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Chinganoor; a Church of the Syrian Christians,

Nou. 10th, 1806.

From the palace of Travancore I proceeded to Mavely-car, and thence to the hills at the bottom of the high Ghauts which divide the Carnatic from Malayala, The face of the country in general, in the vicinity of the mountains, exhibits a varied scene of hill and dale, and winding streams. These streams fall from the mountains, and preserve the vallies in perpetual verdure. The woods produce pepper, cardamoms and cassia, or common cinnamon; also frankincense and other aromatic gums. What adds much to the grandeur of the scenery in this country is, that the adjacent mountains of Travancore are not barren, but are covered with forests of teak wood; the Indian oak, producing, it is said, the largest timber in the world.

" The first view of the Christian Churches in this sequestered region of Hindoostan, connected with the idea of their tranquil duration for so many ages, cannot fail to excite pleasing emotions in the mind of the beholder. The form of the oldest buildings is not unlike that of some of the old Parish Churches in England; the style of building in both being of Saracenic origin. They have sloping roofs, pointed arch windows and buttresses supporting the walls. The beams of the roof being exposed to view are ornamented; and the ceiling of the choir and altar is circular and fretted. In the

Cathedral Churches, the shrines of the deceased bishops are placed on each side of the altar. Most of the Churches are built of a reddish stone, squared and polished at the quarry; and are of durable construction, the front wall of the largest edifices being six feet thick. The bells of the Churches are cast in the founderies of the country: some of them are of large dimensions, and have inscriptions in Syriac and Malay-alim. In approaching a town in the evening, I once heard the sound of the bells among the hills; a circumstance which made me forget for a moment that I was in Hindoostan, and reminded me of another country.

• The first Syrian Church which I saw was at Mavelycar: but the Syrians here are in the vicinity of the Romish Christians; and are not so simple in their manners as those nearer the mountains. They had been often visited by Romish emissaries in former times; and they at first suspected that I belonged to that communion. They had heard of the English, but strangely supposed that they belonged to the Church of the Pope in the West. They had been so little accustomed to see a friend, that they could not believe that I was come with any friendly purpose. Added to this, I had some discussions with a most intelligent priest, in regard to the original language of the Four Gospels, which he maintained to be Syriac; and they suspected from the complexion of my argument, that I wished to weaken the evidences for their antiquity.* Soon, however, the

*" You concede," said the Syrian," that our Saviour spoke in our language; bow do you know it?" From Syriac expres

gloom and suspicion subsided; they gave me the right hand of fellowship, in the primitive manner; and one of


sions in the Greek Gospels. It appears that he spoke Syriac when he walked by the way (Ephphatha), and when he sat in the house (Talitha Cumi), and when he was upon the cross (Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani). The Syrians were pleased when they heard that we had got their language in our English books. The priest observed that these last were not the exact words,

Ail, Ail, lamono sabachthani.' I answered that the word must have been very like Eli, for one said “He calleth Elias.' " True,” said he, “but yet it was more likely to be Ail, Ail (pronounced Il or Eel) for Hil or Hila, is old Syriac for Vinegar; and one thought he wanted Vinegar, and filled immediately a sponge with it. But our Saviour did not want the medicated drink as they supposed. --But," added he,“ if the parables and discourses of our Lord were in Syriac, and the people of Jerusalem commonly used it, is it not marvellous that his Disciples did not record his parables in the Syriac Language ; and that they should have recourse to the Greek ?" I observed that the Gospel was for the world, and the Greek was then the universal language, and therefore Providence selected it. “ It is very probable,” said he, " that the Gospels were transJated immediately afterwards into Greek, as into other languages; but surely there must have been a Syriac original. The poor people in Jerusalem could not read Greek. Had they no record in their hands, of Christ's parables which they had heard, and of his sublime discourses recorded by St. John, after his ascension ?" I acknowledged that it was generally believed by the learned that the Gospel of St. Matthew was written originally in Syriac. “ So you admit St. Matthew? You may “ as well admit St. John. Or was one gospel enough for the • inhabitants, of Jerusalem ?" I contended that there were many Greek and Roman words in their own Syriac Gospels


their number was deputed to accompany me to the Churches in the interior.

When we were approaching the Church of Chinganoor, we met one

of the Cassanars, or Syrian Clergy. He was dressed in a white loose vestment with a cap of red silk hanging down behind. Being informed who he was, I said to him in the Syriac Language, “ Peace be unto you.' He was surprized at the salutation, but immediately answered, “The God of peace be with you.' He accosted the Rajah's servants in the language of the country to know who I was; and immediately returned to the village to

our approach. When we arrived I was received at the door of the Church by three Kasheeshas that is, Presbyters, or Priests, who were habited in like manner, in white vestments. Their names were Jesu, Zecharias, and Urias, which they wrote down in my Journal, each of them adding to his name the title of Kasheesha. There were also present two Shumshanas, or Deacons. The elder Priest was a very intelligent man, of reverend appearance, having a long white beard, and of an affable and engaging deportment. The three principal Christians, or lay elders, belonging to the Church, were named Abraham, Thoma, and Alexandros. After some conversation with my attendants they received me with confidence, and

“True;" said he, “ Roman words for Roman things.” They wished bowever to see some of these words. The discussion afterwards, particularly in reference to the Gospel of St. Luke, was more in my favour.

once more

affection ; and the people of the neighbouring villages came round, women as well as men. The sight of the WOMEN assured me that I was (after a long absence from England) in a Christian country. For the Hindoo women, and the Mahomedan women, and in short, all women who are not Christians, are accounted by the men an inferior race: and, in general, are confined to the house for life, like irrational creatures. In every countenance now before me I thought I could discover the intelligence of Christianity. But at the same time, I perceived, all around, symptoms of poverty and political depression. In the Churches, and in the people, there was the air of fallen greatness. I said to the senior Priest, You appear to me like a people who have known better days. It is even so,' said he. We are in a degenerate state compared with our forefathers.' He noticed, that there were two causes of their present decay.

About 300 years ago, an enemy came from the west, bearing the name of Christ, but armed with the inquisition : and compelled us to seek the protection of the native Princes. And the native Princes have kept us in a state of depression ever since. They indeed recognize our ancient personal privileges, for we rank in general next to the Nairs, the nobility of the country ; but they have encroached by degrees on our property, till we have been reduced to the humble state in which you find us. The glory of our Church has passed away ; but we hope your nation will revive it again.' I observed that the glory of a Church could never die, if it preserved the Bible.'

We have preserved the Bible,' said he, the Hindoo Princes

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