« PreviousContinue »
a very steep rocky road, passing by villages, convents, and fields of grapes, figs, olives, and numerous mulberry trees.
“The convent stands on the side of a steep rocky hill with a deep ravine below it. There is no village
It is a Greek Catholic establishment, and contains 30 or 40 monks. They have an Arabic printing press at which they have printed Psalters; the Gospels in the order in which they are read in the church; the books of prayer and monastic laws; and a few other works. The work both of printing and binding is done by the monks themselves. They bind very clumsily. Their type is large, and therefore acceptable to the people of Syria. They complain of all the books we bring them, that the character is too small. There seems to be almost an impossibility in the way of making it understood by the people in the west, that the people in the east, accustomed to read but little, and used to manuscripts rather than printed books, and often afflicted with soreness or weakness of eyes, need and insist on having the books that are offered them printed with large characters."
From the 26th of July to the 20th of August, Mr. Fisk spent some time in travelling. He went to Sidon to meet Mr. Way whose health rendered it necessary he should return to Europe, and from whom he was to receive a large quantity of Bibles from the Malta Bible society. Returning to Antoura, he enjoyed the society of Messrs. Wolff and Lewis who accompanied him to that place.
TO MISS M. E. OF BOSTON.
“Antoura on Mount Lebarion, Sept. 2, 1823. “Last evening we held our Monthly Concert for prayer. Though but four in number, yet we found it an invigorating season. Our daily and weekly exercises of devotion are also highly refreshing and
comforting. I often long for the society of dear Christian friends in America. I long to be with them in their domestic and social circles—in their
prayer meetings on the holy Sabbath at the Lord's table -and more particularly at their missionary meetings. But though banished from them all, I am generally far from being unhappy. My prevailing state of mind is cheerfulness rather than the opposite. I am satisfied that happiness does not depend on external circumstances. With a contented mind, with a heart weaned from this world and fixed on Heaven, with an earnest and undivided desire to serve and obey our divine Lord, with no interest of our own to promote, with a clear view of the divine government, and with a lively faith in the Redeemer, we are happy, though our food be only bread and water, and our dwelling a dungeon or a desert. Without these, in some good degree, at least, we are uneasy and unhappy, though we may be clothed in royal apparel, fare sumptuously every day, live in a palace, and have all the outward means of enjoyment that the world can afford. It is not this earth —it is not temporal comforts—it is not science and refinement-it is not even friends, that can give contentment to an immortal mind. It is God himself, who has created our minds capable of enjoying his love and favor; it is communion with him through Jesus Christ. In proportion as we enjoy this, the soul is filled and satisfied. In proportion as we seek happiness in other things, it is left void—the subject of bitter disappointment.
“Alas! that our communion with our God and Saviour is and must be so imperfect while we remain on earth; so often interrupted and marred by our unbelief, and the coldness, stupidity and worldliness of our desires and pursuits. Our affections are so carnal and worldly that all our efforts in our own strength, are ineffectual; and even the means of grace, the word and promise of God himself fail of their effect, until an
omnipotent power is exerted to arouse our benumbed affections, to warm our cold hearts, to awake our drowsy spirits, and to move our sluggish souls towards God and Heaven. Let us not forget then, that there is a special promise that the Father will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask for it. I think Christians should pray oftener and more earnestly for this particular favor. To what purpose are all our prayers, meetings, sermons and labors, if we do not receive the influences of the spirit? We may indeed get up a system of means and exertions which will have the show of religion, but the reality will be wanting. There will be no life, no soul in it. What is religion without the vital principle of love moving in the heart, and exciting our energies? Mere pharisaism-odious and abominable in the sight of God. We ask a blessing on our food, unite in family and in public prayers, and in songs of praise;—how much of all this is merely the effect of education, habit, and fashion and how much is the effect of sincere love to Christ? And if we bring all that appears like religion to this test, how much must be condemned, and how little will bear the scrutiny!
“It is not, however, for us to judge others. This is the prerogative of Him who alone knows the heart. But in order that we ourselves may not be judged and condemned by Him, we should judge ourselves. Sensible as we must be, that we can do nothing to any purpose without the constant aid and influences of the Holy Spirit, let us pray daily for this blessing. And if we wish to see our friends, and the ministers and churches of Christ more devout and zealous in his service, let us be continually in prayer for the more abundant effusions of the Spirit.'
"Sept. 6. Mr. Wolff and I rode to Bekoorka about one hour nearly west of Antoura. It is a deserted convent, which was built by Hendia, whose history is given by Volney, Vol. Chap. 24. Volney loved
to tell stories against monks, and probably many readers have considered the story of Hendia as a slander, or at best a novel, rather than a true story. I conversed, or tried to converse with some of the bishops and priests who knew her, but I never found any of them willing to converse on the subject. I am told that this infamous woman died a few years ago at Aleppo.
“From Bekoorka we proceeded a little E. of N. along the side and over the summit of a very rocky mountain, by an excessively bad road, and in an hour arrived at Arissa, a convent belonging to the Catholic missions of Terra Santa. These missions are distinct from those of the Propaganda at Rome, and constitute a different order of missions. They are generally under French protection, and the missionaries and convents are, I believe, usually of the Franciscan order. The head of the missions of the Terra Santa is the Padre Guardiano of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. He is now on a tour to visit the different establishments under his care. Padre Carlo, a Roman, is the only ecclesiastic now at Arissa. The convent is delightfully situated, commands a fine view of the sea and the coast, and has a pure refreshing air. It contains above thirty rooms, a church, refectory, kitchen and some other apartments. From Arissa we went in half an hour to Sharfi
, a convent of Syrian Catholics. In it we found the metropolitan, now 73 years old, who was formerly patriarch, but resigned his office a few years ago, and was succeeded by Peter Jarwy,* who had just returned from Europe.
“I learn from the bishops that they baptize thus: The child is placed in the font so that a part of the body is in the water; then the officiating priest three times takes water in his hands and pours it on the child's head, repeating at each time the name of one person of the Trinity. After this the body is
* Written sometimes Giarre and Giarwy.
immersed; but when I inquired whether the immersion was an essential part of the baptism, they said, No-the baptism would be valid and perfect without it.'"
Short extract from a letter to Rev. Mr. Temple, dated Sept. 13. "Ifany of you will come next winter and take possession of the Holy Land, I should like to take a journey to Armenia or Mesopotamia, to Nineveh, Babylon, and perhaps Persia.
“We all harmonize very well, (as Mr. Wolff says) and shall rejoice to give some of you the right hand of fellowship in the Land of Promise. But come prepared to live with such comforts as you can find, and to bear such disappointments as your Lord may send.”
On the 16th, Mr. Fisk heard of the arrival of the Rev. Mr. Jowett at Beyroot. He immediately set out in company with Mr. Lewis to greet him there. On the 19th, Mr. Jowett returned with them to Antoura. On the 23d, Mr. King joined them from Der el Kamer. After spending a few days together, it was their intention to travel over Mount Lebanon.
"Sept. 29. The past week has been an exceedingly interesting one. We spent several hours every day in a free and friendly discussion of practical questions that concern our respective missions, and the best method of promoting them.
"To day in company with Mr. Wolff I made a visit to Sharfi and Bzomar; the latter place is the residence of the Armenian Catholic patriarch. It is rather a theological seminary than a convent. About twenty young men are here pursuing studies preparatory to the ministry. I was informed, that their studies consisted of grammar, rhetoric, logic, metaphysics, and Theology.
“I have seen no convents so good or so neat as this; nor have I, in any of the monastic establishments that I have visited, met with men of equal talents and acquisitions. They are agreeable, enter