Woman And Her Saviour In Persia
by A Returned Missionary
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"On Friday forenoon, I saw Martha, the wife of Eshoo. I trust she has grace in her heart; and her husband hopes that he is a Christian, but looks after her more than himself. She sees him not doing right, and tells him in love; he is not pleased. Still, she thinks him a Christian. She wished I would talk to them together, that their path might be one. I told her I did not think it best that she should talk much to him, but be very quiet, pray for him, be obedient to him, and hope to win him by her chaste conversation coupled with fear. She received my words well.

"February 28th. I talked with Moressa. We hoped, seven or eight years ago, that she was a Christian; but her husband soon prevented her attending meeting, and so she remained, till lately she came to church again. I did not know that one of the sisters in Christ had prayed regularly with her all this while, but supposed that she had gone back to her dead forms, and that God moved me to call her to repentance. But I found her trusting that she had been set in Christ's breastplate, the light of which can never go out. I said, 'Do you think you love the Saviour?' 'Yes, as the apple of my eye.' 'Are you sure that you have not forsaken him in all these years?' 'I have been very sinful all the time, but do not think I have taken my hand from Christ.' My heart was now drawn towards her. I said, 'Moressa, forgive me. I have been an unfaithful shepherd. I have not once searched for you. I confess my faults.' 'I have faults. I have been a wandering sheep, forsaking the fold.' 'Have you kept up secret prayer during all these years?' 'I have.' I found that she had learned to read at home, and I gave her a Testament. I have a good hope for her; but how negligent I have been! There may be many Christians unknown."

These extracts might be extended; but enough have been given to illustrate the inner workings of Nestorian piety, and the labors of those so appropriately called "native helpers." It was such men that Paul called his helpers in Christ Jesus.

The women of Geog Tapa, in a letter to Miss Fiske, written Feb. 1861, thanking her for her labors among them, say, "We often think, What are we more than the women of other nations, that we should have such heavenly blessings? and are ready to cry, Blessed is the dust of the land that sends forth such good news, and makes known the way of life to the world." They add, that at their last communion more than eighty souls sat down at the Lord's table; and it seemed as if He who sitteth between the cherubim was present in the church.




The first revival in Oroomiah seemed to burst forth like a fountain in the desert. Yet, as such a fountain, though springing full grown from the earth, is connected with unseen arrangements working out that visible result, so was this revival connected with an extended process of preparation. For years there had been a laborious inculcation of divine truth, especially in the Seminary. True, there had been few conversions; but those few were an essential part of the preparatory work. The roots of this revival extended back as far as the conversion of Deacon John, in 1844. Even in those still unconverted, there had been a wonderful preparation of the way of the Lord. No one could compare the condition of the places yet unblessed by missionary labor, with those so favored, and not feel this. Religious education had made a marked improvement in the appearance of the pupils of both Seminaries, in their personal habits, their intelligence, and especially in their knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel. Old superstitions had lost their hold; they could no longer trust in fasts and ceremonies, and they had an intellectual understanding of the way of salvation through a Redeemer. True, all this did not necessarily involve a spiritual work; but God is pleased to have the way thus prepared for that Spirit who sanctifies through the truth. Those who had received the most instruction were the first to come to Christ, and have since lived the more consistent Christian life.

Then, in the good providence of Him who always observes a beautiful order in the manifestations of his grace, other influences tended to the same result. The very delay of the blessing called forth earnest prayer from the husbandmen who were waiting for precious fruit, and had long patience for it, till they received the early and the latter rain. The trials which the missionaries had passed through in 1845 also tended to produce that despair of help from themselves which usually precedes blessing. In 1844 they numbered sixteen souls; but in 1846, from various causes, they were diminished to ten. These were not discouraged, but remained at their post confident that labors in the Lord cannot be in vain. Then the persecution under Mar Shimon shut them up to God as their only hope, while it rid them of some native helpers, who cared chiefly for their own temporal advantage. The army of Gideon, on all sides, was being diminished in order to secure obedience to that precept, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." The feeling was general, "all our springs are in God." One of the missionaries said, in the autumn of 1845, "God never formed a soul that Christ cannot redeem from the power of sin. I know this people are sunk in sin and degradation; but Jesus died to save them, and we may see them forever stars in his crown of rejoicing, if we are only humble and faithful enough to lead them to the Saviour."

At the time of the revival, Dr. and Mrs. Perkins resided at Seir, and Dr. and Mrs. Wright were temporarily with them in that village. Mr. Breath was in the city, but using the Turkish mainly, he never ventured to give religious instruction in Syriac; so that Mr. Stocking and Mr. Stoddard were the only laborers in Oroomiah. They lived on the mission premises already described; and at that time the Male Seminary occupied a building in the same enclosure.

One day in the autumn of 1845, Mr. Stocking, Miss Fiske, and Deacon John were riding together, when John asked in English, "If we ever have a revival here, what shall we call it?" Mr. Stocking replied, "Let us get it first; then we will find a name;" and when it did come, the pious Nestorians at once called it "an awakening."

Towards the close of December, Mr. Stocking noticed repeated indications of deep seriousness among the pupils of Mr. Stoddard, and felt that they were on the eve of a revival. About the same time, Deacon John was more active in labor, and earnest in prayer. In the Seminaries, the teachers did not think so much of what their pupils were, as of the power of God to make them like himself. They labored in hope, expecting a blessing; but it came sooner than they looked for, and in larger measure. The first Monday of the new year, January 5th, was spent as a day of fasting and prayer; and the missionaries had just begun to pray, when they found that some were praying for themselves. Miss Fiske went into her school, as usual, at nine o'clock, and, after telling her flock that many prayers were being offered for them that day in a distant land, led their morning devotions, and then sent them into another room to study with a native teacher. Sanum and Sarah lingered behind the rest; and as they drew near, she asked, "Did you not understand me?" They made no reply; and she saw they were weeping. "Have you had bad news?" Still no reply; but when they got near enough, they whispered, "May we have to-day to care for our souls?" and Sarah added, "Perhaps next year I shall not be here." There was no private room to give them, but they made a closet for themselves among the fuel in the wood cellar, and there spent that day looking unto Jesus; nor did they look in vain. Their teacher did not know where they had gone, till, long after one of them had died, the survivor gave her an account of that memorable day.

On Sabbath evening, January 18th, the words at the English prayer meeting were few; but the prayers carried the dear pupils and laid them at the feet of Jesus. At the close of the meeting, Mr. Stoddard was lighting his candle to go home, when Mr. Stocking asked if he saw any indications of interest in his school. There was no reply; but the expressive face, and the candle dropping unnoticed as he held it, showed that thought was busy, and the heart full. At length he said, with deep feeling, "I should expect to see interest if we felt as we ought to feel;" and passed out. All were impressed with his manner, so earnest, yet so humble. He retired to his study, called John, and talked with him on the state of the school. He proposed that they should each day make some one pupil a subject of special prayer and personal effort, and begin that night with Yakob of Sooldooz. They prayed together for him, and then he said, "John, I want to talk with him to-night; we don't know what may be on the morrow; go and call him." Yakob, who had acted badly in meeting that day, came, expecting to be punished; but when Mr. Stoddard kindly asked him to come and sit down by him, and, taking his hand, said, "Have you ever thought that you have a soul to be saved or lost?" he broke down at once. He confessed that the whole school had combined to shut out the subject from their thoughts, but really felt so uneasy, that if one of them should be brought to Christ he thought all would follow. Then the good man, who was so distressed that day because he could see no impression made by the sermon, thanked God and took courage. Not willing to devote Monday to Yakob alone, he conversed with another of the same name, and he too went away weeping to his closet. The two had been in the recitation room but a little while before their feelings became so intense that they had to ask leave to retire. "It is God!" "It is God!" was whispered from seat to seat; and at noon a group collected to discuss what was to be done. One proposed to rise up against the work, and put it down; but at length Yonan of Geog Tapa said, "I don't want to be a Christian; I don't mean to be; but I am afraid to oppose this; we had better let it alone. If it is God's work we cannot put it down, and if it is man's work it will come to nought without our interference." Nothing more was said, but before school commenced that afternoon, some of those boys were on their knees in prayer.

In the evening, Mr. Stoddard sent for two leaders in the opposition, very promising scholars, but of late forward in every thing that was evil—one of them this Yonan, and as he himself told afterwards: "Mr. Stoddard said, 'If you do not wish to be saved yourselves, I beg of you, from my inmost soul, not to hinder others;' and eternity so opened up before me, that I was ready to be swallowed up. I longed for some one to speak to me of the way of escape; but no such word was spoken to me that night. I could not sleep, for I was almost sure there was but a step between me and death." Late on Thursday evening, the other Yonan, of Ada, came to Mr. Stoddard in extreme agitation, who conversed with him a while, and then left him there to pray alone. That night he too could not sleep. The years he had spent in sin rose up before him in the light of God, and filled him with anguish; but next morning, in conversing with Mr. Stoddard, he seemed to find rest in submitting to sovereign mercy.

