Images de page


MAY, 1852.


As Bishop Gobat is about to visit England, we think the following interesting and brief narrative of his former life will be very full of interest. It is taken from “ Evangelical Christendom." No. 3, March, 1848.

“The high and important station which the Bishop of Jerusalem is called to fill, and the variety of talent and Christian qualification requisite to discharge its duties well, must render its occupant an object of no common interest to all whose hearts yearn to see the spiritual Zion again rise and prosper in the place where its first foundations were laid. To such, the following brief, but authentic, notices of the early career of the Rev. Samuel Gobat, who was consecrated Bishop of Jerusalem at London, on the 5th of July, 1847, may not be unacceptable.

“ Samuel Gobat was born on the 26th of January, 1799, in Cremine, a hamlet of the parish of Grandval, in the Canton of Berne. His aged father is still alive, and though of the peasant class, is described as a most venerable and even respectinspiring figure. In 1819, a remarkable change



took place in the religious views of the family. It was first openly evidenced by Samuel, whose impressions of divine truth were at once sudden and powerful; and from him speedily spread through the rest of the domestic circle. "Still there is reason to believe that his mother's deep, though gentle and unobtrusive piety, had long secretly been employed in working this blessed change. By her young Samuel was conducted, in 1821, to Basle, and placed in the Missionary College as a student. His first appearance there conveyed the idea of a somewhat uncouth, but powerfully-minded, and energetic youth ; and although weak eyes greatly impeded his vigorous prosecution of study, he seemed but to make the more rapid progress in mental attainment, and in the development of Christian character. He continued in the mission-house until 1824, and spent the following year in Paris, for the purpose of prosecuting the study of the Oriental languages, under the celebrated

S. de Sacy, and with a special view to mastering Arabic. În 1825, Gobat entered, along with missionaries Lieder, Kruse, H. Müller and Kugler, into the service of the English Church Missionary Society, and spent nine months in their then newly erected Seminary at Islington.

Being appointed along with Kugler to attempt a mission to Abyssinia, partly with a view to labour for the reform of the native Christians there, and partly to establish, if possible, a missionary station among the Galla tribes, Gobat devoted himself with all the quiet energy of his character to the study of the Ethiopian tongues. The following year led him, and his missionary colleagues, to the Levant, and he found interesting

employment awaiting him in Malta, in the revision of some new Arabic writings, and, at the same time, opportunity of preaching the Gospel in English, though not without incurring considerable personal danger froin the fanaticism of the Maltese Papists. Indeed here, as in many after scenes of labour, Gobat seemed to have been installed in his work with the words, “I will show thee what great things thou shalt suffer for my name's sake.' A native having been awakened to true faith in Christ by his preaching, soon after died, and his burial occasioned a great tumult. Six thousand Maltese assembled to prevent it, and to load the missionary with abuse and opprobrium ; stones were hurled in all directions, and the English garrison was at length called out to prevent greater excesses, yet the missionary himself received no injury.

“ Soon after this occurrence, being appointed to go to Alexandria, he found no other vessel in which he could take his passage but a Maltese ship, which contained, besides its crew of some twenty Roman Catholic sailors, a bigoted priest, and several fugitive officers from Spain and Italy, belonging to the demagogue party. The owner of the ship (a Maltese merchant) warned the mis. sionary against risking his life in such company, candidly telling him, that he could not insure his leaving the ship alive, and only consenting at last to enter him as a passenger on the ship's books, after solemnly declaring, in the presence of two witnesses, that he washed his hands of all responsibility, and had warned the missionary accordingly.

“ When Gobat went on board, he was assailed by the officers with taunting reproaches for his

stupid credulity in believing Christianity at all, and the still greater folly of risking his life to promulgate it; whilst the Maltese, led on by their priest, lavished all sorts of abuse, and even spat upon him. Justification or defence was impracticable, for he was never allowed a hearing ; every attempt to speak produced a new volley of abuse, and he found himself necessitated to endure all in silence. But in the seventh night of their voyage, Gobat was awoke by a tremendous noise on deck, and on inquiring the cause, learned that a fire had broken out in the centre of the ship, in the immediate vicinity of the powder magazine, and that there was therefore great danger of the ship being blown up. All were in the utmost consternation. The priest and Maltese sailors prayed, shrieked, and trembled. The infidel officers invoked all the saints in the calendar. Despair was painted on every countenance. When Gobat had made himself fully acquainted with the state of affairs, and saw that he could give no aetive assistance, he commended himself with child-like reliance to the disposal of his Heavenly Father, and then quietly seated himself to await the event. The fire was at length most unexpectedly got under, and the passengers returned to their beds. The following morning, when Gobat appeared on deck, expecting his usual salutation of mocking gibes, with shame and spitting,' he was not a little surprised to perceive the Maltese, and their priest, in one part of the ship, and the officers in another. All greeted him with politeness, and suffered him to take a couple of turns on the deck unmolested. At last the priest approached, and said in a respectful, and even a timid voice, · Last night, when we were all


trembling and despairing, we remarked you calm and composed, as if nothing particular were occurring, from which I am led to conclude that your faith must be the true one; I beg you therefore to inform us on what foundation it rests.' From this moment the missionary had freedom and opportunity to preach the Gospel, and found attentive listeners, not only in the Maltese crew, but in the Spanish and Italian officers. On their landing at Alexandria, all parted from him with expressions of gratitude, and requested his prayers. He never saw any of them again. The priest, indeed, who evinced an unusual thirst for knowledge, and had apparently adopted wholly new views, came afterwards to Jerusalem; but when Gobat inquired after him he learned, that being unable to agree in sentiment with the Catholic priests in the Holy City, they had driven him from it. More particulars concerning him were either not known or withheld.

“In September, 1826, Gobat reached Cairo, where he met his brother missionary, Kugler, and spent six months, devoting his time to intercourse with Mahommedans, and to the acquirement of the Amhara language from some persons connected with the Abyssinian embassy. Still, the portals of Abyssinia, that goal of Gobat's mission, remained closed to him, and he therefore set out with Kugler towards Syria and Jerusalem. It was in February, 1827, that Gobat first trod that land destined to be the scene of his future, though then little anticipated, labours. The three months spent in Jerusalem afforded many opportunities for preaching the Gospel, especially to Greeks and Mahommedans; and the immediate object of their journey, which was to cultivate an acquain

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »