Progress Of His Opinions





13. Spent most of the day in conversation with Asaad on the subject of

religion. He had lately been much in company with the emir Sulman, and

observed, that his prejudices against christianity were evidently much

softened.



14. Conversed with Asaad on the books of the Apocrypha.[E] He seemed

satisfied with the proofs that they were not given by inspiration of

God. He is now searching the scriptures with such an intensity of

interest, as to leave him neither time nor relish for any thing else.



We have a copy of the Arabic bible, printed at Rome, at the end of which

is an appendix which he has discovered to contain a copious list of

popish doctrines, with their appropriate references to scripture proofs.

These proofs he has found so weak, that he expresses his astonishment

how such doctrines could be inferred from them; and nothing has occurred

of late, which has more strengthened his conviction that the church of

Rome is radically wrong. What seems to have affected him most sensibly,

is, the expression he has found, "We are under obligation to kill

heretics."--Proof,--'False prophets God commanded to be slain. Jehu and

Elijah killed the worshippers and prophets of Baal.' This passage he

shows to all who visit him, priests and people, and calls upon them to

judge whether such sweeping destruction is according to the spirit of

the gospel.



In this country, where the pope cannot do all he could wish, the right

of murdering every one who differs from him, has not been so publicly

asserted of late, and some, when they hear it, are a little startled.

But most of the good children of "the church" are soon quieted again, by

the recollection, that their kind and compassionate "mother" means

well, even in murder. The common mode of reasoning, is, in this case,

inverted. It is not said, "the action is right, therefore the church

does it;" but, "the church does it, therefore it is right."



Jan. 1, 1826. Twelve or fourteen individuals were present at the

Arabic service at Mr. Goodell's. After this service, we questioned Asaad

closely with regard to the state of his heart, and were rather

disappointed at the readiness, with which he replied, that he thought he

was born again. For ourselves, we chose rather to suspend our opinion.

He can hardly be supposed to have acquired yet, even speculatively,

very clear notions of what is regeneration; and it would seem quite as

consistent with christian humility, and with a true knowledge of his

sinfulness, if he should speak of himself with more doubt and caution.



In the evening, an acquaintance of his, one who has heretofore expressed

great friendship to him, and to us; who had said that there was no true

religion to be found in the whole country, and pretended to lament very

much that the patriarch and priests had so much sway; came to give Asaad

a last serious admonition.



"This," said he, "is the last time I intend ever to say a word to you on

the subject of religion. I wish, therefore, before you go any further,

that you would pause and think whether you can meet all the reproach of

the world, and all the opposition of the patriarch and priests."



Asaad replied, that he had made up his mind to meet all these things.

"And now," said he, "if, as you say, you intend never to hold any more

conversation with me on the subject of religion, I have one request to

make of you, and that is, that you will go, and make the subject of

religion a matter of serious prayer and inquiry, and see where the path

of life is; I then leave you with your conscience and with God."



After relating the substance of this conversation to us, Asaad remarked,

that these people reminded him of the late patriarch such an one, who

had a moderate share of understanding, but was ambitious to appear very

well. This patriarch had a bishop who was really an acute and learned

man, and whose opinions were always received with the greatest deference

on all matters relative to religion. The bishop being on a visit one day

at the patriarch's, the latter called him to his presence, and proposed

to him the interpretation of a passage of scripture. The bishop gave the

explanation according to the best of his judgment. "No," said his

holiness, "that is not the meaning of the passage;" and proposed to have

a second. When the bishop had again given his opinions and reasons, the

patriarch answered as before, "That is not the meaning of the passage."

In a third and fourth case, the bishop was equally unfortunate, all his

arguments being swept away by the single sage remark of his holiness,

"That is not the meaning of the passage." At last the bishop, in a fit

of discouragement, said, "Your holiness has put me upon the solution of

a number of questions, in all which, it seems, I have been wrong. I

would now thank your holiness to tell me what is right." The patriarch

being startled at the new ground he was on, changed the conversation.

"So," said Asaad, "these people can all tell me I am mistaken; but when

I ask them what is right, they are silent."



Asaad has often remarked, that he is full of anxiety, and finds no rest

for the sole of his foot. In many things he sees the Romish church to be

wrong, and in some things he thinks we are so. Our apparent

tranquility of mind, as to our religious views, is a matter of surprise

to him. This evening he conversed on the subject with more than usual

feeling. "I seem," said he, "to be alone among men. There is nobody like

me, and I please nobody. I am not quite in harmony with the English in

my views, and therefore do not please you. My own countrymen are in so

much error, I cannot please them. God I have no reason to think I

please; nor do I please myself. What shall I do?"



It was not altogether unpleasant to hear these professions of diffidence

in himself, and I endeavoured to turn off his attention from all other

sources of consolation than that of the "Comforter, which is the Holy

Ghost."



Asaad observed, that whatever might be said, and whatever might be true,

of our object, in coming to this country he saw that the doctrines

we taught were according to truth, and he was more than ever determined

to hold to them.



Asaad says, that wherever he goes, and to whomsoever he addresses

himself on the subject of religion, people say, "Ah, it is very well for

you to go about and talk in this manner: you have, no doubt, been well

paid for it all." These insinuations wear upon his spirit, and he

sometimes says, "O that I were in some distant land, where nobody had

ever known me, and I knew nobody, that I might be able to fasten men's

attention to the truth, without the possibility of their flying off to

these horrid suspicions."



He wishes also to have another interview with the patriarch, that he may

tell him his whole heart, and see what he will say. The patriarch is

not, he says, of a bad disposition by nature, and perhaps if he could be

persuaded that he was neither acting from revenge nor from love of

money, but simply from a conviction of the truth, he would be softened

in his feelings, and something might be done with him to the benefit of

religion. He desired, among other things, to propose, that an edition of

the New Testament should be printed under the patriarch's inspection at

Schooair, the expense of which, (if he chose) should be borne by the

English.[F]





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