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himself possessed of dramatic talents while at college, and he sought in New York to associate himself with a number of tragedians. In the course of his peregrinations, Judson put up one evening at a country inn, the landlord informing him that in the next room was a young man in a dying state. His thoughts often wandered during the night to the dying stranger, and in spite of his professed infidel sentiments he could not help wondering whether the sick young man was prepared to die. He checked himself by the reflection that his Deistical friend would ridicule him for entertaining the thought; but judge of his surprise when on the following morning he found that he who had departed this world during the night was none other than the witty Deist ! Saddened at heart and chastened in spirit, he resolved to return to his parents' home. He felt now a change of mind regarding his state as a sinner; and yet his intellect was too proud and unyielding to receive the doctrine of the atonement. It was while studying at a seminary in Andover, that all difficulties disappeared, and that in the fulness of gratitude he surrendered his will and heart to the Saviour. In 1809, he became a member of the Independent church of which his father was pastor. From that time to the day of his death his confidence in the mercy upon which he humbly reposed was complete.
One can readily understand the feeling of Judson's father that to serve the Christian church at home would be the most natural ambition of his son's life. His talents indicated a successful ministerial career, and when it was proposed that he should be co-pastor in the largest church in the city of Boston, the path of duty seemed already marked out. But Providence had ordained that he should serve God in a more difficult sphere of labour. A sermon on “ The Star in the East” first directed his thoughts to the heathen world, and from that moment until the hour of his departure for Burmah, his ardent nature was fired with ambition to go out as a missionary to those who had not heard of Christ. To embark on this course was in those days more perilous than now. Missionaries there were, and their enterprises had been recorded in the public prints; but the missionary idea had not as yet taken deep root, and there was no organisation in America to undertake the responsibility of sending out and sustaining those who were prepared to risk their lives in untried fields of labour. Transatlantic Christians were beginning to look with devout seriousness upon their responsibilities in carrying the gospel to the dark places of the earth ; and Judson's decision for this work was opportune. Furthermore, several young men studying with Judson at Andover, had formed a company pledged to this noble lifework. There being at that time no missionary society in America, the thoughts of these young men were naturally directed to England, where both the Baptists and the Independents had organised societies. Before making their application to the London Missionary Society, they consulted some leading ministers at home, and the result was the formation of a Mission Board. It was deemed advisable to confer with the London Society, and for this purpose Mr. Judson left for England in a vessel which was unfortunately captured by a French privateer. After having been imprisoned in Bayonne, he was allowed to proceed to London, where he received a promise of support in case of failure on the part of the American Board. Judson favourably impressed our own countrymen, and a curious
anecdote is told of the way in which his voice startled the public. “He sat in the pulpit with a clergyman somewhat distinguished for his eccentricity, and at the close of the sermon was requested to read a hymn. When he had finished, the clergyman arose and introduced his young brother to the congregation as a person who purposed devoting himself to the conversion of the heathen, adding, 'And if his faith is proportionate to his voice, he will drive the devil from all India.? »*
On his return home, he was fortunate enough to secure the heart of one who was pre-eminently qualified to become a missionary's wife. Who will write us a volume of memoirs of those who have shared the discomforts and the sorrows of a missionary's life? Such a work might be as thrilling as a romance: and in such an undertaking the name and the labours and the heroism of Judson's first wife would occupy a conspicuous place. Ann Hasseltine was a young woman of most intelligent piety—strong in mind, gentle and womanly in her affections. She was assiduous in her efforts to bring the necessity of personal religion before the minds of all who came under her influence, and after concluding her studies would steal out in the evening to converse with the poor in the neighbourhood on Jesus Christ. Prior to her acceptance of Judson's proposal of marriage, she wrote :—“For several weeks past my mind has been greatly agitated. An opportunity has been presented to me of spending my days among the heathen, in attempting to persuade them to receive the gospel. Were I convinced of its being a call from God, and that it would be more pleasing to him for me to spend my life in this way than in any other, I think I should be willing to relinquish every earthly object, and, in full view of dangers and hardships, give myself up to this great work.” She decided, with the help of God, to venture upon what was an untried path to an American woman, and in the spring of 1812, she and her husband, with Mr. and Mrs. Newell, embarked for Calcutta. Arriving there safely, they were met by Dr. Carey, who invited them to take up their residence with him at Serampore.
