Public Statement Of Asaad Shidiak





Beyroot, March 1826.



Respected Brethren and Friends,--Since many have heard a report, that I

have become insane; and others, that I have become a heretic; I have

wished to write an account of myself in few words, and then let every

reflecting man judge for himself, whether I am mad, or am slandered;

whether following after heresy, or after the truth of the orthodox

faith. Every serious man of understanding will concede, that true

religion is not that of compulsion, nor that which may be bought and

sold; but that which proceeds from attending to the word of God,

believing it, and endeavouring to walk according to it to the glory of

God, and that every one, whose object is solely contention, and who does

not obey the truth, but follows after unrighteousness, is far distant

from the true religion. This is the standard, by which I would be judged

by every one who reads this narrative.



About eight or nine months ago, I was employed, by an American by the

name of J. King, in teaching him the Syriac language. At that time, I

was very fond of engaging with him in disputatious conversations, to

prove him to be in error; but with none but worldly motives, to display

my talents and knowledge, and acquire the praise of men. After this, I

applied myself to reading of the word of God with intense interest. Now

this person wrote a farewell letter to his friends, in which he excuses

himself from uniting himself with the Roman Catholic church. After

reading this letter, I found, in the Holy scriptures, many passages,

which made against the opinions of the writer. These passages I

selected, and from them and other evidences, composed a reply to him.

But when I was copying the first rough draught of the same, and had

arrived to the answer to the last of the objections, which he said

prevented his becoming a member of the Roman Catholic church, viz: that

the Roman Catholic church teaches, that it is wrong for the common

people to possess or read the word of God but that they ought to learn

from the popes and councils, I observed the writer brings a proof

against the doctrine from the prophet Isaiah, viz: "To the law and to

the testimony, if they speak not according to my word, it is because

there is no light in them."



While I was endeavouring to explain this passage also, according to the

views of the Roman Catholic church, with no other object than the praise

of men, and other worldly motives, I chanced to read the 29th chapter

of Isaiah, from the 15th verse to the end. I read, and was afraid. I

meditated upon the chapter a long while, and feared that I was doing

what I did, with a motive far different from the only proper one, viz.

the glory and the pleasure of God. I therefore threw by my paper without

finishing the copy, and applied myself diligently to the reading of the

prophecy of Isaiah. I had wished to find, in the prophets, plain proofs,

by which to establish, beyond contradiction, that Jesus Christ is the

Messiah, so long expected from ancient days; proofs that might be made

use of in answer to Moslems and Jews. While I was thus searching, I

found various passages, that would bear an explanation according to my

views, but did not find them sufficient to enforce conviction on others,

until I finally came to the 52d chapter 14th verse, and onward to the

end of the next chapter.



On finding this testimony, my heart rejoiced, and was exceeding glad,

for it removed many dark doubts from my own mind also. From that time,

my desire to read the New Testament, that I might discover the best

means of acting according to the doctrines of Jesus, was greatly

increased. I endeavoured to divest myself of all selfish bias, and loved

more and more to inquire into religious subjects. I saw, and continue to

see, many of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, which I could

not believe, and which I found opposed to the truths of the Gospel; and

I wished much to find some of her best teachers to explain them to me,

that I might see how they proved them from the Holy scriptures. As I was

reading an appendix to a copy of the sacred scriptures, printed at Rome

by the Propaganda, and searching out the passages referred to, for

proving the duty of worshipping saints, and other similar doctrines, I

found that these proofs failed altogether of establishing the points in

question, and that to infer such doctrines from such premises, was even

worthy of ridicule. Among other things, in this appendix, I found the

very horrible Neronian doctrines, that it is our duty to destroy

heretics. Now every one knows, that whoever does not believe that the

pope is infallible, is a heretic in his opinions.



This doctrine is not merely that it is allowable to kill heretics, but

that we are bound to do it. From this I was the more established in my

convictions against the doctrines of the pope, and saw that they were

the doctrines of the ravenous beast, and not of the gentle lamb. After I

had read this, I asked one of the priests in Beyroot respecting this

doctrine, and he assured me, that it was even so as I had read. I then

wished to go to some place, though it might be a distant country, that I

might find some man of the Roman Catholic church sufficiently learned to

prove the doctrine above alluded to.



After this, as I was at Beyroot teaching a few Greek youths the Arabic

grammar, I received a letter from his holiness the Maronite patriarch,

saying, that if I did not cease from all assistance whatever to the

English, and that if I did not leave them within one day, I should,

ipso facto, fall under the heaviest excommunication.



