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110

CONVERTED GREEKS.

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

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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

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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 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

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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

I 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

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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 1500 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

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