« PreviousContinue »
Hull, Oct. 11. 1825.
The labours of our highly esteemed brethren, the Rev. S. Saunders, of Frome, and the Rev. George Gibbs, of Norwich, have been very acceptable through the whole of the district, and the result of their exertions, when the account is closed, will shew an increase on the last year's amount. The public meeting was held in George-street chapel, Hull, on Monday evening, September 19, which was very well attended considering the wet weather. The Chair was taken by Mr. Rust, and Resolutions expressive of gratitude for the success the God of all grace has already given to the labours of the society, urging it as a motive to perseverance; also the appeal which the deluded and miserable state of the heathen world, as contrasted with the light and blessings which surround us, presents to our sympathies; together with the necessity of divine influence to render our endeavours successful; were moved and seconded by the Rev. John Cockin (Independent) of Holmfirth; Harness, of Burlington; Saunders, of Frome; Boden, (Independent) of Retford; Berry, of Bishops Burton; Thonger, and M'Pherson, of Hull; and Messrs. Henwood, (Methodist) and Greenwood. Sermons were preached at George-street, Salthouse-lane, and Fishstreet chapels, Hull; at Scarborough, Burlington, Hunmanby, Driffield, BeverHey, Bishops Burton, and Cottingham. The Rev. John Cockin, of Holmfirth, assisted at Hull, Beverley, and Bishops 3Burton.
The following extracts from Mr. Thompson's letters to the brethren at Serampore, will give a general idea of the manner in which the gospel is received in that city, and other places occasionally visited by Mr. Thompson.
Delhi, December 31, 1823. You will be glad to hear that another has been added to the church from among the heathen. The good man mentioned in my last as having returned from Bhurtpore, came before the church last night, and having given an account of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, expressed his desire to unite with us in the observance of his Saviour's commands. Believing that he has openly renounced Hindooism, with every thing immoral in conduct and conversation, and committing him to the compassionate Saviour of souls, we cheerfully received him: and repairing this morning to Rauj-ghat with a few christian friends, we had worship in Hindoost'hanee and English, at the end of which, Mohun-sing the Khettree and myself went down into the water, and I baptized him. In the baptism of this man we see that those labours from which we hope most, are not the first to produce fruit; but that sometimes souls are wrought upon by methods little thought of. The preaching at home, the endeavours used with inquirers, the discussions and preaching abroad, all fail to yield immediate fruit; but an aecount of what is discussed at the ghat, carried into different parts of the city, induces one to listen to the gospel, works in him a desire to embrace it, and as I happen to pass through his part of the city one day, determines him to follow me for further enquiry. This illustrates what the wise man says, “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike
.” Mohun-sing, the Khettree, is a brazier by profession, and about twentyfive years old.
January 1, 1824. I would mention with gratitude to the Redeemer his having opened a new door of usefulness to me among several christian families, at whose houses I have had worship. Eleven families have been thus visited. In one family the aged head has outlived his three-score years and ten, and has recently suffered from severe sickness: he reads the New Testament, and patiently waits his Lord's coming. In another, God was not thought of, business swallowing up the whole of the heart; but first the affliction and next the death of their only child, made them seek the ways of religion; and they, with others, regularly attend upon the word. Another family, constrained by a sense of the divine goodness to them, seem to be drawn by bands of love. In one individual in the family at least, I hope there is a work of grace begun. In the beginning of last month I called to see a Mr. S. who, as he owned, after leading a very dissolute life, was, I would hope, called by grace a year and a half ago. He appeared to live near to God, valued the means of grace very much, and had public worship at his house. He seemed greatly to enjoy my last visits, and on the last day of his life, said, that he felt great happiness of mind, “wery great, so great,”—said he, and could express no more. He said that his faith and hope rested on the whole word of God, and that he did not depend upon any thing in himself for acceptance before God, but upon the sufferings and death of Jesus our Lord. During the time of prayer, he often raised his eyes and his clasped hands to heaven. In a few hours afterwards he quietly departed. About a fortnight ago I was favoured with a visit from Captain from Loodiana. He mentioned that among the property of Rajah Golab Sing of Tha. neshwur, lately deceased, he saw the Sikh Testament with which I had presented him, and that from the appearance of its leaves it seemed to have been much used. The Rajah died rather suddenly last year. It was in my journey to Loodiana in 1818, that I presented to him the life-giving volume. I lately also discovered a manuscript tract of dear brother Chamberlain's, in excellent order, though ten years old. These are evidences that our books are not universally, if in any instance, destroyed. The last baptism seems to have led the thinking part of the Hindoos to the con
