Thomas Carlyle.

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of so much exalted gratification.

I need not detail his sur|»ise at the discovery



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30



THE CHRISTIAN TREASUBY.



that this person, to whom their intercourse and
instruction had been made so great a blessing,
was his own brother.

It will be readily conceived that these two
brothers, now united by the strong ties of
Christian affection, as well as by those of nature,
would feel an indescribable satisfaction, the one
in administering, and the other in receiving,
the attention and services which such circum-
stances dictated. The eldest continued to the
last, administering to his younger brother all
the comfort, both for body and soul, which was
in his power; and the younger continued to re-
ceive, with unutterable delight, the brotlierlv
attentions and the spiritual assistance which
had been so mercifully provided for him in a
strange and Heathen land. At length he died,
and the surviving brother who had written
some time before to his mother the detailed
account formerly mentioned concerning him-
self, and who had also written, during his
brother's illness, an account of the circum-
stances in which he had found him — of their
meeting, and of his brother's change of heart —
now despatched a third letter, to announce to
the bereaved mother the peaceful end of her
son, and to console her for the loss, by the de-
scription of the happy days they had been per-
mitted so unexpectedly, and almost miracu-
lously, to spend together.

This last letter was committed to the care of
a person about to sail for England, and who un-
dertook to deliver it himself. The former com-
munication, which the elder son had written
many weeks before, respecting himself, had met
with delay on its passage. The last written
letter, announcing the death of Henry, arrived
the very day after that first mentioned. The
person who had undertaken the delivery of the
packet, took it to the good woman, and said,
** I have brought letters from your son in India."
She replied with astonishment, " I received one
but yesterday." "Then," said the stranger,
" you have heard of the death of Henry V* She
had not even heard of the meeting of the
brothers. She had only just heard of the con-
version of the son that first went abroad. The
sudden announcement, therefore, of the death
of Henry, quite overcame her. Though the day
before, the delightful intelligence had arrived
that her eldest son had become a Christian, and
a Christian missionary, yet now this beclouded
alL She thought, ^ My child is dead — deadin sin
against Grod - -dead in a foreign land, among
strangers. Heathens — not one to speak a word
of divine truth, to tell him of mercy, of a
Saviour's dying love, of hope for the chief of
sinners — no kind Christian friend to pour out a
prayer for his forgiveness, or to direct his de-
parting spirit to that throne of grace where
none ever plead in vain."

A torrent of such thoughts rushed into hor
mind, and filled her heart with an anguish not
to be described. She retired to her room over-
whelmed with sorrow, and sat for many hours.



Describing her feelings at this juncture, she
says: " I could not weep — I could not pray — I
seemed to be stupified with horror and agony.
At last I opened the letters, and when I saw
the hand-writing of my eldest son, whose letter
the day before had given me so much comfort,
I was confounded. As I read on, and found
that the brothers had met; that the eldest had
witnessed the last moments of the younger; and
that this, my second son, ha^been met with by
tJie missionaries, and by them turned from the
error of his ways; that there was no doubt of
the safety of his state; and that he had died in
his brother's arms — O," said she, ** it was indeed
a cordial to my soul. How marvellous are the
ways of Heaven, that both my sons, after turn-
ing aside from the ways of Grod, and from every
means of instruction at home, should be con-
verted to God in a Heathen land ! O the twenty
pounds," she thought; *' and the last declara-
tion of my dear dying mother 1 O what bless-
ings to me were hidden in the twenty pounds !
"What do I owe to her for that saying, * You
will never have cause to repent of giving it to
the Missionary Society !' Could I have fore-
seen all this, what would I not have given !"

The infiuence of these occurrences in con-
fii*ming the faith and hope of this good woman,
may be easily imagined. She could not look
back without astonishment at the dealings of
God with herself and her children; and she
could not recount these remarkable particulars,
without connecting them with the last solemn
request of her pious mother. The privilege of
having two sons rescued in so remarkable a
manner from the profligate and destructive
courses into which they had entered ; the dis-
tinguished honour of having one of them em-
ployed in the missionary work among the
Heathen; and the fact of having them both
rescued from vice and destruction, by the
friendly and pious labours of English mis-
sionaries, as well as the happiness of know-
ing that the one who was torn from her had
experienced, in his last hours, every attention
and solace that the affectionate hand of a
brother could supply; — all these were so inti-
mately connected with the legacy of her mother,
and the almost prophetic words with which it
was delivered, that she could not refrain from
considering the whole a singular fulfilment of
prayers long since recorded on high, and as a
singular illustration of the special providence
of God toward his people.

