HISTORY OF THE MISSIONS OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR FOREIGN MISSIONS TO THE ORIENTAL CHURCHES.
BY RUFUS ANDERSON, D.D., LL.D., LATE FOREIGN SECRETARY OF THE BOARD.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
BOSTON: CONGREGATIONAL PUBLISHING SOCIETY. 1872.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by THE AMERICAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR FOREIGN MISSIONS, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
RIVERSIDE, CAMBRIDGE: STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY H. 0. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY.
Missions to the Oriental Churches occupy a large space in the forty-nine volumes of the Missionary Herald, and in as many Annual Reports of the Board; and in view of the multitude of facts, from which selections must be made to do justice to the several missions, it will readily be seen, that their history cannot be compressed into a single volume. The Missions may be regarded as seven or eight in number; considering the Palestine and Syria missions as really but one, and the several Armenian missions as also one. The history of the Syria mission, in its connection with the American Board, covers a period of fifty-one years; that of the Nestorian, thirty-seven; that of the Greek mission, forty-three; of the Assyrian (as a separate mission), ten; of the Armenian mission, to the present time, forty; and of the Bulgarian, twelve. The mission to the Jews, extending through thirty years, was so intimately connected with these, as to demand a place in the series; and the facts scattered through half a century, illustrating the influence exerted on the Mohammedans, are such as to require a separate embodiment.
In writing the history, one of three methods was to be adopted; either to embrace all the missions in one continuous narrative; or to carry forward the narrative of each mission, separately and continuously, through its entire period; or, rejecting both these plans, to keep the narratives of the several missions distinct, but, by suitable alternations from one to another, to secure for the whole the substantial advantages of a contemporaneous history. The first could not be done satisfactorily, so long as the several missions have a separate existence in the minds of so many readers, and while so many feel a strong personal interest in what is said or omitted. Even on the plan adopted, so much must necessarily be omitted, or stated very briefly, as to endanger a feeling, that injustice has been done to some excellent missionaries. As for the second, the author had not the courage to undertake consecutive journeys through so many long periods; and he believed not a few of his readers would sympathize with him. If, however, any desire to read the history of any one mission through in course, the table of contents will make that easy. Each of the histories is complete, so far as it goes.
No attempt has been made to write a philosophical history of missions. The book of the Acts of the Apostles is not such a history, nor has one yet been written. The time has not come for that. There are not the necessary materials. The directors of missions, and missionaries themselves, have not yet come to a full practical agreement as to the principles that underlie the working of missions, nor as to the results to be accomplished by them; and it must be left to competent writers in the future,—when the whole subject shall be more generally and better understood,—after patiently examining the proceedings of missionary societies in America, England, Scotland, and Germany, to state and apply the principles that may be thus evolved. The most that can now be done, is to record the facts in their natural connections, together with the more obvious teachings of experience. If the author has been successful in doing this, his end is gained.
In the present state of religious opinion respecting divine Providence among a portion of the reading community, it may be proper to state the author's strong conviction, that the promise of the Lord Jesus, to be with his missionaries, pledges the divine interposition in their behalf; and that "whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord." In the work of missions, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." The history before us often presents cases, in which there is no more reason to doubt the divine agency, than the human; and no intelligent missionary would labor hopefully and cheerfully, after becoming a disbeliever in a particular providence.
Nearly all the early laborers in the fields here presented, have finished their work on earth. Parsons and Fisk were the only ones, with whom the writer had not a personal acquaintance. Of not a few others,—and of some who, like himself, still linger here,—he has many pleasant personal recollections that sweeten anticipations of the heavenly world. He is thankful in being allowed to commemorate their labors and virtues, and only regrets the want of space and ability to do it better. His constant endeavor has been to present the missions to the reader as their imprint is left on his own mind. More biographical notices would have been gladly inserted, had there been room. The details of persecution are sufficient to furnish glimpses of the severe ordeal, through which it has pleased the Head of the Church to bring the infant churches of those fields.
The Syria and Nestorian missions passed under the direction of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in the year 1870, and our history of them closes at that time. Up to that date, the Congregational and New School Presbyterian Churches (the Old School Presbyterians also up to the year 1837, and the Reformed Dutch Church for many years) sustained an equal relation to all these missions. The mission to the Jews in Turkey was relinquished in 1856, out of regard to Scotch and English brethren, who had undertaken to cultivate that field. The communities in Turkey among whom our missionaries now labor, are the Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Mohammedans, and the Arabic-speaking Christians of Eastern Turkey.
The Board has ever acted on the belief, that its labors should not be restricted to pagan nations.1 The word "heathen" in the preamble of its charter, is descriptive and not restrictive. It is not in the Constitution of the Board, which was adopted at its first meeting only a few weeks after its organization. The second article of the Constitution declares it to be the object of the Board, "to devise, adopt, and prosecute ways and means for propagating the Gospel among those who are destitute of the knowledge of Christianity." This of course includes Mohammedans and Jews; and those who carefully consider the statements embodied in the Introduction to the History, will see that it embraces, also, the Oriental Churches, as they were fifty years ago.
1 These remarks were suggested by a speech at the Annual Meeting of the Board in Salem, by the Rev. S. B. Treat, Home Secretary of the Board.
In November, 1812, the year in which the first missionaries sailed for Calcutta, a committee, appointed by the Board to appeal to its constituency, used this emphatic language: "It is worthy of consideration, that the Board is not confined in its operations to any part of the world, but may direct its attention to Africa, North or South America, or the Isles of the Sea, as well as to Asia." At the Annual Meeting in 1813, it was voted: "That the Prudential Committee be directed to make inquiry respecting the settlement of a mission at San Salvador, in Brazil, at Port Louis, in the Isle of France, or on the island of Madagascar." In the latter part of 1818, it was resolved to commence a mission in Western Asia. The Prudential Committee said, in their Report for 1819: "In Palestine, Syria, the provinces of Asia Minor, Armenia, Georgia, and Persia, though Mohammedan countries, there are many thousands of Jews, and many thousands of Christians, at least in name. But the whole mingled population is in a state of deplorable ignorance and degradation,—destitute of the means of divine knowledge, and bewildered with vain imaginations and strong delusions." In that year Pliny Fisk and Levi Parsons embarked for this field.
This historical review makes it clear, that those who organized the Board and directed its early labors, regarded not only Pagans, but Mohammedans, Jews, and nominal Christians, as within the sphere of its labors; and such has been the practical construction for nearly sixty years.
The reader is referred to the close of the second volume for an Index; also, for a detailed statement of the Publications issued by the several missions, which must impress any one with the amount, value, and influence of the intellectual labor there embodied. Had these statements been given at length in the History, they would have embarrassed its progress. A list is also appended of the Missionaries, male and female, giving the time during which they were severally connected with the missions.
Thankful acknowledgments are due to the Rev. Thomas Laurie, D.D., the writer of a number of valuable and popular works, and to the Rev. Isaac R. Worcester, well known as the Editor of the Missionary Herald, for their kind and careful revision of the work.
This History of the Missions of the Board to the Oriental Churches, is respectfully dedicated to the friends of those missions; and the author, who has no pecuniary interest in the work, will be amply rewarded, should he be regarded as having given a true and faithful account of the agency of the Board in the Republication of the Gospel in Bible Lands.
MISSIONS TO THE ORIENTAL CHURCHES.
CHAPTER I. PALESTINE.—1819-1824.
The First Missionaries.—Their Instructions.—Reception by other Missionaries.—The Seven Churches.—Temporary Separation.—Mr. Parsons at Jerusalem.—Disturbing Influence from the Greek Revolution.—Returns to Smyrna.—Their Voyage to Alexandria.—Death and Character of Mr. Parsons.—Mr. Fisk goes to Malta.—Printing Establishment.—Rev. Jonas King becomes Mr. Fisk's Associate.—Rev. Joseph Wolff.—The Missionaries in Egypt.—Crossing the Desert.—At Jerusalem.—Beirut and Lebanon.—The Emir Beshir.—An interesting Convocation.—Journals and Labors.—Jerusalem revisited.—Arrest of Messrs. Fisk and Bird.—Visit to Hebron.—Sale of Scriptures. —Return to Beirut.—Communion of Saints.—Journey to Damascus and Aleppo.
CHAPTER II. PALESTINE.—1824-1843.
Proclamation of the Grand Seignior.—Jerusalem again visited. —Absurd Reports.—Disturbed State of the Country.—Mr. King's Farewell Letter.—He visits Smyrna and Constantinople. —Contributions in France and England.—Agency among the Churches. —Sickness and Death of Mr. Fisk.—His Character.—Jerusalem reoccupied.—Danger to the Mission Families.—Death of Mrs. Thomson.—New Missionaries.—Death of Dr. Dodge.—The Cholera. —Station at Jerusalem suspended.—Opinion of Dr. Hawes.—Burying Ground on Mount Zion.
CHAPTER III. SYRIA.—1823-1828.
Origin of the Mission to Syria.—Beirut.—Studies of the Missionaries.—Native Helpers.—Papal Opposition.—Hopeful View. —Education.—First Acquaintance with Asaad Shidiak.—Greek Invasion.—Providential Interposition.—Pious Natives.—Dionysius at Jerusalem.—A Prayer-meeting.—The Mission Church.—Works in the Native Languages.—Persecution of Mr. Bird.—Apprehension of War. —Suspension of the Mission.—Parting Scene.
CHAPTER IV. SYRIA.—THE MARTYR OF LEBANON.—1826-1830.
Significance of the Narrative.—Early History of Asaad.—Becomes known to the Missionaries.—Employed by Mr. King.—Prepares an Answer to Mr. King's "Farewell Letter."—His Conversion.—Employed by the Mission.—Stands on Protestant Ground.—His Constitutional Weakness.—Puts Himself in the Patriarch's Power.—His Boldness. —His Escape.—His Account of his Experiences.—First Effort to Recapture him.—Second and successful Effort.—Is taken to the Patriarch.—Imprisoned and in Chains.—The Family relent.—Barbarous Treatment.—Increased Cruelty.—Time and Manner of his Death.—A Martyr.—Exploration by an English Merchant.—Remarks on the Narrative.
CHAPTER V. THE PRESS AT MALTA.—1822-1833.
Why at Malta.—Successful Publications.—Publication of the Armeno-Turkish New Testament.—Extent of the Publications.—Singular Use of Alphabets and Languages.—Preaching at Malta.—Missionary Fellowship.—The Press removed to Smyrna.
CHAPTER VI. PRELIMINARY EXPLORATIONS.—1828-1831.
Need of Information.—The Author's Visit to the Mediterranean. —Results of Malta Conferences.—Explorers of Armenia.—Preparations for the Tour.—The Route.—Sojourn at Shoosha.—German Colonies. —Sufferings from Illness.—Kindness of the English Embassy in Persia.—The Nestorians of Former Ages.—How Attention was first drawn to the Nestorians.—A Week among the Nestorians.—The Published Researches.—Religious Condition of the Armenians.
CHAPTER VII. THE ARMENIANS.—1827-1835.
Effect of Mr. King's "Farewell Letter."—School of Peshtimaljian. —Its Influence on the Priesthood.—The Erasmus of the Armenians.—A Preparedness for Reformation.—Commencement of the Mission. —Splendid Scenery.—Destructive Conflagration.—Schools for the Greeks.—The Armenian Patriarch.—Accessions to the Mission.—Outset of the Mission characterized.—Unexpected Obstacles.—Remarkable Converts.—Removal of the Press.—Supply of School-books.—High School.—New Missionaries.—New Stations.
CHAPTER VIII. THE ARMENIANS.—1836-1840.
Trebizond.—Favoring Circumstances.—Improvement in the Publishing Department.—Progressive Civilization among the Turks.—Papal Opposition.—Signs of Progress.—Education of Women.—Active Usefulness of Der Kevoork.—Death of Peshtimaljian.—Deaths by the Plague.—Missionary Convocation.—Remarkable Occurrence.—Serope at Broosa.—Vertanes and Haritun.—Year of Persecution.—Causes of the Persecution.—The Sultan enlisted.—Deposition of the Patriarch Stepan.—Banishment of Hohannes.—Zeal of the Persecutors. —Cooeperation of the Greek Synod.—An Imperial Firman.—Efforts to Expel the Missionaries.—Divine Providence effectually interposes. —The Power of the Persecution broken.—Hohannes recalled.—The Persecutors brought low.—Stepan restored to Office.
CHAPTER IX. THE ARMENIANS.—1840-1844.
Pledges of the New Sultan.—Boarding School at Bebek.—Station commenced at Erzroom.—Interest at Nicomedia.—The Gospel introduced into Adabazar.—Danger from the Papacy.—Favorable Reaction.—New Missionaries.—Publications.—Scripture Translations.—Education. —Signs of Progress.—Visit of Vertanes to Nicomedia.—Awakening at Adabazar.—New Missionaries.—An Anxious Sinner seeking Rest. —Unexpected Opposition.—Hohannes goes to the United States.—A Native Mission.—Prayer Meetings.—Publications.—Preaching to Women.—A Turkish Execution.—Efforts of Sir Stratford Canning.—A Second Execution.—The Ambassador's Demand on the Sultan.—The Death Penalty no more to be Inflicted.—Importance of the Pledge. —Sufferings from Persecution.—Changes in the Mission.—Case of Mr. Temple.—Death of Mrs. Van Lennep.
CHAPTER X. GREECE AND THE GREEKS.—1824-1844.
The Greek Mind as affected by Circumstances.—Death of Mr. Gridley. —Education of Greek Youth.—Result of Experience.—Marriage of Mr. King.—His School in Poros.—He removes to Athens.—Change in the Government.—A New Missionary.—High Schools.—Station at Argos. —Power of the Hierarchy.—Free Circulation of the New Testament. —Opposition to the Old Testament.—Intrigues against the Mission. —Success notwithstanding.—Station on Scio.—Argos relinquished. —Removal from Scio to Ariopolis.—Serious Embarrassments.—Death of Mrs. Houston.—Religious Toleration and Political Parties.—Growth of Intolerance.—The Station abandoned.—The Retiring Missionaries. —Station among the Greeks of Cyprus.—Explorations.—Ignorance of the People.—Insalubrious Climate.—Friendly Disposition of the People.—Death of Mr. Pease.—Relinquishment of the Station.—Athens the only Station retained in Greece.—Preaching and the Press. —Labors among the Greeks of Turkey.—Why in great measure Discontinued.—Valuable Results.
CHAPTER XI. THE NESTORIANS.—1833-1836.
Commencement of the Mission.—Instructions to the Missionary.—Rise of the Nestorians.—Their Missions.—Destroyed by the Mohammedans. —The Overland Journey of Mr. and Mrs. Perkins.—Hardships endured in Russia.—Kindness of the British Embassy in Persia.—Remarkable Escape.—Friends in Need.—The Field to be Occupied.—Preliminary Measures.—Additional Laborers.—The Province of Oroomiah.—Dr. Grant's Medical Practice.—Recollections of Dr. Grant.—When a Missionary Physician is most valuable.—A Nestorian Wedding. —Reducing the Language to Writing.—Rise of the Seminary for Males.—School for Moslem Youths.—Sickness in the Mission.
CHAPTER XII. THE NESTORIANS.—1836-1840.
Escape from Assassination.—New Missionaries.—First Impressions. —Too much Pecuniary Aid given to the People.—Native Helpers. —Eminent Qualities of Mrs. Grant.—She commences the Female Seminary.—Her Death.—Priest Dunka.—Robert Glen.—Schools. —Scarcity of Scriptures in Ancient Syriac.—Dr. Grant's Desire to enter Koordistan from the East.—Authorized to enter from the West. —An Arduous Journey.—Battle of Nizib.—Consequent Anarchy at Diarbekir.—Mr. Homes.—Dr. Grant goes to Mosul.—Starts for Koordistan.—Is challenged from the Rocks.—Welcomed by the Mountaineers.—Boldly enters Tiary.—Pleasing Meditations.—His Reception there.—A Learned Priest.—How Received by Mar Shimon. —The Patriarch described.—Old Parchment Copy of the New Testament.—Visits Nurullah Bey.—His return to Oroomiah.—New Missionaries.—Arrival of Press and Type.—Bold Inroad of Jesuits. —Counteractive Influences.—Demand for Preaching.—What was the Calamity of the Nestorians.
CHAPTER XIII. THE MOUNTAIN NESTORIANS.—1840-1844.
Invitations from the Patriarch.—Dr. Grant resolves to return Home through the Mountains.—Ten Days at Julamerk.—Womanly Forethought. —Arrival at Boston.—Work on the Ten Tribes of Israel. —Missionaries for Koordistan.—Dr. Grant returns through Van. —Again with the Patriarch.—Painful Tidings.—Hastens to Mosul. —Journey of the New Missionaries.—Death of Mr. Mitchell. —Sufferings and Death of Mrs. Mitchell.—Seasonable Arrival of Dr. Grant.—Reflections.—Reception by the Jacobites.—A Syrian Priest from India.—The Koords making War on the Nestorians.—Bishop Athanasius.—Dr. Grant again visits Oroomiah.—A Third Time enters the Mountains.—Guest of Mar Shimon.—The Patriarch's Cooeperation. —Mr. Hinsdale.—Papal Missionaries.—Dr. Grant visits Nurullah Bey.—Returns to Mosul.—Death of Mr. Hinsdale.—Influence of Mr. Ainsworth and Mr. Badger on the Patriarch.—Letter from Mar Shimon to English Bishops.—Dr. Grant's Last Visit with Mr. Laurie to the Patriarch.—Visits Bader Khan Bey.—Subjugation of the Mountain Nestorians.—Escape of Dr. Grant.—Destruction of Tiary.—The Patriarch flees to Mosul.—Destruction of Life.—Death of Mrs. Laurie.—Arrival of Dr. Azariah Smith.—Death of Dr. Grant. —Reflections on his Life and Character.—Tiary again explored. —Discontinuance of the Western Branch of the Mission.—Disposal of the Missionaries.
CHAPTER XIV. SYRIA.—1830-1838.
The Station at Beirut resumed.—Gregory Wortabet.—His Conversion. —Accompanies the Missionaries to Malta.—Returns to Syria.—Active in the Christian Life.—Respected by all Classes.—His Death. —Disturbing Influences.—Conquest of Syria by Ibrahim Pasha.—Mr. Bird's Letters in the Arabic Language.—Arabic Press at Beirut. —Explorations in the Hauran.—Journal of the Tour lost in a Shipwreck.—Presses in Syria.—Influence of the Mission.—National Protection.—Schools.—Retirement of Mr. and Mrs. Bird.—Accessions to the Mission.—Improvements in the High School.—Great Improvements in Arabic Type.—Death of Mrs. Smith.—Biblical Researches.
