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“Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Cæsar ? unto Cæsar shalt thou go.”--Acts xxv. 12.
In an old and curious yolume called “The Concealed Treasures of the Beautiful City of Rome,” 1625, in reference to the Church of Alla Regola, it is said, that "it came to be called the School of St. Paul, because those whom he converted to Christ here came to be catechised in a retired site." Its windows even now look out on an extremely narrow street, and with all the uncertainty that must hang over such memorial buildings of the Roman Church, those who enter these dim vaults, may still indulge the idea that at least someuchere in this city they are revisiting the spots in which Paul “turned to the Gentiles," and from morning to evening expounded to them “ the unsearchable riches of Christ,” teaching and preaching the good news of the Kingdom,“ with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” It was here perhaps that Luke may have written, under Paul's supervision, “The Acts of the Apostles;" here Onesimus may have been equipped for his city mission work, and Timothy have received parental counsel, requiting it with filial love. Numbers from the streets and lanes around, may have here come to listen to the strange Jewish teacher, the lifting of whose hand must have been always accompanied by the clanking of his chain to the soldier of Rome who stood beside him.
From this dimly-lighted chamber he may have dictated to his scribe those most valuable Epistles and messages of God to anxious, aching, sorrowing hearts for all time, to the “Holy Church throughout all the world.” As each arrow went forth from his quiver, the modern pillar seems faithfully to describe the joy of his free spirit as he calls himself“an ambassador in bonds," but exults “that the Word of God is not bound.” The eagles on the Roman standards were then winging their flight to the ends of the earth, but that chained eagle was pluming his wings in the “ hired room” for the sake of Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and for a flight through all the remaining ages of time.
“ The Roman Empire,” says Monod, “ required seven ages to establish it, but this man Paul takes only a quarter of an age to regenerate it."
THE BIBLE-WOMEN IN ROME.
Our readers will remember our announcement in August of last year, that two valuable Bible-women, one of whom we had long supported in Milan, had been transferred to Rome on the opening of its long.closed gates to Bible circulation. It seems as difficult in Rome as in Jerusalem to begin real Bible-work from house-to-house, especially by female visitation. Nevertheless, that Bible-women are suffered there at all is a great fact. The humble sowers of the seed go forth in the strength of Him who gave the word; but many must be the refusals met with at first, from the Romans who have been so long used to listen to the priest rather than the Bible, and who at present will not buy if they can have it given to them. There has already been too much gratuitous distribution, and the priests are everywhere alive to watch where it is given, and if possible take it away. Children and soldiers seem gladly to receive portions, and with many a sufferer in hospitals they find little hindrance to reading and speaking the consolation of the Word of God. Now and then a nun or a friar will accept a copy by stealth, and few seem displeased with the offer, and the kind winning words by which it is accompanied. Day by day this good work is going on, and we must prayerfully look for the fruit in the furrows where it is long since God's good seed was thus sown before. Maddelena says she is “ striving with all her heart to do the work of the Lord in Rome." She is following afar off the ancient footsteps of St. Paul.
The Libera Chiesa, under whose shelter they work, find them most useful assistants in the visitation of the sick. They visit in 300 houses, bring children to school, and, as good women best can, are winning their way into poor households, rendering little domestic services, and teaching the mothers how to act in sickness and in health. They are filling up the lack of pastors and Evangelists, and their very presence in such a city as this is a blessing, though the pure Bible-work, as accomplished in England, cannot at first be much.
Rome is still filled with its 10,000 priests, and filled also with infidelity. Their own proverb says, “Rome seen-faith lost." All labourers here have need of unceasing prayer to be made on their behalf. “It is quite unsafe,” says a recent visitor, “ to walk out after dark in any side street. We heard of a gentleman being attacked by robbers, who very nearly stabbed him mortally, within a stone's throw from our hotel, and he would have been killed had not the landlord rescued him."
Our Bible Mission is very expensive here, and if continued we must hope for the help that will support it. We are waiting in faith on the Lord perpetually to succeed it, for surely in Rome, now that His word has found access, it “shall not return unto Him void."
A late report from Maddelena says :
“ We went to the Ghetto, where we distributed Gospels and tracts; also Isaiah, in Hebrew. We spoke to them and invited them to our meetings, some of them came, and when we asked them if they were pleased with what they heard, they said ' Yes, but we wait for our Messiah ; however, we hope in God.'”
