Constantinople porter would have to salute a friend while tottering under a five-hundred pound bale of merchandise.
3. It is impossible to grasp the great problems on the field without personal observation.
4. Such a visit would lighten the work at home and enable the secretary to decide intelligently and act promptly, when otherwise he must await lengthened and unsatisfactory correspondence.
5. The missions need it. Our missions are self- governing and justly so. But they need the personal counsel of men familiar with other missions in other lands. The Board is responsible to the churches for the right conduct of the missions and responsibility involves control, and control cannot be wisely directed without that personal knowledge which comes from personal intercourse.
6. It is not to be supposed that a pastor at home called to the secretaryship, however much he may have studied foreign missions, can grasp all the questions connected with Asiatic and African missions without a visit to the field.
7. The expense should not deter the Board from so important a service, The enhanced value of a secretary, sent out on such a tour, would more than compensate for the expense.
About thirty years ago, Professors Park of Andover and Hitchcock and H. B. Smith of Union Seminary visited us in Syria. They all agreed, as the result of their tour of Palestine, that the best possible post-graduate course for a student of the Book was a visit to the land of the Bible. And we may say that the best possible preparation for efficient work in the office of a secretary at home is a thorough visitation of the mission fields.
The Syria Mission was visited by Dr. R. Anderson, of the A. B. C. F. M., in March, 1844 and September 24, 1855; by Dr. N. G. Clark in 1871; Dr. F. F. Ellinwood of the Presbyterian Board in February, 1875; Dr. Arthur Mitchell in March 24, 1890; and Dr. A. J. Brown in April, 1902.
In the spring and summer of this year, after extended correspondence, the Foreign Missions Committee of the Free Church of Scotland deeded in fee simple, or rather in "wukf" simple, the entire property of that church in Shweir, Mount Lebanon, to the Board of Foreign Missions of the American Presbyterian Church. "Wukf " is the entail of property for religious or benevolent purposes, and the income of wukf property cannot be alienated. The deed of transfer of that property, consisting of manse, church, and boys' and girls' school buildings, is a curiosity. No Philadelphia lawyer could tie up property more exhaustively than has been done in this case.
1. Dr. W. Carslaw purchased the property.
2. He entailed it as wukf or religious foundation to Mr. Mitry Sulleeba as agent of the Free Church of Scotland.
3. The said Free Church agreed to spend the income of the property in keeping it in good repair.
4. If any of the said income remains, it goes to the Free Church to use what is necessary to promote its own interests.
5. After that, it goes to the poor, male and female, of the said church.
6. After them, to the poor of the Protestant Church of Shweir.
7. After them, to the poor of the Protestants in Lebanon.
8. After these, to the Protestant poor in all the world.
9.If all these perish, then to the poor generally of all the world, and then he shall have the oversight who shall be appointed by the spiritual head of all the world!
Now as to, the management of this wukf property, Dr. Carslaw, when deeding it to the Presbyterian Board, kept to himself its management while he is in his present position as missionary of the said Free Church.
The deed of transfer contains among other things the following:
"2. Wukf and dedicated, true and legal, which shall not be sold nor granted nor mortgaged, neither in whole nor in part but shall remain intact upon its foundations, flowing in its course, guarded according to the following conditions, mentioned in it, forever and ever, and forever, until God shall inherit the earth and all that is upon it, and He is the best of inheritors.
"3. He (Dr. Carslaw) wakkafed this to the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, well known and testified of, whose centre is 156 Fifth Avenue in the City of New York in the United States of America, for the purposes of this Board in preaching and teaching and works of mercy to the poor as long as God wills.
"4. After the passing away of this Board, this wukf shall revert to the Board which takes its place and assumes its functions and when this new Board fails in its oversight and functions, thewukf shall revert to the Protestant poor of Shweir, as stated in Nos. 1 to 9 above."
Fortunately, another clause states that "This wukf may be exchanged in whole or in part when necessary for what shall be of greater value to the wukf."
Dr. Carslaw still continues to engage in medical work, preaching and teaching in the boys' boarding-school. The school is, financially, nearly self-supporting.
