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JOURNEY FROM JERUSALEM TO BEYROOT AND MOUNT
LEBANON, AND RESIDENCE IN ANTOURA.
It was the intention of Mr. Fisk to extend his Christian researches through the most interesting parts of Syria, and thus “spy out the land,” before he became permanently located. The information which he would thus acquire, would be of important use to other missionaries, besides the advantages which would result to himself. Having been in Jerusalem and the vicinity eight or ten weeks, he concluded to spend the hot season on Mount Lebanon. For this purpose he left that city June 27, 1823, in company with Mr. King. On his way he speaks of crossing a small stream, where David, according to tradition, took the smooth stones, with one of which he slew Goliath. “Each of us, says he, “chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, as we passed over.” He remarks, that there was not probably a single stream in Jordan, which at that season of the year carried its waters out of the country; all is absorbed by the earth. In the afternoon he arrived at Ramla, the ancient Arimathea, and took lodgings in an Armenian convent.
“June 28. Sent our baggage to Jaffa, and rode north from Ramla to Lyd, the Lydda of the Scriptures. It is a small village, in which are standing several lofty columns with Corinthian capitals, and parts of a wall which once belonged to a church, erected as is said, by Helena. We stopped a short time, and then proceeded towards Jaffa, where on our arrival we were welcomed again to the hospitable mansion of Signor Damiani, the English consul,”
He sailed July 2d in an open boat for Acre, where he arrived the next morning, and was received into the house of the English agent. As in other places, he soon came in contact with a Catholic priest, who strenuously defended the infallibility of the
pope, and concluded his argument by repeating the Catholic maxim;—"De Deo et papa non disputandum”. there must be no dispute respecting God and the pope.
“July 4. Left Acre for Sour (Tyre,) and arrived the same day. Tyre is a walled village, and stands on a peninsula, which was formerly an island. See Isaiah 23d, and Ezekial 26th, 27th and 28th. Maundrel describes Tyre in 1697 as being completely in ruins, there not being so much as one entire house left. Its present inhabitants, (he observes,) are only a few poor wretches, harboring themselves in the vaults, and subsisting chiefly by fishing.'
TO A LADY IN CONNECTICUT.
Tyre, July 4, 1823. I have taken lodgings for a night in a Catholic convent, in the little village which occupies the place of the 'strong city,' Tyre. The prophecies uttered by Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, have long since had their accomplishment, How affecting to walk over the ruins of the most powerful cities the world ever saw, and to read on the scattered columps, broken walls, and fragments of buildings, the fulfilment of Scripture predictions! To-morrow night if Providence permit, we shall sleep at Sidon, and thence, after a few days, go up to some place on Mount Lebanon to pass the hottest part of the summer.
I love these places, for God displayed his glory here. But alas! for ages past he has here been displaying his wrath. O that the days of his wrath may come to an end,
and his glory again be manifested on these mountains, and in these cities.”
“5. About six o'clock we left Tyre for Sidon. At half
past eleven we saw a village on the mountains on our right, which the Arabs call Sarphant, supposed to be the ancient Sarepta, Luke iv, 26, and Zarephath, 1 Kings xvii, 9, 10, and Obad. xx. At three we arrived at Saide, (Sidon,) and took up our lodgings in the house of the English agent. We soon after had the happiness to meet with the Rev. Mr. Lewis, a missionary from the London Jews Society, who came out with Mr. Way.
“6. Went to Mr. Lewis' room, and spent a season in social worship. It was a most agreeable and refreshing interview. We rejoice to see the number of missionaries increasing in this country.”
TO A LADY IN CONNECTICUT.
“Sidon, July 7. I reached this place, with my friend and brother, Mr. King, day before yesterday, as I expected. There we received letters, and also met with Rev. Mr. Lewis, an English missionary to the Jews. Yesterday we enjoyed a precious Sabbath with him in his room. It was comforting to our souls, to read, converse, and pray together. Christian communion is indeed precious. I love those who bear the image of Christ, unless my heart very much deceives me, more than I love any other class of persons. I hope for the time, when I shall be entirely conformed to my Saviour, and be permitted to dwell forever with those who bear his image, and who will then be free from all those imperfections which now obscure the beauty of that image. Do you not find great consolation in cherishing this hope, and dwelling on these anticipations? In this dreary, sinful world, how cheering is such a hope! Let me advise you to read Baxter's Saint's Rest very often.
It will do you good every time you read it. We hope, in a little while to be in heaven. Let us strive to live a heavenly life on earth, and to do all in our power, to excite others to seek that heavenly rest. Endeavor by your letters, your visits, your prayers, and your example, to win some souls to Christ.”
The population of Tyre is variously estimated at from 1,000 to 3,000, and that of Sidon from 4,000 to 6,000. Dependence cannot be made upon the accuracy of such estimates. From the latter place Mr. Fisk went on the 10th to Beyroot, where the American mission is established—the first Protestant mission commenced in Syria. Of the advantages of this station he thus speaks.
“Beyroot seems to me to possess many important advantages as a missionary station. It is situated at the foot of Mount Lebanon, and a missionary might very profitably spend the hot months of the summer among the convents and villages of the mountains, many of which are within a few hours ride of the town. Occasional visits might be made to Damascus, which is only three days off. On the other hand, it is only one or two days sail to Cyprus. On the coast south of Beyroot you reach Sidon in one day, and Tyre in two; and to the west, in two or three days, you arrive at Tripoli, where I understand there are many
Greeks. It would be easy to maintain correspondence with all these places, and to supply them with books. In Beyroot itself a missionary who could preach in Italian might, I think, collect a small congregation immediately; and if he were disposed to open a school, there are probably few places in Syria that would be so promising. Another circumstance which, though not perhaps very important in itself, will yet weigh something in the mind of a missionary, is, that here he will find, oftener than any where else in Syria, opportunities to receive and forward communications. Here too
he will enjoy the protection of an English consul, and the society and friendship of several other consuls and their families. I think a missionary family would be more comfortably situated at Beyroot, than at any other place which I have seen in Syria."
The population of Beyroot is estimated at from 3,000 or 4,000 to 14,000, the least number in the opinion of Mr. Fisk is nearest the truth. “It is pleasantly situated," says Mr. Goodell, "on the western side of a large bay, in 33° 49' north latitude, and 35° 50' east longitude. It is the great emporium of all that dwell upon the mountains."
In order to find a cool and healthy residence Mr. Fisk and his associate went to Mount Lebanon. The place was considered favorable also for pursuing the study of Arabic, and for prosecuting missionary labors and researches. He made an early visit to the Emeer Besheer, the governor of the territory, whom he saw in Egypt.
“July 16. We left Beyroot for the residence of the prince, near Der el Kamer. We set out on asses, at six o'clock. For about two hours our road was nearly level, across the plain of Beyroot,—direction a little east of south. "We passed a large grove of pines, which were planted to promote the healthiness of the place, and then extensive fields of mựlberry trees, which are cultivated for the silk worm. Turning a little more easterly, we began to ascend the mountain, and continued ascending nearly three hours, which brought us to the summit of the first range of Mount Lebanon. We descended in two hours to a small river, where we rested half an hour, and dined on bread and a watermelon. At half past one we resumed our journey, and at three reached the summit of the second range. A half hour more brought us to Der el Kamer, which is considered as the capital town on the mountains. It is, I believe, the only place on Mount Lebanon where either Turks or Jews live. It has a mosque, but I was