clusion, that the kingdom of Christ wist increase.—A native of the Sikh dominions has been frequently with me, hearing and conversing about the salvation of his soul. The man is a wandering viragee, and therefore of all other men the hardest to be made to quit an unsettledness of life, for serious research and fixed habits. However, he attends worship occasionally, which, with the love he manifests for the word, gives me some hope that he may yet become a changed man.—At my suggestion he is learning to read, and says he will not read the Hindoos shastras, but our books. Another brahmun, who has heard the word for some months and examined various parts of the New Testament with great attention, said to me the other day, with some degree of feeling, “I am grieved, Sir, that you tell me I cannot be saved.” This man a few years ago renounced the worship of idols, and got his arm burnt at the instigation of a sunya3ce, with a piece of heated silver as big as a rupee, having on it the impression of a shunk and a chukra or circle. This he considers as his righteousness before God; and the thought that this would avail him nothing, and that after all the disgrace he endured for having burnt his arm, he may be lost, appeared to affect his heart. I was earnest with him, and told him his danger in trusting to any thing short of the atonement made by Christ's death, the only appointed way for sinners.-There are two or three such persons, who appear to be not without convictions of their liability to perish without believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. One of these said to me a few days ago, that my words and prayers filled him with fear. I told him, that the words were God's, and He would sulfil both the threatenings and the promises. Some persons have called and stated, that the distribution of the scriptures, and the Divinity of our Lord, having become the subjects of conversation at a Persian school, this had induced them to come to me to obtain the one and receive satisfaction respecting the other. These discussions, I have reason to believe, are not rare. A Moulovee, who visits me, having been interrogated by one of his Majesty's physicians as to my sentiments on the Divinity of Christ, and being requested to deliver a message to me as a reply containing a quotation from the Koran, he refused to do it verbally ; on which the physician wrote it on a piece of paper, and referred me to it as the Koran decision on the subject. Not satisfied with this, the physician sent to me privately, desiring a sight of the books
which advance the above doctrine. The
February 2, 1821.
Four persons have manifested an anxious spirit of inquiry; but you will be surPrised, perhaps, that one makes it a conolition of his baptism, that he shall not partake of the Lord's supper, because the bread is made by a Musselman, and the cup drank out of by all. But this cannot be granted. This is the brahmun that seemed so much concerned about my saying to him, that he could not be saved without believing in the gospel. He says, that he believes and prays, and what else do I require of him another, the Punjabee viragee, wishes me to baptize him prierately, and says, that he will also eat of our food, privately, and openly unite with the people. Two others have long been inquiring; but call only now and then. —But the most interesting of all is an old grey-headed viragee of the Kubeerpunthees, who came to me a few days ago from a distance of thirty-six miles. His inquiries and spirit are very pleasing, and I hope he may continue; but of this I am not sure, as he talks of going for a time to his village in Anopshur, and returning then to stay entirely.
The Christian drummers here are so anxious for the preaching of the word, that when I, on seeing the room crowded with them and Hindoos and Mussulmans, proposed their raising a subscription among themselves for a small place of worship, they offered each from one to five rupees towards it; and even the Hindoo and Mussulman drummers contributed from four annas to a rupee each. This, with other subscriptions, has raised a fund of fifty rupees for the chapel, and ten more may be wanted. The walls are raised; the roof, the door, window and bench materials are bought; and we hope to have worship in it in a week or ten days.
The following extract of a Letter from Mr. Chater, dated, the 28th of February last, forcibly depicts some of the numerous obstacles which oppose the progress of the Gospel in that island. How much practical absurdity is involved in the regulations of the Caste!
