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Translation and dispersion of the Scriptures.
cmpire in the North. Let none of these, who may prove himself, by his principles and conduct, worthy of the privilege, be excluded from the work, or forgotten in laying the scheme of the grand project, by which it may henceforth be conducted on a scale somewhat suitable to its own magnificence.
By the exertions of the last of these classes of missionaries chiefly, an expedient of primary importance for diffusing the knowledge of Christianity has been provided, viz. the translation of the Scriptures into the language of the country. The Bible is the grand record of our holy religion, in the phraseology of Hindostan, the only divine shaster. To translate this faithfully into the languages of the natives, and disperse it through the provinces of the empire, seems a measure, which would naturally have suggested itself and been adopted, as the very first that ought to have been taken. It prepares the way for the preaching of the word ; it is putting into the hands of the unenlightened that text book, the commentary upon which you are afterwards to illustrate by more particular instructions. A great character, of whom, whether Britain or India, literature or religion, were most indebted, it might be difficult to determine, after having filled a high station in the latter coun
try for several years, and given great attention to the subject, has added the authority of his name to this suggestion. “ The Hindoos,” he says, “ cannot be converted by the missionaries of the Catholic, or any other church; but the best, and only means, is to translate some portions of evangelical prophecy, with one of the Gospels; to print these, accompanied with a prefatory discourse, illustrative of the certainty of the facts contained in the latter, as well as of their accomplishment; to disperse these quietly among the natives that are best educated, and leave them to their influence, which, if not successful, would at least shew the strength of prejudice.” This measure, though too long delayed, has at length been carried into effect. And the influence produced upon the Hindoos has exceeded the most sanguine expectation. By late accounts, an amazing spirit of religious inquiry has been excited in Bengal; thousands, notwithstanding the most artful, determined opposition on the part of the Bramins, eagerly snatch and peruse the small tracts or portions of Scripture which have been translated for their use, and many are coming, time after time, even from considerable distances, to solicit books, to inquire after the new religion, and to request visits from the missionaries. Thus the train of their labours has been somewhat changed.
Now the press, as one of them writes, is pouring out its thousands of missionaries. And these messengers of heaven possess many advantages. They easily find their way into the bosom of every family. They preach in silence. They deliver their message with divine authority. They repeat the same instruction again and again, according to the ability or inclination of the disciple. But, although not a little has been done to put this excellent mean of evangelising the heathen into operation, much more remains to be accomplished. The Scriptures are rendered as yet only into one or two dialects *, and dispersed through a small portion of the country. Translate them into the other languages of Hindostan, disperse them throughout the empire. The work is laborious, but the country itself will afford every facility for executing it, and many of our own countrymen can assist in the translation. Large funds will be required; but Providence, in the recent formation of a society for translating the Bible into foreign languages, seems to have been providing these by anticipation. And who can doubt that an association, of which Lord Teignmouth is the president, will extend a liberal aid to promote Christianity in that country, which he formerly illuminated by his professional
* Vide Note EE.
and scientific labours, and to whose interests he is still powerfully attached ?
To facilitate the distribution of the Scriptures thus translated into the languages of the country, and enable the Hindoos to understand them, it will be expedient to have schools erected, in convenient situations throughout the empire, similar to the parish schools in Scotland. How much of the illumination of the public mind in the northern part of the island, is owing to this simple but most important institution, every one is aware, and we have lately heard from high authority. Slenderly endowed as they are, at an expence scarcely deserving of consideration, they have raised high the national character, and contributed more than all other means put together, (if you except one) to the diffusion of religious knowledge. An attempt, exactly similar to that which we are recommending, has been made by a society instituted for promoting the knowledge of Christianity in the Highlands and Isles of Scotland, and with great success. Schools have been erected : teachers and catechists have been appointed : ambulatory preachers have been allotted to certain remote districts. What has been the consequence ? Civilisation and Christianity have been diffused together. They have reached places formerly inaccessible
tion of provincial seminaries.
to either, or into which the last alone, and in a very imperfect form, had penetrated. Barbarism and ignorance have fled apace before their benign influence. Law, order, religion, now preside where their opposites once reigned. The remote Highlander, once “ wild as the wind which wanders over his mountains,” now submits to the restraints of social life: and he whose' mind and heart were once strangers to the auspicious efficacy of the light of revelation, now feels the sacred, the reviving influence, and rejoices in the sublime and interesting discoveries of Christianity. Similar effects will, in all probability, arise from the adoption of the same expedient in Hindostan. In a country where the means of subsistence are so cheap, and the wages so low; where the natives are so numerous, so complacent in their manners, not destitute of an inquisitive spirit, and desirous of being fitted for entering into the service of the Company, it cannot be doubted, that, as these institutions would be supported at a trifling expence, so they would be resorted to by the Hindoos, and become the means of rapidly promoting their improvement, civil and religious. With a special view to the latter, the instructions therein given, might be adapted, in part at least, to convey a knowledge of the elementary principles of Christi