Thinking, as I did, that obeying my superiors, in all things not

sinful, was well and good, I did not delay to leave, and so went to my

friends at Hadet; but still thinking very much on the subject of

religion, so that some people thought me melancholy. I loved exceedingly

to converse on religious subjects, indeed I took no pleasure in any

worldly concerns, and found all worldly possessions vain. After this, I

received a second letter from his holiness the patriarch, in which he

said thus: "After we had written you the first letter, we wrote you a

second; see that you act according to it. And if you fulfil all that was

commanded in it, and come up to us when we come to Kesran, we will

provide you a situation." But I saw that nothing, in which I was

accustomed to take delight, pleased me any longer. I returned again,

after some time, to Beyroot; and after I had been there no long time,

Hoory Nicolas arrived, brother to his holiness the rev. patriarch, with

a request from the latter, to come and see him, which I hastened to do.

Hoory Nicolas then began to converse with me, in the way of reprimand,

for being in connexion with the English. I replied that, as we ought not

to deny the unity of God, because the Musselmans believe it, so we ought

not to hate the gospel because the English love it. He then began to

tell me of the wish of his holiness, the rev. patriarch, that I should

come out to him, and of his great love to me; and said that he (the

patriarch) had heard, that I had received thirty or forty purses of

money from the English; and he assured me of their readiness not to

suffer this to be any hindrance to my coming out from them.



Now if my object were money, as some seemed to think, I had then a fair

opportunity to tell him a falsehood, and say, "I indeed received from

the English that sum, but I have expended so and so, and cannot leave

them unless I restore the whole." In this way I might have contrived to

take what I wished. Yet I did not so answer him, but declared to him the

truth, how much wages I had received, and which was nothing

extraordinary.



He then gave me a paper from his holiness the patriarch, in which he

says, "You will have received from us an answer, requesting that when we

come to Alma, you will come up and see us. We expect your presence, and,

if God please, we will provide you some proper situation, with an income

that shall be sufficient for your sustenance. Delay not your coming,

lest the present happy opportunity should pass by." Knowing, as I did,

that many people supposed my object, in continuing with the English, to

be gain, I did not delay fulfilling the request of his reverence, hoping

to remove this suspicion, and to enjoy an opportunity of speaking the

truth without being hired to do it.



So, about the 7th of January, I left Beyroot, with Hoory Nicolas, and

arrived at Der Alma the same night. His holiness, the patriarch, was not

there. On the next day, when he came, I met him, and saluted him in the

road. In the evening he called me into his chamber, and began to ask me

questions, that he might discover what I was; and I answered him telling

him the whole truth, although this course was opposed to my personal

convenience. At this he seemed surprised, for he must have perceived it

was contrary to what he had been accustomed to see in me. Afterwards,

when I declared to him, that I never had before been a believer,

according to the true living faith, he was probably still more

astonished. He then asked me if I believed as the Romish church

believed. I again told him the truth, that I did not. He asked then what

was my faith, and I answered to the following purport, "True and living

faith must be divine, connected with hope, love and repentance, and that

all these virtues are the gift of God &c.; that I believed the truth as

God had inspired it; and that it would be but a lie, if I should say

that I believed as the Romish church does, while in fact I do not. I

must have proofs."



After some conversation like this, he told me that this doctrine of mine

was heretical, and that as long as I remained in this state of opinion,

he would suffer no one to have intercourse with me in buying and

selling, &c. This prohibition of his brought to my mind the words in the

Revelation, xiii, 17.[G] Then he gave me to understand, that if, after

three days, I did not get back out of this state, I must no more enter

the church. At other times, he wished me to swear by the eucharist and

by the gospel, that my faith was like the faith of the Roman catholic

church. He asked me if I was a Bible man; I replied, "I do not follow

the opinions of the Bible men; but if you think me a Bible man on

account of the opinions I have advanced, very well."



The sum of what I said was, that without evidence I could not believe

what the Romish church believes. From that time, after three days, I did

not enter the church for a space. Some time passed again, and the

patriarch inquired of me my faith. I then explained to him what I

believed respecting the unity and trinity of God, and that the Messiah

was one person with two natures, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from

the Father and Son. Then arose a disputation about, who is the Vicar

that Christ has appointed to explain his law. I answered in substance as

I afterwards did in writing, that by reason, and learning, and prayer to

God, with purity of motive, we may know, from the holy scriptures, every

thing necessary to our salvation. This was the purport of my reply,

which perhaps was not expressed with sufficient clearness, or perhaps I

was not able to say it in the manner that was appropriate, for such a

tumult and storm were excited in the company that they seemed to me to

be intent on overcoming me by dint of vociferation, rather than by

argument, and to drown my voice, rather than to understand my opinions.



When, after some days, came bishop Abdalla Blabul and Padre Bernardus of

Gzir, the patriarch one day called me to them in his chamber, and asked

me what I wished, whether money or office, or whatever it might be,

promising to gratify me, speaking of his love to me and of his great

interest in my welfare. These professions I know to be sincere, but

they are according to the world, and not according to the Gospel. I

assured him that I wanted nothing of the things he had mentioned; that I

was submissive and obedient to him; and that if he thought of me, that I

had taken money of the English, he was welcome to shut me up in my

chamber as to a prison, and take from me every thing that I possessed;

that I wished from them merely my necessary food and clothing, and that

I would give them this assurance in writing. The bishop and priest then

begged me, in presence of the patriarch, to say that my faith was like

that of the Romish church. I replied, that I feared to tell a falsehood

by saying a thing, while actually, in my reason, I did not believe it.



"But," said they, "the patriarch here will absolve you from the sin of

the falsehood." I turned to the Patriarch and put the question whether

he would so absolve me. He answered, that he would. I said, "What the

law of nature itself condemns, it is out of the power of any man to make

lawful." He then again asked me what I wished to do. I said, I wish to

go and see the Armenian patriarch Gregory, and inquire of him what I

ought to do. He consented, and requested me, when I had done this, to

return to him, to which I agreed. I was accompanied by a priest from the

station of the patriarch to the College of Ain Warka, where I found

Hoory Joseph Shaheen, with whom I conversed a considerable time, and

with great pleasure; for I found that for himself, he did not believe

that the pope was infallible in matters of faith, that is to say, unless

in concert with the congregated church. I then began to confess to him:

but when I saw that he held steadfastly some opinions for no other

reason than that the church so believed, and without bringing any proper

evidence of the fact, viz. from councils or from the fathers, and burst

out upon me with exceeding bitter words, saying, "Know that the church

neither deceives, nor is deceived, and be quiet;" and when I wished him

to instruct me according to the word of God, with the simple object of

glorifying God and fulfilling his will, I saw that he was not disposed

to support any opinion because it was according to the word of God, but

because so thought the church; and I saw him also ready to retain these

opinions, although I should bring the strongest evidences against them

from the holy Scriptures. He told me that it was impossible for him to

teach any thing contrary to the council of Trent. So I found I could not

receive his system, because, though you should shew him that it was

wrong, he would not give it up, lest with it he should be obliged to

give up his office. I therefore told him, you are bound, i. e. shut up

as between walls, by the doctrines of the pope and the council of Trent.



In conversation on the images, he would have proved their propriety from

Baronius' church history. We found this author quoting the sacred

scriptures to prove that our Saviour sent a picture of himself to the

king of Abgar. I declared that it was false, in so far as he stated that

the Gospel made any such statement, and on that account I could not

believe the story. To this he gave me no answer. After this, as we were

reading the book, and found a statement respecting the bishops collected

in Constantinople, to the number of 313; that they decreed the abolition

of the use of images, because it was idolatrous, and that in the

clearest terms,--I asked him the question, "If an assembly composed of

the bishops of the church were infallible, how is it that this council

is said to have committed an error?"



About this time, I heard that a certain individual wished to converse

with me on the subject of religion, which rejoiced me exceedingly, and I

was impatient for an interview. He came on a Sabbath day to Ain Warka,

for the study of the Arabic grammar, according to his custom, and we had

a short conversation together on works unlawful on the Sabbath day, and

other subjects. He then excused himself from further conversation for

want of time; but promised that when we should meet again, he hoped to

have a sufficient opportunity to dwell on these subjects at large. I

continued at Ain Warka the whole week, reading with the rest at prayers

and confessing to Hoory Joseph above mentioned; and on the next Lord's

day, the Armenian priest aforesaid came again, and I fully expected to

have time and opportunity to ascertain his opinions; but I was

disappointed again; for he wished to have the dispute carried on in

writing, and to have an assistant with him, with other conditions.



In these circumstances I failed of my object; but was on the whole more

inclined than before to receive the doctrines of the Romish church;

since the priest had promised to bring his evidence, on all points, from

the word of God, that they (the papists) were walking in light and not

in darkness.



At this time one informed me that his holiness, bishop Jacob, superior

of the convent of Bzumar, wished to see me. And because Hoory Joseph, at

first told me that this state in which I had fallen was a temptation of

Satan, and at one time shewed me that it was usual for people, when they

came to the age of manhood, to be tempted on the subject of their

religion, and at another, assured me, that this was a state of

delirium:--and again, because I had heard formerly that this bishop

Jacob had himself been delirious, and that he was a man of information,

I wished very much to see him; and on the same day I went to Hoory

Joseph and declared to him plainly my opinions, and shewed him that the

beast mentioned in the Revelation was a figure, as the lamb evidently

was, and how dreadful must be the torments of those who worship the

image of the beast. I then disclosed to him my intention of going up to

the convent of Bzumar, where were the patriarch Gregory, bishop Jacob,

and the Armenian priest already mentioned.



I set off the same day, and on my arrival saluted the patriarch, and on

the same night reasoned on the subjects of faith, hope and love. It

appeared that the patriarch's opinion was, that a man may be possessed

of living faith, faith unto salvation, although he should feel nothing

in his heart. I answered him with a quotation from St. Paul, "With the

heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is

made unto salvation." But this did not convince him. He explained the

heart to mean the will. It then appeared to me that he was not a

true believer, and from that time forward I could not believe him, as I

would believe a real Christian, but I wished to hear his worldly

arguments. On the following day, I asked him how it can he said, that

the pope was infallible if there were no proofs of the fact to be

brought. I asked him if this pretension of the pope was that of an

apostle, or a prophet? if an apostle, or a prophet, he could not be

believed without miracles, and that we christians were not to believe

any one, though he were to bring down fire from Heaven.[H] His replies

to me were weak; and after considerable conversation on what is the

church of Christ, on the ignorance that is pardonable, &c. he began to

prove that if the pope is not infallible, then there is no religion,

no gospel, and even no God. But I observed all his proofs so weak,

that I could not be convinced, and I fell into deep perplexity as to

what I should do. For sometimes I greatly endeavoured to submit my

judgment to his rules and opinions, and made these efforts until my very

head would ache. The next day I asked him what was that great city,

ruling over the kings of the earth, mentioned in the Rev. xvii, 18?

After he had brought his book of commentaries, he answered that it was

Rome, which is also called spiritual Babylon, or Babel, and after

wishing me to yield to his opinion or that of the book, he said nothing

more. From this time I was with the patriarch every day for three or

four hours, and his best advice to me was, to pray to St. Antony of

Padua, together with one repetition of the Lord's prayer, and one of

Hail Mary, &c. every day for three days. When I was thus in doubt from

the weakness of their proofs, one of the monks said to me, "If you wish

to know good tobacco, ask the patriarch." I hoped that this priest

would explain to me those doctrines of the Romish church, which I could

not believe; so I went into his chamber and questioned him very

particularly on all points. He expressed his wish that we might discuss

together all the points one by one, but on condition that the patriarch

Joseph should appoint him to do so. He told me he had in his possession

a book refuting the opinions of Luther and Calvin. I begged permission

to read it; but he refused, telling me that the doctrines of the church

all remained unrefuted. He wished me to go down to the patriarch Joseph

on this business. So after a stay of four days from my arrival, I

departed for Ain Warka according to my promise to Hoory Joseph.



Here I found one of my friends of whom I had heard that he had been very

much astonished at my connexion with the Bible men. After I had seen

him, and had conversed with him a little on some points, he would no

longer hear me, fearing among other things lest he should be crazed.

When we touched on the subject of the great city above mentioned, he

told me that he had seen a book of commentaries on the Revelation, which

made the city clearly to be Rome. At this I wondered greatly, since the

meaning was so clear that not even the teachers of the Romish church

herself could deny it. I then finished my confession to Hoory Joseph

Shaheen, and about sunset the same day, went down to the patriarch to

the convent Alma. He requested me again to write a paper stating that my

faith was according to the faith of the Romish church. From this I

excused myself, begging that such a thing might not be required of me,

for the council of Trent had added nothing to the rule of faith, which

was established by that of Nice, which begins, "I believe in one God,"

&c. A short space after, I gave him my advice, with modest arguments,

and mild suggestions, on his duty to cause the gospel to be preached in

the church among the Maronite people; and offered him the opinion that

this should be done by the priests in the vulgar language, every Sabbath

day, for the space of one or two hours; and if this should appear too

burthensome to the people, to take off from them some of the feast days.

After this, I remained silent in my chamber near to his own; and as

there came to me a few of the deacons of the patriarch, and others, I

read to them at their request in the New Testament printed in Rome. But

in a little time after, I entered my room, and found in it none of all

the books that had been there, neither New Testament nor any other, and

I knew that the patriarch had given the order for this purpose, for he

reproved me for reading the gospel to them, but he could accuse me of no

false or erroneous explanations, or that I taught them any thing

heretical.



One day after this, he called me to his presence and began to threaten

me in a most unusual manner. I said, "What do you wish of me, your

reverence? What have I done, and what would you have me do? What is my

sin, except that I conversed with some individuals, shewing them the

errors of the church of Rome?" Then he requested me again, to say, that

I believed as did that church, and said, grasping me firmly by the chin,

"see how I will take you if you do not repent." I begged him to appoint

some one to shew me the truth, by way of discussion, but he would not,

and continued expressing his own sentiment, that we are bound to hold

fast to the church, even to such a length, that if she should even

reject the gospel, we should reject it too.



