His Mission to Palestine and the Jews
Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:8
Though engaged night and day with his flock in St. Peter's, Mr. McCheyne ever cherished a missionary spirit. "This place hardens me for a foreign land," was his remark on one occasion. This spirit he sought to kindle yet more by reading missionary literature for his own use, and often to his people at his weekly prayer meeting. The necessities both of his own parish, and of the world at large, lay heavy on his soul; and when an opportunity of evangelizing occurred, there was none in Scotland more ready to embrace it. He seemed one who stood with his loins girded: "Here am I; send me."
Another motive to incessant activity was the decided impression on his mind that his career would be short. From the first days of his ministry he had a strong feeling of this nature; and his friends remember how his letters used to be sealed with this seal, "The night cometh." At a time when he was apparently in his usual health, we were talking together on the subject of the premillennial advent. We had begun to speak of the practical influence which the belief of that doctrine might have. At length he said, "That he saw no force in the arguments generally urged against it, though he had difficulties of his own in regard to it. And perhaps (he added) it is well for you, who enjoy constant health, to be so firmly persuaded that Christ is thus to come; but my sickly frame makes me feel every day that my time may be very short."
He was therefore in some measure prepared, when, in the midst of his laborious duties, he was compelled to stand still and see what the Lord would do.
At the close of 1838, some symptoms appeared that alarmed his friends. His constitution, never robust, began to feel the effects of unremitting labor; for occasionally he would spend six hours in visiting, and then the same evening preach in some room to all the families whom he had that day visited. Generally, too, on the Sabbath, after preaching twice to his own flock, he was engaged in ministering somewhere else in the evening. But now, after any great exertion, he was attacked by violent palpitation of heart. It soon increased, affecting him in his hours of study; and at last it became almost constant. Because of this, his medical advisers insisted on a total cessation of his public work; for though as yet there was no organic change on his lungs, there was every reason to believe that that might be the result. Accordingly, with deep regret, he left Dundee to seek rest and change of occupation, hoping it would be only for a week or two.
A few days after leaving Dundee, he writes from Edinburgh, in reply to the anxious inquiries of his friend Mr. Grierson: "The beating of the heart is not now so constant as it was before. The pitcher draws more quietly at the cistern; so that, by the kind providence of our heavenly Father, I may be spared a little longer before the silver cord be loosed, and the golden bowl be broken."
It was found that his complaints were such as would be likely to give way under careful treatment, and a temporary cessation from all exertion. Under his father's roof, therefore, in Edinburgh, he resigned himself to the will of his Father in heaven. But deeply did he feel the trial of being laid aside from his loved employment, though he learned of Him who was meek and lowly, to make the burden light in his own way, by saying, "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight." He wrote to Mr. Grierson again, January 5, 1839: "I hope this affliction will be blessed to me. I always feel much need of God's afflicting hand. In the whirl of active labor there is so little time for watching, and for bewailing, and seeking grace to oppose the sins of our ministry, that I always feel it a blessed thing when the Saviour takes me aside from the crowd, as He took the blind man out of the town, and removes the veil, and clears away obscuring mists, and by His word and Spirit leads to deeper peace and a holier walk. Ah! there is nothing like a calm look into the eternal world to teach us the emptiness of human praise, the sinfulness of self-seeking and vainglory, to teach us the preciousness of Christ, who is called 'The Tried Stone.' I have been able to be twice at college to hear a lecture from Dr. Chalmers. I have also been privileged to smooth down the dying pillow of an old school-companion, leading him to a fuller joy and peace in believing. A poor heavy-laden soul, too, from Larbert, I have had the joy of leading toward the Saviour. So that even when absent from my work, and when exiled, as it were, God allows me to do some little things for His name."
He was led to look more carefully into this trying dispensation, and began to anticipate blessed results from it to his flock. He was well aware how easily the flock begins to idolize the shepherd, and how prone the shepherd is to feel somewhat pleased with this sinful partiality of his people, and to be uplifted by his success. "I sometimes think," is his remark in a letter, dated January 18, "that a great blessing may come to my people in my absence. Often God does not bless us when we are in the midst of our labors, lest we shall say, `My hand and my eloquence have done it.' He removes us into silence, and then pours `down a blessing so that there is no room to receive it;' so that all that see it cry out, `It is the Lord!' This was the way in the South Sea Islands. May it really be so with my dear people!" Nor did he err in this view of the dispensation. All these ends, and more also, were to be accomplished by it.
An anticipation like that which is expressed in this and other letters, especially in his Pastoral Letter of March 20, may justly be regarded as a proof from experience that the Lord teaches His people to expect and pray for what He means soon to work. And here the Lord accomplished His designs in the kindest of all ways; for He removed His servant for a season from the flock to which he had been so blessed, lest even His own children should begin to glory in man; but yet He took that servant to another sphere of labor in the meantime, and then, when the blessing was safely bestowed, brought him back to rejoice over it.
He was still hoping for, and submissively asking from the Lord, speedy restoration to his people in Dundee, and occasionally sending to them an epistle that breathed the true pastor's soul; when one day, as he was walking with Dr. Candlish, conversing on the Mission to Israel which had lately been decided on, an idea suddenly came to Dr. Candlish. He asked Mr. McCheyne what he would think of "being useful to the Jewish cause, during his cessation from labor, by going abroad to make personal inquiries into the state of Israel?" The idea suddenly suggested led to all the later results of the Mission of Inquiry. Mr. McCheyne found himself all at once called to carry salvation to the Jew as he had before done to the Gentile, and his soul was filled with joy and wonder. His medical friends highly approved of the proposal, as it would likely aid very much in the removal of his complaints-the calm, steady excitement of such a journey being likely to restore the tone of his whole constitution.
Dr. Black of Aberdeen readily consented to use his remarkable talents as a scholar in this cause; and Dr. Keith intimated his expectation of soon joining the deputation. I also had been chosen to go forth on this mission of love to Israel; but some difficulties stood in the way of my leaving my charge at Collace. In these circumstances Mr. McCheyne wrote to me, March 12, from Edinburgh.
"My Dear A.-I have received so many tokens for good from God in this matter, that it were a shame indeed if I did not trust Him to perfect all which concerns me. I am glad you have determined to trust all in the hands of Israel's God. I am quite ready to go this week, or next week, but am deeply anxious to be sure that you are sent with me. You know, dear A., I could not labor in this cause, nor enjoy it, if you were not to be with me in it. Would you be ready to give your Jewish lecture on the evening of Sabbath week? ... And now, pray for us, that we may be sent of God; and, weak as we are, that we may be made Boanerges,-that we may be blessed to win some
souls, and to stir up Christians to love Zion. Much interest is already excited, and I do look for a blessing. Speak to your people as on the brink of eternity. . . . As to books, I am quite at a loss. My Hebrew Bible, Greek Testament,
etc., and perhaps Bridge's Christian Ministry for general purposes-I mean, for keeping us in mind of our ministerial work. I do hope we shall go forth in the Spirit; and though hindered in language, may we not be blessed, as Brainerd was, through an interpreter? May we not be blessed also to save some English, and to stir up missionaries? My health is only tolerable; I would be better if we were once away. I am often so troubled as to be made willing to go or stay, to die or to live. Yet it is encouraging to be used in the Lord's service again, and in so interesting a manner. What if we should see the heavenly Jerusalem before the earthly? I am taking drawing materials, that I may carry away remembrances of the Mount of Olives, Tabor, and the Sea of Galilee."
