MISSIONARY ANNALS. (A SERIES.)
LIFE OF HENRY MARTYN, MISSIONARY TO INDIA AND PERSIA, 1781 to 1812
ABRIDGED FROM THE MEMOIR. BY MRS. SARAH J. RHEA.
CHICAGO: WOMAN'S PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE NORTHWEST, Room 48, McCormick Block.
COPYRIGHT, 1888, BY WOMAN'S PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF MISSIONS OF THE NORTHWEST.
PAGE. EDUCATION AND PREPARATION, . . . . . . . . . . . 5
LIFE IN INDIA, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
LIFE IN PERSIA, AND DEATH, . . . . . . . . . . . 29
I hold in my hand an album adorned with pictures of missionaries, my brethren and sisters, the ambassadors of the King. On one of the first pages is "the tomb of Henry Martyn," given me by Dr. Van Lennep, who had just visited the sacred spot and described it vividly. When I turn the pages of my album and come to this, I pause with reverence and the overflowings of deep and tender emotion, and my mind adds other pictures, both terrestrial and celestial, to the one upon the page. My own missionary life as the companion of him whom Dr. Perkins called "the later Henry Martyn," was spent in Henry Martyn's Persia. They were alike I think in many things, these two Persian evangelists, and also in their deaths. When they passed out of the Tabriz gate, journeying homeward after a course of illness in the fated city, for each it was a quick ascent, a painful translation, to the heavenly city with abundant entrance and the Master's "well done"—in heaven; and on earth, a foreign grave taking possession for Christ, as the Nestorians reverently say, with "white stones still speaking out." S. J. R.
EDUCATION AND PREPARATION.
Henry Martyn was born in England on the south-western coast of Truro, February 18, 1781. His father, Mr. John Martyn, worked in the mines. He was not educated but was very fond of learning. The miners were in the habit of working and resting alternately every four hours. Mr. John Martyn spent many of his rest intervals in study, and so by diligence and education raised himself to a higher position, and became a clerk in the office of a merchant in Truro. When Henry was seven years old, he went to school to Dr. Cardew. From his earliest years all who knew him considered him a very interesting and promising child. Dr. Cardew says his proficiency in the classics exceeded that of his schoolfellows; he was of a lively, cheerful temper and seemed to learn without application, almost by intuition. But he was not robust, and loving books better than sport, and having a peculiar tenderness and inoffensiveness of spirit, he was often abused by rude and coarse boys in the school. A friendship which he formed at this time with a boy older than himself was the source of great comfort and advantage to him, and was kept up throughout his whole life. This friend often protected him from the bullies of the play-ground. At this school, under excellent tuition, Henry remained until fourteen years old, when he was induced to offer himself as a candidate for a vacant scholarship at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Young as he was, he went there alone, and acquitted himself so well, though strongly and ably opposed by competitors, that in the opinion of some of the examiners he ought to have been elected. How often is the hand of God seen in frustrating our fondest designs! Speaking of this disappointment he afterwards wrote: "Had I remained and become a member of the university at that time, as I should have done in case of success, the profligate acquaintances I had there would have introduced me to scenes of debauchery, in which I must in all probability, from my extreme youth, have sunk forever."
He continued after this with Dr Cardew till 1797, and then joined his school friend at Cambridge at St. John's College. Here he obtained a place in the first class at the public examination in December, a circumstance which, joined to the extreme desire he had to gratify his father, encouraged and excited him to study with increased alacrity, and as the fruit of this application, at the next public examination in the summer he reached the second station in the first class, a point of elevation which "flattered his pride not a little." At this time he appeared in the eye of the world most amiable and commendable, outwardly moral, unwearied in application, and exhibited marks of no ordinary talent. One exception to this statement is to be found in an irritability of temper arising perhaps from the treatment he had received at school. On one occasion in sudden anger, he threw a knife at the head of another boy, which providentially missed him and was left trembling in the wall; but it was a narrow escape, and might have proved fatal. Though not a Christian at this time, he was under two strong influences for good, one from his religious friend in college, the other from his sister in Cornwall, a Christian of a meek, heavenly and affectionate spirit. He paid a visit to his home in the summer of 1799, carrying with him no small degree of academical honor. It may be well supposed that to a sister such as we have described, her brother's spiritual welfare would be a most serious and anxious concern; and that she often conversed with him on the subject of religion we know from his own declaration. The first result of her tender exhortations and earnest endeavors was very discouraging; a violent conflict took place in her brother's mind between his conviction of the truth of what she urged, and his love of the world; and for the present, the latter prevailed. Yet, sisters similarly circumstanced may learn from this case, not merely their duty, but also, from the final result, the success they may anticipate in the faithful discharge of it.
"At the examination at Christmas, 1799," he writes: "I was first, and the account of it pleased my father prodigiously, who, I was told, was in great health and spirits. What, then, was my consternation when in January I received an account of his death!" Most poignant were his sufferings under this affliction, which led him to God for comfort in prayer and Bible study. He says: "I began with the Acts, and found myself insensibly led to inquire more attentively into the doctrines of the Apostles." Writing to his sister, having announced shortly and with much simplicity that his name stood first upon the list at the college examination of the summer of 1800, he says: "What a blessing it is for me that I have such a sister as you, my dear S., who have been so instrumental in keeping me in the right way. After the death of our father you know I was extremely low spirited, and like most other people began to consider seriously without any particular determination, that invisible world to which he was gone and to which I must one day go. Soon I began to attend more diligently to the words of our Savior in the New Testament, and to devour them with delight, when the offers of mercy and forgiveness were made so freely; I supplicated to be made partaker of the covenant of grace with eagerness and hope, and thanks be to the ever-blessed Trinity for not leaving me without comfort!" How cheering to his sister it must have been to receive at a moment of deep sorrow such a communication as this! How salutary to his own mind to have possessed so near a relation to whom he could thus freely open the workings of his heart. At this time he also received great benefit from attendance on the faithful ministry of Rev. Charles Simeon, under whose pastoral instructions he himself declares that he "gradually acquired more knowledge in divine things." With this excellent man he had the most friendly and unreserved intercourse. Mr. Martyn received his first impressions of the transcendent excellence of the Christian ministry of Mr. Simeon, from which it was but a short step to choose this calling for his own, for until now he had intended to devote himself to the law "chiefly," he confesses, "because he could not consent to be poor for Christ's sake."
In January, 1801, the highest academical honor, that of "senior wrangler," was awarded to him before the completion of his twentieth year. His description of his feelings on this occasion is remarkable: "I obtained my highest wishes, but was surprised to find that I had grasped a shadow." So impossible it is for earthly distinction to fill and satisfy the mind.
In March, 1802, after another rigid examination, Mr. Martyn was chosen Fellow of St. Johns, a situation honorable to the society and gratifying to himself. Soon after he obtained first prize for best Latin prose composition over many competitors of classical celebrity, and this was the more remarkable, as his studies had been almost entirely in mathematics.
