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Siberia, Tartary.-Conversion of two Heathen Chiefs.
copy of the New Testament, in a language with which they were familiar. Several crowded about the priest, to hear it on the spot; and I left them thus engaged. Ak-hisar, the ancient Thyatira, is said to contain about 30,000 inhabitants, of whom 3000 are Christians, all Greeks, except about 200 Armenians. There is, however, but one Greek church, and one Armenian. The superior of the Greek Church, to whom I presented the Romaic Testament, esteemed it so great a treasure, that he earnestly pressed me, if possible, to spare another, that one might be secured to the church, and free from accidents, while the other went round among the people, for their private reading. I have therefore, since my return hither, sent him four copies.
The Church of Pergamos, in respect to numbers, may be said to flourish still in Bergamo. The town is less than Ak-hisar, but the number of Christians is about as great, the proportion of Armenians to Greeks nearly the same, and each nation also has one church. The bishop of the district, who occasionally resides there, was at that time absent ; and I experienced, with deep regret, that the resident clergy were totally incapable of estimating the gift I intended them: I therefore delivered the Testament to thel lay vicar of the bishop, at his urgent request, he having assured me that the bishop would highly prize so valuable an acquisition to the church: he seemed much pleased that the benighted state of his nation had excited the attention of strangers.
“ Thus, Sir, I have left, at least one copy of the unadulterated word of God, at each of the Seven Asiatic Churches of the Apocalypse, and I trust they are not utterly thrown away: but, whoever may plant, it is God only who can give the increase ; and, from his goodness, we may hope they will, in due time, bring forth fruit, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hun. dred fold !
Believe me, Sir, ever yours most truly,
SIBERIA & TARTARY. - In reference to these extensive regions, it has been observed :
“ The zeal of Christians has been greatly stirred up; Jews have been awakened to a concern for studying the Christian Scriptures ; and Mahomedans and Heathens been brought to desire and peruse, in their own tongues, the sacred oracles of truth and salvation. Among other circumstances illustrative of this statement, there is one fact, which, from its striking peculiarity, and the consequences with which it seems pregnant, deserves to be specially noticed.
“ The tribe of Burjats, inhabiting a distant quarter of Siberia, having been particularly struck with some sheets, which they had received, of the Gospel of St. Matthew, in the Calmuc, despatched two of their native chiefs, persons of high family, and very intelligent and inquisitive, to St. Petersburg, in order to obtain a translation of the New Testament into their own, which is a kindred dialect. On this translation they are now occupied : and such was the almost immediate effect of what they expressively called the beautiful sayings of Jesus,' on the minds of these heathen inquirers, that they acknowledged, when they afterwards turned to pray to their idols as usual, they felt an internal disquietude, of which they never before had been conscious : and they requested to be more perfectly instructed in the nature of the Gospel. What a striking example,' exclaims his Excellency Mr. Papoff, of the life-giving influence of the word of God on the hearts of the simple; seeking after truth, though they be heathens !’ »
Fourteenth Report, p. lviii. et seq. Letter from a Peasant in Siberia.-South-Sea Islands.
The sequel of this remarkable occurrence is thus related:
“ Of the impression produced on the higher orders of the laity, many honorable instances might be produced. Few, however, exceed in interest that of the two Burjat nobles, who, having been effectually converted to the Christian faith by translating the Gospel of St. Matthew into the Mongolian dialect, addressed a letter to their prince, a heathen, and residing in the heart of Siberia ; in which are, among others, the following sentiments :
“ By your kind endeavours we have been brought near the feet of our highly exalted monarch (the Emperor), and reached the city of St. Petersburg, where shines the brightness of the holy doctrine: for here we have seen and heard the most sacred words of the Most High and saving God.That we ever should see and hear such things, we never before had an idea. The word of God being so very clear and intelligible, we cannot sufficiently admire it; and we feel that it is truth which may be relied on. This vehicle of a reasonable faith, this pearl of a devout heart, although existing eighteen hundred years upon earth, has hitherto not yet come to our Mongols and Burjats. According to our humble opinion, our highly exalted and gracious sovereign is a hand of God; and the Society of the Holy Book of Religion, called the Bible, a true apostle of Jesus Christ. When, by the grace of God, our people, as well as every individual who speaks the Mongolian language, shall forsake their own faith, and receive the doctrine of Christ,
when they shall walk in the narrow and saving way,—they will, under his light and easy yoke, adopt a good conversation and good manners : that faith is the work of God alone.” * _Owen's Hist. Vol. III. p. 402 et seq.
