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32. A blessing on us who are now engaged in the Palestine mission; that we may be preserved in life and health, and be made more humble, holy, faithful, wise, and in every respect better fitted for our work.
63. The increase of our number by additions from America of other brethren and sisters, who shall be well qualified to take part in this ministry.
“4. The effusion of the Holy Spirit and the conversion of souls, in connexion with our labors.
“Each brother before prayer made observations upon his branch of the subject. We are about meeting again to pray for our relatives, and for the seminaries, churches, and societies of America. I think days of private and of social fasting are very useful. An individual by himself, a family as such, a small circle of friends, or a single church, may with great advantage observe days occasionally for self-abasement and humiliation before God; and if they set about it with a true heart, I am sure, God will bless them. I enjoyed very many precious days of this kind with our lamented brother Parsons. On those occasions we sometimes seemed to get quite away from the world. Those were happy days, which I shall never forget.”
This chapter will be concluded with a letter to one of his brothers, dated Beyroot, June 20, 1824.
“Since the attack of fever which I had last winter at Jerusalem; I find my health and strength are not so firm, as I enjoyed a few years ago. I am not sick; can sleep as quietly, and take my meals with as good a relish as I ever did; and I can study, though not so intently as once. But I cannot walk, or make any bodily exertion, without much fatigue. In a word, I feel the effects of the journies and labors of the last four years; and of so many changes of climate, habits, and circumstances. I think it my duty to take all the care I can of my health; and I have consequently spent the last six weeks
here in the society of my missionary brethren and sisters. This has been a very quiet and agreeable season to me. I am now about going to Der el Kamer on Mount Lebanon, and thence probably to Damascus. But I do not intend to proceed in my journies or studies farther or faster than my health and strength will allow. Pray for me that I may have grace to devote all the strength, which God gives me, to his service;—that my life, so long as it is spared, may be his; and that, when called to die, I may be found ready. I have a consoling hope, that my peace is made with God, and am not usually distressed with serious doubts on the subject. But I want more love to Christ, and a more lively faith. Often I discover new corruptions in my heart, and see more and more need of sanctifying grace. How difficult it is to avoid sins, which have become habitual, or to begin the performance of duties, which we have habitually neglected. I beseech you, live near to Christ. Pray much. Do all you can to win your neighbors to Christ.”
JOURNEY TO THE PRINCIPAL CITIES IN THE NORTH OF SYRIA,
RESIDENCE AT JAFFA AND JERUSALEM, AND FINAL RETURN TO BEYROOT.
The compiler in preparing this chapter has to depend on the information communicated by Mr. King, who was with Mr. F. during most of this time. Mr. F. forwarded his journal for this period, but unfortunately it miscarried; or it has fallen perhaps into the hands of Greek pirates.
On the 22d of June 1824, he joined Mr. King at Der el Kamer, and on the 24th set out with him for Damascus in company with Mr. Cook.* Their way
A Missionary from the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, England.
was over Mount Lebanon, from the summit of which the descent was steep, leading to the beautiful plain of Cælo-Syria. After eight or nine hours ride, they reached the foot of the mountain, and in another hour they came to a khan, where they concluded to spend the night. The khan was so infested with vermin, that they resorted to a booth, made of green bushes, fitted up on the banks of the river Lietani, in which they spread their couches; and called for supper.
On the 25th they resumed their journey, and passing over Anti-Libanus, and through some small villages, arrived at Deemas, after a journey of nearly nine hours and a half. Here they found lodgings in the house of a Mussulman, and were furnished with leban and milk, and bread baked, with the dung of sheep and goats. See Ezekiel iv. 15.
The next morning between two and three o'clock they left Deemas, and in about four hours came in sight of the great city, DAMASCUS, which with the surrounding country, was enveloped with a thin haze or smoke, exhibiting the appearance of the country around the Dead Sea They soon reached the large plain in which the city is situated, and advanced towards the gate, through gardens of chesnut, olive, and fig-trees, apricots and vines. On reaching the gate they all dismounted,
except Mr. K. who was soon ordered by an armed Turk to do the same, as no Christian is allowed to ride within the city. It was with some difficulty that lodgings were found, as letters had been received by the highest ecclesiastical authorities, ordering them not to admit to their convents any of those men who distributed Bibles. They left their baggage in the street, and after walking about the city two hours and a half, a miserable room infested with vermin, was obtained, in which they might remain over the Sabbath. On the same day towards evening a number of priests called on them, one of whom Ma
ronite, showed them special attention, and introduced them to comfortable lodgings in the house of Aboo Ibrahema, a Maronite.
As one object which Mr. F. had in view in going to Damascus, was to avail himself of the favorable opportunities there enjoyed for studying Arabic, he soon employed an instructer, at whose feet he and Mr. K. sat in oriental style, and received their les
On the afternoon of July 10th, they rode out to Mount Kaisoon on the north and north-west to Damascus, and ascended to a station near where, it is said, Mahommed took his first view of the city, with which he was so enchanted, that he would not enter it; observing, that there was but one paradise for man, and he was determined not to have his
Damascus, which Mr. Wolff calls “the fanatic town," as seen from the elevated position taken by the missionaries, is thus described by Mr. K. “You see a great city thickly set with houses of a whitish appearance, which have very little to distinguish them from each other. The minarets, of which there may be seventy or eighty, with here and there a tall cyprus, rising above the houses, are the only things which break in upon the uniformity. This whitish city you see in the midst of a large wood, about fifty miles in circumference, with little variety except what arises from the dark green of the chesnuts, and the dark mournful appearance of the poplars and olives. In the skirts of the wood is to be seen here and there a little village, with a mosque. This wood, which actually consists of an immense number of gardens and orchards, lies in a great plain, surrounded by chains of hills and mountains."
According to the best information which could be obtained, the population of Damascus amounts to 150,000; of whom 10,000 are nominally Christians, and about 3,000 Jews, the rest Mussulmans. Mr.
Wolff when there, estimated the population at 200,000. While in this city opportunities occurred for discussing religious subjects with Jews, Greeks, and Mussulmans; and for the circulation of the Scriptures, notwithstanding the interdiction of the pope and the opposition of his priests.
July 17, 1824. Mr. Fisk with his companion left Damascus for Aleppo;—Mr. Cook having previously returned to Beyroot. They went with a caravan, which consisted of about 200 persons and 250 animals. At night they encamped on the banks of a small river in open air.
The following day they proceeded on their journey, till the intensity of a summer heat obliged them to stop; and as they could not be accommodated with a house where to rest, they entered an enclosure of mulberry trees, which afforded a small shade, and there they sat down and spent the remainder of the day. In conversation with a moslem from Damascus it was found that an impression prevailed with some Mussulmans, that Constantinople is to be taken by the Christians in 1240 of the Hegira.*
They arose on the 19th at 12 A. M. to avoid the. heat, and travelled till half past nine o'clock, A.M. when they encamped near a village, called Nebeck, by the side of the tomb of a shekh, where they found a large, clear, cool stream of water. After considerable debate, they were permitted to enter the enclosure of the tomb, and rest under the shade of a tree, which was preoccupied by Turks. In the afternoon the pasha of Tripoli arrived with a retinue of about 200 persons, on his way to meet the pilgrims who return from Mecca, in order to supply them with provisions. As he encamped likewise near the tomb, Mr. Fisk and his company concluded, it was best to remove. They were now obliged to take seat in the open air, which was filled with sand and dust, and heated with the intense rays of the
* A. D. 1862.