Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

In the beautiful homily of Chrysostom on Mary's Memorial, preached about A. D. 380, in which he enumerates those nations who, in fulfilment of our Saviour's prophecy, had “ spo“ken of the deed of Mary for a memorial of “ her,” he mentions the Persians first, and the Isles of Britain last. The Persians,” says he, " the Indians, Scythians, Thracians, Sarmatians, " the race of the Moors, and the inhabitants of “ the British Isles, celebrate a deed performed “in a private family in Judea, by a woman that “ had been a sinner.»* He alludes to her

pouring an alabaster box of spikenard on the head of Christ, thereby acknowledging him, while yet upon earth, to be God's. ANOINTED King, and embalming his body, (as our Lord himself explained it) in anticipation of his burial. Con

ness. It is not even known what languages are intended by the Scythian, Indian, and Sarmatian. The Christian Church must now retrace her steps, and endeavour to recover a know. Jedge which she has lost.

* Αλλα και Περσαι και Ινδοι και Σκυθαι και Θρακες και Σαυρομαται και των Μαυρων γενος και οι τας Βρετανικας Νησους οικουντες, Το εν Ιεδαια γενομενον λαθρα, , οικια παρα γυναικος αεπορνευμένης, σεριφερυσι. .

The argument of Chrysostom is this, that nothing could have given so permanent a celebrity to so private an occurrence, but the Divine Word of Him who foretold it.

cering which act of faith and love our Saviour uttered the following prophetic declaration. “ Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever " this Gospel shall be preached throughout the “ whole world, THIS ALSO that she hath done "shall be spoken of for a MEMORIAL of her.” Mark xiv. 9.-The Isles of Britain who were last in the above enumeration, are now the first to restore this memorial to the Persians as well as to other Mahomedan nations, who were to Jose it generally, during the great prophetic period of 1260 years.

A version of the four Gospels, and of the Pentateuch in the Persian language of a former age, remains to this day. It is a faithful translation, and seems to have been made immediately from the Syriac ;* but the dialect and orthography are so ancient as to be scarcely intelligible even at Ispahan. The Romish Church has had several Missions in the kingdom of Persia for some centuries past. The Augustinian Mission from Goa commenced in the year 1602, “and " was perinitted by Sultan Murad to build con"vents in all parts of the Empire.”+ But they went into Persia as into other countries, not

* This is the version of the Polyglot.
† Fabricii Lux Evan. p. 639.

with the design of instructing men in the holy scriptures, but of teaching them the tenets and ceremonies of Rome. To this day they have not published, under all the advantages of toleration which they enjoyed, a translation of the Bible, or even of the New Testament, into the Persian language.

It is a reproach to Christians, that the only endeavour to produce a version of the Scrip. tures into the language of that extensive kingdom, should have been made by the Persians themselves. · The representatives of the Christian churches in Europe, of every denomination, may well blush when they read the following authentic relation of an attempt made by a Persian king to procure a knowledge of our religion.

“ Towards the close of the year 1740, Nadir “ Shah caused a translation of the Four Evan.

gelists to be made into Persian.--The affair

was put under the direction of Mirza Mehdee, " a man of some learning, who being vested “ with proper authority for the purpose, sum“ moned several Armenian Bishops, and Priests, “ together with divers Missionaries of the Ro"mish Church, and Persian Mullahs,* to meet “ him at Ispahan. As to the latter, the Maho“ medan Priests, they could not be gainers, “ since the change of religion, if any, was to “ be in prejudice of Mahomedanism. Besides, " Nadir's conduct towards them had been severe,

* Mahomedan Priests.

to an extreme and unprecedented degree;

many of them, therefore, gave Mirza Mehdee “ large bribes to excuse their absence. Among “ the Christians summoned on this occasion, “ only one Romish Priest, a native of Persia,

was a sufficient master of the language to “ enter upon a work of so critical a nature. 6. As to the Armenian Christians, although they

are born subjects to Persia, and intermixed “ with the inhabitants, yet there are very few “ of them who understand the language funda“ mentally. It was natural to expect, that “ Mirza Mehdee, and the Persian Mullahs, “ would be more solicitous to please Nadir, and " to support the credit of Mahomedanism, than « to divest themselves of prejudices, and be “ come masters of so important a subject. “ This translation was dressed up with all the

glosses which the fables of the Koran could “ warrant. Their chief guide was an ancient Arabic and Persian translation. Father de Vignes, a “ Romish Priest, was also employed in this

work, in which he made use of the Vulgate “ edition. They were but six months in

completing this translation, and transcribing « several fair copies of it.

“. In May following, Mirza Mehdee, with “ the Persian Mullahs, and some of the Chris« tian Priests, set out from Ispahan for the Pero, “ sian Court, which was then held in encamp"ment near Teheran. Nadir received them "! with some marks of civility, and had a cur

sory view of the performance. Some part of it

was read to him; on which occasion he made “ several ludicrous remarks on the mysterious " parts of the Christian religion; at the same “ time he laughed at the Jews, and turned Ma" homed and Ali equally into ridicule.”-And after some expressions of levity, intimating that he could himself make a better religion than any that had yet been produced, “he “6 dismissed these churchmen and translators “ with some small presents, not equal -in value “ to the expense of the journey."*

This version of the Gospels, prepared by command of Nadir Shah, is probably the same with that which is sometimes found in the hands of the Armenian Priests in India. A copy was lately shewn to an Oriental scholar in Bengal,t:

* Hanway's Travels.

+ Rev. H. Martyn.

« PreviousContinue »