THE WHITENING FIELDS (1901-1902)
SHALL A MISSIONARY RESIGN AT 70?
MY elder brother, judge Win. H. Jessup, reached his seventy-first birthday on January 29th, and I wrote him a letter of congratulation. "It is a great matter and a good one, too, to have lived during the last half of the nineteenth century and to see the opening of the twentieth. We cannot expect to journey far down into the new century on this little globe, but we shall see greater things than these in that land to which we are going. Last year you were seventy and next year, D. V. I shall be seventy. President Dwight of Yale, your classmate, Dr. Munger, and President Daniel C. Gilman, old Yale friends of mine, resigned at seventy. But how can a lawyer or a missionary resign at seventy? Can a sea-captain resign when two-thirds across the Atlantic, because he is seventy? We can throw off certain burdens upon younger shoulders, but to give up all work is out of the question. Our missionary patriarch at Constantinople, Dr. Elias Riggs, is now ninety and still does effective literary work. Daniel Bliss, of the college, is in his seventy-seventh year and so is Mr. Bird of Abeih. Yet Dr. Bliss as president fulfills his college duties well and Mr. Bird can itinerate in Lebanon and preach with great fervour and power. Last Sunday I preached in Arabic at the college at 9 A. m., then in English in the Anglo-American Church at it A. M., and at 3 P. M., went to the Sunday-school, and then attended Christian Endeavour consecration meeting from 4: 30 to 6 P. M., and did not feel 'Mondayish' the next day.
"Dr. Cuyler did right to resign that large pastorate at seventy and be thus in a quiet way able to serve the Church at large. Yet how easy it is to say what other people ought to do, and how hard for us to stop work or even to go at half speed, when our heads are white, our step begins to be unsteady, and our knees and feet refuse to obey orders from headquarters!
"The 'line of fire' is fast working down to 1830, the year of your birth, and 1832. Of mine; the men who stand in front of us are growing fewer and feebler and the shafts are flying thicker than ever, and ere long our old neighbours will say of us, 'See, they are now in the front; their turn will come next!'
"But why should we not work on? If we live temperately, eat moderately, work steadily, sleep soundly, exercise regularly, never worry, and calmly and lovingly trust in our God and Saviour, we ought to work on right up to the gates of glory."
And he did. The following January 16, 1902, he attended an evening religious meeting, returned home, and retired, and before sunrise was suddenly summoned by his Lord. A cablegram brought me the news while the mission was in session in my study,
The week before he had delivered before the Bar Association of Scranton, composed of some of the most eminent lawyers and judges of Pennsylvania, an elaborate address on the relations of capital and labour and the legality of strikes, which was pronounced to be one of the best presentments of the legal aspects of the question ever written, It was published and widely circulated. He was as prominent in the Church as in the law, a zealous and successful Bible class teacher, a lover of the Church, the Sunday-school, and the family altar. By his death, brother Samuel and I alone remain of the five brothers in our family, and yet it was thought that an early grave awaited us both in the distant land of Syria.
February 13th Mrs. Jessup and I were returning on horseback from Sidon to Beirut. The horses were of the kind that had "seen their fast days," and although the sheikh of the horses in Sidon had assured us of their superior qualities, we had a laborious time in reaching the river Damur, half-way to Beirut. Muleteers whom we met assured us that we need not go around by the bridgv, as the stream was low and easily forded above its mouth near the seashore. I rode ahead and Mrs. Jessup followed. Suddenly, when near the middle of the swift, deep current, I heard a sound, and looking around, saw Mrs. Jessup's horse prostrate in water and she lying in the stream. I sprang from my horse and rushed back through two feet of water and slipping on a boulder, fell headlong into the river; but in a moment I was up, and seizing her hand, helped her out with one hand, leading the two horses with the other until we reached the north shore. There we found a little room nearly empty, and proceeded to dry our clothes in the hot sun, sitting barefoot while we ate our lunch. As our warm woollen wraps and waterproofs were in the saddle-bags, we made a partial change, and rode on to Beirut. Providentially, instead of a cold north wind, we had a dead calm and a blazing sun which prevented our taking cold. I had travelled over that road for forty years but never met with such an accident before.
It is well known that modern Islam, like the papacy, believes the traditions to be of equal authority with the sacred volume. The Moslem traditions, sayings of the Prophet and his doings, etc., are embodied in several ponderous and tedious volumes, full of puerilities and impurities, so that respectable Moslems are ashamed of them. The Shiah Moslems of Persia reject the traditions. The Sunnites, on the contrary, accept them and swear by them. These latter are the Orthodox sect, but of late, many of their leading sheikhs have become alarmed at the use made of their traditions by Christian writers and are demanding an expurgated edition of the Hadeeth. They will find it impossible to agree as to the true and false traditions. In all the ages of Islam, a bitter controversy has been waged as to which passages of the Koran are abrogated, and which are not. If all the false traditions are weeded out, there will not be much left. The Arabs tell a story of Dr. Thomson, that soon after his arrival in Syria he tried to eat a ripe prickly pear (the luscious fruit of the giant cactus). Finding it full of woody seeds, he began to pick them out and when he got them all out, there was nothing left but the skin.
