Abbildungen der Seite

fabric of Judaism was ready to fall. Under these circumstances the Rabbies found it necessary to take the most vigorous measures to prevent a total loss of their authority. All the domestic punishments which they themselves are suffered to inflict, and all that false accusations and money could obtain from the Turks were employed to stay this revolutionary tendency. By persuasion, threatenings, stripes and imprisonment they succeeded at length, in getting under the excitement. Individuals however continued for a season to brave the storm, and a few were found faithful to the end. Some extracts from the journal of Mr. Hartley at this period, will give the best idea of their situation.

Nov. 8. “ This has been a day of most painful interest. Missim Cohen and Chaim Castro called to inform me, that Jacob Levi bad been seized, thrown into prison, and bastinadoed. This young man has displayed the true spirit of a Christian martyr: when they were conveying him to the Casa Negra,* a Rabbi; concerned in the transaction, exhorted him to declare himself “a good Jew," and he would suffer nothing. “No,” he replied, “I am a Christian ! the Messiah is come! If I were to be confined a thousand years in prison, still I would declare that Jesus is the Messiah !" Neither the bastinado itself, nor the barbarous threat 66 that he should eat it three times a day," could move him from his steadfastness. In the course of the day, others were seized ; and means were taken to appre

* This is the term by which they designate a prison, made use of by the Jews. It answers to our expression, “Black Hole.” Of this place, the converts had always expressed more apprehension than even death itself.

hend David Bechas, Chaim Castro, and Missim Cohen : happily they have for the present escaped.”

The three last mentioned individuals when the persecution became thus violent, were secreted in the house of an Armenian, in the Frank dress, with the view of being conveyed away to a place of safety. It is not an easy matter even now that the event has transpired to determine what was duty in these trying circumstances. A highly valued missionary brother, whose fears were not for himself, but for the flock over the which the Holy Ghost was making him an overseer,” felt that in a barbarous country he might plead the example of an apostle who says, “In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped bis hands.” It is worthy however of remark, that they themselves were not altogether reconciled to the plan of Alight. “ During the time they were in concealment,” says Mr. Leeves, " they never entirely liked the idea of quitting Constantinople, though they thought they saw a necessity for it in the hot persecution which awaited them if they remained. They thought they could be more useful here than any where else, and their hearts were set upon proclaiming the gospel to their brethren; they, therefore, often made it their prayer to God, that, if he saw it good, they might be found out and taken, and that they afterward might remain in Constantinople to be the evangelists to their brethren in error."

But it is time to introduce you to a more particular acquaintance with these 6 first fruits” from among the

Jews of Turkey. David Bechas was a Rabbi of perhaps the age of thirty-five, and is a man naturally of a timid spirit. His wife was a believer with him in in Christianity. Mr. Hartley says of him, “ I found the Rabbi well read in the New Testament; he informed me, that, upwards of a year ago, he had been presented with the Hebrew New Testament, and that it had been the means of his conversion : on one occasion he shewed me the book which had proved the instrument of such blessing to him, and it bore all the marks of having been well used.”

Chaim Castro followed the employment of a bookbinder, which ranks here almost with the learned professions. I have often passed his shop on my visit to Constantinople. He is now about thirty years of age and of an ardent and fearless temperament. His forwardness to circulate the New Testament and bring others into his views, have rendered him peculiarly obnoxious to the unbelieving Jews. Mr. H. has the following notices of him in his journal. .

6 Oct. 13. A young Jew, Chaim Castro, called this morning on Mr. Leeves, and intimated that he wished to become a Christian. We were delighted to find him in the utmost readiness to receive the truth ; and he has engaged to call or me daily for the purpose of religious conversation. He said he had many friends of similar sentiments; and that 200 Jews would become Christians, had they European protection.

“15. The young Jew called again. I conversed with him concerning Jesus of Nazareth; and was glad to find that he was fully possessed of the idea that the death of Christ was a sacrifice for sin. Read to him

[ocr errors]

Isaiah liii., Daniel is., and other prophecies concerning the Messiah. He said, that his first impressions of the truth of Christianity were derived from an Armenian, who used to inform him, when a child, of the errors of the Jews.

“ 29. Yesterday I had to perform a very painful task. Chaim Castro and Jacob Levi, having been frequently with me, and having pressed me exceedingly to baptise them, I was constrained to inform them, that they must wait six months, in order that I might have opportunity of knowing them well, and of instructing them more fully in what regards the religion of Christ. I have had considerable anxiety since I made this communication to them, being fearful that it might act as a discouragement; and have been led most earnestly to supplicate God in their favor. It is however unquestionably my duty not to act with precipitation in this affair. Of Jacob Levi, I feel considerable confidence that he has his heart, as well as his mind, interested in the faith of Christ: of Chaim Castro, my confidence is not equally strong; but he also gives every appearance of full persuasion that Jesus is the Messiah. The state of the Turkish empire is such, that I question if the truth will ever gain signal victories, till a readiness for martyrdom be evinced on the part of those who are enlightened.”

Missim Cohen is a youth of only seventeen years. His connexions are respectable, and he himself possesses promising talents. According to Jewish usages, he had already been for two years under engagements of marriage to a young Jewess His expected fatherin-law is anxious to dissolve the connexion, but the

4000 piastres--333 dollars, paid at the time of the betrothal of his daughter, stand in the way of such an arrangement.

The joint history of these three interesting converts, I will also give in the words of Mr. Hartley.

“ Nov. 9. This morning I visited the three fugitives, and conversed and read with them. We are also taking means to ascertain the situation of Jacob Levi, in order to render him such assistance as shall be possible. The number of believing Jews who composed this party was eleven-nine men and two women.

6 10. A Jew, acting, I doubt not, as a spy of the persecuting party, called upon me: his message was, that there were several Jews, friends of Missim Cohen, who wished to bear him company : I must tell him, therefore, where Missim was to be found, and he would conduct them to him. The man failed, of course, in his design. He afterward went to Mr. Leeves, but had no better success. Mr. Leeves set out to day on a journey to Adrianople.

6612. To day I have had the pleasure of baptising the three Jews. Prior to administering this very solemn ordinance, I examined them very carefully with regard to their faith, and their intended fidelity to Christ. Their answers gave me the greatest satisfaction; and I could not feel at ease, till I had, in their instance, complied with the injunction, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. It was to me a subject of much regret, that in consequence of Mr. Leeves's absence, the duty devolved on me : I should otherwise have left the whole transaction to his judgment and

« ZurückWeiter »