JUBILEE TIMES (1905-1907)
THE year 1905 was memorable as the banner year for Bible printing in the history of the American Press. Nearly sixty millions of pages were printed, of which 47,275,000 were for the American Bible Society. The number of copies of the Scriptures issued during the year was 158,000, a larger number than ever before.
The demand for Arabic Scriptures from Egypt was unprecedented. Our workmen put in extra time, and paper and binding materials had to be ordered in large quantities from Europe to meet the demand. A new printing machine had just been added to our plant to increase our facilities for Bible work. Just at this juncture the old steam engine gave signs of failing, and to avoid the catastrophe of having all our presses stopped, I wrote to Mr. Marcellus Hartley Dodge of New York, son of my old friend, Norman White Dodge, and he, with a promptness which filled our whole mission with a thrill of gratitude, replied by sending out a magnificent thirty horse-power Fairbanks Morse oil engine. The iron castings and balance-wheel of this splendid engine were so massive that Mr. Freyer had to hire the steam derrick of the Harbor Company to lift them to the wharf and from the wharf to the truck. And when they reached the churchyard adjoining the press, it required many men and many days' work to remove them to the engine house of the press.
In May a conference of Christian workers was held in Constantinople and we were all invited to be present, but owing to the May meeting of our mission coming at the same time, we had to decline. At the request of Dr. J. K. Greene, I wrote a few words on Hindrances to the Christian Life Among Mission
1. We are apt to feel that we have already attained. Deem, that we are in a higher spiritual plane than those around us we compare ourselves with others and are led to self-satisfaction and indolence.
2. Officialism. Because we are preachers and teachers, we are in danger of thinking that we need only to give out, and not to take in.
3. Extreme liberalism. Inclining us to believe that the lifeless systems around us are good enough, and that we need not seek the conversion of their adherents. This blunts the edge of zeal and lessens the value of experimental religion. I yield to none in broad sympathy for those brought up in the non-Christian and semi-Christian faiths, but unless we have something that they have not, and unless Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of sinners, we have absolutely no vocation in Western Asia and European Turkey.
4. Yielding to the spiritual stagnation round us.
5. Neglect of personal religious duties.
As to the remedy, I can only suggest:
1. Constant personal use of the "Word of God."
2. Personal work for the salvation of others.
3. Never forgetting that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." "And in none other is there salvation; for neither is there any other name under heaven that is given among men, wherein we must be saved " (Acts 4: 12).
This conference was conducted by Rev. John McNeil of London and was an inspiring and uplifting occasion.
It is, alas, too often true, that we who are labouring in heathen and Mohammedan lands and are regarded by many as the most spiritual of all Christian workers feel our need of those special occasions for the promotion of the spiritual life which are so common in Christian lands, in Keswick, Northfield, Chautauqua, Winona, and the Northwest. We have many benumbing and paralyzing influences to contend with. Familiarity with a Moslem population makes us forget their spiritual deadness. We see many forms, rites, ceremonies, and pilgrimages and so much virtue attached to mere outward works, that we need to live in a Bible atmosphere and in a spirit of constant prayer to keep our garments white and our faith bright and clear. We need to draw our theology from the Bible and not from mere reason and hypothesis. Mere ethics will save nobody. If righteousness is through the law then Christ died for nought (Gal. 2.21). Christ is an example - our brightest, best, and perfect example, but he is more. He is a Saviour, a Redeemer from sin, its power, and penalty. His blood was "shed for many for the remission of sins."
There has been a powerful work of grace in St. Paul's Institute, Tarsus, and a number of conversions recently in Gerard Institute, Sidon. Six young girls in the British Syrian Institute in Beirut were received into the church.
In March Rev. Drs. Stewart and Lowe of the Irish Presbyterian Jewish Missions Committee visited their Damascus Mission and on their return proposed to transfer their two Mount Hermon stations, Rasheiyat el Wady and Ain esh Shaara, to our mission, if their General Assembly should approve, It did approve, and in the fall Rev. W. K. Eddy of Sidon was instructed to take measures to assume the work at those stations, but the expense, about $700 a year, for which our Board felt unable to provide, delayed the full support of the work there. Had these little Protestant communities the spirit of the Korean converts they would carry on the work without foreign aid.
During the summer I visited Suk, Abeih, Zahleh, and Baalbec, preaching in Arabic in these places and when at home in our own summer cottage in Aleih, I always preached in Arabic. I had planned going from Baalbec to Hums with my brother Samuel September 9th, but was prevented by illness. He went alone by the Aleppo Railroad leaving Baalbec Saturday at 2 P. M., and enjoyed meeting that interesting church and preaching once more to the people. They have shown great energy in opening a boys' boarding-school at their own expense but have not yet fulfilled the more important duty of supporting their own pastor.
While in Zahleh we drove down to the plain to visit the famous Jesuit farm of Taanaille. It is on the Damascus Road and covers about half a mile square, on rich land, through which runs a splendid stream of water from the Jedetha fountain. It is a model French farm, with wheat fields, clover pasturage, shaded walks and drives, and fine orchards of European fruits, and vegetable and flower gardens. The father superintendent who spoke English perfectly was most courteous and showed us all the departments. An immense American threshing-machine was just being brought in, having been imported and transported over to Anjar, four miles to the east, for Tahir Pasha of Damascus, who refused to accept it and pending a lawsuit to compel him to fulfill his contract, it was being stored by the French Jesuit fathers.
This French farm looks more like Europe and America than anything I have seen in Syria. It shows what might be done everywhere with proper care and cultivation.
In June we sent to New York by order of the American Tract Society $325 worth of Arabic books and tracts to be distributed by the American Tract Society among Syrian immigrants landing in New York. We have frequently supplied outgoing emigrants from Syria with Arabic Scriptures and they have almost without exception received them with gratitude. Many of these Arab emigrants will become American citizens, and it is a remarkable providence that the American Press and schools in Syria have been used to fit men and women to become American citizens. It is well to sow good seed abroad. Who knows when the fruit will come back to be a blessing to the sowers! The best Syrian emigrants to America are those who have been trained in the American Mission schools. Westward the Star of Syria takes its way!
In October we were favoured with a visit from Rev. Dr. Howard Agnew Johnston, wife and daughter. An itinerary had been prepared and he was able to visit all our principal stations, speaking everywhere words stimulating and inspiring on the subject of, "individual work for individuals." He spoke in the Beirut College and to the young people in the city, and gave an hour to the theological class. The unity of his theme, his great experience in personal religious work and his sententious summing up of Christian duty, as "not merely to be fed, but to feed, not merely to be led but to lead, not simply to be saved but to save others," gave his addresses great power. He spoke to the theological class of the value of an individual acquaintance with the contents and teaching of each book of the Bible. I remarked that one of the three native brethren who had been ordained the evening before had a wonderful knowledge of the Bible. Dr. Johnston then asked the class to give him the contents of John, chapter six. Just then M. Michaiel, the person I had quoted, entered the room. Hearing Dr. Johnston's request, he quietly arose and gave a complete synopsis of that chapter to the minutest detail. It was an object-lesson to the class such as few could give. Dr. Johnston spoke fifteen times in Beirut, besides visiting Zahleh, Hums, Tripoli, Suk, and Sidon.
The ordination of three tried and experienced native preachers, Rev. Beshara Barudi, Rev. Michaiel Ibrahim, and Rev. Yusef Jerjer, took place October 24th, while Dr. Johnston was here, and the hands of seventeen ministers, American, Scotch, and Syrian, were laid on their heads.
On the 31st of October I sat by the dying bed of a lovely young Protestant, Amin Tabet, who died in the prison ward of the municipal hospital of Beirut. He had been to America to visit his father and returned a short time before, dangerously ill. The custom-house detective in examining his baggage found a book in which was a picture of the Sultan and written under it the word "dog." The young man, a very model of integrity and uprightness, stated that he knew nothing of the book, that some friends had put a lot of books and papers in his trunk for him to read on the voyage but he had been too ill to look at them and that he could never have been foolish enough to carry such a book had he known of it. The zealous police, anxious to gain favour and promotion, telegraphed their discovery to Constantinople and he was thrown into the lowest prison. His many Beirut friends interceded, and by order of the government physician he was removed to the iron-grated ward in the hospital.
But it was vain to ask for his release. Even when the physicians pronounced him a dying man, his mother was not allowed to remove him. I had baptized him in infancy, and found him ready to depart and be with Christ, and in that Turkish prison, surrounded by Moslem attendants and patients, I commended him to Christ as his Saviour. He soon after passed away, and his emaciated body was taken to his mother's house where the funeral service took place, attended by a great throng. His brothers, tutors in the college, were comforted by a large delegation of students bearing wreaths and flowers. The leading authorities declared their conviction that he was innocent and had been victimized by some designing person, but
not one of the officials ventured to utter openly a word in his favour, lest they be reported to headquarters. Would that this were the only case of the kind! He was a victim of the cruel despotic rule of Abdul Hamid and Izzet Pasha.
On the 18th of December I acknowledged Dr. A. J. Brown's letter speaking of the approaching jubilee of Dr. and Mrs. Bliss and myself. I replied in part as follows: "I should prefer that no special notice be taken of one of the Lord's servants having been permitted to keep at work for fifty years. I ought to be grateful. It has always been my principle that the missionary work is a life enlistment, and I am more than ever convinced that it is a true one. No one can be more grateful than I am for the blessed privilege of being able to hold on."
During December the annual meeting of our mission was held. It was a hopeful, inspiring season. We had printed more pages of the Arabic Scriptures and taught in our schools more children and youth than ever before, when Dr. Bowen, agent of the American Bible Society, wrote from Constantinople ordering Mr. Freyer to countermand a big order for paper and cut down at once all expenditure on account of the Bible Society. We were taken aback, like a ship under full sail, with the wind suddenly veering from stern to stem and forcing the sails back against the masts. The appropriation, under financial stress and distress at the Bible House, New York, was cut down to a destructive figure. I was stirred so deeply that when our mission met, December 7th, I offered to write the annual letter to the Bible Society. This offer was met with applause, as a welcome innovation. The office of writing the annual letters to the Bible and Tract and other societies is never sought for, as it involves no little outlay of time and labour. The letter was written under a sense of being divinely moved, such as I have not often felt. It was sent and scattered abroad through a hundred newspapers and some months after, Dr. Bowen writes, "That letter brought into the treasury of the Society not less than $ 150,000. One donor gave a piece of property which will give $7,500 annually for Bible work in Mohammedan lands." I can see now that the prompting to write that letter came from above, and all the praise belongs to the Lord of the Bible who is the God of missions.
It did seem strange that just as the door is opening in Moslem lands for The Arabic Bible, and the machinery is ready to print and publish it, we should be obliged to say to Asia and Africa, "No, America is too poor. You must wait still longer for the Bread of Life. The Beirut Press stands committed before the Christian world to supply the demand for Arabic Scriptures, and in Bible work this press is the agent and servant of the American Bible Society." We have been saying to Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Arabia, Tunis and Algiers, Mesopotamia, and Bussorah, "Call, and we will answer; call for the Scriptures and we will supply them."
And now are we to say to these missionaries: "You will have to wait. Tell the Moslems, just beginning to ask for God's word, that they cannot have it; that the great Church of America has too much to do to think of 60,000,000 of Arabic-speaking people, and 140,000,000 more of Moslems whose Koran is Arabic?"
Will the Christian Church give the $9,000 a year needed to keep up the Bible work and manufacture to an extent sufficient for the demand?
Shall foreign missionaries from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and Scandinavia, who have depended upon us for their Arabic Scriptures, be obliged to write to their home societies that the American Bible Press in Beirut, which holds the key to The Arabic Bible, has finally admitted its inability to supply the increasing demands upon it?
We call upon the Bible-loving Church of Christ to come to your aid and ours.
In November Rev. James H. Nicol and wife arrived from America for the Tripoli station. Early in the year, January 2, 1906, Dr. Mary Pierson Eddy and Miss Caroline M. Holmes arrived from America, the former to resume her medical work, and the latter to labour in the same region, on the coast north of Beirut. Miss Holmes was for ten years connected with the Tripoli Girls' Boarding-School (from 1883 to 1887 and from 1888 to 1894), and had been absent from Syria eleven years. She now returned under the auspices of a number of American friends who pledged her support for a term of years. After working with Dr. Mary P. Eddy in M'aamiltein for some months, she removed to Jebail (the Gebal of the Bible), half-way between Beirut and Tripoli, and has succeeded in overcoming prejudice until she has a school of seventy-five girls. She has begun work as a pioneer in one of the most bigoted regions in Syria.
I cannot but admire the pluck and courage of these two Christian women. The Board supports Dr. Mary P. Eddy. Miss Holmes with her fine knowledge of Arabic, her splendid capacity for organization, and devoted spirit should have abundant support.
In November Rev. Paul Erdman, Mrs. Gertrude Erdman, and son Frederick arrived from America to take up their residence in Tripoli.
In October Sheikh Nebhany, Kadi of Beirut, issued a pamphlet, attacking Christian schools and all Moslems who patronize them. His language was bitter and coarse, full of invective and rant, and to the astonishment of the public it had the sanction of the Ministry of Public Instruction in, Constantinople. The better class of Moslems repudiated the book and denounced the author. Several learned sheikhs of Beirut, Damascus and Cairo published replies to his book, rebuking him severely for his ignorance of history and his narrow intolerance. It not only failed to compel Moslems to take their children out of Christian schools, but it resulted in a large increase in the number of Moslem students in Christian schools, especially in the Beirut College. This result is but another proof of the growing independence among intelligent Moslems of their fanatical religious leaders.
The jubilee year, my fiftieth in Syria, was celebrated by many friends, Syrian and foreign. Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Bliss and I arrived in Syria February 7, 1856, and on and before February 7th congratulatory letters, cablegrams, and messages came in upon me like a flood. About sunrise a company of Syrian girls from the British Syrian Institution came quietly in and sang sweet hymns of cheer. Our house was decorated with white almond blossoms, which have been for fifty years a reminder of the day of our landing in 1856, when the almond trees were in bloom. And these little girls each brought a spray of the sweet blossoms and gave them to me as a floral offering.
At half-past nine came all the members of the Syria Mission, men and women, and made addresses which quite overcame me with their expressions of fraternal affection. They then presented me with a massive cathedral chiming clock in a case of polished English oak with an inscripton on a gilt brass plate.
Then came a deputation of the Syrian Protestant sect, eight in number, each of whom made an eloquent Arabic address, in prose or poetry, the substance of which is too personal to allow its being repeated by me. The most of them and their families were my children and their language, though full of Oriental hyperbole, was most kind and sincere. They left with me as souvenirs elegant specimens of silver filigree work on a little inlaid table - Damascene work. A little Syrian boy gave me some rare specimens of Phoenician iridescent glass.
At one o'clock eighteen of our kindred and those of Dr. and Mrs. Bliss sat down to dinner together, the little grandchildren being at a side table.
At 3 P.M. we were taken to the Gerald F. Dale Memorial Sunday-School Hall, which was densely packed with a crowd of people who were awaiting us. This was a complete surprise. The hall was decorated with flags, evergreens, and flowers, and prominent among them the almond blossoms. The girls of our seminary and of the British Syrian Institution were dressed in holiday attire, and sang as Dr. and Mrs. Bliss, Mrs. Jessup, and myself entered the hall. There was a full musical programme and then the entire assembly of five hundred came up to take us by the hand, wishing us a joyful jubilee. The ladies of the mission then presented to Mrs. Jessup a pyramidal frosted loaf of cake which she cut, and Mrs. Hoskins and her sister, Dr. Mary Eddy, gave out portions to missionary friends.
At half-past seven, a beautiful moonlight evening, the church was crowded for the memorial jubilee service. Addresses were made in Arabic by two prominent Protestant Arabic scholars, Messrs. Selim Kessab and Ibrahim Haurani, in German by Pastor Fritz Ulrich, and in English by Dr. George E. Post and Dr. George A. Ford, the latter in poetry. Thus closed the jubilee day - a day full of sacred memories, of many regrets and much thanksgiving to God.
The love and esteem of so many of Christ's children, American, Syrian, and European, is inexpressibly precious. May every one of these dear friends live to celebrate their own jubilee!
1906 - January was a month of storms, of much sickness, and snow. The Damascus railway was repeatedly blocked with snow, and the winter rains were constant with frequent electric storms of thunder and lightning. Miss Van Zandt of the Woman's Hospital had a long and severe illness with typhoid fever. Pneumonia, pleurisy, and typhoid fever prevailed throughout the land. My son William wrote from Zahleh of icicles ten feet long and a foot thick.
On January 7th, at 4 P. M., Miss Jessie Taylor entered into rest, aged seventy-nine, after forty years of self-denying labour for the Moslem and Druse girls and women of Syria.
Her death produced wide-spread and unfeigned sorrow among the multitudes of Moslem women and girls whom she had instructed and befriended. No foreign woman ever bad such a hold on the confidence of the Moslems of Beirut, and this, although she was a fearless witness for salvation through Christ alone, Moslem men would come to a preaching service in her house when nothing would have induced them to enter a Christian church.
Miss Jessie Taylor was "one called of God." She heeded the call and came to this land alone, and began her work among the lowly and neglected. I well remember her first arrival and have followed her course with sympathy and prayer ever since. Like good Mr. Cullen in Edinburgh, she belonged to all the churches and all Christian people. Her home was a house of prayer, I know of no house in Syria where prayer seemed more natural and appropriate, add certainly there was no house where Moslem, Druse, and Jew and Maronite and Protestant felt more welcome and more at home.
Without an effort on her part, and by the simple power of an unselfish, sincere and blameless life, she secured and held the confidence of her non-Christian neighbours to an extent which was remarkable.