And here I wish to say a word to every reader that regards and loves the

truth; how does such doctrine appear to you? and how could I believe in

all which the Romish church holds, without knowing all of it? and how

could I say, without a lie, that I believe, when I do not believe?



When I saw the patriarch breaking out with an exceeding loud and unusual

voice, I was afraid that I should be found among "the fearful," (Rev.

xxi. 8.) and rose to depart. When I reached the door, I turned and said

to him, "I will hold fast the religion of Jesus Christ, and I am ready

for the sake of it to shed my blood; and though you should all become

infidels, yet will not I;" and so left the room.



One of my friends told me, that he had suggested to the patriarch the

grand reason why I did not believe in the pope, which was, that among

other doctrines of his, he taught, that he could not commit an error,

and that now, though a pope should see any one of his predecessors had

erred, he could not say this, for fear that he also should appear to

be an unbeliever. This friend also told me, that the patriarch wondered

how I should pretend that I held to the Christian religion, and still

converse in such abusive terms against it; and I also wondered, that

after he saw this, he should not be willing so much as to ask me, in

mildness, and self-possession, and forbearance, for what reasons I was

unwilling to receive the doctrines of the pope, or to say I believed as

he did; but he would not consent that the above mentioned Armenian

priest should hold a discussion with me, and more than this, laid every

person, and even his own brother, under excommunication, if he should

presume to dispute or converse with me on the subject of religion.



Under this prohibition from conversation, and this bereavement of books,

from what quarter could I get the necessary evidence to believe in their

opinion?



Another cause I had of wonder, which was, that not one of all with whom

I conversed, after he saw me to be heretical and declining from the

truth, thought proper to advise me to use the only means of becoming

strong in the faith, viz. prayer to God the Most High, and searching his

Holy Word, which a child may understand. I wondered, too, that they

should ridicule me, and report me abroad as one mad and after all this,

be so fearful to engage in a dispute with the madman, lest he should

vanquish them in argument, or spoil their understandings, or turn them

away from the truth.



After some time came the bishop of Beyroot. I gave him the usual

salutation, and was greatly rejoiced to see him, as I knew the

excellency of his understanding, and his quickness of apprehension, and

hoped that, after some discussion between us, he would explain the

truth, and that he would rest on clear evidence to support his views.

But in this case also, I was disappointed; for one day, when I asked him

a question, and during the whole short conversation which followed,

whenever I began to bring evidence against him, he was angry, and

finally drove me from my chamber in a fury, and that with no other

cause, as he pretended, than that he did not wish to converse with a

heretic.



Some time after this, Hoory Joseph Shaheen came down to the convent of

Alma, and I endeavoured to get him to unite with me in persuading the

patriarch to send out among the people preachers of the gospel, or that

there should be preaching in the churches as before mentioned. But he

would not co-operate with me in this, and I was again disappointed.



Then, when the patriarch and the bishop of Beyroot wished to dispute

with me, I expressed the hope that the discussion might be in meekness,

and without anger. It was concluded that the discussion should be in

writing, that no one afterwards should be able to alter what he had once

said. They then commenced by asking me questions; the first question

was, in amount, this, "Has the Messiah given us a new law?" At first, I

did not grant that he had, strictly speaking, given us a new law, and

quoted the words of John, that "the law was given by Moses, but grace

and truth came by Jesus Christ;" but when I afterwards saw that by "a

new law," they meant merely the gospel, or the New Testament, I

answered in the affirmative. They then asked me if there was not to be

found in this new law some obscurities. I answered, "Yes." They then

asked me, Suppose any difference of sentiment should arise between the

teachers of Christianity, how are we to distinguish the truth from the

error? I answered thus;--"We have no other means of arriving at the

truth, than searching the word of God, with learning, and reason, and

inquiry of learned spiritual teachers, with purity of motive, and with

disinterestedness of inclination. If the obscurities of the word of God

cannot be understood by these means, our ignorance is excusable, and

will not prevent our salvation. If the passages, which still remain

obscure, concern faith, it is sufficient for a man to say, I believe

according as the truth is in itself before God, or I believe in the

thing as God inspired it to the writer. And if the obscurity respects

our practice, after making use of the means above mentioned, if that

branch of our practice be forbidden, or under a doubt, desist from it,

but if it is not forbidden, do it, and Blessed is he that condemneth

not himself in the thing which he alloweth."



After I had given them this answer, they brought no evidence to prove

any error in it, and moreover afterwards never put to me any question to

writing.



