« AnteriorContinuar »
South India. “Whatever,” he says, “may be the cause of the saccess of the missionaries in this remote province, the fact cannot be gainsaid; their labour has received the seal of God's approbation, and they have their abundant reward in the gradual ingathering of the harvest: for in Tinnevelly, unlike the rest of India, the same men who sow the seed are also permitted to reap the crop. Their work, as we have seen, is spreading in various directions; every year fresh bands of earnest converts are admitted into the ranks of Christ's Church, and wherever the holy Church throughout the world acknowledges its Lord, its members may thank Him for the genuine piety which His Spirit, through the agency of these devoted pastors, has implanted in the hearts of many thousands of simple peasants in Tinnevelly and Travancore."
In another remarkable instance, we may note how the power of the Gospel of Christ has, during this period, triumphed over caste itself in its most virulent form. In 1790, that accomplished judge and profound oriental scholar, Sir W. Jones, declared that it would be far easier to convert a cardinal of the Church of Rome to the Protestant faith, than a Brahmin to Christianity. We much fear that the Church at home has, during the last fifty years, been more likely to contribute Cardinals to the Romish Church than to convert them from it; but it is a fact to rejoice over in the history of the Church abroad, that, at the present time, several Brahmins, in the Church of England alone, are actually engaged as ordained ministers in preaching that Gospel which Sir W. Jones deemed it would be impossible for them even to receive; while a Christian church stands on the very spot where his learned leisure was spent. We are, moreover, not only called, as when our eyes wander round the glorious dome of St. Paul's, to look around upon a monument of mighty work in existence; but if we would survey it in the fulness of all its proportions, the invitation is also “ Suspice," and we must lift up the eye of faith to behold a multitude of all nations and kindreds and tongues and people who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and are before the throne of God serving Him day and night in His temple. Without, then, adverting further to past successes or present labour, who will not pray and exert himself for the day when, what the Bishop of Madras describes as the condition of Tinnevelly, where one in thirty is a Chris. tian, shall be the normal condition of India, instead of one in a thousand, as it is at present; nay, rather that the proportion in Tinnevelly itself shall be reversed, and the stray idolater be left a mournful and humiliating relic of the past.
Surely at this momentous crisis the Church is not to stay her hand, as did Joash of old, until all the arrows poured forth from the quiver are consumed. If we were to take the case of India alone, the mightiest and most glorious empire which the sun has ever shone upon, what marvellous openings present themselves for the united efforts of all Christ's believing people for the bring. ing that glorious land into captivity to the obedience of Christ. In India the Gospel of Christ is not now-a-days bound in the presence of its enemies, free discussion of religious subjects is permitted and familiar to the Hindoos; it agrees with their tastes, and among the higher classes especially it abounds. Any doctrine may be propounded, and any question of a religious nature agitated, even though it attacks their prejudices, and opinions held sacred for ages be called in question. So much so is this the case, that it has been mentioned as one among the many causes why Mohammedan rule was held in detestation in India, that the conquerors were hostile to religious discussion. The experience of many of the ablest missionaries of the present day will confirm this statement as to the aptitude and love for discussion on the part of the Hindus. Again we might dwell upon the complete bewilderment of all former ideas which has come over India during the last few years, by the extension of English education, and European scientific improvements. Railroads and telegraphic wires have not only cut their way over the surface of the country; but, annihilating as they do time and space, have driven athwart manifold prejudices in a manner inconceivable to those who entertain them. Even the most holy waters of the Ganges seem in popular esteem to be on the point of losing the sacred efficacy which myriads for ages have been ascribing to them. Who believes in Hinduism? was recently the cry of a well-informed public writer upon Indian subjects. “Certainly not,” he answers; "the Hindu; Suttee, and widow celibacy, are abolished; polygamy is doomed; and what Hindu, knowing all this, raises a hand ? There is no heart left in the creed; and though it may, and probably will, exist for generations, as the corpse of the Roman Paganism did, its downfall is assured.” It is to this falling carcase that the eagles of the Lord should be gathered together.
To all this we should add the strength and support which are now afforded to Christian missionaries by the bright example of many civilians and military men, not more conspicuous for their exalted position and brilliant abilities than they are for Christian excellence and devotion to the service of their heavenly Master. Quietly, steadily, and unobtrusively, by the weight of their moral example, they are helping forward the cause of Christ, though no earthly record tells or knows of their daily walk and conversation. If there were, indeed, no counterpoise to this, what fond hopes we might entertain of a speedy consummation of the hopes and prayers of the Church; but, alas! it is with too much truth that the Hindu cries out amongst his countrymen in Calcutta, “Behold Christ's Church in danger; behold Christ crucified in the lives of those who profess to be his followers. Had it not been for them, the name of Jesus Christ might have been ten times more glorified than it has been.” Solemn, awful responsibility, resting upon those who, by the flagitiousness of their lives, are separating, in so fearful a manner, sinners from their Saviour. It is not, however, on topics of discouragement, that we would wish to dwell. They must not be lost sight of in any dispassionate examination of the situation. Due provision must be made to neutralize them, and remove them, if possible; but little comes of always seeing “a lion in the way, a lion in the streets.”
What, then, is wanted at the present crisis? It is that men should go forth and possess the land, fitted and prepared by the hand of God Himself, and called by His Spirit to preach Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. It is not Ritualism which India wants; it has had more than enough of it already, in its own idolatrous worship. Homeopathy may or may not be an excellent mode of healing bodily ailments, but would assuredly be no remedy for the poison, deadly as that of the cobra, which is circulating in the veins of the Hindus. Rationalism is not wanted : with that they are already more than abundantly stocked. Hegel and Kant might feel themselves bewildered by jargon more unintelligible, and by systems of philosophy more intricate and empty, than their own, and be foiled by disputants, subtle as themselves, in oppositions of science falsely so called. It is well, nay it is necessary, that missionaries should be furnished to India who, like Moses, are learned as far as may be in all the wisdom of Egypt; like Paul, have been trained at the feet of Gamaliel, and it is matter for rejoicing that there are such in the mission field; but India wants that, which as yet has been only too scantily scattered over her surface, “the seed which is the Word of God.”
Watered by the dews of the Holy Spirit, that seed may fairly be left to germinate in the hearts of India's children in due season. It is, no doubt, a very anxious question, what form Christianity would assume, if there were in India a very general reception of Christianity,—what tares might spring up with the wheat;—but the duty of Christ's Church is plain and simple. It is to give that “ by which alone man liveth, the word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” to those among whom there is a famine of it, in all its purity and all its simplicity. The consequences may well be left, in faith and patience, to Him who is Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Love.
Vol. 68.-No. 373.
as te should bed.
But even to ourselves the question is one of paramount importance, apart from its direct and immediate bearing upon Missionary progress. Multitudes on all sides are crying out and only with too much truth, so far as the Church of England is concerned,
“That now the ways are dank, the fields are mire." Consolation, hope, strength, these must be sought rather from without than from within. When Hannibal was encamping over against Rome, from the beleagured city reinforcements were sent out to the armies which were in Spain, and the spirit of the Carthaginian failed within him when the intelligence reached him. In such a spirit, and by similar means, let the Evangelical body in the Church of England meet the dangers and difficulties of the times; while not careless or unmindful of the duties of selfdefence, and of the restoration amongst us of purity of doctrine and discipline; and while doing all in their power to secure them to the latest generations, let them recall to mind what was their strength when they were yet but a feeble folk, few and far between; let Evangelical Christianity become, more than it ever yet has been, Missionary Christianity, and the cause of the Gospel be more than ever identified with the cause of Missions by the followers of the Lord Jesus. When thus busied in the Master's service, they may reasonably look for the Master's blessing and His protecting hand over them. It was a noble thought of the Roman orator,—and we may repeat it here with a deeper, truer, holier, meaning than he dreamed of when he uttered it in defence of his client, and made Cæsar grow pale and tremble on the judgment seat,-"Homines ad deos nullâ re propius accedunt quam SALUTEM hominibus dando. Nihil habet nec fortuna majus quam ut possis; nec natura melius quam ut velis servare quam plurimos.'
THE WRITINGS OF CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA. The Writings of Clement of Alexandria : Translated by the
Rev. William Wilson, M.A., Musselburgh; being Vol. IV. of the Ante-Nicene Christian Library. Édinburgh : T. and T. Clark. 1867.
The key to all that was written by the Christian apologists of the first and second centuries is their opposition to Gnostic
bearing tanifestedretical powever, to
errors. They had not, however, to contend with any one defined set of heretical opinions; but rather with a “spirit” which manifested itself in a variety of shapes, all however bearing the stamp of a proud conceit of being in the possession, if not of a better system than that which Christ and His apostles taught, yet of a better way of putting forth their doctrines and lessons. A sentence in Hippolytus tells us, with precision, what were their pretensions :-“Subsequently, how. ever, they (the Ophites) have styled themselves Gnostics, alleging that they alone have sounded the depths of knowledge.”. (Book v. c. i.) But let us hear an able, though as yet unpublished, anthor :-“The philosophizing spirit, whatever check it may have received from the sober pen of Irenæus, still occupied the school of Alexandria, wherein Clemens Alexandrinus, a scholar of Pantænus, the founder of that school as a channel of Christian doctrine, recommended it by his various learning, and the vivacity of his comprehensive research. It is due, however, to this patristical writer to admit that the use to which his philosophy was directed was the conversion of the heathen, and for this purpose his 'Stromata,' or 'tapestry-work,' was written, wherein his memory and his genius were both laid out in a varied tissue of expanded illustration and argument. The date of Clement's birth does not so clearly appear, but it seems that his book, called 'Stromata,' was produced about the year 200, so that this Father may be said properly to belong to the third century, his life having extended to the reign of Heliogabalus, or Alexander Severus, about the year of our Lord 220.
“A feeling of favour towards the heathen philosophy, and especially to that of Plato, betrayed many of the ancient Fathers into the pernicious habit of perverting the meaning of Scrip. ture to bring it to an accordance with their prejudices. They were thereby rendered both obscure and partial in their interpretations. It happened, too, that the exposition of the sacred books fell principally into the hands of these philosophizing Christians Pantænus, the inaster of the Alexandrine school, and Clemens Alexandrinus, being reputed to be the first Christians; who were occupied in this service. Clemens, in a work of which no copy has come down to these times, called
Hypoty poses,' is said to have exercised himself in expounding detached passages from various parts of Scripture; but the speci. mens which have reached us of the exegetical powers of the writers of the primitive ages, forbid us to deplore the oblivion into which a large proportion of these early interpretations of the sacred oracles have fallen. When we make an unprejudiced estimate of the arguments and opinions of antiquity on Scripture doctrines, the favour with which these early Fathers are regarded