And how many perils escaped, difficulties overcome, burdens lifted, and spiritual fruits gathered as a direct and comforting answer to prayer! Here was the source of her strength, which kept up that frail body to a great age; made her invariably cheerful and hopeful; helped her to look always on the bright side, "bright as the promise of God," and made her the spiritual guide to the new life in Christ of so many of her Pupils. She believed in conversion, in passing from death into life, and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. At times she needed great courage and decision, and was never left to lack either in times of emergency. Her solitary journey to Scotland, when over seventy years of age in order to save her old mission home from sale, was an illustration of her simple faith and unflagging energy. Her friends in Scotland, when appealed to personally, said, "In these days of Boer War and financial embarrassment it is not possible to raise 1,000 pounds." She replied, "The silver and the gold are the Lord's and the fund must be raised," and it was raised and amounted to .41,500, sufficient to buy the house and make all needed repairs. She returned to Syria looking ten years younger, her face beaming with hope and energy, and resumed her work with new buoyancy and faith.
And she had impressed those qualities upon her fellow workers and pupils, and we believe that they will go forward, trustful and hopeful as she has been. She called her school "St. George's School for Moslem and Druse Girls," but the Syrians and the foreign community know it and speak of it as Miss Taylor's school and there can be no comparison between the solid spiritual work done by her, and the shadowy exploits of the mythical St. George.
March 7th Beirut was honoured by a visit from Admiral Sigsbee of the American Navy with the ships Brooklyn, Galveston, and Chattanooga. Consul-General Bergholz gave them a reception which was attended by the American and European communities. It has been my experience for fifty years that there is no finer class of men anywhere than the officers of the American Navy. And as a rule they fully appreciate the educational and elevating work done by their missionary fellow countrymen. Much depends on the man, whether they show hearty sympathy with the more spiritual aspect of our work. I knew a naval commander who would hold prayer-meetings with the men in the cockpit, though his officers held aloof and scarcely concealed their disgust. He was deeply interested in the evangelistic work of our mission. The majority of naval officers respect religion and respect manliness and manly work, but they generally appreciate educational, publishing, and what is called civilizing work more than the purely religious. An address to the college students by an American admiral is always impressive. One can hardly conceive of such an address by a Turkish admiral. Our government does well to give its citizens abroad an occasional glimpse of the Stars and Stripes. I notice that an American congressman has given notice of a bill to deprive of the rights of citizenship any American who shall reside abroad more than five years! This is aimed at the millionaires who reside abroad to evade taxes But think of the blow it would inflict upon the 3,300 American foreign missionaries who have gone abroad to stay and have burned their ships behind them! It is inconceivable that citizenship should be wrested from such a body of men and women engaged only in benevolent and unselfish work! And it was not Rev. Mr. Franson, a Swedish missionary secretary, who had felt a call to visit missions in foreign lands, after visiting the missions in India, Persia, and Eastern and Central Turkey, reached Beirut and spoke March 25th in the college, and at the Sunday-school hall to a large concourse of people. Preaching through an interpreter (an "interrupter," as it has been called) is far from satisfactory. I have had large experience in. translating sermons and addresses into Arabic for travellers, and find that the only satisfactory way is to sit quietly behind the speaker with a pad and pencil and, take rapid notes, giving the speaker freedom. Then I translate the notes offhand into Arabic and the people get the gist of it without a break.
On the 4th of April, 1906, was held in Cairo the memorable conference of missionaries to Mohammedan lands. The sessions were held in the Church Missionary Society's buildings, the former home of Arabi Pasha.
The attendance was large, including delegates from the Turkish Empire, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, India, the East Indies, the Sudan, and North and West Africa. The papers read, the discussions held, and the reports made, showed a striking uniformity of experience with regard to the difficulties, the encouragements and the magnitude of the work. There was no note of retreat or pessimism. The time had come for an onward movement all along the line. Thirty-two thousand converts in India and the East Indies were regarded as but the first-fruits of a great gathering. It was agreed that we owe it to our Moslem brethren to exhibit the true nature of Christianity, to show them that we are their friends, to disabuse them of their false conceptions of the Trinity and the Scriptures, and to show them that the hostile and cruel spirit shown by the European crusaders and by modern Christian nations no longer exists. That we only ask that they read the Tourah and the Ingeel (the Old and New Testaments) and judge for themselves. And we ask that Christians in Moslem lands enjoy the same liberty of conscience that Moslems enjoy in Christian lands. We were agreed to appeal to all Christian people to pray for our Mohammedan friends, and to send forth labourers into the vast fields occupied by two hundred millions of Mohammedans.
Some timid men had apprehended that this conference would awaken acts of hostility on the part of the hundreds of thousands of Moslems in Cairo, and had even asked Lord Cromer to interfere and prevent such a calamity. But the Moslem journals and populace took no notice of the conference. The evening open discussion with the sheikhs of the Azhar University and Moslem students continued as usual, and we from other and less favoured lands looked with wonder it the notices posted on the mission house and in the hotels, of evening public discussions with Mohammedans. It was apparent that all delegates present were ready for a new forward movement.
Twenty years ago I published a little volume, "The Mohammedan Missionary Problem" (a sermon preached before the General Assembly in Saratoga, May, 1879), and pled for an awakening of the Church to its duty towards Islam and insisted that "God has been preparing Christianity for Islam": He is now preparing Islam for Christianity. The Roman power and the Greek language prepared the way for the coming of Christ and the giving of the Gospel to the world. Anglo-Saxon power and the Arabic
Bible in the sacred language of The Koran are preparing the way for the giving the Word of Christ and Christ the Word to the millions of the Mohammedan world.
"The religion of Islam now extends from the Pacific Ocean at Peking to the Atlantic at Sierra Leone, over one hundred and twenty degrees of longitude, embracing 175,000,000 of followers (now 200,000,000, 1906). Its votaries are diverse in language, nationality, and customs, embracing the more civilized inhabitants of Damascus, Cairo, and Constantinople, as well as the wild nomad tribes of Arabia, Turkistan, and the Sahara.
"The evangelization of these vast organized, fanatical, and widely extended masses of men is one of the grandest and most inspiring problems ever brought before the Church of Christ on earth. It is a work of surprising difficulty which will require a new baptism of apostolic wisdom and energy, faith, and love.
"This great Mohammedan problem lying before the Church of Christ in the immediate future, connected with its fulfillment of the great missionary commission of its divine Head for the world's salvation, will tax the intellect, the faith, the wisdom, the zeal, and the self-denial of the whole Church in every land.
"How are we to reach the 200,000,000 Of Mohammedans spread over one hundred and twenty degrees of longitude from China to Mogadore; embracing vast nations speaking thirty different languages, with diverse climates, customs, and traditions, yet unified and compacted by a common faith which has survived the shock and conflicts of twelve hundred years?
"Let every Christian missionary insist upon the great scheme of redemption, the atoning sufferings and death of Jesus the son of Mary and when the Mohammedan feels, as many have already felt, that he is a lost sinner and under the righteous displeasure of an offended God, he will gladly and gratefully take refuge in the conviction and the faith that man needs a Saviour from sin, and that Jesus the son of Mary in order to be a Saviour must also be the Son of God."
When the above words were written the exact statistics of Islam were not known. The number of Mohammedans under Christian rule was supposed to be:
England in India . . . . . . 41,000,000
Russia in Central Asia . . . . . . 6,000,000
France in Africa . . . . . .2,000,000
Holland in Java and Celebes . . . . . . 1,000,000
Total . . . . . . . . . . . 50,000,000
But the statistical survey of Dr. Zwemer presented to the under Christian rule in Cairo conference gives the total number 1906 as 161,000,000 out of a total of 232,966,170.
Great Britain in Africa…….. 17,920,330
Great Britain in Asia 63.633,783
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81,554,113
France in Africa . . . . . . 27,849,580
France in Asia . . . . . . . 1,455,238
Holland in Asia . . . . . . . . 29,289,440
Russia in Europe and Asia . . . . . 15,889,420
Germany in Africa . . . . . . . 2,572,500
America in the Philippines . . . . : 300,000
Other states . . . . . . . . . . . 2,150,579
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . 161,060,870
Thus two-thirds of the Mohammedans in the world are under Christian rule, one-seventh under non-Christian rulers (33,976,500) and only 37,928,800, or a little more than one-seventh, under purely Moslem rulers.
This remarkable fact renders any political solidarity of Islam impossible. It also insures liberty of conscience to honest-minded Moslems who wish to read the Bible and even to profess Christianity.
If any of the delegates to Cairo were faint-hearted when they went' they all came away full of hope and courage.
We who labour in the Ottoman Empire have to "learn to labour and to wait." We cannot give the names of converts until they are dead or exiled. And to publish the names of the exiled might bring down wrath upon the heads of their relatives, The machinery of political espionage and persecution is so complex and ramified that we must be "wise as serpents." Let any Moslem believer be charged by another with having cursed the name of Mohammed and he will be exiled without a trial. This is one of the most monstrous and iniquitous features of the present regime in this empire. No man knows when he is safe, and nothing is easier than denouncing a Moslem convert with having cursed the name of Mohammed.
Among the delegates to the conference was the Reverend Dr. George Alexander, pastor in New York, and president of the Presbyterian Board of Missions. He accompanied us to Jerusalem and Beirut and visited several of our stations, preaching twice in Beirut and sailing May 4th for America.
What a blessing to us in this far-off land to see the benignant face of such a man and hear his voice in our churches! We in Syria are especially favoured in this respect, being on the line of travel to the Holy Land and we appreciate our privileges.
The steamer which took Dr. Alexander and his niece also took our Persian missionary delegates, Dr. Wilson and Miss Holliday, returning from Cairo to Tabriz, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan of Teheran, going to America and Rev. George A. Ford of Sidon going home on furlough. Dr. Ford returned in December, anew man, having been married in America to Miss Katherine Booth, daughter of our beloved friend, the late William A. Booth, Esq., of New York. They came out buoyant and fresh, ready for work, full of hope and cheer. Mrs. Ford will find in the retired and secluded life in the mission school in Sidon a striking contrast to the life in New York. But missionaries abroad, like pioneers of the West, find home where the heart is, and truly consecrated men or women can adjust themselves to any environment.
The Hon. Wm. J. Bryan, the Chrysostorn of Democracy, visited Beirut in May, with his wife, son and daughter. He had a taste of the Turkish solicitude for the intellectual welfare of its subjects and guests by having his books seized and threatened with confiscation by the custom-house police. But by the efforts of the consul-general the Waly was persuaded to restore the books and leave the distinguished visitor umolested.
He addressed the Christian Endeavour Society at a public evening assembly and lectured in the Syrian Protestant College on the Christian religion and its evidences, speaking with a mellifluous facility, beauty of language, and cogency of argument which quite captivated his hearers. He made a profound impression and reflected honour on his country as a Christian land. One could not help thinking of the contrast between Mr. Bryan and the typical Turkish pasha.
Who ever heard of a political speech by a Turkish pasha? Politics is, in this land, not a subject to be talked about or thought about. All the political thinking for the empire is supposed to be done on the Bosphorus. A despotism cannot train orators or engender eloquence. When even the press must avoid both religion and politics, the public mind soon subsides into stolid if not sullen indifference. [ November, 1908 -Under the new Turkish Constitution, all is now Changed. We have a free press, free assembly and free speech. Eloquent orators are arising on every side.]
Among the changes of this year in Syria was the arrival of President Howard Bliss from America and the departure of Dr. Hoskins and family and Mrs. George Wood for the home land. The benefactions of Mrs. Wood to educational work in Syria need no praise from me. The fine mission house in Judaideh, the Gerard Institute in Sidon, the farm Of No acres and the Beulah Orphan Home known as Dares Salaam are monuments of her generosity.