THE LAST HYMN.

{From " Mome of tlie Heart,'*'* and other Poems, by
Misf Aird),

** Cease fond nature, cease thy strife.
And let me languish into life."

O ! SING once more before I go

That old familiar hymn,
With Sabbath tone so sweet and low.

Ere morning songs begin.



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BURMESE CUSTOMS ILLUSTRATIVE OP SCRIPTURE.



^



Sing of the love that nerer dies,

The friends who never part,
Ere earthly love in silence lies,

While leaning on thy heart —
, ■.' O! sing that holy hymn.

I learned it at my mother's knee,

And sung it to my sire;
And I have sung it ofb with thee,

Beside onr ev'ning fire;
Like odour from a faded rose.

Twill breathe of beauty gone —
Sing, ere earth^s twilight shadows close,

-For hearts must die alone —
Sing low that parting song,

Of faith's adoring mastery,

A victor crowned in dust;
That love's triimiphant agony

Which seals our meeting bnist.
When broken is the golden bowl.

The silver cord is riven ;
Of One who binds the widowed soul —

One, only One in heaven —
To Him our song bb given.

The ocean shell, though distant, sings

The music of the wave.
And sanctified affection springs

In song beyond the grave ;
The Star that led us all our way.

Whose light I praised with thee,
Which lit our path with pillar-ray —

Thou'lt sing where is " no sea,*'
Of all that light with me.

Then touch my heart no more with gloom,

Of passionate farewells.
For through the love-illumin'd tomb

A flood of glory swells;
I hear One calling me by name :

"ThouYt mine — I've ransomed thee;
Fear not, I'm with thee in the flame;

I Seba gave for thee."

Hush ! hush ! my loved One, see !

I oome, like the o'er-wearied dove.

My Ark, my Covenant-home;
O ! clasp me in the arms of love,

O'er floods no more to roam.
But, hark ! the angel-chorals swell.

Sing, glory! glory, sing!
O Grave ! where is thy victory ? tell,

And where, ! Death, thy sting?
Earth ! earth ! dim earth, farewell !



BURMESE CUSTOMS ILLUSTRATIVE OF
SCRIPTURE.

LEPERS.

BY JOHN KITTO, D.D.

It is the privilege of one who knows the Bible well
to render all his other studies subservient to it, and to
make all his readings in the great book of nature,
and in the books of men, yicU their tribute of illus-



tration to the Word of God. This is one of the en-
joyments peculiar to those who are familiar with the
Scriptures; and the satisfaction is varied and ex-
tensive in proportion to the degree of our acquaint-
ance with the Sacred Volume. The more we know
of Scripture, the more ready and frequent will be
our recognition of similar or illustrative facts, cus-
toms, and sentiments, in other writings; and this re-
cognition, by the frequent recollections of Scripture
which it calls up, refreshes the mind, even in its
comparatively secular studies and rcaings, which,
in a certain degree, are sanctified by it.

To show how this habit acts, and, at the same time,
to impart to the reader some of the benefits we have
ourselves derived from it, we will, in this and some
ensuing papers, conduct the reader with us through
a few books which might not, at the first view, seem
likely to furnish satisfactory materials for this exer-
cise. Let us begin with " Malcolm's Travels in the
Burman Empire," and with that part of the work
which treats of Burmese Leprosy and Lepers.