And yet modern Islam is moulded by the Hadeeth more than by the Koran, and a thousand customs and superstitions, passing as sound in doctrine by the Moslem world, rest entirely on the Hadeeth, just as the unscriptural papal doctrines of Mariolatry, Immaculate Conception, Transubstantiation and Papal Infallibility, etc., rest entirely on Romish tradition.
In March another Moslem convert appeared, an ingenuous young man, who was longing to breathe the air of religious liberty. We wrote to Egypt with regard to him, as Egypt is a refuge for the oppressed, and although private family persecution is the same everywhere, there is no religious liberty for Moslem converts in Turkey, while in Egypt, the government, as such, does not persecute.
A convert of another type appeared in April, a Benedictine monk of fine education and musical talents, named jean. He was a good Semi tic scholar and a remarkable organist. I gave him a letter to Father James A. O'Connor of New York, so well known as a Protestant "usher" of Romish priests into the Protestant fold, asking him to give him aid in securing a place as organist in some American city. Having a good profession as organist, he seemed far more hopeful than the ordinary run of ex-priests who ask to be fed, clothed, and sent to America at our expense, a request which we invariably decline.
In April, 1901, we were visited by the "Riggs Party" of American ministers and laymen, among whom were Professor Riggs, Dr. Merle Smith, Mr. Ammidon, Dr. and Mrs. Maltbie Babcock, and others. Such visits are the oases in the life of a Syrian missionary and are always refreshing and inspiring. This patty embraced a larger number than usual of refined and consecrated men and women whom it was a privilege to meet. Dr. Maltbie Babcock I was especially anxious to meet. His father, Henry Babcock, then of Truxton, New York, and his Uncle John, were schoolmates of mine in Montrose in 1846, and I afterwards visited them when they were settled in business in Syracuse. Those two brothers were the means of teaching me in one lesson how to swim. We were out in a flat-bottomed boat, fishing on Jones' lake, near Montrose. About a hundred feet from the shore, a dead tree loomed up from the water which was quite. deep. The boys asked me to lay bold of a broken limb of the tree and draw up the boat and lash it to the trunk. I reached out and the boat began to move away. Down I went into the deep water and the boat, under the impulse, was now far from me. I turned about in the water and swam towards the boat without an effort, although I had frequently before that time tried in vain to learn.
When Dr. Maltbie called on us in Beirut, I told him this story and of his father's and uncle's fondness for music, and with Mrs. Jessup at the piano, we sang familiar hymns and songs with great comfort. His clear, sweet voice reminded me of his lamented father.
He preached in the college chapel Sunday, April 21St. In the afternoon was a full meeting of the Christian Endeavour Society. On Friday evening, April 26th, a reception was given to the Riggs party and other travellers, among whom was Dr. Newman Smyth and my old friend of 1855, Titus B. Meigs of New York. After several addresses had been made Mr. J. Alling of Rochester announced, on behalf of the Riggs party, a gift of $1,500 for a new printing machine for our press, and $200 for the Zahleh and Sidon stations.
The next morning we all went down to the port and accompanied that party of beloved and noble friends to the French steamship Equateur, little dreaming that we should see the loved face of Dr. Babcock no more. Not long after came the startling news of his death in the Naples Hospital, and we mingled our tears with the tears of thousands of Christian people in America, who sympathized in a common sorrow and bereavement.
Years ago, Dr. Washburn telegraphed me from Cairo. The envelope came addressed, "Jessup American Machinery," a new way of spelling missionary. When one thinks of the multiplicity of duties devolving upon a missionary, the title seems not inappropriate. There are wheels within wheels and revolutions without number, and the wonder is that with translation, editing, importing, accounting, preaching, teaching, itinerating, visiting, the machinery does not give out and the men die prematurely. But for the oil of grace freely-supplied to the running gear, no man could survive it long.
One or the most epoch making books of the last decade of progress is "The Emancipation of Woman," by judge Kasim Beg Amin, counsellor of the court of appeals in Cairo, Egypt, and a second work, "The New Woman." This brilliant author and judge was one of the lights of the New Egypt, and a broadminded, liberal man, but died suddenly April, 1908, aged forty-two years. The following extracts from the book will show that the Moslem world is going to be roused from its slumber of ages by its own sons.
Sir William Muir in writing to me under date of May 15, 1901, quotes from a letter addressed to him by a correspondent as follows:
"'…..I am forwarding an Arabic book which will be of interest to you. It is causing a great sensation in Moslem circles. Its author, Kasim Beg Amin, of Cairo, is a well-known Moslem counsellor of the court of appeals. In 1889 he wrote a book called "Tahrir at Mir'at" advocating the emancipation of the women of Egypt, their education, and admission into the same rights and privileges as European women enjoy. It raised a perfect storm of opposition, the Ulema and Fikaha, the bigoted and ignorant section of the community, being especially bitter in their attacks on the book and its author. They accused him of being an unbeliever, an enemy of Islam, and guilty of propagating ideas contrary to the precepts of the Koran. In reply to these denouncements and in justification of his views, he has just published a second book, called "Al Mir'at el Jadidah," or "The New Woman." In the preface he gives the sheikhs of the Azhar such a proof of his mettle as they are not likely to forget soon, every word he writes is so true: and "to add to their consternation, the mufti and other enlightened leaders of Islam in Cairo are inclined to support these revolutionary views."