Henry Martyn's attention was called to the great cause of Foreign Missions by some remarks of Rev. Mr. Simeon on the work of Carey in India, but more particularly by reading the memoir of David Brainerd, who preached with apostolic zeal and success to the North American Indians, and who finished a course of self-denying labors for his Redeemer with unspeakable joy at the early age of thirty-two. Henry Martyn's soul was filled with holy emulation, and after deep consideration and fervent prayer he was at length fixed in a resolution to imitate his example. Nor let it be conceived that he could adopt this resolution without the severest conflict in his mind, for he was endued with the truest sensibility of heart, and was susceptible of the warmest and tenderest attachments. No one could exceed him in love for his country, or in affection for his friends, and few could surpass him in an exquisite relish for the various and refined enjoyments of a social and literary life. How then could it fail of being a moment of extreme anguish when he came to the deliberate resolution of leaving forever all he held dear upon earth? But he was fully satisfied that the glory of that Savior who loved him and gave Himself for him would be promoted by his going forth to preach to the heathen. He considered their pitiable and perilous condition; he thought on the value of their immortal souls; he remembered the last solemn injunction of his Lord, "Go teach all nations,"—an injunction never revoked, and commensurate with that most encouraging promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Actuated by these motives, he offered himself as a missionary to the society for Missions, and from that time stood prepared with childlike simplicity and unshaken constancy to go to any part of the world whither it might be deemed expedient to send him.
In the early part of 1804, Mr. Martyn's plans of becoming a missionary were dampened by the loss of his slender patrimony, and as his sister was also involved in the calamity, it appeared hardly justifiable for him to go away. After some delay his friends obtained for him the position of chaplain to the East India Company, and so the obstacles which detained him were removed.
The time of the delay was spent in zealous service for his divine Master. He was associated with Rev. Mr. Simeon as curate and preached with great zeal and unction, often to very large audiences, and sometimes with such unsparing denunciation of common sins as to awaken opposition. He considered it his duty to rebuke iniquity, and on one occasion severely reproved a student for shocking levity,—reading a play with some young ladies while their father lay dying. He feared the result of this might be estrangement from his friend, but prayed earnestly that it might lead to his awakening. This prayer was answered, and afterwards this very friend became his beloved associate in missionary work in India.
In very early youth Mr. Martyn became fondly attached to a young lady named Lydia Grenfell. She considered herself his superior in social position. The memoirs all speak of her as estimable, and we infer from the little that is said that she somewhat indifferently accepted Henry Martyn's homage, but she did not wholeheartedly and generously respond. What a contrast to the beloved and devoted Harriet Newell, who was not afraid to risk all for Christ, and counted not her life dear even unto the death! It was Miss Grenfell's greatest honor that Henry Martyn would have made her his wife, but she declined the honor, and yet gave him encouragement, for their correspondence only ended with his life, and his very last writing was a letter to her. He begged her with all the eloquence of a lonely and devoted heart to come out to him after he had gone to India, arranging every detail for her comfort with thoughtful tenderness, and urging and encouraging her and lavishing upon her an affection that would have crowned and enriched her life. We are left to infer from the history that she did love him in her way, but if she had shared his consecration and gone with him and taken care of him, and cheered and comforted him, and made for him a happy restful home, as some missionary wives have done in self-denying foreign fields, what a blessing she might have been, and her life, how fruitful, and her memory, how fragrant! As it was, she has this distinction, that she was Henry Martyn's disappointment and trial and discipline. No one less tender and sensitive than Henry Martyn can appreciate all he suffered on this account; but he made it, like all the other great sorrows of his life, a cross on which to be crucified with Christ.
He writes to his dear sister S.: "When I sometimes offer up supplications with strong crying to God to bring down my spirit into the dust I endeavor calmly to contemplate the infinite majesty of the most high God and my own meanness and wickedness, or else I quietly tell the Lord, who knows the heart, I would give Him all the glory of everything if I could. But the most effectual way I have ever found is to lead away my thoughts from myself and my own concerns by praying for all my friends, for the church, the world, the nation, and especially by beseeching that God would glorify His own great name by converting all nations to the obedience of faith, also by praying that he would put more abundant honor on those Christians whom he seems to have honored especially, and whom we see to be manifestly our superiors."
In spite of Henry Martyn's beautiful humility, honor after honor was heaped upon him by his admiring and appreciative Alma Mater. Three times he was chosen examiner, and discharged the duties of this office with great care and faithfulness.
As the time approaches for his parting from all he holds dear, especially the beloved L., our hearts go out to him in irrepressible sympathy. He writes, "parted with L. forever in this life with a sort of uncertain pain which I know will increase to greater violence."
And these forebodings were but too soon realized. For many succeeding days his mental agony was extreme, yet he could speak to God as one who knew the great conflict within him. Yet while the waves and billows are going over him he writes from these depths, "I never had so clear a conviction of my call as at the present. Never did I see so much the exceeding excellency and glory and sweetness of the work, nor had so much the favorable testimony of my own conscience, nor perceived so plainly the smile of God. Blessed be God, I feel myself to be His minister. This thought which I can hardly describe came in the morning after reading Brainerd. I wish for no service but the service of God, to labor for souls on earth and to do His will in heaven."
LIFE IN INDIA.
On the 17th of July, 1805, the Union East Indiaman conveying Mr. Martyn sailed from Portsmouth. Mr. Martyn says: "Though it was what I had been anxiously looking forward to so long, yet the consideration of being parted forever from my friends, almost overcame me. My feelings were those of a man who should suddenly be told that every friend he had in the world was dead."
Though suffering much in mind and body throughout the long and tedious voyage of nine months, Mr. Martyn seeks no selfish ease. He preaches, reads and labors assiduously with officers, passengers and crew, and shuns not to declare the whole counsel of God, even the unpalatable doctrine of the future punishment of the wicked. He says: "The threats and opposition of these men made me willing to set before them the truths they hated, yet I had no species of hesitation about doing it. They said they would not come if so much hell was preached, but I took for my text, 'The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God.' The officers were all behind my back in order to have an opportunity of retiring in case of dislike. H., as soon as he heard the text, went back and said he would hear no more about hell; so he employed himself in feeding the geese. However, God I trust blessed the sermon to the good of many; some of the cadets and many of the soldiers were in tears. I felt an ardor and vehemence in some parts which are unusual with me. After service walked the deck with Mrs. ——; she spoke with so much simplicity and amiable humility that I was full of joy and admiration to God for a sheep brought home to His fold. In the afternoon went below intending to read to them at the hatchway, but there was not one of them, so I could get nothing to do among the poor soldiers."
What a picture revealing Henry Martyn's character!—the contrasting attributes of sternness and gentleness, his martyrlike determination to do his whole duty at any cost to himself from suffering and insult, the keen shrinking of a nature so refined and sensitive from coarseness and abuse, undeviating yet uncompromising, bringing to our thoughts the Divine Exemplar. I pass by the incidents of the voyage, including mutiny, sickness and death, romantic stay at St. Salvador, battles at the Cape of Good Hope, etc., eloquently and vividly recorded.
The Friday preceding his arrival in India he spends "in praying that God would no longer delay exerting his power in the conversion of the eastern nations. I felt emboldened" he says, "to employ the most familiar petitions by Is. xii. 6, 7, 'Keep not silence; give him no rest,' etc. Blessed be God for those words! They are like a cordial to my spirits, because if the Lord is not pleased by me or during my lifetime to call the Gentiles, yet He is not offended at my being urgent with Him that the kingdom of God may come."
April 21, 1806, the nine months' journey is complete, and they land at Madras. Mr. Martyn gives first impressions and description of the natives, ending in these words: "In general, one thought naturally occurred: the conversion of their poor souls. I am willing, I trust, through grace, to pass my life among them if by any means these poor people may be brought to God. The sight of men, women and children, all idolaters, makes me shudder as if in the dominions of the prince of darkness. Hearing the hymn, 'Before Jehovah's awful throne,' it excited a train of affecting thoughts in my mind."