In February I heard of the death of our dear friend, Dr. Charles S. Robinson, of New York. We spent junior year together in Union Seminary, and the intimacy then begun has never ceased. He was a loving friend and brother. When in Union, he supported himself and helped his family by writing articles for the magazines. I was amazed at the fecundity of his brain and the variety of his literary productions. His service to the whole Church in preparing "Songs for the Sanctuary" was invaluable. The book was a great success and sold by the hundred thousands. His profits were great and his gifts to the Church were great. The Memorial Church, 53d Street and Madison Avenue, was built chiefly from his personal gifts. The shadow of depression which settled upon him in his last months did not surprise me, when I remembered his intense mental activity for the forty-six years of our acquaintance. He should have the credit of having "set the pace" for all the modern "hymn" and "tune" books of the Protestant Church. His lectures on ancient Egypt were eloquent and fascinating and it is to be regretted that he did not live to complete his great work on Egypt. On my last visit to him in New York, he showed me a portly manuscript volume on Egypt, and said that he was at work on Volume II, and when finished it would be printed. It will not be long before we join him in singing the "Songs of Zion" in the upper heavenly Sanctuary.
I had some experience, as usual, this year with escaped monks In February, four young monastic novices escaped from the Papal Greek monastery, Deir el Mukhtiliis, near SIdon, and came to Beirut. They said they had become Protestants and abandoned the monastic order. They were being taught theology by an enlightened priest who wished to use the Bible as a text-book. There are thirty monks in that monastery, but when this class asked for Bibles, not one could be found but the folio copy on the chapel desk. So they sent to Beirut and bought Bibles, and a six months' course of Bible study landed them outside the narrow sacerdotal teachings of Rome in the full liberty of justification by faith in Christ. They soon made their escape from their prison walls, cast off their black robes, shaved their beards and have gone to work as Protestants, farmers, and labourers in whatever employment they could find. Their reports of the immoralities of the Syrian monks were shocking in the extreme and they said they felt that they had escaped from a veritable Sodom.
Another monk, a priest from the same sect, from Aleppo, professed to have become enlightened, fled to New York, was aided by Father O'Connor, studied in the Franco-American school in Springfield, then worked in a factory. But hard work was grievous to one trained to the indolent life of a Syrian priest. He knew no trade, had not sufficient knowledge of English to teach or to fit himself for preaching and fell into despair. The shrewd Romanists in New York offered him support and he abjured Protestantism and went back. When in New York he sent me an Arabic manuscript exposing the errors and immoralities of the Aleppo Romish clergy, which was printed in Egypt at his request and distributed in Syria. His case shows the hopelessness of a reform among the Oriental clergy. If they leave their office they are helpless. Their peculiar training or want of training unfits them for practical life.
When sincere men among them break away, as so many are doing in France and Rome, they are thrown at once upon charitable aid. Father O'Connor in New York has done a wonderful work in finding avenues for self-support for so many ex-priests. I always advise them to go to work as farmers, carpenters, of tailors and earn their bread by the sweat of their brows.
The monastic system is unnatural, unscriptural, and unsavoury. It is a curse to modern Syria. The best part of the fertile land of the Lebanon belongs to the monasteries and the peasants are their tenants. Mr. Butrus el Bistany, himself in early years being trained for a celibate life, used to say that in those days no one entered the monastic life except the half-witted or the avaricious, that is, fools or knaves: fools, who are too lazy to work, or knaves' who hope to be one day promoted to be abbots and appropriate the rich revenues to themselves. Some day a new order of things will come to Syria and the government will follow the example of Italy and confiscate all this monastic property and devote it to popular education. As it is, monasticism is the great barrier to the prosperity and development of the fair province of Mount Lebanon. For ages the monks and priests have extorted from the dying money, houses and lands, until the condition is becoming intolerable.
A letter to our mission stated that it was "better to build twenty churches at $20 each than one church at $400." We replied that the cost of a church has some relation to the cost of dwellings in the same place. On the Gaboon, West Africa, a native house or hut of reeds and thatch costs about $4, and a big hut to be used as a church from $10 to $30, chiefly in labour, as materials cost nothing.
In Syria, the half-naked Arabs of Jericho live in thatch huts, but the villagers of Syria and Palestine in stone houses, which cost from $100 to $200, or more, as timber is scarce and costly and the walls are double walls of hard limestone or trap rock. In Zahleh and the villages north and around Hamath, the houses are of adobe or sun-dried brick, but in all the villages over the land, the churches and mosques are built of stone, and a plain edifice, twice the size of a dwelling-house, to hold seventy-five to one hundred people sitting on mats on the floor, would cost about $400 or $500. The most of the churches and mosques in the cities are massive and expensive edifices, with high arched ceilings and beautiful columns, The suggestion of a missionary board that $20 churches be built is out of the question in Syria. The principle of strict economy is sound, but it can hardly imply that the Christians in Syria are to worship in "wood, hay, and stubble" houses, like the half-naked savages of Africa. A religious edifice here is supposed to be at least respectable, and, as a fact, almost all the modern churches in Syria of all sects have been built with foreign help. The American Board from 1850 to 1870 opposed the building of church edifices here. But when Dr. N. G. Clark came here in 1871 and saw the Beirut church building, he was greatly gratified and said, "You are right. Protestantism has come to stay." Of thatch and reed matting one could hardly say, "It has come to stay."
On Monday, October 2, 1899, at 3 P. m., a goodly company of foreign missionaries, Syrian friends, and employees of the American Press at Beirut assembled in the press room of the printinghouse to celebrate by appropriate religious exercises the inauguration of a new cylinder press. The old press, presented years ago by the American Bible Society, and used for printing the Arabic Scriptures, was showing the infirmities of age, and this new machine had just been set up and got ready for work.
After the benediction, Mr. Freyer requested the youngest missionary of the Presbyterian Church in Syria, who had arrived only that morning from the United States, Miss Rachel Tolles, of the Beirut Female Seminary, to turn on the steam and set the new Bible press in motion, and the freshly printed sheets of the first chapter of Genesis were distributed to the visitors present as mementoes of this memorable occasion.
Among the varied events of this year were the visits of Rev. Dr. G. J. Nichols of Binghamton and Dr. Richards of Plainfield; a letter from Sir Arthur Cotton in England, aged ninety-six, who was writing a book and wrote to ask about Asaad es Shidiak. Sir Arthur was in Syria in 1832, the year of my birth. I wrote him, "Truly the Lord has been good to you in prolonging your life and vigour to such a good old age, like a cedar of Lebanon bringing forth fruit in old age."
This year the British Syrian Mission took up the Shemlan Girls' Boarding-school, owing to the disbanding of the "Society for Promoting Female Education in the East."
Mrs. Date and Miss Emily Bird visited Rishmeiya, where Mr. Bird had a school and a preaching service. The women and girls were deeply impressed. I spent Sunday there with Mr. Bird in August and on Sunday night, after the service, as we sat in the open air in the moonlight, a young girl about fifteen, who is lame, said to Mr. Bird, "We are so glad Mrs. Dale and Miss Bird came here. I had never dreamed that there were such women in the world. I was astonished at their words. They did not talk on the frivolous subjects we women talk about. They told us of heavenly things and holy living. I feel that a change is coming over me. I am not what I was. Let them come again and soon." She is now learning to read with great zeal, and next month Mrs. Dale is going again to spend a fortnight.
In December the winter rains set in with unusual violence. The Lebanon gorges, which are mostly dry in summer, were filled with boiling, roaring torrents' hurrying to the sea. The famous Dog River rose in freshet and swept away the massive stone wagon bridge and the railway iron bridge below it, just at the mouth of the river where it empties into the sea.
As the year closed, we were all anxiously watching the resistless progress of heart disease' which was gradually weakening Dr. Eddy's hold on life. From hour to hour he was expecting the summons and ready to meet his Lord.
1900 - Rev. W. W. Eddy, D. D., a beloved brother and man of God, entered into rest on January 26th, aged seventy-four years. Like a shock of corn fully ripe, after a life of arduous labours and faithful witnessing for Christ, he is summoned to go up higher.
Having known him for forty-four years as a fellow missionary, I am glad to testify to the pure and noble life he has led.
Wm. Woodbridge Eddy was born in Penn Yan, N. Y., December 18, 1325, his father, Rev. Dr. Chauncey Eddy, being at that time pastor of the Presbyterian church. His father and mother had been accepted as missionaries of the American Board in 1823, but ill health had prevented their going. The father then prayed that God would raise up one of his children to take his place, and his son, William, grew up with the idea that God would enable him to go as a substitute for his father. He prepared for college under Dr. Chester in Saratoga in 1841, graduated from Williams College in 1845, taught school for two years, graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 1850, married Miss Hannah Maria Condit of Oswego, N. Y., in November, 1851, and then sailed for Smyrna on the bark Sultana, arriving in Beirut January 31, 1852.
He laboured in Aleppo four years, until 1856, then one year in Kefr Shima, until September, 1857, when he removed to Sidon. In that extensive field he laboured for twenty-one years, and then came to our help in Beirut where I was intimately associated with him for eighteen years.
Among his fellow passengers on the Sultana were Dr. Lobdell of Mosul, Mr. Morgan of Antioch, and Mr. Sutphen of Trebizond. Of all the missionaries whom be and his wife met on their arrival in Smyrna and Beirut, only Mrs. Dr. Van Dyck of Beirut and Mrs, S. H. Calhoun of Natal, South Africa, still remain.
In 1875 the University of New York conferred upon him the degree of D. D.
In 1858 his father and mother visited Syria. They made tours with their son to the different outstations of the Sidon field, attending communion services, the father speaking through the son as interpreter to the numerous congregations. He would often exclaim, as did Simeon of old, that now he was ready to depart because he had realized his prayer and hope. He would have rejoiced with still greater joy could he have anticipated that three of his grandchildren would be colleague missionaries with their parents: Rev. Wm. King Eddy for twenty years in Sidon, Mrs. Harriette M. Hoskins, from 1876 to 1888 in Sidon, in Zahleh from 1838- to 1900 and since then in Beirut, Dr. Mary Pierson Eddy, who came in December, 1893, to be a general medical missionary, itinerating in different parts of the field, but connected with Beirut station.
After an illness of more than four months, struggling with the shortness of breath resultant from heart disease, be gently fell asleep on January 26th, in the early morning. His bedchamber was peace. His mind retained its great vigour and activity to the last. All the members of the mission were present at his funeral, having come by sea and land, and all excepting his son and son-in-law took part, with the Syrian pastors, in the funeral service, which was attended by a great concourse of natives and foreigners, with students of the college and the American, English, and German boarding-schools. The pall-bearers were eight American and English young men and eight Syrian brethren. The Arabic address was by H. H. Jessup and the English by Dr. George A. Ford.
My love for Dr. Eddy was that of a brother. I had known him in joy and in sorrow, in labours oft, in journeying, in teaching the theological students, in the Church and Sunday-school, in the business management of the press.
For fifteen years he gave the best of his strength to the Arabic Commentary on the New Testament which was completed July 29, 1899, just three weeks before the stroke of heart disease which laid him aside from active labour. The commentary was compiled from the best modern works and is eminently practical, spiritual, and homiletical and adapted to the needs of the evangelical communities in the East. It is in five volumes octavo, comprising in all 3,033 pages. Dr. Eddy was scholarly, accurate, judicious, a safe counsellor, and a thorough missionary in the best sense of the word and in every fibre of his being. The spiritual impression of his godly life will long remain in this land. He was studious, yet practical; sound, level-headed; modest, yet bold as a lion.
His English style was clear, concise, and ornate. His handwriting was like steel engraving and it was a comfort to receive his letters. One can hardly claim that a man is known by his handwriting, as several of our most eminent missionaries have had a handwriting which was simply execrable, but there was a correspondence between the clearness of his handwriting and the classic purity of his style.
