« السابقةمتابعة »
Christians of our own day. In another shape, we have the same mischief now before us. Dr. Reed, in the present volume, falls into an error very common with the dissenting teachers. He says, "Religion must be presented as it is, not as it was. We must follow the directions of the New Testament rather than of the Old Testament, which, as a formulary, has vanished away." (p. 286).
Now, if this caution was merely intended to guard his readers against becoming Jews-against adopting sacrifices of bulls and goats, circumcision, and the like, then of course we have no objection to offer: But we must inquire, with somewhat of wonder, Could such a caution be needed?
If, however, a further limitation was meant, and Christians were warned, not against the Jewish ritual merely, but against all the laws and injunctions of Moses, then we must at once protest, and that with the greatest decision, against a style of teaching which seems to fall under the heavy condemnation of our Lord," Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. v. 19). 2. We aver, that in God's word, and throughout its pages, -not in a few places, but in many,—not dubiously, but with the greatest clearness, there are given to us doctrines, and reproofs, and instructions in righteousness, for legislators, for statesmen, and for men of wealth and influence; and that the general tenor of these is directly opposed to what a set of philosophers (falsely so called) of our own times, have conspired to dignify with the name of "Political Economy." And, accordingly, and very naturally, as the Bible and they are at variance, they agree to lay the Bible on the shelf, and to assert, that however necessary and supreme in its own department,-the concerns of God and the soul,—yet in mere sublunary matters, the management of nations, &c., it is either wholly silent, or speaks without any Divine authority, or any claim to our respect. And thus it is that the Patriot tells us, that if one school of political economists displeases us, we may go to another, "but not to the Bible." And thus it is, that one of the best men and ablest divines in all Scotland, can write a treatise on Political Economy, in which scarcely a single reference is found, from one end to the other, to the only infallible source of instructionthe word of God!
The country, then, will not be freed from perils, till it is freed from false principles. And "judgment must begin with the house of God." If "this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light," must not "the greater condemnation" belong to Christians, and to teachers
of Christianity, who deliberately shut up the word of God, and substitute for it "the doctrines of men?" We concede, and that without the slightest hesitation or unwillingness, that the grand topic of God's word is THE GOSPEL, and that this may be traced, by an enlightened eye, in all parts of the sacred volume. But it would be monstrous to assert,-that which many seem to take for granted, that what is the main topic, is also the only topic. It would be wilful blindness to cast aside, as Dr. Reed would seem almost to insist upon our doing, all the sublime morals, all the authentic history, all the infallible instruction of the Old Testament; and to prefer to seek instruction as to the best way to promote the happiness of a country, from the writings of a set of theorists of the nineteenth century, who disagree with each other in every conceivable mode, except in their unanimous contempt for facts; and concur in no one principle, except in a rejection of the Bible.
THE JOURNALS OF THE REV. MESSRS. ISENBERG AND KRAPF, Missionaries to the Church Missionary Society detailing their proceedings in Abyssinia, from 1839 to 1842. With a Geographical Memoir. By JAMES M'QUEEN, Esq. London: Seeleys. 12mo. 1843.
WE remember hearing the late Mr. Wilberforce state at one of the public meetings of the Church Missionary Society, that it seemed to be reserved for Missionary Societies to lay open the interior of Africa to the civilized world. The present publication has reminded us of that statement, which seems more and more likely from the events of the last quarter of a century since it was uttered, to be verified. The journies of Campbell, Latrobe, and Moffatt in the South, of Mr. Schön in the West, and of Messrs. Gobat, Isenberg, and Krapf in the East, illustrate Mr. Wilberforce's remark. The position also of the colony of Sierra Leone, and the recent journies of Mr. Thomson and Mr. Townsend, give us the hope that the light of discovery and the light of true religion may equally thence be advanced by Christian missionaries.
The present volume is full of original and valuable information respecting the kingdom of Shoa, and other parts of Abyssinia, illustrating both the geography and the moral and religious state of that part of Africa. There is prefixed to it a peculiarly clear and valuable geographical memoir of Eastern and Central Africa, by Mr. M'Queen. This memoir adds materially to the value of the general information, and it is written with much intelligence and good feeling.
The Abyssinian Mission of the Church Missionary Society was commenced in 1829, by the Rev. Messrs. Gobat and Kugler.
It has been continued, amidst multiplied difficulties and occasional interruption, to the present day. Several useful elementary works, as well as parts of the Scriptures, have been printed in the Amharic and Galla languages. It seems doubtful whether the missionaries of the Society will be able to re-enter the country, and pursue their very important labours: but their proved character shows that no personal effort or sacrifice will be wanting on their parts to accomplish their great and benevolent objects. The ne
cessity and vast importance of their labours are fully manifested by the present publication. It is delightful to see how the works of this excellent Society are continually commending it to the understanding, the conscience, and the affections of true Christians.
It is difficult to make extracts which would give the reader an adequate idea of the extent of the information this book contains. The missionaries give their details in the form of a journal, and hence they do not make that full impression which a more classified arrangement of places, subjects, and information would have made on the reader. They have been too much occupied with their work to study the impressions which the detail of their proceedings might occasion in the mind of others.
But we will select a few passages.
