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worst passions of human nature seek to derive aid and justification from this source. Hence spring the appalling effects which the annals of all idolatrous nations record, and of which the circumstance here adduced affords an instance, I believe, quite peculiar.
To the nation at large it is a grievous stain, that until the adoption of vigorous measures by the British Government, scarce a village proprietor, amil, government darogha, or kotwal in the parts frequented by them, but gave refuge to these murderers for a share of their profits; and to this day they offer every obstacle to their arrest. Å zumeendar, in every other point respectable, will, for the few rupees obtained by him, screen this foe to man from the arm of justice ; and the rulers even of larger domains are by no means exempt from this charge. An instructive and fervent writer has lately said abundance, to point out the same fatal source as the cause of the almost universal deadness of feeling in the land, and it were vain here to add more.
One remark further I wish to make, and will intrude no longer on your valuable pages.
I have been frequently much startled at the entire confidence placed by this race upon the goddess whom they serve. After many ages of experience, they firmly believe her to be the author of their profession and their guide : they continue to worship her as a deity worthy of confidence; and perfectly ridicule the idea of having been brought to punishment, had they continued to abide by her rules. This fact, then, should make us careful how we adduce, to prove the divine origin of any religion (as I have heard done), the inward experience of heavenly aid; and to lead us to inquire whether Satan likewise be not permitted to employ this hidden influence to tighten the chains of his victims. To estimate the truth of a creed, let us rather inquire, whether or not its tendency be to produce fruits which an all-wise and all-merciful Being would approve.
Humility, reverence, and trust in God must, if genuine, be accompanied by that charity which suffereth long, and is kind, and by that tranquillity within which passeth all understanding. These surely are blossoms which all will allow to be evidences of a true religion ; and he who can, in true humility, assure himself that a portion of these has been given him, needs not to seek the solace of another creed.
111.- On the Prerequisites to Baptism of Heathen Converts. (In reply to the Query under the signature of “Beta," in p. 247, of the Calcutta Christian Observer.)
In the 11th No. of the Calcutta Christian Observer, the Missionaries were called upon to declare; whether it was their practice to admit any to the ordinance of Baptism, without satisfactory evidence that they had repented of their sins, and sincerely believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. This, in so far as it relates to the baptism of adult heathen converts, is plainly a question of great importance. While we all agree that repentance and faith are implied on the part of the applicant, there is a considerable difference of opinion in regard to the nature, and the quantity of evidence, which is necessary to warrant the minister in administering the ordinance. Silence then might seem to be our best course, for even among ourselves it is felt that we are treading upon delicate ground. But circumstances will not allow us to be silent. The thing itself is near, even at our doors ;-the question meets us in every-day experience, and we must always be ready to give to it a practical answer. We think it therefore at once expedient and highly desirable, avoiding as much as possible every ground of offence, to declare concisely our unanimous opinion on this subject. We scarcely presume to hope, or to expect, that the declaration of a few individuals will check a practice, evil in itself, and of most pernicious import to the spiritual welfare of India, neither do we pretend to lay down rules for the guidance of our brethren : our object is chiefly to free ourselves from the charge of rashly admitting improper persons into the bosom of the Church, and to testify that such admission is alike abhorrent to our principles and to our practice.
1. We have already observed that every heathen convert, admitted into the Church of Christ, comes forward with a profession and a vow. He professes “to repent of his sins, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart, and to rely upon him alone for salvation :” he vows, “to renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh; henceforth to walk in newness of life, and altogether to be the Lord's." We believe therefore, on the authority of reason and Scripture, that, in the case of every adult convert, all these previous conditions are necessary to render the sacrament spiritually valid: else it would be but a sign without a substance, a mockery, and a lying unto the Holy Ghost.