The following extract will shew, that the desire to peruse the sacred volume extends to the lowest ranks of the people: From a Peasant in the Government of Tomsk, in Siberia : March 6, 1816.
Among us also, in this distant region of Siberia, it is now known, that the pious Bible Society in Moscow bestows the word of God on the
and needy, gratis. Such a gift I have seen in the village of Barn, in the
possession of a poor ecclesiastic, who is thereby made happy, and reads his New Testament with joy. Dare I, an unworthy man, in poverty and tears, beg for a New Testament, gratis, also ? Though I do not understand to read myself, yet my son can read, and hears the holy scriptures, when read in the church, with pleasure. He will read to me the Gospels and the Epistles ; and there I shall also learn to know, how the LORD God took upon himself our flesh, came into this world, lived among sinners, instructed them, suffered and died for us, and gave to us the holy gospel, that all men might know the way of salvation. I intreat the pious Bible Society not to reject my petition, but to bestow on me the holy scriptures, to rejoice my soul, and my whole household !”- Fourteenth Report : Appendix, p. 85.
SOUTH-SEA ISLANDS.“ In the islands of the South Seas, particularly those of Otaheite, Huaheine, and Eimeo, in consequence of the extraordi. nary success with which the preaching of the Gospel has been recently attended, openings have been made of the most promising nature, for the
* It will gratify the friends of the Institution to learn, that the translation of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke have been completed and printed at Petersburg. One hundred copies of the version have been presented to the Parent Institution by the Russian Bible Society.
Bible Associations established in New South Wales.
dissemination of the holy scriptures. Specimens of the Gospel of St. Luke, in the Taheitan language, have been received. Three thousand copies had been printed on paper furnished by your society, and nearly distributed, when the specimens were despatched from the island of Huaheine (to which the press had been removed from Eimeo); and the other Gospels, together with the Acts of the Apostles, were nearly ready to be printed. Of these, when completed, it was the wish of the Missionaries to print 10,000 copies ; which number, considering the progress made by the natives in reading, and their urgent desire to possess the Scriptures, it was expected, would still not be sufficient to supply their wants. Multitudes,' say the Missionaries,
can now read with ease; and their desire to teach others the word of God seems to grow with their own knowledge.'
" It is common to see those who have been taught to read, sitting in circles in the cooling shade, or in their own houses, teaching those who know not. Not content merely with what they learn at school, they frequently sit in circles till midnight, teaching each other. In some of the islands, where a Missionary has never resided, the natives can read and write; and many have known how to teach their neighbours, before their names were ever enrolled in the school-book."--Sixteenth Report, p. lxxx. et seg.
New South WALES.- An Auxiliary Society, under the patronage of Governor Macquarie, was established in this colony on the 7th of March, 1817. In announcing this memorable event, his Excellency observes, “ The colonists stand greatly in need of Bibles, and will be most thankful to receive them on any terms."
In their First Annual Report, the Committee of this remarkable Institution state, that “ more than one-third of the dwellings, and three-fifths of the inhabitants of Sydney, who can read, are without a Bible.” Judicious measures were immediately adopted for supplying the most urgent cases; a Branch Society was established at Van Dieman's Land, under the presidency of the Lieutenant-Governor; and three Bible Associations have been subsequently formed, on a regular system, at Sydney, Parramatta, and Windsor. But such was the deplorable want of the holy scriptures in the colony, that the Committee, in their Annual Report for 1820, lament the destitute state of numerous families and individuals, while they express their laudable determination to adopt the best practicable means of distribution, “ that, if possible, every person who is able to read, and desirous to possess, or at least every family or dwelling, may be furnished with a Bible or Testament."
The number of copies of the Scriptures received from the Parent Institution, to the date of the last Report, is 6328, amounting, at cost prices, to 11761. 8s. 7d.; and the Auxiliary Society has, in return, remitted 6901. The peculiar nature of the claim thus urged on British benevolence cannot fail of being properly appreciated.
Bibles and Testaments sent to the Cape of Good Hope received with joy.
AFRICA. Of this quarter of the globe, containing more than 150 millions of inhabitants, to which Europe generally, and Great Britain in particular, owe such a heavy debt of reparation, our information is comparatively scanty. The following extracts, however, afford a sufficient indication, that even here we have not “ laboured in vain,” nor "spent our strength for nought,” while they incite to continued and more extensive exertion.
