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unknown, and volumes of such size To the Editor of the ChristianObserver. must be transcribed in order to be
possessed, however the zeal of indiHAVE been happy to perceive, viduals may, for a time, multiply
of late, a growing attention to copies, yet experience proves that the religious state of Abyssinia ; and this source of supply will ever be inI am anxious to promote this dispo- adequate lo the wants of a people. sition as much as possible, in the In the case of a nation, however, hope that our religious institutions, circumstanced as the Abyssinians and particularly the British and now are, there are peculiarly strong Foreign Bible Society, may be in- inducements for giving them the duced to direct their efforts to this Bible. They are not only Chris. quarter. I should greatly doubt tians in name, but their national whether there be any part of the creed appears in the main to be scripworld where these efforts are more tural. Add to this, that the authoneeded, or where they are likely to rity of the Scriptures has always be attended with more immediately been held by them to be paramount beneficial consequences. “ The Ha. 10 every other; but that they do not bassins," says Geddes, in his Church possess the means of knowing what History of Ethiopia, “ do hold the it is which this authority enjoins. To Scriptures to be ihe perfect rule of such a people, what can be conceived the Christian faith, in so much that
a greater benefit than the circulatthey deny it to be in the power of a ing among them of the Word of God? general council to oblige people to And would not such a gift be likely believe any thing as an article of to produce somelling of the effect faith, without an express warrant upon them which tuc discovery of from thence.” (p. 31). But while the lost bock of the law had upon the Abyssinians do, with our own King Josiah ? church, maintain this cardinal point It must operate as a further enof the sufficiency of the Scriptures couragement to our religions socieas a rule of faith, it appears, from ties to exert themselves in favour of the concurrent testimony of all late Abyssinia, that it furnishes, perhaps, travellers, that copies of the Scrip- the easiest medium of access into the tures have become exceedingly rare very heart of Africa. The interamong them. Even in their churches course between Abyssinia and some it is seldom that a complete copy is of the great cities on the Niger is said to be found ; and among the great to be constant. Saturate Abyssinia body of the people, few possess even with scriptural light, and, through a fragment of a Bible. One of the the Divine blessing, we may hope causes, doubtless, is, that religion is that it will stream even into ihat reat a low ebb among them. But this gion of darkness. may be considered as an effect as The hope that great good will well as a cause of the evil in ques- arise from such exertions, in favour tion. Where the art of printing is of Abyssinia, as are here recommendCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 124.
ed, is strengthened by a reference may trade with the more conveto the page of history, which shews niency and security within my dous not only that there has existed minions, from whence they draw in the government of that country, great profit, exporting yearly great and at no remote period, a strong quantities of gold, whereof they are desire (not well directed indeed), to extremely covetous; while at the extend the influence of Christian- same time they have no real friendity ; but that the body of the peo- ship for me, for which reason I take ple could be induced, by no severity no pleasure in their gain ; but this, of suffering, to submit to the un- having been a custom of my ancesscriptural authority, or adopt the un- tors, was to be endured; though, scriptural practices, of the Romish after all, the only thing that hinders Church.
me from making war upon them, and A letter of David Emperor of confounding them, is the fear of proEthiopia, to King Jobo III. of Por- voking them thereby to violate and tugal, dated in 1324, has been pre- destroy the temple of Jerusalem, served, and another to the Pope, of where the sepulchre of Christ is, the same date. These letters com which God hath been pleased to mence, “ In the name of God, the leave in the hands of those filthy Father Almighty, maker of heaven Mahometans, and to demolish the and earth, and of all things visible churches that are in Egypt and Syand invisible; in the name of Jesus ria. This is the only cause why I Christ, the Son of God, wbo was the do not invade and conquer them, same with him from the beginning which I am sorry I am not at liberty of the world, and who is light of to do. light, and very God of very God; O king, I can by no means reand in the name of God the Holy joice in the Christian kings of EuGhost, who is true God, and pro- rope, who, as I am informed, do not ceedeth from the Father.”
