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The Christian Religion flourished very generally in Persia till about A. D. 651; when, the Persians being subdued by the Saracens, Mahomedanism gradually acquired the predomi
Constantine the Great, addressed a letter to Sapor, King of Persia, which is preserved to this day, recommending the Christian Churches in his dominions, to his protection ; and a Bishop from Persia was present at the Council of Nice in A. D. 325. It appears also that there was a translation of some portion of the Scriptures into the Persian Language at that period; for we are informed by Chrysostom that, “ the Persians, having translated the doctrines of the Gospel into their own tongue, had learned, though barbarians, the true philosophy;"* and it is stated by another author in the following century, “ That the Hebrew writings were not
only translated into the Greek, but into the Latin, Ethiopian, Persian, Indian, Armenian, Scythian, and Sarmatian Languages." +
* Chrysostom, Hom. II. in Johan.
+ Theodoret, vol. iv. p. 555. We have entirely lost sight of some of these versions in the obscurity of Mahomedan darkness.
In the beautiful homily of Chrysostom on Mary's Memorial, preached about A. D. 380, in which he enumerates those nations, who, in fulfilment of our Saviour's prophecy, had
spoken of the deed of Mary for a memorial of “ her,” he mentions the Persians first, and the Isles of Britain last. “ The Persians, Indians,
Scythians, Thracians, Sarmatians, the race of the Moors, and the inhabitants of the British “ Isles, celebrate a deed performed in a private
family in Judea by a woman that had been a * sinner.”* He alludes to her pouring an “ alabaster box of spikenard on the head of “ Christ," thereby acknowledging him, while yet upon earth, as God's ANOINTED King, and embalming his body, (as our Lord himself explained it) in anticipation of his burial; con
It is not even known what languages are intended by the Scythian, Indian, and Sarmatian. The Christian Church must now retrace her steps, and endeavour to recover a knowledge which she has lost.
* Αλλα και Περσαι και Ινδοι και Σκυθαι και Θρακες και Σαυρομαται και τον Μαυρων γενος και οι τας Βρετανικας Νησους οικουντες, , Το εν Ιεδαια γενομενον λαθρα, , 80 oixla wage yuvaixos @ETTogue rusins, σιρίφιε8οι. .
The argument of Chrysostom is this, that nothing could have given so permanent a celebrity to so private an occurrence, but the Divine Word of Him who foretold it.
cerning which act of faith and love he uttered the following prophetic declaration: “ Verily, " I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel “ shall be preached throughout the whole world,
THIS Also that she hath done shall be spoken “ of for a MEMORIAL of her.” Mark xiv. 9.The Isles of Britain are now the first to restore this memorial, and the Gospel which recites it to the Persians as well as to other Mahomedan nations, who were to lose it generally, during the
great prophetic period of 1260 years. A version of the four Gospels into the Persian Language of a former age remains to this day. It is a faithful translation, and seems to have been made immediately from the Syriac;* but the dialect and orthography are so ancient as to be scarcely intelligible even at Isfahan. The Romish Church has had several Missions in the kingdom of Persia for some centuries past. The Augustinian Mission from Goa commenced in the year 1602," and was permitted by Sultan “ Murad to build convents in all parts of the Empire.” † But they went into Persia, as into other countries, not with the design of instructing men in the holy Scriptures, but of teaching
* This is the Version of the Polyglot.
them the tenets and ceremonies of Rome. To this day, they have not published, under all the advantages of toleration which they enjoyed, a translation of the Bible, or even of the New Testament, into the Persian Language.
It is a reproach to Christians, that the only endeavour to produce a translation of the Scriptures into the language of that extensive kingdom should have been made by the Persians themselves. The representatives of the Christian Churches in Europe of every denomination, may well blush, when they read the following authentic relation of an attempt made by a Persian king to procure a knowledge of our religion.
• Towards the close of the year 1740, Nadir * Shah caused a translation of the four Evan
gelists to be made into Persian.-The affair
was put under the direction of Mirza Mehdee, “a man of some learning, who, being vested “ with proper authority for the purpose, sum" moned several Armenian Bishops, and Priests,
together with divers Missionaries of the Ro"mish Church, and Persian Mullahs, * to meet or him at Isfalian. As to the latter, the Maho
* Mahomedan Priests.
• medan Priests, they could not be gainers, “ since the change of religion, if any, was to “ be in prejudice of Mahomedanism. Besides, « Nadir's conduct towards them had been severe,
to an extreme, and unprecedented degree; many of them, therefore, gave Mirza Mehdee
large bribes to excuse their absence. Among so the Christians summoned on this occasion,
only one Romish Priest, a native of Persia, was a sufficient master of the language to
enter upon a work of so critical a nature. “ As to the Armenian Christians, although they " are born subjects to Persia, and intermixed " with the inhabitants, yet there are very few “ of them who understand the language funda
mentally. It was natural to expect, that “ Mirza Mehdee, and the Persian Mullahs, “ would be more solicitous to please Nadir, and
to support the credit of Mahomedanism, than “ to divest themselves of prejudices, and be.
come masters of so important a subject. This " translation was dressed up with all the glosses « which the fables of the Koran could warrant. “ Their chief guide was an ancient Arabic and « Persian translation. Father de Vignes, a Ro« mish Priest, was also employed in this work, “ in which he made use of the Vulgate edition.
They were but six months in completing this