On Monday evening, the indications of interest in the Female Seminary were such, that the teacher invited those disposed to seek salvation at once, to come to her room at five o'clock. Before that hour, a number had retired to pray for themselves. Just then, Mr. Stoddard came to the door of the teacher, saying, "I cannot stop; but I wanted you to know that four or five of my boys are much distressed for their sins." This was the first intimation she had of what was taking place in the other school; and she turned away from Mr. Stoddard to find five of her pupils in the same condition. Mr. Stoddard came in again, in the course of the evening, to pray and consult; and Mr. Stocking gave up every thing else to labor with the pupils in both schools. Both Dr. Perkins and Dr. Wright came down frequently from Seir. Every day brought out new cases of those who were being taught of God. Wednesday evening, at the conclusion of a sermon from Mr. Stocking, on the words, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock," no member of the Male Seminary seemed willing to leave his seat. After a few words of exhortation, they were dismissed to their rooms; but so intense were their feelings that they came in crowds to the teacher's study, where he preached Jesus Christ, and forgiveness through his blood, till near midnight; then, fatigued and exhausted, he retired to rest. Thursday evening, in the English prayer meeting, Mr. Stoddard said, "God will assuredly carry forward his own work. Let us give ourselves up to labor for him, in pointing these precious souls to Christ." After the meeting, the teachers of both Seminaries left to engage in that blessed work till midnight. Eleven years after, on the same evening, and about the same hour, one was called to see the other pass from earth into the presence of the Saviour whom he then set forth so faithfully. No wonder the survivor recalled it in the hush of that parting scene.

It is difficult to describe the occurrences of this eventful week. The teachers' rooms were in such demand as closets for the pupils, that they could hardly command them long enough for their own devotions. They were ready to write "Immanuel" on every thing around them. The girls were very free to express their feelings, and they had such perfect confidence in their teacher, that often, during the revival, some of them woke her in the morning, standing at her bedside, with some inquiry about the way of life.

The two schools hardly knew any thing of each other till Friday evening, when they met in a room fitted up for the Female Seminary the preceding autumn. The first time Mr. Stoddard entered it after this, he looked round, and said, "May this room be wholly consecrated to the Lord forever;" and this evening Christ seemed to take possession of it. The boys sat on one side, and the girls on the other; and seldom, perhaps, has there been a company more under the influence of things unseen. It seemed as though God himself spoke that evening through his ministering servants, and this and that one was born there and then. It was in the same room that that last prayer meeting of the teacher with her former pupils was held, July 15th, 1858. In the engraving, the two upper windows, immediately to the left of the small ones over the central door, belong to this room.

At the close of the week, ten of the pupils were trusting in Christ; and of the next Lord's day it might truly be said, "That Sabbath was an high day," for the Lord was present, and many strong men bowed before him. Priest Eshoo had watched the boys; he had watched his own praying Sarah; and now he looked within. He had never been known to weep; he scorned such weakness; but when, at the close of the afternoon service, Mr. Stocking took his hand, saying, "Be sure you are on the right foundation," he buried his face in his handkerchief and wept aloud. Nor did he weep alone; Deacon Tamo, too,—whose levity all through the week had been a sore trial to Mr. Stoddard, so that he had asked, "Can it be that God has let him come here to hinder the work?"—now trembled from head to foot. Mr. Stoddard prayed with him, and as they rose from their knees, Tamo looked him in the face, and, with streaming eyes, said, "Thank you, thank you for caring for my soul."

During the following week, most of the inmates of both Seminaries were deeply convinced of sin, and daily some souls seemed to come to the Saviour.

But some things rendered it apparent that the interest was not all from above. One evening, fifteen or twenty boys were found rolling on the floor, groaning and crying for mercy. Measures were taken at once to prevent the repetition of such a scene, and at evening prayers Mr. Stocking commenced his remarks by asking if any of them had ever seen the Nazloo River, at Marbeeshoo, near its source. Startled by what seemed a very untimely question, a few answered, "Yes." "Was there much water in it?" Wondering what he could mean, the answer was, "No; very little." "Did it make much noise?" "Yes; a great deal." The catechist went on: "Have you seen the same river on the plain?" By this time, every ear was listening, and all replied, "Yes." "Was it deep and wide?" "Yes; it was full of water." "And was it more noisy than at Marbeeshoo?" "No; it was very quiet and still." The parable was now applied very faithfully. He said that he had hoped the Holy Spirit had been teaching them the evil of their hearts; but their noise and confusion that evening showed him that there was no depth to their experience. The effect was wonderful; they hung their heads and quietly dispersed, and from many a closet that night might have been heard the petition, "Lord, make me to know my heart, and let me not be like that noisy river." What threatened to be an uncontrollable excitement became at once a quiet but deep sense of guilt. Their desires were not less intense, but more spiritual; their consciences were very tender, and their feelings contrite, but subdued and gentle.

In this revival, the converts had a great deal of feeling, but no knowledge of the mode in which such feelings find expression in Christian lands; and in the freshness and strength of their emotions they yielded to every impulse with an unconscious simplicity that was exceedingly interesting. If they were under conviction of sin, that found immediate and unrestrained utterance. If they thought they were forgiven, that, too, at once found expression. There was a wonderful transparency of spirit that revealed each varying aspect of their feelings, and withal a tendency to undue excitement that needed careful handling. Indeed, it was found necessary to watch their social meetings very closely, and sometimes to direct them to pray alone.

For three weeks, very few visitors came to the Seminary. The time seemed to be given expressly for the benefit of the pupils, and it was like one continual Sabbath. Every corner was consecrated to prayer, and most of the work was direct effort for the salvation of souls. But after that, visitors began to come, and then the young converts became helpers in Christ Jesus, even the sight of their devotion turning the thoughts of others to spiritual things. Often ten or fifteen women spent the night on the premises; and at such times, all the spare bedding was brought into the great room, which was transformed into a dormitory. The teacher often staid with them till midnight, and then, from her own room, could hear them praying the rest of the night. In connection with this, one incident claims our notice. One day in February, a box arrived from America for the Seminary; but so engrossed was the teacher with more important duties, that it was midnight ere she could open it. Next morning, all were invited to her room, to see the contents. She told of the kind friends who had sent it, and the love of Christ, that constrained to such kindness. They were moved to tears, but not one rose to examine the things, and not a word was spoken, till the proposal was made that the quilts should be kept for the use of their friends who came to hear the word of God. All joyfully agreed to that, and then, after looking at the articles, they returned to pray for their benefactors.

The last meetings of the school before the March vacation were called thanksgivings, and fitly, too, for in the two Seminaries as many as fifty souls had begun to love the Saviour, When they left, the universal cry was, "Pray for us." "Pray for us in the temptations that await us at home." One little girl said, "Did you ever see a new-born lamb cast into the snow and live? And can we live?" Thank God, most of the hopeful converts did live, and we trust are to live forever, with the good Shepherd who gave his life for their salvation.

It does not fall in with the design of this volume to give a complete account of the revival, but we cannot leave it without a word more about the instrumentality of Mr. Stoddard in connection with that work of grace. He was abundant in preaching. He did not think that the most ordinary sermons are good enough for the mission field; for he knew that the Nestorians could discriminate as well as others nearer home, and so wrote out his sermons carefully in English, but in the Syriac idiom, noting on a blank page the books consulted in their preparation. He also excelled in labors for individuals. The first inquirer became such while Mr. Stoddard pressed home upon his conscience his guilt as a sinner against God; and the same is true of many others. After conversing with a person, he always led him to the throne of grace, and then had him present his own offering there; and after such a one had left, he seemed unable to turn his thoughts to any thing else, till again in private he had commended him to God. Indeed, he often began to do this before they descended the stairs. He kept a little book, in which he recorded every case, the state in which he found the person, and any subsequent change; and it was noticed that where he began, he continued to labor, not only till there was hope, but even assurance of hope. Such labor is as exhausting as it is delightful; and no wonder his strength proved less than his zeal and love.

It was a great joy to him when his people could take part in prayer meetings. He divided the thirty converts among them into three circles, and met each of them twice a week: this furnished him a season of refreshment every day, and each of them took part at least once a week. They were thus early initiated into a course of Christian activity, and taught that they would lose much themselves, besides failing to do good to others, if they held back. The converts were so rooted and grounded in this truth, that once, when Miss Fiske was in Geog Tapa, a brother said to her that she must not leave the village till she had induced a woman to pray with her, whom they all regarded as a Christian, but who would not take part in their female prayer meetings; and when she objected to urging her, Deacon John replied, "If she was an ordinary Christian, we might let her pass; but her position is one of such prominence, that the other women will do just as she does; and so she must do right," Miss Fiske talked long with the delinquent, but she insisted that she could not do it. The missionary told of her own trials in the matter,—how she had staid away from meeting lest she should be called on, and remained unblessed till she was willing to do her duty. She prayed with her once and again, even a third time, before she consented, saying, "I will not displease God any more in this." So, drawing very close to her instructor, she offered two petitions for herself, and one that her friend might be rewarded for showing her her duty. Hannah was soon active in the women's meetings, and is to this day a most useful and consistent Christian.

Another marked feature in Mr. Stoddard's labors was his tact in setting others to work for Christ. He taught his pupils that they must toil as well as pray, and soon after the first converts were brought to Christ, definite labor for others was assigned to them, not only among their schoolmates and those who visited the premises, but also in gathering in those not disposed to come to meeting. Once, when three fourths of the pupils were hopefully pious, Mr. Stoddard said, "I must bring in more, just to furnish work for these converts." He himself was happy in his work, because he gave himself wholly to it, without the least reservation; and amid the many trials that marked the years of his residence in Persia, he looked beyond them all, to Him who not only can give joy in suffering, but, by means of it, bring sinners to the Saviour.