"Wide as the world is thy command. Therefore it is easy for Thee to spread abroad Thy holy name. But oh, how gross the darkness here! The veil of the covering cast over all nations seems thicker here; the friends of darkness seem to sit in sullen repose in this land. What surprises me is the change of views I have here from what I had in England. There my heart expanded with hope and joy at the prospect of the speedy conversion of the heathen; but here the sight of the apparent impossibility requires a strong faith to support the spirits." Ah, how vividly this describes missionary experiences! After great peril from storm and illness, passing up the Hoogly from Madras, Mr. Martyn arrived at Calcutta, May 14. In this city for years had been a band of English Christians faithfully praying for the coming of the kingdom in that dark land, and into the home of one of these, Rev. David Brown, was Mr. Martyn received with much affection. A pagoda in one end of the yard on the river bank was fitted up for him, and the place where once devils were worshiped now became a Christian oratory. The first experience here was of severe illness from acclimating fever, from which he was kindly nursed into convalescence. He then applied himself earnestly to the study of the Hindoostanee, having engaged a Brahmin as a teacher. Here he witnessed with horror the cruel and debasing rites of heathenism. The blaze of a funeral pile caused him one day to hasten to the rescue of a burning widow who was consumed before his eyes. And in a dark wood he heard the sound of cymbals and drums calling the poor natives to the worship of devils, and saw them prostrate with their foreheads to the ground before a black image in a pagoda surrounded with burning lights—a sight which he contemplated with overwhelming compassion, "shivering as if standing in the neighborhood of hell."
Mr. Martyn's plain and pungent preaching was a great offense to some of the easy-going formalists of the English church at Calcutta, and some of the ministry attacked him bitterly from their pulpits, declaring, for instance, that to affirm repentance to be the gift of God and to teach that nature is wholly corrupt, is to drive men to despair, and that to suppose the righteousness of Christ sufficient to justify is to make it unnecessary to have any of our own. Though compelled to listen to such downright heresies, to hear himself described as knowing neither what he said nor whereof he affirmed, and as aiming only to gratify self sufficiency, pride and uncharitableness,—"I rejoiced," said this meek and holy man, "to receive the Lord's supper afterwards;—as the solemnities of that blessed ordinance sweetly tended to soothe any asperity of mind, and I think that I administered the cup to —— and —— with sincere good will."
September 13, 1806, Mr. Martyn received his appointment to Singapore. A farewell meeting of great interest was held in his pagoda, followed by a tender parting from the family who had been so kind to him, and two fellow laborers who, following his bright example, had just come out from England. The voyage to Singapore was performed in a budgero, a small boat with a cabin, in which he studied and translated and prayed while making the seventeen or eighteen miles a day of the six-weeks' journey. At night the boat was fastened to the shore. His journal record of these days is very interesting and very characteristic. He says:
"October 27. Arrived at Berhampore. In the evening walked out to the hospital in which there were 150 European soldiers sick. I was talking to a man said to be dying, when a surgeon entered. I went up and made some apology for entering the hospital. It was my old school-fellow and townsman, ——. The remainder of the evening he spent with me in my budgero.
"October 28. Rose very early and was at the hospital at daylight. Waited there a long time wandering up and down the wards in hopes of inducing the men to get up and assemble, but it was in vain. I left three books with them and went away amidst the sneers and titters of the common soldiers. Certainly it is one of the greatest crosses I am called to bear to take pains to make people hear me. It is such a struggle between a sense of propriety and modesty on the one hand, and a sense of duty on the other, that I find nothing equal to it. I could force my way anywhere, in order to introduce a brother minister; but for myself, I act with hesitation and pain.
"Walking out into a village where the boat stopped for the night I found the worshipers of Kali by the sound of their drums and cymbals. Invited by the Brahmins to walk in I entered and asked a few questions about the idol. The Brahmin who spoke bad Hindoostanee disputed with great heat, and his tongue ran faster than I could follow, and the people, about one hundred, shouted applause. I continued my questions and among other things asked if what I had heard of Vishnu and Brahma was true, which he confessed. I forbore to press him with the consequences, which he seemed to feel; and then I told him what was my belief. The man grew quite mild and said it was chula bat (good words), and asked me seriously at last what I thought, 'Was idol worship true or false?' I felt it a matter of thankfulness that I could make known the truth of God though a stammerer and that I had declared it in the presence of the devil. And this also I learnt, that the power of gentleness is irresistible. I never was more astonished than at the change in deportment of this hot-headed Brahmin.... Came to on the eastern bank below a village called Ahgadup. Wherever I walked the women fled at the sight of me. Some men were sitting under the shed dedicated to their goddess; a lamp was burning in her place. A conversation soon began, but there was no one who could speak Hindoostanee. I could only speak by the medium of my Mussulman, Musalchee. They said that they only did as others did, and that if they were wrong then all Bengal was wrong. I felt love for their souls, and longed for utterance to declare unto these poor simple people the holy gospel. I think that when my mouth is opened I shall preach to them day and night.
"October 31. My Moonshee said, 'How can you prove this book (the gospel), to be the word of God?' I took him to walk with me on the shore that we might discuss the matter, and the result of our conversation was that I discovered that the Mussulmen allow the gospel to be in general the command of God, though the words of it are not His as the words of the Koran are, and contend that the actual words of God given to Jesus were burnt by the Jews; that they also admit the New Testament to have been in force till the coming of Mohammed. When I quoted some passages which proved the Christian dispensation to be the final one, he allowed it to be inconsistent with the divinity of the Koran, but said, 'Then those words of the gospel must be false.' The man argued and asked his questions seemingly in earnest, and another new impression was left upon my mind, namely, that these men are not fools and that all ingenuity and clearness of reasoning are not confined to England and Europe. I seem to feel that these descendants of Ham are as dear to God as the haughty sons of Japheth; I feel, too, more at home with the Scriptures than ever; everything I see gives light to, and receives it from, the Scriptures. I seem transported back to the ancient times of the Israelites and the Apostles. My spirit felt composed after the dispute by simply looking to God as one who had engaged to support His own cause; and I saw it to be my part to pursue my way through the wilderness of this world, looking only to that redemption which daily draweth nigh. How should this consideration quell the tumult of anger and impatience when I cannot convince men 'the government is on His shoulders?' Jesus is able to bear the weight of it; therefore we need not be oppressed with care or fear, but a missionary is apt to fancy himself an Atlas.
"November 2. Walking on shore met a large party. I asked if any of them could read. One young man who seemed superior in rank to the rest, said he could, and accordingly read some of the only Nagree tract that I had. I then addressed myself boldly to them and told them of the gospel. When speaking of the inefficacy of the religious practices of the Hindoos I mentioned as an example the repetition of the name of Ram. The young man assented to this and said, 'of what use is it?' As he seemed to be of a pensive turn and said this with marks of disgust, I gave him a Nagree Testament, the first I have given. May God's blessing go along with it and cause the eyes of the multitudes to be opened. The men said they should be glad to receive tracts, so I sent them back a considerable number. The idea of printing the parables in proper order with a short explanation to each, for the purpose of distribution and as school books, suggested itself to me to-night and delighted me prodigiously.... A Mussulman, when he received one of the tracts and found what it was, was greatly alarmed, and after many awkward apologies, returned it, saying that 'a man who had his legs in two different boats, was in danger of sinking between them.'"
