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self as such. Three years ago, disgusted with the superstitions and corruptions of his church, he left the convent, and what property he possessed, (about 1000 dollars, which the convent refused to deliver up to him.) and came to Sidon, intending to proceed to Constantinople, and end his days in his native city. But meeting with Mr. Goodell at Sidon, he besame his instructor in the Armenian-Turk
ish language, or the Turkish language written
in the Armenian character, and has remained with him ever since.
Archbishop as he was, he used profane language, and at first appeared perfectly unconscious that it was sinful. But on being admonished, he abandoned the practice. He invariably attended divine service on the Sabbath, and appeared greatly pleased with the seriousness with which it was conducted; the like to which, he said, was no where else to be found in Syria. Being harrassed with letters from his convent, inviting, beseeching, commanding him to return, he renounced his monastic vows, and, to cut off all hope and possibility of his return, entered into the marriage state. So bold a step, which, in fact, set at nought the whole monastic system of his church, became matter of surprise and of conversation throughout Syria. An Armenian council being held, soon after, at Bagdad, near the site of the ancient Babylon, at which were present priests and bishops from Jerusalem, and from Echmiazin, in the Greater Armenia, the residence of the chief patriarch of the Armenian church, as well as from other parts of the East, the case of Dionysius was brought forward and discussed. Whether the grand patriarch, whose ample diocess embraces two-and-forty archbishoprics, was himself present, we are not informed. But after long inquiry, no way was found in which the revolted subject could be brought to punishment. At this council, the priesthood were treated by the laity with the disrespectful freedom, which was exemplifi. ed in the public meeting at Constantinople, of which an account remains to be given.—What progress the archbishop has made in the attainment of piety, will be made to appear more fully as we proceed.
The name of the other Armenian archbishop, is Jacob Aga. He has resided with the English consul at Sidon, as his Agent. In consequence of his marrying a wife from a Maronite family, she and all her father's house were excommunicated, by the Maronite patriarch. For a more particular account of him, see vol. xxi. pp. 171, 209; and p. 19, of the present volume.
A few words concerning the Maronites, and the Armenians, although but little more than a repetition of what has been said in a former volume, will serve to illustrate still further, the intelligence which is to follow.
The Maronites reside chiefly on Mount Lebanon, and in the adjacent cities, and, speaking the Arabic language, come more especially within the sphere of Mr. Bird's labors. They derive their origin and name from John Maron, or Maro, in an early age of the Christian church. Since the year 1182, they have been closely connected with the Catholic church, and the connexion has ever been, and now is, cherished, by the court of Rome, with the most jealous care.
The Armenians, who come more especially into Mr. Goodell's sphere, have their origin in the ancient country of Armenia, and from thence derive their name. The vast territory east and northeast of Syria and Palestine is occupied by the Armenians, in company with other sects. In Palestine, they have four momasteries, the one at Jerusalem, of which more will be said by and by, being the most splendid and opulent in the holy city. In Constantinople, there are supposed to be not less than 100,000 Armenians, among whom, as they are a body of enterprising merchants, there is immense wealth. The Armenians are the bankers of the East, and rule the mercantile republic, from Constantinople to Calcutta; and travelling much, for the purposes of trade, they have become the most intelligent of the oriental sects, and on that account are the most likely subjects for reform.”— Mr. Goodell thus speaks of them in his letter of latest date.
Most of the principal men of their nation live, and some of them like princes, at Constantinople. They are not in the least degree under clerical influence, but give their priests and bishops the appellation of dogs, even to their faces, and frequently say to them, “You know nothing, and care for nothing, but to eat, drink, and be merry.” They occasionally attend church from respect to their nation, but they are tired with the sumptuous and unmeaning ceremonials of their religion, give no credence to the lying wonders of their legends and ghostly fathers, and look, with no feelings but those of disgust, upon the ridiculous traditions, the Su
perstitious rites, and the ten thousand absurdities, of their antiquated crumbling church. They would at once suppress most of the clergy, and sweep away at a stroke most of the convents and existing ecclesiastical institutions, were they not afraid that many of the bigotted and less informed Armenians, in other places, would, in consequence, become papists. It is to be hoped, that we may be the means of rescuing many of these bold and influential characters from the chilling and repulsive spirit of infidelity, into whose horrid grasp they seem likely, if left to themselves, to fall; and many of their more scrupulous brethren, who are, if not of inferior capacity, yet of inferior information to themselves, from the no less horrid tyranny and cruel bondage of superstition; and of bringing them all “into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
The philological, grammatical, and other labors of Mr. Goodell, will first be described.