CHAPTER XV. THE DRUZES, AND THE WARS OF LEBANON.—1835-1842.
The Druzes.—Hope of introducing the Gospel among them.—Disposition to Hear.—Their Leading Motive.—Subdued by Ibrahim Pasha. —Increased Tendency towards a Nominal Christianity.—A Hopeful Druze Convert.—His Firmness under Persecution.—Admitted to the Church.—Striking Illustration of an Apparent Religious Interest. —Papal Opposition and its Effect.—Treatment of Papal Druzes. —Causes of Declining Interest.—Changes in the Mission.—Evidence of Progress.—Connection between Religious and Political Events. —Consequent Warlike Proceedings.—Remarkable Preservation of Mission Property.—The persecuting Emir Beshir deposed.—Changes in the Seminary.—The Mission Reassembled.—Inroad of French Jesuits. —Mistaken Policy of English Officials.—The Patriarch's Effort to expel the Americans.—English Officers better informed.—Mistake of the American Minister.—Renewed Interest among the Druzes.—Proffer of Friendly Aid.—An Unfortunate Interposition.—The Patriarch makes War to his own Ruin.—Deliverance of the Mission.—Its Favorable Prospects.—The Success of the Mission proportioned to its Efforts. —Value of the Results.—A Sudden and Disastrous Revolution.
CHAPTER XVI. SYRIA.—1842-1846.
Experiences of the Mission.—Missionary Convention.—The People all of one Race.—The most Hopeful Districts.—When to form Churches. —Qualifications for Church membership not to be relaxed.—Practical Errors.—Counteracting Agencies.—Call for Preaching at Hasbeiya.—A Secession from the Greek Church.—Attention given to the Gospel. —Needed Explanations.—Affecting Scene.—Arrival of Persecutors. —Seasonable Intervention.—The Protestants obliged to flee.—Their Return.—Interference of the Russian Consul General.—Partial Success of the Enemy.—The Jerusalem Station suspended.—The Seminary revived.—Death of Yakob Agha.—Another War between Druzes and Maronites.—Its Results.—Friendly Services of the Missionaries.—Reflections on the Patriarch's Death.—After the War.
CHAPTER XVII. DR. JONAS KING AND THE GREEK HIERARCHY.—1845-1847.
Importance of this Struggle.—The Accusations against Dr. King.—His Response.—Increased Violence of the Opposition.—His Examination by a Judge.—His Book denounced at Constantinople.—The Courts against him.—Goes to the Criminal Court at Syra.—A Dangerous Gathering. —Returns to Athens.—Is offered British Protection.—Again cited for Trial at Syra.—The Citation recalled.—Alleviations.—Renewal of the Storm.—Extraordinary Accusations.—Call from the Governor of Attica.—A Guard of Soldiers.—Advice from the King.—Offer of Sir Edmund Lyons.—Retires to Geneva.—More Slanderous Accusations.—His House protected.—Subsequent Proceedings of the Government.—Goes to Malta.—Editions of his "Farewell Letter."
CHAPTER XVIII. DR. JONAS KING AND THE GREEK HIERARCHY.—1847-1869.
Returns to Athens.—His Reasons.—The Reception.—Resumes his Labors.—His Chief Accuser discredited.—Cheering Incident.—The Greek Synod demands his Prosecution.—An Outbreak.—Quelled by raising the United States Flag.—Answers to a Judge.—Effect of a New Publication.—Allegations for a New Trial.—The Trial at Athens.—Decides to go to the Court-room openly and on foot. —Extraordinary Sources of Proof.—His Condemnation.—Ground of the Condemnation.—Is imprisoned.—Appeals to the Areopagus.—Which confirms the Sentence.—Greek Lawyers dissent from the Courts. —Appeal to the United States Government.—The Rights of Missionaries.—The Appeal responded to.—Opinion of the President. —Justice partially rendered.—Sentence of Banishment revoked. —Opinion of the American Minister.—Favorable Change in the Popular Sentiment.—Temporary Outbreak of the Old Enmity.—Unexpected Citation.—The Judges decide not to proceed.—Cooeperation of other Missionaries.—A Revolution in the Government.—Disgrace of Old Persecutors.—New King and Constitution.—Association of Editors. —An Act of Public Justice.—Visit to the United States.—Return to Greece.—Zealous Native Labors.—Conference with the President of the Synod.—Death of Dr. King.—General Reflections.
CHAPTER XIX. THE NESTORIANS.—1841-1848.
Visit of Dr. and Mrs. Perkins to the United States.—Accompanied by Mar Yohannan.—Schools and the Press.—Improved Type.—Health Station.—New Missionaries.—Dr. Perkins's History of the Mission. —His Return.—Version of the Scriptures.—Religious Influences. —The Jesuits and French Government.—Counteracting Influences.—The Patriarchal Family.—Hostility of the Patriarch.—Dismission of the Schools.—Female Seminary revived.—Boys' Seminary reorganized.—On employing the Higher Clergy.—Mr. Merrick's Connection with the Mission.—Ordinations.—Protection for Native Christians.—The First Revival.—Its First Fruits.—Brother of the Patriarch.—Interest at Geog Tapa.—Interest in the Boys' Seminary.—Estimated Number of Converts.—Modern Syriac New Testament.—Translation of the Old Testament.—Nestorian Hymn Book.—New Missionaries.—Devastation by the Cholera.—Dr. Wright's Visit to Bader Khan Bey.—Wonderful Change in the Mountains.—Homeward Route.—Mar Shimon invited to Constantinople.—Flees to Oroomiah.—Conflicting Influences upon him.—His Apparent Friendship.—Throws off the Mask.—His Power circumscribed.—His Unfriendly Acts.—The Government interposes. —His Combination with the Jesuits.—Prejudicial to Both.—Death of the King.—Providential Interpositions.—Persecution of Deacon Tamo.—Deposition of the Great Koordish Chieftains.
CHAPTER XX. THE NESTORIANS.—1848-1852.
Mr. Stoddard Visits the United States.—Death of Mrs. Stoddard. —State of the Schools.—Mar Shimon returns to the Mountains.—A Visit to Mosul.—A Second Revival.—Deacon Guwergis.—Third Revival.—Deacon John.—Deacon Jeremiah.—Various Tours.—The Mission Enlarged.—Advance in Female Education.—Village Schools. —Sabbath-schools.—The Monthly Concert.—Preaching Tours.—Deacon Isaac.—Station at Gawar.—A Remarkable Youth.—Adverse Influences. —Persecution of Deacon Tamo.—Intervention of Lieut.-Col. Williams.—Powerful Friends.—Release of Tamo.—Favorable Results. —Modern Syriac Bible.
CHAPTER XXI. SYRIA.—1845-1856.
Good News from the North.—Mr. Thomson Visits Aleppo.—The People characterized.—Greek Catholic Archbishop.—Visit to Hasbeiya.—Mr. Laurie's Return Home.—Unsuccessful Appeal for Laborers.—Relation of the Druzes to Mohammedanism.—Successful Appeal of the Hasbeiyans to the Turkish Government.—Desperate Resort of the Greek Patriarch.—Formation of a Purely Native Church.—Translation of the Scriptures into the Arabic.—Station of Aleppo.—Visit to Northern Lebanon.—Death of Bedros.—Intelligent Men affected by the Truth. —Another Visit to Hasbeiya.—English Protection.—Seminary at Abeih.—Improved Arabic Type.—The Native Church.—Outrages at Aleppo.—Effect of the Proceedings.—Pupils in the Seminary.—The Church at Hasbeiya.—John Wortabet.—Drs. Bacon and Robinson. —Female Boarding School.—Native Church at Abeih.—Experience in Different Localities.—An Interesting Conversion.—Hopeful Developments.—Opposition and its Effect.—A Church built at Hasbeiya.—Progress of the Arabic Translation of the Scriptures. —The Gospel at Ain Zehalty.—Northern Syria transferred to the Armenian Mission.—Accessions and Bereavements.—General View.
CHAPTER XXII. THE ARMENIANS.—1845-1846.
The Grand Crisis.—The Persecuting Patriarch.—Mention of Bishop Southgate.—The Patriarch's Mode of Proceeding.—His Treatment of Bedros Vartabed.—Priest Vertanes.—The Chief Persecutors. —Persecution at Erzroom.—Its Effect.—Central Position of Erzroom.—Progress at Trebizond.—Persecutions.—The Patriarch resorts to Excommunication.—Temporal Penalties enforced.—The Patriarch and the First Protestant Pastor.—Appeals of the Persecuted.—Charitable Aid.—Good Resulting from Evil. —Intervention of the Government.—The Patriarch's Subterfuge.—Case of Priest Haritun.—A Temporary Triumph.—Cruelties at Adabazar and Trebizond.—A British Consul interposes.—Effect of the Persecutions.—Barbarities at Erzroom.
CHAPTER XXIII. THE ARMENIANS.—1846-1848.
Continued Persecutions.—Interposition of the English Ambassador. —Designation of "Protestants."—A Vizierial Letter.—The Patriarch's Hostility to the Seminary.—Its Effect.—Seminary for Young Ladies.—Perpetual Excommunication of the Protestants. —Consequent Organization of an Evangelical Church at Constantinople.—Choice of Officers.—Ordination of a Pastor. —Public Declaration of Faith.—Other Churches formed.—Early Death of the Pastor.—The Pastor's Wife.—Der Haritun.—Reformation at Aintab.—Visit of Mr. Van Lennep.—Visit of Mr. Johnston.—Arrival of Dr. Azariah Smith.—Mr. Schneider's Visit.—Trying Situation of the Protestants.—Power of the Patriarch reduced.—Number of the Protestants.—The Churches.—Additional Native Pastors.—Revivals of Religion.
We may not hope for the conversion of the Mohammedans, unless true Christianity be exemplified before them by the Oriental Churches. To them the native Christians represent the Christian religion, and they see that these are no better than themselves. They think them worse; and therefore the Moslem believes the Koran to be more excellent than the Bible.
It is vain to say, that the native Christians have so far departed from the truth that they do not feel the power of the Gospel, and that therefore the immorality of their lives is not to be attributed to its influence. The Mohammedan has seen no other effect of it, and he cannot be persuaded to read the Bible to correct the evidence of his observation, and perhaps also of his own painful experience.
Hence a wise plan for the conversion of the Mohammedans of Western Asia necessarily involved, first, a mission to the Oriental Churches. It was needful that the lights of the Gospel should once more burn on those candlesticks, that everywhere there should be living examples of the religion of Jesus Christ, that Christianity should no longer be associated in the Moslem mind with all that is sordid and base.
The continued existence of large bodies of nominal Christians among these Mohammedans, is a remarkable fact. They constitute more than a third part of the population of Constantinople, and are found in all the provinces of the empire, as, also, in Persia, and are supposed to number at least twelve millions. Being so numerous and so widely dispersed, should spiritual life be revived among them a flood of light would illumine the Turkish empire, and shine far up into Central Asia. The followers of Mohammed would look on with wonder, and perhaps, at first, with hatred and persecution; but new views of the Gospel would thus be forced upon them, and no longer would they be able to boast of the superiority of their own religion.
It is true of the Oriental Churches, that they have lost nearly all the essential principles of the Gospel; at least that those principles have, in great measure, ceased to have a practical influence.1 Their views of the Trinity, and of the divine and human natures of Christ, are not unscriptural; but their views of the way of salvation through the Son, and of the work of the Holy Spirit, are sadly perverted. The efficacy of Christ's death for the pardon of sin, is secured to the sinner, they suppose, by baptism and penance. The belief is universal, that baptism cancels guilt, and is regeneration. They also believe baptism to be the instrumental cause of justification. Hence faith is practically regarded as no more than a general assent of the understanding to the creeds of their churches. Of the doctrine of a justifying faith of the heart,—the distinguishing doctrine of the Gospel,—the people of the Oriental Churches are believed to have been wholly ignorant, before the arrival of Protestant missionaries among them.
1 This brief description of the religion of the Oriental Churches, is condensed from a statement by that eminent missionary, Dr. Eli Smith, in a sermon published in 1833, but now accessible to very few. I often use his words, as best adapted to convey the true idea. Subsequent observations, so far as I know, have never called for any modification in his statement.
Being thus freed from the condemning power of original sin, and regenerated by baptism, men were expected to work their way to heaven by observing the laws of God and the rites of the church. These rites were fasting, masses, saying of prayers, pilgrimages, and the like, and in practice crowded the moral law out of mind. The race of merit was hindered by daily sins, but not stopped, provided the sins were of a class denominated venial. These could be canceled by the rites of the church, the most important of which was the mass, or the consecration and oblation of the elements of the Lord's Supper. That ordinance is to be observed in remembrance of Christ, but the people of the Oriental Churches are taught to look upon it as a renewal of his death. On the priest's pronouncing the words, "This is my body," the elements are believed to be changed from bread and wine, and thenceforth to contain the body and blood, the soul and divinity, of Christ; so that He is crucified afresh, and made an expiatory sacrifice for sin, every time the consecration is performed; which, in most churches, is almost every morning in the year. Its merit attaches not only to the offerer and the partaker, but to all the faithful, living and dead; especially to those who, by paying the priest, or by some other service, have their names mentioned in the prayers that form a part of the ceremony.
Thus a ministry to offer sacrifices is substituted for a ministry to feed the flock of God with sound doctrine, and the spiritual worship of God is converted into the formal adoration of a wafer. Preaching is nowhere regarded as the leading duty of the clergy, but to say mass. By exalting the eucharist into an expiatory sacrifice, the partaking of the elements by the people came to be considered quite unessential, and is generally neglected. They need not understand, nor even hear the language of the officiating priest. It is enough, if they see and adore. A bell warns them when to make the needful genuflections and crosses. Nor can there be a reasonable doubt, that the adoration of the host (which is required on pain of excommunication in the Romish Church) is the grossest species of idolatry.
But there are deadly, as well as venial, sins; and these expose the soul to eternal punishment. When these are committed after baptism, they can be remitted only by auricular confession, or the sacrifice of penance, of which confession forms an essential part. To the efficacy of this ceremony, contrition of heart is supposed, in theory, to be essential; but its necessity is rarely taught, and the great mass of the community go away from the confessional fully satisfied that their sins are canceled by the mere external form.
Pardon by the priest is not, however, absolute. Grace is restored, and eternal punishment remitted, but there must be a temporary punishment,—certain penances, such as fasting, alms-giving, saying prayers, and the like. The fasts are merely the substituting of a less for a more palatable and nutritious diet. Alms are more for the spiritual benefit of the giver, than for the relief of the receiver. The supposed efficacy of prayer has no connection with the sincerity of the offerer. For in none of the Oriental Churches, excepting the Arabic branch of the Greek Church, are the prayers in a language understood by the people.
They believe that all who die before baptism, or after baptism with deadly sins unconfessed, are lost forever; but if one die after confession, and while his penance is incomplete, he cannot be sent to hell, neither is he prepared for heaven. He must first complete his penance in a temporary state of misery. This state the papists call purgatory; and though the other churches reject the name, they cleave tenaciously to the thing. As all believe that the sufferings of the departed may be shortened by the merit of good works performed by surviving relatives and imputed to them, prayers for the dead are frequent in churches and over graves, and masses are celebrated in their name.
Though the Nestorians renounced auricular confession, they no more looked to the redemption of Christ for pardon, than did their neighbors, and they knew of no other regeneration than baptism.
There is no need of entering here on the practical influence of such a religion on the lives of the people. That will appear in the progress of our history. Enough has been said to justify the American churches in laboring to restore to the degenerate churches of the East the Gospel they had lost, especially as an indispensable means of Christianizing the Moslems of Turkey and Persia.
The Oriental communities within the range of this history, are the following:—
The GREEKS; The ARMENIANS; The NESTORIANS; The JACOBITES; The BULGARIANS; The ROMAN CATHOLICS OF TURKEY; The JEWS OF TURKEY; and The MOHAMMEDANS.
The Missions are as follows:—
The PALESTINE Mission; The SYRIA Mission; The GREEK Mission; The ARMENIAN Mission; The NESTORIAN Mission; The ASSYRIAN Mission; The MISSION TO THE JEWS; and that to The MOHAMMEDANS.
MISSIONS TO THE ORIENTAL CHURCHES.
American missions in Bible lands, like their apostolic predecessors, had a beginning at Jerusalem. The first missionaries from this country to the Oriental Churches were Pliny Fisk and Levi Parsons. On the 23d of September, 1818, they were appointed to labor in Palestine. But as, at that early period, there was special need of making the churches acquainted with the work, and foreign missionaries were less common than now, they were detained to labor at home until November of the following year, when they embarked at Boston for Smyrna, in the ship Sally Ann, Captain Edes. They were both interesting men, and the impressive public services connected with their departure were long remembered in Boston. A single extract from the official instructions of Dr. Worcester, the Corresponding Secretary of the Board, will give at once a glimpse of that remarkable man, and a view of the object of the mission.
"From the heights of the Holy Land, and from Zion, you will take an extended view of the wide-spread desolations and variegated scenes presenting themselves on every side to Christian sensibility; and will survey with earnest attention the various tribes and classes who dwell in that land, and in the surrounding countries. The two grand inquiries ever present to your minds will be, WHAT GOOD CAN BE DONE? and BY WHAT MEANS? What can be done for Jews? What for Pagans? What for Mohammedans? What for Christians? What for the people in Palestine? What for those in Egypt, in Syria, in Persia, in Armenia, in other countries to which your inquiries may be extended?"
The vessel touched at Malta, thus giving opportunity, so far as the quarantines of those times would allow, for personal intercourse with the Rev. William Jowett, of the Church Missionary Society, and afterwards one of its secretaries. He received his American brethren in that catholic spirit, which has ever characterized that society and its agents, and gave them all the aid in his power. They also received kindness from the Rev. Mr. Wilson, of the London Missionary Society, then resident in Malta, and from Dr. Naudi, a native of the island and interested in Protestant missions, though then a Roman Catholic.
The brethren reached Smyrna at the opening of the year 1820, and took lodgings in a Swiss family, where French, Italian, Modern Greek, and some Turkish were spoken, but no English. American and English residents treated them kindly, and they were specially indebted to the Messrs. Van Lennep, Dutch merchants, to whom they were introduced by Captain Edes.
