chapter  XV
Pages 22

THE impassable gulph between us and the Falaskas being now bridged over, we at once commenced our missionary work by visiting Avorno, half-an-hour's distance south-west of Gondar. This village, which lies on the other side of the river Gaha, on a rich and fertile plain, consists of about thirty houses and a mesquid. Forbidden by ceremonial rigour from entering a Falasha dwelling, we took shelter from the vertical rays of a scorching sun, behind a dilapidated wall, overshadowed by the mimosa and the graceful euphorbia. The report of our arrival instantly attracted everyone, who was at home, to the spot where we had alighted. After the usual salutations, we inquired whether they had any religious books, to which they replied, " We have Moses and David." On this we rejoined, "Do you also believe in the Prophets, and in Christ, of whom all the inspired writers unitedly testify?" 'I'hey hesitated a little,

and then said, in a timid tone of voice, as if conscious that they were uttering an untruth, " We keep the law." We reminded them that they could neither keep the law, and that the law was not able, even if they possessed the ability to perform all its rites, and to conform to all its ordinances, to procure for them pardon of sins, or acceptance with God. We further told them that a sacrifice far more precious than those that bled on the altar in the temple was indispensable, and that Christians possessed this sacrifice in Christ, who, by His vicarious suffering, atoned for our guilt, and provided for our justification. They cordially assented to every word we said, and only regretted that they were too ignorant to retain all these precious truths. To our inquiry whether they had any desire to learn, they exclaimed with an imploring expression in their black lustrous eyes, "0 yes! a yes ! " We then informed them that we were also Falaskas, who, moved by compassion for their hopeless and deplorable condition, had crossed seas and deserts, dreary swamps and unsightly wilds, to communicate to them those tidings of mercy, which alone can secure peace to the troubled conscience, and fill the soul with love to a sin-hating God. They were exceedingly grateful for our interest in their spiritual welfare and everlasting happiness. At our departure they all accompanied us, and we had several times to entreat them to return, before they could be persuaded to tear themselves away from their unexpected friends.