We are leisurely going on with a revision of our new translation, but know not when another edition will go to press. Mr. Gogerly is become a very efficient auxiliary in this labour. And though his station is now at Negombo, he has engaged to come to Colombo as often as it is needful for the translators to meet all together. We have scarcely completed the revision of Genesis yet; but whenever it may be required for the press, we pledge ourselves, (if life and health are continued,) to surnish it as fast as it may be required. My Portuguese translation of the substance of Alleine's Alarm, is now going forth in different directions. O that a divine blessing may accompany it! My times and places of preaching have altered but little since last year. j preach statedly the same number of times, only in Singhalese, on Lord's-day asternately, at the Grand Pass, and Modera, or New Road. Small as the congregation is at the Grand Pass, I am sorry to have the place shut up a whole Sabbath day. But as there is a better congregation at Modera, and the people earnestly request a service on the Lord's-day, it appeared to me a duty, so far, to comply with their requests, as to give them their turn with the other. Last month three were added to us by baptism. Several others are waiting to follow them, who appear to be earnest in making the important inquiry, “What must we do to be saved ?” Thus a little society, though mostly of the poorer class, is gradually forming; some of whom, at least, we may hope, their kind benefactors in England may meet with on the heavenly plains, to the everlasting joy of their hearts, and as proofs that the mission in Ceylon has not been carried on altogether in vain.
As to our schools, I have no very favourable reports to make of their progress. In addition to the difficulty there always is to get the children to attend with regularity; all of them suffered much last year from the wasting sickness, which was more general and destructive than fevers are known to have been in Ceylon in the memory of the oldest inhabitants. On my dismissing the
Singhalese schoolmaster last year, many of the boys lest the school, and we have since that had scarcely two-thirds of the number we formerly had in that school. Many of them, however, were of that class, of which I wish to see very few in our school; children, whose parents are well able to pay for their education, but who will not supply them with a copybook or a pen. We have now thirty-five on the list, who are nearly all of them the children of poor parents, and with children of this class we are now trying to fill up the school. If the Committee approved of our having a native boardingschool, similar to those of our American brethren, I am inclined to think we might obtain as many children for that purpose as we could superintend. The expense, I think, of boarding them, would be about £2 10s. per annum. But till I have a colleague, I cannot take the charge of such an institution upon me, even if the Committee could engage to furnish funds for the purpose. The Kattoo-pellella-watte school keeps up its numbers pretty well: thirty-four is the number now on the lists, and the progress they make is satisfactory. The master of this school was one of the three persons I baptized last month, and his senior pupil, who assists him in his school, another; and a servant in my employ was the other. Kalany school I fear is dwindling to nothing; formerly it contained nearly forty boys, now only twenty-two. It is true this small number are well attended to, but there seems no prospect of the vacancies being filled up. At the last-mentioned school, and at this, no persons besides the children, can be collected to hear preaching. Dalloogama school has also much decreased : the number of children at first collected was more than fifty, at present it is but twenty-four. It is discouraging to discover the different and numerous obstacles that present themselves to a Missionary in every part of his work in this island. Dalloogama is a populous village, and though there is a Roman Catholic church, and many of the inhabitants belong to it, there are many also who call themselves Reformadoes. It was needful, in the commencement, to appoint two schoolmasters. Two qualifications are required to enable a person to establish a school: he must of course be a man of some education ; but in addition to that he must be a person of some influence in the village, otherwise he can collect no children. At Dalloogama there was no one who could teach reading and writing, that had any influence in the village to collect scholars. It was needful there.
fore to obtain a person who had been educated, from another place, and to unite with him a person of the village who could afford him some assistance, and who could collect children. The person first chosen for this, though he got a good number of boys together, was so careless and indolent, that it was found needsul to dismiss him. Two others were then proposed, and the father of the one who was not accepted, it seems, was displeased that his son was not preferred, and he and those under his influence have in consequence of it, kept their children from the school, and do not come themselves to hear preaching. This is one cause of the school having decreased. Several children of Roman Catholic parents, have also been removed, through fear that they may become (as we say here) reformadoes. The boys that do attend, however, are well instructed; and, probably, when others have opportunity to observe how much better it is for children to possess a little knowledge, than to be brought up in profound ignorance, they may overcome their scruples, and send their children to the school. In some way, I trust, it will appear, that the good resulting from imparting knowledge to such a small number, will extend further than to the children themselves. Whenever I can go to preach at Dalloogama, I have a decent little company of hearers. Last month I had between twenty and thirty females, besides men and boys. The present second schoolmaster's father is an intelligent man, and seems to have considerable influence in the village. With him and several others, I always have some serious and close conversation. Himself and one or two more, felt what I said in this way, on my last visit, so much as to shed tears. At Mattackooly I have to encounter another kind of difficulty : many of the children have left the school, and none come to fill up the place; and, it seems, in order to prevent the school from dwindling to nothing, I must dismiss the Singhalese master, not on account of any fault or deficiency, but on account of his caste. He is of the washerman caste, which is a very low one, and none of the higher castes will send their children to him for instruction. Another person in the village, of a higher caste, well qualified to teach, and much respected by the inhabitants of the place, can be obtained; and in order to keep up the school, I expect I shall be obliged to dismiss the present schoolmaster and engage him. He says he can not only collect a good number of boys for the school, but also a congregation to hear preaching. It is
probably not much known in England to what a degree caste exists in Ceylon: there are many of them, and persons of the high castes, would rather lose their lives than have the rights of their castes invaded by persons of a lower caste. Some time ago, at a village near Colombo, some of the washer-caste obtained an order from the collector, to wear some articles of dress or ornament not belonging to their caste: but they paid dear for it. A great number of persons of the higher castes assembled, attacked the procession, and beat some of them in the most unmerciful manner. An action was brought against some of the ringleaders, and they had to pay 400 rix dollars: but that they regarded but very little, and said they would act just the same again if occasion required. I understand that if a rich Modeliar, of what is deemed a low caste, were to invite a poor man of a higher to dine with him, he would bring an action against him for the insult. And among the nominal christians in this island, this regard to caste reigns in its full strength.
About the close of last year I wrote to yourself, Dr. Ryland, and Mr. Ivimey, very fully of our situation and prospects. At that time, things seemed, upon the whole, very encouraging. The word was heard with more than usual attention, and my principal sedentary engagement, the translation of John, was nearl brought to a close. I then suggested, however, that we had many fears, lest the impending political changes should spread a cloud over our future prospects. These changes have not yet been effected, but troubles have arisen from a quarter we little expected, which seem now to threaten our total expulsion from this interesting and important field of labour. Those Mahomedan fanatics, who, for many years, have been desolating the Malayan countries in the interior of Padang, on pretence of resorming the Malays in religious matters, and who, for
the last two years, have been threatening the Company's station at Nattal, obliging the Company to support a large military establishment there, have at length commenced upon the conversion of the Bataks to the faith of the Prophet. Having subdued and stripped the rich Malay country of Raw, they imposed, as a farther penalty upon the inhabitants of that province, the conquest and conversion of the Batak District of Mendaling. Having accomplished this, and levied a heavy fine upon the Bataks, payable in gold dust, the Raws told the people of Mendaling to remunerate themselves, during the following season, from the Ongkolo District. This province was accordingly invaded in January last by the Bataks of Mendāling, headed by a few of the Padri chiefs, and as their previous exploits had spread universal terror, they met with scarcely any opposition. We knew nothing of this last movement till their head-quarters were reported to us as fixed on the banks of the Batang Tara river, (which bounds the Ongkolo District,) not more than two days journey from Sebolga. The Batak chiefs in our neighbourhood told us, that it was their intention to fly to the adjacent islands, as soon as the invaders should cross Batang Tara river, and all the people, for a time, seemed to labour under the most serious apprehensions of approaching ruin. . The storm, however, only threatened: for the present it has been mercifully averted. We hear that the body of the invaders have returned from Ongkolo to Mendaling, and here all is again quiet. This, we fear, however will not last long. There can be no doubt but that the Ongkolo people have come under similar engagements on embracing the faith, as to future conquest, to those their invaders had previously entered into ; for this is their invariable policy. Against which of the Batak Provinces their arms may next be directed, is yet uncertain; but we have good reason to fear, that the timid inhabitants of the beautiful District of Toba Silindong, will soon fall a prey to these lawless depredators. When this happens, our Sebolga station will be no longer tenable; for the inhabitants of that District are now fully apprised of our intentions and endeavour to propagate a religion to which they must individually swear enmity, on embracing Mahomedanism. Our expulsion, therefore, will be an act of considerable merit, and recommend them to the favour of their new masters. We have, therefore, many fears as to what may await us; but we endeavour, by prayer and faith, to cast all our care