תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

ASTRACHAN.

The Directors have to mention, with gratitude to Almighty God, the safe arrival of Mr. Glen and his family, in Astrachan, on the 6th of October.

Having sailed from Leith on the 20th of May, they reached St. Petersburgh, in health and safety, on the 23d of June. On their arrival they were welcomed, with much Christian cordiality, by the Rev. Dr. Henderson, Mr. Pinkerton, and other friends of the Society.

The following number of Works had been printed at the Missionary press from 1st January, 1817, to 1st January, 1818.

2000 copies of a Tract entitled Conversion of Sabat. 2000 copies of a Tartar Catechism.

2000 copies of the first sheet of the Gospel according to Matthew, in the Orenburg Dialect; and

5000 copies of the 2d Edition of the Tartar New Testament for the Russian Bible Society, begun in May, and completed to the 5th Chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians. In all, 11,000 copies of Tracts, or parts of Books.

The number of these, however, great as it is, assumes a far more interesting and important aspect, when the extent of country through which many of them have been circulated is considered. “We are assured,” says the Missionaries," that books from our Depository bave already found their way to Bagdat, to many parts of Persia, to Bucharia, and to China; and we bave reason to believe that there are few of the tribes between the Caspian and the sources of the Indus and the Ganges, of which there are not to be found individuals who have received parts of the Scriptures from us, by means of Armenian merchants and others, who received them at our Depository:—Within the boundaries of the Russian Empire, the facilities for circulating our Tartar version of the New Testament, and other portions of the Sacred Volume, have been wonderfully increased by the establishment of the Russian Bible Society; from which we received permission to send our parcels by post, free of expense, under seal of the Astrachan Committee, to whatever place we had occasion to forward them. This privilege we find to be of incalculable importance, not so much so in a pecuniary point of view, though the saving is great, as from the security and despatch with which we are enabled to transmit our books to any post-town in the empire to which we may be requested to send them.” How interesting and majestic are these movements of Divine Providence, in behalf of that Word which contains the record of eternal life, and wbich shall not return unto Him void, but shall accomplish that which He pleaseth !

It would be most gratifying, could the Directors report any instances of the influence of this Word, on the understanding and conscience of those among whom it has been so widely dispersed. Many opportunities have indeed occurred of recommending a

[ocr errors]

crucified Saviour to the attention of some Heathens, chiefly frons India ; and to a considerable number of Mahomedans and Jews, with many of whom the Missionaries have conversed freely respecting the principles of the Gospel ; but, though they bope tbat: good bas been done, they are still constrained to adopt the language of the prophet, Who hath believed our report?-no case having come to their knowledge that appeared decidedly to indicate a cordial reception of the truth as it is in Jesus.

At the same time, there are not a few promising appearances connected with the facts on which this general statement is founded, and of which it may not be uninteresting to give a concise detail.

The multitude of Pilgriins, most of whom come immediately from Bucharia to Astrachan, on their way to Mecca, continues to be very great; and the readiness with which they receive copies of the Persian or Tartar New Testament is extremely encourage ing. In the month of June last there were, at one time, no fewer than ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE of them waiting in the city for passports to enable them the more safely to pursue their journey. Many of them are from the Western States of India ; and, although the Scriptures are preparing in so many Indian Languages, all the Mahomedans from these quarters, whom the Missionaries have met with, use no written language except either the Arabic or the Persian. They crowd into Bucharia, from all the surrounding countries, for the purpose of studying the Mahomedan Religion, and its sacred Language, which they deem the Arabic to be; as well as to make themselves masters of the Persic, and the Turkish ; the last being the name which they uniformly give the Tartar. They there receive their education, at the expense of the Schab, provided they cannot support themselves; and, when they leave the schools, they are rewarded with presents. Thus, Bucharia appears to be the strong-hold of Mahomedanism throughout Tartary ; but it can only support a part of that tottering fabric, which will ere long fall before the joyful sound of the Gospel. And who shall say but that the reception of the New Testament, by some of those who have during the past or preceding years held intercourse with the Missionaries, may pave the way for this most desirable and glorious end! One of them, who they learned was an Effendi employed by the Khan of Bucharia himself, took away with him not only a New Testament, but a copy of Grotius in Arabic; with which valuable publication, as mentioned in the last report, the Church Missionary Society of London generously furnished our Missionaries.

Several Pilgrims have also visited them from Affghanistan, as they passed on the Caaba ; and among others an Effendi of that nation, a very accomplished young man, who they were informed was also of high rank, being a Schah's son, and who readily accepted of a Persian Testament and an Arabic Tract. The very pilgrimage to Mecca, though worse than useless in itself, may thus be overruled as the means of conveying the Scriptures into countries, where, on account of the suspicious jealousy, the virulent bigotry, and the sanguinary laws of the Mahomedan inhabitants and rulers, there are few, if any, facilities for dispersing them.

Even Brahmins may yet be brought to the knowledge of the Truth at Astrachan : for, in the month of May an Indian having called on the Missionaries, to whom they showed specimens of the Serampore Translations of the Scriptures, they learned from him, that about two hundred of his countrymen were resident in the city, of whom the greatest part were Brahmins. On bis next visit he brought along with him one of these priests, who read with ease the specimen of Sanscrit which they put into his hands, and conversed with them a considerable time concerning India ; though, having to talk with him by means of an interpreter, they could not say much to him on the subject of religion. He discovered, however, a desire to obtain the Scriptures in Sanscrit, which they promised to endeavour to procure for him. Application has accordingly been made to the Baptist. Society for some copies, which the Directors have no doubt will be readily granted, and which will be sent out to Astrachan by the earliest opportunity after they are obtained.

They have likewise had repeated conversations with several Jews from Endery, a town of the Kumack Country, about a day's journey to tbe southwest of Kitzliar, and in which there are no fewer than about 300 families who profess the Jewish Religion. Besides these, there are said to be 500 Jewish families at no great distance to the south of Endery ; amony whom they reckon about 100 Rabbies. They all speak the Persian Language in their families, but have no books except in Hebrew; and indeed they are acquainted with no alphabet but the Hebrew. They appeared to be completely ignorant of the New Testament; and, when the Prophecies concerning the Messiah were mentioned to them, they endeavoured to explain

away or pervert the meaning of almost every one of them. They said, however, that they would read the New Testament if they had it in Hebrew. The Missionaries, accordingly, having procured some copies from the Astrachan Bible Committee, Mr. Dickson, after a long and interesting conversation with them, in wbich he laboured to convince them that the expectations which they still cherished of the personal appearance of the Messiah, as their Temporal Deliverer, would never be realized, because he has already come in a very different character, as a Spiritual Saviour; presented them with nine copies, which, with one formerly given, make in all, ten copies of the Four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles in Hebrew. May his prayer and ours be heard and answered, "that the reading of them may be the dawn of Gospel Light among the Jews of Endery; that so the vail may be removed from their hearts, and many of them be made to see that Jesus is the Messiah promised to their fathers, and that he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him !"

The formation of Bible Societies or Committees in the Govern. ments both of Penza and Perm, the members of which seem peculiarly zealous for the circulation of the Scriptures among the Tartars in their neighbourhood, no less than among the subjects of the Greek Church, is also deserving of particular notice. A considerable number of Tartar New Testaments, and of the Gospel according to Luke, in the same language, have accordingly been sent to them; in the distribution of which, among the Tartars in his Diocese, the Archbishop of Perm has taken a lively interest, Thus the Lord appears to be opening up ways, in every direction throughout the Russian Empire, for the diffusion of Divine Truth among a people fettered by strong delusion, and trusting in vanities

Tbese, surely, are increasing evidences of the peculiar importance of Astrachan as a Missionary Station ; and, it is to be hoped, presages also of greater events in due time to be brought to pass, under tbe influence of that God who will not forsake the work of Kis own hands, but will assuredly prosper His Word unto that to which he has sent it.

and lies.

ORENBURG.

Under this head the Report introduces the following letter from Walter

Buchanan, a converted Cabardian. “I was once in slavery; but, by your bounty, I am now free, Once I was without God and without a Saviour ; but now, by your means, under God, I have been brought to the knowledge of my God and Saviour, whose blood cleanseth from all sin. It is now become my daily desire to get an interest in Aim and His righteousness; and I can say, that in Him I have found a resting-place for my soul. In Him I believe; and trust He will never forsake me.

“You know that Mr. Fraser has encouraged me to open my mouth to the poor Kirgbisians. Among these people I have been constantly labouring for two years; and I trust, not without advantage to them as well as to myself. The Kirghisians profess to be: lieve every thing that is said to them on religion; and, although the word seems to make little impression on their hearts, yet the frank and open way in which many of them listen, gives encouragement to hope that a work of grace will take place among them. I am truly happy to have it in my power to inform you that Mollonazar is become a devoted disciple of Jesus, and has thrown away all his Mahomedan nonsense. He appears to be exceedingly serious, and much devoted to his Saviour.” Various particulars are stated respecting this young convert; and, in a note,

the following account is given of another promising Mahomedan, named Achmet.

He is a native of the Cabardian Country, and speaks its language : though his father was a Trukman, and his mother a Kirghisian. For three months he had been visiting the Missiona

- Ai

ries almost every second night; and the result, according to Mr. Fraser, has been, that he is almost, if not altogether, a believer in the New Testament. At the age of twenty-four Achmet accompanied bis father on a pilgrimage to Mecca from the neighbourhood of Troitzka, where he had settled ; baving accomplished which, on their return thither, by the way of Egypt, his father die ed there, at the great age of 104. Among bis last words, the dying parent enjoined him to read the New Testament; telling him, that he would never learn the true religion unless he did so. After various bardships Achmet reacbed Orenburg last summer, in his way toward Troitzka, where he supposes he has still a sister living, but has been detained there ever since. At his first interview with the Missionaries he earnestly solicited a copy of the New Testament, declaring his anxiety to fulfil his dying father's injunction. He soon began to entertain doubts of the Koran. He has often since been heard crying out, with seeming earnestness : Chodaimene Anjeel-dan aermasin," i. e. “O God, never separate me from the New Testament!” Of Mahomed and bis religion he now speaks with disdain; and has even threatened to burn all his Mahomedan Books. The following account is given by Mr. Fraser, of a singular sect, named

Malakani. The Bible they believe contains the whole will of God; and that He alone is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. The most learned among them read and explain the Word; and are, consequently, called Elders or Presbyters. They call themselves, in contra-distinction to those of the Greek Church, SPIRITUAL Christians. Crossing they look upon as the real mark of the beast mentioned in the Revelation. They believe, most firmly, that worshipping images or saints is idolatry; and consequently pray that they may be preserved from the influence of the Beast and of the Dragon. They believe that Christians ought rigorously to observe the laws of Moses respecting meats. Tobacco and onions are condemned by them. The command of our Saviour

bout observing his Supper they look upon as encouraging them to suffer death rather than worship the Beast. Baptism, by them, is considered as meaning the instruction of the Word of God, and puiting all evil away from thein, desiring the sincere milk of the Word, &c. On this account they have given themselves the name of Malakani; for the word malaka signifies milk. They consider all wars unlawful. On this principle, they think it no evil for any of them, should he be taken for a recruit, to desert; alleging that Christians are called to peace, and see no right any one has of forcing them to fight, and that too, it may be, against Christians. The Malakani of the present day are turned very careless, and are also divided among themselves.

On the subject of Orenburg, the Report further states The readiness and joy with which the Kirghisians continue to

« הקודםהמשך »