The interest that this proposed journey excited in Scotland was very great. Nor was it merely the somewhat romantic interest attached to the land where the Lord had done most of His mighty works; there were also in it the deeper feelings of a scriptural persuasion that Israel was still "beloved for the fathers' sake." For some time previous, Jerusalem had come into mind, and many godly pastors were standing as watchmen over its ruined walls (Isa. 62:6), stirring up the Lord's reminders. Mr. McCheyne had been one of these. His views of the importance of the Jews in the eye of God, and therefore of their importance as an area of missionary labor, were very clear and decided. He agreed in the expectation expressed in one of the Course of Lectures delivered before the deputation set out, that we might anticipate an outpouring of the Spirit when our church should stretch out its hands to the Jew as well as to the Gentile. In one letter he says, "To seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel is an object very near to my heart, as my people know it has ever been. Such an enterprise may probably draw down unspeakable blessings on the Church of Scotland, according to the promise, 'They shall prosper who love thee.' " In another, "I now see plainly that all our views about the Jews being the chief object of missionary exertion are plain and sober truths, according to the Scripture." Again, "I feel convinced that if we pray that the world may be converted in God's way, we will seek the good of the Jews; and the more we do so, the happier we will be in our own soul. You should always keep up a knowledge of the prophecies regarding Israel." In his preaching he not infrequently said on this subject, "We should be like God in His peculiar affections; and the whole Bible shows that God has ever had, and still has, a peculiar love to the Jews."
The news of his proposed absence alarmed his flock at Dundee. They manifested their care for him more than ever; and not a few wrote expostulatory letters. To one of these wellmeant remonstrances he replied, "I rejoice exceedingly in the interest you take in me, not so much for my own sake as that I hope it is a sign you know and love the Lord Jesus. Unless God had Himself shut up the door of return to my people, and opened this new door to me, I never could have consented to go. I am not at all unwilling to spend and be spent in God's service, though I have often found that the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. But God has very plainly shown me that I may perform a deeply important work for His ancient people, and at the same time be in the best way of seeking a return of health. "-"A minister will make a poor saviour in the day of wrath. It is not knowing a minister, or loving one, or hearing one, or having a name to live, that will save. You need to have your hand on the head of the Lamb for yourselves, Lev. 1:4. You need to have your eye on the brazen serpent for yourselves, John 3:14, 15. I fear I will need to be a swift witness against many of my people in the day of the Lord, that they looked to me, and not to Christ, when I preached to them. I always feared that some of you loved to hear the word, who do not love to do it. I always feared there were many of you who loved the Sabbath meetings, and the class, and the Thursday evenings, who yet were not careful to walk with God, to be meek, chaste, holy, loving, harmless, Christ-like, God-like. Now, God wants you to think that the only end of a gospel ministry is that you may be holy. Believe me, God Himself could not make you happy except you be holy."
At this crisis in his people's history, he sought from the Lord one to supply his place-one who would feed the flock and gather in wanderers during their own pastor's absence. The Lord granted him his desire by sending Mr. William C. Burns, son of the minister of Kilsyth. In a letter to him, dated March 12, the following remarkable words occur: "You are given in answer to prayer; and these gifts are, I believe, always without exception blessed. I hope you may be a thousand times more blessed among them than ever I was. Perhaps there are many souls that would never have been saved under my ministry, who may be touched under yours; and God has taken this method of bringing you into my place. His name is Wonderful."
This done, and being already disengaged from his flock, he set out for London to make arrangements for the rest of the deputation, who soon after were all sent forth by the brethren with many prayers. None had more prayers offered in their behalf than he, and they were not offered in vain. During all his journeyings the Lord strengthened him, and saved him out of all distresses.
It was a singular event-often still it looks like a dream that four ministers should be so suddenly called away from their quiet labors in the towns and villages of Scotland, and be found in a few weeks traversing the land of Israel, with their Bibles in their hand, eyewitnesses of prophecy fulfilled, and spies of the nakedness of Israel's worship and leanness of soul. The details of that journey need not be given here. They have been already recorded in the Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839. But there are some incidents worthy to be preserved which could find a place only in such a record of private life and feelings as we are now engaged in.
When Mr. McCheyne was on board the vessel that carried him to London, he at once discovered an interesting young Jew, who seemed, however, unwilling to be recognized as belonging to the seed of Abraham. He made several attempts to draw this young Israelite into close conversation; and before parting, read with him the first psalm in Hebrew, and pressed home the duty of meditating on the Word of the Lord. In visiting Bethnal Green, he has noted down that it was very sweet to hear Jewish children sing a hymn to Jesus, the burden of which was "Slain for us!"
The awful profanation of the holy Sabbath which we witnessed on the streets of Paris, called forth the following appeal, in a letter to Mr. Macdonald of Blairgowrie. His spirit had been stirred in him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. "Stand in the breach, dear friend, and lift up your voice like a trumpet, lest Scotland become another France. You know how many in our own parishes trample on the holy day. They do not know how sweet it is to walk with God all that holy day. Isaiah 58:11-14 is a sweet text to preach from. Exodus 31:13 is also very precious, showing that the real sanctifying of the Sabbath is one of God's signs or marks which He puts upon His people. It is one of the letters of the new name, which no one knoweth but they who receive it."
In his brief notes during the first part of the journey, he has seldom failed to mark our seasons of united prayer, such as those in the cabin of the vessel on the passage to Genoa; for these were times of refreshing to his spirit. And his feelings, as he stood in that city and surveyed its palaces, are expressed in a few lines, which he sent homeward from the spot. "A foreign land draws us nearer God. He is the only one whom we know here. We go to Him as to one we know; all else is strange. Every step I take, and every new country I see, makes me feel more that there is nothing real, nothing true, but what is everlasting. The whole world lieth in wickedness! its judgments are fast hastening. The marble palaces, among which I have been wandering tonight, shall soon sink like a millstone in the waters of God's righteous anger; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."
At Valetta, in the island of Malta, he wrote: "My heart beats a little today, but another sail will do me good. One thing I know, that I am in the hands of my Father in heaven, who is all love to me-not for what I am in myself, but for the beauty He sees in Immanuel."
The classic shores of Italy and Greece are invested with a peculiar interest, such as may raise deep emotions even in a sanctified soul. "We tried to recollect many of the studies of our boyhood. But what is classic learning to us now? I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. And yet these recollections tinged every object, and afforded us a most lawful pleasure."
During our voyage, it was his delight to search into the Scriptures, just as at home. And so much did he calculate on an unceasing study of the Word during all our journey, that he took with him some notes I had written on each chapter of the book of Leviticus, observing it would be suitable meditation for us while busy with Jewish minds. At home and abroad he had an insatiable appetite for all the Word-both for the types of the Old Testament and the plain text of the New. On one occasion, before leaving home, in studying Numbers 4., he fixed the different duties assigned to the priests on his memory, by means of the following lines:
The Kohathites upon their shoulder bear
The holy vessels, covered with all care,
The Gershonites receive an easier charge,
Two wagons full of cords and curtains large;
Merari's sons four ponderous wagons load
With boards and pillars of the house of God.
He acted on the principle that whatever God has revealed must deserve our study and prayerful investigation.
Arrived at Alexandria in Egypt, and from there proceeding onward to Palestine by the way of the desert, we found ourselves in a new stage of experience. Mr. McCheyne observed on the silence of the desert places: "It is a remarkable feeling to be quite alone in a desert place; it gives similar feelings to fasting; it brings God near. Living in tents, and moving among such lonely scenes for many days, awake many new ideas. It is a strange life we lead in the wilderness. Round and round there is a complete circle of sand and wilderness shrubs; above, a blue sky without a cloud, and a scorching sun which often made the thermometer stand at 96° in our tents. When evening came, the sun went down as it does in the ocean, and the stars came riding forth in their glory; and we used to pitch all alone, with none but our poor ignorant Bedouins, and their camels, and our all-knowing, all-loving God beside us. When morning began to dawn, our habitations were taken down. Often we have found ourselves shelterless before being fully dressed. What a type of the tent of our body! Ah! how often taken down before the soul is made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." To Mr. Bonar of Larbert he writes: "I had no idea that travelling in the wilderness was so dreadful a thing as it is. The loneliness I often felt quite solemnized me. The burning sun overhead-round and round a circle of barren sand, chequered only by a few prickly shrubs ('the heat of the wilderness,' of which Jeremiah speaks)-no rain, not a cloud, the wells often like that of Marah, and far between. I now understand well the murmurings of Israel. I feel that our journey proved and tried my own heart very much." When we look back, and remember that he who thus stands on the sandy desert road between Egypt and Palestine, and looks on its singular scenery, is one who but lately was to be found busy night and day in dealing with the souls of men in the densely peopled streets of a town teeming with population, we are led to wonder at the ways of the Lord. But is it not a moment that may remind us that the God who sent Elijah to the brook at Cherith is the same God still? And that the wise, considerate, loving Master, who said, "Come into a desert place and rest awhile," is as loving, considerate, and wise as He was then?
