« PreviousContinue »
very latest period; I have therefore been obliged to content myself with such as have come within my reach : and I mention this circumstance, because that it may not be supposed that if I do not always quote notices wbich bave been received within this or the last year, I have not done so in order to avoid what may appear adverse to that which I shall assert. I should with the greatest of pleasure have examined the history of every Mission down to the present day, had it been compatible with my occupations, or had it been possible for me to have access to the documents. It has been in my power to have access to those of two or three years back in a pretty complete form; and on that account alone it is that I may choose my specimens from that period. The fact is, that the estimates which we shall be able to make will be, I am sure, sufficiently accurate. Since I am directing my attention and yours, more to the working of a principle, to the discovery how a method wbich bas been pursued bas been found to act : this will be accomplished whether we make an average of a smaller or of a greater number of years—if we shall discover that the failure of the act has been in consequence, not of the want of time, but of the want of power in the means.
I find, for instance, from an authentic document published in the Christian Register in 1830, that five of these societies, from which one of the most opulent is omitted, raised funds in this country alone in that year to the amount of £198,151. Certainly, if the other societies raised in the same proportion, the sum must have been more than double that quantity. Besides this, however, we must not omit the co-operation of the foreign societies, especially those of America, the contributions from which are also very considerable; and, above all, we must not forget the immense co-operation that is afforded to these societies by that which is considered the most important, the most interesting-I mean generally
-in this country; that is, the Bible Society : for a great portion of its funds go to assist in the principles of Missionary establishments, by furnishing them with copies of the Scriptures, which are considered the most important and most essential instrument in the accomplisbment of their objects. I find that in the same year, 1830, this society, in this country alone, raised the almost, I should say, incredible suin of £372,877; so that, between merely the five societies wbich I have men. tioned, we have half a million in one year devoted to the work of conversion. Besides this, there are grants made officially to some of the societies, which considerably increase their income. There are local grants also made for the purpose of some particular missions, as in the instance of the late mission to Australia, in which the Missionaries were provided for out of the Colonial funds; and the same may be said of Canada, and of many other parts ; so that, as far as the power which almost unlimited means can give towards this object, we may say that these societies possess it. These funds are naturally directed to support the
persons who undertake the work of the ministry. These therefore are sent forth in every direction; but the estimates which I have been able to see of the number employed are so contradictory, that I should hardly venture to say what is the number employed over the whole world. I know that a very scientific Journal, a few years ago, estimated them at 5,000; but this I believe to be a considerable exaggeration. Certainly, if we are to judge by the proportion of the income possessed and devoted doubtless to the purpose, they must be very considerable indeed. I have no hesitation in saying that they are three or four times the number the Catholic church employs. They are sent forth provided with every thing necessary for their work; there is no danger of their being left without all that is necessary, not merely to secure their existence, but to give them that footing in the places where their Missions lie which can give them a certain character and weight, so far at least as station can give it; for I found that the allowances made to different Missionaries varied in proportion to the stations to which they were to be sent.
In some cases it is as low as £100, in some it goes as high as £140, £200, £300; and, in one case, in a Mission to which I alluded just now, for two Missionaries the allowance was £500 a year. This shews therefore that there can be no thought, no anxiety about the cares of the day; but that it is in the power of the Missionary to devote himself exclusively to the important work which he has undertaken. And I will only just mention casually, because I may have to enter upon it more fully the next time I address you, that I believe there is not a Missionary sent out by the See of Rome, by the congregation destined for that purpose, who receives more than from 25 to £30 a year.
Here then we have all the human elements that can be required to produce great effects; all that can be done by education, by abundant means, by efficient support, ought certainly to be here required; and we may truly say that never were persons destined to the important work of conversion, so fully prepared, so fully qualified, humanly speaking, as those who are sent forth from this country.
Now speaking, for instance, of India, which is one of the most important theatres of Missionary labour at the present day, I cannot withhold the observation made by Dr. Buchanan, who himself resided many years in that country, to whose active and energetic representations we may say is due, the establishment of an Episcopal See in India. “N Christian nation,” he observes, “ever possessed such an extensive field for the propagation of the Christian faith, as that afforded to us by our influence over the hundred million Natives of Hindostan. No other nation ever possessed such facilities for the extension of its faith, as we now have in the government of this passive people, who yield submissively to our mild sway, reverence our principles, and acknowledge our dominion to be a blessing.” So then it is not like an Apostle going forth into a
barbarous and unconquered country, labouring among an unpolished and savage nation, without any defence but his own devotedness and confidence in God, and preaching to them the mild doctrines of the gospel, exactly opposed to all their feelings, to all their interests, to all their habits; but it is in most instances persons who go with all possible protection, and who, morally speaking, have every facility for conversion.
Now, therefore, to enter into an examination of the results of this immense preparation, I must take the subject necessarily in detail. I will treat first of India ; and I will then pass successively to other countries which appear to merit any particular observation. I am obliged here to pass over what I think would have been an interesting view of the subject. I have collected a number of passages from the different reports through several years of the Missionary Societies, to point out this singular circumstance-bow in every one case they speak of hopes, of promises, of expectations, of what is going to be done, of what may be looked for after a few years; but they never speak of what has been done, of the conversions tbat have been made, of the persons who have been induced to embrace the faith of Christ. And this collection would have gone over almost every part of Missionary cultivation, and would have afforded us the same results. I am obliged however to pass over it, on account of the extensive field which we have yet to traverse.
