Visits The Patriarch
6. For some time, we had been looking daily for a regular
excommunication to be published by the patriarch's order against Asaad;
but instead of this, a letter arrived from his holiness to-day, brought
by his own brother, priest Nicholas, containing his apostolic blessing,
inviting him to an interview, and promising him a situation in some
office. The messenger said, that the patriarch, his brother, had heard
that the English had given Asaad 40 purses, (2000 dollars) to unite him
with them, and that he had thought of giving Asaad the same sum, that no
obstacle might remain to his leaving them. "This money," said he, "with
which the English print books, and hire men into their service is but
the pelf of the man of sin, and could you but be present to hear what
the people say of you, through the whole country, for your associating
with the English, you would never be in their company again."
When we were informed of what occurred between this priest and Asaad,
and of Asaad's intention to go and see the patriarch, we all expressed
our fears that he would be ill-treated, but he did not anticipate it. He
said, he had known an instance of a vile infidel and blasphemer, who was
simply excommunicated, and that it was not the custom of the Maronites
to kill, as we suggested, on account of religion. We assured him that he
had not yet learned how much men hate the truth, and that his church
would not feel herself half as much in danger from an open blasphemer,
as from an active lover of the gospel. But he was so confident that
good would result from such a visit, that we ceased from urging our
objections, and commended him to the will of God.
It was during this visit, that most of the conversations happened which
are so admirably narrated in the public statement made by himself, which
will be found in the sequel. He manifested throughout, as the reader
will discover, the spirit of the early christian confessors. He denied
the infallibility of popes and councils; asserted and defended the great
doctrines of the gospel, and besought, that the scriptures might be
circulated, and read, and be made the only standard of faith, and rule
of practice, and that evangelists might be sent through the land.
Against such a formidable innovator, the patriarch and his bishops rose
up in wrath, and Asaad was threatened with imprisonment and death.
Two days after his departure, he thus wrote to Mr. Bird.
"I am now at Der Alma, (convent of Alma,) and thanks to God, I arrived
in good health. But as yet I have not seen the patriarch. I pray God the
Father, and his only Son Jesus Christ our Lord, that he would establish
me in his love, that I may never exchange it for any created thing--that
neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
height, nor depth, nor riches, nor honour, nor dignity, nor office, nor
any thing in creation, shall separate me from this love. I hope you will
pray to God for me; which request I also make to all the brethren and
sisters, (all the saints,) after giving them, especially Mr. Goodell,
24. Heard that Asaad had been sent to the Armenian convent Bzumar, to
confess, and that he would probably be sent to Aleppo as a priest.
Another said, he was seen at the college of Ain Warka.
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