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Subscriptions and Donations in aid of this Society will be thankfully received at the Baptist Missionary House, No. 6, Fen Court, Fenchurch Street, London: or by any of the Ministers and Friends whose names are inserted in the Cover of the Annual Report.
We insert with much pleasure the following extract of a letter from Mr. George Pearce, one of the last Missionaries who left this country for the East, to his friend the Rev. S. Whitewood of Andover, who was his companion in study at the Stepney Academical Institution.
“After four months spent amidst the perils of the ocean, I find myself on the long-desired shore of India, still under the constant care of an ever-indulgent God. We landed here on the 22d of October, after a voyage, in every way (with the exception of sea sickness) as pleasant as we could possibly have expected, and met with a most hearty reception from our dear Missionary brethren. I hasten to tell you, my dear W. that I feel quite satisfied with the providence of God in conducting me to this country, and more than this I hope, for I trust I consider it a privilege, and am daily thankful for it. At present I am enjoying every temporal blessing (excepting my beloved relatives), and certainly more spiritual, than most of my brethren in England, for in whatever direction I turn my eyes, there I behold the evidence of the fulfilment of that delightful promise, ‘I will give the heathen for thy inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.’ Conceive yourself in a place that has been for centuries obscured with midnight darkness, where now at length the sun begins to dawn upon the wretched beings who dwell there, and his rays emerging from the breaking cloud. Think of standing in the midst
of an innumerable multitude of your fellowcreatures, who are in bondage the most appalling, bondage to a cruel taskmaster, at the sight of which your heart is ready to burst with grief, but to relieve you and them, at a little distance you discover a most lovely individual, who has commenced the work of emancipation, by laying down a mighty sum, and going from wretch to wretch, breaking off the galling fetter, and bestowing the blessed boon of liberty; the ransomed collect together, and shout the praises of their deliverer. Or imagine yourself in a large valley that is covered with the dead bodies of the spoiled and mangled slain, and while you are surveying this aslecting sight, you suddenly perceive one and another rising to life, and an evident movement through all the host. Such scenes as these are presented in India. The Sun of Righteousness is dispelling the clouds, the Redeemer is delivering the captive, the dead are rising to life. O blessed Gospel, what hast thou done Blessed Saviour, what hast thou done for rebellious, miserable sinners! O sway thy sceptre all the world around ! “But, leaving figures, I will come to
facts, and confine my remarks to Calcutta. Thirty years ago, there was scarcely a Christian, or any sign of Christianity in Calcutta, whether among Europeans or natives. Now, besides six episcopal churches, there are five dissenting chapels, and to say the least, two or three hundred pious people. The Sabbath is also beginning to be reverenced among the major part of the Europeans, although it is a lamentable fact, that Europeans seem to feel themselves under much less restraint in this country than in Europe. Yet, in consequence of the labours of Missionaries, many are brought to a sense of their duty, and I trust there is an impulse given to the whole of the English population. The churches are well attended, Missionary efforts are in much better repute than formerly, and wickedness that would formerly stalk the streets with the utinost effrontery, is now, in a manner, obliged to hide its head. The number of heathen converts is not so great as among the English; yet there are so many, and of that kind, as greatly to encourage the hearts of Missionaries. The wonder, I conceive, ought not to be that so few are converted, as that so many become Christians. The difficulties are immense in the way against heathen converts. My Pundit is a Christian, in consequence of which, his wife has been taken from him by his friends, and kept a close prisoner; he has been separated from her now, I suppose, several years. There is another individual, who has just come in to the Missionaries for protection. Some few months ago he signified to his relations, that he intended to become a Christian ; in consequence of this he was seized by them, and has been kept in close confinement till, a few days ago, he contrived to make his escape. His friends have found out his retreat, and have been in a body to the house of the Missionary, and have besought the poor man not to injure them so much as to break their caste; for a Hindoo, in declaring himself a follower of Christ, not only loses caste himself, but causes his family to lose caste also. There is reason, therefore, to wonder that so many become Christians, rather than that so few are converted. “There is now in Calcutta a great spirit for hearing the Gospel among the natives; in different parts of the city there are no less than six Bengalee chapels in our own connexion, and many others belonging to other denominations. The places are frequently well attended, and the congregations listen with much more attention than formerly. I have been out with Paunchoo (who is a most excellent native preacher), when he has collected a large congregation in the open air, who have listened with great apparent attention and interest. It was exceedingly delightful to me to see the nods of assent that passed through the assembly, as the preacher pursued his subject, and at the close, to hear them inviting him to visit them again. The natives consist chiefly of Hindoos and Mussulmans: although a Hindoo has many more difficulties to prevent his embracing Christ than a Mussulman, yet, notwithstanding, the number of Hindoo converts is much greater. A Mahomedan is found to have the most inveterate hatred to Christ, which is seldom overcome. The Missionaries laboured here several years before they received from the Mahomedans the least fruit of their labours; at length a Moonshi confessed himself a Christian, was baptized, and has proved himself to be a most valuable character. “It gives me the greatest pleasure to state, that so far as I have been able to
observe, the Missionaries of all denominations here seem to be zealously devoting themselves to the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom; and I think I do bot exaggerate, when I state that they exceed in piety the generality of dissenting ministers in England. This fact, I conceive, augurs well for the spiritual interest of India. With regard to my own prospects, things have been so far arranged, that I am to occupy Mr. Eustace Carey's station in India as soon as the Bungalow is rebuilt. Here I shall be situated, altogether, in the midst of a native population; my chief work will therefore be native. On the Sunday I shall have to supply an English congregation at Howrah. Brother Thomas's time will be occupied with the English in Calcutta, and as much native work as he can do beside.”