Now in India there are several societies, there are several churches of all religions which dedicate themselves to the propagation of the Christian faith, to the conversion of the heathen natives. The one that first naturally merits our attention is the Church which is connected with the establishment of this country; and wbich has all the support that a wealthy, or at least, well provided for episcopal establishment can possible give. In looking at what has been done in this mission, I do not wish to go out of the reports which have been given us by one of the most active and zealous bishops of Calcutta-Bishop Heber, who made a visitation into a great proportion, not to say the whole, of India, naturally for the purpose of examining the state of religion, and the prospects which were held out to the labours of conversion. He does every now and then mention to us converts, members of the established church, whom he found in different places; for instance, at Benares, a city with a population of 582,000 souls. He mentions at page 14 that the number of Christians, according to his calculation, is one hundred. Now one would be inclined to suppose at first sight that these were converts, properly speaking, made from the Natives in consequence of the sermons which had been preached by Missionaries, or from the doctrines of Christianity having been presented to them. His own account will very soon undeceive you in that respect. I may be allowed again to say, that at Tinnevelly he found fifty-seven Christians. " The
labours of the Missionaries, after all, had chiefly been confined to the wives of British soldiers, who had already lost caste"—that is, had been excommunicated from their own religion-were considered no longer as Indians, but regarded as cast away by them, “ because they married ; or to such Musselmen or Hindoos, as of their own accord, and prompted by curiosity or a better motive, had come to their schools and churches.
The number of these enquirers after truth is, I understand, even now not inconsiderable, and increasing daily : but I must say, that of actual converts, except soldier's wives, I have met with very few, and these bave been all, I think, made by the arch-deacon." So that here, speaking of Benares and Tinnevelly, a very large district, containing populous towns, we have only at the rate after all of one hundred Christians in 582,000 Natives, and these are nothing but individuals, at least almost without exception, who had lost their caste, who had married Europeans, and were naturally drawn by that act to embrace their religion, and had not come spontaneously to it in consequence of the preaching of the gospel to them. He says in another place that “these native Christians who are members of the church of England in his presidency, do not exceed the number, at the most, of five hundred adults, who are chiefly at the stations of Benares, Chumar, Buxar, Meerut, and Agra, the places that I have alluded to, the larger proportion being the wives of European soldiers.”
This is a very important confession ; because, in the first place, we have the number in the immense population of one hundred millionsat least, in that proportion of the immense population which is com. prised in one presidency-reduced to five hundred, and most of these persons of the class whom he described-not, of course, that I mean to cast any imputation upon them- not that I consider them any worse for baving lost caste in consequence of having united themselves in marriage to Europeans-not that I consider the soul of the meanest and the poorest of even the lowest caste of India as not worth that of the Rajpoot or the most distinguished Brahmin of the country; but when speaking of the effects produced by a system, we are naturally bound to estimate it by the influence which itself possesses. Now it is evident in this case that the Bishop did not attribute the work of conversion to the efficacy of preaching, or the power of the word that had been delivered; but to this casual circumstance, their being united to Europeans, and being in consequence cast off by their own people.
It has been remarked, however, that Bishop Heber constantly looked towards the South as the great seat of Protestantism in India ; that he used to say, as his archdeacon tells us, “ There is the strength of the Protestant cause;" and he was before he visited that country so confirmed in this idea, as even to send what I must call exceedingly exaggerated accounts over to England. For instance, he says in the third volume
of his tour, page 444, “ You are aware of the considerable number, I believe, about 40,000 of Protestant Christians in different parts of this presidency, the spiritual children of Schwartz and his successors.” Now mark another
passage, - The number is gradually increasing,”—he is still speaking of the same part of India,—“there are now in the South of India about two hundred Protestant congregations, the numbers of which have been sometimes vaguely stated at 40,000”—wbat he said in his first letter. “I doubt whether they reach 15,000, but even this, all things considered, is a great number;” and certainly it is a great number, and I have no hesitation in saying, very much too great, as I will proceed to shew you.
This mission was established, as I have said, in 706, and consequently it had then had one hundred years to be formed; but dating it only from the time of Schwartz, it had been at least fiftysix years, if I mistake not, in what was considered its most flourishing state. Schwartz from England had very peculiar advantages ; he became the favourite of the reigning prince—the Rajah of Tanjore; he had the education of his eldest son, though he never became a Christian; he served him on two or three occasions as ambassador, or mediator, to the the British government; and I believe was even considered to bave saved his dominions for him; and being himself a man, by all accounts, of an excellent exemplary life, the prince used to tell him that he wished he would make Christians of all his subjects.
These were very great advantages, and it is acknowledged that Schwartz did more in the way of conversion than any person who has been in India. But now let us see what has been the course of this Mission. He is said to have converted many thousands. Now the Bishop himself at the close of his life_for be died during his visitation when in that part of India-has given us an exact representation of the Christians whom he there found. “ He came therefore to Tanjore, the seat of the head quarters of Schwartz, wbere there had not been a bishop before, and he confirmed all those who were fit and ready for confirmation. The number of these was fifty, and the number of communicants in the whole congregation, according to him, was fifty-seven.” He went to Trichinopoli, another of the most important Missions of that district, and the number he found for confirmation was eleven. Instead of 40,000 Christiansinstead of the 15,000 to which he afterwards reduced the number in the two principal places where Schwartz had laboured in person, and where he had been succeeded by the heads of the Mission, he found eleven and fifty as the numbers ready to be confirmed. Now, make any estimate of the population you please, make any proportion, and you will find it difficult upon this to suppose that there is such a number as any thing like 15,000. But that is not what we mean principally to rest upon. The Bishop bimself acknowledges, that so far from this Mission being in the progressive státe which he said in his letter to Mr. Wynn, so far