CAPE of Good Hope.- In the year 1810, a respectable correspondent thus addresses the Committee:
“ It is impossible for me to convey to you in adequate terms the sense of feeling and gratitude expressed by many individuals here, who value and know the importance of the holy scriptures, when they heard that a supply of Bibles had been sent for the use of the inhabitants of this colony. To do good to our fellow-creatures, and to know that it has been followed with beneficial effects, must be highly pleasing to every sensible mind:—the British and Foreign Bible Society have that satisfaction in a very superior degree ; for the Bibles they sent, came to a needy, but not unthankful people. It is a fact, that, for some time past, not a single Dutch Bible could be got for money."-Seventh Report: Appendir, No. xv.
In reference to this first supply, the Secretary of the Moravian Missionary Society thus writes:--
“J have, before now, expressed to you the thanks of our Missionaries among the Hottentots, for your kindness towards them, and their congregations of Christian Hottentots.”—“ We are sure,” they write,“ that if the worthy members of that benevolent society had been present, to see the tears, and hear the humble and joyful expressions of thankfulness for this precious gift, and the prayers offered up for the blessing of God to rest upon those who had so kindly considered the spiritual wants of the most distant nations, they would have thought themselves well rewarded for their generosity to these poor people."-Eighth Report: Appendix, No. XL.
The intelligence from the Rev. J. Read at Bethelsdorp, in South Africa, is also very gratifying. He mentions, that a Hottentot, named Sampson, who, though more than fifty years of age, had learned to read, upon seeing the Bibles sent for distribution, exclaimed, “These are the weapons that will conquer Africa; they have conquered me.' The first purchaser of a Bible was a Hottentot, who, at the age of forty, had also learned to read. Fifty Bibles were presented, on the first day of distribution, to as many children who could read well. Mr. Read hopes, from the progress made in a few months, that there will soon be but few children of whom the same may not be said. He adds, that there are a vast number of adults who can read the Bible.”—Thirteenth Report, p. lxv.
It appears by a letter from his Excellency Governor Donkin, dated Cape of Good Hope, August 31, 1820, and addressed to Lord Teignmouth, that a Bible Society was established in that colony on the 23d of August, at a meeting
African Bible Society formed at the Cape.-Great demand for Arabic Bibles.
held in the Government House, under the presidency of his Excellency; who observes :
A Committee has since been formed, which is now employed in putting into activity the necessary arrangements for the distribution of the holy scriptures throughout this colony.
I took an opportunity of assuring the meeting, that, during the time I may administer this government, no effort shall be wanting on my part to promote the diffusion of Christianity throughout Southern Africa. I am persuaded that, independently of the paramount duty by which every Christian is bound to impart the light of the Gospel to those who are unacquainted with it, I shall be rendering an essential service to this colony, if I can lay the foundation of a system which shall introduce Christianity, and consequentlycivilization, amongst the surrounding tribes ; and I hope the day is not very far off, when those who are now heathen savages shall be converted into civilized Christians.”
WESTERN AFRICA:-" The ready acceptance of some Arabic Bibles at Yongroo, in Western Africa, by the Mahomedans, encourages a hope that they may be more extensively circulated; and has produced an application from the Rev. G. Nylander for a further supply. He states, that the King of Bullam, to whom he presented a Bible in Arabic, recommended it to the first strangers who visited him; and that, in a visit which he made to the King, he saw about twenty Mahomedans, and an aged Mussulman-teacher in the midst of them, reading the Bible. He requested, and with great thankfulness accepted, a Bible from Mr. Nylander, saying, “When I come home, I shall read this book to all my people.””-Eleventh Report, p. xxxvi.
In the year 1813, a Missionary in the service of the Church Missionary Society, to whose care twelve copies of the Arabic Bible had been assigned,
was unfortunately wrecked on the coast of Africa. A portion of the cargo redeemed from the waves, was sold to the natives ; and of it, these Arabic Bibles formed a part. The Missionary made every effort in his power to re-purchase them, but without success. As much as £.8 was offered for a copy, but refused ; the Mahomedan natives persisting in their resolution not to part with them on any terms.”-Owen's History, Vol. I. p. 308.
EGYPT.-Allusion has already been made to the visit of the , lamented Burckhardt to this country,
In his correspondence with the Malta Bible Society, he states, that “the seamen, who are so very numerous at Alexandria, came so very often to him, that the Greek Testaments which he had dispersed would be only like so many drops thrown into the sea ; so great was the demand for the word of God.”
Only a few days after his arrival at Grand Caïro, he wrote thus to the Secretary :
My dear Friend, I have now nothing more to give these people: all my stock is expended. If I had with me twice or thrice as many copies of the Scriptures, I could have disposed of them without the smallest diffi. culty."