The hostility of the East India Company to missionary enterprises was the first difficulty they encountered. As yet that unchristian community had not been held in by the bit and bridle which Wilberforce was preparing for them. Mr. and Mrs. Newell were ordered to America, but were afterwards permitted to sail for the Isle of France. Their persecutors would not grant a like permission to the Judsons, who fled to the island, and reached there in time to witness the disconsolate condition of Mr. Newell on the loss of his wife. There did not seem to be an opening here for missionary effort; and so they determined upon removing to Prince of Wales' Island, to reach which they had to visit Madras. Here, however, they were within the territories of the East India Company, and apprehensive of danger, they embarked in the only vessel which would sail at once-an unseaworthy ship bound for Rangoon, and thus in the order of Providence, the first American missionary landed in the Burmese Empire.
* A Missionary of the Apostolic School: being the life of Dr. A. Judson, of Burmah. Revised and edited by Horatius Bonar, D.D. (Nisbet.) A memoir prepared with much skill and written with great insight, from Dr. Wayland's two volumes, by Dr. Bonar's daughter.
It should be stated that while at Calcutta, the views of Mr. and Mrs. Judson changed on the question of baptism, and they were immersed by Dr. Carey This event necessitated a dissolution of their connection with the American Board, and to their credit, the Baptists of the United States at once accepted them as their missionaries.
Their first prospects at Rangoon were not encouraging. “I went on shore," wrote Mr. Judson in his diary, "just at night, to take a view of the place and the mission-house; but so dark and cheerless and unpromising did all things appear, that the evening of that day, after my return to the ship, we have marked as the most gloomy and distressing that we ever passed.” Chiding themselves for their weakness, they sought divine help, and received the assurance that it had not been sought in vain. They entered at once npon the diligent study of the Burman language, which they found peculiarly difficult of acquisition. Mrs. Judson, from her frequent contact with the servants, acquired soonest the power to converse ; but her husband, who was anxious to gain a thorough knowledge of the structure of the tongue that he might enter upon the work of translating the Scriptures into Burman, spent three years in hard mental study, which severely tried his health. The people soon learned to respect the missionaries, and the viceroy treated them with kindness. The viceroy was a " savage-looking creature," says Mrs. Judson, in giving an account of the first visit she paid to his court, “his long robe and enormous spear not a little increased my dread.” The wife, or chief wife, "made her appearance, richly dressed, with a long silver pipe at her mouth, smoking. At her appearance all the other wives took their seats at a respectful distance, and sat in a crouching position, without speaking.” In such a land no congenial society could be found ; and it was a treat now and then to see an honest sea-worn captain call at the station. As yet, too, all the efforts of Mr. Judson had been confined to the acquisition of the uncouth language, and he was longing for the day when he could begin to preach the gospel to the natives. “ When we find,” he writes, “the letters and the words all totally destitute of the least resemblance to any language we have ever met with, and these words not fairly divided and distinguished, as in western writings, by breaks, and points, and capitals, but run together in one continuous line, a sentence or paragraph seeming to the eye but one long word; when, instead of clear characters on paper, we find only obscure scratches on dried palm-leaves strung together and called a book ; when we have no dictionary and no interpreter to explain a single word, and must get something of the language before we can avail ourselves of the assistance of a native teacher
“Hoc opus, hic labor est.” (This is the work, this is the labour.) Yet he wrote home in words of noble courage, “If they ask us what prospect of ultimate success is there, tell them, as much as that there is an almighty and faithful God who will perform his promises, and no more. If this does not satisfy them, beg them to let me stay and try it, and to let you* come, and to give us our bread; or if they are unwilling to risk their bread on such a forlorn hope as has nothing but the Word of God to sustain it, beg of them at least not to prevent others from giving us bread; and if we live some twenty or thirty years, they may hear from us again."
* Mr. Rice.
