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tion concerning religion. Information also upon the various forms, and changes, and circumstances of religious belief among various nations, or the knowledge of their religious history, will be useful.
The whole course, then, will naturally separate itself into four principal divisions : 1st, an Introduction to the Scriptures ; 2nd, a History of Religion ; 3d, Christian Doctrine; and, 4th, Duties.
Memoir of the Rev. Pliny Fisk, A. M. late Missionary to Pal
estine. By ALVAN BOND, Pastor of the Congregational Church in Sturbridge, Mass. 8vo. pp. 437. Boston : Crocker & Brewster : 1828.
(Concluded from p. 126.) In a letter to the Rev. Dr Porter of Andover, Mr Fisk says:
*I have now spent four days in the city where David lived and reigned, and where David's Lord and King redeemed the world. The house I inhabit stands on Mount Calvary. My little room has but one small window, and this opens toward Mount Olivet. I have walked around Zion. I have walked over Calvary. I have passed through the valley of Hinnom, drunk of the waters of Siloam, crossed the brook Cedron, and have been in the garden of Gethsemane. The next day after my arrival, I made my first visit to the tomb of my Lord. ..... I entered and kneeled by the marble which is supposed to cover the spot where the body lay. My tears flowed freely, and my soul seemed to be moved in a way I cannot describe.' p. 286.
The garden of Gethsemane he describes as one of the most affecting and interesting spots on earth. It is a small plat of ground, with a low enclosure of stones, and nourishing eight venerable looking olives, which appeared as if they had been growing there from time immemorial.
April 30, he went to Bethlehem, and visited the two spots which are venerated as the birth-place of our Lord, and the manger in which he was laid, as also the Shepherd's Field, a delightful valley covered with verdure, where it is alleged that the shepherds were watching their flocks, when the angel announced to them the birth of the Redeemer.
During the subsequent week he visited several of the most interesting spots within and around the Holy City—such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, "where the Lord lay"-Mount Olivet, from whose summit the Mediator ascended to glory—the cave of Jeremiah, where it is said he wrote his Lamentations—and the dungeon where he was imprisoned by Zedekiah-Bethany, the town of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and the cave where the inhabitants say that Lazarus was entombed. May, 1829.
Early in June, accompanied by his missionary brethren, he took a journey to the Dead Sea, and the river Jordan. Speaking of the Dead Sea, he says:
"The water looks remarkably clear and pure, but on taking it into my mouth, I found it nauseous and bitter, I think beyond any thing I ever tasted. It has been said, that these waters are so heavy, that the most impetuous winds can scarcely ruffle their surface. Nothing could be more entirely without foundation. The wind was by no means impetuous when we were there, and yet the waves ran so high, that I found difficulty in filling some bottles with the water. My clothes were wet by the waves, and as they dried, I found them covered with salt. It has been said, that birds cannot fly over this sea; but we saw a great number flying about its shores, and I once observed three at a time flying over the water. It is said no vessels ever sail on it. This is true, and the reason is obvious. There are no vessels here, nor is there any person either desirous or capable of constructing one.'
In the afternoon of the same day, they made a visit to the Jordan, at the place where the Israelites passed over on dry ground,
right against Jericho.” Mr Fisk says he there swam across the river, and took a walk in the plain of Moab, in the inheritance of Reuben.” Of course, if the water was sufficiently deep for swimming, it was deep enough for another purpose of interesting import.
In his journal, under date, June 20, after mentioning a visit to Mount Moriah, where stood the temple of Solomon, he says:
• The Jews pay annually a certain sum to the Turks for the privilege of visiting this place. We found about thirty of them sitting on the ground, near the wall, and reading from their Hebrew books. It was deeply affecting to see these lineal descendants of Abraham, most of them poor and ragged, sitting in the dust, and paying for the privilege of weeping, where their fathers sung and rejoiced and triumphed; miserable slaves on the very spot where their fathers were mighty kings! ... ... Poor Jews! when will they learn the true cause of their oppression, and repent, and return to God ??
Having remained in Jerusalem and the neighborhood, laboriously employed for two months chiefly in distributing the Scriptures, and in discussing religious subjects with Jews, Turks, Catholics, and Greeks, Mr Fisk concluded to pass the hot season at some eligible spot on Mount Lebanon. For this purpose he left the city, with Mr King, and after passing through Arimathea, Lydda, Jaffa, and Acre, he arrived at Tyre, concerning which place he says:
• How affecting to walk over the ruins of the most powerful cities the world ever saw, and to read on scattered columns, broken walls, and fragments of buildings, the fulfilment of scripture predictions.'
'The next day they went to Sidon—thence to Beyroot, where the mission was subsequently established—and soon afterwards to Antoura, on Mount Lebanon, where Mr Fisk took up his residence, and pursued, beside his missionary labors and researches, the study of the Arabic language. A letter from this place, to a lady in
Boston, is full of proof that his piety was of a deep and decided character. He loved prayer, he delighted in frequent communion with God.
In October, he visited the “cedars of Lebanon," a grove of about three hundred trees; and Balbec, whose ruins have been reckoned among the wonders of the world. The chief curiosity at Balbec is the temple of the sun, of which a great part of the walls, and many of the columns, are still standing. In the latter part of the month, Mr Fisk returned to Beyroot, and thence set out for Jerusalem. His journey lay through Nazareth, “the city where Joseph and Mary lived, and where the angel Gabriel announced the great mystery of the incarnation.” He describes it as a charming spot.” After employing considerable time in missionary labors and researches in Samaria and other places through which he passed, he reached Jerusalem, and resumed the use of his former room, at the convent on Mount Calvary.
The following is the description of a scene which Mr Fisk denominates baptism :
One part of the service was explained to me, as intended to expel the devil from the child. When ready for the baptism, the font was uncovered, and a small quantity, first of warm water, and then of cold water, was poured into it. The child, in a state of perfect nudity, was then taken by the bishop, who held it in one hand, while with the other he anointed the whole body with oil. He then held the child in the font, its feet and legs being in the water, and with his right hand he took up water, and poured it on the child in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. After this he anointed it with oil, and returned it to its parents.'
This sublime performance was witnessed by Mr Fisk at the Syrian church. As connected with the same subject, it may not be amiss to introduce here an account of some conversation which he had with a Jew at Alexandria, in Egypt. Speaking of him in a communication addressed to the Corresponding Secretary of the American Board of Foreign Missions, he remarks:
• We have often read the Scriptures together. After reading the account of Philip and the Eunuch, I inquired whether any such thing as baptism is known among the Jews. He said that in ancient times when a stranger embraced the Jewish religion, he and his wife and children were all baptized. The ceremony was performed by sprinkling or pouring a cup of water on the head; and this was done seven times. Now foreigners never embrace the Jewish religion; and if they should, he does not think they would be baptized. I do not yet know what other Jews would say on this subject.'
Some of our Pedobaptist brethren may regard this as a remarkably instructive passage, especially if they may be allowed to stop at 'sprinkling. Others may feel their consciences somewhat relieved, if they may proceed to 'pouring ;' but most of them, it is probable, will be a little startled at the seven times. Here they must be within a step of immersion or real baptism. And perhaps they will be tempted, if they indulge in Judaizing on this matter,
to complete the process through which it would seem the Jews have passed. How natural the transition from immersion to pouring seven times—to pouring once—to sprinkling—to nothing ! But many of them, we trust, will at length yield themselves to the guidance of the Holy Scriptures, and rejoice in a light far superior to Jewish or any other tradition. To perceive the utter worthlessness of this Jew's representation, they need only recollect what we find on the very next page, where Mr Fisk proceeds :
One day we read Genesis xlix. 10, and I inquired what the Jews supposed was meant by Shiloh. He replied, 'The Messiah.' Then, said I, the Messiah must be already come, for your sceptre departed centuries ago. You have no king, no kingdom, no government. You speak truly,' said he. • The Rabbins, however, say there is a place where the sceptre still remains in the hands of the Jews. But where is that place? Who knows,' said he, “but it may be, as some say, in America, beyond Mexico, where there is a river of stones, that run along as water does in other rivers, ercept on Saturday, when the river stands still ?'
