Persian Christians That the Gospel was early planted in Persia we have the most unequivocal evidence in the terrible persecution of Christians which began there in A.D. 330, whereby, in forty years, about 250 of the clergy and 16,000 others, of both sexes, were martyred in the cause of Christ, though many of them have been considered as heretics by the Church of Rome, being of the Nestorian and Jacobite communions. In the 7th century they fell under the scourge of Mohammedan tyranny and persecution, whereby many were driven to seek a refuge in India, particularly on the coasts of Travancore, while the great mass of the population apostatized to Mohammed; a circumstance that Mr. Yeates very naturally attributes to their not having the Scriptures in their own language till very recently.
In the middle of the last century a version of the Gospels was made by order of Nadir Shah, who, when it was read to him, treated it with contempt and ridicule; but since the commencement of the present century the Rev. H. Martyn has translated the whole New Testament. It was completed in the year in which he died (1812), and has been presented to the king of Persia by the British ambassador, and favorably received. Notwithstanding both persecution and apostasy, the number of Christians in Persia is said to be still very considerable, and to comprise Georgians, Armenians, Nestorians, Jacobites, and Romish Christians. "The number of these (Persian) Christians amounts to about 10,000. They have an archbishop and three bishops. The former resides at Mosul; one of the bishops at Chosrabad; another at Meredin, and the third at Diarbekir. By the Mohammedans they are called Nazarenes, and Syrians by the Arabs; but among themselves: Ebrians, or Beni Israel, which name denotes their relation to the ancient Jewish Christian Church, as does also their present language. being very like the Hebrew. They have no connection whatever with either Greek or Roman churches. They hold the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity; and declare Jesus Christ to be 'the way, the truth, and the life,' and that through him alone they are delivered from the wrath to come, and are made heirs of eternal life. They acknowledge only the two sacraments, but both in the full sense and import of the Protestant Church. They have at Chosrabad a large church, nearly of the size and appearance of the Scotch kirk at Madras, which is a fine building. Through fear of the Mohammedans, who insult and oppress them, they assemble for divine worship between the hours of five and seven on Sunday mornings. and in the evenings between six and eight. There are also daily services at the same hours. The women and men sit on opposite sides of the church." Of the native Mohammedan inhabitants we shall only remark that they are Shiites (q.v.) of the sect of Ali, and have among them some remains of the ancient Magi, with a sect of modern infidels called Sufis (q.v.). See Buchanan, Researches, p. 167-176; Yeates, Indian Church History, p. 40- 47; Life of the Rev. H. Martyn; London Missionary Register, 1822, p. 45; 1823, p. 25.