Established at Singapore, Mr. Martyn began upon three different lines of work, establishing schools, attaining readiness in Hindoostanee so as to preach the gospel in that language, and translating the Scriptures and religious books. To his great discouragement he was informed by the Pundit that every four miles the language changed, so that a book in the dialect of one district would be unintelligible to the people of another. Being advised to learn Sanscrit, he took up this language with great zeal. The commencement of Mr. Martyn's ministry amongst the Europeans of Singapore was not of such a kind as to either gratify or encourage him. At first he read prayers to the soldiers at the barracks from the drumhead, and as there were no seats provided, was desired to omit the sermon. Afterwards more decent arrangements being made, the families came in; but taking offense at his evangelical plainness, they asked that he should desist from extempore preaching. These European members of his flock were jealous and angry at his constant efforts for the salvation of the heathen natives. They thought it much beneath the dignity of an English chaplain to care for these degraded souls. Some of Mr. Martyn's duties as chaplain were exceedingly onerous. On several occasions he was summoned to distant places involving long and dangerous journeys to perform a marriage ceremony. On these journeys he suffered severely, and they were a great draft upon his very delicate health; always weak and languid, and often alarmingly disordered. Yet through all he continued to labor incessantly. Every Sabbath he held at least four services: at 7 for Europeans; at 2 for Hindoos, about two hundred in attendance; in the afternoon at the hospital; in the evening in his own room for the soldiers. In his household were two natives who assisted in his studies and translations, the Moonshee and the Pundit, with whom he held long disputes and with whom he labored daily, though unsuccessfully, to bring them to faith in Christ. He says, "translating the epistle of St. John with the Moonshee, I asked him what he thought of those passages which so strongly express the doctrines of the Trinity and of the divinity of Christ. He said he never would believe it, because the Koran declared it sinful to say that God had any Son. I told him that he ought to pray that God would teach him what the truth really is. He said he had no occasion on this subject, as the word of God was express. I asked him whether some doubt ought not to arise in his mind whether the Koran is the word of God. He grew angry, and I felt hurt and vexed. I should have done better to have left the words of the chapter with him without saying anything. I went also too far with the Pundit in arguing against his superstition, for he also grew angry." If any qualification seems necessary to a missionary in India it is wisdom—operating in the regulation of the temper and the due improvement of opportunities. Mr. Martyn needed the heavenly gift of wisdom also in the management of his native schools, five or six of which were supported by himself in Singapore. Little by little he succeeded in introducing as a text-book a part of the Bible—his own translation of the sermon on the Mount and the Parables. He was called to do more and more of this work of translating the Scriptures, and was persuaded by the Rev. David Brown not only to continue the Hindoostanee, but to superintend the translation of the Scriptures into Persian. He engaged in it at once with zeal. He writes: "The time fled imperceptibly while so delightfully engaged in the translations; the days seemed to have passed like a moment. What do I not owe to the Lord for permitting me to take part in a translation of His word? Never did I see such wonder and wisdom and love in the blessed Book as since I have been obliged to study every expression. Employed a good while at night in considering a difficult passage, and being much enlightened respecting it, I went to bed full of astonishment at the wonder of God's Word. Never before did I see anything of the beauty of the language and the importance of the thoughts as I do now. What a source of perpetual delight have I in the precious Word of God!"
This ecstasy of enthusiasm in most successful and congenial labor was suddenly dashed by a great wave of sorrow which came to Mr. Martyn in the news of the death of his eldest sister. To missionaries in foreign lands such news is especially bitter, and to recover from such a shock and sense of irreparable loss seems almost impossible. The mind, unsatisfied with details of the sad event, is left in shadow which deepens into heavy gloom. Mr. Martyn was all alone and felt it keenly and inexpressibly. Some of his most intimate and sympathetic friends at this time, realizing how it was not good for him to be alone, encouraged him to renew his matrimonial offer to his ever beloved L. After her refusal he says, "The Lord sanctify this, and since this last desire of my heart is also withheld may I turn away forever from the world and henceforth live forgetful of all but God. With Thee, O my God, is no disappointment. I shall never have to regret that I have loved Thee too well. Thou hast said, 'delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart.'"
Could sweeter words than these be expressed in any language! Could greater depths of submission or heights of consecration be attained! They deserve to be recorded on imperishable marble or blazoned on the sky in sight of all, and received as the confession of every Christian heart, to the honor and praise of Him who gave such glorious victory to this tried soldier of the cross.
Providentially for Mr. Martyn's comfort his thoughts were much occupied after this by the arrival of his coadjutors in the work of translation, one of these, Mirza of Benares, well known in India as an eminent Hindoostanee scholar; the other Sabat the Arabian, since but too well known both in India and England by his rejection of that faith which he then appeared to profess in sincerity and faith. In the latter of these Mr. Martyn confidently trusted that he had found a Christian brother with respect to the reality of his belief in Christianity, although Mr. Martyn immediately discovered in him an unsubdued Arab spirit, and witnessed with pain many deflections from that temper and conduct which he himself so eminently exemplified; yet, he could not but "believe all things and hope all things," even while he continued to suffer much from him, and for a length of time, with unparalleled forbearance and kindness. Sabat's temper was a continual trial and mortification. The very first Sabbath in Singapore, imagining he was not treated with sufficient dignity, he left the church before service in great anger. Often in the midst of the translation he would come to a sudden stop and refuse to go on for the most trivial reasons, sometimes for fear that Mirza who would review the work might have part of the honor. About this time Mr. Martyn was much bereaved by the removal of a family with whom he had lived in intimate terms of Christian intercourse. "This separation affected him the more sensibly because it was not in every family at that station that he met with a kind and cordial reception." He says, "I called on one of the Singapore families, and felt my pride rise at the uncivil manner in which I was received. I was disposed at first to determine never to visit the house again, but I remembered the words, 'overcome evil with good.'"
In the month of March, 1808, the New Testament in Hindoostanee was completed. He says, "I have read and corrected the manuscript till my eyes ache; such a week of labor I believe I have never passed. The heat is terrible, often at 98 degrees, the nights insupportable." We next hear of Mr. Martyn suffering from severe illness with fever and vertigo, and pained with the thought of leaving the Persian gospels unfinished! So unselfish, so full of zeal! Again at work, mercury at 102 degrees. "Arabic now employs my few moments of leisure. In consequence of reading the Koran with Sabat audibly, and drinking no wine, the slander has gone forth that the Singapore Padre has turned Mussulman.
"June 6th. To-day we have completed the Persian of St. Matthew. Sabat desired me to kneel down to bless God for the happy event, and we joined in praise of the Father of lights. It is a superb performance in every respect, with elegance enough to attract the careless and please the fastidious; it contains enough of Eternal Life to save the reader's soul.... My services on the Lord's day always leave me with a pain in the chest, and such a great degree of general relaxation, that I seldom recover it till Tuesday. The society still meet every night at my quarters, and though we have lost many by death, others are raised up in their room. One officer, a lieutenant, is also given to me, and he is not only a brother beloved, but a constant companion and nurse; so you must feel no apprehension that I should be left alone in sickness."
In April, 1809, Mr. Martyn removes from Dinapore to Cawnpore. Here he met friendship and hospitality. We quote from the graceful pen of Mrs. Sherwood: "The month of April in the upper provinces of Hindoostan is one of the most dreadful months for traveling throughout the year; indeed, no European at that time can remove from place to place, but at the risk of his life.