The hopeful converts in the Seminary, after spending the summer of 1846 at their own homes, in circumstances of great trial and temptation, returned, all save one, not only retaining their interest in spiritual things, but established in Christian character. Their friends also testified to their thoughtfulness, prayerfulness, and cheerful obedience at home, and the influence of their piety was happy on others.

For a while, in the autumn of 1846, the school was disbanded on account of the cholera. But, contrary to the fears of many, after a separation of two months, all were spared to meet again, though hundreds had fallen on all sides. Three weeks afterwards, the Christians among them seemed more than usually earnest in prayer for the conversion of the impenitent, and at once the answer came. The first one awakened was Moressa, now the wife of Yakob, of Supergan, and then about fourteen years of age. She had been taken into the family of Mrs. Grant nine years before, and that of Mr. Stocking afterwards. She had received much religious instruction, with apparently little effect; but now her convictions were deep, though she did not submit to Christ for nearly a week after she felt she was lost. Her case deeply enlisted the sympathies of her fellow-pupils, and soon several others passed through a season of deep distress, to rest in the grace of Christ.

One of these was Eneya, sister of Oshana, and now the wife of Shlemon, in Amadia. Her widowed mother had fled with her children to Oroomiah before the Koordish invasion of her native Tehoma. Few children have so deep a sense of sin as she had, or exercise such implicit trust in the Saviour. At that time, her teacher wrote, "May she become a messenger of great good to her countrywomen;" and now, that prayer is being answered in her usefulness in that distant and lonely field of labor. Altogether there were seven who seemed at this time to take the Lord Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour.




Let us now turn aside to take a nearer view of the first fruits of this revival. The first to ask the way to heaven, to find it, and to enter through the gate into the city, was Sarah, or Sarra, as the Nestorians pronounce it. She was born among the rude mountaineers of Gawar, in 1831. Her father, Eshoo, then a deacon, regarded her at first with the aversion Nestorian fathers usually felt towards their daughters; but her strong attachment to him while yet a child, so won his heart, that when the Koords overran Gawar, in 1835, and the family fled from their smouldering village, he was willing to be seen carrying her on his back, in the same way that his wife bore her younger sister. The family stopped for a time at Degala, and subsisted by begging from door to door, lodging at night in a stable. The fine intellect of the self-taught father soon brought him to the notice of the missionaries; and one day Mrs. Grant, then just about securing her long-cherished desire of a school for girls, asked him, in her winning way, "Have you any daughters? and will you not send them to our little school?" The inquiry revived a wish that he had felt while yet in Gawar, that his daughter should learn to read; and in the spring of 1841, when he moved from Degala to the city, he sent her to the mission school. She had just entered her tenth year—a tall, slender, dark-eyed girl, even then giving indications of her early death, and though often a great sufferer, she applied herself so diligently to study, that she soon became, as she ever continued to be, the best scholar in the school.

The ancient Syriac Bible was the principal text book; and she so far mastered that language as to acquire a knowledge of Scripture rarely attained in any land by a child of her years. She was the walking concordance of the school; and her knowledge of the doctrines of the Bible was even more remarkable. Under the teaching of Mrs. Harriet Stoddard, she had also learned to sing sweetly our sacred music. Still, with all her acquirements, she was destitute of grace; and her declining health led her teacher to feel much anxiety for her salvation.

On the first Monday in 1846, she said to Sanum, one of her schoolmates, who, she knew, was thoughtful, "Sister, we ought to turn to God. Shall we ever find a better time than when so many are praying for us?" They together resolved to spend the day in seeking salvation; and the manner in which they made known this purpose to their teacher, and carried it out, has been already related. (See p. 116). From that day, she never seemed to waver. As soon as she found peace for herself, she sought to make others acquainted with her Saviour; not forgetting, however, that prayer of the Psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Feeble as she was, she never shrank from labor. Hours every day were spent in her closet, and the rest of her time was sacredly used for Christ. She had much to do with the conversion of the twenty schoolmates whom she was permitted to see in Christ before she went home; and she did much for the women who came to the Seminary. Her teacher never knew a young person more anxious to save souls. Both pupils and visitors loved to have Sarah tell them the way. They said, "We can see it when she tells us." No wonder they saw it, for she seemed to look on it all the time. Her teacher depended much on her, and yet often remonstrated with her for such incessant labors. Still she felt that she must be about her Father's business while the day lasted. Her desires for the salvation of her father seemed to commence with her anxiety for herself; and his feelings were soon so tender that he could not answer an inquiry about his own state without tears. Sarah was the first to know that he had found peace. His first religious intercourse with her was to tell her that he had found Jesus. He had known that she was thoughtful, but was not prepared to find her so full of humble hope and holy joy. Next day, when urged by a missionary to labor for the salvation of his family, he replied, "Sarah knows the way to heaven better than I do. She can teach me far better than I could her." Their previous strong attachment now ripened into Christian love. He never felt that his daily bread had been given him, if he had not knelt with her in prayer, and his heart been lifted up by her petitions as well as his own. Her mother at first scoffed; but soon she, too, sought the Saviour; and her younger daughter, whose evil ways for a time tried Sarah sorely, was also afterwards brought into the kingdom.

Mr. Stocking used to call her "the best theologian among the Nestorians," and often said, "If I want to write a good sermon, I like to sit down first and talk with Sarah, and then be sure that she is praying for me."

Her attachment to the means of grace was strong. She went to every meeting, even after she could not reach the chapel without help. Her emaciated form, her hollow cough, her eye bright with unnatural lustre, all told that she was passing away, but, combined with her sweet singing and heavenly spirit, led her companions sometimes to whisper, as she took her seat in the chapel, "Have we not an Elizabeth Wallbridge among us?"—"The Dairyman's Daughter," in Syriac, had just then issued from the press, and was a great favorite with the Nestorians.

As early as March, it was seen that she must die. Still she clung to the school, and not for nought. She had a mission to fulfil, and her Saviour strengthened her for the work to which he called her. As yet, none of the pious Nestorians had finished their course. With the converts, victory over death was something heard of, but never witnessed; and Sarah was chosen to show them "in what peace a Christian can die." Perhaps the last days of no young disciple were ever watched with more eager interest. "Will Christ sustain us to the last? Will he be with us through the dark valley? Will he come for us and receive us to himself, as he promised?" These were to them momentous questions; and they stood ready to answer them according as the Lord supported her. Ever since her death they have looked upon the last change from a new point of view. But we must not anticipate.

The five months between her conversion and her decease were very precious to all who knew her. She sometimes sat with her teacher and talked an hour at a time on the home of the blessed. She seemed to look in upon its glories, and share its gladness; and then her thoughts turned to the perishing around her, saying, "I would labor a little longer for them, if it is my Father's will." The young converts whom she had taught could not bear the thought of her leaving them; but they sought to stay an angel in his course. The dross had been consumed, and the spirit was made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

About the middle of May, it was felt that she must go home to her father, whose house was near the Seminary. It was a beautiful day in a Persian summer. The morning exercises were closed. When her teacher told her what they thought, she replied in a whisper, "I think I had better go, but I want to be alone a little before I leave not to return." With weary step she sought the closet where first she found her Saviour: it was occupied. Perhaps He saw she might think more of the place than was meet; so she spent an hour in another room, and then returned, saying, "I am ready to go now." She went supported by a schoolmate on either side: stopping in the court, she turned to take a last look of the dear home where she had learned of Jesus, and, plucking some of the roses that bloomed by her side, passed on. On the preceding page that court is represented, as seen from the adjoining one. She suffered intensely for a few days. Her disease forbade her lying down, even at night. But still not a day passed that she did not gather some women about her, and point them to Jesus. Her teacher visited her frequently, and often found her with her Bible open, and several women around her bed, to whom she was explaining it. The praying pupils, too, often knelt with her at the accustomed throne of grace.

One Saturday in June, her father was asked if he could go to Tergawer—twenty-five miles distant—and preach. His reply was, "I will see what Sarah says." She said, "Go, father, and I will pray for you." Sabbath morning came, and her teacher saw that Sarah was almost home: she told her so, and once more committed the dear pupil to the Saviour who stood by. She had to return to her duties in school, but first said to her mother, "Send for me when the Master calls for her, for, if I cannot go over Jordan with her, I would at least accompany her to the swelling stream." In the afternoon her sufferings became intense; and losing herself for a moment, she said, "Call my father." They told her where he was. "O, yes, I remember. Don't call him. Let him preach; I can die alone." She then said, "Call Miss Fiske;" and her sister started to go. But the dying one remembered that it was the hour for prayer meeting, and beckoned her to return, saying, "She is in meeting now, with my companions. Don't call her; I can die alone." Perhaps, with that teacher present, her eyes had not so clearly discerned the Lord Jesus. Her sufferings were now so great, she hardly spoke for an hour. Then she said, in a clear voice, "Mother, raise me, that I may commit my spirit;" for she would never approach her Saviour but on her knees. Supported, as she had been hundreds of times before, by that mother's strong arms, and in the attitude of prayer, she said, "Lord Jesus, receive—" And there she stopped: prayer had ended. Instead of the closing words of the earthly petition was the opening of the new song in heaven. The Saviour did not wait for the close of her petition before he answered it. The teacher had just sat down with her pupils when the door opened, and a messenger said "Sarah is asleep!" "Yes," thought she, gratefully, "till Jesus shall say, 'Awake!'" According to Eastern custom, Sarah was buried that same evening (June 13th), and the whole school followed her to the grave, which was close to that of Mrs. Grant. The first fruit of the school appropriately lies by the side of her who planted that tree in the garden of the Lord, At the funeral her teacher was just thinking that Sarah could help her no more, that her prayers and labors were forever ended, when she looked up, and her eye rested on the evening star looking down upon the grave. It was a pleasant thought that she, too, was a star in glory. She was glad that the first to love Christ was the first to go to be with him, and still loves to think, of her as waiting for those who used to pray with her on earth. The Christian life of Sarah was short; but she did much, for she taught her people how

"Jesus can make a dying bed Feel soft as downy pillows are."[1]

[Footnote 1: For additional foots about Sarah, see Nestorian Biography, pp. 25-40.]

After Sarah, like Stephen among the early disciples, had led the way into the presence of her Saviour, Blind Martha was the next to follow.

She was constrained by sickness to leave the school early in the spring of 1847, and go home to her parents in Geog Tapa. Though six miles distant, her schoolmates loved to walk out there to comfort her. They prized no recreation so much as the privilege of going to see her. They read and talked with her about her favorite portions of Scripture, prayed with her, and were never allowed to leave without singing "Jerusalem, my happy home." At such times, one of them said, "Her countenance always showed that her spirit was walking the golden streets." When asked about her health, she uniformly replied, "The Lord helps me;" and when urged to speak more particularly, would say, "Dear sisters, the Lord helps me, and that is enough." When, after five or six of them had prayed in succession, she was asked if she was not wearied, she would reply, "I know that I am weak, but prayer never tires me." So great a privilege was it deemed to be with her, that one morning, when a pious member of the Seminary at Seir was called to leave the village early, he said, "I cannot go till I have prayed with Blind Martha, and got from her manna for the road."

Her companions desired very much to be present when she went home; but this was not permitted. One morning in June, she said, at early dawn, "Mother, the day breaks; I think Jesus is coming for me now; let me go." But seeing no change in her appearance, her mother lay down again, and, when next she woke, found that Jesus had come, and taken her to be with him in his home above. What was that vision of the glory of Immanuel that prompted the cry, "Mother, the day breaks!" from one who never remembered to have seen the light? She became blind in infancy. A smile remained on her pale face; and well might the sight of Him who said, "If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself," leave such a memento of the bliss.

Little Hannah, the youngest member of the school, was suddenly called home the following September, when only eleven years of age. When she first came to Christ, her teacher was awakened one morning by her asking at the bedside, "Is it wrong to wish to die?" "But why do you want to die?" "That I may go and stay with Jesus, and never sin again." This desire never left her. Once she said, with tears, "It seems as if I cannot wait so long to go to my Saviour;" and at another time, "I fear that I have sinned in not being willing to wait till Jesus calls me." Before leaving for vacation, each pupil put up her own things in a bundle, to be laid away till her return. As Hannah was at work on hers, she said to a girl near her, "Perhaps you will open this. I do not think that I ever shall. When you come together in the autumn, I trust that I shall be in the Saviour's school above." So strong was the desire awakened in her by Him who intended soon to gratify it.

While the cholera raged around her in August, she frequently said, "This may be my time to go to my dear Saviour;" and repeated it to her mother on the last morning of her life, but went out as usual to her work in the vineyard. About noon she became unwell, and said to a companion, "I am sick; perhaps I shall die soon." "Are you willing?" "O, yes, I am not afraid to go to Jesus." The disease made rapid progress, and again she said, "I am very sick; I shall die soon: shall we not pray together?" Her young friend led in prayer, and then called on her to follow; but her time for prayer was almost finished. She could just say, "Bless my dear sister; take me gently through the dark river;" when she sunk exhausted, and was carried to the house. A mother bent over an only daughter, and three loving brothers over an only sister; but they could not keep her back from Jesus. She sent for her companions, and they hastened to her bedside. She called for her Testament; but her eyesight was failing her, and she returned it, saying, "I can never use it more; but read it more prayerfully, and love the Saviour more than I have done." She lingered through the night, and rose with the dawn to her long-desired rest in the presence of her Redeemer.

It Is remarkable that three timid girls should have been chosen to lead the advance of a great multitude of Nestorians through the dark valley into the light beyond. No member of the Boy's Seminary died till three years afterwards; and only two others of this before 1858—a period of eleven years; but Infinite Wisdom chose, through such weak and timorous ones, to glorify the power of Christ to bear his people through the last conflict into everlasting rest.




The first indication of a work of grace in 1849 was seen in the unusual seriousness of Deacon John. He had been reading Pike's Guide to Young Disciples, and the chapter on backsliding moved him deeply. For a long time, he went mourning his departure from God. One day he was reading aloud in the Seminary, when a missionary came in, and wondering to see him there, asked what he was doing. He replied, "I am studying backsliding; and O, sir, I love it very much;" meaning to say that he loved to study the way back to the enjoyment of God. This state of mind was followed by earnest effort for the salvation of others, and the hopefully pious first passed through a season of deep heart-searching and renewed consecration to God. Under an awful sense of the violation of covenant vows, for many days some of them did nothing but weep and pray. "How unfaithful have I been to my Saviour and to immortal souls!" was the cry on all sides. One whose Bible was found blotted with tears, had been converted in 1846, and her grief was on account of her unfaithfulness as a follower of Christ. Having thus wept bitterly herself, she was well fitted to lead others to the God of all comfort. Her labors were unwearied, both in and out of school. Indeed, the mission was now so reduced in numbers, that much of the work in this revival was performed by the Nestorians, and they proved themselves very efficient. Naturally ardent, they preached Christ and him crucified with a zeal and faithfulness rarely witnessed in our own land; but their ardor needed careful guiding, for some were, at one time, entirely prostrated by excessive labor.

The pupils of the Seminary, during a short vacation, seemed like angels of mercy to their families and friends. In Geog Tapa, their meetings for women every evening had an attendance varying from thirty to one hundred. Many of these were glad to learn the way of salvation, even from children. Besides this, the older pupils, under the guidance of an experienced native helper, spent much time in personal conversation and prayer with their own sex, as did the members of the other Seminary with the men.

In the village of Seir, the work was very general. In addition to the labors of the pious students in the Male Seminary there, Sanum and Moressa labored from house to house among the women. But hear their own account of what they did, in a letter to Miss Lovell's school at Constantinople;—

"What shall we tell you, beloved, of the great love God has shown to our school and people? For two months we have had such delightful days as we never saw in our lives before. The work of the Lord has also commenced in the villages, and in many there is great inquiry for the way of life. The servants of God are so full of zealous love, that they preach till their strength and voice give way. But again they go on to preach, for the harvest is great, and the laborers few. How should we, with burning hearts, beg the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers! Can we bear, dear sisters, to see the deadly wings of Satan's kingdom spread out and destroy those bought by the precious blood of Christ? Ought we not rather to wrestle like Jacob till we see the loving wings of the kingdom of the Saviour spread out, and impart life to wounded souls on every side? We hope that your waiting eyes may see greater wonders among your own people than we do here.

"Now we will tell you about the little village of Seir, which contains nineteen houses. God has visited every house; and because the women were much awakened, and had no teacher, the missionaries sent two of us there, not because we were fit for such a work,—for we are deficient in Godly knowledge, and every qualification,—but because God sometimes chooses the ignorant and weak to do him service. And what shall we tell you of the wonders God showed us among those poor women? There was no time in which they did not cry, with tears, 'What shall we do?' 'Woe unto us!' 'We are lost!' When we asked them to pray in meetings, they prayed as if taught of God. We wondered at them very much. In one house, we found a woman beating her head with both hands, crying, 'O my sins! They are so great! There is no pardon!' We tried to reason with her; but if we took her hands from her head, she beat her breast. She said, 'You told me, when you prayed with me the other day, to go to Christ; but he will not receive me, I am such a sinner.' With difficulty we quieted her, and told of the great mercy of the Son of David. We prayed with each woman of the village alone, and they with us, fervently and in tears.

"In one instance, we heard an old man praying earnestly in the stable, and his wife in the house. We waited till they had finished, before we went in, and there we found an old man, perhaps ninety years old, and his wife, also very aged. We spoke with them of the lowly Redeemer, and how he was ready to dwell with them, poor as they were. The tears rolled down their wrinkled faces, and made our own hearts burn within us. The old man prayed with us as if Christ stood right before him, and we prayed with them both.

"There were meetings several times a day, and when they closed, the voice of prayer might be heard on all sides, in the houses and stables. Every family now has morning and evening worship."