After describing some superstitions, Mr. Krapf goes on:
"These proceedings characterize very much the Christians of Abyssinia. They mix all together-Christianity, Judaism, Mahomedanism, and Heathenism. The ceremony just mentioned is common to them, as well as the Gallas; and the opinion of the above-mentioned priest, respecting the interpolations of Scripture made by the Jews, is evidently a Mahomedan doctrine. Their distinctions of clean and unclean food, and the use of circumcision, as well as many other ceremonies, are clear evidences of a mixture with Judaism. We cannot expect a better state of religion among them, inasmuch as a string of silk put around their necks as a sign of their Christianity-mortification of their flesh by much fasting-a strict separation from Mahomedans by not eating with them-their kissing churches-imploring Saints-disputing about the birth of Christ-pilgrimages to Jerusalem, or to the grave of Tecla Haimanot-all these things together cannot change their hearts, nor secure them against the inroads of Satan. The priests, instead of conducting the people to Christ, assume the lordship over them, engrossing their attention with vain fables and stories of saints, to whom they direct them for refuge as their Saviours. Hence ignorance, superstition, fleshly sins, particularly fornication, have prevailed among the people; so that we may well wonder at the remnant of Christianity which still exists in this country. Who can cure the wounds of Abyssinia, but the Lord by His Spirit and His Word? To give them His Spirit we are unable; but we can serve them by supplying them with the Word of God. The Holy Scriptures must not only be laid down before the people, but they must be explained to them by word and by writing; and the youth must be instructed in the holy truths of the Bible. The Lord be praised that he has enabled us to make a beginning, though a small one. The people know distinctly who we are, and why we have come to their country. A number of persons have heard the sound doctrines of the Gospel, by reading the Scriptures and conversation with them."-(pp. 118, 119.)
The following account of their Liturgy and Baptismal Service will interest our readers :
"October 29, 1839.-The priest Tseddoo brought to me another book, called, Ridan.' He then said, ' If you go to our Church, you must kiss it before you enter.' I said, 'You must worship Him who resides in the Church, and is higher than the Church; and your worship must be performed in truth and spirit. He then went away, but soon returned again, bringing with him the Abyssinian Liturgy. I found much therein which pleased me. I showed
him our English Liturgy on this occasion. Afterward, a man of Gondar came, whom we asked about the present king, Wolda Denghel. He said that he was only a nominal king, and had no power at all; that his annual income was 300 dollars, which he received from his Governors; and besides which he has a share in the butter which is sold in the market-place.
"This afternoon I was present at a baptismal service, to which Mamhera Tseddoo had also invited Mr. Krapf, but who declined the invitation. Two grown-up Mahomedans were baptized: one of them a man, a native of Gurague, the other a girl about fourteen years old, from the Dankali country, both of whom were slaves; with two little children, a boy and a girl. The service was performed under trees in the churchyard of St. George's. There were present several deacons and schoolboys, the persons to be baptized, with their respective godfathers and godmothers-each male having a godfather, and each female a godmother-and the priest Tseddoo; in all about twenty persons. Tseddoo, with one of the deacons, both clad in coloured Surat cloth, were the chief agents. The service commenced in the greatest possible disorder, all running to and fro. A deacon began to sing, and exhorted to prayer; whereupon all joined to make a great clamour, singing the Wadassieh Mariam. A large broken jar, instead of the baptismal font, was then brought; when, after a little more singing, the priest Tseddoo inquired after the persons to be baptized, their godfathers and godmothers, and then laid his hands on the heads of the candidates. The Nicene Creed and the Lord's Prayer were then repeated, and the third chapter of St. John's Gospel read with the utmost rapidity. The baptismal jar was then filled with water, and consecrated in the following manner. Tseddoo held it over a censer filled with frankincense, having an iron cross in the other hand; and bowing himself over the water, sang, Blessed be the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost;' then raising his voice as loudly as he could, exclaimed, One Holy Father,' at the same time drawing the cross through the water in a cross direction, and touching the jar on four opposite parts in the form of a crossAnd one Holy Son '-repeating the same ceremony-' And one Holy Spirit,' performing the same act, while the bystanders sang. The candidates then approached, led or carried by their sponsors. Tseddoo, and the assisting deacon, each took from the sponsors one candidate, carrying the children under the arm, and taking the grown-up candidates by their beads, and made them worship in a circle, toward the four directions of the horizon, the Fa ther, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The children were then taken up, and dipped in the water up to the loins; first in the name of the Father; then in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, they were quite immersed under the water, when the words were pronounced;- N. N. I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.' The two grown-up individuals were ordered to undress themselves entirely, and sit on the ground. A bason full of water was then three times poured over them, with which they were ordered to wash themselves, so that the water might be taken to every part of the body, the priest at the same time repeating with each of them the words of baptism:N. N. I baptize thee, &c. They then presented to the priest a horn full of merom-the sacred oil -into which four cotton cords were dipped; one of which the priest took out for each person baptized, with which he made the sign of the cross on their foreheads, aud then tied it round their necks, pronouncing a blessing over each of them. They then sang again, and thus the service was finished. After this, all went into the Church, in order to see the communion adminis tered to the newly-baptized persons."-(p. 154—157).
The literature of Abyssinia is thus referred to :
"March 22, 1840-Debtera Habta Selassieh came to see me. He gave me some information respecting Abyssinian literature. Their books, he said, are divided into four goobaiotsh, or parts; the first part consisting of the books