He was a builder. I remember seeing him at one time on the steep zinc roof of the Khiyam church near Mount Hermon, repairing the leaks in the blazing sun, and at another overhauling a gang of masons and carpenters in the summer heat in Sidon, repairing and rebuilding the old Abela house for the girls' boarding-school. He proved the truth of the maxim that a foreign missionary must be a many-sided man, and that no gift nor accomplishment is lost in the life of one who would be all things to all men and make his work most effective.
That church in Khiyam was the occasion of serious discussion in the mission. And the same question arose with regard to other churches roofed with zinc or corrugated iron. Why build roofs of materials which the people themselves cannot use nor repair? The Syrian churches of the old sects arc generally arched with vaulted roofs of solid masonry with earthen roofs which they can roll and keep in repair. Owing to the rapid development of the country and the introduction of French-tiled roofs in the small villages, there would be no need today of a missionary's doing what Dr. Eddy did forty years ago in El Khiyam.
Early in February, through the earnest efforts of American and English ladies, led by Mrs. Jessup, and the Syrian Y. M. C. A., a Christian temperance reading-room was opened in Beirut to furnish a counter attraction to the young men of the city who would otherwise be drawn into the saloons and gambling hells of the city. It has proved a great success, and what remains to make it a permanent blessing is a building for the Y. M. C. A. and reading-room which shall be designed especially for this object.
In the readjustment following the death of Dr. Eddy, Rev. F. E. Hoskins, of Zahleh, was transferred to Beirut. Mr. Yusef Aatiyeh, the eloquent and earnest preacher of the Beirut church, was obliged by reasons of health to leave for Tripoli and Rev; Asaad Abdullah was called to his place.
In February a young Moslem convert, Haj Kasim, from M'arrat Naaman, north of Hamath, came to Beirut seeking work and finally left for Egypt. The same month we received into the Beirut church seven Moslem and Druse maidens, all of whom were intelligent Christians.
In October Mrs. Gerald F. Dale began her work in the distant outpost of Ras Baalbec, instructing and visiting the women and girls of that far-off and uncouth region. Hardship, exposure, the vicinity of the notorious robbers and sheep thieves of the clang of Dendesh and Harfoosh, and the annual visits of the nomad Aneyzy Arabs have made the villagers hardy, rough, and brave. Mr. Dale opened the way there for a school and won their confidence, and in spite of monks and nuns and every species of malicious persecution, a few stand firm and the school has greatly prospered.
The mission boarding and day-schools were all increasing in numbers, in financial income and in influence in the land.
Dr. Mary P. Eddy, having been physically prostrated by months of constant watching at her father's bedside, was ordered, on furlough to America February 27, 1900.
Five theological students graduated at Suk el Gharb, November 7th, and went out to their fields of labour.
November 12th, by the advice of our physician, Mrs. Jessup and I took the Austrian steamer Helios for Haifa to spend a season at Hotel Pross on Mount Carmel. There is no more restful place in Syria. The scenery is Inspiring and the absolute quiet of that German hotel and its clean, wholesome appointments give one just the rest and refreshment that the weary in mind and body need. We remained the first day after landing at Hotel Carmel in the German colony, and there were brought into contact with the Babites. An American lady, who became enamoured of this system of mysticism, was at the hotel, and Captain Wells, a chaplain from the Philippines, had come there for the express purpose of keeping her out of that abyss of religious platitudes. We spent four and a half hours in conversation with her. She could give no reason for following Abbas Effendi, excepting a kind of hypnotic fascination. Abbas Effendi's two brothers, Mohammed Ali And Bedea, were then in a bitter quarrel with him, and Mrs. said that Abbas feared for his life. While we were talking, a tall youth with a long Persian coat passed the door and stopped. She called out, "There he is, that awful creature. He is trying to kill Abbas, and is a spy trying to hear what we are saying."
The next day, by invitation, I called with Captain Wells on Abbas Effendi. I published in the Outlook a full account of my conversation with him in Arabic. He is an elderly and venerable man, very similar to scores of venerable Moslem and Druse sheikhs I have met in this land. I can understand how an intelligent Moslem might be attracted to Babism, on account of its liberality towards other sects, as contrasted with the narrow conceited illiberality of Islam. But I cannot understand how a true Christian can possibly exchange the liberty with which Christ makes us free and the clear, consistent plan of salvation through a Redeemer, for the misty and mystical platitudes of Babism. It has helped in breaking up the solidity of Islam in Persia, but is becoming more and more of a "sect." It may result in good if it spreads among the Sunni Moslems-of Turkey and Egypt as it has among the Shiahs of Persia.
An extensive movement towards Babism, or the doctrine of the Mystic Shadhilees, would do more than anything else to break tip Pan-Islamism.
In March, 1901, Rev. Mr. Bray of Wisconsin dined with Mohammed Ali, and Bedea Effendi, brothers of Abbas. They showed him the tomb of their father, Beha Allah, who they insisted was an incarnation of the Holy Ghost. "What," said Mr. Bray,"is this the tomb of a dead Holy Ghost?" Mohammed Effendi was perplexed and made no reply.
Any religious system which depends on the life of one man or family must tumble one day from its foundation of sand.
I left Abbas Effendi with the painful feeling that he was accepting divine honours from simple-minded women from America and receiving their gifts of gold, without a protest or rebuke.
I hear that his younger brother, Bedea, has become reconciled to him, but I would not guarantee that his main object is not to gain his share of the money which is in the possession of Abbas Effendi. It is not long since he was threatening to kill Abbas and assassination is an old fashion of Persian fanatics.
In December an American woman was brought ashore from a steamer and placed in St. John's Hospital in Beirut in a state of collapse. When sufficiently revived to speak, she said she was Mrs. - of Chicago, and had left contrary to her husband's request to visit the Bab Incarnation, Abbas Effendi of Acre. She was literally starved through seasickness, and before her death, she moaned and mourned her folly in leaving her husband and home to visit the "Master" Abbas. An autopsy revealed perforation of the coats of the stomach. The poor woman had taken this long journey alone and must have suffered untold agonies, ignorant of the language and helpless through seasickness in a winter voyage. Yet to what lengths of exposure will religious delusion drive people! This Holy Land is the happy hunting-ground of cranks and visionaries of all stripes, Oriental and Occidental.
One of the recent woman pilgrims to the shrine of Abbas Effendi was an English-speaking woman who stated that she had been successively an Agnostic, Christian Scientist, and Theosophist and now was going to try Abbasism. Palestine, whether it ever witnesses the turning of the Jews from Europe and America to their old fatherland or not, is certainly now witnessing the "turning of the cranks."
1900 - After forty-four years of residence in Syria, I cheerfully bear my testimony to the many attractive traits in the character of the Syrian people of the Arab race.
1. Their hospitality. This is proverbial and it is real. Whether among the Bedawin Arabs of the desert, or the dwellers in cities and villages, they are kind and liberal in entertaining strangers. And they do it with great kindness and native courtesy even among the very poor. On great occasions, such as weddings or betrothals, they invite literally the whole village to a feast. If Europeans, in travelling, reach their village, the best house will be put at their disposal.
2. Their fondness for their children. No people are more fond of children, and since education is available, they are all anxious to educate their children. And the Syrian children are very bright, attractive, and lovable, and will compare favourably with the children of any other people.
3. Their aptness to learn. You would be pleased to hear the little Arab boys and girls recite by heart whole chapters of the Bible. Their memories are remarkable.
4. They are a naturally religious people, and a man without a religion of some kind would be looked upon as a strange creature. And they believe in divinely inspired books, whether the Koran or the Bible.
5. The literature of the Arab race is very extensive and beautiful. Their poetry is exquisite and their proverbs have no superior in any language. The Arabic language is capable of great eloquence and great nicety of expression and the people are very fond of it.
