Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

THE GREEK FIRE.

The Greek fire in the Holy Sepulchre was exhibited as usual. I am, however, happy to say, that the belief in it is on the decrease. The Armenians now publicly declare that this fire is produced by natural means; some of the more enlightened Greeks are of the same opinion, and we may indulge in the hope, that at no distant period this gross superstition will entirely cease.

BATHING IN THE JORDAN.

The Greek pilgrims go to the Jordan to bathe in its waters; for they believe that they are thereby cleansed from their sins. Three persons have this year lost their lives in the river. A Greek priest, of Cyprus, a Hungarian, and an infant. The mother brought her babe to the banks of the Jordan to wash it in its waters; but, melancholy to relate, the rapid stream carried it away and buried it beneath its waves.

No Armenian goes to the Jordan now; until about sixty years ago, they had the same faith in its waters, as the Greeks have now; but since then, they have discontinued the practice. When conversing on the subject, a short time since with some Armenian priests, they said, "We have the Jordan in our Church" (referring to the baptismal font), and added, "No water in the world can wash away indwelling sin."

PILGRIMAGES.- -SIGHTS AND FEES.

I believe it is not generally known how pilgrimages to Jerusalem are performed, I shall, therefore, mention what I have learned on that subject. When a member of the Greek Church resolves to perform a pilgrimage to the Holy City, he is conducted to the church of the place where he lives; the priest prays over him, and recommends him to God and all saints. Many people

of the town, who cannot go, give the pilgrim money to give to the convents, or churches at Jerusalem, others send rich and handsome presents to the holy places. It thus happens, that one person frequently represents ten or a dozen others.

On the arrival of a pilgrim at Jaffa, he is immediately conducted into the Greek convent where he remains till the next day. For his entertainment he is obliged to pay twenty-six piastres. The convent also provides, at a fixed price, horses and camels for the pilgrims, to bring them on their way to Jerusalem. They stop again at the convent at Ramleh, where each pilgrim has to pay thirteen piastres. The following day they proceed to Jerusalem. On their arrival here, they proceed to their convent and receive some refreshments, after which their names are entered in a book. This over, they are conducted to the church, which is within the walls of the convent, where service is performed; after which, a deacon washes the pilgrim's feet. This ceremony having been gone through, they are brought into a room, where they pass the first night. On the following morning a deacon leads them up into the divan, or large room, where the seven Greek bishops residing in Jerusalem, are assembled, before whom each pilgrim appears, one at a time. He is then

asked on how many persons' behalf he makes the pilgrimage; how many members of his own family are alive, and how many are dead. The pilgrim having answered all these questions, he has to pay 100 piastres for each member of his family who is living, and fifty for each who has died. This is the minimum. Rich people pay more. The pilgrim then receives a ticket for each member of his family, and is allowed to depart. Outside, another deacon takes the tickets again, together with twenty-one piastres from each pilgrim, and gives him permission to visit the Jordan. The same evening, the pilgrim is conducted into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and all the holy places within it are shewn to him; his name is again

entered in a book, for which he pays twenty-five piastres, and then remains one night in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is considered very meritorious. The pilgrim having stayed three days in the Greek convent, must now leave it, but a lodging is provided for him near it, for which he has to pay according to his means, and the state of the apartments. The Greek convent possesses several houses here which are used for this purpose. On the fifth day after the pilgrim's arrival he is taken to Gethsemane, and into the Church of the Virgin Mary, which is situated in that vicinity; here he must pay twenty-five piastres. Afterwards, he is in his turn conducted to all the Greek convents and churches in the environs of Jerusalem; to Bethlehem, Mar Elias, Mar Saba, the convents of the Cross and of St. John; and at each place he is expected to pay a sum of not less than twenty-five piastres.

Sometimes the pilgrim refuses to pay; the church is then locked upon him, and he is not permitted to leave it until he has paid. If he tries to get off by saying that his purse is exhausted, he is asked, why did he come to Jerusalem if he had no money. When the pilgrim has visited all the Greek churches and convents, and contributed to each its due, he is allowed to spend his time as he pleases.

STIR CAUSED AMONG THE JEWS BY A DEPOT FOR SCRIPTURES AND TRACTS.

A depository for the sale of Scriptures in various languages, has been opened under the control of our Bishop; which will, I trust, prove a blessing to the Mission, and to the benighted sons of Abraham in the Holy Land. We have already sold about 30l. worth of Bibles; many copies have been given to the poor; many New Testaments, " Old Paths," and Tracts have been distributed, and I have had many opportunities of telling the Jews, who come to the depôt to purchase Scriptures, of the way of salvation. The opening of

the depôt caused quite a stir among the Jews in the Holy City, and for several days the place was filled from morning to night. The chief rabbies became alarmed, and pronounced sentence of excommunication on every Jew who should ever visit it again; but I suppose this sentence will soon be cancelled.

CONFIRMATION AND BAPTISMS.

On Good Friday, our Bishop administered the rite of confirmation to four of those Israelites who were baptized last Christmas. At the Communion on Easter-day, we had forty-two communicants, among whom were twenty of the house of Israel. Rabbi Judah Levi was baptized by the Bishop in the afternoon of that day, during the German service, when I preached from Romans x. 11 to 17.

On Easter Monday, at the morning service, the two sons of Rabbi Judah Levi were baptized; the eldest is six years old, the youngest three years. Rabbi Judah has been employed as depositary, for which office he is well qualified, as he speaks German, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Turkish, and Hebrew. The quarterly examination of the students in the Hebrew College took place on the 10th instant. They were examined in Hebrew, English, German, and singing. I have also continued during this month to instruct the two Israelites mentioned before, viz., M. E. and I. D. ; the former, who is in the School of Industry, will (D.V.) be baptized next Whit-Sunday.

CONVERSATIONS WITH JEWS.

Jews from Damascus, from Bagdad, and from Hebron have called upon me during the past month, with whom I had such conversations as I thought would direct their minds to seek Him of whom Moses and the prophets speak; they accepted the New Testament, and various tracts, also the "Old Paths." I hope and pray that the Mission which is to be established in that

region may prove a blessing to the remnant of the house of Israel residing there.

As often as I found opportunity I have preached the Gospel of salvation to the sons of Abraham in the Holy City, both at my own house, at their houses, and other places.

The fine weather has now commenced after a very severe winter. The Jews very frequently enjoy the refreshing air outside the City, beneath the shadow of ever-green trees. I there often find opportunities of laying before them the Gospel of salvation; on these occasions we can speak more freely, and with less interruption. I will give the substance of one of these conversations held in the neighbourhood of the Damascus Gate, in sight of Jeremiah's cave. I approached a tree under which six Israelites were seated. I. The Passover is now ended.

A Jew. Yes; and we are now looking forward to another feast-Pentecost.

I. But you cannot celebrate any feast according to the law of Moses; for instance, the Passover, which was instituted in Egypt as a memorial of the great deliverance when God smote all the first-born of Egypt, but preserved the Israelites, in remembrance of which the Pascal Lamb was to be sacrificed yearly,—now you have no longer that sacrifice, therefore you cannot keep that feast as God has commanded.

A Jew. Our temple is destroyed, and we have now no permission to offer sacrifices. If it is rebuilt, we shall again have the sacrifices reinstated, according to the law of Moses.

I. But you have, then, now no atonement for your sin; how can you appear before God?

A Jew. And you; what sacrifices have you?

I. That of which the Prophet Isaiah speaks, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities."

A Jew. This refers to our Messiah, who is sitting in the gates of Rome; and as often as Israel sins, he is

« AnteriorContinua »