Page images
PDF
EPUB

that all those Bibles that are sent forth are put to a useful purpose; whereas, it too often leads rather to a disrespectful and degrading use of the Word of God. But the fact is, that the Bibles which are so sent are easily received by the Natives, and willingly, but under peculiar circumstances. I will read to you an extract from Mr. Martyn's Diary, “ Early the next morning they set me ashore, to see a hot spring. A great number of Brahmins and Fakirs were there. Not being able to understand them, I gave away tracts. Many followed me to the budgerow, where I gave away more tracts, and some Testaments. Arrived at Monghir about noon. In the evening some came to ine for books, and, among them, those who had travelled from the spring, having heard the report that I was giving away copies of the Ramayruna,” an epic poem, containing the adventures of the god Ramah. “ They would not believe me, when I told them that it was not the Ramayruna;

I gave them six or eight more.” So that the Missionary not understanding the people, might have easily conceived them zealous to have the Word of God, and he would have given that impression to the public; and they followed him some miles for copies of this book, not understanding what it might be. “A man followed the budgerow along the walls of the fort, and, finding an opportunity, got on board with another, begging for a book, not believing but that it was the Ramayruna.” However, in another place he tells us, that he did send a copy of the Bible to one of the Native Princesses. Now you shall see how little good it was likely to do her, and what a small chance of conversion there could be by such a process. “ The Ranee of Daoudnagur, to whom I had sent a copy of the Gospels by the Pundit, returned her compliments, and desired to know what must be done for obtaining benefit from the book; whether prayer, or making a salam [a bow] to it?” This, therefore, was all the idea which she had of the book which had been presented to her--merely the idea that some superstitious homage was to be paid to it.

I will simply give another specimen. A traveller, or resident rather, says,-I quote again upon the authority of the same Asiatic Journal,“ A version was sent by the Societies in England, among the Tartars of the Caucasus, supposed to be in their language. When it arrived they could not read it, and the consequence was," as the writer says, “all the copies were torn in pieces, and made use of as wadding for guns.” The Chevalier Gamba observes, that a great number of Bibles had been sent thither, for the purpose of converting the natives ; but, he says, as a great part of them cannot read, of course they can make not the slightest use of them, so that, at present, they are perfectly thrown away.

These are a few examples, merely to show you how very fallacious the rule is, to judge of the extent of conversions, or of the progress made by Heathens in Christianity, from the returns of the distribution of Bibles among tbe natives.

Another point is with regard to the number of scholars. The reports sometimes give a very abundant supply of scholars in these schools.

Now, it is very singular in this regard, that several Missionaries conPostantly write, that all their congregations consist of their schools. For

example, one at Dinah says that. "the schools are well frequented, and are attended with great attention; but I cannot say that there is one who really prays."

That to which I particularly wish to draw your attention in the first instance is, that the Missionaries constantly say, that so long as they can give the scholars something to eat, so long as they can support ihem, they are attentive, and they are sure of being followed; but the moment the stimulus is removed, they are no longer listened to.

The schools in India are numerous, are very well frequented. With regard to this particular part of Missionary labour, there are again two striking remarks. The first is, that it is acknowledged that the Indians have no objection whatsoever to go to the schools, and even to send

their children, but they are not led in any instance to embrace Christi. de anity. This has been proved. Mr. Lushington, in a work published

in 1824, entitled Charitable Institutions founded by the British in India, enters into full and lengthened remarks on the subject, and says,

" It has been now proved that the Indians will allow their children to go to the schools, because they learn there reading and writing better than at others, but the result of it has not been one single case of conversion. Not only so, but actually Christianity is carefully excluded from the teaching of these schools, so frequented.” We have an instance in Bishop Heber, who tells us, that at Benares he found the schools well frequented, and a great many children, as many as 140 boys. Afterwards, when he went to see one of the most celebrated Pagodas, or heathen temples, be found one of these boys wearing the brahminical string, who shewed himself most forward in his learning, and most clever in his answers at school, there shewing him through everything, with manifest eagerness and interest, as if be perfectly felt that all that was shown was his own, so that he was as complete a Hindoo as though he bad never frequented an English school. This struck the Bishop extremely, and he made an observation upon it, “ The remark of the boys opened my eyes more fully to a danger which before struck me as possible ; that some of the boys, brought up in our schools, might grow up accomplished hypocrites, playing the part of Christians with us, and, with their own people, of zealous followers of Brahma ; or else, that they would settle down into a sort of compromise between the two creeds, allowing that Christianity was the best for us, but that idolatry was necessary and commendable in persons of their own ration. I talked with Mr. Frazer and Mr. Morris on this subject in the course of the morning. They answered, that the same danger had been foreseen by

[ocr errors]

Mr. Macleod, and, that in consequence of his representation, they left off teaching the boys the creed and commandments, choosing rather that the light should break on them by degrees, when they were better able to bear it.” This, therefore, may be considered as the general system, that the attendance at the schools may be great, but that Christianity is not even taught,

Another criterion is with regard to the congregations established. I could read you a number of extracts from missionaries, who have acknowledged that they have extensive congregations, and sometimes many hundreds, but they do not feel that they have made one single convert. Henry Martyn, among others, acknowledges himself that he has an extensive congregation, but in the wbole result, the whole time of bis Missionary labours in India, he had the satisfaction of making, at most, one single convert on whose sincerity he could depend, although his church was constantly attended. Indeed, it is impossible not to be struck with the feeling of chagrin and natural despondency he feels on this subject. He says, for instance, “ The service in Hindostanee was at two o'clock. The number of women not above one hundred. I expounded chap. iii. of St. Matthew. Notwithstanding the general apathy with which they seemed to receive everything, there were two or three who, I was sure, understood and felt something. But, beside them, not a single creature, European or native, was present." In another place, he tells you that he has been disappointed, because he bad a thinner congregation. He had been endeavouring to undeceive them regarding the errors of popery, and the consequence was, hardly one of them came; and next Sunday he says, “ I suppose I shall not bave one." So much for the nature of the congregation that assembled together, and were brought together by an able Missionary, for a time.