2. We believe that every Christian Minister, before he administer the rite, should have reasonable grounds for believing that the convert is sincere in his profession, and purposes for the future; that he has clear views of the Divinity and Atonement of Christ, and the other leading doctrines of the Bible ; and that his general character and conduct put him beyond all suspicion of interested or unworthy motives. Any one, who seeks to be baptized from the love of gain or notoriety, from fashion, rashness, sudden enthu
siasm, or in short from any other cause, than a regard to the interests of his own soul, and an intelligent trust in Christ for salvation, we hold to be guilty of grievous sin ; and we cannot but think, that the minister, who in the knowledge, or suspicion of such motives, or even without reasonable assurance of their absence, admits an applicant into the Christian Church, is in some sort partaker with him. At the best he is “doing evil that good may come,” from which St. Paul debars us, with a “ God forbid;" and acting in express contradiction to the injunction of the same Apostle to Timothy, “Be not partaker of other men's sins.”1 Tim. v. 22.
3. It is obvious, that it is always difficult, and often impossible, “ to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart;" and that a hypocrite may break through the most elaborate array of fences, which we can contrive. In the Apostolic times, this was little to be feared: the persecution then raging, and the sacrifices required, made it unlikely, that any should embrace Christianity, unless from conviction. But it is not so in this country. From the deceitful character of the Natives generally, it behoves the minister to be very cautious and circumspect in his dealings with those who apply to him ; a caution, but too strongly enjoined by the many sad examples of lapse which we have witnessed. From what other cause is it, that among the Hindoos, the holy name of Christ is blasphemed, and the Church, which he purchased with his own blood, evil spoken of? Would to God, that the infidel and the heathen had not often so much reason for their scoffings. We will not then appoint set times and lay down set questions (though we think that this is often useful ;) but we declare it to be our practice and our determination, and we beseech all our brethren to unite with us, to baptize no convert, until we are satisfied in our own consciences, and ready to answer it before God and man, that the person is a Christian in deed, and not in word only.
4. We think with the correspondent of the Observer, that the practice to which he alludes “is lamentably adapted to degrade the character of Christianity in India."
We conclude, by offering up our united prayers for the speedy coming of the Kingdom of Christ in Spirit and in power.
A. F. LACROIX, London Missionary Society.
[The following remarks in the London Christian Observer, for January, 1833, appear so suitable, as confirmatory of the view of the question taken by the Missionaries, that we cannot deny onrselves the pleasure of appending them to the paper. They occur in a review of the Rev. Mr. Hough's Missionary Vade Mecum.-E..]
Mr. Hough resumes the important subject of the Missionary's intercourse with the Natives, with a more immediate view to the circumstances of India. His large experience of the Hindoo character does not lead him to echo the panegyrics of those who have undertaken to shew that Christianity is not very necessary for Hindoostan, at least at present, as the people are incomparably good without it. He says:
“The haman heart is naturally the same every where, morally corrnpt; and often do its foulest weeds seem to flourish with rank luxuriance within the reach of means best adapted to cbeck their growth. From Hindoos, however, you have nothing else reasonably to expect. Their religion and education provide not a solitary antidote for the worst passions of the beart. They have no moral principle to guide or restrain them. They understand one another so well, that a father will rarely trust his own son in pecuniary matters: and I know of no security against their dishonest practices but that of constant vigilance over every one in your service.” p. 10.