His heart was greatly strengthened by the present of a printing press and Burman types from the missionaries at Serampore. With these he was enabled to issue a tract, a catechism, and the gospel of Matthew. In March, 1817, he received a new encouragement for which he had much longed. He had often preached and conversed with the natives, and answered their questions, but as yet had not met with one anxious enquirer. Now, however, an intelligent Burman, accompanied by a servant came to him, and sat by his side. "How long time will it take me to learn the religion of Jesus ?” was the question put by this man to Mr. Judson. He had not heard the gospel preached, but had been led to serious enquiry through reading the publications of the mission. It was from his lips that the missionary first heard an acknowledgment of an eternal God by a Burman. His one desire was for more of this sort of writing," and the first five chapters of Matthew were given him. “I have no doubt,” wrote Judson at this time, “ that God is preparing the way for the conversion of Burmah to his Son. Nor have I any
doubt that we who are now here are, in some little degree, contributing to this glorious event. This thought fills me with joy. I know not that I shall live to see a single convert; but, notwithstanding, I feel that I would not leave my present situation to be made a king." A zayat, or place for public gatherings, was built for the purpose of preaching the gospel; his first congregation consisted of fifteen persons, most of them inattentive and disorderly. Mrs. Judson also commenced a meeting for the women. Moung Nau (Moung denotes young man), the first convert, gave satisfactory evidence of a change of heart, and his conversion and baptism constituted a new era in the history of the mission. Other enquirers, more or less sincere and earnest, followed, and some confessed their sins, and desired to walk in the paths of Christ. Some of these men were powerful reasoners, whose Buddhistic ideas had been disturbed, but whose prejudices were apparently almost unconquerable. Of one man we read, “We spent the whole day together, uninterrupted by other company. In the forenoon he was as crabbed as possible-sometimes a Berkeleian, sometimes a Humeite, or complete sceptic. But in the afternoon he got to be more reasonable, and before he left he obtained a more complete idea of the atonement than I have been commonly able to communicate to a Burman.”
He was found to be an unusually tough subject, for he could not yield on any point which presented a difficulty to his proud reason. Yet good hopes were entertained of his ultimate submission to the authority of Christ. One Tuesday, the first Burman prayer-meeting was held—a very humble beginning, with three converts; and Judson was on the Lord's-day much gratified to find that these three Burmans repaired to the zayat, and held a prayer meeting of their own accord.
In the midst of so much to animate the spirits of the missionaries, persecution seemed to threaten the existence of the mission. The authorities would no longer refuse to observe what was going on, and it was feared that their interference might check the good work. Enquirers became few through this feeling; and it was deemed necessary to appeal to the king in behalf of religious toleration that the people might be quieted. Mr. Judson and Mr. Colman accordingly set out for Ava, taking with them, in conformity with Eastern custom, valuable presents. The emperor readily granted them permission to enter his palace. “ The scene to which we were now introduced really surpassed our expectation. The spacious extent of the hall, the number and magnitude of the pillars, the height of the dome, the whole completely covered with gold, presented a most grand and imposing spectacle. Very few were present, and those evidently great officers of state. ... We remained about five minutes, when every one put himself into the most respectful attitade, and Moung Yo whispered that his majesty had entered. We looked though the hall as far as the pillars would allow, and presently caught sight of this modern Ahasuerus. He came forward unattended—in solitary grandeur-exhibiting the proud gait and majesty of an eastern monarch. His dress was rich, but not distinctive, and he carried in his hand the gold-sheathed sword, which seems to have taken the place of the sceptre of ancient times. But it was his high aspect and commanding eye that chiefly riveted our attention. He strided on. Every head excepting ours was now in the dust. We remained kneeling, our hands folded, our eyes fixed on the monarch.”
The missionaries answered the questions of the august Eastern potentate, and he seemed pleased with their replies. The petition he condescended to read through. The tract he held long enough in his hand to observe that the first two sentences affirmed the eternal existence of the only living and true God. He would not read more, but threw the tract contemptuously to the ground. The Scriptures, in six handsome volumes, covered with gold leaf, and each enclosed in a rich wrapper, were then brought forward, but he did not regard them. The Minister of State interpreted his master's will—" In regard to the objects of your petition, his majesty gives no order. In regard to your sacred books, his majesty has no use for them; take them away.”
Their mission had failed. As they walked four miles by moonlight to their homes, the two servants of God let fall many tears of sorrow that no toleration should be granted in so fair a land for the religion of the Saviour. Their trust in God was, however, by no means shaken, but they feared that the new converts would become disheartened, and that the threatened persecution would either lead them to recant or make them cowards. What was their surprise to find them undismayed and stedfast! They gathered the few converts together, told them that for the sake of safety they had thought of leaving for Arracan, where they might be under British protection. Would they accompany them? One replied that he would follow the preachers to any part of the world; another that he would go where preaching was to be had; and a third very properly said that as no Burman woman was allowed to leave the country he could not, on his wife's account, follow the teachers, but he would still be faithful to Jesus Christ! This was enough. The teachers felt that they could not desert their disciples. The missionaries resolved to remain, and escape the country only when their safety was evidently and imminently imperilled. Theirs was to live, and labour, and die, that Burmah might be Christ's.
(To be continued.)