Page images


to make us all of their religion. For they say that, though Mahommed is the greater prophet, and his religion the only true one, yet that Mahommed is not risen from the dead, but that Jesus is, and that in his person this visitation is to take place ;" a somewhat remarkable though partial coincidence of faith. But when once this delusion shall be removed,—and its religious and political fabric must stand or fall together,-a door will be opened for the more effectual entrance of the gospel; and many from the mass of this extensive empire will doubtless “ enter into the sheepfold of Christ, and find pasture.”

Then," the way of the kings of the east shall be prepared,”—which, whether we conceive with some, to signify the restoration of the Jews, or apply it to the extension of the gospel among the heathen and Mahommedan countries of India, and those which extend to the confines of Palestine,—or whether we regard it as the allied preparation of some eastern powers to possess themselves of the countries then no longer under Mahommedan rule; we cannot doubt but that God will greatly facilitate those events which usher in that important period,—“The days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, in which the mystery of God” shall “ be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” It

may be desirable here to give some short account of the Turkish government and people. “ The orthodox Turk, of whatever rank, is taught to despise all other fields of learning than the Koran, under the belief that Mahommed has recorded all that his faithful followers are required to know. He knows nothing of the countries beyond the bounds of the sultan's dominions. The Turks (unlike the liberal Persians, who have made some advances in science) are unacquainted with the uses of the commonest scientific instruments, which are exhibited to them by travellers, just as we do to amuse children. Notwithstanding that this people have been for nearly four centuries in absolute possession of all the noblest remains of ancient art, they have evinced no taste for architecture or sculpture, whilst painting and music are equally unknown to them. They found, at the conquest of the eastern empire, splendid and substantial public and private edifices, which have been barbarously destroyed or allowed to crumble beneath the hand of time; and huts of wood, compared by travellers to large boxes * standing in rows with their lids opening upon hinges, compose the streets of modern Constantinople, and other large cities. The roads, even in the vicinity of the capital, which in former ages maintained an unrivalled celebrity, are described by the last tourist + to be now in so neglected a state as to present a barrier against the progress of artillery, as complete as though it had been designed by an engineer for that purpose.

“The cause of all this decay is ascribable to the genius of the Turkish government—a fierce, unmitigated, military despotism-allied with the fanaticism of a brutalizing religion, which teaches its followers to rely solely on the sword, and to disdain all improvement or labour. The sultan, who is the vicegerent of the prophet, holds both temporal and spiritual authority over his followers; and this enables him to sway the lives and destinies of the people, with an absoluteness greater than was ever enjoyed by any tyrant of ancient times. Every man who is invested with absolute power, is at liberty to delegate his power unim

* Willis—“ Pencillings by the Way.”
† Quin—" Voyage down the Danube.”

pared to another : the sultan is the vicegerent of the prophet; every pacha is a representative of the sultan; and every soldier who carries an order, the representative of the pacha. The situations of pacha and cadi, or judge, are all given to the highest bidders, who are removable at will, and of course, take care to idemnify themselves at the expense of the governed. It is a fact of public notoriety,' says Thornton, *that governments of every description are openly sold at the porte; they are held for the term of one year only, and at the ensuing bairam the leases must be renewed or transferred to a less parsimonious competitor. The regular remittance of the taxes and tribute is the only acknowledged criterion of upright administration. It is a fundamental principle that all the property conquered by the Turks belongs to the sultan. Hence the Christians are accounted the slaves of the conqueror, and they are only allowed to live by paying a heavy tribute, the receipt for which bears that it is the ransom for their heads! The Turk knows nothing, and cares as little, about freedom of commerce; he disdains trade himself, and despises it in others. Far from favouring the extension of commerce, one great cause of the present barbarism and the past unhappy condition of Turkey, is to be found in the aversion and contempt which its people bear for trade. Jews,' says Hadji Khalfa, the Turkish writer, in speaking of Salonica, "employ many workmen in their different manufactories, and support a number of schools, in which there are not fewer than two hundred masters. ravans that travel from Salonica to Semlin, Vienna, and Leipsig, are loaded with cotton, tobacco, carpets, and leather. It is a shame,' continues the orthodox Hadji Khalfa,


The ca

* Present State of Turkey.

' that so many Jews are allowed to remain in Salonica; the excitement thus given to trade is apt to blind true believers.' Alas! the thousand ships which might find secure anchorage in the superb harbour of Constantinople, would seek in vain for the rich freights of silk, cotton, and wool, which ought to await their coming: such is the character of its people and their rulers, that no native capitalists have ever been emboldened to accumulate a store of merchandise, to tempt the rapacity of the sultan; and vessels which trade to Constantinople have frequently occasion to go to Salonica, Smyrna, or some other port, for return cargoes."

* Russia, pp. 3, 4.



ANOTHER peculiar era in the accomplishment of pro

connected with “ the last times," is the wide extension of Infidelity, and of course, a general dereliction of moral and religious principle throughout the ten kingdoms of the papal apostacy, and of “ the whole world” of professing Christians.

This depraved state of society, which we imagine to be the last and engrossing form of the grand apostacy, merits peculiar consideration, and is found to possess a prominent and distinctive character in the word of God.

“ It is remarkable,” says Mr. Bickersteth, “that the very command to attend to the subject of prophecy, is accompanied with the forewarning that it would be scoffed at, as if to arm the Christian, minding this important part of divine truth, against the peculiar snare to which he would be exposed. Just before the apostle gives his awful account of the day of the Lord, he says, “I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may

be MINDFUL of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and

saying, Where is the promise of his coming ?'”

« PreviousContinue »