صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

celebrated Island of Scio, another reputed birthplace of the great poet, Homer.

"Seven cities claim'd the birth of Homer dead,

Through which the living Homer begg'd his bread.'

"Then come Nikaros and Samos, just beyond, and now we sail among

"The Isles of Greece, the Isles of Greece,

Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace-

Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung,
Eternal summer gilds them yet,

And all except their sun is set.'

Here is Tinos and Delos, Coos, Naxos and Paros, all famed in classic history and poetry. The morning sun rises over the Isle of Patmos in the distance, and in two hours more we are passing just beside it. With a good glass I could discern the houses in the village, and the convent that marks the place where the beloved disciple received the sublime revelations of the Apocalypse. It indeed filled the mind with sacred emotions to feel that we were gazing upon the precise spot where angels and the Saviour himself descended to reveal the things which must shortly come to pass.' Here also a door was opened in heaven, and the future glories of the spiritual world, the golden streets of the New Jerusalem, the City of our God, the great white throne and Him that sat upon it, whose face was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone, and cherubim and seraphim, and a multitude that no man can number, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, with palms in their hands, clothed in white robes, washed and made pure in the blood of the Lamb, were all made to pass in heavenly vision before the



mind of the inspired prophet. I took my Bible, and read again and again these divine scenes, and realised as never before their full and glorious truth and power.

"At evening we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset in the sea, such as one rarely sees, even in the Orient, as if to give effect to the impressions of the day, ever changing ever new, such as no artist can pencil. Rising just above the horizon yonder, Patmos seems floating in the distance, like an island of the blest. Two days more of sailing in the open sea brought us safely to our destined port, Alexandria.

"At Alexandria, I called upon the Rev. Mr Brown, missionary of the Free Church of Scotland, and conferred with him in reference to the interests of the Bible cause. He informed me that there was no Bible depôt established in the city, and until recently, very little had been accomplished in circulating the Scriptures. Within the last three months, however, a zealous young man from Beyrout, Mr Spillman, had laboured with much success as Bible colporteur, selling the Scriptures in the streets, from house to house, and among the shipping of all nations in the harbour. Mr Spillman gave me the following list of Scriptures he has thus sold in twelve different languages,-27 Arabic, 39 Italian, 25 Greek, 8 French, 6 Hebrew, 4 Turkish, 6 English, 2 Swedish, 2 Coptic, 2 Armenian, 2 German, 1 Danish; making together 124 copies, for 960 piastres. He has also the encouragement that his labours are attended with immediate good results. He related to me, among others, the following interesting incident :—A Greek of Damascus, living at Alexandria, became convinced, by reading the Bible, of the errors of his church, and the truth of the



Protestant faith. He immediately began to instruct others, and through his influence six were persuaded to renounce the Greek religion. They suffered much persecution from the bigoted Greeks, and one night, while at their devotions, they were attacked by a party of forty or fifty, armed with knives and sticks, but were delivered from their hands by the Turkish police. He has since sold eight Bibles in that very room; one of the first persecutors has himself become a devout believer, and now a goodly number assemble there to read the Scriptures together, and have prayers in the name of Jesus Christ. Through the humble labours of this one colporteur, so much interest is beginning to be manifested in the Bible work, that Mr Brown thought the time had already come for opening a Bible depository in the central street of the city, similar to that established at Constantinople, which would bring the Scriptures in every language publicly before the notice of all, and thus greatly increase their sale and circulation. Alexandria has a population of 150,000: say Moslems, 110,000; Greeks, 6000; Jews, 4000; Europeans and other foreigners, 30,000.

"I also visited the ruins of the Alexandrine Library, where our Septuagint translation of the Old Testament was made by order of Ptolemy Philadelphus, two hundred and eighty-four years before Christ, and the spot where it is said St Mark the Evangelist suffered martyrdom, now occupied by a Turkish mosque of a thousand and one columns.

Learning from the American consul that a steamer would sail on the following day from Cairo for the upper Nile, accomplishing the voyage in seventeen days, which

[blocks in formation]

requires sixty in a Nile boat, I decided to improve this favourable opportunity for exploring Upper Egypt, as a field for circulating the Scriptures, and also to investigate the confirmations of Scripture, history, and prophecy, found upon the sculptured monuments and tombs of this ancient land. I accordingly provided myself with a small supply of Coptic and Arabic Bibles and Testaments, and took the morning train from Alexandria for Cairo, where we arrived the same afternoon, and embarked immediately on board the steamer for Assouan.

"I had been much interested in the Copts, the descendants of the ancient Egyptians, who never embraced the Mohammedan religion, though threatened with death, and suffering great persecutions from the Moslems; and thought they might afford an encouraging field for Bible distribution. They trace their descent to Copt, one of the four sons of Mizraim, the son of Ham, who settled in Egypt, and gained possession of the whole country. Egypt is styled, in Arabic, Misi, which recalls the old Hebrew Mizraim (Mizrim); in the ancient Egyptian language it was called Khemi, or, the land of Khem, answering to the land of Ham, or rather Khem, mentioned in the Bible.

My first effort to introduce the Scriptures among them was at Girgeh, two days' sail from Cairo. As I was walking in the street I met two of them, distinguished by wearing the dark turban. I inquired for the church, and they at once conducted me there. It is neatly built of brick, 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

[blocks in formation]

said, 'No.' 'Taib' (good), they exclaimed. I was a Christian. Taib keteer' (good many times). I I told them 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 2500 in the town, and are the best educated and most intelligent portion of the people. In fact, they are the moneychangers 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

« السابقةمتابعة »