"But Mr. Martyn had that anxiety to begin the work which his heavenly Father had given him to do, that notwithstanding the violent heat, he traveled from Chunar to Cawnpore, the space of about four hundred miles. At that time as I well remember, the air was as hot and dry as that which I have sometimes felt near the mouth of a large oven, no friendly cloud or verdant carpet of grass to relieve the eye from the strong glare of the rays of the sun pouring on the sandy plains of the Ganges. Thus Mr. Martyn traveled, journeying night and day, and arrived at Cawnpore in such a state that he fainted away as soon as he entered the house. When we charged him with the rashness of hazarding his life in this manner, he always pleaded his anxiety to get to the great work. He remained with us ten days, suffering considerably at times from fever and pain in the chest.
"Mr. Martyn's removal from Dinapore to Cawnpore was to him in many respects a very unpleasant arrangement. He was several hundred miles farther distant from Calcutta and more widely separated than before from his friend Mr. Corrie. He had new acquaintances to form at his new abode, and after having with much difficulty procured the erection of a church at Dinapore he was transported to a spot where none of the conveniences, much less the decencies and solemnities of public worship, were visible.
"We find him soon after he arrived there preaching to a thousand soldiers drawn up in a hollow square, when the heat was so great, although the sun had not risen, that many actually dropped down, unable to support it."
Yet Mr. Martyn's labors were not abated. Every Sabbath at dawn were prayers and sermon with the regiment, and again at eleven at the house of the general of the station. In the afternoon he preached to a crowd of poor natives, five, to eight hundred, rude, noisy, wretched beggars, for whose souls he felt a tender care. Again in the evening, the best of the day, he had a meeting with the more devout of his flock. These ministrations so earnestly performed were most exhausting, yet he knew not how to forego them; at this time, too, from England came the sad and sudden news of the death of his sister, the one who had led him to Christ.
The alarming state of his health made some change necessary, and Mr. Martyn was urged to leave India and make trial of a sea voyage. His Persian New Testament had been criticised as unfit for general circulation, being written in a style too learned and exalted for the comprehension of the common people. He was advised to visit Persia and there revise his work and also complete his version in Arabic, almost finished. Mr. Brown, his devoted friend, and the Calcutta agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, thus writes: "Can I then bring myself to cut the string and let you go? I confess I could not if your bodily frame were strong, and promised to last for half a century. But as you burn with the intenseness and rapid blaze of heated phosphorus, why should we not make the most of you? Your flame may last as long and perhaps longer in Arabia, than in India. Where should the Phoenix build her odoriferous nest, but in the land prophetically called 'the blessed?' and where shall we ever expect, but from that country, the true Comforter to come to the nations of the East? I contemplate your New Testament springing up, as it were, from dust and ashes, but beautiful as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and his feathers like yellow gold." His farewell services at Cawnpore were very tender and affecting, both with his great audience of natives and Englishmen. Of the latter, Mrs. Sherwood says: "He began in a weak and faint voice, being at that time in a very bad state of health; but, gathering strength as he proceeded, he seemed as one inspired from on high. Never was an audience more affected. The next day this holy and heavenly man left Cawnpore and the society of many who sincerely loved and admired him." Stopping to visit the friends in Calcutta, the Rev. Mr. Thomason says: "This bright and lovely jewel first gratified our eyes on Saturday last. He is on his way to Arabia, where he is going in pursuit of health and knowledge. You know his genius, and what gigantic strides he takes in everything. He has some great plan in his mind, of which I am no competent judge; but as far as I do understand it, the object is far too grand for one short life, and much beyond his feeble and exhausted frame. Feeble it is, indeed; how fallen and changed! His complaint lies in his lungs and appears to be an incipient consumption. But let us hope the sea air may revive him, and that change may do him essential service and continue his life many years. In all other respects he is exactly the same as he was; he shines in all the dignity of love, and seems to carry about him such a heavenly majesty as impresses the mind beyond description. But if he talks much, though in a low voice, he sinks, and you are reminded of his being dust and ashes." Though so infirm, Mr. Martyn preached every Sabbath of his visit, and his last sermon on the anniversary of the Calcutta Bible Society was afterwards printed and entitled "Christian India, or an appeal on behalf of nine hundred thousand Christians in India who want the Bible."
LIFE IN PERSIA.
From this time a change comes over Mr. Martyn's varied life. We have seen him the successful candidate for academical distinctions—the faithful and laborious pastor—the self-denying and devoted missionary—the indefatigable translator—the preacher of the gospel to the heathen; we are now called to admire in him the courageous spirit of the Christian confessor.
He says, on his voyage towards Persia: "All down the Bay of Bengal I could do nothing but sit listless, viewing the wide waste of water, a sight that would have been beautiful had I been well. In my Hebrew researches I scarcely ever felt so discouraged. All the knowledge I thought I had acquired became uncertain, and consequently I was unhappy. It was in vain that I reflected that thousands live and die happy without such knowledge as I am in search of.
"Proposed family prayer every night in the cabin—no objection was made.
"February 18, anchored off Bombay. This day I finished the thirtieth year of my unprofitable life, the age at which David Brainerd finished his course. I am now at the age at which the Savior of men began his ministry, and at which John the Baptist called a nation to repentance. Hitherto I have made my youth and insignificance an excuse for sloth and imbecility, now let me have a character and act boldly for God.
"March 5. Feerog, a Parsee who is considered the most learned man here, called to converse about religion. He spoke Persian and seemed familiar with Arabic. He began by saying that no one religion had more evidences of its truth than another, for that all the miracles of the respective founders depended upon tradition. This I denied. He acknowledged that the writer of the Zendavesta was not cotemporary with Zoroaster. After disputing and raising objections he was left without an answer, but continued to cavil. 'Why' said he, 'did the Magi see the star in the East and none else? from what part of the East did they come? and how was it possible that their king should come to Jerusalem in seven days?' The last piece of information he had from the Armenians. I asked him whether he had any thoughts of changing his religion. He replied with a contemptuous smile, 'No, every man is safe in his own religion.' I asked him, 'What sinners must do to obtain pardon?' 'Repent,' said he. I asked, 'Would repentance satisfy a creditor or a judge?' 'Why, is it not said in the gospel,' rejoined he, 'that we must repent?' I replied, 'It cannot be proved from the gospel that repentance alone is sufficient, or good works, or both.' 'Where then is the glory of salvation?' he said; I replied, 'In the atonement of Christ.' 'All this' said he, 'I know, but so the Mohammedans say, that Hosyn was an atonement for the sins of men.' He then began to criticise the translations he saw on the table.
"April 23. Moscat, Arabia. Went on shore and met the Vizier. His African slave argued with me for Mohammed and did not know how to let me go, he was so interested in the business.
"April 25. Gave him an Arabic copy of the gospel, which he at once began to read, and carried it off as a great prize, which I hope he will find it to be.
"Bushire, Persia. Called on the governor, a Persian Khan. He was very particular in his attentions. Seated me on his own seat and then sat by my side. After the usual salutations and inquiries the calean (pipe), was introduced, then coffee in china cups placed within silver ones, then calean, then some rose-water syrup, then calean. Observing the windows of stained glass, I began to question him about the art of coloring glass, observing that the modern Europeans were inferior to the ancient in the manufacture of the article. He expressed his surprise that Europeans, who were so skillful in making watches, should fail in any handicraft work. I could not help recollecting the Emperor of China's sarcastic remark on the Europeans and their arts, and therefore dropped the subject. On his calean—I called it hookah at first, but he did not understand me—I noticed several little paintings of the Virgin and child, and asked him whether such things were not unlawful among Mohammedans. He answered very coolly 'Yes,' as much as to say, 'What then?' I lamented that the Eastern Christians should use such things in their churches. He repeated the words of a good man who was found fault with for having an image before him while at prayer, 'God is nearer to me than that image, so that I do not see it.' This man, I afterwards found, is like most of the other grandees of the East, a murderer.