At Balteen, a small village in Egypt, I well remember the indignation that fired his countenance, when our Arab attendants insisted on traveling ahead on the Sabbath day, rather than continue sitting under a few palm trees, breathing a sultry, furnace-like atmosphere, with nothing more than just such supply of food as sufficed. He could not bear the thought of being deprived of the Sabbath rest; it was needful for our souls as much in the wilderness as in the crowded city; and if few glorify God in that desolate land, so much the more were we called on to fill these solitude's with our songs of praise. It was in this light he viewed our position; and when we had prevailed, and were seated under the palms, he was excited to deep emotion, though before quite unnerved by the heat, at the sight of a row of poor wretched Egyptians who gathered round us. "Oh that I could speak their language, and tell them of salvation!" was his impassioned wish.
An event occurred at that time in which the hand of God afterward appeared very plain, though it then seemed very dark to us. Dr. Black fell from his camel in the midst of the sandy desert, and none of all our company could conjecture what bearing on the object of our Mission this sad occurrence could have. Is it a frown on our undertaking? Or can it really be a movement of His kind, guiding hand? We often spoke of it: in our visit to Galilee we thought that we saw some purposes evolving; but there was still something unexplained. Now, however, the reason appears: even that event was of the Lord, in wise and kind design. But for that fall, our fathers in the deputation would not have sailed up the Danube on their way to Vienna, and Pesth would not have been visited. This accident, which mainly disabled Dr. Black from undertaking the later fatigue of exploring Galilee, was the occasion of directing the steps of our two fathers to that station, where a severe stroke of sickness was made the means of detaining Dr. Keith till they had learned that there was an open door among the Jews. And there, accordingly it has been that the Lord has poured down His Spirit on the Jews that have come to our missionaries so remarkably, that no Jewish Mission seems ever to have been blessed with deeper conversions. There is nothing but truth in the remark made by one of our number: "Dr. Black's fall from the camel was the first step towards Pesth." "Who so is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the LORD" (Ps. 107:43). Indeed, whether it was that we were prepared to expect, and therefore were peculiarly ready to observe, or whether it was really the case that the watchful eye of our Lord especially guided us, it is certain that we thought we could perceive the whole course we took signally marked by Providence. There were many prayers in Scotland ascending up in our behalf, and the High Priest gave the answer by shining upon our path. Mr. McCheyne has stated: "For much of our safety I feel indebted to the prayers of my people, I mean the Christians among them, who do not forget us. If the veil of the world's machinery were lifted off, how much we would find is done in answer to the prayers of God's children."
Many things lost some of their importance in our view, when examined amid the undistracted reflections of the long desert journey, where for many days we had quiet, like the quiet of death, around us all night long, and even during the bright day. It is more interesting on this account to know his feelings there on the subject of the ministry. As his camel slowly bore him over the soft sandy soil, much did he ruminate on the happy days when he was permitted to use all his strength in preaching Jesus to dying men. "Use your health while you have it, my dear friend and brother. Do not cast away peculiar opportunities that may never come again. You know not when your last Sabbath with your people may come. Speak for eternity. Above all things, cultivate your own spirit. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear, and your heart full of God's Spirit, is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin. This was my great fault in the ministry. Remember it is God, and not man, that must have the glory. It is not much speaking, but much faith, that is needed. Do not forget us. Do not forget the Saturday night meeting, nor the Monday morning thanksgiving." Thus he wrote to a fellow-laborer in Scotland on his way.
On our first Sabbath in the Holy Land, our tent had been pitched in the vicinity of a colony of ants. It was in the tribe of Simeon we were encamped; it was the scenery of the Promised Land we had around us; and one of the similitudes of the blessed word was illustrated within our view. He opened his Bible at Proverbs 6:6-8, and, as he read, noted"I. Consider her ways. Most souls are lost for want of consideration. II. The ant has no guide, overseer, or ruler; no officer, no one to command or encourage her. How differently situated is the child of God! III. Provideth her meat in the summer, etc. Some have thought that this teaches us to heap up money; but quite the reverse. The ant lays up no store for the future. It is all for present use. She is always busy summer and winter. The lesson is one of constant diligence in the Lord's work."
Many a time in these days, when our attendants in the evening were driving in the stakes of our tent and stretching its cords, he would lie down on the ground under some tree that sheltered him from the dew. Completely exhausted by the long day's ride, he would lie almost speechless for half an hour; and then, when the palpitation of his heart had a little abated, would propose that we two should pray together. Often, too, did he say to me, when thus stretched on the ground not impatiently, but very earnestly-"Shall I ever preach to my people again?" I was often reproved by his unabated attention to personal holiness; for this care was never absent from his mind, whether he was at home in his quiet chamber, or on the sea, or in the desert. Holiness in him was manifested, not by efforts to perform duty, but in a way so natural, that you recognized therein the easy outflowing of the indwelling Spirit. The fountain springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14) in his soul, welled forth its living waters alike in the familiar scenes of his native Scotland, and under the olive tree of Palestine. Prayer and meditation on the Word were never forgotten; and a peace that the world could not give kept his heart and mind. When we were detained a day at Gaza, in very tantalizing circumstances, his remark was, "Jehovah Jireh; we are at that mount again." It was sweet at any time to be with him, for both nature and grace in him drew the very heart; but there were moments of enjoyment in these regions of Palestine that drew every cord still closer, and created unknown sympathies. Such was that evening when we climbed Samson's Hill together. Sitting there, we read over the references to the place in the Word of God; and then he took out his pencil and sketched the scene, as the sun was sinking in the west. This done, we sang some verses of a psalm, appropriate to the spot, offered up prayer, and, slowly descending, conversed of all we saw, and of all that was brought to mind by the scenery around us, till we reached our tent.
In approaching Jerusalem, we came up the Pass of Latroon. He writes: "The last day's journey to Jerusalem was the finest I ever had in all my life. For four hours we were ascending the rocky pass upon our patient camels. It was like the finest of our Highland scenes, only the trees and flowers, and the voice of the turtle, told us that it was Immanuel's land." Riding along, he remarked, that to have seen the plain of Judea and this mountain pass, was enough to reward us for all our fatigue; and then began to call up passages of the Old Testament Scriptures that might seem to refer to such scenery as that before us.
During our ten days at Jerusalem, there were few objects within reach that we did not eagerly seek to visit. "We stood at the turning of the road where Jesus came near and beheld the city and wept over it. And if we had had more of the mind that was in Jesus, I think we should have wept also." This was his remark in a letter homeward; and to Mr. Bonar of Larbert he expressed his feelings in regard to the Mount of Olives and its vicinity: "I remember the day when I saw you last, you said that there were other discoveries to be made than those in the physical world-that there were sights to be seen in the spiritual world, and depths to be penetrated of far greater importance. I have often thought of the truth of your remark. But if there is a place on earth where physical scenery can help us to discover divine things, I think it is Mount Olivet. Gethsemane at your feet leads your soul to meditate on Christ's love and determination to undergo divine wrath for us. The cup was set before Him there, and there He said, 'Shall I not drink it?' The spot where He wept makes you think of His divine compassion, mingling with His human tenderness-His awful justice, that would not spare the city-His superhuman love, that wept over its coming misery! Turning the other way, and looking to the southeast, you see Bethany, reminding you of His love to His own-that His name is love-that in all our afflictions He is afflicted-that those who are in their graves shall one day come forth at His command. A little farther down you see the Dead Sea, stretching far among the mountains its still and sullen waters. This deepens and solemnizes all, and makes you go away, saying, 'How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?'"