There is one extract from the Report of the Church Missionary Society, which I will just mention. The Missionary says, “ I bave here five hundred persons who live by the daily allowance of the Govern. ment, and, in consequence, are under my inspection. Having the people thus more at my disposal, I hope, under the Lord, the word will produce its effect, although I may not see the fruit so much desired."

These examples may be sufficient as specimens, because I wish them to be considered as nothing more. I even feel I have suppressed several passages stronger than those I have quoted; and one, which I have noted down in one of the reports, in which it is said, that very probably not the present generation, but our children's children, will be those who will see the fruits of our present Missionary labours.

Now, in concluding, I wish to say a few words about one Missionary Society, which was founded, as I mentioned, about the same time as the Baptist and Church Missionary Societies, that is, about 1794,—the Scotch Missionary Society, which has also been labouring in India for

some years. I have not said anything about the result, about its success, but a pamphlet, which I have in my hand, contains the address made in the course of the last year, the 25th of May 1835, by a Missionary of the assembly, the first Missionary to India. · He details, in a very interesting manner, the defects of the system followed hitherto; he dwells upon the difficulties to which the Missionary is exposed, when he is going to preach the gospel ; that he does not know from whence to draw his evidences; that he has no authority to appeal to; that, if he speaks of the internal evidence of the Scriptures, the Hindoos and the Brahmins can meet him with the internal evidences of the vedas and the shasters; that if he appeals to the miracles of our Saviour, they have a string of miracles which they believe are represented as equally authentic. And, consequently, he goes through all those motives which the Missionary can be supposed to present to the Natives, shewing the impossibility of any one succeeding. He enters then upon the system of education, and observes, what fully bears me out in what I have said, that in India, the effect of education, as hitherto instituted for the Natives, has only been, as he says, to make them, in his strong phrase, leap over Christianity, and plunge into Atheism ;" that the education is sufficient to shake their belief in their own religion, but has never, in any instance, succeeded in making any of them Christians, and, consequently, that it is not the method to succeed. He proposes—and the Scotch Missionary Society has, I believe, acceded to the proposal—that he should adopt a totally new system, that is, taking the Natives during childhood, and trusting exclusively for the propagation of Christianity in India to the Native Teachers. His address has been produced by him as the result of experience, and proves all I have said, viz., that the system hitherto followed is considered to have proved abortive and unsuccessful.

This, therefore, is the view which I have wished to present to you. As you have observed, I have made a point of quoting no authorities that could be considered hostile to Missionary Societies; not only, I mean, I have quoted no Catholics, but I am not conscious of having quoted a single writer, of any sort, whom we could have any grounds to suspect was hostile to the scheme of proselytism. I have endeavoured to choose my authorities as much as possible from Missionaries themselves, who bave thus given their reports, or those who are in some way connected with these institutions ; and the result has, I think, been such as, balanced with the means employed, with the immense resources both material and moral, with the wealth, and still more with the superior attainments of those who have gone forth, will justify what I have said. It has not been commensurate. Rather, if we are to look for the blessing of God upon the method of propagating the faith which he has established: if the blessing is to be manifested by the success of those

who undertake the task: if there was a promise given to those who succeeded the Apostles, not merely in their ministry, not merely in their doctrines, but in the very course they pursued, I say, we have every evidence here that it was not to this system to which the blessing of God was attached.

Now, I have carefully abstained, as I am sure you will acknowledge, from anything which has often been said, when treating of such topics, for the purpose of decrying or invalidating the system which has been followed. I have not said a word about the character of the Missionaries; I have not, as has been often the case in official documents, represented them as uneducated persons, as persons not fitted by their acquirements for their task, I have not endeavoured to throw the slightest aspersion upon their moral characters ; I have not insinuated the slightest thing against the motives which moved them to this work; I have not hinted that there is anything like personal interest in the management of all these Societies; I have carefully abstained from everything of this sort; I have made use simply of the facts as given; I have considered each society, each religion, as possessing necessarily the right to consider and to understand what are the proper instruments for effecting its own ends. I have considered, therefore, that each of these Societies has, necessarily, the instruments whom they consider qualified, under God, to give efficacy to their views; and, therefore, I have contented myself with nothing but their results. And, I will say, it is impossible for any one to peruse these documents as I have done, and make oneself familiar with them, without, instead of feeling any. thing of contempt or aversion towards those who have engaged them. selves in a thing that can only lead them to fail, to see what a fund there is of beautiful and religious spirit in this country, if it were only directed in those channels in which God wishes it to be directed, that it may be efficacious. It only shews, that at this moment, there are yet the remains of that spirit which impelled so many of our countrymen, in former ages, into foreign countries, and, as we will shew you, with complete success, so as to be the instruments, under Providence, of the complete, and permanent conversion too, of many great nations to know and to profess Christianity. And, therefore, it must make it hereafter of great interest to us, who believe it is so, to do everything in our power, not merely by word, but by example, and, especially, by going before all others in feelings of charity and kindness towards all; to shew those whom we believe to be in error that they are so; and we have every reason to bope, every reason to promise ourselves, that, if it ever can be, this country will be once more what it was several ages back, the centre from which Christianity will diffuse itself over the nations of the earth : and that this may be once more so, is a blessing which I pray God to grant.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »