Interview With Several Of His Relatives
6. Among those who came to see Asaad to-day, were three of his brothers
and an uncle. Mansoor, the oldest of the brothers, we had never before
seen. He is a furious bigot, and perfectly ignorant and regardless of
the first principles of religion. The second, Tannoos, or Antony, has
lived among us as a teacher, and has good native and acquired talents;
but, though he might be a protestant if he were left at liberty, he
hinks it altogether preposterous to attempt to quarrel with bishops and
patriarchs on the subject of religion.
These two brothers, and the uncle, (the last worse than the first,) came
and conversed together with Asaad in his chamber a considerable time.
Hearing them very earnest, I took the liberty also to go in. They
continued their rebukes and arguments, (especially the uncle,) in so
harsh and unfeeling a manner, that it made me tremble to hear them. They
contradicted Asaad, scoffed at and threatened him, calling him
possessed, mad, under the power of Satan, and so on. Asaad consented to
go home and leave the English, which was the great point they wished to
gain, provided they would get an assurance from the patriarch in
writing, to say, on the faith of a christian, that he would not molest
"But," said they, "then you must hold your tongue, and not broach your
new opinions among the people."
"What," replied Asaad, "must I go and live like a dumb man? No, that I
will never do. My religion binds me not to do it. I must love my
neighbour as myself."
"Why do you not go," said they, "to the Druses, and the Moslems, and
preach the gospel to them? You answer, because there is danger. So there
is danger in the present case; this is not a land of liberty, therefore
Asaad.--"Secure me but the free exercise of my conscience, and I will
go with you. My religion is my all, and I must be free in it."
They.--"We can give you no such security. Nobody dares go to the
patriarch with such a request. You cannot be permitted to publish your
notions abroad among the people."
"Then," said Asaad, "there is no more to be said;"--rising, and with
clasped hands walking the room;--"Religion unshackled--Religion
unshackled, is my doctrine."
They rose and left the room in an angry despair. Mansoor returned, and
wished to speak a word with Asaad at the door. In a moment, Asaad
returned. "Do you know what Mansoor has told me?" said he. "His last
words were, 'Even if the patriarch and the emir should do nothing; if
they make no attempts to take your life; be assured, we ourselves will
do the work: so take heed to your self accordingly.'"
Asaad was much affected by the interview. As soon as he found himself at
liberty, he stepped up into the loft where he sleeps, and threw himself
on his couch in prayer.
While in this attitude his next younger brother, Galed, knocked at the
door. I called to Asaad to inform him of the fact; but he gave me no
answer. I then invited Galed to another room, where Asaad soon joined us
with a full and heavy heart. The two brothers saluted each other with
embarrassment. Asaad evidently wished to be alone, and the brother,
after a few mild, unmeaning inquiries, left him.
Begins to converse more pointedly with the People.
7. I yesterday advised Asaad to direct his conversations with the
people, as much as possible to their hearts, and say little or nothing
on the corruption of their church. He objected to the counsel. I
referred him to similar advice he gave me some months ago. "Ah," said
he, "I thought so then, but I now see that you cannot stir a step, but
you meet some of their corruptions." However, he to-day made the
experiment, and held an hour's conversation with two visiters on the
subject of regeneration. They both thought themselves renewed, but took
too little interest in the subject to confine their attention to it.
"You see," said Asaad, after they had gone, "how little they feel on
such a subject. It is painful to talk with such men. I would rather see
them contradict, and dispute, and get angry, or any thing, than to
appear so dead."