He wrote to another friend in Scotland, from Mount Zion, where we were then dwelling:
Mount Zion, June 12, 1839. "MY DEAR FRIEND-Now that we are in the most wonderful spot in all this world-where Jesus lived and walked, and prayed and died, and will come again-I doubt not you will be anxious to hear how we come on. I am thankful that ever He privileged us to come to this land. I heard of my flock yesterday by a letter from home the first I have received, dated 8th May ... We are living in one of the missionaries' houses on Mount Zion. My window looks out upon where the Temple was, the beautiful Mount of Olives rising behind. The Lord that made heaven and earth, bless thee out of Zion.-Yours."
One evening, after our visit to Sychar, he referred to the Bible that I had dropped into Jacob's Well. We were
then resting from our journey in our tents. Soon after that he penned on a leaf of his notebook the following fragment:
My own loved Bible, must I part from thee, Companion of my toils by land and sea; Man of my counsels, soother of distress, Guide of my steps through this world's wilderness In darkest nights, a lantern to my feet; In gladsome days, as dropping honey sweet. When first I parted from my quiet home, At thy command, for Israel's good to roam. Thy gentle voice said, "For Jerusalem pray, So shall Jehovah prosper all thy way." When through the lonely wilderness we strayed, Sighing in vain for palm-trees' cooling shade, Thy words of comfort hushed each rising fear, "The shadow of thy mighty Rock is near." And when we pitched our tents on Judah's hills, Or thoughtful mused beside Siloa's rills; Whene'er we climbed Mount Olivet, to gaze Upon the sea, where stood in ancient days The heaven-struck Sodom Sweet record of the past, to faith's glad eyes, Sweet promiser of glories yet to rise.'
('It is a somewhat curious occurrence, that the remnants of this Bible were found and drawn up from the bottom of the well, in July 1843, by Dr. Wilson and his fellow traveler, who employed a Samaritan from Sychar to descend and examine the well.)
At the foot of Carmel, during the seven days we were in quarantine under the brow of the hill, we had time to
recall my former scenes; and in these circumstances he wrote the hymn, "The Fountain of Siloam."
Here, too, he had leisure to write home; and most graphically does he describe our journey from Alexandria onward.
CARMEL, June 26, 1839
"MY DEAR FATHER, MOTHER, etc. -It is a long time since I have been able to write to you-this being the first time since leaving Egypt that any one has appeared to carry letters for us. I must therefore begin by telling you that, by the good hand of our God upon me, I am in excellent health, and have been ever since I wrote you last. Fatigues we have had many, and much greater than I anticipated; hardships and dangers we have also encountered, but God has brought us all safely through, and in fully better condition than when we began. You must not imagine that I have altogether lost the palpitation of my heart, for it often visits me to humble and prove me; still I believe it is a good deal better than it was, and its visits are not nearly so frequent. I hope very much, that in a cold bracing climate, and with less fatigue, I may perhaps not feel it at all. I was very thankful to receive your letter, dated 8th May-the first since leaving home. I was delighted to hear of your health and safety, and of the peaceful communion at St. Peter's. The public news was alarming and humbling. (He alludes here to the decision of the House of Lords in the Auchterarder case.) I suppose I had better begin at the beginning, and go over all our journeyings from the land of Egypt through the howling wilderness to this sweet land of promise. I would have written journal-wise (as my mother would say) from time to time, so that I might have had an interesting budget of news ready; but you must remember it is a more fatiguing thing to ride twelve or fourteen hours on a camel's back, in a sandy wilderness, than in our home excursions; and I could often do nothing more than lie down on my rug and fall asleep. "We left Alexandria on 16th May, 1839, parting from many kind friends in that strange city. We and our baggage were mounted on seventeen donkeys, like the sons of Jacob, when they carried corn out of Egypt. Our saddle was our bedding, viz. a rug to lie on, a pillow for the head, and a quilt to wrap ourselves in. We afterwards added a straw mat to put below all. We had procured two tents one large, and a smaller one which Andrew and I occupy. The donkeys are nice nimble little animals, going about five miles an hour; a wild Arab accompanies each donkey. We have our two Arab servants, to whom I now introduce you-Ibrahim, a handsome small-made Egyptian, and Achmet the cook, a dark good-natured fellow, with a white turban and bare black legs. Ibrahim speaks a little English and Italian, and Achmet Italian, in addition to their native Arabic. I soon made friends with our Arab donkey men, learning Arabic words and phrases from them, which pleased them greatly. We journeyed by the Bay of Aboukir, close by the sea, which tempered the air of the desert. At night we reached Rosetta, a curious half-inhabited eastern town. We saw an eastern marriage, which highly pleased us, illustrating the parables. It was by torchlight. We slept in the convent. 17.-Spent morning in Rosetta; gave the monk a New Testament. Saw some of Egyptian misery in the bazaar. Saw the people praying in the mosque, Friday being the Moslem's day of devotion. In the evening we crossed the Nile in small boats. It is a fine river; and its water, when filtered, is sweet and pleasant. We often thought upon it in the desert. We slept that night on the sand in our tents, by the sea-shore. 18.-In six hours we came to Bourlos (you will see it in the map of the Society for Diffusing Useful Knowledge): were ferried across. Watched the fishermen casting their nets into the sea: hot-hot. In two hours more through a palmy wilderness, we came to Balteen-'the Vale of Figs'-an Arab village of mud huts. You little know what an Arab house is. In general, in Egypt, it is an exact square box made of mud, with a low hole for a door. The furniture is a mat and cooking things; an oven made of mud. 19.Spent our Sabbath unoccupied in midst of the village; the poor Arabs have no Sabbath. The thermometer 84° in tent. The governor called in the evening, and drank a cup of tea with great relish. The heat we felt much all day; still it was sweet to rest and remember you all in the wilderness. 20.-At twelve at night, left Balteen by beautiful moonlight. Proceeding through a pleasant African wild of palms and brushwood, we reached the sea in two hours, and rode along, its waves washing our feet: very sleepy. We got a rest at mid-day, if rest it could be called, under that scorching sun, which I never will forget. Proceeding onward, at three o'clock we left the sea-shore, and perceived the minarets of Damietta. Before us the mirage cheated us often when we were very thirsty. We crossed the Nile again, a much smaller branch-the only remaining one-and soon found ourselves comfortably reclining on the divan of the British Consul, an Egyptian gentleman of some fortune and manners. He entertained us at supper in true Egyptian style; provided a room for us, where we spread our mats in peace. We spent the whole of the next day here, having sent off a Bedouin to have camels ready for us at San. The Consul entertained us in the same Egyptian style of hospitality, and sent us away the next day on board of a barge upon Lake Menzaleh. 22.-Even E-would not have been afraid to sail upon the lake. It is nowhere more than ten feet deep, and in general only four or five. We made an awning with our mats, and spent a very happy day. At evening we entered a canal among immense reeds. In moonlight the scene was truly romantic; we slept moored to the shore all night. Next morning (23) we reached San about ten. This evening and next morning we spent in exploring the ruins of the ancient Zoan, for this we find is the very spot.
"Wandering alone, we were quite surprised to find great mounds of brick, and pottery, and vitrified stones. Andrew at last came upon beautiful obelisks. Next morning we examined all carefully, and found two sphinxes and many Egyptian obelisks. How wonderful to be treading over the ruins of the ancient capital of Egypt! Isaiah 19:12. 'Where are the princes of Zoan?' Ezek. 30:14, 'God has set fire in Zoan.' This is the very place where Joseph was sold as a slave, and where Moses did his wonders, Psalm 78:43. This was almost the only place where we have been in danger from the inhabitants. They are a wild race; and our Arabs were afraid of them. You would have been afraid too, if you had seen, out of the door of our tent, our Bedouins keeping watch all night with their naked sabres gleaming in the moonlight, firing off their guns now and then, and keeping up a low chant to keep one another awake. No evil happened to us, and we feel that many pray for us, and that God is with us.