6. Many of their educated men, trained in the missionary colleges and schools, are now filling high positions as editors, clerks, business managers, physicians, preachers, and teachers in all parts of this empire, in Egypt, and in North Africa.
7. They have caught the enterprising spirit of Western civilization and am starting out in a new Phoenician migration to the ends of the earth, seeking to better their condition; and at some time in the future the more solid and reliable part of them will come back to benefit and elevate their country.
8. The evangelical churches scattered throughout Syria have many members whose pure and consecrated lives are a living witness to their sincerity and faith. Thousands of the children are in Christian schools, in preparation for future usefulness.
9. Some of these Syrian believers have been an honour to the Church of Christ.
Dr. Samuel Jessup and his daughter Fanny went June 11, 1900, by invitation of a friend, to the Paris Exposition, and took with them a box of Arabic Scriptures to be given to the Arabicspeaking visitors from Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Egypt. At this time, also, Arabic Testaments were given freely to the hundreds of emigrants going from Syria to North and South America.
June 20th our daughter Amy was married to Rev. Paul Erdman.
They had been appointed missionaries to Korea. All preparations were made for their journey to the far East, when suddenly there came another voice, not from the cloud, but from under the sea, "Assigned to Syria," and the dear children were given back to us and to Syria. The Board had come to see our need of reinforcement since Dr. Eddy's death, and accordingly reversed their former decision.
Just eighteen months afterwards, the dear daughter in giving life lost her own, and her monument stands among the olive trees east of Sidon where she had begun her missionary life. Only a parent can understand the anguish of that hour when we saw her life ebbing away. So beautiful, so vigorous, so well fitted by nature and grace to honour her Lord and Saviour by loving, faithful service in Syria, she had won all hearts, and now so suddenly summoned away! We were indeed stricken and smitten, but found it sweet and comforting to say, "Thy will be done." She was His and He called her home.
"That life is long which answers life's best end" and she hath done what she could to serve the Master in the land of her birth. May her son, Frederick Erdman, live to witness for Christ in Syria or some other mission as his Uncle Frederick is doing in Persia!
On April 14th a remarkable body of Christian tourists, known as "Christian Endeavour Party," led by Dr. Wilbur Chapman and Dr. Shaw, left Beirut for Constantinople, the whole company singing in chorus, "God be with you till we meet again," and as we rowed away to the shore, with such a farewell, we felt as if a part of our own family were leaving us. On Good Friday, Dr. Shaw preached in the American Church and in the evening, the Syrian Christian Endeavourers gave a reception to the hundred tourists and some forty resident Americans and English in the Memorial Sunday-School Hall. After a social reunion and simple refreshments, addresses were made by Drs. Shaw, Chapman, and Countermine and responded to by Syrians and missionaries. The opening prayer was offered by a missionary son, Dr. Ford of Sidon, and the benediction by a missionary grandson, Rev. Ezekiel Scudder of the Arcot Mission in India, Time would fail me to mention the names of all the good and great men in that goodly company. They' brought a blessing to us and to our Syrian friends and will, no doubt, carry a blessing to their homes.
In June, 1900, two men with their wives, converts from Islam, passed through here, en route for Egypt. They were brought to accept Christ through their godly Protestant neighbours in an interior city and after long probation were received as brethren. We obtained passage for them on a steamer bound for Alexandria, and they went to their new home in Egypt, where they engaged at once in self-supporting work and gave great satisfaction by their sincerity and steadfastness. The old mother of one of the women insisted on coming with them to Beirut and after they sailed, returned to Damascus.
In order to relieve the minds of the brethren who sent them on to us and who feared they might be prevented from sailing, I wrote a letter to one of them as follows:
"The goods you forwarded to us came safely and we shipped them to Egypt by the khedivial steamer June 30th to our business agent. The large bale, which was found too old for shipment we returned to the Damascus agent to be forwarded to you. We have hopes of great profit from the portion sent to Egypt."
The reason for writing in this commercial style was that an Arabic letter giving the literal facts might have been read by the postal police, and brought some of the parties concerned into trouble.
- Next >>