THE SYRIAN CHRISTIAN BRIDE.
(A Letter from her Teacher, Saada, to the Hon. Miss
Waldegrave.) “ MY DEAR MADAM,
“I want to tell you something about your adopted girl Naffous, who was the monitor in our Moslem School. She came to us five years ago, and was always anxious to hear about the Christian religion. Then she learned to read very quickly, and after a time found pleasure in reading her Testament. The first thing she did when she came in the morning was to take a Testament and read a portion. Many a time I wondered at the hunger and thirst which she had for the Word of God. HIer conduct was so conscientious, the least fault she committed was a great trouble to her own heart, and she confessed it. In her home they soon saw that she was changed, because she did not use the oaths they used, especially when she was told to say a few words which a Moslem person is always expected to say, • There is no God but God, and Mahomet is His Prophet.' She would not do so. She said to me sometimes, 'I cannot say those words; they are blasphemy. I can say there is no God but God, and His only Son Jesus Christ.'
“During last summer she was persecuted by her family, and came to see me. She was in great distress because her friends would not allow her to come to the school. I said, “We will try and manage it so that you may come.' This was the last time she was permitted to see me.
At last her relatives told her that they were going to poison her the next day, and she ran away to the Institution to take refuge there. As she ran she passed by my house, but did not tell me where she was going. When night came on, her friends rushed to my house to look for her and asked me if she was with me. I said 'No.' They went to look for her in many houses, and searched for her all night. Afterwards I knew she was safe in the Institution. The next day her elder sister came to me and said, “If anybody knows where she is, it is you.' I said, 'I can take you with me to the Institution, and you can see if she is there.'
“She went with me, but she was not allowed to see her sister till her brothers came also. Then Mrs. Mott made them give a promise in writing that they would not injure her, nor make her marry against her will. They took her home, and were kind to her, but gave her no peace. They got a sheikh to teach her to read the Koran.
“A relation asked her one day to have breakfast with his wife, and while she was there the lady talked to her a great deal about being married to a young Moslem officer, and advised her to let her husband, who is an effendi in the Seraglio, settle the matter for her. He was waiting outside, listening at the door, and at last, after much persuasion, Naffous said, “Well, as the effendi wishes!' He heard her, ran off at once to the Seraglio, and told the young man he had found a nice wife for him. Her relatives were very glad, and thought, 'Now she will be quite safe, and kept far away from the school, and her husband will be sure to prevent her from becoming a Christian.'
“They hurried the wedding as much as possible, stitching night and day at her dresses, and about a fortnight after she was married. I did not see her on her wedding-day, but a few days after she sent her little brother to ask me for her little Testament, which had been left with me since they began to be so hard to her, as she feared they would tear it up.
“I sent word, 'I will come and see her.' A few days after I was much surprised to find that her husband had been to see my mother, who is a Bible-woman, and had brought me some flowers, which Naffous sent me. He told them that Naffous was always crying after her teacher Saada, and after the school, and he said he should like to see this teacher, and told my mother where he lived.
Next week I went to see her, and, as soon as I entered the door, she ran to me and said she was happier than if she had seen an angel come down from heaven, and quickly she took me up to her little room, where we were quite alone, and the first thing I asked her was how she was getting on in her
“She said, 'Better than I expected, because my husband and his family are very kind to me; but still it is very miserable not going to school.' Then she brought out a collar which I had given her, and said, 'Do you remember this ?' I said,
Certainly.' She said, ' Every day I get it out and kiss it, and look at it, and think of you and the school, and sit and cry.'
“I said, "Why do you cry, for God is here with you, as He is present in the school, and you must pray instead of crying.'
“She said, 'When my husband and his mother and brothers eat, they say some of their prayers, but I say secretly to myself, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost ;” and at night I pray when my husband is asleep. He is good and kind, and willing to listen, and one evening I told him the story of “ Henry and his Bearer,” and he was very much pleased.' And she said, “ He looks more like a Christian than a Moslem ; ask all the ladies to pray for me, that when I talk to him he may
listen.' “She said, “My relations have married me, because they thought it would send me far from the Christian religion ; but