24.-This day our journeyings on camels commenced and continued till we came to Jerusalem. It is a strange mode of conveyance. You have seen a camel kneeling; it is in this condition that you mount; suddenly it rises first on its fore feet, and then on its hind feet. It requires great skill to hold yourself on during this operation; one time I was thrown fair over its head, but quite unhurt. When you find yourself exalted on the hunch of a camel, it is somewhat of the feeling of an aeronaut, as if you were bidding farewell to sublunary things; but when he begins to move, with solemn pace and slow, you are reminded of your terrestrial origin, and that a wrong balance or turn to the side will soon bring you down from your giddy height. You have no stirrup, and generally only your bed for your saddle; you may either sit as on horseback, or as on a sidesaddle-the latter is the pleasanter, though not the safer of the two. The camel goes about three miles an hour, and the step is so long that the motion is quite peculiar. You bend your head towards your knees every step. With a vertical sun above and a burning sand below, you may believe it is a very fatiguing mode of journeying. However, we thought of Rebecca and Abraham's servant (Gen. 24. ), and listened with delight to the wild Bedouin's plaintive song. That night (24) we slept at Menagie, a Bedouin mud village: palm-trees and three wells, and an ocean of sand, formed the only objects of interest.
25.-Up by sunrise, and proceeded as before. The only event this day was Dr. Black's fall from his camel, which greatly alarmed us. He had fallen asleep, which you are very apt to do. We encamped and used every restorative, so that we were able to proceed the same evening to Gonatre, a miserable Arab post, having a governor. Not a tree.
26.-The Sabbath dawned sweetly; thermometer 92° in tent; could only lie on the mat and read psalms. Evening. -Gathered governor and Bedouins to hear some words of eternal life, Ibrahim interpreting.
27.-Two very long stages brought us to Katieh; thankful to God for His goodness, while we pitched by the date-trees.
28.-Spent the day at Katieh; interesting interviews with governor, a kind Arab; thermometer 96° in tent. Same evening, proceeded through a greener desert, among flocks of goats and sheep, and encamped by a well, Bir-el-Abd.
29.-Another hot day in the desert; came in sight of the sea, which gave us a refreshing breeze; bathed in the salt lake, as hot as a warm bath. Evening.-Encampment at Abugilbany.
30.This was our last day in the Egyptian wilderness. We entered on a much more mountainous region. The heat very great; we literally panted for a breath of wind. The Bedouins begged handkerchiefs to cover their heads, and often cast themselves under a bush for shade. Towards sunset, we came down on the old ruins of Rhinoculura, now buried in the sand; and soon after our camels kneeled down at the gates of El Arish, the last town on the Egyptian frontier.
31.-We spent in El Arish, being unable to get fresh camels. We bought a sheep for five shillings; drank freely of their delightful water-what a blessing after the desert! Found out the river of Egypt, the boundary of Judah mentioned in the Bible, quite dry. June 1. Visited the school-a curiosity: all the children sit crosslegged on the floor, rocking to and fro, repeating something in Arabic. We had a curious interview with the governor, sitting in the gate in the ancient manner. We are quite expert now at taking off our shoes and sitting in the Eastern mode. Smoking, and coffee in very small cups, are the constant accompaniments of these visits. Left the same evening, and did not reach Sheikh Juidhe, in the land of the Philistines, till the sun was nearly bursting into view.
2.-Spent a happy Sabbath here; sung 'In Judah's land God is well known.' Singing praises in our tents is very sweet, they are so frail, like our mortal bodies; they rise easily into the ears of our present Father. Our journey through the land of the Philistines was truly pleasant.
3.-We went through a fine pasture country; immense straths; flocks of sheep and goats, and asses and camels, often came in sight. This is the very way up out of Egypt, little changed from the day that the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing, and Joseph and Mary carried down the babe from the anger of Herod. Little changed, did I say? it is all changed; no more is there one brook of water. Every river of Egypt-Wady Gaza, Eshcol, Sorek-every brook we crossed, was dried up; not a drop of water. The land is changed; no more is it the rich land of Philistia. The sand struggles with the grass for mastery. The cities are changed-where are they? The people are changed: no more the bold Philistines-no more the children of Simeon-no more Isaac and his herdsmen-no more David and his horsemen; but miserable Arab shepherds-simple people, without ideas poor degraded, fearful. Khanounes was the first town we entered: Scripture name unknown. The burying-ground outside the town. The well, and people coming to draw, were objects of great interest to us. The people were highly entertained with us in return. We sat down in the bazaar, and were a spectacle to all. How much we longed to have the Arabic tongue, that we might preach the unsearchable riches of Christ in God's own land! Same evening we heard the cry of the wolf, and encamped two miles from Gaza. The plague was raging, so we did not enter, but spent a delightful day in comparing its condition with God's word concerning it: 'Baldness is come upon Gaza.' The old city is buried under sand-hills, without a blade of grass, so that it is bald indeed. The herds and flocks are innumerable, fulfilling Zeph. 2; Andrew and I climbed the hill up which Samson carried the gates.
5.-Passed through a fine olive grove for many miles, and entered the vale of Eshcol. The people were all in the fields cutting and bringing in their barley. They reap with the hook as we do. They seem to carry in at the same time upon camels. No vines in Eshcol now, no pomegranates, but some green fig-trees. Crossed the brook Sorek dry. Spent the mid-day under the embowering shade of a fig-tree; tasted the apricots of the good land. Same evening we came to Doulis, which we take to be Eshtaol, where Samson was born.
6.-We went due east, and, after a mountain pass, saw the hills of Judah-an immense plain intervening, all studded with little towns. From their names, we found out many Bible spots. This valley or plain is the very vale Zephatha, of which you read in II Chron. 14., 'In the plain of Sephela.' Before night we entered among the hills of Judah-very like our own Highlands-and slept all night among the mountains, at a deserted village called Latroon.
7.-One of the most privileged days of our life. We broke up our tents by moonlight; soon the sun was up; we entered a defile of the most romantic character; wild rocks and verdant hills; wildflowers of every color and fragrance scented our path. Sometimes we came upon a clump of beautiful olive-trees, then wild again. The turtle's voice was heard in the land, and singing birds of sweetest note. Our camels carried us up this pass for four hours; and our turbaned Bedouins added by their strange figures to the scene. The terracing of all the hills is the most remarkable feature of Judean scenery. Every foot of the rockiest mountains may in this way be covered with vines. We thought of Isaiah wandering here, and David and Solomon. Still all was wilderness. The hand of man had been actively employed upon every mountain, but where were these laborers now? Judah is gone into captivity before the enemy. There are few men left in the land; not a vine is there. 'The vine languisheth.' We came down upon Garieh, a village embosomed in figs and pomegranates. Ascending again, we came down into the valley of Elah, where David slew Goliath. Another long and steep ascent of a most rugged hill brought us into a strange scene-a desert of sunburnt rocks. I had read of this, and knew that Jerusalem was near. I left my camel and went before, hurrying over the burning rocks. In about half an hour Jerusalem came in sight. 'How doth
the city sit solitary that was full of people!' Is this the perfection of beauty? 'How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger!' It is, indeed, very desolate. Read the two first chapters of Lamentations, and you have a vivid picture of our first sight of Jerusalem. We lighted off our camels within the Jaffa gate. Among those that crowded round us, we observed several Jews. I think I had better not attempt to tell you about Jerusalem. There is so much to describe, and I know not where to begin. The Consul, Mr. Young, received us most kindly, provided us a house where we might spread our mats, and helped us in every way. Mr. Nicolayson called the same evening, and insisted on our occupying one of the mission-houses on Mount Zion. The plague is still in Jerusalem, so that we must keep ourselves in quarantine. The plague only communicates by contact, so that we are not allowed to touch any one, or let any one touch us. Every night we heard the mourners going #about the streets with their dismal wailings for the dead. On Sabbath Mr. Nicolayson read the prayers, and Dr. Black preached from Isaiah 2:2. Dr. Keith in the evening. Three converted Jews were among the hearers. On Monday
(10) we visited the sepulchre, and a painful sight, where we can find no traces of Calvary. Same evening rode up to the Mount of Olives: past Gethsemane, a most touching spot. Visited Sir Moses Montefiore, a Jew of London, encamped on Mount Olivet; very kind to us.
