« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
India. It is intended to publish an edition of the New Testament, in a splendid form, for the use of the chief men in Arabia and Persia, resembling, as nearly as possible, their own beautiful writing. The Universities, and literary bodies in Europe, will, no doubt, be disposed to subscribe for some copies of this truly classical Work. It is stated in the last accounts, dated May 1810, that the translation of the New Testament was expected to be finished by the end of the present year, 1811.
THE CONVERSION OF SABAT.
The following account of the conversion of Sabat is extracted from the Author's Sermon, entitled, “ The Star in the East.”—
• Thus far we have spoken of the success of the Gospel in Asia, by means of European preachers. But we shall now exhibit to you evidence from another source, from a new and unexpected quarter. We are now to declare what has been done, independently of our exertions, and in regions where we have no labourers, and no access. And this I do to show you, that whether
we assist in the work or not, it is God's will that it should begin. You have hitherto been contemplating the Light in India. We are now to announce to you that a light hath appeared in Arabid, and dawned as it were, on the Temple of Mecca itself.
Two Mahomedans of Arabia, persons of distinction in their own country, have been lately converted to the Christian faith. One of them has already suffered martyrdom. The other is now engaged in translating the Scriptures, and in concerting plans for the conversion of his countrymen. The name of the martyr is Abdallah; and the name of the other, who is now translating the Scriptures, is Sabat: or, as he is called since his Christian baptism, Nathanael Sabat. Sabat resided in my house some time before I left India, and I had from his own mouth the chief part of the account which I shall now give to you. Some particulars I had from others. His conversion took place after the martyrdom of Abdallah, to whose death he was consenting ;' and he related the circumstances to me with many tears.
Abdallah and Sabat were intimate friends, and being young men of family in Arabia, they agreed to travel together, and to visit foreign countries. They were both zealous Mahomedans. Sabat is son of Ibrahim Sabat, a noble family of the line of Beni-Sabat who trace their pedigree to Mahomed. The two friends left Arabia, after paying their adorations at the tomb of their prophet,
* The word Abdallah is the same as Abdiel; and signifies he" Servant of God."
and travelled through Persia, and thence to Cabul. Abdallah was appointed to an office of state under Zemaun Shah, King of Cabul; and Sabat left him there, and proceeded on a tour through Tartary.
While Abdallah remained at Cabul, he was converted to the Christian faith by the perusal of a Bible (as is supposed) belonging to a Christian from Armenia, then residing at Cabul.* In the Mahomedan states, it is death for a man of rank to become a Christian. Abdallah endeavoured for a time to conceal his conversion ; but finding it no longer possible, he determined to flee to some of the Christian Churches near the Caspian Sea. He accordingly left Cabul in disguise, and had gained the great city of Bochara, in Tartary, when he was met in the streets of that city by his friend Sabat, who immediately recognised him. Sabat had heard of his conversion and flight, and was filled with indignation at his conduct. Abdallah knew his danger, and threw himself at the feet of Sabat. He confessed that he was a Christian, and implored him, by the sacred tie of their former friendship, to let him escape with his life. But, Sir, said Sabat when relating the story himself, I had no pity. I caused my servants to seize him, and I delivered “ him up to Morad Shah, King of Bochara. He was sentenced to die, and a herald went through the city of Bochara, announcing the time of his execution. An immense multitude attended, and the chief men of the
* The Armenian Christians in Persia have among them a few copies of the Arabic Bible.
city. I also went and stood near to Abdallah. He was offered his life if he would abjure Christ, the execu. tioner standing by him with his sword in his hand. "No,' said he, (as if the proposition were impossible to be complied with) ' I cannot abjure Christ.' Then one of his hands was cut off at the wrist. He stood firm, his arm hanging by his side but with little motion. A physician by desire of the King, offered to heal the wound if he would recant. He made no answer, but looked up stedfastly towards heaven, like Stephen, the first martyr, his eyes streaming with tears. He did not look with anger towards me, He looked at me. But it was benignly, and with the countenance of forgiveness. His other hand was then cut off. But Sir,' said Sabat, in his imperfect English, he never changed, he never changed, And when he bowed his head to receive the blow of death, all Bochara seemed to say, "What new thing is this ?
Sabat had indulged the hope, that Abdallah would have recanted, when he was offered his life; but when he saw that his friend was dead, he resigned himself to grief and remorse. He travelled from place to place, seeking rest, and finding none At last he thought that he would visit India. He accordingly came to Madras about five years ago. Soon after his arrival, he was appointed by the English government, a Mufti, or expounder of Mahometan law; his great learning, and respectable station in his own country, rendering him well qualified for that office. And now the period of his own conversion drew near. While he was at Visagapatam, in the Northern Circars, exercising his professional dyn
ties, Providence brought in his way a New Testament in the Arabic language.* He read it with deep thought, the Koran lying before him. He compared them together with patience and solicitude, and at length the truth of the word fell on his mind, as he expressed it, like a flood of light. Soon afterwards he proceeded to Madras, a journey of 300 miles, to seek Christian baptism; and having made a public confession of his faith, he was baptized by the Rev. Dr. Ker, in the English Church at that place, by the name of Nathaneal, in the twentyseventh year of his age.
Being now desirous to devote his future life to the glory of God, he resigned his secular employ, and came by invitation to Bengal, where he is now engaged in translating the Scriptures into the Persian language. This work hath not hitherto been executed, for want of a translator of sufficient ability. The Persian is an important language in the East, being the general language of Western Asia, particularly among the higher classes, and is understood from Calcutta to Damascus. But the great work which occupies the attention of this noble Arabian, is the promulgation of the Gospel among his own countrymen ; and from the present fluctuations of religious opinion in Arabia, he is sanguine in his hopes of success. His first work is entitled, (Neama Besharatin lil Arabi) Happy News for Arabia ;' written in the Nabuttee, or common dialect of the country. It contains
* One of those copies sent to India by the “ Society for promoting Christian Knowledge."