Page:Chertkov - Christian Martyrdom.djvu/30

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19
ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO

abusive names, such as "milk-men," because they did not fast, but took milk during Lent.

As to themselves, they always called, and call, themselves merely "Christians," whilst others they call "men of the world."

Their origin is unknown, even to themselves; for, being common people and illiterate, they have no written history; neither has tradition preserved amongst them any information upon the subject.

The Society of the Spirit-Wrestlers was originally a dispersed one. Nowhere did they at first form communities, but they lived, a few families in various villages. They were dispersed not only through certain provinces where they were specially strong, but also through almost the whole of Eussia. They even affirm that many of their brethren are to be found in Germany and Turkey, but that in Germany they are more severely persecuted than by the Mohammedans.[1]

  1. This calls to our mind a circumstance in the present life of the Spirit-Wrestlers which came to our notice, corroborating the fact that the spirit of the Christian teaching is by nature common to every human being, and that non-Christian peoples are sometimes more sensitive to it than nominal Christians, whose appreciation is so often blunted by too much familiarity with the lifeless letter of the gospel. When the Spirit-Wrestlers were brought into intercourse with the Mohammedan tribes of the Caucasus, these last, awed by the moral purity and elevation of their conduct, came to the conclusion that the Spirit- Wrestlers had in some way got hold of and put into practice the ancient prescriptions of their own Mohammedan faith, which were practically disregarded by the Mohammedans themselves.—(Ed.)