In this revival, the native helpers were very much interested for the salvation of their unconverted wives. The families of Siyad and Yonan live in Geog Tapa, and their first visits home were blessed to the conviction of their companions, who soon came to the school, begging to be allowed to stay and learn the way of life. Of course, they were not refused. The wife of Siyad had been a frequent visitor there, but such an opposer of religion, that her coming was always dreaded; but now how changed! Day by day her convictions deepened, till they were overwhelming. Tears were her meat, and prayer her employment, day and night, till, as she said, "The Saviour found her," and she was at rest. Three children and a daughter-in-law joined her in believing, and it was delightful to see the family, not long after, each in his or her turn, calling on the name of the Lord in one of the rooms of the Seminary.

Yonan, the junior teacher of the school, had been married by force two years before, by his wicked father; that, too, when his heart was fixed on another, every way fitted to be his companion. It was a severe trial; but grace triumphed, and his great desire, seemed to be the conversion of the wife thus forced upon him. At midnight, he was often heard interceding for her, and, in the early part of the revival, the answer came. Miss Fiske will never forget the time when, in an adjoining room, she heard her for the first time praying with her husband. It gave her a new insight into the meaning of that scripture, "They believed not for joy." The new convert was very active among the women in her village; and when her father-in-law forbade social prayer in his house, she took her little company at sunset behind the village church, where even the bleak winds of February did not chill their devotions.

Khanumjan, the aged mother of John, though past threescore and ten, entered into the work with a zeal that might put to shame many younger women in our own land. She toiled to bring the more aged women right to the cross, taking them one by one into her own closet, that then and there they might accept the Saviour. Though herself unable to read, she did much for the preachers who went out to the villages, providing food for them on their return, and exhorting them to courage and faithfulness. No wonder she said to a visitor, "Three years ago, I saw Christ in heaven, and I have seen him there ever since; but now he sits by my side all day long." When she died, she said, over and over again, "I am going after Jesus."

In this revival, the encouragement to labor for woman was greater than ever before. After the middle of January, the Seminary was almost constantly thronged with inquirers. Day and night, it was consecrated by the prayers and tears of women seeking their Saviour. On Friday, and on the Sabbath, many from the neighboring villages spent the time there between services. The room was filled with them; and even while they ate, they must have some one speaking to them of Jesus. Those who did so, often spoke with such tenderness as showed that Christ himself was very near. Sometimes the women could not eat any thing but the bread of life. At times, the anguish of some for sin was so overpowering, that the question, "Can a woman forget her sucking child?" might almost have been answered in the affirmative. In some instances, the scenes that took place were too much for frail nature to bear, and the laborers were ready to ask to be clothed upon with immortality while the Lord passed by. Those who spent the night in the Seminary slept in the large room on the lower floor, between the central door and that on the left, in the engraving; and occasionally the sound of their weeping and praying banished sleep from the rooms above them. Yet such hinderance to rest brought a refreshment all its own.

In Geog Tapa, the village ruler was found sitting at the feet of Jesus, and going with the preachers from place to place, to give greater weight to their words; and twenty-five young men, though they could not read, yet did what they could with untiring zeal.

There was an interesting work in Degala, so noted for vice that it was called the Sodom of the Nestorians. The first converted there was a young man employed in the Seminary. He passed through a severe mental conflict before his proud heart yielded; but when it did, he became a living sacrifice to God. One day he came to the teachers, saying, "I have a petition to make; will you receive it?" Supposing it to be some pecuniary matter, they replied, "Tell us what it is." He at once burst into tears, and covering his face with his garment, said, "My village is lost; my family is perishing, and their blood is on my neck; let me go to-night and beg forgiveness for my wicked example, and urge them to flee from the wrath to come." He obtained his request, and left, sobbing aloud. Next morning, he brought his wife and two other women to be instructed. About a week after, Deacon Tamo found in the village several inquirers, and one woman in agony on account of her sins. She had been notorious for wickedness, and so vile as hardly to find one who would associate with her, though now one of the most lovely Christians in any land. The next day, she came to the Seminary, and as soon as Miss Fiske sat down beside her, she threw herself into her lap, crying, "Do tell me what to do, or where to go, to get rid of my sins." She was pointed to the Lamb of God, and one moment her feet seemed to rest on the Rock of Ages, and the next a fresh wave of conviction swept her into the raging sea. So she vibrated between life and death. She was asked to pray. In all her life she had not probably heard ten prayers; but her strong crying and tears showed that the Holy Spirit was her teacher, and the helper of her infirmities. She had learned to pray where her Saviour found a cradle—in the manger—cast out and derided by her friends.

She was first awakened in the Seminary; for one day, as soon as she entered the door, a pupil, then under deep conviction herself, and to whom she was an entire stranger, seized her hand, saying, "My sister, my sister, what are you doing? We are all lost. We must repent, or perish." These words she could not forget, and from that hour sought until she found her Saviour, and then bore ill treatment with such meekness as won others also to Christ.

The desire of the converts for instruction was most affecting. One of them wept bitterly when asked if she was willing to forsake every sin, saying, "What shall I do? I have one sin so strong that I fear I cannot leave it off." "What is it?" "I cannot live without these words of God. My husband will not let me go to hear them, and anger sometimes rises in my heart at this. Tell me what to do with this sin."

An account of the revival in 1850 will be given in the chapter on the prayerfulness of the Nestorians. After this were instances of conversion each year, but not so marked, or so general, as in 1849. So we pass over the intervening time to dwell a moment on the revival of 1856. That year, the pupils were very studious, and kind in their feelings towards each other and their teachers; but the winter was nearly over before any additions were made to the now diminished number of believers. The teachers mourned; still the heavens were brass, and the earth iron. Christians were lukewarm, and none seemed to have power with God.

Miss Fiske returned from the English prayer meeting Sabbath evening, February 18th, in that desponding state that sometimes follows intense and protracted desire, when its object is not attained. At such times, the sensibilities seem paralyzed, and emotion dies of sheer exhaustion. The pupils had retired; so also had Miss Rice; and she was left alone. Her thoughts brooded over the state of her charge, but she had no strength to rise and carry those precious souls to Christ. She could not sleep, and yet so shrunk from the duties of the morrow, that she longed for a lengthening out of the night, rather than the approach of dawn. Eleven o'clock struck, and there was a knock at the door. Could she open it? Must she see another face that night? She did open it, and there stood one of her pupils, not so without feeling as her fainting heart had imagined. Struck by the languor of her teacher's looks, she inquired tenderly, "Are you very tired?" "No, not very; why do you ask?" "I cannot sleep; our school has been resting on me all day, and I thought perhaps you would help me to pray." The spell was broken; the dry fountain of feeling gushed out afresh, and, with a full heart, she said, "Come in, thou blessed of the Lord." As an angel from heaven, that dear pupil strengthened her teacher that night, and together they carried the whole household to Jesus. When at length she retired, all was sweetly left with Christ, and he whispered peace. She could sleep now, and when morning came there was still peace. "Could ye not watch with me one hour?" was the word spoken to her as she arose; and hardly had she repeated it at morning prayers, before three, in different parts of the room, were weeping. She said little, for she felt it safer to go and tell Jesus their wants and their unworthiness. All day, the feeling in the school was subdued and tender. No one asked, "What shall I do to be saved?" but there was quiet at the table, and quiet in the rooms. The work was done willingly and well, but in silence, and the voice of prayer in the closets was gentle. Tuesday passed in almost perfect stillness. No one said even, "Pray for me." Towards evening, Miss Fiske said, "If there is one who wants first of all to attend to her eternal interests, I would like to see her at half past eight o'clock." At that hour, her door opened, and one entered alone; then another and another, each alone, till the room was full. She closed the door, but still they came. What were her feelings when she looked round on twenty-three, sitting with their heads bowed down in silence? She said little, for she felt that they wanted to hear God, rather than man, and the parable of the prodigal son that evening seemed to come fresh from the lips of Jesus.

Next day, each lesson was recited in its season, and recited well; but tears blurred many a page, and at recess not a few went to be alone with God. At eleven o'clock, Mr. Perkins came in as usual to sing with them, "Bartimeus" was the first hymn. All began it; but some voices faltered on the first stanza, more on the second, and soon the leader's voice was heard alone. He took up the Bible lying on the desk, and saying, "Perhaps some wanderer would like now to arise and go to her heavenly Father," he too read the portion of the night before, and led in prayer. The teachers had to lengthen the intermission at noon, because they could not bear to summon the pupils so early from their closets.

The mission met that afternoon in the Seminary. Mr. Stoddard came down from Seir covered with snow, saying, in his pleasant way, as he opened the door, "We have snowed down this time;" but when he learned the state of things, he said, very tenderly, "You must have thought my speech untimely; I did not know God was so near; but my heart is with you, and I hope we both shall have a large blessing." That meeting was almost all prayer, and the weeks that followed it witnessed a work silent but deep. It was characterized by humble contrition, and much simple dependence on Christ. Most of those twenty-three, before the close of the term, were hoping in his mercy.

Three missionary children were among the converts in this revival, and their conversion did much good to the Nestorians; for, though they had felt their own need of regeneration, they were in doubt about the children of pious parents; but when they saw the children of missionaries weep over sin, and come as lost sinners to the Saviour, they understood as never before that the entrance into the kingdom was the same for all.

At this time, the English ambassador passed through Oroomiah; and though, when he and his suite visited the Seminary, there was some apprehension felt as to the effect it might have on the religious interests of the pupils, they not only did themselves credit, in the examination he made of the school, but returned from the interview with their relish for spiritual things undiminished. Indeed, the event, which ordinarily would have been more than a nine days' wonder, caused scarce a ripple on the deep current of spiritual emotion.

The Seminary was again blessed in 1857, and the year following Miss Fiske returned from Seir after the funeral of Harriet Stoddard to welcome several who had entered the fold of the good Shepherd during her absence.

The labors of Miss Rice, who had charge of the school (while she was away,) have also been blessed in each of the four succeeding years. During that time, eighteen of the pupils have been received to the communion. The revival in the winter of 1861-62 was, however, more interesting and extensive.

At one meeting in the Male Seminary, the young men burst into tears while singing the hymn, "Alas, and did my Saviour bleed?" and soon after, in the Saturday evening meeting, Miss Rice's whole school were bowed in earnest prayer, and did not move for some time when requested by her to retire for private devotion. On this occasion, Mr. Cobb writes, "It was my privilege to speak a word to them, and I can truly say that I never saw such a scene before, as, with heads bowed down on their desks, unable wholly to repress their sobs, they listened, and again engaged in prayer." Even then, it was only after repeated requests that they went to their own rooms, where many continued their supplications far into the night.

The interesting scenes of these awakenings are thus gratefully recalled by Sanum, a convert of the first revival, in a letter dated Salmas, June 6th, 1859:—

Beloved Teacher, Miss Fiske: I received your priceless letter with many tears of joy, and when I read your loving, motherly counsels, my heart was full; it was drawn to you with inexpressible love; and when you reminded me of those blessed revivals, my eyes were darkened with floods of tears, so that, for a time, I could not read. How can I ever forget the first night that you met me, after the Lord had touched my heart, in that blessed room? or how many times you took me by the hand, and led me to the throne of grace? Often I was in the dark, and the Lord, through you, was pleased to give me rest. Can I ever forget, when the hand of the Lord rested on me in the death of my dear children,[1] how many times you came as an angel of peace to wipe away my tears? Shall I ever forget the Lord's coming among us by the still rain of the Holy Spirit? or those meetings of the sisters for prayer? or those tearful pleadings in the closets? Can I ever forget the fervent supplications and preaching of blessed Mr. Stocking, and how he begged us to flee from the wrath to come? If I forget these, let my right hand forget her cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. [Footnote 1: Page 185]

It is a year, my beloved, since I have been able to go to Oroomiah. I have sorrowed greatly to be cut off so long from the supper of our Lord, and them that meet around his table. Perhaps it is because I am not worthy of the blessing. The Lord mercifully grant that I be not cut off from the heavenly supper of the Lamb.

Our work here is much as before. I grieve to say that there are few with whom I can pray, and in the few cases where I can do so, it must be done as by stealth. But there are those with whom I can talk. Hoimer and I have a meeting for the women every Sabbath, and on other days. Every Tuesday, Hoimer, Raheel, and I have a little meeting together, and it is very pleasant, but will be more so when the Lord shall increase our number. O that we longing ones might see that day, and our troubled hearts rejoice!

During the nineteen years since the Seminary was established, it has enjoyed, in all, twelve revivals; and though it is not desirable to count up the results of human labors, it is due to the praise of divine grace to record, that out of those who have been connected with it, as many as two thirds have, in the judgment of charity, been created anew in Christ Jesus.




The Nestorian mission has encountered less opposition than other missions in Western Asia. Yet here, also, they who would live godly in Christ Jesus have suffered persecution. On June 19th, 1844, the brothers of Mar Shimon issued this order: "Be it known to you all, ye readers at Seir, that if ye do not come to us tomorrow, we will excommunicate you from our most holy church; your finger nails shall be torn out; we will hunt you from village to village, and kill you if we can." Miss Fiske was spending the summer there with her pupils, and it was not deemed best to provoke further trouble by retaining them. When told of this, they all wept aloud. Nor did they weep alone. Their teacher, and the family of Mr. Stocking, in which they lived, could not restrain their tears. It seemed as if the girls would never tear themselves away from their teacher; and when at length they departed, again and again the lamentation arose, "We shall never hear the word of God again." Miss Fiske laid them at the feet of Jesus, trusting that he would bring them back to her, and others with them. A German Jew, who was present, said in his broken English, "I have seen much bad to missionaries in other countries, but nothing bad like this, to take little children from words of Jesus Christ."

Even Deacon Isaac, a brother of Mar Shimon, who was prominent in the act, was ashamed of it. On a visit to the school, eight years afterwards, he asked leave to speak to the pupils, and said, "My young friends, I want you to do all you can to help your teachers, for I once troubled Miss Fiske, and it has made my life bitter ever since." Here the good man broke down, and there was not a dry eye among his hearers; while he added, "I have vowed before God that I will do all that I can to help her as long as I live." And all who know him can testify that he has kept his word, ever since his conversion in 1849. When he first began to be thoughtful, he heard that one of the pupils was in the habit of praying for him. He sent for her, and insisted on her praying with him; and though he was the most intelligent of the Nestorians, and possessed of rare force of character, and Sarah was more noted for devotion, than for her mental powers, yet he learned from her in a most childlike spirit; and that scripture which says, "A little child shall lead them," found in this case a beautiful illustration.

He has been occasionally employed in the school, and always proved a very useful and acceptable teacher. When he bade Miss Fiske good-bye, in 1858, he said, "You may rest assured that I will do all I can for the women till you come back;" and the next Sabbath found him teaching a class of adult females. In our favored land, the grace of God has made it nothing strange for the governor of a state to be a teacher in the Sabbath school; but one who has not lived in Persia can form no idea of what it is for a brother of Mar Shimon to teach a class of women. He has great skill in bringing out the meaning of Scripture, and is every where exceedingly acceptable as a Bible teacher. Along with unfeigned piety, he has more real refinement than any of his countrymen, and few Nestorians can show kindness with such true delicacy of feeling.

The health of Miss Fiske was so impaired in the spring of 1848, that she reluctantly yielded to the advice of the mission, and went with Mr. Stocking to Erzroom, to meet Mr. Cochran and family, then on their way to Persia. When they returned, they found Mr. Stoddard's health so seriously affected by long-continued over-exertion, that he only awaited their arrival to leave for Trebizond. Little did they dream that it was Mrs. Stoddard's last farewell to the scene of her labors.

Nor was this all. The patriarch Mar Shimon, who had long worn the guise of friendship, now threw off the mask. He broke up schools in small and distant villages, and secured the beating of a man by the governor on the charge of apostasy. The Female Seminary was honored with his special anathema. "Has Miss Fiske taught you this?" was his frequent demand of those who fell into his hands, followed by such reviling as only an Oriental could pour forth.

On the morning of July 28th, the infant daughter of Priest Eshoo, named Sarah, after her sainted sister, lay on her death bed; and to punish her father for his preaching, Mar Shimon forbade her burial in the Nestorian graveyard. He collected a mob ready to do his bidding as soon as she should die; but she lingered on, and so disappointed him for that day. Next day she died, and at once he anathematized all who should assist in her burial. A pious carpenter, however, forced his way through the mob, and made her coffin. He remained steadfast throughout the storm, replying to every dissuasion of his friends, "I must go forward, even to the shedding of my blood."

The missionaries appealed to a former governor, who owned that part of the city, for leave to bury in the cemetery used by the Nestorians from time immemorial; but the patriarch paid no attention to his messages, and the child remained unburied. Miss Fiske wrote, "As we look out on this troubled sea, and sympathize with these afflicted parents, we love to look up and think of the dear child as sweetly resting on the bosom of the Saviour. May the Sabbath bring us a foretaste of heavenly rest." But it found them still "where storms arise and ocean rolls." The governor sent men to demand the digging of a grave, which the mob would not allow. Meanwhile, the profligate Mar Gabriel craftily suggested that a promise from the priest not to preach any more, might end the trouble. "Never," was the prompt reply. "Let my dead remain unburied, but I will not go back from the service of the Lord." This so enraged the patriarch, that, for the sake of peace, the governor advised to bury the body in one of the villages. The sorrowing parents then locked their house, and leaving their babe alone in its slumbers, went to the chapel. There they found comfort from a sermon on the text, "Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God." About twenty men returned with them to the house. Then one bearing the little coffin went before; the rest followed, singing the forty-sixth Psalm. Even Moslems gazed with wonder, as they passed close by the door of the patriarch, and went out of the city gate. The engraving (page 154) gives a very good representation of this gate. On the green hill-side at Seir the little one was laid to rest, and the father, thanking the company for their kindness, hastened them back, to be in time for the afternoon service.

In the mean time, Mar Shimon sent far and near, forbidding all intercourse with the missionaries. At Geog Tapa, in the absence of the Malis, he ordered an old man, who formerly held that office, to summon the people before him. Only a few vagrants obeyed, and these he commanded to break up the schools, and prevent preaching in the church. So, that evening, when John commenced preaching, they proceeded to execute their orders; but, afraid to face the determined people, they deferred the attack till the hearers passed out; and then, like stanch old Puritans, hardly noticing them, the congregation wended their way homewards, singing psalms as they went.