11.-Went round the most of the places to .be visited near Jerusalem; Rephaim, Gihon, Siloa's brook, 'that flowed fast by the oracle of God;' the Pool of Siloam; the place where Jesus wept over the city; Bethany-of all places my favorite; the tombs of the kings. Such a day we never spent in this world before. The climate is truly delightful-hot at mid-day, but delightful breezes at morn and even.
12.-A business day, getting information about Jews. In the evening, walked to Aceldama, a dreadful spot. Zion is ploughed like a field. I gathered some barley, and noticed cauliflowers planted in rows. See Micah 3:12. Jerusalem is indeed heaps. The quantities of rubbish would amaze you-in one place higher than the walls.
13.-We went to Hebron, twenty miles south; Mr. Nicolayson, his son, the Consul and ladies accompanying us, all on mules and horses. Judah's cities are all waste. Except Bethlehem, we saw none but ruins till we reached Hebron. The vines are beautifully cultivated here, and make it a paradise. The hills all terraced to the top. We spent a delightful evening and all next day. We met the Jews, and had an interesting interview with them. We read Genesis 18, and many other Bible passages, with great joy. Saw the mosque where the tomb of Abraham and Sarah is.
14.-Returned by Bethlehem to Jerusalem. Bethlehem is a sweet village, placed on the top of a rocky hill-very white and dazzling. You see it on both sides of the hill. At Rachel's sepulchre you see Jerusalem on one hand and Bethlehem on the other-an interesting sight six miles apart. On Sabbath we enjoyed the Lord's Supper in an upper chamber in Jerusalem. It was a time much to be remembered. Andrew preached in the evening from John 14:2, 3. 17.-The plague has been increasing so that we think it better to depart. Last visit to Gethsemane, and Bethany, and Siloam. Evening.-Took farewell of all our friends at Jerusalem, with much sorrow you may believe. Went due north to Ramah, by Gibeon, and slept at Beer, again in our tent, in Benjamin.
19.-Passed Bethel, where Jacob slept. Passed through the rich and rocky defile of Ephraim, by Lebonah, to Sychar. You cannot believe what a delightsome land it is. We sought anxiously for the well where Jesus sat. Andrew alone found it, and lost his Bible in it.
20.-Had a most interesting morning with the Jews of Sychar. Saw many of them; also the Samaritans in their synagogue. Same evening visited Samaria a wonderful place-and encamped at Sanor.
21.-Arrived at Carmel, where we now are, encamped within two yards of the sea. We have been in quarantine here seven days, as there is no plague north of this. Several English are encamped here-Lord R., Lord H., etc. We have daily conversations sitting on the sand. We are not allowed to touch even the rope of a tent.
Acre is in sight across the bay. We have delightful bathing. To-morrow Lord H. leaves, and kindly offers to take this. Carmel's rocky brow is over us. We are all well and happy. On Monday we propose leaving for Tiberias and Saphet. Soon we shall be in Beyrout, and on our way to Smyrna. Do not be anxious for me. Trust us to God, who goes with us where we go. I only pray that our mission may be blessed to Israel. Sir Moses M. has arrived, and pitched his tent within fifty yards of us. Kindest regards to all that inquire after me, not forgetting dear W -Your affectionate son."
When the two elder brethren of the deputation left us for Europe, we turned southward again from Beyrout, to visit the regions of Phoenicia and Galilee. Never did Mr. McCheyne seem more happy than in gazing on these regions.
At Tyre, he remembered the request of an elder in the parish of Larbert, who had written to him before his departure, stating what he considered to be a difficulty in the ordinary expositions of the prophecies which speak of that renowned city. With great delight he examined the difficulty on the spot; and it is believed that his testimony on such points as these, when it reached some men of sceptical views in that scene of his early labors, was not unblessed.
From Saphet he writes: "I sat looking down upon the lake this morning for about an hour. It was just at our feet-the very water where Jesus walked, where He called His disciples, where He rebuked the storm, where He said, 'Children, have ye any meat?' after He rose from the dead. Jesus is the same still." To his early and familiar friend, Mr. Somerville, he thus describes the same view: "Oh what a view of the Sea of Galilee is before you, at your feet! It is above three hours' descent to the water's edge, and yet it looks as if you could run down in as many minutes. The lake is much larger than I had imagined. It is hemmed in by mountains on every side, sleeping as calmly and softly as if it had been the sea of glass which John saw in heaven. We tried in vain to follow the course of the Jordan running through it. True, there were clear lines, such as you see in the wake of a vessel, but then these did
not go straight through the lake. The hills of Bashan are very high and steep, where they run into the lake. At one point, a man pointed out to us where the tombs in the rocks are where the demoniacs used to live; and near it the hills were exactly what the Scriptures describe, 'a steep place,' when the swine ran down into the sea. On the north-east of the sea Hermon rises very grand, intersected with many ravines of snow."
The day we spent at the lake-at the very water-side was ever memorable; it was so peculiarly sweet! We left an indescribable interest even in lifting a shell from the shore of sea where Jesus had so often walked. It was here that two the beautiful hymns in The Songs of Zion were suggested him. The one was, "How Pleasant to Me"; the other, "To Yonder Side"; but the latter lay beside him unfinished until later.
His complaint was now considerably abated; his strength seemed returning; and often he longed to be among his people again, though quieting his soul on the Lord. Not a few pastor of another church have from time to time come to this land compelled by disease to seek for health in foreign regions; but how rarely do we find the pastor's heart retained-how rarely do we discover that the shepherd yearns still over the flock h left! But so deep was Mr. McCheyne's feelings toward the floc over which the Holy Ghost had made him overseer, that hi concern for them became a temptation to his soul. It was n in the mere desire to preach again that he manifested this concern; for this desire might have been selfish, as he said "No doubt there is pride in this anxiety to preach; a submissive soul would rejoice only in doing the present will of God. But his prayers for them went up daily to the throne. We ha precious seasons of united prayer also for that same end especially one morning at sunrise in Gethsemane, and other morning at Carmel, where we joined in supplication the silent shore at the foot of the hill as soon as day dawn and then again, at evening, on the top, where Elijah prayed Distance of place, of peculiarities, or of circumstance never altered his views of duty, nor changed his feelings as a min ister of Christ. In Galilee he meditated upon the aspect ecclesiastical affairs in our beloved Scotland; and the print pies he had maintained appeared to him as plainly accordant with the Word of God when tried there, apart from excitement, as they did when he reviewed them in connection with their effects at home. "I hope," were his words to a brother in the ministry, "I hope the church has been well guided and blessed; and if times of difficulty are to come, I do believe there is no position so proper for her to be in as the attitude of a missionary church, giving freely to Jew and Gentile, as she has freely received-so may she be found when the Lord comes."
At the foot of Lebanon, in the town of Beirut, he was able to expound a chapter (Acts 10) at a prayer meeting of the American brethren. This quite rejoiced his heart; for it seemed as if the Lord were restoring him, and meant again to use him in preaching the glad tidings. But shortly after, during the oppressive heat of the afternoon, he didn't feel well. He had paid a visit to a young man from Glasgow in the town, who was ill of fever; and it is not unlikely that this visit, at a time when he was in a state of debility from previous fatigue, was the immediate occasion of his own illness. He was soon prostrated under the fever. But his medical attendant felt he was in no danger, and advised him to proceed to Smyrna, in the belief that the cool air of the sea would be much more in his favor than the sultry heat of Beirut. Accordingly, in company with our faithful Hebrew friend Erasmus Calman, we embarked; but as we lay off Cyprus, the fever increased to such a height, that he lost his memory for some hours, and was racked with excessive pain in his head. When the vessel sailed, he revived considerably, but during three days no medical aid could be obtained. He scarcely ever spoke; and only once did he for a moment, on a Saturday night, lift his languid eye, as he lay on deck enjoying the breeze, to catch a distant sight of Patmos. We watched him with agonizing anxiety until we reached Smyrna and the village of Bouja. Though three miles off, yet, for the sake of medical aid, he rode to this village on a mule after sunset, ready to drop every moment with pain and burning fever. But here the Lord had prepared for him the best and kindest help. The tender and parental care of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, in whose house he found a home, was never mentioned by him except with deepest gratitude; 0
and the sight of the flowering jasmine, or the mention of the deep-green cypress, would invariably call up in his mind associations of Bouja and its residents. He used to say it was his second birthplace.