The grammar which I had commenced in Turkish and Italian, I changed, at the suggestion of Mr. Fisk, to Turkish and English. Should it ever be published, it will not, in consequence of this change, be in so great demand; but it will, it is believed, be more useful to English and American missionaries, and less useful to Roman Catholic missionaries. This is now reduced to form; and though very imperfect, it contains as many principles of the language, as I have hitherto been able to furnish, and will, it is hoped, facilitate the studies of future missionaries.
For the same reason, and at the suggestion of the same brother, I have changed my dictionary to Turkish and English, and English and Turkish. The latter part of the work is §.". easy; for, having all the English words in alphabetical order, I have only to put down against them Turkish words, as I meet with them from day to day. But the former is very difficult; for all the Turkish words are first to be found, and then to be arranged. l have not been able to find any book in any language, which contains all the Turkish words; and much less, which contains them in alphabetical order. Signor Wortabet is employed three hours a day in finding and arranging them.
Signor Carabet and myself completed, sometime since, the translation of the four Gospels into Turkish Armenian; and should have proceeded to translate the Acts of the Apostles, and
the Epistles, had I not received intelligence from Mr. Leeves of Constantinople, that he had employed an Armenian, with the sanction of the patriarch, to revise the old translation, so as to make it intelligible to the common people, and that he had nearly completed it. As this is not from the original Greek, my own translation, should it prove to be a good one, though not wanted immediately, will, it is hoped, be of use at some future period. At any rate, the work of translating has been a useful exercise to me, for I, had no good books in the language to read; and if I had, I should still have been without a dictionary by which I could find out the meaning of the words in them. We, have recently translated some account of the last hours of Mr. Fisk, together with “Mr. King's Farewell Letter to his friends in Syria; with additions by another hand.” This last has widely circulated in Arabic, and has apparently been useful in opening the eyes of many of the people. Signor Wortabet, who is now, by consular authority, constituted my secretary, made several copies of Christ’s sermon on the mount, which I sent to o to Egypt, to Armenia, and other places. I also sent one with a letter to the Armenian archbishop at Sidon. The following is a literal translation of his answer. “To Mr. Goodell, our spiritual and beloved brother in Beyroot; Peace. “The first fruits of your new garden, yiz., the translation into the vulgar Turkish, which you have made from the fifth to the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Mathew inclusive, we having read, and most diligently employed our thoughts upon, and not finding any defect, have greatly rejoiced with joy. And we besought of the Great God, that he would in his mercy favor those works, of a similar nature, which you have in your fruitful mind, by which poor Armenians, who are ignorant of their mother tongue, may know, and with good attention may understand, what are the commands of God, and what are the various services it is necessary to render him. And moreover, the translation of the Old Testament being in your thoughts, God can raise up helpers if you need them. “Nothing more, except that there prays for you JAcob AB GARIUs.”
which mention is to be made in this number, shows, that the moral power of the PREss, as an instrument of reformation in Palestine and the neighboring countries, cannot well be estimated too highly.” The date of this extract is as far back as December 1825.
Mr. Bird translated into Italian some account of the last hours of Mr. Fisk, and sent it to Jerusalem, to be put into Greek and Arabic for the perusal of his friends and numerous acquaintances there, and in other parts of the country. Every thing which pertains to ourselves, appears to excite a much livelier interest than any thing else which we translate. For this reason, copies of “Mr. King's farewell letter to his friends in Syria,” were multiplied to a considerable extent, till the Maronite patriarch became so alarmed, that he threatened to excommunicate those, who were employed by Mr. Bird as scribes; and Mr. Bird deemed it prudent to turn his attention for a short time to something else, while the patriarch should have time to take breath, and recover a little from his panic
Our Lord, Jesus condescended to teach the
multitudes that waited on him, even when he
saw they had no higher motive than the loaves and fishes, and no doubt he accomplished in this way much good. In imitation of his high example, Mr. Goodell has, for some time, instructed a company of beggars, which has been attracted to his doors by a small gratuity of bread distributed among them.— Under date of Sept. 15th, Mr. G. thus speaks of his labors in their behalf.
We continue to read the Scriptures, and to give religious instruction, to the beggars. And as a famine now prevails in the land, a large number, both of Mussulmans, and of Christians of all sects, assemble, several times a week, to hear the word of God, and receive their bread. They give better attention than formerly, and appear to understand better what is read or spoken to them. Some of them frequently smite upon their breasts (as is the manner of the country,) and cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” The salvation of one of these would give joy to angels. And we know, that while the rich, the noble, and wise of this world too often despise and reject the Gospel, God often chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.