What Kasim Beg advocates is the training of the coming generation to take that place in the home and social circle which the woman in Europe occupies. He says if this is accomplished, and the woman instead of being the slave of the man, becomes his equal, his companion, friend and counsellor, the manager of his house, the educator and trainer of his children, Kasim Beg is certain that the movement will be one of the greatest events that has happened in the history of Egypt.
"The principal obstacle to the education of woman is, without doubt, the state of seclusion in which she is condemned to-day to live. While this custom prevails nothing can be accomplished."
The author of these books shows that the veil and separation of men and women are not creations of the Koran, but have been enjoined because they have been thought to have an extraordinary influence on morality. The result he proves to be entirely the opposite, and he proceeds:
"Here, too, as elsewhere, the charm of prohibiting produces a result contrary to its object. Humiliating to the woman, detrimental to her health and morals, wounding the dignity of man himself in the sense of the reciprocal distrust which attaches to them, it has degraded our customs, and condemns our primitive precautions, which are repulsive to every cultivated mind.
"If we raise woman by giving her education and liberty, we may be able to change the whole history of Egypt, and possibly of all the East. This is a question of life and death for us, and for all Mussulmans, because the misfortune of the East is not, in my opinion, a religious problem as generally understood. That does not mean to say that our religion has not undergone a deformation which requires some reforms. But if our religion has been degraded it is because our character has been lowered. The great subject - the subject of subjects-is in connection solely or principally with the education of woman.
"We cannot seriously change our social state before changing that of our family. Religious and moral instruction, which are so generally extolled and praised by us as a remedy for our misfortune, would not produce the desired effect. It is not sufficient alone that grain should be good in order to germinate; it requires also to light upon favourable soil. But this favourable soil will be always lacking as long as woman is unable to prepare the future welfare of her children. A common saying among us is: ' Woman should never leave her home till borne from it to her grave.'
"The changes which I would urge upon my countrymen are:
"1. Let the women be educated.
"2. Accord to them the liberty of their acts, their thoughts, and their sentiments.
"3. Give to marriage its dignity by adopting, as its base, the reciprocal inclination of both parties, which is impossible if they do not see each other before marriage.
"4. Make regulations in regard to the husband's right of repudiation; give the same right to the wife. Make it in all cases a solemn act which cannot validly take place except before a tribunal, and after having been preceded by an attempt at conciliation.
"5. Prohibit polygamy by law."
In one passage the author exclaims, "Why is it, my brethren of Islam' that I cannot allow my own brother to see the face of my wife? Why do we never trust one another or trust our women? Is it because we are inferior to the Christian nations of Europe and America whose women go unveiled and are trusted and honoured? Are we so degraded that no one can trust another?
Why do we boast of the virtue of our women and at the same time claim that they can only be kept so by the force of watchmen, the strength of locks and bolts, and the height of our walls?
Is it not strange that not a man among us trusts his wife no matter how long she has been married? Is it not a shame that we imagine that our mothers, daughters, and wives do not know how to protect their own honour? Is all this suspicion consistent with our own self-respect?
"Our only relief is in family training an the moral and intellectual education of our girls."
In speaking of polygamy, he is very eloquent and severe. He says, "Polygamy produces jealousy, hatred, intrigue, crimes innumerable, and great suffering. My critics claim that women in the hareems are happy. How do they know? Have they any statistics of hareem life?
On August 12, 1901, the second conference of Christian workers in the Turkish Empire was conducted in Brummana, Mount Lebanon, by Rev. F. B. Meyer of London. Mr. Meyer's presence was inspiring. He spoke twice a day for seven days, and missionaries from all parts of the empire occupied the rest of the time. It was a season of heart-searching, of uplifting' and new self-dedication to Christ. I took full notes of his addresses and translated them all into Arabic for our weekly Neshrah.
A part of our company had been travelling before the conference along the upper backbone range of Lebanon and ascended to the summit of Jebel Sunnin, 8,600 feet above the sea. On that day, we at Aleih and Brummana were enveloped in thick clouds and fog. On their arrival we asked them how they succeeded in climbing the heights of Sunnin on that cloudy day. They, replied, "Clouds? We had no clouds. We were above the clouds and saw the fleecy masses far below us. We were in a cloudless sky. We could see the Cedar Mountains on the north, Hermon on the south, and all the high ranges. Only you, who were lower down, were in clouds and darkness."
So at Brummana we felt that for a season we were above the clouds, high up in the clear sunshine of the Saviour's presence. The Lord bless Frederick B. Meyer!