During his residence at Jerusalem, Mr Fisk was industriously engaged in preaching to a few hearers at his own room, and in distributing the Holy Scriptures. For the latter service, however, he suffered much from the persecuting spirit of the Turkish authorities. He was rudely treated, and a proclamation was issued, requiring all who had received books from him to deliver them up to the judge. But though much excitement was produced, yet God overruled the persecution for the benefit of his servants, and the more extensive circulation of his own word. A spirit of inquiry was awakened that induced multitudes to purchase the Bible, who had never before seen the precious volume. About six weeks before the conclusion of his residence in the Holy City, Mr Fisk was attacked with a fever, which interrupted his labors, and debilitated his system. As soon, therefore, as he was able to travel, he returned to Beyroot. On the 22d of June, 1824, he joined Mr King at Der el Kamer, and soon after set out for Damascus, which place, after crossing Mount Lebanon and Anti Libanus, they reached on the third day. While there they had opportunity, not only for the study of the Arabic, but also for discussing religious subjects with Jews, Greeks, and Mussulmans, and for the circulation of the Scriptures, notwithstanding the interdiction of the pope, and the opposition of the priests.'
July 17, they left Damascus, with a caravan, for Aleppo; and during their journey thither, which occupied them twelve days, they suffered much from heat and fatigue. Their arrival produced an immediate alarm among the Mussulman authorities, and on the next day the British Consul received a message from the pasha, stating that an order had been received by him, prohibiting the distribution of the Christian Scriptures among the Grand Seignior's subjects. Mr Fisk continued the study of the Arabic, and preached on the Sabbath at the house of the consul. After a stay of about eight weeks, they returned to Beyroot, passing through Antioch, in Syria, where the disciples were first called Christians.'
From Beyroot, on this interesting tour, Mr Fisk had been absent nearly five months. His object had been to survey the country, not so much 'geographically, or ‘statistically,' or merely as an antiquarian, as morally,' and to ascertain what could be done to advance the object to which his valuable life was devoted. Of course he found much to appal, and not a little to encourage. “But,' says his biographer, “having set up his banner in the name of his God, he felt a strong conviction, that though the conflict might be sharp, the victory was sure.'
In the succeeding month of January, Mr Fisk, in company with Mr King, took up his residence at Jaffa, where they engaged in study, in addition to their missionary duties. In March, they removed to Jerusalem, with the view of recommencing their labors in that rendezvous of darkness and sin. On the anniversary of the crucifixion, they went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to witness the idolatrous worship of the Catholics. There were delivered, as usual on this occasion, seven sermons. The first in the chapel the second at the place where it is said, the garments of our Lord were divided—the third where he was beaten—the fourth where he was nailed to the cross, &c. Thus,” says Mr Bond, “ do the paganized Christians of that country, 'crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame,' on Mount Calvary, in the house of God, and at the very place where once he suffered; while the Mussulman and Jew 'pass by and revile him, wagging their heads.''
But their stay at Jerusalem was likely to prove hazardous, on account of the tumult excited by the arrival of the pasha of Damascus, with an arıned force to collect tribute. The whole city was full of consternation, and few considered themselves as secure from the rapacity and vengeance of the pasha's soldiers. Accordingly after a few weeks of toil and danger, they judged it advisable to leave the place and retire to Beyroot. On their way they suffered from the depredations of wandering Arabs, and once had a severe encounter with a horde of them, who attacked their caravan with great violence.
Owing to excessive labor, anxiety, and exposure, the health of Mr Fisk had become impaired. Excepting some short excursions in the vicinity, he now continued within the mission family at Beyroot, prosecuted the study of languages, and consulted with his missionary brethren about future labors. His end was drawing nigh. Tuesday, October 11, 1825, he was taken ill of a fever, which gradually took deeper and deeper hold of his system, until the morning of the 230, when “the tired wheels of nature ceased to move, and the soul, which had been so long waiting for deliverance, was quietly released.”
His last hours, when not clouded by paroxysms of delirium, were full of proofs that he enjoyed the presence of his Redeemer. Under a clear conviction of the depravity of his nature, he was humble. In view of the faithfulness of God, as developed in his own experience, as well as in the Bible, he had “strong confidence” in the divine promises. His hope of heaven was deeply founded in