In May they repaired to the Greek College in Scio, for the purpose of studying the Modern Hellenic, and there they made the acquaintance of Professor Bambas, a Greek gentleman of talent and learning, who entered into their plans with an intelligent and heartfelt interest.
It was my privilege, eight years after this, to make the acquaintance of Professor Bambas at Corfu, in the Ionian Islands, where he was connected with the University, instructing in logic, metaphysics, and practical theology, and presiding over the theological seminary connected with the University. An intelligent and judicious friend, well acquainted with him, expressed a decided opinion in favor of his piety and preaching. Bambas appeared then to be about fifty years old; and his sweet countenance enlivened by a quick eye, and the deliberation, judgment, and kindness, with which he replied to inquiries, made a most favorable impression, which subsequent intercourse fully sustained.
With such a specimen of a Greek before them, we cannot wonder that Messrs. Fisk and Parsons cherished strong hopes as to the future of the nation. They remained in Scio five months, and availed themselves of every opportunity to revive among the Greeks a knowledge of the Gospel. In November, they made a tour of about three hundred miles, visiting the places where once stood the Seven Churches of Asia, everywhere acquiring and imparting information.
After mature deliberation they decided, that the object of their mission would be most effectually promoted by their temporary separation; and that Mr. Parsons should proceed at once to Jerusalem, preliminary to its permanent occupation, while Mr. Fisk should prosecute his studies at Smyrna, under the hospitable roof of Mr. Van Lennep. The war of the Greek revolution began in the following spring, and Mr. Fisk's journal makes frequent mention of cruel atrocities committed by the Turks on their opponents in the streets of Smyrna. Prudence required him to live much in retirement. In a few short excursions, however, he distributed Bibles, Testaments, and tracts; and, during a part of the year, he supplied the place of British chaplain.
Mr. Parsons arrived at Jerusalem on the 17th of February, 1821, and was the first Protestant missionary ever resident there, with the intention of making it a permanent field of labor. His first object was to reach the multitude of pilgrims then about to congregate in the Holy City. He took with him the Scriptures in nine languages, and four or five thousand religious tracts. He had letters to Procopius, an assistant of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, president of the Greek monasteries, and agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Convenient rooms were assigned him near the so-called holy sepulchre. During the spring he visited the principal places of interest in Jerusalem and its vicinity, including the Jordan and Dead Sea, and had reason to believe that his labors were not fruitless. As he supposed it not safe to pass the hot months of the year at Jerusalem, he resolved to spend the summer on Mount Lebanon, but civil commotions obliged him to relinquish the idea. He then turned his attention to Bethlehem, but the influence of the Greek revolt had reached Palestine, and was putting the Greeks in constant fear of their lives. His only resort was to return to Smyrna. On the voyage he first saw the new Greek flag, and was informed, by the captain of a Greek vessel of war, that the college at Scio was closed, and that Professor Bambas had saved his life only by flight. He found a temporary home at Syra, under the protection of the British consul. There he had an attack of fever, from which he recovered so far as to reach Smyrna in December.
As Mr. Parsons did not regain his health at Smyrna, the two brethren proceeded to Alexandria in Egypt, hoping much from a change of climate, and trusting that they should be able to reach Jerusalem in the spring. But such was not the will of their Heavenly Father. Mr. Parsons' disease assumed a dangerous form soon after their arrival at Alexandria, and he died early in the morning of February 10, 1822. His last words, when parting with his beloved associate, late in the evening, were, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him."
The character of Mr. Parsons was transparent and lovely. Few of those distinguished for piety leave a name so spotless. Though scarcely thirty years of age, such was the impression he had made on the Christian community at home, that his death was widely lamented; the more, doubtless, because of the intimate association of his name with Jerusalem, Zion, Gethsemane, and the scenes of the crucifixion. His disposition, demeanor, and general intelligence inspired confidence, and gave him access to the most cultivated society. He united uncommon zeal with the meekness of wisdom. His powers were happily balanced, and his consecration to the service of his Divine Master was entire. Mr. Fisk's account of the closing scene was beautiful and touching in its simplicity.1
1 See Missionary Herald for 1822, p. 218.
Mr. Fisk went to Cairo soon after the death of his associate, intending to proceed to Jerusalem through the desert. But hearing that the Rev. Daniel Temple had arrived at Malta as a fellow-laborer, he deemed it prudent to confer with him, before venturing upon the then very disturbed state of Palestine. He arrived at Malta on the 13th of April. How natural, after the privations of his journeys by land and sea, the seclusion from Christian society, the scenes of plague and massacre he had witnessed, and especially after the sickness and death of his beloved colleague, that he should feel the need of Christian friends, with whom to renew his strength.
Mr. Temple and his wife had embarked at Boston on the 2d of January, 1822. He had brought with him a printing-press, designed for the mission at Malta, types had been ordered at Paris, and his connection with this establishment prevented his accompanying Mr. Fisk.
An associate was provided, however, in an unexpected quarter. The Rev. Jonas King had been elected Professor of Oriental Languages in Amherst College, and was then pursuing the study of Arabic in Paris, under the celebrated orientalist De Sacy. Mr. Fisk lost no time in requesting him to become his associate. On receiving the letter, Mr. King wrote at once to the American Board, tendering his services for three years, and they were accepted. There were then neither steamers nor telegraphs, and the response of the Prudential Committee could not be received until after the favorable season for oriental traveling would have passed. Mr. King's friends in Paris and in some other European cities, therefore, advanced the needful funds to enable him to start at once, and he landed at Malta early in November. A few days later, the celebrated Joseph Wolff also arrived, for the purpose of going with Mr. Fisk to Jerusalem. The three started January 3, 1823, to go by way of Alexandria, Cairo, and the desert. During the three weeks spent in Egypt they ascended the Nile as far as Thebes, distributing Bibles and tracts at most of the villages along the river. They were able to communicate religious truths in several languages, and sold more than six hundred copies of the Bible, or parts of it. The whole number of copies distributed was eight hundred, in twelve languages, besides more than two thousand tracts.
They left Cairo without waiting for a caravan, but were joined by Turks, Arabs, Greeks, and Armenians, before entering the desert, until they numbered seventy-four persons, with forty-four camels, and fifty-seven asses.
This being their first visit to Jerusalem, it was full of interest. Here God had been pleased to dwell visibly in his temple. For many ages it was the earthly home of the Church. Here the chosen tribes came to worship. Here David tuned his harp to praise Jehovah, and Isaiah obtained enraptured visions of the future Church. Above all, here the Lord of the world became incarnate, and wrought out redemption for man. During the two months of their sojourn, they visited many places of interest to the Christian and to the Biblical student.1 For greater usefulness, they occupied separate rooms in the Greek Convent, where they received all who came unto them, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding them. Mr. Wolff had a room on the side of Mount Zion, near the residence of the Jews, with whom he labored almost incessantly. Impressions as to the unhealthiness of Jerusalem in summer were stronger, at that time, than subsequent experience justified, and the brethren decided, like Mr. Parsons, to pass the hot months on the heights of Lebanon. Accordingly they left the Holy City on the 27th of June, going by way of Jaffa and the coast to Beirut, where they arrived on the 10th of July. The southern portion of Lebanon, largely occupied by Druses, was then governed by the Emir Beshir, who was called Prince of the Druses, though himself a Maronite. Not long before, having offended the Sultan, he had fled into Egypt, and there became acquainted with the missionaries. Having made his peace with the Sultan and returned to Deir el-Kamr, his capital, the brethren visited him there, and were hospitably entertained, and furnished with a firman for travelling in all parts of his dominions.
1 See Missionary Herald, 1824, pp. 65-71, 97-101.
Mr. King took up his residence there in order to study the Arabic language. Mr. Fisk spent the summer with Mr. Way, of the London Jews' Society, in a building erected for a Jesuits' College at Aintura, which that gentleman had hired for the use of missionaries in Palestine. In August, Mr. Wolff arrived from Jerusalem. Early in the autumn, Messrs. Fisk, Lewis of the Jews' Society, Wolff, Jowett and King, all met at Aintura, for the friendly discussion of some practical questions relating to missions, which were soon arranged to mutual satisfaction. How many dark and troubled ages had passed, since there was such a company of Christian ministers assembled on that goodly mountain! The journals of Mr. King, here and elsewhere, have a singularly dramatic interest, and were eagerly read, as they appeared in the "Missionary Herald." Those of Mr. Fisk are also rich in the information they contain. He was able to preach in both the Italian and Modern Greek. Mr. King's labors were chiefly in the Arabic language, in which he preached the Gospel with the utmost plainness. Yet he appears to have secured in a remarkable degree the good-will of the people. He thus describes the scene connected with his departure from Deir el-Kamr, on the 22d of September:—
"A little before I left, the family appeared very sorrowful, and some of them wept. The mother wept much, and a priest with whom I had often conversed came in and wept like a child. I improved this occasion by telling him of his duty as a shepherd, and spoke to him of the great day of account, and the responsibility that rested upon him, and his duty to search the Scriptures. The family I exhorted to love the Lord Jesus Christ, to read the Word of God, and to be careful to keep all his commandments.