His visit will never be forgotten. His teachings will be reechoed along the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, the Orontes, the Jordan, and the Nile. He has left seed thoughts which will germinate and bring forth blessed fruit on the plains of Galatia and Cilicia, of Syria and Palestine, and in the fertile soil of Egypt.
Among the features of this conference was a question box, in which about one hundred answered the question, "What is the ideal missionary? In more than one instance sanctified common sense was held up as the threefold essential. One, whose ideal, like George Fox in his leather suit, preferred the plain and practical, wrote briefly, (1) A warm heart. (2) A hard head. (3) A thick skin."
With another, it was the case of "right relationship (1) with God, as loyal ambassadors; (2) with others, by the exercise of tact and common sense; (3) with oneself, by observing in all physical and intellectual matters a due proportion between work and relaxation, so as neither to burn out nor rust out."
Other fundamental requisites were an adequate knowledge of the language; knowledge of the problems of his field, a trained and experienced mind; one who cultivates his mind to the best of his power; mighty in the Scriptures, fully acquainted with the Word of God; thoroughly acquainted with the Bible, history, human nature, and especially his own self; giving constant thought to whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report; having an experimental knowledge of the Scriptures and of the way of salvation; sure of the ultimate triumph of the Gospel. He knows how to set other people to work.
I. Surrender of the will; desiring not to be ministered unto but to minister, emptied of self; a man with a single purpose, to glorify God; unadvertised self-denial.
2. Filled with the spirit, and much in prayer and in intercession on behalf of others; in constant communion with the Lord. A sent one, ever about his Father's business; a witness to what the Holy Spirit has shown him of the Lord Jesus; a strong belief that God will have all men to be saved; such a belief in the possibilities of human nature that he will never be discouraged; ever striving to find the angel in the rough block of marble; looking always on the bright side of people, events, and circumstances; with God's love shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost till His love stream over all barriers and covers all for whom Christ died; a love to Christ so deep in the heart that it will make him tender, patient, forgiving, and winning to all; copying the Master in every way, Christlike.
Among other not to be despised requirements were humour, good humour, such a sense of humour as will save him and his efforts from getting into ridiculous situations; the power of living at peace with all men without sacrificing right principles. Over and over again reference was made to tact, courtesy, common sense, "plenty of common sense," "good common sense," "sanctified common sense," "consecrated common sense."
Sympathy, in like manner was frequently insisted on, and specialized as broad, loving, whole-hearted, unaffected; a sympathy that wins the love and confidence of those among whom one works.
Again, the missionary keeps near his fellow missionaries and works harmoniously with them. The same spirit enables him to understand the people, sympathize with them, and to live Christ among them. Further, he should be a man of magnetic charm; of enthusiasm; interested in every person he meets, he should have an open mind and be able to deal with new developments. He is "made all things to all men that he may win some"; and yet he is able to stand alone leaning on God's arm. He has a correct sense of proportion, enabling him to see first things that are first, and to choose always what gives glory to Christ. He lives up to what he preaches. The life of the ideal missionary like a planetary orbit is thus constantly under the influence of its two foci-consecration to God and service to man.
In reply to an invitation to be present at the Bi-Centennial of Yale, I wrote the president and fellows of Yale University –
I am in receipt of your invitation to me to be present at the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of Yale College, on October 20th. I should esteem it an honour and a privilege to be present, did not duty to my work in Syria prevent my being absent at that time.
I congratulate you all on this auspicious day, and as a loyal son of Yale, permit me to say that we missionary sons of alma mater look to her to train the missionaries of the future. A noble band have gone forth from Yale to plant Christian institutions in distant lands.
On my arrival here in February, 1856, one of the first men to greet me was Eli Smith, a Yale graduate of 1821. He was then engaged in that monumental work, the translation of the Bible into the Arabic language, which Dr. Cornelius Van Dyck took up on Dr. Smith's death, January 11, 1857, - a work which has forever connected the name of Yale with the spiritual enlightenment of tens of millions of our race.
Dr. Eli Smith's son is now an honoured professor in Yale.
The sons of Yale are scattered over the earth, but more of them are needed. The missionary work to-day calls, as never before, for men thoroughly equipped, highly educated, broad-minded, level-headed. is Yale doing her whole duty in this great mission of American Christianity? Yale was founded to train men for the Church and the world and not merely for the "American Nation."
Would it not be well to put on record at this great anniversary what Yale has done in planting Christianity and a Christian civilization in Asia, Africa, and Polynesia? Is Yale keeping pace with the great work entrusted by our divine Master to Christian America? Is she sending more men into the world's harvest field now that she has 2,500 students, than when she had only 600?
May the Yale of the new century be preeminent for liberal learning, sanctified science, and self-denying consecration to the highest spiritual welfare of the whole brotherhood of man!
Invoking the divine blessing upon you, Mr. President, son of my old professor, upon you, the fellows, among whom is a beloved classmate, and upon all the alumni and students of Vale who may be so fortunate as to be present at this two hundredth anniversary, I am ever,
Yours loyally and lovingly,
HENRY HARRIS JESSUP,
My brother Samuel recently had an unusual experience when -travelling in the mountains west of Mount Hermon. In riding through a lonely valley, he met several Moslem horsemen. One of them, an aged man, dismounted and stepping forward seized the bridle of my brother's horse, exclaiming, "I shall not let go this bridle until you give me what I ask." My. brother said, "What do you ask?" he replied, "Years ago you sent a teacher to my village, Belott, and my son Khalil attended the school. It made a new boy of him. He became a Christian, and now I want you to send another teacher to instruct and train my younger sons. I am a Moslem, but I want them to be Christians like their brother Khalil. Now do not refuse me. If you do, I shall hold you responsible. Ere long we shall both stand before the judgment bar of God. If you do not give us a teacher and my boys grow up ignorant, God will say to me, 'Why did you neglect these sons?' And I will reply, 'I wanted them taught the right way, but this man, Dr. Jessup, would not send us a teacher. He is responsible."' My brother explained the extreme difficulty of getting the means to carry on so many schools, but said he would see what could be done. Then said the sheikh, "We will gladly pay a part, only tell us what we should pay."
My brother writes that he was never addressed in that way before by a Moslem. Truly the Lord is opening the way to the hearts of the people.
When the college was founded, its board of trustees and local board of managers, or executive committee, adopted a declaration of religious belief, being the brief creed of the Evangelical Alliance. This embraced "the divine inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures: the right and duty of private judgment in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures: the unity of the Godhead and the Trinity of the Persons therein: the utter depravity of human nature in consequence of the fall: the incarnation of the Son of God, His work of atonement for the sins of mankind, and His mediatorial intercession and reign: the justification of the sinner by faith alone: the work of the Holy Spirit in the conversion and sanctification of the sinner: the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, the judgment of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, with the blessedness of the righteous, and the eternal punishment of the wicked: the divine institution of the Christian ministry and the obligation and perpetuity of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and the sacredness of the Lord's day which is to be duly honoured the whole body of evangelical doctrine as contained in the inspired Word of God, and represented in the consensus of Protestant creeds, as opposed to the erroneous teachings of the Romish and Eastern Churches. We also declare our hearty sympathy with, and pledge our active cooperation in advancing, the chief aim of this institution, which is a missionary agency is to train up young men in the knowledge of Christian truth, and if possible secure their intelligent and hearty acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God and of Christ as the only Saviour, and at the same time inspire them with high moral purposes and consecrated aims in life.
"We further pledge ourselves to the inculcation of sound and reverent views of the relation of God-to the natural universe, as its Creator and Supreme Ruler, and to give instruction in the special department assigned to us, in the spirit and method best calculated to conserve the teachings of revealed truth and demonstrate the essential harmony between the Bible and all true science and philosophy.
"In view of the responsibility of the instruction of the young, and the influence of personal example, we recognize the importance of unusual care in maintaining a high standard of Christian consistency in life and conduct with reference to all the moral questions of the day."
This continued in force for years, until it was gradually disused and new professors and tutors came out to the college who had never been required to assent to it. On the election of a new president in 1902, the board of trustees in New York, probably in view of the fact that a number of the faculty had never been asked to sign the declaration, decided to set it aside entirely as no longer needed, and it was decided to require it no longer as a condition of appointment to the college faculty. As long as the trustees, who appoint the faculty and staff, continue to be orthodox Christian men, who use the must scrupulous care in the selection of candidates, there will be no danger to the soundness and high character of the staff of instruction, but the abolition of the declaration has never commended itself to the missionaries of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt.
The board of managers, finding their services no longer needed by reason of the number, high character, and experience of the faculty, who were able to decide all questions of importance in correspondence with the trustees, decided to disband July 9, 1902, and the whole responsibility, which had been nominally distributed over a body of some twenty missionaries, was now thrown upon the trustees and faculty. The missionaries continue in warm support and cooperation with the college, preach in its pulpit and conform the system of training in their high schools to the requisitions of the college.
On March 2 1, 1902, Rev. A. J. Brown, D. D., and Mrs. Brown, after two days in the Beirut quarantine, reached our house in good health and spirits, evidently none the worse for their long journey, visiting the missions in Japan, China, Korea, Philippines, Siam, India, and Egypt. Amore indefatigable worker we have not seen. During the thirty-six days of his stay in Syria, he visited all our mission stations besides Damascus and Jerusalem, attended a full week's mission meeting with three sessions a day, discussing questions of vital importance, asking questions and taking copious notes, attending receptions, making addresses in the college, the church, and the various meetings, and at the same time burning midnight oil in writing up his official reports on the Philippines, Siam, and India He attended the memorial service for Miss Eliza D. Everett, who died in, February, and was present April 19th at the seventieth birthday picnic of the writer, when a special car on the little steam tramway took our whole American community to the Dog River, where we inspected the ancient tablets of Esarhaddon, Rameses, and Nebuchadnezzar, and had our basket lunch in the riverside khan.