During that time, like most of God's people who have been in sickness, he felt that a single passage of the Word of God was more truly food to his fainting soul than anything besides. One day his spirit revived, and his eye glistened, when I spoke of the Savior's sympathy, adducing as the very words of Jesus, Psalm 41:1; "Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble." It seemed so applicable to his own case, as a minister of the glad tidings; for often had he "considered the poor," carrying a cup of cold water to a disciple. Another passage, written for the children of God in their distress, was spoken to him when he seemed nearly insensible: "Call upon me in the day of trouble." This word of God was as the drop of honey to Jonathan.
He thus spoke of his illness to his friends at home: "I left the foot of Lebanon when I could hardly see, or hear, or speak, or remember; I felt my faculties going, one by one, and I had every reason to expect that I would soon be with my God. It is a sore trial to be alone and dying in a foreign land, and it has made me feel, in a way that I never knew before, the necessity of having unfeigned faith in Jesus and in God. Sentiments, natural feelings, glowing fancies of divine things, will not support the soul in such an hour. There is much self-delusion in our estimation of ourselves when we are untried, and in the midst of Christian friends, whose warm feelings give a glow to ours, which they do not possess in themselves." Even then he had his people in his heart. "When I got better, I used to creep out in the evenings about sunset. I often remembered you all then. I could not write, as my eyes and head were much affected; I could read but very little; I could speak very little, for I had hardly any voice; and so I had all my time to lay my people before God, and pray for a blessing on them. About the last evening I was there, we all went to the vintage, and I joined in gathering the grapes." To Mr. Somerville he wrote: "My mind was very weak when I was at the worst, and therefore the things of eternity were often dim. I had no fear to die, for Christ had died. Still I prayed for recovery, if it was the Lord's will. You remember you told me to be humble among your last advices. You see God is teaching me the same thing. I fear I am not thoroughly humbled. I feel the pride of my heart, and bewail it." To his kind medical friend, Dr. Gibson, in Dundee, he wrote: "I really believed that my Master had called me home, and that I would sleep beneath the dark green cypresses of Bouja till the Lord shall come, and they that sleep in Jesus come with Him; and my most earnest prayer was for my dear flock, that God would give them a pastor after his own heart."
When we met, after an eight days' separation, on board the vessel at Constantinople, he mentioned as one of the most interesting incidents of the week, that one evening, while walking with Mr. Lewis, they met a young Greek and his wife, both of whom were believed to be really converted souls. It created a thrill in his bosom to meet with these almost solitary representatives of the once faithful and much tried native church of Smyrna.
Meanwhile there were movements at home that proved the Lord to be He who "alone doeth wondrous things." The cry of His servant in Asia was not forgotten; the eye of the Lord turned toward His people. It was during the time of Mr. McCheyne's sore sickness that his flock in Dundee were receiving blessing from the opened windows of heaven. Their pastor was lying at the gate of death, in utter helplessness. But the Lord had done this on purpose; for He meant to show that He did not need the help of any person: He could send forth new laborers, and work by new instruments, when it pleased Him. We little knew that during the days when we were waiting at the foot of Lebanon for a vessel to carry us to Smyrna, the arm of the Lord had begun to be revealed in Scotland. On the 23d of July the great Revival at Kilsyth took place.
Mr. W C. Burns, the man who was supplying Mr. McCheyne's place in his absence, was on that day preaching to his father's flock; and while pressing upon them immediate acceptance of Christ with deep solemnity, the whole of the vast assembly was overpowered. The Holy Spirit seemed to come down as a rushing mighty wind, and to fill the place. Many were that day struck to the heart; the sanctuary was filled with distressed and inquiring souls. All Scotland heard the glad news that the sky was no longer as brass-that the rain had begun to fall. The Spirit in mighty power began to work from that day forward in many places of the land.
Mr. Burns returned to Mr. McCheyne's flock on August 8th one of the days when Mr. McCheyne was stretched on his bed, praying for his people under all his own suffering. The news of the work at Kilsyth had produced a deep impression in Dundee; and two days later, the Spirit began to work in St. Peter's, at the time of the prayer meeting in the church, in a way similar to Kilsyth. Day after day the people met for prayer and hearing the word; and the times of the apostles seemed returned, when "the Lord added to the church daily of such as should be saved." All this time, Mr. McCheyne did not know how gracious the Lord had been in giving him his heart's desire. It was not until we were within sight of home that the glad news of these revivals reached our ears. But he continued, like Epaphras, "laboring fervently in prayer," and sought daily to prepare himself for a more efficient discharge of his office, should the Lord restore him to it again. He sent home this message to a fellow-laborer: "Do not forget to carry on the work in hearts brought to a Saviour. I feel this was one of my faults in the ministry. Nourish babes; comfort downcast believers; counsel those perplexed; perfect that which is lacking in their faith. Prepare them for sore trials. I fear most Christians are quite unready for days of darkness."-(Mr. Moody Start)
Our journey led us through Moldavia, Wallachia, and Austria-lands of darkness and of the shadow of death. Profound strangers to the truth as it is in Jesus, the people of these lands, nevertheless, profess to be Christians. Superstition and its idolatries veil the glorious object of faith from every eye. In these regions, as well as in those already traversed. Mr. McCheyne's anxiety for souls appeared in the efforts he made to leave at least a few words of Scripture with the Jews whom we met, however short the time of our interview. His spirit was stirred in him; and, with his Hebrew Bible in his hand, he would walk up thoughtfully and solemnly to the first Jew he could get access to, and begin by calling the man's attention to some statement of God's Word. In Palestine, if the Jew did not understand Italian, he would repeat to him such texts in Hebrew as, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David" (Zech. 13:1). And one evening, at the well of Doulis, when the Arab population were all clustered around the water troughs, he looked on wistfully, and said, "If only we had Arabic, we might sow beside all waters!"
At Jassy, after a deeply interesting day, spent in conversation with Jews who came to the inn, he said, "I will remember the faces of those men at the judgment seat. " When he came among the more educated Jews of Europe, he rejoiced to find that they could converse with him in Latin. His heart was bent on doing what he could (Mark 14:8), in season and out of season. "One thing," he writes, "I am deeply convinced of, that God can make the simplest statement of the gospel effectual to save souls. If only it be the true gospel, the good tidings, the message that God loved the world, and provided a ransom free to all, then God is able to make it wound the heart, and heal it too. There is deep meaning in the words of Paul, 'I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.' "
The abominations of popery witnessed in Austrian Poland, called forth many a prayer for the destruction of the Man of Sin. "The images and idols by the wayside are actually frightful, stamping the whole land as a kingdom of darkness. I do believe that a journey through Austria would go far to cure some of the Popery-admirers of our beloved land." He adds: "These are the marks of the beast upon this land." And in like manner our privileges in Scotland used to appear to him the more precious, when, as at Brody, we heard of Protestants who were supplied with a sermon only once a year. "I must tell this to my people," he said, "when I return, to make them prize their many seasons of grace."
He estimated the importance of a town or country by its relation to the house of Israel; and his yearnings over these lost sheep resembled his bowels of compassion for his flock at home. At Tarnapol, in Galitia, he wrote home: "We are in Tarnapol, a very nice clean town, prettily situated on a wind ing stream, with wooded hills around. I suppose you never heard its name before; neither did I till we were there among Jews. I know not whether it has been the birth-place of warriors, or poets, or orators; its flowers have hitherto been born to blush unseen, at least by us barbarians of the north; but if God revive the dry bones of Israel that are scattered over the world, there will arise from this place an exceeding great army."