"On the 30th of May, our Persian dresses were ready, and we set out for Shiraz. The Persian dress consists of first, stockings and shoes in one; next, a pair of large blue trousers, or else a pair of huge red boots; then the shirt, then the tunic, and above it the coat, both of chintz, and a great coat. I have here described my own dress, most of which I have on at this moment. On the head is worn an enormous cone made of the skin of the black Tartar sheep with the wool on. If to this description of my dress I add that my beard and mustachios have been suffered to vegetate undisturbed ever since I left India; that I am sitting on a Persian carpet, in a room without tables or chairs, and that I bury my hand in the pillar (rice), without waiting for spoon or plate, you will give me credit for being already an accomplished Oriental.
"At ten o'clock on the 30th our califa began to move. It consisted chiefly of mules with a few horses. I wished to have a mule, but the muleteer favored me with his own pony; this animal had a bell fastened to its neck. To add solemnity to the scene, a Bombay trumpeter who was going to join the embassy was directed to blow a blast as we moved off the ground; but whether it was that the trumpeter was not an adept in the science or that his instrument was out of order, the crazy sounds that saluted our ears had a ludicrous effect. At last, after some jostling, mutual recriminations and recalcitrating of the steeds, we each found our places and moved out of the gate of the city in good order. The residents accompanied us a little way, and then left us to pursue our journey over the plain. It was a fine moonlight night, the scene new and perfectly oriental, and nothing prevented me from indulging my own reflections. As the night advanced the califa grew quiet; on a sudden one of the muleteers began to sing, and sang in a voice so plaintive that it was impossible not to have one's attention arrested. Every voice was hushed.
"These were the words translated:
Think not that e'er my heart could dwell Contented far from thee, How can the fresh-caught nightingale Enjoy tranquility?
Oh, then forsake thy friend for naught That slanderous tongues can say, The heart that fixeth where it ought No power can rend away.
"Thus far our journey was agreeable. Now for miseries. At sunrise we came to our ground at Ahmedu, six parasangs, and pitched our little tent under a tree; it was the only shelter we could get. At first the heat was not greater than we had felt in India, but it soon became so intense as to be quite alarming. When the thermometer was above 112 degrees, fever heat, I began to lose my strength fast; at last it became quite intolerable. I wrapped myself up in a blanket and all the warm covering I could get to defend myself from the external air, by which means the moisture was kept a little longer upon the body, and not so speedily evaporated as when the skin was exposed. One of my companions followed my example and found the benefit of it. But the thermometer still rising, and the moisture of the body being quite exhausted, I grew restless and thought I should have lost my senses. The thermometer at last stood at 126 degrees. In this state I composed myself and concluded that, though I might hold out but a day or two, death was inevitable. Captain —— continued to tell the hour and heights of the thermometer, and with pleasure we heard of it sinking to 120 degrees, 118 degrees, etc. At last the fierce sun retired and I crept out more dead than alive. The next day we secured some comfort from a large wet towel wrapped about the head and body. At sunset, rising to go out, a scorpion fell upon my clothes. The night before we found a black scorpion in our tent, that made us uneasy, so we got no sleep."
June 9 Mr. Martyn arrived at Shiraz, the celebrated seat of Persian literature, and at once began work upon his translation with the efficient help of Mirza Seid Ali Khan. In this work he had many interruptions, being himself an object of attention and curiosity. He received many calls, and unwilling to lose any opportunity of benefiting the inhabitants of Shiraz, was never inaccessible to them. He says, "June 17, in the evening, Seid Ali came with two Moollahs, and with them I had a very long and temperate discussion. One of them read the beginning of John in Arabic and inquired very particularly into our opinions respecting the person of Christ, and when he was informed that we did not consider His human nature eternal nor His mother divine, seemed quite satisfied, and remarked to the others, 'how much misapprehension is removed when people come to an explanation.'"
"June 22. The Prince's secretary called to talk about Soofeeism. They believe they know not what. He thought to excite my wonder by telling me that I and every created being was God.
"June 26. Two young men from the college came, full of zeal and logic, to try me with hard questions such as, whether being be but one or two? What is the state and form of disembodied spirits? and other foolish and unlearned questions ministering strife. At last, one of them discovered the true cause of his coming by asking me bluntly to bring a proof of the religion of Christ. You allow the divine mission of Christ, said I, why need I prove it? Not being able to draw me into an argument they said what they wished to say, namely, that I had no other proof for the miracles of Christ than they had for those of Mohammed, which is tradition. 'Softly' I said, 'You will be pleased to observe a difference between your books and ours, when by tradition we have reached our several books, our narrators were eye witnesses; yours are not, nor nearly so.'
"In the evening Seid Ali asked me the cause of evil. I said I knew nothing about it. He thought he could tell me, so I let him reason on till he soon found he knew as little about the matter as myself. He wanted to prove that there was no real difference between good and evil; that it was only apparent. I observed that the difference, if only apparent, was the cause of a great deal of misery.
"June 30, Sunday. Preached to the Ambassador's suite on the 'Faithful Saying.' In the evening baptized his child. Zachariah told me this morning that I was the town talk." Indeed Shiraz was stirred to its depth by the presence of Mr. Martyn during the whole year of his stay. Men of every kind, especially the learned and zealous, came singly and in groups almost every day to argue and dispute against Christ. Now it was a party of Armenians, now learned Jews, now a prince, now a general, now the very Moojtuhid himself, the professor of Mohammedan law. This great dignitary invited Mr. Martyn to his house, where for hours he talked on and on, defending his Prophet and showing his learning; he was greatly annoyed at any difference of opinion, and decided it was "quite useless for Mohammedans and Christians to argue together, as they had different languages and different histories." But fearing Mr. Martyn's influence he was stirred to write a defense of his faith, which was said to surpass all former treatises on Islam. He concludes it in these words, addressed to Mr. Martyn: "Oh, thou that art wise! consider with the eye of justice, since thou hast no excuse to offer to God. Thou hast wished to see the truth of miracles. We desire you to look at the great Koran: that is an everlasting miracle." Mr. Martyn replied, showing why men are bound to reject Mohammedanism; that Mohammed was foretold by no prophet, worked no miracles, spread his religion by means merely human, appeals to man's lowest and sensual nature, that he was ambitious for himself and family, that the Koran is full of absurdities and contradictions, that it contains a method of salvation wholly inefficacious, sadly contrasting with the divine atonement of Jesus Christ. The Prince's nephew, hearing of the attack on Mohammed, said, "the proper answer to it is the sword."
Mr. Martyn writes, February 8: "This is my birthday, on which I complete my thirty-first year. The Persian New Testament has been begun and finished in it. Such a painful year I never passed, owing to the privations I have been called to, on the one hand, and the spectacle before me of human depravity on the other. But I hope I have not come to this seat of Satan in vain. The Word of God has found its way into Persia, and it is not in Satan's power to oppose its progress if the Lord hath sent it."
The Psalms in Persian was finished by the middle of March.
On the 23d Mr. Martyn writes: "I called on the Vizier. In the court where he received me, Mirza Ibraheem was lecturing. Finding myself so near my old and respectable antagonist, I expressed a wish to see him, on which Jaffier Ali Khan went up to ascertain if my visit would be agreeable. The master consented, but some of the disciples demurred. At last, one of them, observing that by the blessing of God on the master's conversation I might possibly be converted, it was agreed that I should be invited to ascend. Then it became a question where I ought to sit. Below all would not be respectful to a stranger, but above all the Moollahs could not be tolerated. I entered and was surprised at the numbers. The room was lined with Moollahs on both sides and at the top. I was about to sit down on the floor but was beckoned to an empty place near the top, opposite to the master, who, after the usual compliments, without further ceremony, asked me, 'What we meant by calling Christ, God?' War being thus unequivocally declared, I had nothing to do but stand upon the defensive. Mirza Ibraheem argued temperately enough; but of the rest, some were very violent and clamorous. The former asked 'if Christ had ever called himself God—was he the Creator or a creature?' I replied, 'The Creator.' The Moollahs looked at one another. Such a confession had never before been heard among the Mohammedan doctors.
"One Moollah wanted to controvert some of my illustrations by interrogating me about the personality of Christ. To all his questions I replied by requesting the same information respecting his own person. To another, who was rather contemptuous and violent, I said 'If you do not approve of our doctrine, will you be so good as to say what God is, according to you, that I may worship a proper object?' One said, 'the author of the universe.' 'I can form no idea from these words,' said I, 'but of a workman at work upon a vast number of materials. Is that a correct notion?' Another said, 'One who came of himself into being.' 'So then he came,' I replied, 'out of one place into another, and before he came he was not. Is this an abstract and refined notion?' After this no one asked me any more questions, and for fear the dispute should be renewed Jaffier Ali Khan carried me away."
When we think of the bigotry and intolerance of these people and of Mr. Martyn's unflinching courage single-handed and alone, declaring the truth and preaching Christ, exposed to the greatest personal danger, contempt and insult, but unabashed, he stands before the world during his Shiraz residence as one of the bravest and grandest heroes that has ever lived. Such a spectacle is thrilling and sublime. God was with him to protect him and to inspire his magnificent confessions. A figure-head in history! A sight for angels and for men!
Faithful found Among the faithless, faithful only he, Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified, His loyalty he kept, his zeal, his love.
And God was with him to cheer and comfort, and we rejoice to know that some of the scenes of his life in Shiraz were quiet and restful. At one time a tent was pitched for him in a garden in the suburbs of the city.
Living amidst clusters of grapes by the side of a clear stream and frequently sitting under the shade of an orange tree, which Jaffier Ali Khan delighted to point out to visitors, until the day of his own departure, he passed many a tranquil hour, and enjoyed many a Sabbath of holy rest and divine refreshment.
He says: "Passed some days at Jaffier Ali Khan's garden with Mirza Seid Ali, Aga Baba, Sheikh Abul Hassam, reading at their request the Old Testament histories. Their attention to the word and their love and respect for me seemed to increase as the time for my departure approached. Aga Baba, who had been reading St. Matthew, related very circumstantially to the company the particulars of the death of Christ. The bed of roses on which we sat and the notes of the nightingales warbling around us, were not so sweet to me as this discourse from the Persian."
The plain of Shiraz is covered with ancient ruins, and contains the tombs of the poets Zaadi and Hafiz.
A vision of the bright Shiraz, of Persian bards the theme; The vine with bunches laden hangs o'er the crystal stream; The nightingale all day her notes in rosy thicket trills, And the brooding heat-mist faintly lies along the distant hills.
About the plain are scattered wide in many a crumbling heap, The fanes of other days, and tombs where Iran's poets sleep; And in the midst, like burnished gems, in noonday light repose The minarets of bright Shiraz,—the City of the Rose.
One group beside the river bank in rapt discourse are seen, Where hangs the golden orange on its boughs of purest green; Their words are sweet and low, and their looks are lit with joy, Some holy blessing seems to rest on them and their employ.
The pale-faced Frank among them sits; what brought him from afar? Nor bears he bales of merchandise, nor teaches skill in war; One pearl alone he brings with him—the Book of life and death,— One warfare only teaches he,—to fight the fight of faith.
And Iran's sons are round him, and one with solemn tone Tells how the Lord of Glory was rejected by his own; Tells from the wondrous gospel of the trial and the doom,— The words divine of love and might,—the scourge, the cross, the tomb.
Far sweeter to the stranger's ear these eastern accents sound, Than music of the nightingale that fills the air around; Lovelier than balmiest odors sent from gardens of the rose, The fragrance from the contrite soul and chastened lip that flows.
The nightingales have ceased to sing, the roses' leaves are shed, The Frank's pale face in Tocat's field hath mouldered with the dead; Alone and all unfriended midst his Master's work he fell, With none to bathe his fevered brow, with none his tale to tell.
But still those sweet and solemn tones about him sound in bliss, And fragrance from those flowers of God forevermore is his; For his the meed, by grace, of those who rich in zeal and love, Turn many unto righteousness, and shine as stars above.
1851. —HENRY ALFORD.
On the 24th of May, after a year's residence, Mr. Martyn left Shiraz, bearing his precious translation to be presented to the Shah. The journey was an occasion of disappointment, exposure and suffering.
Arrived at the Shah's camp he says: "June 12th, attended the Vizier's levee, when there was a most intemperate and clamorous controversy kept up for an hour or two, eight or ten on one side, and I on the other. Amongst them were two Moollahs, the most ignorant of any I have met in Persia or India. It would be impossible to enumerate all the absurd things they said. Their vulgarity in interrupting me in the middle of a speech, their utter ignorance of the nature of an argument, their impudent assertions about the law and the gospel, neither of which they had ever seen in their lives, moved my indignation. The Vizier said, 'You had better say, God is God and Mohammed is the prophet of God.' I said, 'God is God,' but added, instead of 'Mohammed is the prophet of God,' 'Jesus is the Son of God.' They had no sooner heard this, which I had avoided bringing forward till then, than they all exclaimed in contempt and anger, 'He is neither born nor begets,' and rose up as if they would have torn me in pieces. One of them said, 'What will you say when your tongue is burnt out for this blasphemy?'
"My book which I had brought, expecting to present it to the king, lay before Mirza Shufi. As they all rose up after him to go, some to the king, and some away, I was afraid they would trample upon the book; so I went in among them to take it up, and wrapped it in a towel before them, while they looked at it and me with supreme contempt. Thus I walked away alone to my tent to pass the rest of the day in heat and dirt. What have I done, thought I, to merit all this scorn? Nothing, I trust, but bearing testimony to Jesus. I thought over these things in prayer and found the peace which Christ hath promised. To complete the trials of the day a messenger came from the Vizier in the evening to say that it was the custom of the king not to see any Englishman unless presented by the ambassador or accredited by a letter from him, and that I must therefore wait till the king reached Sultania, where the ambassador would be."
Traveling toward Tabriz he writes, June 22: "Met with the usual insulting treatment at the caravansarai when the king's servant had got possession of a good room built for the reception of the better order of guests; they seemed to delight in the opportunity of humbling a European—all along the road when the king is expected the people are patiently waiting as for some dreadful disaster; plague, pestilence or famine are nothing to the misery of being subject to the violence and extortion of this rabble soldiery.
"June 26. Have eaten nothing now for two days. My mind much disordered from headache and giddiness;—but my heart is with Christ and His saints.
"June 27. Passed the third day in the same exhausted state, my head tortured with shocking pains, such as, together with the horror I felt at being exposed to the sun, showed me plainly to what to ascribe my sickness."
Thus in great illness and suffering Mr. Martyn reached Tabriz, and was nursed through a fever of two months' continuance at the ambassador's residence. This defeated his plan of presenting the Persian New Testament to the king—but it was afterwards done by Sir Gore Ouseley himself, and publicly received the royal approbation, and still later was printed in St. Petersburg.
On leaving Cawnpore, Mr. Martyn had intended returning to England, but had willingly remained in Persia to finish the translation, which being now disposed of, he reverted to his original intention, and set out on his last fatal journey towards Constantinople, September 2. His journal is filled with expressions of gratitude for restored health, delight in the scenery of Tabriz, descriptions of the country and the journey, the Araxes river, the hoary peaks of Ararat, the governor's palace, the ancient Armenian church and monastery at Ech-Miazin, where he received great kindness from the Patriarch and the monks. He was profoundly impressed with the view from an elevated table-land looking out upon Persia, Russia and Turkey—a Pisgah vision, which excites in later missionaries a strong desire for Christian conquest. Describes Cars and Erzroom. September 29, left Erzroom. Was attacked with fever and ague.
"September 30. Took nothing all day but tea; headache and loss of appetite depressed my spirits, yet my soul rests in Him who is as anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, which, not seen, keeps me fast.
"October 1. Marched over a mountainous tract; we were out from seven in the morning till eight at night. After sitting a little by the fire I was near fainting from sickness. My depression of spirits led me to the throne of grace as a sinful abject worm. When I thought of myself and my transgressions, I could find no text so cheering as, 'My ways are not as your ways.' From the men who accompanied Sir Wm. Ouseley to Constantinople I learned that the plague was raging at Constantinople and thousands dying every day. One of the Persians had died of it. They added that the inhabitants of Tocat were flying from their town from the same cause. Thus I am passing into imminent danger. O Lord thy will be done! Living or dying, remember me.
"October 2. Lodged in the stables of the post-house. As soon as it began to grow a little cold, the ague came on and then the fever, after which I had a sleep, which let me know too plainly the disorder of my frame. In the night Hossan sent to summon me away, but I was quite unable to move. Finding me still in bed at the dawn he began to storm furiously at my detaining him so long, but I quietly let him spend his ire, ate my breakfast composedly, and set out at eight. He seemed determined to make up for the delay, for we flew over hill and dale to Sherean, where we changed horses. From thence we traveled all the rest of the day and all night. It rained most of the time. After sunset the ague came on again, which in my wet state was very trying. I hardly know how to keep my life in me. About that time there was a village at hand, but Hassan had no mercy. The night was pitchy dark, so that I could not see the road under my horse's feet. However, God being mercifully pleased to alleviate my bodily suffering, I went on contentedly to the munzil (stopping-place). After sleeping three or four hours Hassan hurried me away, and galloped furiously toward a village, which he said was four hours distant, which was all I could undertake in my present state; but village after village did he pass, till night coming on, and no signs of another, I suspected he was carrying me on to the munzil; so I got off my horse and sat upon the ground and told him I neither could nor would go any farther. He stormed, but I was immovable, till a light, appearing at a distance, I mounted my horse and made toward it, leaving him to follow or not as he pleased. He brought in the party, but would not exert himself to get a place for me. They brought me to an open verandah, but Sergius told them I wanted a place in which to be alone. This seemed very offensive to them, 'and why must he be alone'? they asked, ascribing this desire of mine to pride, I suppose. Tempted at last by money they brought me to a stable room, and Hassan and a number of others planted themselves there with me. My fever here increased to a violent degree, the heat in my eyes and forehead was so great that the fire almost made me frantic. I entreated that it might be put out or that I might be carried out of doors. Neither was attended to; my servant, who from my sitting in that strange way on the ground, believed me delirious, was deaf to all I said. At last I pushed my head in among the luggage and lodged it on the damp ground and slept.
"October 5. Preserving mercy made me see the light of another morning. The sleep had refreshed me but I was feeble and shaken, yet the merciless Hassan hurried me off. I was pretty well lodged and felt tolerably well till a little after sunset, when the ague came on with a violence I had never before experienced. I felt as if in a palsy, my teeth chattering, and my whole frame violently shaken. Aga Hosyn and another Persian on their way here from Constantinople, came hastily to render me assistance if they could. These Persians appear quite brotherly after the Turks. While they pitied me, Hassan sat in perfect indifference, ruminating on the further delay this was likely to occasion. The cold fit after continuing two or three hours was followed by a fever, which lasted the whole night and prevented sleep.
"October 6. No horses were to be had, and I had an unexpected repose. Sat in the orchard and thought with sweet comfort and peace of my God: in solitude my companion, friend and comforter. Oh, when shall time give place to eternity—when shall appear that new heaven and earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness! There, there shall in no wise enter in anything that defileth; none of that wickedness which has made men worse than wild beasts, none of those corruptions which add still more to the miseries of humanity, shall be seen or heard of any more."
Here abruptly closes the journal, with pantings for the glory and the purity of Immanuel's land, into which he was admitted by a blessed translation, released from all the sufferings of life on October 16, 1812, at Tocat, Turkey. The manner of his death is not known, whether it resulted from the sickness described, or from the plague, then raging. Whether Hassan was cruel and driving to the last, whether all his heartless Turkish attendants deserted him or not in his hour of final agony, we cannot tell. No relative or friend was there, no tender voice of sympathy, no woman's soothing hand, no alleviations from medicine. Even the commonest decencies and necessities of civilized life were lacking. Earth gave nothing to Henry Martyn in his mortal need, but we are sure heavenly consolations were unstinted.
"Jesus can make a dying bed Feel soft as downy pillows are."
And Jesus was there! And Henry Martyn was satisfied, and is forever satisfied! "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." And the most priceless legacy of the blood-bought and commissioned church is the memory of a life, so gifted, so unselfish, so consecrated.
It is wanting in no element of moral heroism. Our souls confess its grandeur. The contemplation lifts us into a higher atmosphere than that of mammon, and self, and earth. We rejoice to see a crown so rare, so fair, so precious, laid at the feet of Jesus, the King. He is worthy. And we long to see the youth of our land and the church inspired by Henry Martyn's example, as he was inspired by David Brainerd's. And so we would have the apostolic succession continued till the millennium, of such as shall not count their lives dear for the testimony of the gospel.
It is said that after Mr. Martyn's death one of his earliest and most devoted friends, the Rev. Charles Simeon, used always to keep his picture before him in his study for help and inspiration. "Move where he would through the apartment, it seemed to keep its eyes upon him, and ever to say to him, 'Be earnest, be earnest; don't trifle, don't trifle,' and the good Simeon would gently bow to the speaking picture, and with a smile, reply, 'Yes, I will; I will be in earnest, I will not trifle; for souls are perishing and Jesus is to be glorified.'"
Would that Henry Martyn's life might bring such a message to every heart, and awaken in every one a similar response.
MISSIONARY ANNALS. Price per vol., cloth 30c., paper 18c.
I. MEMOIR OF ROBERT MOFFAT BY MRS. M. L. WILDER.
II. LIFE OF ADONIRAM JUDSON BY MISS JULIA H. JOHNSTON.
III. WOMAN AND THE GOSPEL IN PERSIA BY REV. THOMAS LAURIE, D.D.
IV. LIFE OF REV. JUSTIN PERKINS, D.D. BY REV. HENRY MARTYN PERKINS.
V. LIFE OF DAVID LIVINGSTONE BY MRS. J. H. WORCESTER, JR.
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