"It was truly an interesting scene; and I was surprised to see the feeling exhibited by the Arabs on my departure. As I left the house, they loaded me with blessings, and, as I passed through the street, many commended me to the care and protection of the Lord."1
1 Report for 1824, p. 121.
In October, Messrs. Fisk and King rode to Tripoli, supposed then to contain fifteen thousand inhabitants. From thence they proceeded to the Maronite Convent of Mar Antonius Khoshiah, situated on the brow of an almost perpendicular mountain, where was a printing-press. Nearly all the inhabitants of that part of Lebanon are Maronites, acknowledging allegiance to the Pope. Thence they visited the Cedars of Lebanon; and then crossed the rich plain of Coelo-Syria to Baalbek, at the foot of Anti-Lebanon. Several of the places visited in this tour will come more properly into notice in the subsequent history.
Mr. Fisk returned to Jerusalem in the autumn with Mr. Jowett. Just before leaving Beirut, they had the joy of welcoming the Rev. Messrs. William Goodell and Isaac Bird, and their wives, who arrived on the 16th of October. In January, Messrs. King and Bird also went to Jerusalem.
The year 1824 was one of much activity. In February, Messrs. Fisk and Bird were the only missionaries at Jerusalem, Mr. King having gone to Jaffa. While successfully employed in selling the Scriptures to Armenian pilgrims in the city, they were apprehended, at the instigation of the Latins, and brought before Moslem judges on the strange charge of distributing books that were neither Mohammedan, Jewish, nor Christian. Holding up a copy of Genesis, the judge declared it to be among the unchristian books denounced by the Latins. Meanwhile their rooms were searched, and a crier was sent out into the city, forbidding all persons to receive their books, and ordering all that had been received to be delivered up. Their papers were examined, and some of them retained by the government. In a few days, however, through the prompt interference of the English Consul at Jaffa, their papers were all restored, and they were set at liberty. These proceedings becoming widely known, the result was, on the whole, favorable. Mr. Abbott, English Consul at Beirut, learning of the occurrence, wrote to the Pasha at Damascus, and the governor and judge at Jerusalem received an official order to restore to the missionaries whatever had been taken from them, and to secure for them protection and respectful treatment. The governor was shortly after superseded, for what cause was not certainly known; but many people, both Mussulmans and Christians, believed it was in consequence of his ill treatment of Messrs. Fisk and Bird.
Mr. Damiani, son of the English Consul at Jaffa, had come to Jerusalem on their behalf, with a letter from his father to the governor. In company with this young gentleman, the missionaries visited Hebron in February, going by way of Bethlehem. About three miles south of Bethlehem, they came to what are called the Cisterns of Solomon, three in number, of large dimensions, on the side of a hill. Mr. Fisk was informed, that Jerusalem was supplied in part by an aqueduct, which carried its waters from those fountains.1
1 Dr. Robinson says that the modern aqueduct was mostly laid with tubes of pottery; but, northeast of Rachel's tomb, he saw "the traces of an ancient aqueduct which was carried up the slope of the hill by means of tubes, or perforated blocks of stone, fitted together with sockets and tenons, and originally cemented." This was in 1842. Dr. Eli Smith drew my attention in 1845 to the same thing. Such stones are said to be seen nowhere else in that region.
The visit to Hebron had no important results. During the five months spent at Jerusalem, seven hundred copies of Scripture were sold. In the last six weeks, Mr. Fisk suffered from an attack of fever, with headache, restlessness, and tendency to delirium, and had no medical adviser. On the 22d of April, the two brethren went to Jaffa, from whence they proceeded, with Mr. King, to Beirut, where they arrived on the 4th of May. With Messrs. King, Bird, and Goodell around him, Mr. Fisk thus gives expression to his feelings: "These days of busy, friendly, joyous intercourse have greatly served to revive the spirits that drooped, to refresh the body that was weary, and to invigorate the mind that began to flag. I came here tired of study, and tired of journeying, but I begin to feel already desirous to reopen my books, or resume my journeys. We have united in praising God for bringing us to this land. I suppose we are as cheerful, contented, and happy, as any little circle of friends in our favored country. Dear brother Parsons! how would his affectionate heart have rejoiced to welcome such a company of fellow laborers to this land! But he is happier in union with the blessed above."
On the 22d of June, 1824, Messrs. Fisk and King set out for Damascus, where they expected to find peculiar facilities for Arabic studies. Aleppo being still more advantageous for them, they proceeded to that city in July, with a caravan, notwithstanding the intense heat of midsummer. On the 19th, they suffered much from exposure to the heated air, filled with sand and dust. On the 25th, they encamped at Sheikhoon, a dirty Mussulman village of a thousand inhabitants. There was neither tree nor rock to shade them. The strong wind was almost as hot as if it came from a furnace, and they had nothing to eat but curdled milk, called leben, and bread that had been dried and hardened by the heat of eight or ten days. Yet it was the Sabbath, and they declared themselves to be happy. In the last day of their journey, which was July 28, they were joined by a large caravan from Latakia, much to their satisfaction, as that day's journey was considered the most dangerous.
On the 25th of October the brethren started on their return to Beirut, going by way of Antioch, Latakia, and Tripoli, a journey of nineteen days. While traveling across the mountains, often in sight of the ruined old Roman road to Antioch, they were repeatedly drenched by the great rains of that season. No wonder the brethren of Mr. Fisk at Beirut were not a little anxious about him, amid such exposures, but his usual health seems to have returned with the cold season.
In February, 1824, the Grand Seignior, influenced, as it would appear, by Rome, issued a proclamation to the Pashas throughout Western Asia, forbidding the distribution of the Christian Scriptures, and commanding those who had received copies to deliver them to the public authorities to be burnt. The copies remaining in the hands of the distributors were to be sealed up till they could be sent back to Europe. But few copies were obtained from the people, and the Turks seemed to take very little interest in the matter.
Messrs. Fisk and King made their third and last visit to Jerusalem in the spring of 1825, arriving there on the 29th of March. On their way, they had stopped a few weeks in Jaffa, where their labors gave rise to some very absurd reports, which yet appeared credible to the superstitious people. Some said, that the missionaries bought people with money; that the price for common people was ten piastres, and that those ten piastres always remained with the man who received them, however much he might spend from them. Others said, that the picture of professed converts was taken in a book, and that the missionaries would shoot the picture, should the man go back to his former religion, and he would of course die. A Moslem, having heard that men were hired to worship the devil, asked if it were true, saying that he would come, and bring a hundred others with him. "What," said his friend, "would you worship the devil?" "Yes," said he, "if I was paid for it."
The brethren were cordially received by their acquaintances at Jerusalem. Two days afterwards, the pasha of Damascus sat down before the city, with three thousand soldiers, to collect his annual tribute. The amount to be paid by each community was determined solely by his own caprice, and what he could not be induced to remit was extorted by arrest, imprisonment, and the bastinado. Many of the inhabitants fled, and the rest lived in constant terror and distress. So great was the confusion and insecurity within and around the city, that the brethren decided to return to Beirut, where they arrived on the 18th of May. From 1822 to 1825 they and their associates had distributed nearly four thousand copies of the Scriptures, and parts thereof, in different languages, and about twenty thousand tracts. After staying a month at Beirut, Mr. King passed six weeks at Deir el-Kamr in the study of Syriac, with Asaad el-Shidiak for his teacher, a remarkable young Maronite, who will have a prominent place in this history. On returning to Beirut, Mr. King wrote a farewell letter to his friends in Palestine and Syria, which Asaad translated into excellent Arabic, and afterwards multiplied copies for distribution. It was a tract destined to exert an important influence.
Mr. King's term of service had now expired; and on the 26th of August, 1825, after three years of active and very useful missionary labors, he left Syria homeward bound. He went first to Tarsus by ship, and thence, by what proved a tedious land journey, to Smyrna. His clothes, books, papers, and several valuable manuscripts were sent by a vessel, that was taken by a Greek cruiser, and only a part of them were returned. On his arrival at Smyrna, December 4, he received the painful intelligence of the death of his beloved associate at Beirut.
Mr. King remained several months at Smyrna, waiting the recovery of his effects, making good progress, meanwhile, in the modern Greek language, and doing much service for the Greeks. He then visited Constantinople with the Rev. Mr. Hartley, of the Church Missionary Society, where he was received by several high Greek ecclesiastics with a kindness similar to that he had received from the Greeks of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor. It was after his departure, that a copy of his Farewell Letter found its way into the hands of Armenians, who brought it before a council convened for the purpose, as will be related hereafter. He returned to France just four years from the time of his departure to enter upon his mission. Pious people were everywhere exceedingly eager to hear his statements. Enough was contributed by friends in Paris, to purchase a font of Armenian type for the press at Malta, which he ordered before leaving the metropolis. When in England he obtained funds for Arabic types, and left orders for a font in London. Mrs. Hannah More, then at an advanced age, was among the contributors. He returned home at the close of the summer of 1827, and soon after the annual meeting of the Board made a tour as agent through the Southern and Middle States, which occupied him till April of the following year. The Rev. Edward N. Kirk (now Dr. Kirk of Boston) was associated with him in this agency.