The patriarch now excommunicated Mar Yohanan, and made common cause with the French Lazarists. He even wrote a fraternal epistle to the pope, ready for any thing, if he could only crush the mission. His attendants marched about the mission premises with loud threats; pious Nestorians were knocked down in the streets; while his brother Isaac went to a distant village, to show that he had no sympathy with such iniquity.

Soon after, the carpenter who made the coffin was severely beaten by his own father for attending a prayer meeting. As the blows fell thick and fast, he cried, "Must this come from my own father?" But he remained firm, and next day went to the chapel pale and weak, but filled with holy joy.

Deacon Guwergis, prevented from going to the mountains,—for the Koords sided with Mar Shimon,—fearlessly encountered the revilings of the patriarch in his own house, and told him that he hoped to continue preaching till he died. His countenance must have shone like Stephen's, for his persecutor said to one of the attendants, "See how his face glistens. If he is so bold here, what will he be in the mountains?" Well might a missionary write, "What a blessing are such men! The sight of them is worth ten thousand times the sacrifices made by us all."

Though this was vacation, fifteen of the pupils remained in the Seminary for protection during the storm; yet even there they were not wholly safe. On the 25th of August, a messenger came in haste for one of them, saying that her dying brother wished to see her immediately. As the man was her relative, the girl was ready to go at once; but providentially Miss Fiske learned that the brother was well, and the messenger had been seen last with Mar Shimon. So he left, chagrined and enraged at his failure. The patriarch had told him to be sure and hide his purpose from that Satan, Miss Fiske, and in case of failure, to take the girl by force. But the teacher had had some experience in guarding her fold, and both she and her pupil were thankful for the deliverance. Next day, Mar Shimon forbade preaching in Geog Tapa; but if the church was closed, the house-tops remained open. The same day, the school in Vizierawa was repeatedly dispersed, but each time reassembled by the teacher.

The 28th of this month was such a day as the mission had never seen before. In the forenoon, the teacher from Charbash fled wounded from the servants of Mar Shimon to the mission premises. Scarcely had he entered, when his brother came in, having escaped from similar violence. The Moslem owner of the village had to put a stop to the tearing down of their house.

Miss Fiske and Miss Rice had just sat down to dinner with the school, when the cry, "A man is killed!" was followed by a rush from all parts of the yard. A mob at the gate was trying to break in and seize the native helpers. Mar Yohanan was wounded, and all was confusion. The teachers exhorted their little flock not to count their lives dear to them, for Jesus' sake. Happily, they were not called to such a test of discipleship; but the sympathies of the Moslems were plainly with Mar Shimon, and no one knew what a day might bring forth. That tried friend of the mission, E.W. Stevens, Esq., English consul at Tabreez, feared lest the missionaries should fall by the hand of violence. Miss Fiske writes, "Our native friends will doubtless suffer much, and we rejoice to share with them. We hope that fears on our account will not be realized. Still there is danger; and we try to be ready for life or death, as our Father sees best. Though in a land of violence, we are not unhappy; we trust in God, and hope this vine is being pruned that it may bring forth more fruit. We would have all the gracious designs of God fulfilled, even though we should be cast down."

The same day came tidings of the death of Mrs. Stoddard, at Trebizond, and Miss Fiske wrote that night an account of it to her former teacher, at South Hadley, adding, "Precious sister: she died far away; but my Father knows why I might not stand by that dying bed, and I would submit, though my heart bleeds. Our homes are sad to-night, and there is many a weeping eye among those for whom she toiled so faithfully. From my first acquaintance with her, she has been to me all that mortal could be. Her heart was tenderly alive to the spiritual interests of the dear Nestorians; and to them she devoted all her powers. It was she who first taught their daughters to sing the songs of Zion. Few, probably, have accomplished so much in so short a life. Her family, the mission, the Seminary, and all about us, shared in her untiring labors. As truly as of dear Mrs. Grant may it be said of her, 'She hath done what she could.'

"Like Mrs. Grant, she was the youngest member of the mission at the time of her death. When she left her native land, some almost regretted that so frail a flower should go forth to encounter the hardships of missionary life; but she did much, and did it well. The Seminary in Seir still bears the impress she stamped upon it. Her memory is not only fragrant today among the Nestorians, but it draws them nearer to Christ, and renders them more efficient in his service."

Mar Shimon now made common cause with the Persian nobility. The English and Russian ambassadors had procured the appointment of Dawood Khan as governor of the Christians in Oroomiah, in order to protect them from illegal oppression. The nobility of course opposed this; and Mar Shimon, by promising his aid in the removal of the protector of his own people, secured their cooperation in his wickedness. The converts were now insulted at every turn. They could hardly appear in the street, and the authorities afforded no redress. The missionaries had no earthly friend nearer than Mr. Stevens at Tabreez, who did all he could for them; and the pious natives felt shut up to God as their only refuge.

Yahya Khan, the governor of the province, now wrote urging on Mar Shimon, and ordered his agent in Oroomiah to aid him to the utmost of his power. As Yahya Khan was brother-in-law to the king, he was able to do the mission much harm at the court; and the patriarch, encouraged by such a coadjutor, set himself with renewed zeal to destroy it; but in September, the prince royal summoned him to Tabreez, and the nobility hardly daring to resist the order, he was reluctantly preparing to comply, when news came of the death of the shah, and all was confusion. The missionaries had been praying for help against their dreaded enemy, Yahya Khan, and lo! his power to harm them perished with his master.

The night after the news reached Oroomiah, anarchy reigned, and all kinds of crime abounded. Five men were killed near the mission premises, and the firing of guns was heard all night long; but though outside were robberies and murders, within that enclosure all was peace. Though its inmates knew that the fanatical population would gladly stone them, yet they felt it a privilege to labor on under the care of the Keeper of Israel.

In Persia, no king, no government; so besides this anarchy in the city, the Koords came down and plundered many villages, burning the houses and driving the people for shelter to Oroomiah. These strokes fell most heavily on the Moslems, many of whom were robbers themselves. The fear of an attack on Seir was at one time so great, that the ladies were sent off, and the gentlemen remained alone to guard the mission premises; but both in Seir and the city the houses of the missionaries were thronged by multitudes seeking relief, and each approaching footstep announced some new tale of woe.

Mar Shimon, after the death of the king, prudently retired into Turkey, and his servants were put under bonds to keep the peace. The Koords, however, drove him back, later in the season, but stripped of his power to persecute. It may sound like the close of a tale of fiction to add, that the next time Miss Fiske met the patriarch was in Gawar, August, 1851, when he rode up to the tents of the missionaries to inquire after their health, before he went to his own. He staid an hour and a half, appearing more free and social than ever before; and when they returned his visit, he came out of his tent to meet them, and treated them with unusual respect, saying, in the course of the interview, "I fear that Miss Fiske is not happy here: she does not look well." On being assured that she was both well and happy, he said to his attendants, "This lady is happy only as she has a number of Nestorian girls around her, eating care[1] for them, teaching and doing them good." So, when our ways please the Lord, he maketh even our enemies to be at peace with us. [Footnote: This is the Nestorian idiom. We say, "taking care of them."]

Babilo, the carpenter, who made the coffin for the child of Priest Eshoo, was taught to read by the younger girls in the Seminary after school hours, and thus writes to Miss Fiske, November 20th, 1859:—

"I remember how, thirteen years ago, in that trouble with Mar Shimon, when my father beat me for attending meeting, and men despitefully used me, dear Mr. Stocking and you comforted me in the great room. I shall never forget your love. Give my love to your dear mother, who so loved us that she willingly gave you to the Lord, as Hannah did Samuel.

"If you inquire about my work in the city Sabbath school,—I teach a class of ten women; three of them, I trust, are Christians. When I read your letter to them they greatly rejoiced. I reminded them of the meetings you used to have for them in your room, and their eyes filled with tears. In the afternoon I went to Charbash, and read your letter to the eighteen women in my class there. They, too, were very glad. Five of them, I trust, are Christians. We are now studying Second Timothy. After the lesson, I question them on Old Testament history; and then I teach the women and their children to sing."




But, aside from open persecution, there is a constant danger arising from the people themselves. The teacher in a Christian land can never fully understand the feelings of the missionary teacher. The one sends forth his pupils to meet Christian parents, brothers and sisters, who, with more than a teacher's love, lead the young convert by still waters, and establish him in holy feeling; but the flock of the other goes out often into families where every soul would gladly break the bruised reed and quench the smoking flax. He can sympathize with Paul in his anxiety in behalf of those for whom he had labored in the gospel.

Sometimes the pupils of the Seminary so dreaded the scenes of home, in vacation, that they preferred to remain in the school.

In April, 1849, Miss Fiske visited the village of Degala. As it was a holiday, most of the women had gone out for amusement; but a little company of twelve praying ones gathered around her, and listened in tears while she spoke of Jesus and his love. Their fervent prayers for neighbors and friends made her feel that a blessing was yet in store for Degala. These women suffered all sorts of insult for their attachment to the truth; they were often beaten and driven from their homes by their husbands. While the pupils of the Seminary were here, some of their own sex did all they could to annoy them. But read an account of their trials from the pen of Sanum, of Gawar. She writes to a friend in this country,—

"I had bitter times this vacation, for our neighbors are all very hard-hearted, not listening at all to the words of God. When I opened my Testament to read to them, they would shut it, and begin to quarrel about the forms of religion. I entreat you to pray for my village, that I, so unworthy, may see its salvation.

