صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

has a matting covering the floor, and a gallery for the women above. I inquired also for their balas, or priest, and they soon brought him and several other chief men to see me. They asked me if I were Catholic. I said 'No.' 'Taib' (good), they exclaimed. I told them I was a Christian. 'Taib keteer' (good many times). I asked them if they wished the Scriptures. 'Eriva' (yes). I told them I had some at the steamer. They volunteered to come down in a body, fifteen or twenty, to receive them, and expressed the greatest delight when they opened the books, and read the Psalms and Gospel in their own Coptic language. I gave them six copies-all I could spare from my little stock, and still they urged for more. Two Mussulmans, who had followed us to the church and steamer, now came forward and commended the Christians, saying, 'Gepti taib keteer' (Copts are very good). It was pleasant to receive this testimony from Mohammedans, and to find such a spirit of harmony existing between them, instead of a feeling of hatred and persecution. I asked if all the Copts could read, and they took me to their school, near the church, where thirty or forty boys were diligently reading and studying from their plates or squares of tin, written with ink, which they use instead of printed books. I was informed that they number 2,500 in the town,


and are the best educated and most intelligent portion of the people. In fact, they are the money-changers and secretaries of the Turkish officials, and without them the business of government could never be conducted.


"My next visit to them was at Esne, in Upper Egypt, where our steamer called for the passengers to view the ruins of an old temple. I was guided by one of them, whom I met in the street, to their principal church. They sent directly for the balas (priest) and several of the chief Copts. I asked if they had the Scriptures. They produced a copy of their liturgy in Coptic and Arabic, and expressed a great desire to have also 'Tourat and Ingil' (the Bible and Gospel). I tell them that I have some at the steamer if they wish. They answer, 'Taib,' and say they will come immediately to the river for them. They invite me first, however, into a large house near by, where several of their elders are seated. I join their circle after the Oriental manner, and tell them that 'I am American Inglese, that we love the Bible and the Copts, and I have come to give them this Book of God.' 'Taib keteer,' they exclaimed, 'Americani, gepti Christiani, sawa, sawa, sawa' (the Americans and Copts are Christian brothers), said they, putting the forefingers of their two hands together to express close friendship. I could speak but few words of Arabic,



and one or two of them could speak only a few words in Turkish, so that we were obliged principally to employ the language of signs. As I spoke still to them of the Bible and Gospel, one of their number remarked, 'Allah var' (God is here). They then brought me coffee for refreshment, and the whole party came with me to receive the Scriptures. They formed quite a little procession of venerable men, headed by their old priest, Abraham, and his young assistant, John, and followed by a number of their children, I gave them a Bible and two Testaments. They expressed much gratitude, and said they would both read it, hide it in their hearts, and teach it also to their children. The priests, unlike the Catholics, were very desirous to have their people receive the Bible, and thanked me cordially for it in their name. An intelligent little boy, ten or twelve years of age, now came forward, and entreated me for an 'Ingil' (Testament). I asked if he could read it. A Testament was handed him, and he read it as fluently as a grown person. He kissed my hand, and begged me for a book by holding out his two hands before me; but I had no more to spare, and was obliged to refuse him. I thought, however, a 'backshish' would satisfy him as well, and placed a small piece of money in his hand. He at once gave it back to me with a smile, and put out his hands


again entreating me for a book. I much regretted that I must deny him and others begging for 'Ingil Tourat,' and could only promise that I would send them more from Cairo by the first opportunity.

"Their priests are allowed to marry, and the Copts have one wife, and live together in families as Christians. They do not worship images, pictures, or saints, or pray to the Virgin Mary, as the Greeks and Catholics, but only to God through Christ alone. They have four churches, and number 1,500 in Esne. More than one-third, or 500, are able to read. At Assouan, the ancient Syene, I found the acting American Consul was a Copt, and twenty or thirty others resided in the village. They have no church or priest among them, but have a service every Sunday, and an address or sermon from one of their number. They desired much to have the Scriptures, and I gave them two copies of the New Testament, for which they brought me presents of ebony wood to express their gratitude in return. I requested the Consul to assemble them all at his house in the evening, and in company with several English and American friends made them a visit, and told them of our faith and worship in England and America. They heartily assented to all, and were delighted to receive instructions from us as Christians from distant lands. They had never before received




any visit from missionaries or Christian friends, and it was indeed encouraging to preach the Gospel to these simple-minded Christian people, and give them the New Testament, far on the borders of Ethiopia. May the Lord bless his Word, that the desert may in truth bud and blossom as the rose, and Ethiopia stretch forth her hands unto God.

"On our return I learned that at ancient Thebes there is a large community of Copts, and a bishop living among them. The American Consul, though a Mussulman, said that his family and the bishop's were like brothers, and he would immediately send for him to meet me at his house. The bishop very soon came, and I was much pleased with his venerable, patriarchal appearance. I spoke to him of the Bible and Gospel, and related to him what I had already done for the Copts. He thanked me sincerely, and said, 'It is very kind in the Americans to remember the Copts; and I am exceedingly glad to have my people receive the Scriptures.' I then made an appointment to visit his church with him on the following day. The next morning I called upon him at his house. He gave me the Christian salutation and a welcome to his home. After the ordinary Oriental entertainment, we visited the two schools for boys which the bishop has instructed in his house, and then set out for the

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »