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Per. 1419. C. 44

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The manners and customs of these mountain tribes are note-worthy, . and assume a Jewish cast. This circumstance suggested to Dr. Grant, or at least confirmed him in the idea, that they were of Jewish descent. We have already seen how this opinion is met by Mr. Holmes, another missionary employed by the American Board of Missions.

They offer sacrifice; but are careful to distinguish between making an atonement, and placing upon the altar a peace-offering, or thanksgiving. None of their sacrifices, it would appear, partake of the nature of atonement; though, in some instances, they take of the blood and sprinkle it on the lintel and door-posts. They acknowledge Christ as the one sacrifice for sin, which was once offered for all. Their sacrifices are offered as an expression of gratitude for blessings received, or to obtain new favours, ---for example, the recovery of a friend, or that an important journey might be successful. The animal is slain before the door of the church, and its blood is sprinkled upon the lintels. Part of the carcass belongs to the priest ; but it is generally eaten by the offerer and his immediate friends. Sometimes the victim is offered before the dwelling of the party who provides it, and a portion is sent to every family in the village. Vows and solemn promises are often made to God in connexion with the sacrificial rites.

* Dr. Grant, in his interesting work on the Nestorians, informs us, that the blessing which a Jewish female most of all longed for, lies nearest to the heart of her Nestorian sister. A solemn promise is entered into, that should their desire be granted, the child shall be devoted to the service of God all the days of its life. A son is dedicated to the Church ; a daughter is sometimes, though rarely, devoted to celibacy. In ordinary cases, her marriage dowery is given to the service of the Lord. The most intelligent priest in the employment of the American Mission, at the time that Dr. Grant published his work, had been devoted to God by his mother. He met, in Tiyari, with a priest, who had taken the vow of a



The independent Nestorians offer, at this day, first fruits to the Lord. The first ripe fruits of their fields, gardens, and orchards, are brought to the nearest church ; the same with the firstlings of their flocks. These offerings in many instances go to support the poor; and, it is said that, at one time, they went for the education of the young.

Numerous fasts are held, and they are observed with great strictness. Abstinence from animal food is enjoined one hundred and fifty days out of the three hundred and sixty-five : and so strictly are these days observed, that Layard could not succeed in prevailing upon the men who were engaged in the excavations at Nimroud, to take animal food on these occasions, even thongh he had obtained a dispensation from the Patriarch. The same author observes, that the feasts are kept with equal severity. On the Sabbath, no Chaldean performs a journey, or does any work; Dr. Grant affirms, that, in former times, men have been put to death for breaking the Sabbath-day. Their fast and feast-days commence and terminate with sunset. In connexion with this we are reminded to state, that the mother abstains from all animal food some months before the birth of a child who is destined for the high office of Chief of the Chaldean Church. The Patriarch himself abstains entirely from meat; vegetables and milk constitute his only nourishment.

The Nestorians are a kind and hospitable people. But they are extremely jealous of those who visit them; and will show none of their hospitality till they are satisfied of the friendly intentions of the strangers. The treachery of their neighbours, the Kurds, and the machinations of the Popish missionaries, have led to this watchfulness; and it is all necessary.

"As we approached the village of Duree,” says Dr. Grant, " after a toilsome ride of seven hours over the rough mountain passes, we were hailed by several of the mountain Nestorians from the independent district of Tiyari, who demanded who we were, what we wanted, whither going, &c., and the demand was repeated by each successive party we passed, till finally, the cry seemed to issue from the very rocks over head,- Who are you? whence do you come ? what do you want? A cry so often repeated in the deep Syriac gutturals of their stentorian voices was not a little startling ; and then their bold bearing, and a certain fierceness of expression, and spirited action and intonation of voice, with the scrutinizing inquiry whether we were Catholics, or bad men whom they might rob, bereft my poor cawass (police-officer) of the little courage that had sustained him thus far; and he manifested such real alarm, that I yielded to his earnest request, and dismissed him as soon as we reached the house of the bishop, who assured me that his presence was no longer desirable.”*

At the time of Dr. Grant's visit, the Patriarch was living in peace and Nazarite, and who had allowed his hair and beard to grow, and whose fare was of the coarsest description. A young Nestorian who accompanied him on his tour, made a vow on leaving home, that, should he be permitted to return in safety, he would give a certain quantity of frankincense to the church in the city of Oroomiah, and a gift of corresponding value to another church near his native village.

• Grant's Nestorians, p. 46.


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