Under dates of Sept. 15th and 29th, Mr. G. alludes to an exercise, which may yet prove such a blessing in Syria, as a similar exercise did in the hands of the German reformer at Wittemberg.
We have increasing encouragement and increasing, pleasure in expounding the Scriptures in Arabic, every evening, and from Sabbath to Sabbath. Our meditations on divine truth were never more sweet and refreshing, than they have been for several months past. God remembers us with the favor that he bears to his people; and power from on high seeins sometimes to attend our expositions.
I have recently finished expounding, in course, the New-Testament in Arabic, and am now engaged every evening in expounding the Old Testament, in course, to ten or twelve individuals of different communions, who are very punctual in their attendance. This exercise, in which I am occasionally assisted by Mr. Bird, and Mr. Nicolayson, is a very delightful one, especially as there is so much reason to believe, that the Holy Spirit is in the midst of us, softening, and enlightening, and new creating, not only the of unions, but the hearts, of a few.
In January, of the last year, the circle of influence among the Armenians, began to be enlarged, as is described in the following paragraph.
By means of the men, who are employed in my service, several Armenians have been induced to settle at Beyroot, who have expressed a wish to have divine service in the Turkish language every Sabbath. There are, also, a few Catholic Armenians here; and some of these have said, they would no longer go to their own church, if they could attend service with us. I ropose to commence this service next P. day; and hope it may, in this language hitherto seldom employed for devotional purposes, be, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the beginning of that pure and acceptable worship, which is ere long to be offered by every nation, and in every tongue, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same.
We have—says Mr. G. in September of the same year, more or less opportunities, every day, of preaching Christ boldly to those, who, from different motives, visit us. And while some yield their assent to divine truth and bow to the authority of the New Testament, and seem almost persuaded to follow Christ, others are filled with
wrath, “contradicting and blasphemin 8.
Remarks upon the Turks and the JNominal Christians.
It is a great grief to us, that we can do nothing, directly, to diminish the political evils of this country; nothing to insure protection for the innocent, or to bring the guilty to justice, nothing to abate national guilt, by being instrumental in promoting a national reform. In this respect our circumstances are widely different from those of our brethren at the Sandwich lslands, or among the Indian tribes of the west, whose labors have a direct and efficient bearing on the body politic, and an influence more or less powerful on the minds of those, who enact laws, and who control the opinions and practices of others.
The Turks do, indeed, in some respects, exhibit more good traits of character than the nominal Christians of this country. They will sometimes do an honorable action, or rather, will sometimes not do a dishonorable one. The universal testimony of Frank merchants in the Levant is, that there is more honesty, more fair dealing, and more punctuality to engagements, among the Turks, than among the Christian sects; and my own experience perfectly coincides with this testimony. But, after all, the government of this country, like the fourth beast in Daniel’s vision, “is diverse from all others” in the world, and is “exceedingly dreadful.” Injustice, bribery, oppression and treachery—these are as regular occurrences, as though they were the immoveable corner stones on which it rested. Justice is almost as much to be bought and sold, as any commodity in the country. When one Christian has a spite against another, he makes a representation of real or feigned injuries to the Turks, who are usually glad of a pretence to extort money; but, should they manifest a reluctance, he blinds their eyes with a gift. Should the person accused have the good fortune to escape, out of their hands, his friends must frequently be the sufferers. Such a thing as a prosecution from love of justice, seems to be entirely unknown. Certainly nothing appears ordinarily to be thought of, but retaliation and revenge. -
Such being the state of things in Turkey, where almost every one is in his turn oppressed, it will be no matter of surprize, should those, who begin to read, and especially to believe and obey the holy Scriptures, be called, in
consequence, to suffer oppression and
wrong through the false accusations of nominal Christians.
The following relation is strongly illustrative of character, but of character sunk too low in ignorance and moral perversion, we would hope, to be general among the members of the different sects.
To shew how many feel in regard to us, I relate the following fact. A Christian made the remark in one of our families, that if Asaad Shidiak had adopted the JMussulman faith, it would have been better, than to have adopted the protestant; because Mussulmans pay greater respect to the virgin Mary, than do protestants. But what is the respect, that Mussulmans pay to the virgin? It is this, that, according to a Mussulman tradition, Mary had no child except Jesus, in order that she might be preserved chaste and pure to be one of the wives of Mahomet in Paradise!
O this baptized paganism!—exclaims Mr. Goodell. There is scarcely a religious notion, or a religious ceremony here, which is not perfectly loathsome to my soul; and which does not seem as unlike the pure Gospel, as midnight is unlike day, or earth unlike heaven.
Persecution easierienced, or threatened.