His visit to Syria was not only instructive to us, by reason of his wide observation of mission work in eastern and southern Asia, but his religious character, strong faith, and intelligent enthusiasm were inspiring to us all. We all felt that his presence in our homes was a blessing to us and to our children and our children's children. In Dr. Brown there was no tinge of official authority. He was one of us and the "secretary" was lost in the man.
On Saturday, April 25th, he sailed for America, accompanied by Mrs. Brown, Dr. Samuel Jessup, and his daughter Fanny, my daughter Anna, Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle and two children, and Miss Gertrude Moore. He occupied the time of the voyage writing notes of his Syrian visit and the various questions of policy agreed upon at our meetings, reached America in time for the General Assembly, and during the summer was prostrated by a long illness resultant from the overtaxing of his physical strength.
Just before his visit there was a religious awakening in the girls' boarding-school and thirteen young women declared their acceptance of Christ as their Saviour. There was also unusual interest in the college and in the Suk Boarding-School. In Adana, Asia Minor, there was a Pentecostal work of the Spirit. The two Protestant churches were crowded every night and some of the worst characters in the city were converted. The annual report of the mission for 1901 shows an addition to the churches on profession of faith of 151, a record year.
In January the trustees in New York of the St. Paul's Institute in Tarsus, founded by the late Col. Elliot F. Shepard, requested our mission to take over the institute as a part of the Presbyterian Mission in Syria. After careful consideration, we declined the offer and recommended that it be transferred to the American Board of Missions in Boston: 1st, because it is within the limits of their mission field. 2d, the language of the pupils and of the school is Turkish and not Arabic. 3d, it is too far from Syria to insure proper supervision. 4th, we have enough high literary institutions already under our care. 5th, it would not be true missionary comity for us to invade the field of another society. 6th, although Colonel Shepard, who founded and endowed the institute, was a Presbyterian, he was a broad-minded man, and the transfer to the American Board would be only an illustration and fulfillment of his own Christian liberality.
Our recommendation was adopted and that interesting school is now under the wise supervision of the Central Turkey Mission and presidency of Rev. Dr. Christie.
The election of Rev. Howard S. Bliss to succeed his father, Dr. Daniel Bliss, by the New York trustees, on nomination of the Syrian resident board of managers at their meeting January 13th, met with general approbation. He arrived in Beirut with his family November 11th, and entered at once upon his duties.
During this year several persons well known in Syria Mission circles passed away.
In February Miss Eliza D. Everett, for twenty-five years principal of the Beirut Girls' Seminary, died in Chicago. March 13th, Miss Meleta Carabet, one of Mrs. Whiting's pupils and daughter of Bishop Carabet, one of the earliest Protestant converts in Syria, entered into rest. For many years she taught in various schools and then served for fifteen years in the British post-office.
November 27th my infant granddaughter, Martha Day, died in Beirut, and about the same time my old teacher and pupil, Rev. Elias Saadeh, pastor of the Syrian Evangelical Church in New York, died in Brooklyn, aged about sixty.
During the special meeting of the Syria Mission, April 18th 'to 25th, to confer with Dr. Brown, the Rev. Wm. Bird, the veteran missionary of Abeih, Mount Lebanon, was a guest at our house, but so prostrated by a mortal malady that he was only able to attend a few of the sessions. Mrs. Bird and Miss Emily Bird were with him and when I was obliged, May 15th, to remove to Aleih in Mount Lebanon, to teach in the Suk theological class, they all remained in our house until his decease, August 30th. He had the best of medical attention from Dr. Geo. Post, his physician, and of faithful nursing, but nothing could arrest the fatal disease.
He died August 30, 1902, aged seventy-nine years and thirteen days, having been born August 17, 1823, the same day and the same year with Dr. Daniel Bliss, who survives him. His sickroom was a Bethel and none visited him without receiving a benediction and a heavenward impulse.
On August 30th I wrote to Dr. A. J, Brown as follows:
"This morning at 12:30 the Nestor and patriarch of our mission, Rev. William Bird, entered into rest. He has hardly left the room in my house in which you bade him farewell April 26th. The long struggle with disease, aggravated by the infirmities of age, is at an end. He has gained the victory and now wears the victor's crown.
"This morning at sunrise, we in Aleih looked through the telescope at a certain window in my house in Beirut for a prearranged signal. For three months we had looked daily for that signal seven miles away, but this morning the black cloth hung from the window, and we knew that Mr. Bird had fallen asleep. We at once sent word to the families in Aleih and Suk el Gharb, and Mrs. Jessup, Dr. Frederick J. Bliss, our guest, and I drove down to Beirut. Mr. Hardin had already been two days in Beirut, and was with Mrs. Bird and Miss Emily Bird when thee end came.
