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THE GREAT MOSQUE, DAMASCUS.

the ferocity and license of the Koran. The beautiful Kubbet and exquisite pulpit are now heaps of charred débris. The embossed bronze door is in ruins, one side of it being utterly destroyed. This door has been declared Christian, and the cups on the door have been pointed to in proof; but the double cup is a symbol of the Mameluke Dynasty, and the inscriptions and style are purely Mohammedan. The whole Mosque with its antiquities, treasures, and adorn. ments, is now a bewildering mass of ruins, bare walls, and blackened rubbish. By this catastrophe Damascus has lost its oldest and most attractive monument, and the Mohammedan world its grandest and most famous Mosque.

The silversmiths' bazaar has gone in the general conflagration, but the place was undergoing repairs, and the jewellers have escaped without loss.

Besides the Mosque, fifteen houses and a hundred shops have been destroyed, and the damage is estimated at 70,000l. for the Mosque, and 30,000l. for the buildings. No part of the loss has been covered by insurance.

The Turkish authorities, in their usual style, forbade any reference in the papers to the destructive fire, and a telegram, sending the news to England, was suppressed at Beyrout The Turks miscalculated the feeling with which the news of their disaster would be heard in England, and they have no conception of the regret with which intelligent Christian people. will hear of the 'destruction of their great historical landmark.

The Damascus Mosque is one of those structures around which historio memories crowd, and which carry the thoughts back to even pre-historic times. According to analogy there is an eccle siastical succession in edifices devoted to religious services, though the fashion and character of the religions change. Christian Cathedrals have succeeded Druidic Temples. The great Mosque at Damascus was a Christian Church before it was changed into a Mosque, and it was a great heathen Temple, larger in dimensions than either the great Temple of the Sun at Palmyra, or the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem, before it was transformed into the Church of St. John the Baptist. But before Greek art and Roman force produced the Great Temple of Damascus, the site. was probably occupied by "the house of Rimmon," in which Naaman the Syrian bowed down (2 Kings v. 18), and it was probably in the same sacred place that King Ahaz saw the beautiful altar (2 Kings xvi. 10-16), which served as a pattern for one at Jerusalem. Nor is it improbable that the local tradition may be true, which tells of an idolatrous Temple occupying the site before "the good King Abraham* came to reside at Damascus.

However that may have been, it is certain that about seventy years after the establishment of Christianity, by Constantine, Arcadius became emperor. He found a great heathen Temple at Damascus, the outlines of which can still be traced by rows of columns, in situ, partially covered up by accumulated debris and the mud houses of to-day. He transformed the Temple

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into a basilica, using the material of the Temple, and the columns of other classic structures throughout the land. The new and splendid church was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, whose head it was said to contain, and the mosque is spoken of to this day as "Jami'a es-Seiyyid Yehya"-" the Mosque of the Lord John." Though the head of John the Baptist was supposed to be in Damascus, his heart was said to be at Aleppo, and one of his fingers at Beyrout.

The great church remained in the hands of the Christians for nearly three centuries. The gorgeous ritual of its priests had pushed the Bible into the background, and the building had become the diocesan centre of Christian idolatry. When the faithless Church had become corrupt, in doctrine, ritual, and practice, the avenger was at the door.

The flight of Mohammed in 622 from Mecca to Medina marks the beginning of the Moslem era. Thirteen or fourteen years later, two of Mohammed's generals, at the head of a victorious horde of Bedawin, laid siege to Damascus. While Abu Obeida was arranging a treaty of surrender with the principal citizens on the west side of the city, a priest was betraying the city to the fierce Khaled on the eastern side. The gentle Abu Obeida entered by treaty from the west gate. Khâled, "the sword of God," entered by treachery through the east gate. Khâled's course was marked by carnage, but when he reached the great Mosque he met his fellow general in possession, surrounded by peaceful citizens.

After a stormy scene between the two generals the work of slaughter was stayed, and the great church of St. John was divided between the Moslems and Christians.

In less than thirty years from the capture of Damascus the city had become the seat of government of the Omayyadi dynasty, and the gorgeous capital of an empire that extended from the steppes of Tartary to the Atlantic.

Walid the sixth Khalif of the Omayyadi dynasty drove the Christians from the church, and changed it into a magnificent mosque, since known as the Jami'a el-Amwi.

The first step towards the conversion of the church into a mosque was to purge the church of idolatrous symbols. An Arab historian tells us that the Khalif, Walid, standing on a great altar, superintended the work of purification. One of his followers fearing some malign influence from a great image, placed near where the Khalif stood, tried to withdraw him from what seemed a perilous position. "Fear not for me," said the great Omayyadi, "for the first spot on which I shall plant my battle-axe will be the head of that image." So saying, he swung his battle-axe aloft and dashed the idol to the ground.

At that time the treasures of all lands, over which the crescent gleamed, were raked into Damascus. If we are to believe Ibu Asakar, the historian, the wealth of Solomon is not to be mentioned in comparison with the wealth of Walid, nor could the temple of Solomcn be compared in barbaric splendour with the great mosque of Walid.

Twelve hundred skilled workmen, and Greek

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TOMB SAID TO CONTAIN THE HEAD OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.

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SOUTH-EASTERN CORNER OF THE GREAT MOSQUE OF DAMASCUS.

artists, were brought from Constantinople to embellish the mosque, and these were served by fifty thousand labourers. Columns of granite from Sinai, or Egypt, and marble from Greece, and verde-antique and pearl-coloured limestone, were set up. The pavement was tesselated with black and brown and snow-white marble. The walls were decorated with the richest mosaics and the most precious marbles. The ceilings were inlaid with gold, and six hundred golden lamps were suspended from the roof by golden chains. Golden vines trailed gracefully around the sculptured arches, and the praying niches were ablaze with brilliants and other precious stones, which were set in the arabesque walls. Not for the first or last time has wealth acquired by robbery been lavished on the religion of the robbers.

In the destruction of Christian emblems, and substitution of Mohammedan, one Christian emblem remained. It was a text of Scripture.

Deeply engraven in a stone over one of the doors, we read in well-cut Greek letters-"Thy kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations." For twelve hundred years the crescent has blazed over what was once a Christian cathedral, and during all that time the wall of the mosque has borne testimony to the enduring empire of our Lord.

On a white marble column, in a ruined mosque in Bosra, there is a companion Greek inscription, beginning with the words "In the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ."

The great Mosque has passed through many vicissitudes. It was burnt to the ground by Timur, popularly known at Damascus as elWahsh, "the Beast." The golden lamps, and golden chains, and golden vines, and precious stones, have long since disappeared from the building; but through all changes, the golden text, like the truth it proclaims, abides.

W"

THE GOSPEL IN UGANDA.

AN INTERVIEW WITH BISHOP TUCKER,

HEN I first met Alfred Tucker he was an undergraduate at Oxford, one of a little band of eager men who, under the leadership of the late Henry Bazely, conducted open-air services at the Martyrs' Memorial, and systematically visited the common lodging-houses in the city. He was older than most of us, for he had begun as an artist, and as an artist had achieved considerable success. His own neighbourhood knew him also as an athlete; a man accustomed to feats of endurance and an excellent leader.

When we next met he was a curate at Durham, and it was whilst working in that city that the call reached him to a post of singular distinction, but of obvious danger. Hannington, the first Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, was consecrated in 1884, and murdered by order of Mtesa in October, 1885. Henry Perrott Parker was consecrated in 1886, and died of fever at the south end of the Victoria Nyanza in March, 1888.

The Church Missionary Society spent two years in finding a suitable successor. They waited, not because there were not many ready enough to take up the work, but because it was more important to get the right bishop than merely a bishop. The choice ultimately fell upon Alfred Robert Tucker. He was consecrated on April 25th, 1890, and started the same evening for his diocese. It must be superfluous to explain that the last two years have been years of overwhelming anxiety to the missionaries in Uganda. Probably no bishop or superintending missionary has had a more perplexing or wearing period to

live through, unless it has been in the midst of a general persecution.

Remembering, no doubt, the readiness which the Religious Tract Society has shown to help with its publications the missionaries in Eastern Equatorial Africa, the Bishop readily consented, soon after his recent arrival in England, to answer some questions put to him by a representative of the SUNDAY AT HOME.

My purpose was not to draw from Bishop Tucker his views as to the political situation in Uganda, or to touch any points of controversy; but only to learn how the gospel fares by the shores of the Victoria Nyanza. I found him within a few hours of his arrival in London; in no wise affected as to his health, save that the sight of one eye seemed permanently weakened by an attack of ophthalmia.

The

We began at once to talk about the position of the Protestant Christians in Uganda. Bishop had found many signs of extraordinary advance 'in the time that elapsed between his first and second visit to that part of his diocese. Despite the wars and rumours of wars, the political uncertainty, and the Mohammedan troubles, there had been both consolidation and extension.

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