Our friend and brother in the faith, Erasmus Calman, lightened the tediousness of a long day's journey by repeating to us some Hebrew poetry. One piece was on Israel's present state of degradation; it began
As the vehicle drove along, we translated it line by line, and soon after that Mr. McCheyne put it into verse. The following lines are a part:
Rock and Refuge of my soul,
Swiftly let the season roll,
When thine Israel shall arise
Lovely in the nations' eyes!
Lord of glory, Lord of might,
As our ransomed fathers tell;
Once more for thy people fight,
Plead for thy loved Israel.
Give our spoilers' towers to be
Waste and desolate as we.
Hasten, Lord, the joyful year,
When thy Zion, tempest-tossed,
Shall the silver trumpet hear:
Bring glad tidings to the lost!
Captive, cast thy cords from thee,
Loose thy neck-be free-be free!
Why dost Thou behold our sadness?
See the proud have torn away
All our years of solemn gladness,
When thy flock kept holy-day!
Lord, thy fruitful vine is bare,
Not one gleaning grape is there!
Rock and Refuge of my soul,
Swiftly let the season roll,
When thine Israel shall be,
Once again, beloved and free.
In his notes, he has one or two subjects marked for hymns. One of these is Isaiah 2:3: "Come ye," a loving call to the Jews. Another is to the same effect, Isaiah 1:15: "Come, let us reason together." But these he never completed. In Cracow, having heard of the death of a friend, the wife of an English clergyman, in the midst of her days and in the full promise of usefulness, he began to pen a few sweet lines of comfort:
Oft as she taught the little maids of France
To leave the garland, castanet, and dance,
And listen to the words which she would say
About the crowns that never fade away,
A new expression kindled in her eye,
A holy brightness, borrowed from the sky.
And when returning to her native land,
She bowed beneath a Father's chastening hand,
When the quick pulse and flush upon the cheek,
A touching warning to her friends would speak,
A holy cheerfulness yet filled her eye,
Willing she was to live, willing to die.
As the good Shunammite (the Scriptures tell),
When her son died, said meekly, "It is well,"
So when Sophia lost her infant boy,
And felt how dear-bought is a mother's joy,
When with green turf the little grave she spread,
"Not lost, but gone before," she meekly said.
And now they sleep together beneath the willow
The same dew drops upon their silent pillow.
Return, 0 mourner, from this double grave,
And praise the God who all her graces gave.
Follow her faith, and let her mantle be
A cloak of holy zeal to cover thee.
The danger that he incurred from the shepherds in this region, and other similar perils to which he was exposed in
company with others, have been recorded in the Narrative. Out of them all the Lord delivered him; and not from these perils only did He save him, but from many severe trials to his health, to which the variation of climate and discomforts of accommodation subjected him. And now we were traversing Prussia, drawing nearer our own land. It was about five months since we had received letters from Scotland, our route having led us away from places that we had anticipated visiting, and where communications had been left for us. We pressed homeward somewhat anxiously, yet wondering often at past mercies. In a letter from Berlin, Mr. McCheyne remarked, "Our heavenly Father has brought us through so many trials and dangers that I feel persuaded He will yet carry us to the end. Like John, we shall fulfil our course. 'Are there not twelve hours in the day?' Are we not all immortal till our work is done?" His strength was rapidly increasing; the journey had answered the ends anticipated to a great extent, in his restoration to health. He was able to preach at Hamburg to the English congregation of Mr. Rheder, from whom it was that the first hint of a Revival in Dundee reached his ears. He heard just so much both of Kilsyth and Dundee as to make him long to hear more. A few days later, on board the vessel that conveyed us to England, he thus expressed his feelings:
"Sailing up the Thames, Nov. 6, 1839
"MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER-YOU will be glad to see by the date that we are once more in sight of the shores of happy England. I only wish I knew how you all are. I have not heard of you since I was in Smyrna. In vain did I inquire for letters from you at Cracow, Berlin, and Hamburg. You must have written to Warsaw, and the Resident there has not returned them to Berlin, as we desired. Andrew and I and Mr. Calman are all quite well, and thankful to God, who has brought us through every danger in so many countries. I trust our course has not been altogether fruitless, and that we may now resign our commission with some hope of good issuing from it to the church and to Israel. I preached last Sabbath in Hamburg, for the first time since leaving England, and felt nothing the worse of it; so that I do hope it is my heavenly Father's will to restore me to usefulness again among my beloved flock. We have heard something of a reviving work at Kilsyth. We saw it noticed in one of the newspapers. I also was the name of Dundee associated with it; so that I earnestly hope good has been doing in our church, and the dew from on high watering our parishes, and that the flocks whose pastors have been wandering may also have shared in the blessing. We are quite ignorant of the facts, and you may believe we are anxious to hear ... We are now passing Woolwich, and in an hour will be in London. We are anxious to be home, but I suppose will not get away till next week. I never thought to have seen you again in this world, but now I hope to meet you once more in peace.-Believe me, your affectionate son."
The day we arrived on the shores of our own land was indeed a singular day. We were intensely anxious to hear of events that had occurred at home a few months before-the outpouring of the Spirit from on high-while our friends were intensely interested in hearing tidings of the land of Israel and the scattered tribes. The reception of deputation on their return, and the fruits of their mission, are well known, and have been elsewhere recorded.
Mr. McCheyne listened with deepest interest to the accounts given of what had taken place in Dundee during the month of August, when he lay at the gates of death in Bouja. The Lord had indeed fulfilled his hopes, and answered his prayers. His assistant, Mr. Burns, had been honored of God to open the floodgate at Dundee as well as at Kilsyth. For some time before, Mr. Burns had seen symptoms of deeper attention than usual, and of real anxiety in some that had up to now been careless. But it was after his return from Kilsyth that the people began to melt before the Lord. On Thursday, the second day after his return, at the close of the usual evening prayer meeting in St. Peter's, and when the minds of many were solemn by the tidings that had reached them, he spoke
a few words about what had for some days detained him from them, and invited those to remain who felt the need of an outpouring of the Spirit to convert them. About a hundred remained; and at the conclusion of a solemn address to these anxious souls, suddenly the power of God seemed to descend, and all were bathed in tears. At a similar meeting, the next evening, in the church, there was much melting of heart and intense desire after the Beloved of the Father; and on adjourning to the vestry, the arm of the Lord was revealed. No sooner was the vestry door opened to admit those who might feel anxious to converse, than a vast number pressed in with great eagerness. It was like a pent-up flood breaking forth; tears were streaming from the eyes of many, and some fell on the ground groaning, and weeping, and crying for mercy. Onward from that evening, meetings were held every day for many weeks, and the extraordinary nature of the work justified and called for extraordinary services. The whole town was moved. Many believers doubted; the ungodly raged; but the Word of God grew mightily and prevailed. Instances occured where whole families were affected at once, and each could be found mourning apart, affording a specimen of the times spoken of by Zechariah (12:12). Mr. Baxter of Hilltown, Mr. Hamilton, then assistant at Abernyte, and other men of God in the vicinity, hastened to aid in the work. Mr. Roxburgh of St. John's, and Mr. Lewis of St. David's, examined the work impartially and judiciously, and testified it to be of God. Dr. M'Donald of Ferintosh, a man of God well experienced in revivals, came and put his seal on it also, and continued in town, preaching in St. David's Church to the anxious multitudes, for ten days. How many of those who were thus awakened were really brought to the truth, it was impossible to ascertain. When Mr. McCheyne arrived, drop after drop was still falling from the clouds.
Such, in substance, were the accounts he heard before he reached Dundee. They were such as made his heart rejoice. He had no envy at another instrument having been so honored in the place where he himself had labored with many tears and temptations. In true Christian magnanimity, he rejoiced that the work of the Lord was done, by whatever hand. Full of praise and wonder, he set his foot once more on the shore of Dundee.
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