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VISIT TO GREECE.
It was the intention of Mr. Righter on leaving the United States to visit Greece, on his way to the East, for the purpose of ascertaining the condition of that country in respect to the Bible, and to prepare the way for its supply. But, as has been already mentioned, on reaching Malta, he determined to defer his visit on account of the prevalence of the cholera at Athens, and because he had acquired much of the information that he desired. This visit he made the next fall, leaving Constantinople for Athens, October 1, 1855.
In a letter to the Secretary of the American Bible Society, he gives the following account of his voyage and his visit at Athens :
“ATHENS, October 20, 1855. "MY DEAR FRIEND:-Feeling that I had too long neglected Greece, in consequence of the superior importance of Constantinople as a centre of operations, I determined on the 1st of October to make a short visit to Athens, in behalf of the
Bible cause. On my way I called at Smyrna, while our steamer was remaining a few hours in port. I found the work there going forward with increasing interest. Three dépôts are established for the sale and distribution of the Scriptures: the mission depository in a large square opposite the great mosque of the city—they sell many Arabic Bibles to caravans from the interior, and have much demand for the Armeno-Turkish Testament: the depot of the Church Missionary Society, under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Walters, in the business part of the town-they sell many Turkish, Modern Greek, and GræcoTurkish Scriptures: and the depot of the British and Foreign Bible Society, containing Bibles and Testaments in all the languages of the East, and used as a magazine for supplying the interior stations. In addition to these agencies it is thought that a colporteur is much needed to supply the sailors in the port, and to sell and distribute the Scriptures from house to house,
"A private gentleman, Mr. Richard Van Lennep, has recently had printed 1,000 copies of the Gospel of John, in Greek with Roman characters, for the benefit of the islanders who speak the Greek, but do not understand the Greek letters. More than 200 of these have already been circulated at his own expense. I also learned an interesting incident with regard to the Bible, at ancient
Thyatira, one of the seven churches of Asia, where a new Evangelical church has lately been organized. Considerable opposition was excited against the Protestants on the part of some bigoted Greeks, and they devised the following plan at once to crush the infant church. They sent to Smyrna, and bought a large Bible, and presented it to a Turk, the chief man of the village, that he might publicly condemn the book in which the Protestants believed. He began to read in the New Testament, and instead of finding anything to condemn, pronounced it all good. He became more and more interested, and invited a number of Turks to listen to the reading of the Gospel. All gave it their approbation, and the Christians were triumphantly sustained. It is hoped that a good work may spring up among the Turks there, through the defeat of this wicked device of the Evil One.
“Thence I proceeded on the voyage to Athens. We were unfortunately detained six days in quarantine, at the Piræus, as a case of cholera was reported to have occurred at Smyrna, while our steamer was lying in the harbor.
“Immediately after my arrival in the city I called upon Dr. King, and had a full interview with him in regard to the Athens edition of the modern Greek Testament, and the prospects of the Bible Cause in Greece. He informs me that
OPENINGS FOR THE BIBLE.
the edition is very well received, though the style is somewhat elevated for the common people in the country.
“ Dr. King considers it a most favorable time, at present, to make a new effort in distributing the Bible among the Greeks. The bishops and priests have lost their old prejudice against the Scriptures, the government are entirely well disposed, and the people ready to receive the Word of Life. He has a class of eight theological stu dents, devoted, pious young men; four of whom are anxious to spend their vacation as colporteurs, travelling in Macedonia, Thessaly, and Albania, to sell and distribute the Bible. This seemed to me a most excellent enterprise, but I did not feel authorized to warrant the expense of three or four hundred dollars, without first referring the matter to our Committee at New York. Also, the doctor is very desirous that a new Bible and Religious Book Depository be opened in the central street of the city, on the plan of that at Constantinople, which would also be a centre of religious influence and discussion. This likewise meets with my cordial approbation, and I would at once refer the question to our Board, whether they are disposed to sustain their proportion of the expense of such a depository at Athens. The whole expense of the establishment is estimated at $500 per year.
“I also visited the small dépôt which Dr. King has under his charge, at his own house. He has sold and distributed from thence during the last year 368 Bibles and Testaments. I was quite astonished at the number of Scriptures that have been circulated in Greece, through Dr. King's instrumentality, since his residence in the country. They amount to an average of three or four thousand each year, for a period of twenty-five years, making between 75,000 and 100,000 copies, that have thus gone forth through all the land, in their mission of mercy and love.
"I also held a conference with the Rev. Dr. Hill, in relation to the Bible interests. His views agreed substantially with those of Dr. King, with regard to the Athens edition of the New Testament, and the favorable prospects for the distribution of the Scriptures at present. He said he knew that 'five, at least, of the archbishops and bishops of the Greek church were favorable to the circulation of the Bible among their people, and the government were quite ready to have the Testament introduced and taught in all their schools.
“Dr. Hill kindly gave me an introduction to the Director of Public Schools, who expressed an earnest desire to have their schools supplied with the New Testament. He stated that there were 550 government schools in Greece—400 for boys,