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Yet, difficulties will not stand in the way, if the people are anxious for the truth. It is certain that many of them are dissatisfied with what they have. About one-third of the number of the Russian church are dissenters, and these are said to represent almost every shade of religious belief upon the earth. Many of them, like the Doukhobors, are fanatics; and one sect, until the law interfered, carried on horrible practices of self-mutilation. The Poportsy are moderate in their dissent, and are different from the orthodox in accepting an older form of worship. The Bezpoportsy are more radical, and look upon the Czar as Anti-Christ, and his subjects, themselves excluded, as the children of Satan. They have no priests, and even women can administer the only two sacraments of their faith, baptism and confession. Marriage they reject, and suicide by starvation or burning alive they believe to be the highest sanctification. Dissent is on the increase. Amid such a religious turmoil, there should certainly be some who are really hungering for the truth; and as the Russians, unlike the generality of the Roman Catholics, read the scriptures, there would be less difficulty, probably, to teach them the gospel.
Though both the Roman and Greek churches are "Catholic," yet there are differences which seem to be irreconcilable. The Greek church is split up into many different divisions of which the Russian is only one, though by far the greatest. There is no Greek Pope, and in Russia nothing resembling one. There are monks who form the black priesthood, and pastors who are married men, and are called the white priesthood. No "graven images" of the Virgin or Saints are permitted, as in Roman Catholic shrines, for the Russians look upon such worship as a breach of the second commandment. They use pictures, apparently forgetting that the command includes "likeness." Babes are baptized by three immersions, and confirmed after baptism. Connected with this ordinance of baptism, a sacred oil, mixed with spices, balsam and wine, is placed on the body of the child. "The eyes are anointed, in order that the child may only see good, the ears that they may admit only what is pure, the mouth that he may speak as becomes a Christian, the hands that they may do no wrong, and the feet that they may tread in the path of virtue."
No tourist can buy a ticket through Russia. One can go to
Cook's or other agencies and purchase a ticket around the world, or through almost any part of it, if one does not wish to go into and out of the Czar's dominions. The disagreeable task of buying tickets as one goes is inevitable, though the agents usually speak German or French or both. The journey from Moscow to Warsaw reminded us of travel in the States. The country is rolling, being covered here and there with woods. When we came to the habitations of man, however, there was contrast. Log houses, with thatched roofs, stand in a little group, and surrounding this village are the fields owned by the village community and the government. The peasants do not own their land independently. Men, women and children, frequently bare-footed, were gathering the harvest. Their tools were sickles and hand rakes. The village live stock, horses, cows, sheep, goats, and sometimes geese, were herded together on some grazing spot near by. The land is not very fertile, and the crops were poor. The journey to Warsaw was of thirty hours duration. We spent one day in Poland's capital; and in the Lazienski park, one of the finest in the world, we found a secluded place, and President Lyman prayed for the Polish people.
He asked the Lord to prepare them to accept the gospel, and to prepare the way for his servants to bear it thither. He prayed that the spirit and love of liberty in the hearts of the people should never die, but that men might there enjoy personal and religious freedom and have their own agency. He prayed that all forms of anarchy, lawlessness and disorder might disappear, that Poland and the whole of Russia might have peace, and that the people and rulers might be prepared for a better state of things. He prayed that the Czar might be preserved and strengthened to carry out his plans of reform. He blessed and dedicated the land for the preaching of the gospel, and blessed the people that they might be receptive of the truth. President Lyman prayed, as he had done on all these occasions, for our beloved Zion and the great work of the Lord.
The Poles, mostly Roman Catholic, are a pleasing and apparently prosperous people. Out in the country, they use the same primitive methods as in Russia proper. During our evening's ride toward Berlin, we saw thousands of bare-footed women and girls binding the sheaves, as the grain was cut by the men, or raking and
loading the hay. Clad in raiment of many colors, they give a strange and interesting touch to the landscape.
From Warsaw to Rotterdam it is about thirty-four hours ride, Berlin being about half way between. We saw the rich land of Germany from the eastern to the western boundaries. The bountiful crops were striking in contrast with those we had seen in Russia. In Holland, among the Elders and Saints, the special features of President Lyman's journey ended.
In time, Russia will be visited by the Elders of Israel. The prospect of success is by no means a hopeless one. Though we learned of difficulties we had not known before, we also gained a favorable impression of the people. A kindly-tempered, obliging, courteous folk the Russians are, with deep-seated, though often perverted, religious tendencies. Besides Judah, we were convinced there is much of the blood of Israel among at least the northern inhabitants of the empire, and we felt that many will yet be gathered, through the grace and power of the Lord, to enjoy the blessings of the everlasting covenant.
[For the Improvement Era.]
We cannot follow the kind advice
The wearing chain of poverty,
Each has a lesson here to learn,
A PATRIARCHAL BLESSING AND ITS REALIZA-
BY DR. J. X. ALLEN, OGDEN, UTAH.
In the summer of 1884, Patriarch James M. Works, brotherin-law of President Brigham Young, paid a professional visit to Ogden. He and I had been intimately associated together in Sheffield, England, in the year 1852, so that it was most natural that he should become my guest during his temporary sojourn among us.
During his visit I was incapacitated from following my calling, consequence of a severe chronic bronchitis which I had contracted through exposure in the preceding winter and spring. Breathing was difficult, and walking more than a few rods at a time, impossible. Medicine-as is common in this complaint-was of but little avail. I was thoroughly discouraged, and consequently not in a happy frame of mind.
On July first, 1884, Brother Works came into my office to announce his intention of leaving Ogden, and of blessing me before leaving. I answered him, I fear, not very civilly-that I failed to see what good his blessing could do me, seeing that I was crippled for life. All who knew Brother Works, know how inoffensive and non-combative he was, but my answer seemed to grieve and arouse him as I had never seen him aroused before. He arose, and with a commanding dignity of voice, gesture, and expression, altogether foreign to the man, he stretched out his hand and said: "Brother James, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me. It commands me to bless you, and I am going to bless you; and I will have no back talk, not a word."
With that he laid his hand upon my head and proceeded to bless me. And oh, such a blessing! He promised me that I should