"He fell asleep as gently as an infant, without a struggle, a fit ending of a beautiful life. The funeral services were held at the house and church at 3: 30 and 4 o'clock P. m., and were conducted by Rev. Dr. Geo. E. Post of the Syrian Protestant College, Rev. Dr. Mackie of the Church of Scotland Mission, Rev. 0. J. Hardin, Rev. F. W. March, Rev. Asaad Abdullah, Syrian pastor, and Rev. Dr. H. H. Jessup.
"He was buried in the old mission cemetery below the press, where he buried Pliny Fisk, Whiting, Eli Smith, William Calhoun, Wood, Danforth, Dale, Van Dyck, and Eddy, and many Christian women and little children. Not far from his grave are the graves of his two infant brothers who died in 1825 and 1826,
"Rev. Wm. Bird was born in Malta, August 17, 1823, when his parents, Rev. and Mrs. Isaac Bird, were on their way to Syria. They reached Syria November 16, 1823. On May 2, 1828, as war was imminent between England and Turkey, all the missionaries left Syria for Malta. The following year the missionaries laboured there in connection with the Arabic Press, which was started there in 1822, and Mr. Isaac Bird explored the Barbary States in Africa. May 1, 1830, the missionaries returned to Beirut, and were met at the ship's side by the entire Protestant community of the Turkish Empire, i.e., six persons (now there are nearly 90,000).
"In 1836 Rev. L. Bird returned to America on account of the health of his family, arriving October 15th.
"William studied with his father and graduated at Dartmouth College. He also taught in his father's high school in Hartford, Conn., and taught arithmetic to a lad named J. Pierpont Morgan, whose attainments in addition and multiplication are just now astonishing the world.
"On June 19, 1853, Rev. Wm. Bird and his wife, Sarah F. Bird, arrived in Beirut. He went at once to Mount Lebanon, and has been stationed in two places, Abeih and Deir el Komr. For forty-nine years he has been an itinerant missionary, riding over the heights and ravines of Lebanon and over the plain of the Bookaa between Mount Hermon and Baalbec. At times he has had as many as fifty-eight schools under his superintendence, all Bible schools, where boys and girls were taught the Bible and the rudiments of a simple education, and in the high schools were carried on the higher branches of study. He was most faithful and exact in examining the children. He loved them and was be loved by them and thousands to-day remember Mr. Bird as their childhood's friend.
"As a preacher he was eminently evangelical and earnest, speaking from the heart and to the heart, and his fluency in Arabic brought him very close to the people in their houses, in private conversation as well as in village preaching.
"At the same time, he had decidedly scientific tastes, and made a unique collection of the fossil shells of the Lebanon cretaceous limestone and the Jura deposit of Mejdel Shems south of Mount Hermon. As he rode over the desolate gorges of Lebanon, the monotony of the ride was relieved by an eye eager to observe the geological strata and the wonderful paleontological remains. His collection of fossils is now in the museum of the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut, and scientific men of Europe and America have attached his name to rare fossils of his discovery.
"One day during his illness he said, 'Should it please the Lord to raise me up from this sick bed, how I would preach! I would beseech men to come to Christ and it seems to me that I could preach with a power that I never knew before.' I said to him, 'My dear brother, you have always preached with your whole heart and oftentimes with tears. How could you preach with more unction and earnestness than before?' 'I know it' said he, 'but I have had such a vision of Christ and of men's need of a Saviour that I am sure I could preach with power.'
"But it was not the Lord's will that he should speak again from the pulpit. 'He being dead, yet speaketh.' His life has been one of seed sowing, and holding forth salvation in Christ.
"Mr. Wm. Bird was constantly thrown into contact with the old traditional sects of Syria and was mighty in the Scriptures and in full sympathy with his father's abhorrence of papal superstitions.
He has led many to the light and now has gone to see the Great Prophet, Priest and King in His beauty. We shall not soon see his like again."
The grief of the people of Southern Lebanon knew no bounds. When the funeral memorial service was held in his old home in Abeih, it was the day of the annual "Feast of the Cross," a kind of Fourth of July celebration with fireworks, firing of guns' and ringing of bells. But the Maronite priest gave orders, "Let not a bell be rung, not a fire be kindled, nor a gun fired this day. Our Mr. Bird has died."
The writer preached a memorial sermon in Beirut, Abeih, and Deir el Komr and everywhere the people felt that a prince had died in Israel. The Druse begs of Abeih, after the service, formally requested that Mrs. Bird and Miss Emily might remain among them to bless them by their teaching and example.
In April, a Greek monk, Athanasius, called to see me. He said he had been secretary to the Greek Patriarch Melatius in Damascus, and that he had met my brother Samuel in Sidon. His father in Nazareth begged him to abjure monasticism and come home but he declined. He stated that twelve other Greek monks were ready to doff their cowls and robes and become Protestants, of whom three were in Beirut. He then left me, ostensibly to go to Tripoli and join the other nine. The next I heard was in a letter from him and his three conferres in Marseilles in which he told the extraordinary story that the agent of the Greek patriarch seized him here in the street and induced the Turkish police to banish him and his three companions to Marseilles, and that they were all penniless and starving, and unless I sent them at once money for their return to Beirut, the three would commit suicide and the sin rest on me! Now, as the Greek patriarch cannot exile men, and their passage to Marseilles would be four Napoleons ($16) each, which the patriarch would not be likely to pay for such tramps, I did not believe their story, yet, out of pity, I sent them forty francs to buy bread and declined to pay their passage, as it was thought here that they were en route for America.
