Friday, August 21, 2009

Misson of inquiry to the Jews

Here's how Robert Murray M'Cheyne's life unfolded in one particular year:
1839 March
It is proposed that M'Cheyne be included in the party of ministers of the Church of Scotland to visit Palestine with a view to finding out the condition of the Jews and the opportunities for future Gospel mission to them. His doctors concur with this suggestion, deeming that the warmer climate of the Mediterranean would be conducive to his recovery to full health.

1839 April 11
Start of the Mission of Inquiry. Four Scottish ministers set out from London. They are Robert M'Cheyne, Andrew Bonar, Alexander Keith and Alexander Black. Two young men accompanied by two older men.

Rev. William Chalmers Burns agrees to deputise for M'Cheyne during his lengthy absence from St Peter's. The Mission takes seven months in all.

1839 April 20
Lyons, France. During their overland journey through France they distribute French tracts.

1839 April 24
Genoa, Italy. Speaking the gospel to ordinary Genovese would have got them jailed, but they manage to speak to some Jews.

1839 May 5

1839 May 15
Alexandria, Egypt. From there, they continue on camels to Palestine, accompanied by two Arab guides.

1839 June 7
Arrive in Jerusalem. Subsequently that month visit Bethlehem & Hebron and Bethany, then Gibeon, Sychem, Samaria, Carmel. The older ministers, A. Black and A. Keith later return to Britain separately due to ill-health, stopping en route at Budapest, Hungary.

1839 July 5
Arrive in Beyrout (modern Beirut, Lebanon). During July they visit Syro-Phoenecia and Galilee. Visit several synagogues.

1839 July 29
Approach Cyprus, then on towards Constantinople.

1839 August 5
Bouja, near Smyrna (modern Izmir). M'Cheyne has suffered a high fever since they left Beyrout, and recuperates at the home of the English chaplain Rev Mr Lewis and his wife in Bouja, a small village in the hills.

1839 August 26
M'Cheyne arrives in Constantinople (modern Istanbul).

1839 Sept-Oct.
Return journey via Wallachia, Moldavia, Austrian Poland, Prussia and Hamburg. There they hear the first news of the wonderful work of God that had lately taken place in Scotland. Newspapers have brief references to the revivals at Kilsyth and Dundee under the preaching of W. C. Burns.

1839 November 6
Sail up the Thames into London. They receive more details of the revival.

1839 November 22
M'Cheyne arrives back in Dundee and meets Burns the following day. They both go into the pulpit together.

[A few years later...]

1842 May
"Narrative of a Visit to the Holy Land and Mission of Inquiry to the Jews" by Andrew A. Bonar & Robert Murray M'Cheyne, is finally published on behalf of the Board of Mission of the Church of Scotland.
As a result:
The report of their Mission of Inquiry was first published in 1842. Though several further editions appeared, it had been long out of print until a slightly abridged paperback edition was published by Christian Focus in 1996, under the title "Mission of Discovery: The beginnings of Modern Jewish Evangelism - The journal of Bonar and McCheyne's Mission of Inquiry". This 446 page work has detailed accounts of their visits to synagogues and conversations with the Jews they met during their journeys. The report subsequently led to the sending of the Daniel Edwards as a missionary to the Jews in Poland, followed by that of 'Rabbi' John Duncan to the Jews in Hungary. Two prominent Jews who came to a living faith in Jesus Christ were Alfred Edersheim and Adolph Sapphir in Budapest.

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