The summer was now past. The scattered families and labourers returned from their vacations in Mount Lebanon and the interior, and preparations were completed for a new year's work in the mission stations and the higher schools of learning. The prospect for a prosperous year was never brighter, when three successive blows fell upon the college and mission circles filling all minds with awe and solemnity. First, Mr. E. H. Barnes, tutor in the Syrian Protestant College, was mortally injured by a kick from his horse early in October, and survived only three days.
Then came the second stroke in the death of one of God's noblemen, Rev. William King Eddy of Sidon. I wrote of his death as follows:
His peaceful, beautiful death seemed as the 'Amen' to a noble, harmonious anthem. He was encamped in Wady Darbaz, about four miles and a half distant from both Bussah and 'Alma at the northeast end of the plain of Acre. His tent companions were his two sons, Clarence, twelve years old, and William, ten, his servant Hassan, and his Bedawi disciple and devoted friend, 'Ali Berdan. Hassan he had taken care of when a poor boy and he had proved to be a most faithful and thoughtful servant to Mr. Eddy in his constant itinerating over the mountains and plains of Southern Syria and Northern Palestine. 'Ali, who was once a noted robber, sheep-thief, and highwayman, became acquainted with Mr. Eddy on a hunting expedition and admired his marksmanship so much that he accompanied him on his tours through that wild and lawless region. By degrees he left off cursing, swearing, lying, and stealing and his change was so striking that the Arabs and villagers of that whole region between Tyre and Tiberias called Mr. Eddy 'Ali's 'kussis' or minister. He loved Mr. Eddy and would do anything for him.
"Mr. Eddy had been on a long tour through the villages north, south, and west of Mount Hermon, and after a few days of rest at Sidon set out on Wednesday, October 31st, for another tour to Tyre, 'Alma, Bussah, and Safad. Professor Carrier of Mc Cormick Theological Seminary, who had been with him on the Mount Hermon trip, went with him as far as Tyre, and then pursued his journey to Jerusalem, while Mr. Eddy turned eastward to Bussah sad pitched his tent near a fine stream of water four miles and a half cast of the town. On Saturday, November 3d, he told his mm to take the boys on a hunting trip into the forest and among the rugged hills, as he wished to rest and prepare for two communion sevices the next day at Bussah and 'Alma. They returned at evening, very weary, and, after supper, all retired, father and sons in the tent on iron travelling bedsteads and Hassan and 'Ali in the cook's tent. Before midnight Mr. Eddy was seized with acute pain in the heart and called Hassan, who came with 'Ali and found him suffering and speaking only with great difficulty. The boys awoke and sat up in bed. Mr. Eddy said to them, 'My sons, I am about to die, good-bye.' He gave them various messages to their mother and others, and asked Clarence to repeat the Twenty-third Psalm, and said, 'Now, boys, lie down and go to sleep, it is too cold for you to get up.' (Thoughtful to the end!) Beautifully he wove into the sad news of impending death affectionate remembrances of his lifelong associate, recently married in America. 'To-day Dr. Ford and his bride have sailed from New York on their way to Syria, and to-day I am beginning my journey from Syria to heaven.' 'Ali offered to gallop to Bussah for medical aid. Mr. Eddy said, 'No, 'Ali, I am too near the end; nothing can avail now; I shall soon be gone.' He then gave Hassan messages to Dr. Samuel Jessup and Dr. Mary Eddy, and to the church in Mejdeluna (whom he had especially helped). When the paroxysm of pain came on 'Ali and Hassan brought hot stones from the fireplace outside, where the food had been cooked, and placed them at his feet, which were growing icy cold. They chafed his hands and did all in their power to relieve him. About 1 A. m., Sunday, November 4th, he said to Hassan, 'You can see by my pulse that death is near. When I cease to breathe, close my eyes, dress me in my clothes, take all my papers and the contents of my pockets, wrap them and carry them to Mrs. Eddy. Pack up the tent equipage and carry me to Bussah, and there Mr. Shikri will make a coffin. Then take me to Sidon. I wish my body to be buried there, among my people, and not in my lot in the Beirut cemetery.' He then placed his hand on 'Ali's head and bade him and Hassan a loving good-bye. His voice was growing weaker. He said to his little sons, 'Sleep on now; I shall sleep and not wake here.' His pulse grew feebler and his breathing ceased. His soul passed on to glory. Silence fell upon the lonely camp. The little boys say that they could not sleep, neither could they get warm. 'How could we get warm when our hearts were so cold?' At length one of them left his bed, got in with his brother, and locked in each other's arms they fell asleep.
"Mr. Eddy had for some time been conscious that a mortal malady was fastened upon him. With true prophetic instinct he had said to his wife, 'I shall die some day suddenly, so do not be alarmed when you bear of my death. I would prefer to die in the wilderness where I have spent so much of my time.' And his desire was accomplished. He died in his missionary tent, apart from the habitations of men, in the silence of the midnight, in those mountains of 'Galilee of the Gentiles,' his loyal disciple, the Bedawi, 'Ali Berdan, being the last to watch his expiring breath.
"When all was finished, in the quiet of the night 'Ali rode to Bussah and brought bearers. The camp was packed and taken to town. The bearers bore the dear form on a stretcher to Bussah, where it was laid in the public open area, and the villagers surrounded it with great lamentations. Shikri, a devoted friend and helper of Mr. Eddy, prepared a coffin. It was borne three miles down to the seashore near Zib (the ancient Achzib) where a boat with eight oarsmen was engaged to take the body to Sidon. After rowing eleven miles, opposite the Ladder of Tyre, a fierce north wind arose and made rowing impossible. They drew up to the beach and tried to tow the boat with a rope, but this was dangerous with the rising surf. They then landed, engaged a camel from a passing caravan, and set out for Tyre, seven miles distant. At Ras el Ain' three miles south of Tyre, they met a wagon and a company of friends' the pastor, Rev. Asaad Abbud, the Misses Walker and Onslow, of the British Syrian School, and others. At, the bridge of the river Kasimiyeh, five miles north of Tyre, they met Mr. Stuart Jessup and the Sidon pastor, Mr. Khalil Rasi, in a carriage, who took the wearied little orphan boys on with them to Sidon, where the party arrived met and accompanied by large numbers of brethren and friends. Mohammed Effendi Dada, a Moslem, one of the most devotedly attached friends of Mr. Eddy, and a skillful carpenter, superintended the making of an appropriate coffin in the industrial shops, to replace the rough box made in Bussah, and after the body was transferred to it, it was placed in the chapel for the night.
"The sad telegraphic news reached Beirut at 2 P. m. Sunday, as also Tripoli and Zahleh. Dr. Mary P. Eddy, at M'aamittein near Beirut, was informed of her brother's death and set out by moonlight by carriage for Sidon. On Monday morning at six Messrs. Nelson of Tripoli, William Jessup of Zahleh, H. H. Jessup and March of Beirut with Professor Porter and Mr. Kurban of the college, and Mr. Powell, United States vice-consul, left for Sidon, arriving about noon.
"The funeral was held at 2 P. m. in the ancient Crusaders' Hall, the present chapel of the boarding-schools. It was a magnificent tribute to the memory of the departed one, Christians, Moslems, and Jews, and representatives of some twenty villages were present to do him reverence. Some came from 'Alma, thirty miles distant. The crowds about the chapel were so great that the street outside was blocked. The services were conducted by Drs. Henry and Samuel Jessup, Rev. F. W. March, Professor Porter, Rev. William Jessup, and Rev. Asaad Abbud.
"As the procession passed through the streets, the Moslems shut their shops and stood in silence on both sides of the street, and many of them walked the mile out to the cemetery. Thousands of the people of Sidon and the vicinity crowded into the streets and open spaces as the funeral line advanced. The head of the Romish Latin convent exclaimed as the cortege passed, 'That man has gone straight to heaven.' Three elegiac poems were recited over the grave by young men from the Gerard Institute. The expressions of sympathy were very affecting.
"As the people left the cemetery, the missionaries stood with Dr, Nelson, the brother of Mrs. Eddy, near the gate to receive, according to the Syrian custom, the parting bow and salutation of the friends. One elderly Moslem called out, 'We shall never forget him, we shall never forget you, God comfort you.' The grief of the people old and young, of teachers and preachers and neighbours, was very great. It was a solemn hour for all. Sidon and Syria had lost a champion.
"Mr. Eddy developed remarkable power as a missionary. He was a man of more than ordinary intellectual ability and force of character. His whole heart was in evangelistic work. The mission assigned to him the care of an extensive district' including many outstations with their churches and schools. The Syrian pastors and helpers under his superintendence needed and received his constant cooperation in a thousand matters. He was indefatigable in his labours. He spent no small part of each year on horseback, visiting the various parts of his great bishopric, sleeping in the native houses, exposing himself freely to every kind of hardship and privation, travelling in summer's heat and winter's cold, and not only in sunshine but in rain and snow. In the mingled beauty and strength of his Christian consecration, he was an ideal missionary. He took, too, a deep interest in matters outside of his own immediate field. He was one of the best informed men in the world regarding the political, econornic, and moral problems in the Turkish Empire."
He died December 3, 1906. At the meeting of the mission an appropriate minute was adopted, and a memorial service held in which fifteen American and English missionaries recounted their impressions of his life and character. He was in many respects the ideal missionary.
The third stroke of sorrow came in the death of Prof. Robert Haldane West of the Syrian Protestant College on December 12th, of typhoid fever. He came to Syria November 14, 1883, and for twenty years has been a man to reckon upon in the college. He won the affection and respect of all who knew him. His high scientific attainments as a mathematician and astronomer, his mechanical skill, his practical good sense, his knowledge of human nature, his firm stand for truth and righteousness, his great humility, and godly life made him a fit example for the hundreds of young men who came under his influence.
On August 30, 1905, he was one of the astronomers appointed to observe the solar eclipse at Assouan, Upper Egypt. Robert West was a saintly scholar and a scholarly saint.
1907 - Early in 1907 the Moslem journals in Egypt and Syria boasted that Japan was likely to become Mohammedan; that a deputation of learned sheikhs had interviewed the Mikado, who was disposed to adopt Islam as the national faith. Well assured that the story was false, I wrote to Dr. Imbrie of Tokio, who replied that there was not a Moslem in Japan, that no deputation of Moslems had seen the Mikado nor could see him. I translated Dr. lmbrie's letter into Arabic and had it published in the Ahram of Cairo, as we could not print it in Syria. Here the Moslems can attack Christianity, but no Christian can reply. (It remains to be seen whether, under the new constitution of July 24, 1908, free discussions with Moslems will be allowed.)
In June we gave diplomas to four theological graduates, who went at once to their fields of labour, three in Northern Syria, and one to the Bookaa.
The necrology of this year includes the death, on February 1st, of Mr. Selim Kessab, a prominent Christian worker, and, on March 2d, that of Miss Proctor, founder of the Shwifat schools.
Mr. Kessab, or "Muallim Selim," as he was familiarly called, was a native of Damascus, born in the year 1841. In July, 1860, at the time of the dreadful massacre in Damascus, he was the Arabic teacher and helper of Rev. John Crawford, of the Irish Presbyterian Mission. They bad gone to Yabrood for the summer, when the Moslem villagers attempted to kill him, asserting that all Christians were to be massacred, but the friendly sheikh protected him and the missionaries. The massacre in Damascus took place July 9th, and a fortnight later a party of Algerine horsemen of the Prince Abd el Kadir went to Yabrood, at the request of the British consul and escorted them safety to Damascus. Two months later he removed with the missionaries Crawford and Robson to Beirut, where in September he met Mrs. Bowen Thompson, just arrived from England to aid in the relief of the widows and orphans. He was her interpreter and teacher, and became in time the head master of the institution, and was for years the trusted examiner of all the British Syrian Schools. He was prominent in the Syrian Evangelical Church, and often preached with great acceptance. His Arabic was both clear and classical, and he was master of the most extensive "bahr," or vocabulary, in Arabic, that I have ever known. He spoke with great ease and fluency. On the last morning of his life he entered the chapel of the institution as usual, to conduct morning prayers. In the midst of the prayer he suddenly fell back and expired from heart failure. His death was a great loss to the cause of Protestant Christian education and to the church in Syria. He was the founder and first president of Beirut City Y. M. C. A. called in Arabic "The Shems ul Bir," or sun of righteousness.
Miss Louisa Proctor came to Syria as a traveller, in 1880, and joined Mrs. Mentor Mott in the British Syrian School work. Later she assisted successively Miss Hicks of the Female Education Society in Shemlan, Mount Lebanon, and Miss Taylor in her remarkable work for Moslem and Druse girls in Beirut. Up to 1885 the Shwifat schools were under the American Mission, and in August, 1880, Miss Susan H. Calhoun with her widowed mother began a high school for girls' which continued until their departure, on account of impaired health, for America in April,
1885. Miss Proctor then acceded to the request of the Shwifat people, and, in September, 1886, opened a boarding-school for girls with fifteen pupils, being assisted by the Syrian preacher of the American Mission, Rev. Tannus Saad, who continued as her assistant and manager up to the time of her death. She erected a large edifice for a boys' boarding-school, and, at the time of her decease, had in both schools 183 pupils, of whom 114 were boarders. She devoted her fortune and her whole time and strength to these schools. She had remarkable self-consuming zeal, great energy and executive ability, and even in advancing years taught her, class with all fidelity. Her work is now under the care of Miss Stephenson, Rev. Tannus Saad, and a committee of friends in England and Beirut. Shwifat is a large village of Greeks and Druses, at the base of the Lebanon range, six miles south of Beirut.
In May an imperial order was issued for the Syrian Protestant College and the American schools in the empire, granting them the same immunities that are given to the schools of other nations. The state of the empire seemed almost hopeless. Murder and outrage were unpunished, secret, police and spies made life miserable: everything was under censorship and espionage and the best citizens were constantly maltreated, imprisoned or exiled. No one could blame the people for emigrating in thousands.
In this same month two corner-stones were laid with great ceremony - that of the Orthodox Greek bishop's proposed college, and the Waly's industrial schools. The latter were completed and opened for pupils, but on the removal of the Waly who founded them, and having no endowment or fixed income, they have been closed. The Greek college is still unfinished, as, owing to divisions in the sect, the funds failed for the time.
In June a young Persian Moslem convert, a pupil of Sidon school, who had been teaching in Hauran, was arrested and imprisoned in Damascus and Beirut. No charge was filed against him, and he was not given a trial, but the police and zabtiyehs expected bribes and kept him in prison for months.
On June 28th Muzuffar Pasha, Governor of Lebanon, died, regretted by none. His family had exploited the Lebanon district for months, shamelessly taking bribes, until his government became a byword. He was succeeded in the fall by Yusef Franco, son of a former governor, who has yet to prove his competence for this high office.
We were all made very anxious, in September, by the serious illness of Dr. Daniel Bliss. It was cause for the greatest thankfulness that he was mercifully restored to health, and he has now recovered his usual vigour, to the great joy of the whole community.
The American Press reported this year that 75'200 volumes, and 22,292,842 pages had been printed, making, from the beginning, 878,756,184 pages. The mission had 100 schools of all grades, and 5,089 pupils. The income from pupils in all the mission schools was $41,632, and the Syrian Protestant College income was even larger.
In October my only surviving sister, Miss Fanny M. Jessup, died in Montrose, Pa., aged seventy-two years. She was a model of loving devotion to her kindred and service to her church. During the fifty-two years of my residence in Syria she had, when not disabled by illness, written me or brother Samuel a
weekly letter. Through her we have been kept in close touch with the home friends and the home land. Though struggling for forty years with an incurable malady, she maintained her cheerful Christian courage and found joy in blessing others.
But I little thought what a grievous affliction was in store for me, when, after the December mission meeting was over, my dear wife, Theodosia, was taken suddenly ill with a cold which developed rapidly into pneumonia. Her heart was affected, and in the early morning of December 19th she breathed her last, peacefully falling asleep in Jesus. She said she was ready to go, but she longed to remain for the sake of her loved ones, and because there was so much more she wanted to do for her Lord. Others have spoken and written of her eminent piety, her high intellectual gifts, her musical talents and unwearied missionary labours, her organization of the societies which are carrying on the work of Christian Endeavour, the Beirut reading-room, and the Syrian Women's "Helping Hand." The sympathy of our friends, Syrian and foreign, was unbounded, and the tributes paid to her character and life were beautiful. "She hath done what she could."
A learned effendi of Beirut recently said to me that the socalled Koranic learning of the Azhar University is a sham and behind the age. Said he, "Of what use is it that this Fukih or learned sheikh can tell you twenty different interpretations of a verse of The Koran, or a point of law, and strut about in his long robes full of scholastic conceit? We want men trained in practical things, and not men living in the seventh and eighth centuries!"
The Moslems have many fine traits, and hold to much of the truth. A poor Protestant girl in Beirut, wasted with consumption, helped to support herself and her widowed mother by knitting the beautiful thread edging called "oya" on the border of the muslin veils of the Syrian women. One day she started to walk down-town about a mile, to deliver to the merchant a dozen veils she had finished. When nearly down to the old city she sank exhausted by the wayside. Nearly opposite was a Moslem coffee-house. An elderly white-bearded Moslem saw her and hastened to carry her a stool and help her to sit on it. He said, "My child, you look very ill. Why did you try to walk this hot day?" He then ordered iced lemonade, ordered a carriage, and drove with her to an educated Moslem doctor in the vicinity. Getting a prescription, for which he paid, and paying the pharmacist also for the medicine, he ordered the driver to take her home at his expense! She did not know his name, but in telling us of it a few days after as we called on her, lying on her bed, she said, "Was not that like the Good Samaritan?" We assured her that it was. But we could not ascertain the name of the kind-hearted old man.
Let us print and teach and live before them a Christian life and we may win them to Christ. The Arabic Bible with educational and medical missions will be the efficient factors in bringing Islam to Christ!
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