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A LESSON FROM A MOHAMMEDAN. We have occasionally spoken in the “Gleaner” of the Strangers' Home at Limehouse. It is a large house, in which poor strangers from all the countries of Asia, who are staying for a while in London, may be housed and fed for a small payment. This Institution was commenced some twelve years ago, and has done a vast amount of good during that time. It has not only contributed to the comfort of the poor foreigners who used to be turned adrift in the streets of the worst part of London, but we have good reason to hope that in many cases it has been the means of teaching them something of that Christ whom we English Christians profess to serve.
But though we are ready to talk of the “poor benighted heathen,” and though we may have good reason to pity them, yet we must not be too proud to take a lesson from them sometimes.
Such a lesson was given not long ago by a Mohammedan at the Strangers' Home. He had been born near Calcutta, but had gone as a Cooly to the West Indies. Probably many of our readers are aware that the natives of India go in large numbers to other countries, and there work as labourers in the sugar plantations. We have a very flourishing Mission among the Coolies from South India who have settled in Ceylon, and another important Mission amongst the Coolies in the Island of Mauritius. The wages of this man of whom we are speaking had been very small, but he had saved them all ; and after he had been toiling hard for some eight or ten of the best years of his life, he found himself with between 801. and 901. Of course you will suppose that he now determined to go home, and to live in Bengal amongst his old friends and relatives, with whom he would pass for a man of wealth. Not so. He came to London, and stayed at the Strangers' Home, as being the best and cheapest place at which he could find a lodging. He then announced his intention of making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Nothing would serve him but he must go to Mecca, and visit the tomb of his prophet. He was offered a very cheap passage home to Calcutta, but he utterly refused it. He determined to go by the most expensive route to Mecca, and to this end he devoted nearly the whole of his ten year's savings. What little might remain he would give away in alms at Mecca, and would then have to begin the world afresh. The manager of the Strangers' Home remonstrated with him, and pointed out to him that he had much better keep at any rate a little of his money, in order to help him when he got home, but he would not hear of it. His answer is worth remembering. He said, “No, I must go to Mecca. I will spend all my money in going there. I don't care how much it costs. God gave me all my money : I am only giving it back again to Him."
Surely this Mohammedan is a lesson to us. He obeyed the Koran, which he looked upon as his Bible; and for this he was ready to sacrifice every penny he had.
No doubt he might have done much better with his money; he might have done more good to himself and others with it ; yet we must admire his readiness in sacrificing all for what he believed to be the word of God.
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THE PROTESTANT CHURCH NOW BUILDING AT NAZARETH. NAZARETH of Galilee—its historical reminiscences how deeply interesting! "Joseph came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth ; and there Joseph
122 THE PROTESTANT CHURCH NOW BUILDING AT NAZARETH.
and Mary dwelt,” and “He was subject unto them;" and there His townsfolk “filled with wrath, rose up and thrust him out of the city; and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong."
And the brow of the hill, remains on which, according to Luke iv., the old city was built: it stretches unmistakeably along the south-western declivity of the hill, immediately above that part of the town, forming a terrace, then probably crowned by the synagogue in which Jesus declared Himself to be the Messiah predicted by the prophet Isaiah. The northern end forms an abrupt precipice, which was doubtless the scene of the intended precipitation.
But the great point of interest is this, that the true Gospel, which the Lord Jesus provided for us at the costly price of His own blood, is not only faithfully preached at Nazareth, but that it has gathered together a congregation of people, who have forsaken the various forms of Christianity in which they had been brought up, in order that they might sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word.
The Protestant communities at Nazareth and the villages of Galilee, amount at the present time to over, 500 souls.
It is of importance that this Protestant congregation should have its church. Around are the various edifices built for the various forms of corrupt Christianity. In the south quarter of the town, surrounded by high walls, stands the Franciscan convent, with the Latin church erected about 150 years ago, and built, according to tradition, over the house, or rather the cave, in which dwelt Mary and Joseph. At the northern extremity we find a copious spring, and above it, in the form of a cross, is the little Greek church. In the middle of the town stands the mosque, with its tall minaret, surrounded by dark cypresses.
At Nazareth the congregation deeply feels the disadvantage of not having a suitable place of worship, the schoolroom in which the services are now held being too small, nor can it be arranged with the propriety and neatness due to so solemn a purpose.
An idea prevails among the inhabitants of Syria, that because Protestants reject outward show and ceremony, they have no proper form of worship, and therefore, in fact, no religion at all; and the idea is strengthened in Galilee by the fact that the Protestants have no church. The plan of building a church at Nazareth has therefore been formed since the year 1863 ; and after considerable delay, an Imperial firman was obtained. The site for the church has since been bought, and surrounded by a wall. This site adjoins the Mission house, which is the property of the Church Missionary Society; and being situated at the slope of the western hill, in the south-west quarter of the town, the church will form a conspicuous and highly ornamental feature, and very easily accessible. The plans have originally been made by Mr. Schick of Jerusalem, and were subsequently corrected by an excellent architect, Mr. Stadlen of Zurich, who visited Palestine in the present year, and the foundations are now being proceeded with, in the trust that the Lord will give His blessing to the undertaking
Nazareth is an important centre. It is situated in the centre of Galilee, seven hours ride from the Mediterranean, and about equally dis
THE PROTESTANT CHURCH NOW BUILDING AT NAZARETH.
tant from the roadsteads of Acca and Caiffa. It lies nearly 700 feet above the plain of Esdraelon, but is completely hidden from the view of the traveller in a peculiar depression of the mountains, whose summits rise in a circular form for several hundred feet above the town. From the top of the western mountain, on the side of which the town lies, one enjoys one of the finest views in Palestine. Towards the north, the eye rests upon the grand, snow-covered height of Hermon, and, nearer, on the mountains of Safed, with the town and ruined castle. To the east rises the round top of Tabor, with the blue mountains of Gilead at its back, which descend abruptly to the valley of the Jordan. Towards the south one overlooks the plain of Esdraelon, with the little Hermon, at the foot of which lie Nain and Endor. Behind this rise Gilboa and Jesreel, once the summer residence of the Kings of Samaria ; and in the background the mountains of Samaria, with Ebal, close the wide circle. Towards the west, the long steep side of Carmel stretches into the sea, and the lovely bay of Acca extends from this to the Raseh Makura at its north-western extremity. The beautifully wooded hills which occupy the
space between the sea and the mountains of Nazareth give to this part of the country a peculiar charm and richness.
The town of Nazareth, compared with the ruined state of the rest of the country, leaves upon the mind of the traveller the pleasant impression of a prosperous and wonderfully rising place. To the fact of Christians being here in a majority is due the circumstance that Nazareth is becoming more and more the centre for the Christian population in the north of Palestine, and a bulwark against the intolerant spirit of Mohammedanism. Notwithstanding the heavy affliction of the cholera in 1865, by which all commerce was suspended ; notwithstanding the dreadful devastation of locusts in two successive years, and the increasingly oppressive taxation of the Christian population, Nazareth is still on the increase. Under these circumstances there can be no doubt as to the suitability of Nazareth as the basis of Missionary operations, for it is by native Christians, and especially by Protestants, that the Gospel must be introduced among Mohammedans.
Our Missionary, the Rev. John Zeller, to whom we are indebted for the above particulars, concludes with the following appeal, which we doubt not will be responded to.
The great poverty of most members of the congregation renders it impossible for them to erect a church out of their own means, requiring, as it will, about 20001, though they have already to begun to contribute towards it. Under the many trials which they are called upon to endure, the sympathy of their brethren, expressed by aiding them in building a church, would be the greatest encouragement to them. They therefore beg their fellow-Christians and Protestants in other countries to come to their assistance in erecting a suitable building for divine worship. It may not be amiss to state, also, that the erection of such a building will give a suitable place of worship to tourists and travellers passing through Palestine, to whom attendance at divine service in the place, so long the home of our Redeemer, cannot fail to be peculiarly gratifying.
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NATIVE MISSIONARIES. The facts we are about to give to our readers have not occurred in any of our
own Mission fields; but we are gleaners, and we glean everywhere. Wherever there lies a stray ear of corn we pick it up. Wherever we find a telling fact, fitted to give to the friends of Missions encouragement, and send them with greater spirit to their work, we import it into our pages. We do no wrong to those from whom we get it, inasmuch as we do not deprive them of it. Their pages are not the poorer; but we ourselves are certainly the richer.
The country is Natal; the town, Pieter-Maritzburg; the Missionary, formerly of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, now in connexion with the Free Church of Scotland.
He had long and anxiously thought in what way, and by what means, the Gospel of Christ could be conveyed to the far-distant tribes inhabiting the unhealthy regions of the African continent. That question has been answered.
The Boers have been in the habit of employing the natives of the interior in elephant-hunting. Several of these people, having learned that a labour-market was open for them in Natal among the European colonists, came down from great distances, intending to remain long enough to earn some money in service, and then to return to their own people.
Six of these, natives of the Zout Pans Berg territory in the interior, came to the Mission school, and learned about Christ. They were indeed filled with wonder. They had found something above gold or silver. So filled were their hearts with the good news, that, like the bee, which, when loaded with the honey, must needs return to the hive, so they must needs return to their people. Off, therefore, they set upon their errand. They have been since heard of. Hundreds of miles they had to travel, but their nightly readings and prayers never were forgotten. With a bent stick set in the ground, and their lantern at the top of it, they read at night, even when passing through the countries occupied by the Dutch Boers.
One of them, Nathaniel Baibai, left his brethren some days before they reached the end of their journey, his tribe lying some days nearer than those of his companions. On reaching home he lost no time in beginning his work. With the Kaffir Scriptures in his hand, he went from town to town, translating as he read to the crowds, both old and young, who gathered around him to hear the wonders of a Saviour's love to sinful man. A few days after Nathaniel left them, his companions were stopped by the Dutch Boers, on suspicion that their bundles contained contraband goods, namely, powder and lead. They found, however, nothing except Bibles, spelling-books and hymn-books ; so, after delaying them three days, they let them go. Between the Dutch Boers and their nation war has since broken out, so that all communications are for the present interrupted.
No sooner had these six pioneers left Pieter-Maritzburg, than several of the native converts came forward to ask that a day school might be established, in which they could get more teaching than was possible in