Once, as I was walking with the bishop of Beyroot, he began to tell me

how much they all felt for me; and how unwilling they should be to put

me in chains to die a lingering death; and that were it not for the

sympathy and their love towards me, there were people who had conversed

with them, who were ready to take my life. Some further conversation

passed, and I began to introduce the subject of religion, and to ask how

we could believe in the pope that he was infallible. He quoted for proof

the words of our Saviour, Thou art Peter, &c. I asked him if it was

proper to suppose that all things bestowed on Peter, were also given to

the pope? If so, why does not the pope speak with tongues; and why is he

not secure from the evil effects of poison, &c.? He answered, that these

last things were not necessary. "But how do you prove it necessary,"

said I, "that the pope should not err? Is it not sufficient if any one

has doubts, to ask his teacher who is not infallible? if you say yes,

then the opinion of the fallible man will answer. But if you say no,

and that we must go to the pope, what must become of the man who dies

before the answer of the pope can reach him?"



He then resorted to another mode of proof, saying, "Is it not desirable

that the pope should be infallible?" I assured him I wished he might be

so. "Well, is not God able to render him so?" "Yes, He is able to do all

things." He wished to infer his point from these two premises. But I

said, "your reasoning with regard to the pope, may be applied to all

the bishops of the church; for it is desirable that they should all be

infallible, and God is able to make them so." He said, "No, for the

bishops feeling less their need of the pope, would not look to him, or

submit to him as their head, and then there would be divisions and

contentions in the church." But why, said I, did not divisions and

contentions arise among the apostles? Were they not all infallible as

well as Peter? He would not say they were infallible. I told him, that

was an opinion that could not be believed, that the pope was infallible,

and the apostles not; for it was well known to all, that the Holy Spirit

descended upon the apostles in a peculiar manner. I asked him again, how

it could be made to appear that divisions would be produced if all

bishops were infallible, for if they were all of one opinion, as they of

course would be, their union must be the more perfect. We conversed

farther at some length, when he concluded by saying, "You are possessed

of a devil."



The next day, as the patriarch and the bishop of Beyroot were seated

under a tree without the convent, I went out to them, and said, "Your

holiness sent to me to come hither for employment, and I came, and have

remained here a considerable time. What do you wish me to do for you,

for I cannot remain here in idleness?" He said, "What do you wish to

do?" If your holiness pleases, that I teach in the school of Ain Warka,

I will do that. "No, I cannot have you go to Ain Warka, to corrupt the

minds of those who are studying science, and to contradict my opinions."

But I will instruct in grammar. "No, the youths of the college are now

attending to moral science." Well, I only beg you will let me know

what I am to do, and if you have no employment for me, I wish to return

home. The bishop here broke in upon the conversation, saying, I will not

suffer you to go back among my flock to deceive them, and turn them away

to heresy. Will you then debar me, said I, from my home? If so, let me

know where I shall go, what I shall do? The bishop then said to the

patriarch, "Indeed I will not suffer this man to go abroad among my

people, for he is even attempting to make heretics of us also." Yes

replied the patriarch, it will not do after this, to afford him a

residence in any part of the land. The bishop then turned to me, in the

bitterest anger and rage, reviling me and saying, "If you go among my

people again, I will send and take your life, though it be in the bosom

of your own house." I said, "Well, what would you have me to do, and

what will you do with me? If you wish to kill me, or shut me up in

prison, or give me up to the government, or whatever it may be, I wish

to know it." "You must wait here till spring or summer," said the

patriarch, "and then we shall see how you are." I answered him in the

words of that christian who was given by his judge ten days to

deliberate whether he would worship an image: "Consider the time

already past, and do what you please."



I asked the bishop his reasons for wishing to kill me. What evil had I

done? He was filled with high and bitter indignation, saying, "What,

miscreant! Shall we let you go forth to corrupt my flock for me? Is not

what has passed enough?" I rose and said to them, "God at least is with

me," and left them. The patriarch sent after me his nephew, requesting

me, in soothing words to return, and saying that he would do what I

wished.



But when I contemplated the hardness of heart manifested by the bishop,

I could not restrain myself from reproving him, hoping that he would

grow mild. I said, therefore, "Our Lord Jesus Christ said, out of the

abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, and that Satan, who was in

his heart, wished to kill me, for Satan was a murderer from the

beginning." I told him, moreover, that he was not a true disciple of

Christ. And when I had left them a second time, the patriarch again sent

his nephew to enquire of me what I wished; whether it was money, or what

else, promising that he would answer my enquiries.



I returned and told him, that I had a request to make of one thing

only, and that I hoped he would answer me, not as to a little child,

who would ask a childish thing. He asked me what it was. I said I have

to ask of you the favour to send from your priests two faithful men to

preach the gospel through the country, and I am ready, if necessary, to

sell all that I possess to give to them as part of their wages. He

promised me it should be done. But I had reason to expect that he would

receive such a request as from the mouth of one out of his reason. Now

there was at the convent a man called Hoory Gabriel, who was said to be

insane, and was known to all his acquaintance as a man that never would

say a word on the subject of religion, and he was a scribe of the

patriarch, and from the time of my arrival until that day, had never

asked me a single question about my faith, or opinions, nor had given me

the least word of advice about any of my errors. The same night, as this

priest was passing the evening in company with the patriarch, bishop,

and other individuals, as if they had been conversing on my idiocy in

making the request of to-day, the patriarch sent for me to come and sit

with them. I came. The patriarch then asked this priest and the others

present, if two proper men could be found to go and preach the gospel.

They then answered one to another, such an one, and such an one, would

be the fittest persons, some mentioning one and some another, looking at

me in the mean time laughing, to see what I would say.



I smiled in a pleasant manner at all this, and when one asked me, why I

laughed? I said to the patriarch, "Have you not perfect confidence in

the integrity of the priest Gabriel?" He said, "Yes." I then said, pray

let this priest then examine me for the space of a few days, and if he

does not conclude that I am a heretic, I will for one, take upon

myself this duty of preaching. This remark put an immediate end to the

conversation.



The third day, when the bishop wished to mock me before the patriarch

and a shekh of the country, I answered his questions according to his

own manner; but in a little time he began to revile me, and rebuke me

for blasphemy against the eucharist, against the virgin Mary and the

pictures, and that because I had said before one of his deacons, that

were it not for fear of the patriarch, I would tear all the pictures to

pieces and burn them. I gave him answer to every particular by itself,

and when he found that he could produce against me no accusation, he

increased in wrath. I then said, if this is your pleasure, I will say no

more. I told him that I had said, that pictures were not Gods; that such

was my opinion always; and that I wished to tell all the common people

so, that they might understand it. But to this he would not consent. He

then began to accuse me of saying of the eucharist, "Let them smell the

scent of it, and know that it is but bread and wine still." I told him

that if he would give me leave to speak, or if he wished to hear my

views, I would speak; "but how is it that you bring against me

accusations, and do not suffer me to make my defence?" Here again he was

not willing that I should speak, but the patriarch said to me,

"Speak." I then observed, that St. Ephraim says, "Come, eat the fire

of the bread, and drink the spirit of the wine;" and began to say from

this, that our eating the body of Christ was not natural, but spiritual.

Then again he fell into a rage against me. I said to him, "It is

written, be ye angry and sin not. I told you before, that I would keep

silence and not speak without your consent, and whatever you wish, tell

me that I may act or refrain accordingly." At this the patriarch smiled.

But the bishop fell into a passion still more violent, against the

patriarch as well as myself, and rose and went away. I also left the

room. In the evening, when were collected together the patriarch and

bishop and all the monks, with priest Nicholas, whom they were about to

ordain bishop on the morrow, the patriarch began to ask me questions

respecting my faith. When I saw that their object was neither to benefit

me, nor receive benefit, I gave them answers calculated to continue the

conversation in a trifling strain, saying, "My faith is the faith of

Peter, and the faith of Peter is my faith. I believe all that God has

given by inspiration to the one only holy catholic church." He asked me,

What is the church? I answered, "The church is the whole company of

those who believe in the Messiah and his law, on all the face of the

earth." But where is the place of the church? "The place of the church

is the whole world, it is made up of every nation and people." "What,"

said he "the English among the rest?" "Yes, of the English also."

Afterwards, when he continued to question me, and I saw that he had no

other object than to try me, I assured him, this is my faith, and to

this faith will I hold, whether it is worth any thing in your estimation

or not. I then asked him if he was willing to hold a discussion on the

subject; but he would not permit it in any shape. He afterwards

requested me to tell my faith again without fear and without

concealment. I referred them to the priest that was about to be

ordained, saying, that I had conversed with him on all points

particularly, and that he was able to make answer for me. The priest

then bore testimony on the spot, that I had said before him that I

believed the pope to be infallible, while I never said this to him at

any time. Afterward, when I was in his company privately, I inquired how

he could bear such testimony as he had done. He confessed in the fullest

terms, that he knew it was a falsehood, but that he said what he did,

that they might cease talking with me. The same night I had resolved on

quitting them; so at about midnight I left the convent, committing

myself to the protection of God, who never deserts them who put their

trust in him, and arrived at Beyroot, on the morning of Thursday, March

2, 1826.



Here then I remain at present, not that I may take my views from the

English, or from the Bible men, nor that I may receive my religion from

them. No, by no means; for I hold to the word of God. This is beyond all

danger of error. In this I believe; in this is my faith; and according

to it I desire to regulate my life, and enjoy all my consolations. By

this I wish to show what I believe and not to confer with flesh and

blood, that I may not run now nor hereafter in vain; for I know and am

persuaded, that the true religion is not according to the teaching of

men, but according to the inspiration of God: not according to the

custom of education, but according to the truth, which is made manifest

by the word of God. I therefore say to myself now, as I did in the

convent with the patriarch, where I wrote thus:



"Far from me be all the commandments of men. Nothing is to come into

comparison with the teaching of Jesus by reading the New Testament. If

our hearts are not transformed, there is the greatest danger that we

die in our sins. If any thing in the doctrine of Jesus seems burdensome,

let us pray that he may make it light; and if there is any thing that we

do not understand, let us pray that he would instruct us and reveal the

obscurity to all who truly believe in Jesus. There is nothing more

delightful to the soul than he. O taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed are all that put their trust in him! Cast thy burthen on the

Lord and he will sustain thee. Sweet is the sorrow produced by his word;

for it gives us an aversion to all the consolations of time. Let us

therefore seek refuge in God. Alas for thee, O thou that trustest to the

doctrines of men, especially if they give rest to your conscience, for

that rest is false and deceitful, proceeding from the thoughts of men,

and preventing you from attaining that true rest, of which the Apostles

speak, saying, We do rest from our labours. Take heed lest there be in

any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.

Read the word and it shall teach you all things necessary to your

salvation. If you say you do not understand it, behold the promise of

St. James, If any may lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to

all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. The

divine word is a most precious treasure, from which all wise men are

enriched. Drink from the fountain itself. Again, I say, vain is the

philosophy of men; for it recommends to us doctrines newly invented, and

prevents our increase in virtue, rather than promotes it. Cast it far

from you."



This is what I wrote some time since, and I would revolve these thoughts

in my mind at all times. The object in all that I have done, or

attempted, or written, in this late occurrence, is, that I may act as a

disciple and servant of Christ. I could not, therefore, receive any

advice, which should direct me to hide my religion under a bushel. I

cannot regulate myself by any rules contrary to those of Christ; for I

believe that all who follow his word in truth, are the good grain, and

that all those who add to his word, are the tares sown by the enemy,

which shall soon be gathered in bundles and cast into the fire

unquenchable. And I beg every member of my sect, i. e. of the Maronite

church, who loves truth, if he sees me in an error to point it out to

me, that I may leave it, and cleave to the truth. But I must request

those who would rectify my views, not to do as did a priest at Beyroot,

who after a considerable discussion, denied the inspiration of the New

Testament. Men like him I do not wish to attempt to point out my errors;

for such men, it is evident, need rather to be preached to, than to

preach; and to be guided, rather than to guide. But if any understanding

man will take the word of God and prove to me from it any doctrine

whatever, I will respect him and honour him with all pleasure. But if a

doctrine cannot be established thus, it is not only opposed to the

doctrines of Christ, but to the views of the early christians, the

fathers of the church; such as St. Ephraim and others. Such doctrines I

cannot confess to be correct, although it should cost me the shedding of

my blood. Be it known, that I am not seeking money, nor office; nor do I

fear any thing from contempt, nor from the cross, nor from the

persecution of men, nor from their insults, nor their evil accusations,

so far as they are false. For I am ready for the sake of Christ to die

daily, to be accounted as a sheep for the slaughter, for he, in that he

suffered being tempted, is able to succour those that are tempted. I

consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be

compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. I believe that

Jesus is our High Priest for ever and hath an unchangeable priesthood,

wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by

him, for he is the one Mediator between God and man, and he ever liveth

to make intercession with the Father for us; and he is the propitiation

for our sins, and to him be glory with the Father and his Holy Spirit of

life for ever and ever--Amen.



I would only add, if there is any one, whoever he may be, that will shew

me to be under a mistake, and that there is no salvation for me unless I

submit to the pope, or at least shew me that it is lawful to do so, I am

ready to give up all my peculiar views and submit in the Lord. But

without evidence that my views are thus mistaken, I cannot give them up,

and yield a blind obedience, until it shall be not only told that I am

mad, but until I shall be so in fact, and all my understanding leaves

me. Not until men shall have burned not only the Bibles printed by the

English, but all the Bibles of the world. But these two things,

understanding and the Bible, I pray God to preserve both to me and to

all the followers of Christ, and that he will preserve and save all you,

my friends, in the Lord.



ASAAD SHIDIAK.





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