The change, that has taken place in the religious opinions of Asaad Jacob,” which I have mentioned in a former communication, has exposed him to the ridicule and contempt of many. But as he is in my service, and they can consequently do no more to him than call him by some opprobrious appellation whenever he goes abroad, they have, by a manouver which they understand perfectly well in this country, instigated the Turks (without assigning the real cause,) to oppress the father on the son’s account, while the father is as innocent of this change in his son, as the most perfect opposition to that change can make him. A Turk, however, in the city takes Asaad’s part against the revilings of his acquaintance, congratulates him on his having chosen the best religion in the world, and exclaims, in the presence of Turks and of Christians of all sects, “I will myself embrace the religion of the protestants. And if they send me to my brethren, as Wolff was sent to the Jews, I will go through the streets of the city, and with uplifted hands cry, with a loud voice, “There is no religion like the protest
* The reader will remember, that this youth is only about 13 years of age.-Eu.
ant religion! There is no religion like the protestant religion!’”
But this instance of oppression, though it be sufficiently grievous to young Asaad's mind, is trifling, compared with another, which I am about to relate. What still more deeply affects us, and more deeply concerns this mission is, that the Armenian patriarch at Sonstantinople has at length succeeded, by money, in ob aining from the Grand Signor a firman to seize usion Jacob ...Aga, and usion the two Armenians who are with me. Jacob Aga is more particularly designated in this firman; and he, being agent for the English consul, would have the best, not to say ... protection, had not the English ambassador at Constantinople, written to have him removed from office. It will be a cause of great lamentation throughout all protestant christendom, if the agents, dragomen, and servants of English consuls, merchants, and travellers in Turkey, must be flashysts; and if, on one’s becoming a protestant, he must be dismissed from service,” and be given up to his enemies, to be starved, drowned, poisoned, or burnt, at their pleasure. For nothing less than some such horrible death do these Armenians expect, if they are given up to the ecclesiastical authority.
Did I really think, that we should be unable to protect them, I should send them immediately to Alexandria, or Malta, till the indignation should be overpast. But we have much hope that God will avert the storm. The house of a Frank, in Turkey, is, by treaty, sacred, and to enter this sanctuary by violence, is a crime of no ordinary magnitude. Mr. Abbot has written to the ambassador, in respect to his agent at Sidon; and we do not cease to pray, that the patriarch, who is now on his way to execute the firman, may experience no less a change than Paul experienced, when he was on his way to Damascus, and 'drew nigh the city to persecute the Christians.
Had these Armenians renounced all religion, or had they connected themselves with any other religious sect in the country, they could easily conceal themselves among their own party; or were they guilty of no greater crimes, than drunkenness, fornication, perjury, theft, robbing churches, and such like, they could find refuge among friends, or strangers, and elude the search of their enemies. But there is no hiding
* By this remark, I mean no reflection; for it is most devoutly to be hoped, that a proper representation to the ambassador will prevent any similar occurrence in future.-Note by Mr. Goodell.
place in Syria for those, who are guilty of reading God’s blessed book, and of walking agreeably to its holy firecepts.
It is much to our disadvantage, that there is, at present, a coldness between England and the Ottoman Porte, in consequence of the sympathy and interference of the former in the affairs of the Greeks; and also between the English consul of this place and his own Pasha, in consequence of the resistance of the former to the merciless exactions and dreadful oppressions of the latter. We have great reason for thankfulness, that we have thus far been preserved to such a degree from the insolence of the Turks; but we know not what shall be on the morrow. A man’s hat is always more safe in America, than a man’s head is in Turkey.
When we removed the body of our dear brother Fisk to the ground purchased for the purpose, a neighboring Turk threatened to tear it from the grave.
But whatever may become of these our earthly tabernacles, after we shall have put them off, we know, that he, whom we serve, is faithful, and wi surely find them all again at the resurrection of the just. In case of an open war between England and the Porte, we should probably be obliged to leave the country, till peace should be restored; for Mount Lebanon, which would afford a secure retreat for all others, would be the last place we should think of resorting to for safety, in the present state of feeling among the people, priests, bishops, patriarchs, and emirs, towards us. Our hand is against every man, and every man’s hand is agains: us. “The world shall hate you,” said Christ: not a particular sect, or denomination, or country, but “the world.” The Bible is in the most perfect opposition to every person, and to every thing, in this country, and therefore neither it, nor its adherents, can expect to find much quarter. But “God is our refuge, and strength, and a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
But though I have told you only a part of what we sometimes feel and fear, and though our beloved suffering brother Asaad Shidiak is still in the hands of the patriarch, “oft in prison and in stripes,” we know not how ex