Mr. Fisk had a good constitution, and would probably have endured the climate of Syria for many years, with no more strain upon it in the way of travel, than subsequent experience warranted. The reader of the preceding pages will be prepared to apprehend special danger from his return to Beirut in a season, that was sickly beyond the recollection of the oldest of the Franks. He first spoke of being ill on Tuesday, October 11, having had a restless night. His experience was similar on several succeeding nights, but during the day he seemed tolerably comfortable, enjoyed conversation, and frequently desired the Scriptures to be read, remarking on the importance of the subjects, and the preciousness of the promises. His devotional feelings were awakened and his spirits revived by the reading or singing of hymns, such as he suggested. On the 19th his mind was somewhat affected, and he fainted while preparations were being made for removing him to his bed. The next day, according to a request he had made some time before, he was informed of the probable issue of his sickness. He heard it with composure; remarking that he believed the commanding object of his life, for the seventeen years past, had been the glory of Christ and the good of the Church. During the day he dictated letters to his father, and to his missionary brethren King and Temple. On Thursday he asked for the reading of that portion of Mrs. Graham's "Provision for Passing over Jordan," where it is said, "To be where Thou art, to see Thee as Thou art, to be made like Thee, the last sinful motion forever past,"—he anticipated the conclusion, and said, with an expressive emphasis, "That's Heaven." As the evening approached, he was very peaceful, and in the midst he spoke out, saying: "I know not what this is, but it seems to me like the silence that precedes the dissolution of nature." Becoming conscious that the fever was returning, he said, "What the Lord intends to do with me, I cannot tell, but my impression is, that this is my last night." The fever, however, was lighter than usual, and the next forenoon there was some hope that it might be overcome. Yet it returned in the afternoon, with all its alarming symptoms. At six o'clock he had greatly altered, and the hand of death seemed really upon him. At eight a physician, who had been sent for, arrived from Sidon, but Mr. Fisk was insensible. Though the physician expressed little hope of saving him, he ordered appliances which arrested the paroxysm of fever, and restored him temporarily to consciousness. He was quiet during Saturday, the 22d, and there were no alarming appearances at sunset. But before midnight all hope had fled. "We hastened to his bedside," say his brethren, "found him panting for breath, and evidently sinking into the arms of death. The physician immediately left him, and retired to rest. We sat down, conversed, prayed, wept, and watched the progress of his dissolution, until, at precisely three o'clock on the Lord's day morning, October 23, 1825, the soul, which had been so long waiting for deliverance, was quietly released. It rose, like its great Deliverer, very early on the first day of the week, triumphant over death, and entered, as we believe, on that Sabbath, of eternal rest, which remaineth for the people of God."
His age was thirty-three. As soon as the fact of his death became known, all the flags of the different consuls were seen at half-mast. The funeral was attended at four P. M., in the presence of a more numerous and orderly concourse of people, than had been witnessed there on a similar occasion.
Mr. Fisk had a strong affinity, in the constitution of his mind and the character of his piety, to the late Miss Fidelia Fiske, of the Nestorian mission, who was his cousin, and whose praise is in all the churches. He was an uncommon man. With a vigorous constitution, and great capacity for labor, he possessed a discriminating judgment, an ardent spirit of enterprise, intrepidity, decision, perseverance, entire devotion to the service of his Master, facility in the acquisition of languages, and an equipoise of his faculties, which made it easy to accommodate himself to times, places, and companies. He was highly esteemed as a preacher before leaving home. "And who," said a weeping Arab, on hearing of his death, smiting on his breast, "who will now present the Gospel to us? I have heard no one explain God's word like him!" Aptness to teach was the prominent trait in his ministerial character, and in a land of strangers, he was esteemed, reverenced, and lamented.
The following tribute to his memory is from the pen of Mr. Bird:—
"The breach his death has made in the mission, is one which years will not probably repair. The length of time which our dear brother had spent in the missionary field, the extensive tours he had taken, the acquaintances and connections he had formed, and the knowledge he had acquired of the state of men and things in all the Levant, had well qualified him to act as our counselor and guide; while his personal endowments gave him a weight of character, sensibly felt by the natives. His knowledge of languages, considering his well-known active habits, has often been to us a subject of surprise and thanksgiving. All men who could comprehend French, Italian, or Greek, were accessible by his powerful admonitions. In the first-mentioned language he conversed with ease, and in the last two, performed with perfect fluency the common public services of a preacher of the Gospel. Even the Arabic he had so far mastered, as to commence in it a regular Sabbath service with a few of the natives. At the time of his death, besides preaching weekly in Arabic, and also in English in his turn, and besides his grammatical studies under an Arabic master, he had just commenced a work, to which, with the advice of us all, he was directing, for the time, his main attention. Having in a manner completed the tour of Palestine and Syria, and having become quite at home in Arabic grammar, he felt more than ever the need of a dictionary to introduce the missionary to the spoken language of the country. The ponderous folios of Richardson are for Persia; Golius, and the smaller work of Willmet, explain only the written language. We were therefore of the unanimous opinion, that a lexicon like the one in contemplation by Mr. Fisk, was needed, not only by ourselves, but by the missionaries who should succeed us. Our dear brother had written the catalogue of English words according to Johnson, and had just finished the catalogue (incomplete of course) of the corresponding Arabic, when disease arrested him. Had he lived, he hoped to visit his native country, and probably publish some account of his Christian researches in the Levant.
"Such were some of the plans and employments of our brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, when he was called off from all his labors of love among men. He is gone, but his memory lives. Never till called to sleep by his side, shall we forget the noble example of patience, faith, and zeal, which he has set us; and the churches at home will not forget him, till they shall have forgotten their duty to spread the Gospel."1
1 Missionary Herald for 1827, pp. 101, 102.
The station at Jerusalem was suspended for nearly nine years, when unsuccessful efforts were made to revive it. The Rev. William M. Thomson, and Asa Dodge, M. D., were sent for that purpose. Mr. Thomson was the first to remove his family to Jerusalem, which he did in April, 1834. Mr. and Mrs. Nicholayson, of the London Jews Society, went with them to commence a mission among the Jews. Everything looked promising for a few weeks, and Mr. Thomson went down to Jaffa to bring up his furniture. During his absence, the Fellahin, roused by an order to draft every fifth man into the army, rose against Mohammed Ali, the then ruler of Syria. Jerusalem was the centre of this sudden rebellion; and Mr. Thomson, for nearly two months, found it impossible even to communicate with his family, so closely was the city besieged by the rebels. The first sense of personal danger to the mission families, arose from an earthquake of unusual severity, which extended to the coast and shook their old stone habitation so roughly that they were compelled to flee into the garden, and sleep there. Here they were exposed to the balls from the muskets of the Fellahin outside the walls. At length the rebels within the city somehow let in their friends outside, and it was an hour of terror when they took possession of the mission house, which was near the castle, dug loopholes through its walls, and began to fire on the soldiers of the fortress. The fire was of course returned, and the building, already shattered by the earthquake, was torn by the Egyptian cannon; while both it and the garden were filled with a multitude of lawless and angry rebels. The families found refuge in a lower room of the house, where the walls were thick, and there listened to the cannon balls as they whistled above them. The arrival of Ibrahim Pasha at length quieted the city.
Able to return to his family on the 11th of July, Mr. Thomson found his wife suffering from ophthalmia, with high inflammatory fever. Two days afterwards, Mr. Nicholayson was attacked with a fever, and the children were all sick. The case of Mrs. Thomson baffled all their skill. Convinced herself that she would not recover, the thought did not alarm her. For many weeks, she had been in the clearer regions of faith, enjoying greater nearness to God in prayer than ever before, with greater assurance of her interest in the covenant of grace through the Redeemer. She had indeed cherished the hope of laboring longer to bring some of the degraded daughters of Jerusalem to the Saviour; but the Lord knew best, and to His will she cheerfully submitted. She died peacefully on the 22d of July, 1834. The bereaved husband was apprehensive of difficulty in obtaining a suitable place for her burial; but the Greek bishop gave permission, and took the whole charge of preparing the grave.
Mr. Thomson now visited Beirut to confer with his brethren, and was advised to remove to that place. The Rev. George B. Whiting and wife and Dr. and Mrs. Dodge, were to occupy the station thus vacated, aided by Miss Betsey Tilden. Dr. Dodge accompanied Mr. Thomson on his return, and assisted him in removing his babe and his effects to Beirut; and on the 22d of October he and Mr. Whiting were on their way with their families to Jerusalem.