Much has been said of late as to the right line of conduct in admitting converts to baptism. Some Missionaries have thought, that an apparently sincere belief of the general doctrine involved in the baptismal benediction, or even the shorter formula, “if thou believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, was sufficient for baptism; and that the catechumen was to learn the chief points of faith and duty more perfectly afterwards. Others have thought it requisite to insist upon a considerable period of instruction and probation; that the convert might be found to be a convert indeed, before he was received into the visible Church of Christ. This has been the general practice of modern Protestant Missionary Societies; and we think it the most safe, judicious, and scriptural. Mr. Hough defends this view of the question as follows:
" If a Missionary would grow rich in faith,' be filled with all joy and peace in believing,' and ' abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost,” he must exercise great caution in receiving those who profess to believe the Gospel. He onght to subject thein to a close and careful examination, and to extend the period of their probation until a reasonable time has been given for any sinister motive that may exist to develope itself. He must expect especially to be tried by the dissimulation of persons coming to him for instruction, ouder apparent impressions of the truth, but who at length will evince that they were actuated from the first by worldly expectations. He should be prepared for the frequent recurrence of such cases in a heathen land. Many an inquirer will come day after day, listen attentively to what he hears, avow bimself convioced of its truth, and seem to promise well; when, just as their teacher is beginning to rejoice over them as 'brands plucked from the burning,' he will be disappointed, perhaps grieved at beart, by the detection of their real motives. He cannot but feel it very hard indeed to preserve a true Missionary spirit under the repetition of such disappointments. But let him not be discouraged. He should be particularly on bis guard against the feeling of distrust towards all future inquirers. Such a feeling may naturally be expected to arise in his mind, under circumstances so painful; but he should instantly repress it. For, although hitherto all may have been hypocrites, yet the next may prove a sincere disciple, who would be disheartened by an apparent suspicion in his teacher, and retarded in his progress. Caution ought never to be confounded with suspicion. To be cautions in the admission of candidates for baptism will always be the Missionary's duty; but to suspect them without a cause would tend to hurt his own spirit, and ta chill his love for them and others; while to manifest that suspicion by a repulsive manper would generally shut the mouth of an humble inquirer, and make his spirit sad. However ditficult the test may be, yet the Missionary should endeavour to keep his mind free from distrust, and his heart warm with affection; that he may be ready to receive every one in future with the same kindness and attention which he would have shewn if he had never been deceived." pp. 114, 115.
IV-Account of Hindoo Holy Places, called Peet-Sthan.
To the Editors of the Calcutta Christian Observer. Sies,
In compliance with the wish you have expressed in your pages, to be furnished with communications on the religion, customs, &c. of the Natives, I purpose occasionally forwarding to you papers on these subjects, and have, on the present occasion, the pleasure to send a brief account of that class of sacred places among the Hindoos, called Peet-sthan (70459), from it a seat or stool, and to a place.
The origin of these holy places, taken from the Sree Bhagbot, is as follows:
At a certain sacrificial festivity, where all the gods were present, Dokkyo, the son of Brumha, was treated disrespectfully by Sheeb, his son-in-law, who of all the guests was the only one who did not rise from his seat to do him homage. Dokkyo, being much hurt at this contemptuous behaviour, went to consult with his brother Narod (the god of discord), as to the best mode of punishing and humbling Sheeb. Narod advised him to give command to all the gods, that when any of them should celebrate a festival, they should send no invitation to Sheeb. The gods, however, fearing the anger of the latter if they thus failed of respect to him, preferred giving no entertainments at all.
Dokkyo became impatient, and resolved upon celebrating a great festival himself, to which he invited all the gods, with the exception of Sheeb and his wife Bhogobotee (i. e. Doorga). The latter, however, though unbid, made her appearance at the feast; but her father Dokkyo, in contempt, turned away his face at her approach. She saw, moreover, on looking round, that all the gods were present except her husband. This want of regard to her lord affected the devoted wife to such a degree, that she determined to die ; and by the power of Joog (intense abstraction of the mind), caused her soul to fly out from the crown of her head.
Sheeb having been informed of this sad event, his wrath was kindled to an unusual pitch. In his rage he tore one of his plaits of hair, which instantly was metamorphosed into a giant called Beer Bhoddro, who inquired of Sheeh what he could do for him. Sheeb desired him to proceed without delay to the palace of Dokkyo, to destroy the sacrifice and disturb the feast held there.
Beer Bhoddro lost no time, and on his arrival, first attacked Dokkyo, tore off his head with his nails, and subsequently replaced it with a goat's head, which Dokkyo wears to this day. He then, most unceremoniously, vented his fury on the celestial guests, beating the one,kicking another,-plucking the beard of a third, -knocking out the teeth of a fourth, &c, until he had dispersed