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studied with greatest accuracy. It was probably composed by or for one of the priest-kings to celebrate his victory over several allied enemies. The regions invaded, the towns destroyed, and the number of those captured or killed in the battle are all given in detail.
Now the question may be asked, How does the Old Testament know so much of Seba and have so little or nothing to say of Ma'an or the Minean kingdom? If the answer proposed by Glaser and Hommel be correct another important argument is adduced in favor of the great antiquity of Hebrew literature and the early date of some of the Old Testament writings. Glaser argues that the Sabean line of kings were preceded by a Minean dynasty which was overthrown by the Sabeans. He contends, and so does Hommel, that the empire of the Mineans was completely swallowed up by the Sabeans. Dr. Margoliouth in commenting upon the arguments of Glaser says: “Besides the greater antiquity of the Minean character and dialect may be noticed the fact that most of the names occurring in the Minean inscriptions are prehistorical, while those in the Sabean inscriptions can frequently be identified; that the Mineans are not mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions, and must therefore have been powerful before the intervention of the Assyrians in the affairs of Arabia; that, whereas Saba is mentioned in some Minean inscriptions, the Mineans are never mentioned in those of Saba." There are many reasons for believing that the Minean empire was as old as the Exodus, or, as Sayce puts it, that “Ma'an was a prosperous and cultured realm” while Moses was leading the Hebrews from Egypt to Canaan. Indeed, Glaser believes that the oldest Minean inscriptions belong to the close of the Hyksos dynasty. It is evident that the Mineans ruled for a long period, and that their empire was extensive.
What bearing has all this upon Old Testament criticism ? Much in every way. The modern destructive critic seems to believe that the Hebrews were at the time of the Exodus and for centuries later semibarbarous nomads, without culture and thoroughly incapable of the religious thought presented in the Pentateuch. The Tel-el-Amarna letters have already clearly established the extent of Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations, which reached from the Euphrates through Syria, along the Mediterranean coast, into the interior of Palestine, down into Egypt, and even several hundred miles up the Nile. If, now, it can be shown that there was an empire of power and intelligence in the Arabian Peninsula, extending from the Gulf of Aden beyond the wilderness through which the Israelites passed, it will indeed be difficult to think that the seed of Abraham was less civilized than the neighboring nations. The Hebrews, account for it as we may, have left us purer literature, loftier thoughts, sublimer poetry, and more equitable laws than any other people of antiquity. This is true, even if we admit—which we do not—that not a syllable of the Old Testament was written before the Babylonian captivity. What people possessed anything comparable to the Old Testament, even as early as the time of Alexander the Great ?
COOPERATION IN MISSION FIELDS.
A GREAT deal is being said and written in these days about the economic necessity of cooperation by missionary organizations in the same or adjoining fields of occupancy. It is an old subject, and there has not been much progress in its discussion for many years. The spirit of fraternity has strengthened, and there has been some practical advance in consequence of that and of the common sense of Anglo-Saxons who occupy the Protestant mission fields of non-Christian lands. While there is little disposition on the part of the home Churches to give up what might be termed even nonessentials in doctrine, yet, during recent years, the feeling of charity toward those of differing conviction has been growing among the denominations.
There are at present some difficulties which seem insuperable for combined action in lines where its benefits are conceded. Among these is that of separate treasuries. Whenever a denomination is asked to join others in the support of educational institutions which they might sustain in common there arises at once the question of proportion in the contributions which they should make. Their treasuries are of unequal strength and the benefits which will accrue to them are quite as varied. If Presbyterian or Methodist societies desire to unite in sustaining a theological seminary these same questions arise. They may not be insuperable, but they require thought and nice adjustment if they continue to be harmoniously administered. Then, where there is joint responsibility, the special interest is liable to be weaker than in those features of missionary work for which the several societies are separately responsible. If the issue arise as to whether moneys shall be appropriated to a union educational institution or to some essential work of the individual society, the latter claim will naturally be given the preference.
The Rev. Dr. A. Sutherland's paper before the missionary officers' meeting in January, 1899, was as strong a plea for comity and cooperation as could well be compacted. He thought the aim of the societies should be the establishment of a Christian Church, not the reproduction of denominational churches. He quoted a missionary of Amoy to the effect that the hindrance to this policy did not come from the mission fields, but from the home Churches, “It is you foreigners that keep us apart,” was the formula put in the mouth of Chinese Christians by another missionary. This is in a sense true, but the home organizations are conducted on separate financial bases, and these control the practical operation of union missions in foreign fields. Besides, the experience of the denominations at home with union missions and union churches has not been satisfactory.
Dr. Sutherland's proposition to observe strict geographical boundaries in missions has been as a rule observed wherever established, but experience is forcing to the front the question whether territorial lines are always the best boundaries. In our India work it has proven far more effective to follow the lines of race and tribe. We secured access to cer. tain castes, and the work followed these lines, through missions with established geographical boundaries—a course which made it possible for us to reach the people when the mission to which was allotted that territory could not. Nor has there been serious objection to our penetrating the territory of a sister mission for this particular work. The question of boundaries is, in fact, not yet determined on practical bases, and Christian brotherliness can alone ultimately decide what modifications of territorial boundaries will accomplish the largest results. But missions as a rule have come “to a friendly understanding with each other with regard to their respective spheres of influence."
Cooperation in respect to acts of administration and discipline is largely possible, more so than the practice of some missionaries would indicate. It is a shame for one mission to take the members which another has ejected on moral grounds, unless in very unusual circumstances. Missions, too, might at least try to adopt some nearly uniform scale of payment to native agents, though after full debate upon the subject there are instances where the missions have thought this course to be impracticable. In the matter of publishing houses and hospitals, also, to which Dr. Sutherland alludes in his paper, it seems far more practicable to secure common action among the missions than in the case of educational institutions, the financial difficulty in the way of whose joint management has been already noticed.
The societies of North America are seeking to exemplify this spirit of comity in regard to the new territory presumably opened to Protestant missionary work in the islands lost to Spain. Committees have been appointed to consider the fraternal distribution of territory, and delegations have been appointed to visit Porto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, to report to their respective boards. This is a hopeful indication of increasing economy in missionary matters. No less than eight boards are contemplating work in Cuba, or have actually begun it—the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Methodist Episcopal Missionary Society, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the General Conference of Free Baptists, the United Brethren in Christ, the American Church Missionary Society, the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the New York and Indiana Yearly Meetings of the Friends. The Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Southern Baptists propose work in Porto Rico. The Presbyterian Missionary Society and the American Baptist Missionary Union contemplate operations in the Philippines. The Protestant Episcopalians have been conducting work in Cuba for twenty-five years past. The Methodist Episcopal Church has a successful mission in Malaysia, and the proximity of their work at Singapore and other portions of the Archipelago has seemed to make it incumbent on them to take up work in the Philippine Islands. It is delightful, at least, to note the spirit of fraternity which obtains at this juncture among the various missionary societies of the general Church in the United States and their determination to avoid mischievous rivalry and to study the broadest economics of energy, as well as of finance.
IN PALESTINE AND SYRIA. Of the great numbers of travelers who are visiting Palestine in these times one wonders that so few show any interest in the existing religious forces of the country. The large proportion of tourists go, of course, to transport themselves, as much as possible, by the study of topography, geography, and archæology, into Bible times, and to rehabilitate the scenes which gave birth to the sacred text that is the ground of their hopes and the guide of their conduct. But a small proportion of these casual visitors learn anything of the present religious conditions of the population or of the enterprises which make for their advancement or retrogression. Yet there is scarcely a spot of similar size in the world where so many contending forces meet as in this small tract of country. It has ever been thus through all the history of Palestine. It is the smallest country in the world, and yet every foot of it has been fought over and every foot of it is subject to strife to-day. The political interests of the land are involved in the religious. There are five forces in fierce contest for the supremacy of Syria and Palestine, and these antagonistic powers are watching each other's direct and indirect movements in hottest jealousy—the Jews of several sects, the Moslem, the orthodox Greek, the Roman Catholic, or papal, Church, and the several sects of Protestants.
The Zionist movement, which looks to the gathering and settlement of Jews in Palestine, has resulted in the establishment of several agricultural Hebrew colonies. Singularly enough this has become a source of disturbance among Jews themselves, the fellahin stoutly opposing these immigrations, even to violence, driving them in some instances from their settlements. The sultan himself has antagonized this movement by prohibiting outside Jews entering the land except on a permit extending over thirty days. As the oppression of the Jews in Russia has been a large factor in this movement toward Palestine, and as the czar does not wish them to emigrate, it is not improbable that the sultan has made these restrictions at the czar's suggestion or dictation. The recently arrived Jews from Europe are under the protection of the consuls of the countries from which they came, but there is no centralized protection for them as a whole. Meanwhile the Jews, themselves inhabitants of Palestine, are intensely bitter toward Christians of every name, and even fulminate their anathemas against Christian schools, hospitals, and every other form of Christian benevolence. Their animosity is so
silly or insane and suicidal that they have actually forbidden their kiusmen to accept treatinent at the new hospital of the London Jews' Society in Jerusalem or to receive charitable aid from any Christian source whatsoever.
The Mohammedans thrive under the patronage of the sultan. According to the statement of Dr. Henry H. Jessup, in The Mission World, not less than eleven emirs in Mount Lebanon, whose families have been Maronites and Greek Catholics for a hundred years, have recently become Moslems and have been appointed to lucrative and responsible posts in the Turkish civil service.
Dr. Jessup says the Roman Catholics, under the patronage of France, are everywhere aggressive, and are buying land and erecting buildings in towns and small villages, and, furthermore that, while France expels the Jesuits from France, that country expends millions of francs annually in supporting them as political agents, educators, and intriguers in Turkey. He declares that they have orders to open schools, under the direction of Catholic teachers, on land adjoining Protestant and Greek schools, when it is possible.
The Russians have shown latterly the intensest interest in the work of saving the Greek Church in Palestine and Syria. Within a few years they have opened one hundred and thirty schools. They are aiming at securing Syrian bishops and patriarchs, in opposition to the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, a section of the Church which has great wealth. In Syria this conflict as carried on by the Greek Church has been specially fierce during recent years. In Palestine the Greek Russians are active in political intrigue, and are erecting buildings wherever it is possible so to do. This, too, we learn from Dr. Jessup's article, to which allusion has been made.
The Protestants, of which there are five nationalities, have some ten thousand adherents. Of course the recent German demonstration, under the patronage of the sultan, over the emperor's visit, and the concessions obtained on that occasion, have placed the German emperor on the highest Protestant pedestal. But it has, according to Dr. Jessup, given dignity to Protestantism in the eyes of the Moslems and has seriously damaged the Roman Catholic or French prestige. He thinks it has given the German emperor the chance to exercise an influence throughout the entire Turkish empire in favor of liberty of conscience for all the people, whether he will so exercise it or not.
This is a brief notice of the contending forces in that “land, the smallest of all lands.” It may serve the purpose of an outline if persons interested in the Holy Land will note facts as they learn them, and classify them according to this bold scheme. The poor land deserves better things of Christendom than to be the center of the jealousies of a half dozen Christian powers and as many sections of nominal Christians. “I came not to send peace, but a sword,” seems to find a strange fulfillment in Palestine and Syria.