Extract of a letter from Mr. Robinson to the Secretary, dated Calcutta, April 9, 1827.
“You will have learned from my former communications, that things were gradually reviving in the Lall Bazar; and I am now happy to state, that down to the present period nothing peculiarly discouraging has occurred. I have, through mercy, been able to proceed in my work in a regular manner, without any material interruption from illness. None of the services mentioned in my former letters, have been relinquished; but I have not been able to undertake any additional ones ; nor do I feel able to undertake more. English preaching, in my case at least, requires much time and thought, and it is only by dint of labour, I am able, in such a place as Calcutta, to keep up a congregation. We have no strength to spare here; we have three chapels, (I include Howrah) and three missionaries. It were to be wished, we had more help ; for in a country where illness frequently occurs, it is desirable to have a reserve. I hope, that generally speaking, things are going on very well in Bengal; at least I am not acquainted with any thing distressing. Brother Thomas has, it is true, been very ill, but he is now quite recovered, and able to resume the duties of his station. Burton has met with great encouragement since his return to his station, and I believe he is going on very cheerfully. Poor man! his loss was severe; he needed something to console and encourage him ; and the Lord has been very gracious to him. A young man lately sent up to him from the Serampore college, seems likely to become a valuable fellow-labourer. We have had no addition to our church this year; and at present,
we have but one candidate forbaptism. There has been some fluctuation in the congregation, partly owing to removals; but if we have lost some, we have gained others, so that we have not decreased. Indeed, I hope we have reason still to expect a gradual increase. O for a blessing on the word I this is the great desideratum, but of this I am constrained to speak in very measured terms. There is cause to lament over the want of vital religion amongst professors, as well as on account of the paucity of conversions among sinners. “Lord revive us,' is our prayer. Our present number of members is, I believe, ninety-six; of these about twenty are placed at a distance in the country; the others, to the number of seventy or upwards, I have the pleasure of meeting at the Lord's table every month. Our brethren Gorachund and Chodron, continue to labour as before. A widow lady has requested Gorachund to preach at her house every week: her servants manifest a desire to hear the gospel. In my last, I mentioned a man from Sebuk Ram's village, who seemed inclined to join us, but I have heard nothing more of him. I fear that although he may be convinced of the truth of the gospel, he dare not own Christ before men. The chain of caste is indeed broken, but it is sufficiently strong to bind many to their everlasting ruin.”
The following article is extracted from the Auxiliary Missionary Herald, published by our Missionaries in Calcutta, for the month of January in the present year. The account contained in it, affords another proof that light is beginning to dawn, in various ways, on different parts of the immense continent of India. The letter, we apprehend, was written from Orissa, by one of the Missionaries stationed there, in connexion with the General Baptist Missionary Society.
October 10, 1826.
“The last three days have been the most interesting I have passed in India. On Saturday, brother L. sent for me to come and visit some people, respecting whom we have for the last eight or nine months been somewhat interested. It appears, that some time since they met with a tract containing the Ten Commandments, which arrested their attention, and especially the attention of an old man, who, like many others in India, is a Gooroo or spiritual
guide to a number of people, who call him their Dhurma Pita, or religious father, and themselves his Dhurma Pootramana, or religious sons. They came to our station, at least some of them ; made some interesting inquiries, and obtained other tracts, and in some of their visits a Gospel and Testament. During brother L.'s visit to Pooree for three months, they made one or two calls, and soon after his return, another which excited more interest in them than had been before felt, and brother L. and myself determined on paying them a visit, to see and converse with the old man, their gooroo. We had determined on visiting them on Monday the 9th instant; but on Saturday they came, and brother L. having sent for me, as mentioned above, we talked to them, nine in number, for about three hours. It appears that they have read the books with very great attention, and understand, to a surprising degree, their meaning. A Bramin in particular is extraordinarily acquainted with them, and quoted in the course of our conversation, many very striking and appropriate passages, such as, “ Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord,” &c. and the different characters that should enter heaven, the necessity of a new heart, and others too numerous to write in detail ; but the Ten Commandments, to which they are wonderfully attached, and which they make the standard of their moral conduct, and refer to incessantly, they all seem to have at their tongue's end. One principal object of their present visit was to ask our advice in a pleasing and surprising affair. It appears, that in addition to their keeping the Sabbath, and assembling on that day to read the Dhurma Shastras (which they learnt from their favourite Dos Agya, or Ten Commandments,) their Dhurma Pita thought it their duty to spread the knowledge they had obtained through other villages, and accordingly sent some of his disciples for that purpose; but the Bramins, in perfect consistency with what the friends of religion have always experienced, were filled with enmity, and assembling and incensing the villagers, loaded the disciples with abuse, and beat two of them unmercifully, and they wanted our advice what course to pursue. We pointed out to them, that such treatment they must certainly expect, if they loved the Saviour, and chose the way of life ; and that it was what the friends of Jesus had ever met with. We read to them the 10th and 11th verses of the 5th of Matthew, and other similar passages, and recommended patient suffering under , their persecutions. In that they seemed to have anticipated our advice, and were quite willing to abide by it: but as we had determined on visiting them and their Dhurma Pita on Monday, we proposed a further consideration of the subject at that time. On the next day, Lord's day, eleven of their number came down to my honse during our English service ; and after that was over, we had another long and interesting conversation of several hours, when it was agreed that most of them should return, and one remain and accompany us in the morning. I accordingly went to brother L.'s to sleep, to be ready to start early in the morning ; and just as we were going to have worship, three of them came in and joined us, one a messenger from the old man. It was exceedingly interesting to see them bow with their faces to the ground, and in that position remain and join with us in the worship of the blessed and glorious God, to whom all flesh shall assuredly come. We seemed transported back to the times of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. After worship two departed, and our messenger aloue remained to be our guide in the morning. We were up about four, and between five and six, after a short prayer for our Heavenly Father's blessing and presence, we set off. The place appeared to be about six or seven miles off, in a very retired situation, which we reached about 9 o'clock. On our arrival, we found some coarse cloths spread on the ground beneath a large tree, which was the place prepared for our conference. Several of the disciples and villagers were assembled : the old man soon made his appearance, and a striking one it was. He appeared to be about 50 years of age, rather below the middle stature, inclining to corpulency. Round his waist he wore an iron chain, to which was attached a small piece of cloth, which passing through the legs, was fastened behind, being barely sufficient for the purposes of decency, even according to a Voishnubu's ideas of that principle. Over his shoulder was thrown his mantle. His head was quite bald. On his approaching us, he saluted us by prostrating himself on the ground, and knocking the earth with his forehead. We of course did not let him remain long in that position, but raising him up, saluted him in return in our European style, by a shake of the hand. He expressed himself much pleased at our visiting him ; and after some preliminaries, we seated ourselves tailor fashion on the cloth. Our conversation, of course, soon turned upon religion. Although it appeared that the old man could not read, yet we were frequently surprised at the correct scriptural knowledge he possessed on many subjects. The Bramin to whom I formerly alluded, it seems has read over attentively to him the books we had given to them ; and by the help of a strong mind and retentive memory, the old gentieman had acquired mnch information. Although we found that “e still was in error on several important
points of doctrine, yet the correctness of his ideas on others, and his peculiar method of conveying them, often drew forth tears, and smiles, and wonder, and gratitude. We spent the day with him, with the exception of about an hour, when he went to eat, and brother L. and myself partook of a meal of rice and milk. We spent the remainder of the time in talking to the people, who it seemed would not leave us for a moment. When the old gentleman returned, and we again seated ourselves ou the cloth, and the disciples around us, the old man's instructions, and generally his replies, were delivered in the form of parables or sables, which were generally very striking. He often referred to the Dos Agya, viz. Ten Commandments, which were his standard. In referring to the death of Christ, he illustrated it by supposing the case of a criminal, condemned to die, for whom another offers himself as a substitute. In speaking of the folly of the distinctions of caste, he pointed first to some cloths of a bearer in one place, which were spread out to dry, in another place to cloths of another caste, and lastly to some maitre’s cloths, the lowest caste, and said they would be defiled if they touched one another ; but pointing to the sun, said that it dried them all. His observations were generally introduced by Hear hear, hear children, attend. Not thinking of returning that night, we did not bid the old gentleman farewell when we parted; but afterwards, thinking it better to go home and come again another day, we followed him to his little hut, where he found the old man at prayer. We waited till he had finished, and then took our opportunity of looking into his house, but could see nothing in the shape of an idol. We then parted with mutual good wishes; and after some trouble in breaking away from the people, reached home in safety, and found all well. God be praised We have seen some of the disciples several times since, and have tried to give them more correct notions respecting the individuality of the soul, an idea which seems almost, if not entirely unknown in Hindooism. I was much surprised and delighted one evening, on going to a spot where we are in the habit of preaching, to find it occupied by brother L. and the Bramin, and that the latter was talking to a great crowd of people. He spoke with great fluency and affection, and the auditors listened with astonishment. In the course of the little time I was with him, he read and illustrated the Ten Commandments, recommended the death of Christ, and boldly maintained the doctrine of the individuality of the human soul, Their error on this subject is a wonderful obstacle to our intercourse with them and a stuitsul source of pride to the Brainins, who represent themselves as the special recipients of the divine essence. May the Lord be with him and us, and make us the means of spreading his soul-saving truth through benighted Orissa. We have since paid the old gentleman another visit; but it was rather an unfavourable time, as most of his disciples were absent, some of them at a distance about the forementioned affair. On the whole we were rather better pleased with the old gentleman this time than we were before. He wishes us to build a little bungalow in the village, and go and live there occasionally : this will at least engage our consideration.”
Our readers were informed, in our number for June, of the reasons which rendered it inexpedient for Mr. Evans and his family to return to this island, as had been intended. It was hoped, notwithstanding, that Mr. Ward might have maintained the station at Padang ; and that Mr. Bruckner might, with advantage, have been associated with him there. But later accounts sufficiently prove that until a decided alteration takes place in the state of affairs between the natives and their European masters, there is no rational ground to expect that any thing can effectually be done for the propagation of the gospel there. It has been resolved, therefore, to send instructions to Mr. Ward to remove to Bengal, as soon as ever suitable arrangements can be made for the disposal of the premises at Padang, belonging to the Society.
Of the nature of the difficulties to which we have alluded, our readers will be able to form an opinion from the following extract of a letter from Mr. Ward to Mr. Evans, lately received:—
“Padang has been, and still is in a state of great alarin. The Colonel lately went to Menangkabow, intending to return through the Tujah Kota district, and sent orders to clear the roads. Instead of obeying, the Natives cut down the trees and choked up
the roads so as to render them impassable. Hearing of this he sent a party of soldiers from the interior, and ordered another party from Priaman to meet them, with orders to burn the villages. The Natives prepared to receive them, and the first party after expending all their ammunition, retreated under cover of their bayonets; the one from Prisman were cut to pieces, only one soldier escaping. Yesterday we learnt that the Colonel's baggage was captured ; had he been a day later, he would himself have been intercepted. Troops were dispatched this morning in pursuit. Communication with the interior is now dangerous is practicable, and I fear the business will not rest here. War has actually commenced ; it is impossible to say where it will end, and the least to be expected is the loss of the interior. All the troops are sent away and the military duties fall upon the inhabitants. All are obliged to take arms. I got off myself with much difficulty though I furnish four men. You will infer from this the prospects of the mission are not improved but on the contrary the inducements to abandon become much stronger. I have given up drawing the allowance for the school, in consequence of the extreme embarrassment of the Government: the Colonel and others tried to dissuade me from distributing books, but I have paid no regard to them, and have been tolerably successful. They receive the last Edition of John, willingly, and I hope the whole will soon go off: the first time I went into the bazar, I could have distributed more than a hundred. I am going on at press with the Scripture history which will make a volume of a hundred pages small type.”
It is undoubtedly very painful to be compelled to suspend our efforts for the advantage of a numerous body of ignorant heathen, who appear not unwilling to receive instruction, and for whom it is actually prepared. But these are among the mysteries of His conduct whose path is in the great waters, and whose footsteps are not known. There is encouragement after all, in the recollection that these populous and fertile islands are included in the grant made to the Redeemer, and shall assuredly, in the end, be taken possession of as his inheritance. The Lord hasten it in his time: and let not his people forget to