Early in the winter, Dr. Dodge was called to Beirut to prescribe for Mrs. Bird, who was dangerously sick. Mr. Nicholayson returned with him to Jerusalem, arriving there on the 3d of January, 1835, cold, wet, and exhausted with fatigue, having traveled on horseback nearly seventeen hours the last day. The peril of such an exposure in that climate was not realized at the time. Both were soon taken sick, and Dr. Dodge rapidly sunk, though a physician from one of the western States of America arrived at the critical moment, and remained with him to the last. He died on the 28th of January, and Mrs. Dodge removed to Beirut. The arrival of Rev. John F. Lanneau in the spring of 1836, furnished an associate for Mr. Whiting. A school was opened, and numerous books were sold to the pilgrims. Early in the next year, Tannus Kerem of Safet was engaged as a native assistant. He was born and educated in the Latin Church, but in thought and feeling was with the mission, and enlarged their personal acquaintance and influence. In the summer the cholera appeared, and swept off four hundred victims in a month. Mr. Homes, of the mission to Turkey, was there at the time, and all devoted themselves to the gratuitous service of the sick, a thing unknown before in that region. They gave medical aid to many, nearly all of whom recovered, and thus gained many friends. Preaching was commenced in September to a small but attentive congregation. Mrs. Whiting and Miss Tilden had an interesting school, composed chiefly of Mohammedan girls. There was also a school for boys under a Greek teacher, with twenty-four pupils. In 1838, Mr. Whiting was obliged, by the protracted sickness of his wife, to visit the United States, and Mr. Lanneau was alone at Jerusalem, with Tannus Kerem, and suffering from extreme weakness of the eyes; but was encouraged by the arrival of Rev. Charles S. Sherman and wife in the autumn of 1839. The new missionary expressed his surprise at finding the different classes so little affected by the prejudices of sect in their intercourse with members of the mission. The illness of Mr. Lanneau became at length so distressing, as to require his absence from the field for nearly two years. Before his return to the East, which was early in 1843, the Committee had expressed an opinion, that it was expedient to suspend further efforts at Jerusalem. Mr. Lanneau, however, resumed his abode there until the visit of the writer, with Dr. Hawes, in the spring of 1844, This was after there had been a protracted conference with the mission at Beirut, at which nothing appeared to affect the decision of the Prudential Committee, and Mr. Lanneau removed with his family to Beirut. Writing of Jerusalem to the Committee, Dr. Hawes says: "In regard to this city, viewed as a field for missionary labor, I saw nothing which should give it a special claim on our attention. It has indeed a considerable population, amounting perhaps to seventeen or eighteen thousand. But it is such a population as seemed to me to bear a near resemblance to the contents of the sheet which Peter saw let down from heaven by the four corners. It is composed of well-nigh all nations and of all religions, who are distinguished for nothing so much as for jealousy and hatred of each other. As to the crowds of pilgrims who annually visit the Holy City,—a gross misnomer, by the way, as it now is,—they are certainly no very hopeful subjects of missionary effort; drawn thither, as they are, chiefly by the spirit of superstition; and during the brief time they remain there, kept continually under the excitement of lying vanities, which without number are addressed to their eyes, and poured in at their ears."
The burying-ground belonging to the Board, on a central part of Mount Zion, near the so-called "Tomb of David," and not far from the city, inclosed by a stone wall, was reserved for a Protestant burying-place, to be for the use of all sects of Protestant Christians.
The civil and social condition of Jerusalem and Palestine was such, on the arrival of Messrs. Bird and Goodell in 1823, that their brethren advised them to make Beirut the centre of their operations. The advice was followed; and this was the commencement of what took the name of the Syria Mission.
The ancient name of Beirut was Berytus. The city is pleasantly situated on the western side of a large bay, and has a fertile soil, with a supply of good water, sufficient in ordinary seasons, from springs flowing out of the adjacent hills. Its population and wealth have greatly increased of late. The anchorage for ships is at the eastern extremity of the bay, two miles from the city. Lebanon rises at no great distance on the east, stretches far toward the north and the south, and is a healthful and pleasant resort for Franks in summer. There is a large and beautiful plain on the south, abounding in olive, palm, orange, lemon, pine, and mulberry trees. Damascus was then distant three days, but less time is required now, by reason of the new macadamized road. Sidon might be reached in one day, Tyre in two, and Tripoli in three. An additional motive, in those troublous times, for making Beirut a central station, was the protection afforded by Mr. Abbott, a friendly English Consul.
The two brethren landed, with their wives, October 16th. During the nine mouths of their sojourn at Malta, they had made considerable progress in the Italian language, which was spoken extensively in the Levant; and now, without wholly neglecting the Italian, they applied themselves to the languages of Syria.
Mr. Bird made the Arabic—spoken by the Maronites and Syrian Roman Catholics—his chief study; and Mr. Goodell the Armeno-Turkish, —Turkish written with the Armenian alphabet,—which was the language of the Armenians.
Going to Sidon for aid in his linguistic studies, Mr. Goodell formed the acquaintance of Yakob Agha, an Armenian ecclesiastic, who had dared to marry, a privilege not allowed to him as a bishop. That he might be able to defend his course, he began the study of the New Testament, and thus became impressed with the wickedness around him. He was at that time acting British agent at Sidon. Mr. Goodell also became acquainted with Dionysius, another Armenian bishop, who had committed a similar offense, and engaged him as a teacher; giving him the name of Carabet, the "Forerunner." He was a native of Constantinople, and had lived thirty-six years in the Armenian convent at Jerusalem. During the last nine of these years, he was a bishop. On account of his age, his services and acquirements, he was regarded as having the standing of an archbishop. Though in darkness on many points, and giving no satisfactory evidence of piety, he made himself useful as a teacher and interpreter, and in his intercourse with the people.
Several English missionaries were added to the Protestant force at that time, and the Papal Church became thoroughly alarmed. Letters were addressed from Rome to the Patriarchal Vicar of Mount Lebanon, the Maronite Patriarch, and the Vicar of Syria and Palestine, urging them to render ineffectual, in every possible manner, the impious undertaking of those missionaries. These letters were dated in the first month of 1824, and the firman against the circulation of the Scriptures was issued by the Grand Seignior very soon after. Though feebly enforced by the Turkish authorities this gave weight and influence, for a time, to the "anathemas," of the Maronite and Syrian Patriarchs against the "Bible men." Peter Ignatius Giarve, the Syrian Patriarch, some years before, while Archbishop of Jerusalem, had visited England, and there obtained, under false pretenses, a considerable sum of money from Protestant Christians, to print the Holy Scriptures according to the text of his own Church. He now issued a manifesto, first defending himself from the charge of deception, and then warning his flock "not to receive the Holy Scriptures, nor any other books printed and circulated by the Bible-men, even though given gratis, and according to the edition printed by the Propaganda under ecclesiastical authority." Notwithstanding all this, the brethren took a hopeful view of their prospects. "To get a firm footing," they say, "among a people of a strange speech and a hard language; to inspire confidence in some, and weaken prejudice in others; to ascertain who are our avowed enemies, and who are such in disguise; to become acquainted with the mode of thinking and feeling, with the springs of action, and with the way of access to the heart; to begin publicly to discuss controversial subjects with the dignitaries of the Church, and to commence giving religious instruction to the common people; to be allowed to have a hand in directing the studies and in controlling the education of the young; and to begin to exert an influence, however circumscribed at first, yet constantly extending and increasingly salutary,—all this, though it be not 'life from the dead,' nor the song of salvation, yet is to be regarded as truly important in the work of missions."
In the year 1824, the schools were commenced at Beirut, which have since grown into an influential system. The first was a mere class of six Arab children, taught daily by the wives of the missionaries. Soon an Arab teacher was engaged, and before the end of the year the pupils had increased to fifty. In 1826 the average attendance in the free schools of Beirut and vicinity, was more than three hundred; in the following year it was six hundred in thirteen schools, and more than one hundred of these pupils were girls. The Arabs were thought to have less quickness than the Greeks, to be less studious and ambitious, and more trifling, inconstant, and proud of little things; but many of them were lively and promising, and did themselves honor by their punctuality and application. The Romish ecclesiastics were very hostile to all these schools.
It was in the summer of 1825, that Asaad el-Shidiak became first personally known to the mission, as the instructor of Mr. King in the Syriac language. His case soon acquired an extraordinary interest, and will occupy a separate chapter.
In March, 1826, several Greek vessels entered the port of Beirut, and landed five hundred men. They were unable to scale the walls, but plundered the houses of natives on the outside. The wild Bedawin, whom the Pasha of Acre sent to drive them away, were worse than the Greeks. They plundered without making any distinctions, and among other houses the one occupied by Mr. Goodell, but Consul Abbott obliged the Pasha to pay for what they took from the missionaries. It was afterwards ascertained, that the Maronite bishop, having learned that the leases of the missionaries would soon expire, came to Beirut just before this invasion, with an excommunication for every Maronite who should permit his house to be hired by a missionary; and prepared by bribery and intrigue to bring also the Greek bishop and the Moslem rulers to act in concert with himself, in driving Protestant missionaries from the country. The sudden landing of the Greeks obliged him to flee in the night, leaving his wicked devices unaccomplished, while the Maronites were glad to place their best houses in the hands of the missionaries.
In 1827, the missionaries hoped that about twenty of those among whom they labored, had been created anew in Christ Jesus. Among them were Asaad and Phares Shidiak, from the Maronite Church; a lady from the Latin Church; Dionysius, Gregory Wortabet, Jacob, and the wife of Dionysius, of the Armenian Church; the wife of Wortabet and Yooseph Leflufy, of the Greek Catholic Church; and Asaad Jacob and Tannus el-Haddad, of the Greek Church. Leflufy was described as a youth of great boldness and decision, and as thoroughly convinced of the errors of his Church. In April of this year, Dionysius revisited Jerusalem, as the interpreter of German missionaries. The Armenian Convent owed him a sum of money, which it refused to pay, and forbade any Armenian in the city to speak to him. The Greeks, on the other hand, treated him with attention, and so did the Moslem governor. He returned to Beirut in company with three hundred of the Armenian pilgrims, who were no sooner out of Jerusalem than they began to treat him with kindness and respect, while they were full of inquiries as to what he and the Protestants believed, what ordinances they had, and how they observed them, with many more such questions. He was engaged in conversation with them day and night, and had full opportunity to explain his religious views, and to show them the difference between the Christianity of the New Testament, and that of the Oriental Churches; and they expressed much astonishment at his statements. Some of them were persons of respectability and influence, and declared their indignation at the treatment he had received from the convent. It is probable that these conversations had some connection with the spirit of reform among the Armenians, which not long after appeared at Constantinople.