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the hope, that the circumstances adverted to, are the probable, though not the certain, prelude of a turning to the Lord, from the delusions of their favourite prophet, the impostor of Mecca ?"
In addition to the reasons for cultivating this missionary field, deducible from the above extract, I would beg leave to add, that if the consequences ensue, which may, by the blessing of God, be anticipated from the labours of faithful missionaries, in the itinerancies north of the lines; the way will be opened for introducing the gospel into the mountains, with much greater prospect of success than on supposition the young missionaries were to be stationed chiefly in other settlements, and little more to be attempted here, till the present obstructions to our entering the mountains be removed. Several of the mountain tribes speak dialects of the Tartar language, and, among almost all of them, there are many who understand it; and should it please God to touch the hearts of a few of the Mohammedans who speak that language, within sight of the Caucasian range, much-very much-might be expected from their co-operation in addressing their neighbours the mountaineers, on the great concerns of eternity. Were it necessary to say more on the importance of this station, considered as a central position for itinerating, I would refer you to a circular letter (a copy
of which I had the pleasure of seeing in Mr Paterson's) issued by the Directors when they first heard that Messrs Brunton and he had pitched their tent at the bottom of Beshtow, and within sight of the snow-clad mountains of Caucasus.*
There is still one other point at which I must glance, how reluctantly soever, before closing these remarks, viz. the treatment given the Scriptures in this quarter, by the fiery zealots of Islamism. The idea cannot be contemplated without the most painful emotions. To give away the Scriptures to be destroyed, is an operation at which the heart of a Christian must naturally recoil; and it is scarcely less painful to withhold them from suppliants who are perishing through ignorance of their contents, even though there be strong presumptions of an intention to destroy them; for presumption is not proof. It strikes me, that if regular itinerancies were instituted, something might be done for extricating the missionaries here from this dilemma, by laying it down as a kind of general rule, to lend the books, in the first instance, to those who could read them, on condition they should be furthcoming, when called for, in subsequent tours. To encourage them to read them, they might
On this subject, see also Mr Dickson's memorial.
be promised as the reward of diligence, and at length gifted altogether, or recalled, as circumstances directed. In order to this, it would be necessary to have the names and places of abode of those to whom they were entrusted. I am aware the remedy would be only partial in its operation; for ways and means would be fallen upon to evade its tendency. But should it serve only as a kind of check, it might be worth making the experiment. Whether it may be necessary to adopt precautions analogous to those in other quarters, it does not become me to say, as my sphere of observation is by far too limited to serve as a stable foundation for general inferences. I hope the mentioning of this abuse, instead of checking the ardour of the friends of pure and undefiled religion, will stimulate their activity, and make them the more strenuous in their endeavours to send living instructors, along with the volume of inspiration, wherever it is practicable, and particularly in Mohammedan countries, where our Scriptures are prejudged, and condemned without a hearing, as little better than forgeries, and consequently are less likely to be read with candour (the wickedness of destroying them out of the question), than among Pagans who have never heard of the name of Jesus, or of the revelation which he has given us respecting the way of life and salvation. Finally, it should be remembered, that the
spirit of delusion which has for ages retained possession of the Mohammedans, is a kind which "goeth not out but by prayer and fasting;" and consequently that, in preaching the gospel, we must humble ourselves in the dust, and ascribe the glory to him, to whom alone it is due, saying, "Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name be the glory."
EDINBURGH, Printed by Andrew Jack.