Then I received a letter from Prof. Dr. Lucien Gautier, of the Protestant Theological School in Geneva, stating that Athanasius had appeared there and asked to be admitted as a student of theology, but they had declined and had aided in paying his fare back to Marseilles. If the same credulous and over-trustful spirit still prevails in Princeton as existed in 1880-1882. We may yet hear of this man's supplying churches in New Jersey and then turning, as did one M------, and cursing the faculty who had borne with him and taught him gratuitously. It is a fact that in some of our theological seminaries there is less strictness as to credentials of candidates from the ends of the earth than as to those brought up in our home churches, colleges and presbyteries.
Professor Gautier did right to shake off this monkish tramp.
In August, our attention was called to the importance of bookkeeping as a part of a missionary's preparation, and I wrote to reiterate what had often been written before, that every young missionary candidate should have some definite instruction in bookkeeping. No young man going out can tell how soon he may have thrust upon him the accounts of a large station, with banking, cashing drafts, balancing complicated accounts, etc. The ordinary "sundry" accounts of theological students of ten cents for peanuts and soda water do not exactly qualify a young man for keeping the accounts of an entire station. A few weeks' course in a commercial college would be of more value than an equal time spent in almost any other form of preparation.
In October, we gave diplomas in Suk el Gharb to six theological students, all of whom gave promise of usefulness. That is doing well for Syria. I noticed in the statistics of Princeton University for 1901 that 305 graduated. One year later, they had chosen professions. Business, one hundred and sixty-one; law. thirty-five; medicine, twenty-five ; teaching, twenty-three; theology, four. What a showing that is I What is the matter with Princeton, and of what use a million and a half for the theological seminary, if students are not forthcoming ? Our Beirut College does not make a much better show. Very few of its hundreds of graduates have become preachers of the Gospel. They are attracted by flattering prospects of business and professional success in Egypt and swept away by the tide of emigra tion. The English language. as the language of the Syrian Protestant College, is, for the present at least, unfitting men to be the humble pastors of Protestant Arabic-speaking churches in Syria. Dr. Anderson in 1863 said that he feared the effect of an English education upon Syrian candidates for the ministry. Still, it is true that godly Syrian pastors who know enough English to use English commentaries and other books are broader men and last longer than those with a mere vernacular training. When the tide of emigration turns and we have a reformed Syria, there will be a supply of well-trained men coming back from America. Already, three of our pastors are returned emigrants, who have seen enough to satisfy them with foreign life and customs and are reconciled to a humble post in their dear native land.
We were favoured this summer with a visit from Dr. and Mrs. Albert Erdman of Morristown. We were refreshed by their presence in our mountain home, with their son Paul Erdman and the little motherless grandson, Frederick, who was the joy of all our hearts.
Syrian missionaries are greatly favoured by meeting so many good and eminent friends from America, owing to this land being the Gate-of Palestine and the resort of Christian tourists. Sometimes American tourists come here who do not seem to know why they came to Palestine. One man said it was an imposition for Cook to advertise Palestine tours, as there is not a first-class hotel in the land! A young lady from America was shown through the college. In the geological museum, she paused before the case of fossil fish from Lebanon, and remarked to the professor, who was her guide, "Ali, how beautiful. I suppose these are the work of the students!" She evidently thought they were etchings on stone.
About forty years ago, a broad-brimmed, brown-bearded Californian came into the American consulate, took a chair, and putting his feet on the table, remarked to Consul J-------, "I suppose you are the counsel." "Yes, I am the consul." "Well, you see, I always stops on the counsels when I'm travelling." Mr. J------- said "Sir, I will give you any advice you need, but this is an office and I do not run a hotel." The man then said, "Can you tell me how much they charge for deck passage on a mule to Damascus?" Mr. J----- told the kavass to inquire and the man went his way.
But while a few of the tourists are eccentric, the great body are intelligent, cultivated lovers of the Bible and deeply interested in Bible lands.
On the 19th of December, brother Samuel Jessup of Sidon arrived from America bringing with him our new missionary, Miss O. M. Horne. They had a violently rough passage on a small Italian boat from Naples to Smyrna, and at times were in peril. It was the more trying to Samuel, as he had suffered on the North German Lloyd steamer, just before reaching Naples, from ptomaine poisoning from canned meat. Several of the passengers were seriously ill from the same cause. The "jungle" had not then been written, and greed for gain suffered packers to trifle with the lives and health of the public.
Dr. Samuel reached Beirut in time for the closing session of the annual meeting of the mission, and after a brief visit, left for Sidon, just in time for the funeral of the saintly Mrs. Mary Perry Ford, mother of Dr. George Ford.
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