"One day, Miss Fiske went to the village of Degala, where is a band of women who greatly love the Lord. They gathered about her, and she had a very pleasant time. All these were inquiring what they should do to be saved. She could not stay long with them; but they were so humble that they asked to have some of the girls sent to them. So four of us, though so weak, ventured to go in the name of Christ. We found these sisters in great distress, being reviled and beaten by wicked men, for Jesus' sake.

"We were speaking in an upper room there on a feast day, and the women with us were weeping very much, while others, afraid to come in, seated themselves on the terrace by the window. Suddenly a wicked man came with a rod, and drove all those away who were without. Poor souls! how my heart burned for them! One, who had not been used to come to meeting, came that day for sport. She wore many ornaments, but as soon as she heard the words of God, her tears began to flow. After meeting, she arose up quickly, and threw aside her ornaments, and followed us wherever we went. We were having a meeting in another house, when a quarrelsome woman entered, having a large stick in her hand, and began to beat her daughter and daughter-in-law, and she carried off her daughter; but the other remained, though sorely bruised, saying, 'I will spill my blood, but will not leave the place of prayer.' The women who fear God wept much because this woman did so.

"We went to the sacrament, and there was a company of women who separated themselves from the others, and were weeping in one corner of the church. Some very bad women came to them, and said, 'Let us rise up and dance, because they are weeping.' Another, in anger, took the sacrament from the mouth of one of them, and gave it to her little granddaughter. There was much confusion in the village, and they seemed like those who cried, 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians.' One said, 'I wish neither Satan nor God, but only Mar Shimon.' Once, when we were assembled with the women, and Moressa was speaking, a wicked man fired a pistol to frighten us. But the women encouraged us, saying, 'Go on, and speak louder, that he may hear.' And when he heard my sister speak of the wickedness of man's heart, he cried out, 'Those words must have been for me. She must have known that I was there.'"

It does not fall within the object of this volume to give any detailed account of the proceedings of Asker Khan, who for several years sought to wear out the saints of the Most High, causing the native helpers to be beaten, fined, and annoyed in many ways, and then arrogantly denying all redress. Encouraged in his persecutions by the prime minister, he was able to defy all interference. Indeed, during part of the time, the English ambassador was constrained to leave the kingdom, and the Russian ambassador, though personally disposed to do all in his power for the mission, was yet officially unable to help.

At one time, he gave orders that no school should be opened without his sanction, and that all the teachers must report to him; and in case of disobedience, he threatened them with fines and imprisonment.

It may show in what estimation the influence of the Female Seminary was held by enemies, when we find him issuing his command, "Allow no girls to attend your school; schools are for boys alone;" and claiming credit for great forbearance because he did not at once break up the Seminary. That which called forth such opposition from enemies was surely not inefficient. There must have been a power for good manifest even to Moslem opposers, that taught them where to strike so as most effectually to destroy.' But there was a Power above them that said, "Thus far, and no farther." "The bush burned with fire, yet it was not consumed."

The evil wrought by Asker Khan was not confined to his own doings. His hostility, in a position so commanding, emboldened every Shimei to curse. In Ardishai, two or three unprincipled drunkards, with their dissolute bishop (Mar Gabriel), saved themselves from Mohammedan rapacity by taking part against the converts. These last were made examples of, to deter others from attending preaching or sending their children to the schools.' One poor widow, with four children,—a most consistent Christian,—was driven from her house by her father-in-law, because she allowed her oldest daughter to attend the village school. As many as thirty families, unable to endure persecution any longer, fled from the village; and Priest Abraham himself, after suffering much, was compelled to leave, though his congregation was from one hundred and fifty to two hundred every Sabbath.

In Dizza Takka, on the evening of April 20th, 1856, Sanum, who graduated in 1850, had arsenic put into the supper which she carried to a neighbor's tandoor (native oven) to be warmed. Happily, Joseph, her husband, was delayed beyond his usual hour, so that he was uninjured; and the quantity of arsenic was so large, that, by the prompt use of remedies, the mother's life was saved, though her innocent children suffered severely, and, after lingering a few months, both of them died. She rose from weeping over their graves to serve her Master more faithfully than ever. But Asker Khan,— though the arsenic was found at the bottom of the pot, though a portion of the contents, given to a cat, speedily produced convulsions and death, and though a Jewess testified that "the neighbor" had recently applied to her husband for arsenic, and no one else had access to the vessel where it was found,—instead of investigating the case, insulted Joseph and his friends, and caused his aged father to be beaten; at the same time telling the people of Dizza Takka to shoot Joseph if he went to their village again. Such conduct emboldened the enemies of the truth to complain against the more enlightened of their clergy who had renounced many sinful customs, as forsaking the religion of their fathers; and, with blasphemous threats, they were ordered to do the bidding of their accusers.

On the 1st of June, an order from the authorities at Tabreez to Asker Khan was presented to him by the missionaries, which, after a calm recital of the facts in the case of poisoning, proceeded thus: "As the person who did this act is a criminal, and, if unpunished, the affair may lead to the destruction of life, it is necessary that you, high in rank, take the attitude of investigation, and having discovered the criminal, that you punish him, with the knowledge of the Americans, and so act that no one, Christian or Moslem, shall dare to repeat such a crime." This order was obtained through the kind offices of the Russian ambassador; but the criminals were only detained a few days, and not pressed at all to a confession. Asker Khan then proposed, as they had not confessed, that the missionaries should intercede for their release. Of course, they refused. Then, saying "that if he had known that, beforehand, he would not have touched the matter, and that he could defend himself at Tabreez," he dismissed the accused, and it was in vain for the missionaries to prosecute the matter further.

Indeed, the opposition at this time was more serious than at any previous period, and for a time it seemed as though the seminaries, and especially the Female Seminary, would be destroyed.

In the autumn, a commissioner, sent from Teheran to examine into the proceedings of the mission, made an inquisitorial visit, and went all through the building, peeping into the chambers, and making himself and suite every where at home. Coming into the recitation room, where most of the girls were engaged in study, he selected, a large, robust pupil, who could speak Turkish, and questioned her as follows:—

"Are you allowed to follow your own customs?"

"We follow all that are good, but not such foolish ones as you would not wish us to follow."

"Do these ladies let you see your friends?"

"Certainly; we always see them when they come here, and we go home three times a year, staying, at one time, three months."

"What do you do when at home?"

"We work in the fields, and do any thing that our friends do. Our teachers tell us to help our friends all we can, and are displeased if we do not."

"Can you work, or have you become Ingleez?" (English.)

"Look at me; I am strong; I can carry very large loads."

"What do you do here?"

"We study, and learn all wisdom."

"Are you allowed to use your own books?"

"Certainly; the principal book of our religion they have printed for us, and we use it more than any other."

"But have you not left the books of your fathers?"

"The book I spoke of is our sacred book, like your Koran, and we use all others that agree with that."

"Do you fast?"

"One day at the beginning of the year, and other days afterwards."

"But have you not forsaken some of your church fasts?"

"None that are written in that book. I keep all those very carefully."

"What! twice in the week?"

"No; for that is not required in the book."

"But your people do."

"Yes; not being readers, they do many things that are not written in the book."

"Would your teachers allow you to fast?"

"O, yes; but we don't want to fast more than our book requires."

"What are your prayers?"

"Those taught in the book."

Then followed questions about dress, employment, and such things, all of which she answered in the same manner. The teacher was very thankful that the Master had neither left to her the selection of the witness, nor her preparation for the examination. But the examiner expressed very decided disapproval of female education, and held up their previous condition as their only proper one. The truth was, the Moslems were angry that their rayahs were being elevated, and they were specially indignant at the education of women.

So the opposition went on. Messrs Stoddard and Wright proceeded to Tabreez, and secured orders for redress which, as usual, were counteracted by secret orders to the contrary. The native helpers were now beaten because they were in the employ of the mission: some were thrown into prison, and threatened with being sent to Teheran in irons. But when the Lord saw that the wrath of man had proceeded far enough, he restrained the remainder thereof. For one of the leading spirits in this onset on the mission fell under the daggers of the Koords, and his death at once called off attention from missionary operations to other things.

Again, in January, 1858, two pious residents at Khosrowa, in the province of Salmas, were shamefully oppressed; and when application was made for redress, Asker Khan not only refused to adjudicate the matter, but beat one of the complainants so severely that he was confined to his bed for weeks. Still later, after urgent importunity from Nestorians and nominal Papists, two very able and excellent men, Deacons Joseph and Siyad, were sent to labor in that distant province. On one occasion they entered the village of Khosrowa to purchase fuel, and were quietly passing along the street, when a mob stoned them out of the village. Shortly after, Deacon Siyad was expelled from the district so suddenly that he had to leave his wife, Merganeeta: she, too, was driven away alone; but Holmar, a pious woman residing there, went with her. The first night they spent in a field, and the next day they sought refuge in an Armenian village; but, driven from thence, the persecuted wife fled to Oroomiah. After long effort, an officer was sent from Tabreez to Salmas, and ample promises of full redress were given, ending, as usual, in nothing. A mob, headed by a French Lazarist and native bishop, rescued the offender, and the officer desisted from further procedure.

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