Mr Malcolm states that in Burmah the populatior.
is divided into eight classes—" the royal family, great
oflicers, priests, rich men, labourers, slaves, lepers
executioners." Excluding the last, this division b not,
in its general features, unlike that which prevailed
among the Jews under the monarchy. Indeed, with
the exclusion intimated, we should be disposed to
make little other alteration in it, for the purpose of
illustration, than to introduce another class, consist
ing of the family chiefs, or heads of families and
tribes. These, however, held public employments
very generally under the kings, and might, therefore,
be merged in the class of " great officers." We have
selected this fact, however, chiefly for the sake of
coming through it to the further statement, that
" none of the classes constitute pi hereditary caste,
txcejpt lepers and tU slaves of pagodas,"" The Hebrews
had other hereditary castes, or rather orders, namely,
priests and family chiefs; but they seem to have also
had these two of the Burmese, and no more. The
Nethinim, or servants of the Jewish temple, answered
very nearly to the slaves of the pagodas ; and that their
condition was hereditary is very well known. We
feel most interested, however, respectmg this heredi-
tary caste of lepers. Was there such a caste among
the Hebrews .?> We know that the Hebrew lepers
were excluded firom towns, and lived apart; but we
know, also, that when any one became clean of this
disease, he was, after due examination and probation,
re-admitted to the general society of his fellow-
citizens. Such a provision does not exist among the
Burmese; and it seems incompatible with the idea
of an hereditary caste. Still the idea of establishing
such a caste, among a people who do ^ot habitually
separate themselves into castes, must, we apprehend,
have been founded upon the impression that the
children of lepers were themselves leprous. It may
not have been always so; but it must have been
generally so before such a caste could have been
established. Now a careful consideration of the
particulars concerning leprosy and lepers, which
the Scriptures contain, may lead to the conclusion
that there was something of this kind among the



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THE CHRISTIAN TREASURY.



Imelitet, with UtUe other difference than that with
ihtm thore existed a proTision for the restoration
to society of lach as could show themBelrea firee from
the taint of this remarkable malady.

In connection with this subject, the words of Elisha
to Gehad forcibly recur to the mind : '* The leprosy
of Naaman cleave unto thee and unto thy seed /or
Mwr."^— 2 Kings t. 27. This, as we take it, signifies
that Naaman's leprosy was of an hereditary and in-
curable kind. He had been miraculously cured of it ;
but now it should be transferred to Gkhazi and his
descendants, without the hope of cure or relief.

Now Gehaa'i and his descendants must, in the
course of time, have formed one hereditary caste of
lepers of themselTes; but there were probably others
in the same case, eren in his time, unless we suppose,
which we have no reason to do, that the disease was
in this instance miraculous not only in its transfer
from. Naaman to Qehazi, but in its hereditary cha-
racter. But if the leprosy of Gkhazi was of such
character, and that of Naaman was not, then the
leprosy of Naaman was no longer that of Gehazi
But we are told that it was the leprosy of Naaman,
and not another leprosy, which dore to Gehazi and
to his seed; and if so, it is not pressmg the argument
too far to infer that it was hereditary leprosy, and
that, oonsequently, a caste of hereditary lepers existed
in Syria, and among the Hebrews, in and before the
time of GehazL

The rule seems to have been, that when a man not
bom in leprosy became infected by that disorder,
his children previously bom were considered dean,
BO that they kept themselves separate from him
(2 Chron. zxvL 21}; but his children afterwards
bom, or any children bom of a leprous parent, were
considered as lepers till they could satisfy the proper
authorities that they were not in that condition.

It is so rarely that we find a satisfactory account
of the condition of lepers at the present day, that
there is a peculiar interest in the few facts respect-
ing their condition in Burmah which Mr Malcolm
furnishes, as they may help in some degree to com-
plete our idea of the condttion of the Hebrew lepers,
of which we know nttle more than has been already
stated, namely, that they lived apart, but might,
when healed, be restored to sodety. This is his
statement : *' Leprosy, in several forms, is seen at the
great dties, where its victims collect in a separate
quarter, and live chiefly by begg^g— the only beggars
in the country. The general form is that which
attacks the smaller joints. I saw many who had
lost all the fingers and toes, and some both hands
and feet In some cases the nose also disappears.
It does not seem much to shorten life, and is not very
painfbl, except in its first stages. Those with whom
I conversed declared that they had not felt any pain
for years. In many cases it ceases to increase after
a time; the stumps of the limbs heal, and the disease
is, in fact, cured. I could not hear of any effectual
remedy— it seems in these cases to stop of itselfl It
can scarcely be considered contagious, though in-
stances are sometimes given to prove it so. Persons
suffering under it are by law separated entirely from
other sodety; but their families generally retire with
them, mingling and cohabiting for life. The nugority



of the children are sound and healthy, but it is said
frequently to re-appear in the second or third gene-
ration. Lepers, and those who consort with them,
are obliged to wear a conspicuous and peculiar hat,
made like a shallow, coniod basket. The children,
whether leprous or not, are allowed to intermany
only with their own class.** *

The chief interest of the above passive lies in this,
that it enables us to discover the object and motive of
the minute regulations respecting leprosy contained
in the 1 3th and Uth diapters of X^eviticus. They are
all framed upon the sacred principle, that none but
such as were actually subject to a disease supposed to
be contagious should be placed under the disabilities
and exdusion which it iovolved; and that, for the
benefit of society, none who really suffered under the
malady should be allowed unrestricted intercourse
with their fellow-dtizens. This discrimination could
only proceed upon a dear apprehension of the rigns

* Since writing the above, we have been reminded
of a passage in the " Narrative of the Scottish Mis-
sion of Inquiry to the Jews,** which shows that
what is described above as the prevalent form of
leprosy among the Burmese is also common in Pales-
tine. That it cannot be recognised in the description
given in Leviticus, is doubtless because we have there
the first signs and symptoms of the disease, whereas
these facts describe the condition to which the leper,
under this form of the malady, is eventually reduced.
The inddent occurred at Shecnem or Sycbiar : ** Un-
der a spreading nabbok tree near the gate, we came
upon five or six miserable objects, hal^naked. dirty,
and wasted by disease. Immediately on seemg us,
they sprang up, and stretched out their arms, crying
most imploringly for alms. We observed that some
had lost their hands, and hdd up the withered stumps,
and that others were deformed in the £ue ; but it did
not occur to us at the time that they were lepers. We
were afterwards told that they were so— lepers on the
outside of the dty gate, like the ten men m the days
of Jesus, who liftecyip their voices, and cried, ' Jesus,
master, nave mercy on us ! "*

At the same place, one hundred and forty-two years
before, Maundrell saw ten lepers: but from the de-
scription he gives (in a letter at the end of some edi-
tions of his ** Joumey **) it does not appear that any
of them exhibited this loss of hands, &c, which so
strikinglv demonstrates the presence of the Burmese
form of leprosy in Palestine. Maundrell states that
the leprosv seen by him, ** not only defiles the whole
surface of the bodv with a foul scurf, but also de-
forms the joints of the body, particularly of the wrists
and ancles; making them swell, with a gouty scrofu-
lous substance, very loathsome to look upon.** This
would seem to be merdv a modification of, or pei^
haps a stage in, that kind of leprosy under which the
hands and feet are sometimes lost.

Out of all this arises a question of some interest.
Had any of the lepers whom Christ healed lost tiieir
hands or feet? and if so, did the cure restore these
predous members to them ? The answer would seem
to be in the negative. It appears from Mr MalcoIm*s
account of the Burmese leper, that the disease is in
fEtct cured, as soon- as the wounds arising from the
exfoliation of the limbs are healed, and in that case
they would have been re-admitted into general so-
detVy under the law of Moses. If. therefore, any of
the lepers whom Christ healed laboured under this
spedes of leprosy, they had not yet lost their hands
or feet; but they were in danger of that great cala- |
mity, and would have siiffered it, had not his mercy i
interposed.



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THE POOL OF BETHE8DA.



i of complete recoTcry; and these ngns are accordingly

i pointed oat in the chapters to irhich we have refei^
red with remarkable precision and distinctness. The
want of some such rules as were by the divine bene-

. ficence imparted to the Hebrew people, would among
them, as in Burmah, hare had the effect of excluding
whole generations of men from the free intercourse

I of life, on account of a disease which may at one

' time have affected an ancestor; and of preventing
those who, from the impulse of natural affection,

> nught place themselves in communication with a dis-
eased relative, from evermore returning to the society
of unafflicted men, although they may never, in their
own persons, have known the leprous taint. How
small, in comparison, would then have been the bene-
fit conferred by our Lord upon the lepers whom he
cured ! It would, indeed, have relieved them from
the disease; but he could not, by that act, also have
restored them to their place in the commonwealth,
or have enabled them thenceforth to walk the high-
ways and the streets with freedom, or to mingle with
glad hearts with t .le multitudes that kept holy day in
the courts of the Lord*s house.