agree in one heart, but are at war To the King of Portugal, David one with another. Be you all unathus writes:
nimous, and in friendship one with “O lord my brother king, attend another. For my own part, had I a and apply yourself to the friendship Christian king in my neighbourhood, that was begun betwixt us by your I would never be absent from him. father, and do not neglect to send I do not know what to say of these letters and ambassadors to us fre- malters, mor what to do, since God quently; for I am extremely de. seems to have ordained things to be sirous to receive them from you, as as they are.” from my brother: and since we are The following is an extract from both Christians, and the Mabometans, his letter to the Pope :though wicked, are still in peace “ I must expostulate with you, with all of their own sect, it is fit it holy father: why do you not exshould be the same betwixt us. And hort the Christian kings, your sons, I do declare, that for the future I to lay down their arms, as becomes will receive no embassy from the brethren, and to agree among themking of Egypt, nor from any of selves; seeing they are all your those kingdoms which have former- sheep, and you are their pastor ? ly sent ambassadors to us, nor from Your holiness is not ignorant of the any other king but only from your gospel-commands, and of its having highness, from whom I do earnestly said, ' A kingdom divided against desire to have them come; for the itself cannot stand, but will become Mabomnetan kings, by reason of the desolate.' For if those kings would difference that is betwixt us in re- but all join together, they would ligion, do never look upon me as quickly destroy all the Mahometans, their friend, and do only pretend to and with ease demolish the sepulhave a kindness for me, that they chre of their false prophet, Apply
yourself therefore to this, holy fa. The only use which the King of ther, that so there may be a firm Portugal and the Pope made of this peace and confederacy established intercourse with Abyssinia, was to atamong tbem, and exhort them to tempt to reduce them to the obedience assist us, who are besieged on all of the Roman Pontiff
. Splendid missides by wicked Mabometans and sions were sent thither with that view, Moors. The Turks and Moors can and these missions were supported assist one another, and their kings by Portuguese troops. For a time, and rulers do all agree together: I one of the Abyssinian emperors was have a Mahometan for my neigh- brought under the Romish yoke; bour, who is constantly supplied and he laboured, with the aid of the with arms, horses, and all military Portuguese forces, to impose the weapons, by princes of his own sect, same yoke on the necks of his subnamely, the kings of India, Persia, jects. A long and bloody civil war and Egypt. This is a great mortifi. was the consequence, in which, cation to me, to see the enemies of though the emperor was always sucthe Christian religion enjoy peace, cessfui, yet he made no progress in and live together like brethren; and reconciling_bis subjects to the at the same time, to see Christian church of Rome. At length,
diskings, my brethren, not in the least gusted with the insolence of the concerned at the injuries I endure; Romish missionaries, and shocked not one of them offering to suecour by a view of the misery and desolame as becomes a Christian, notwith- tion which his adherence to them standing the filthy sons of Mahomet had brought on his country, he at are always ready to succour one length decreed to drive them out of another : not that I desire any sol- Abyssinia, and to restore the relidiers of them, for I have enough of gion of the land to its former footmy own, and to spare; but all that ing. This was the last act of the I desire of them, is, only their prayers Emperor's life, and happened about and supplications, and your holiness' the year 1663. and my brethren's favour. The rea His son, Seltem Saged, was asson why I want your friendship, is, sailed by the Romish Patriarch, that I may be furnished by you with with the most persevering importusuch things as are necessary to ter- nity, to restore him to the possesrify the Mahometans, the enemies sion of the power of which he had of the name of Christ; and that my been deprived. The reply of the neighbours may be made sensible of young prince throws much light on my being favoured by the Christian the religious state of Abyssinia at kings, my brethren, and of their be- the time when these events wok ing ready to assist me whenever place in that country. It is as folihere shall be occasion; which lows: would be much for the honour of all of us that are of the same faith and “ The letter of Seltem Saged, cometh religion, and do intend to persist to the Patriach, with the peace of therein.
God. " God fulfil your desires to the My Lord, praise of Jesus Christ, and of God “ Hear what we say and write our Father, who is praised by all to you: we have received your letthrough all ages. And you, myter, and do understand all that it lord and holy father, with all the contains. As to your desiring to saints of Christ at Rome, embrace know why we have turned you out me; and let all my subjects
, and all of the post wherein God and the that dwell in Ethiopia, be received emperor had placed you; your lordwith the same embraces; and let ship cannot but be sensible, that so thanks be returned to Christ with long as we were under our father your spirit.”
the Emperor, we never disobeyed
him in any one thing; nor did we and not separated from it, and his ever so much as open our mouth flesh to the divinity; we do not for against any thing that he did; but that reason affirm them to be two, were so submissive to him in all but one; being made so out of two things, that we never said, I will causes, and that not so as to conhave this, or I will have that; or I found and mix those natures in their like this, or dislike that; insomuch, beings; but on the account of their that I do not remember, that during being one and the same principle, his life, I ever did any thing of my we call them by the name of that own head, but did still what be union; so that our controversy commanded me. As to the busin with them in this matter is of ness of your religion, our soul never small importance : neither was it the entered into its councils, neither did cause of our having had so much we ever join with any counsellors fighting, but it was because they either to build it up, or destroy it. denied us the blood in the commuWe need not be told, that the Em- nion, notwithstanding Christ has peror sent for your lordship, and told us positively in his Gospel, that that the fathers likewise came with unless we eat the flesh of the Son his consent; as we need not, that of man, and drink his blood, you ever since your coming he has been shall not inherit eternal life. And continually embroiled in wars for notwithstanding that Christ himseif, endeavouring to establish your faith; when he instituted the sacraniti!, fighting sometimes with his sons, after having given his body to hisdis. and at other times with his slaves, ciples, and received it himself, and whom he had raised from the dung- not say, • The blood is in my flesh hill to great honours: in so much that, wbich I have given you;' but on from the first hour we were able to the contrary, he said, "Take and bear arms, we have never done any drink, and divide it among you:' thing but fight in obedience to our his disciples doing as he commandfather's commands, which we ale ed them, and as he gave them to onways obeyed. After the battle I derstand by saying, Do this in rehad in the beginning of this winter membrance of me.' Neither was with Ognadega, our learned monks this the only thing that discontentand people having assembled them- ed ihe people," &c. selves together in the camp, took the “ For these and divers other reaconfidence to tell my father their sons, the people far and near were thoughts freely in the following much discontented, and said to the words :- Sir, how long are we to Emperor, · Hear what we have to say, be plagued thus, and to tire ourselves and either give us leave to live about things that are good for no- quietly, or knock us on the head, thing? We desire to know, when since ihe war does thicken upon us we are to give over fightin, with our daily." When the Emperor was told kinstolks and breibren; or cuiring this by all his people, he, without our right hand off with our lett? our joining with them in it, finding What great ditierence is tbere be- that there was no other way to twixt The Roman faith and ours ? quiet their minds, and that he would For do they of Rome teach, that not be able to punish them much there are two natures in Christ; and longer, commanded his counsellors have not we always believed and to advise together what was best to taught the same, in affirming that be done; who, after a serious conour Lord Christ is perfect God and sult, came to this resolution, that perfect man; perfect man as to his they must all return to their ancient humanity, and perfect God as to his religion and customs. divinity? But whereas those bis « Your lordship, in being ac two natures are not separated, his quainted with this, will know the divinity being united to the fleshi, reason why you are turned out of
your place, which God and the em- man. As to your lordship's desiring peror bad bestowed on you; and to have a Portuguese guard to atthat the very same emperor that tend you, that cannot be; but we sent for your lordship, and gave you shall appoint a very honest man, your authority, was the person that and who has a great train of serdeprived you of it: wherefore since vants, to convey your lordship, and an Alexandrian abuna (bishop) is on all your goods in safety, to the his way hither, and he has sent us place whither you are to go.” word, ibat he cannot be in the same The Romish Patriarch, however, country with a Roman patriarch persisting in his attempts to recover and fathers; we bave ordered you his power, the Emperor sent bim to repair to Fremona, and there to another leiter, in which is the folremain. As to wbat your lordship lowing passage. Dow offers, which is, that if the • We must tell you, that now people of Ethiopia will but continue your expulsion is determined, it is in the obedience of the Roman to no purpose to allege reasons cburch, you will dispense with why you cannot go; and that if them as to all matters which are not you should shuffle any longer with contrary to the faith ; that comes our orders, it will be your ruin. too late now; for how is it possible Have we taken any thing from you for them to relurn to that which that you have got in Ethiopia, that they bave not only forsaken, but do you should disobey us, and say you abominate, now they have had a will not go? This is not right. Betaste of their old religion again ? gone, therefore, without making any For can a grown man be born further reply or excuse; your exagain, or enter a second time into pulsion being determined, as you his mother's womb? Your lordship will understand by the order you further desires, that we would as will receive.” semble oor learned men to dispute It is impossible not to feel warmly with you before you depart, about interested in the destinies of this traiters of faith : this ought also to people, and to desire and pray that bare been done in the brginning; their constancy, in resisting the besides, is that cause like to be sup- papal yoke, and maintaining the paported by arguments, which has ramount authority of the Scriptures, been maintained hitherto only by may be rewarded by an influx, in force and violence? By taking these latter days, of scriptural light, Estates from some, and throwing which may make that country the others into prison, and punishing means of enlighteniog the adjacent cibers more severely; and that for regions of Africa and Asia, lying at no other reason, but because they present in the depth of Mohammewould not embrace your fanib? And dan darkness. I know no project as if that had not been sufficient, which has been entertained by the you have dragged great multitudes British and Foreign Bible Society, tipt of the deserts, who would have numerous and excellent as have (ten contented to have lived there been their projects of beneficence, tipan berbs, and confined them to, which promises a richer harvest of prisons; nay, the poor people that blessings than that of giving the would hare been glad to have pure word of God 10 the millions of baried themselves in caves, not Abyssinia. having escaped your persecution.
I am, &c. Now what a barbarity would it be,
S. to go and tease poor people with arguments, who have suffered so much in deserts and banishments?
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. It would certainly be a very unjust Your correspondent ACADEMICUS, tuing, both in the sight of God and in your number for last month,