A <arcum8tance has just come under our notice,
which seem to afford a further corroboration of our
imprefuion that there was a permanent or hereditary
condition of leprosy among the Hebrews, although
among them this was not, as with the Burmese, the
rule, but the exception.

The law of Lev. xiii. and xiv. is very minute
in its directions respecting the course to be taken
by a person when he first comes under the taint of
leprosy— how he is to conduct himself while in a
leprous condition, and how he is to proceed when he
supposes himself cured. Many of these obligations
are very onerous; and the afflicted persons might be
tempted to neglect or postpone them, were not some
heavy penalty thereby incurred. But the Book of
the Law does not annex any penalty to disobedience;,
and we must resort to the Talmud, and other Jewish
imtings, to know what was the actual penalty in such
cases. From this source we learn, that the penalty
for an infringement of any of the rules laid down in
the law was quite severe enough to insure general
attention, and to protect society frx>m the dangers
which traneigTession might involve. It was no less than
that his leprosy should cleave to him for ever! We

I are not sure whetlier it was supposed that the leprosy
became i>ermanent and hereditary by a special judg-
ment from God, as in the case of Gehazi; or that the
leprosy of such a person was to be held as never to be
cured, and that he was never to be examined by the
priest, with a view to his re-admission to society.
Taken either way, it shows or implies that Gehazi
and his descendants were not alone in their permar
nent leprosy; but there was a permanent body of
lepers— possibly including some persons who, as
among the Burmese, were free from disease, not as
a necessary effect of their having been lepers, but a
penal infliction for disobedience of the law.

The condition of the Hebrew leper is described in
the following words: ** His clothes shall be rent, and
his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his
upper lip, and shall cry, * TaruMy tamee/'^ (unclean,
unclean !) All the days wherein the plague shall be



in him, he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall
dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation
be."— Lev. xiii. 45, 46. The reader will do well to
compare this with the short description of the condi-
tion of the Burmese leper which we have ipioted
fr^m Malcolm. Most of the points coincide in
substance, and differ only in some small details. In
almost every country where leprosy prevails, the
leper is obliged to wear some kind of distinctive
dress, so that people may know and avoid him.
Among the Burmese his head is covered with a
conical cap; among the Hebrews his head was bare;
his garment was rent (in frx>nt it is understood),
in token of his afflicted condition; and, in the pre-
sence of a clean person, he stood covering his mouth
with his hand, or the skirt of his robe. In addition
to which distinction of dress, the leper is, in some
countries, obliged to notify his presence or approach
by some loud and peculiar sotmd. In some places a
small drum is, used for this purpose; in others, the
leper strikes a metal dish, or rattles something in it;,
but the Hebrew leper, when he saw a stranger ap-
proaching, or when he found himself near any place
of resort, was obliged to keep up his melancholy cry
of Tarjue, tartutl

THE POOL OF BETHESDA

BT THE REV. PATRICK FAIRBAIRN, SALTOIT.

We are informed, in the 5th chapter of the Gospel
by John, that on a certain Sabbath our Lord fell
in with a man beside the Pool of Bethesda, who had
been labouring under an infirmity for thirty-eight
years. He had come there hoping to obtain the cure
of hisjdisease; for it was ascertained that an angel
at certain times went in to agitate the waters, and
that the person who first afterwards stepped into them
was cured of whatever disease he had. This unhappy
individual was so disabled in body, and so utterly
destitute- of help, that he could not move himself at
the proper time, and thus had the mortification of
seeing himself always anticipated by some more
fortunate neighbour. But now, fining an interest in
the sympathy of Jesus, he was immediately restored
to such Soundness of health that he could take up
his couch, and carry it away. Regarding the Pool
itself we have no fUrther information, than simply
that it was beside the sheep market (or gate, as it
should rather be), and that it had five porches. The
word rendered ^pooly however, literally signifies a
swimming place, a bath; and the name Bethesda is
made up of two Hebrew words, which mean house qf
mercy; so that in all probability it was, as to its
proper design, a public bath, constructed and buil.t
round with porches, for the accommodation and re-
freshment of the poorer classes. The beneficial effects
on health and comfort which such a work would be
fitted to produce on them, especially in such a country
as Judea, might well entitle it, on that score alone,
to be called a house of mercy. We can only
speak of this, however, as a matter of probability,



Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 9 of 145)