Images de page

Oct. 27. The brethren and sisters all arrived safe, on the 12th instant. We received a letter from them only to-day, it having lain twelve days on the road. They are well ; but I can add no more about them till I know more.

Brother Fountain sets off to-morrow morning to meet them. I hope very soon to write again, but send this by him. My second son is now dangerously ill with a fever : it appears uncertain whether he will recover.

My christian love to all the churches and ministers, and such in your church whom I have often expressed by name.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]






SEVERAL incidents at this time produce a perfectly new epoch in Mr. Carey's missionary life. The district in which he resided had, indeed, nothing to recommend it as the permanent seat of an important mission. It was no place of public resort; and had no celebrity attached to it, either religious, literary, or commercial. Nothing could have been more decisively providential than were the circumstances which led Mr. C. thither. His residence there had also answered some important ends. His object had become known, and his character appreciated, throughout a respectable circle of European observers, whose esteem he had conciliated, whose liberality in the cause of the gospel now began to evince itself, and whose respect

and fervent attachment he continued to enjoy, unimpaired, to the close of life. Here, too, he had, by the most sedulous industry, prepared himself for future and far more eminent service. Here the mission to India was well cradled; but to mature its strength and to put forth its energies, it must be translated to another and more favourable region.

The indigo works which Mr. Udney erected at Moypaldiggy and Mudnabatty, the superintendence of which had furnished support to Mr. Carey and his colleague in the time of their extremity, had entirely failed ; and the successive and severe losses which their benevolent friend had experienced determined him to break them up. Mr. Carey had commenced in the same line for himself at Kidderpoor, about ten miles distant, at considerable outlay, and without any advantage to his circumstances, but rather to their detriment. His way was hedged in, and his temporal resources, there is reason to fear, were fast drying up.

At this time, in the close of 1799, four new missionaries arrived from England. The harsh and jealous policy of the honourable company forbad their settling in the British dominions. About fourteen miles up the country, on the western bank of the Hoogly, was a small Danish settlement. Thither they fled, to seek the patronage which their own countrymen sternly withheld. The governor of this station had enjoyed the instructions of the celebrated missionary Schwartz. He gladly received them, and never withdrew from them the shield of his protection in any one of the many trying vicissitudes which sub

sequently befell them. The conduct of the British authorities in India, upon the subject of religion, was strangely anomalous and absurd ; arising partly from ignorance of the true genius of christianity, and the legitimate means of diffusing it; and partly from a profane indifference to the spiritual welfare of the millions they governed, and a repugnance and hostility to whatever might seem only to interfere with their own secular ambition and cupidity. It is matter as undeniable as justly to be deplored, that no class of persons are to be found less acquainted with the nature and design of christianity, than are professedly christian legislators and christian rulers. How should it be otherwise, while so few among them ever give it an hour of their serious attention? Is it to be supposed that their spirits should be found in affinity with principles they never study, and to the majesty of which they never design to bow ? And yet, they hesitate not to make laws, and to interpose their authority, to regulate the faith and to control the religious profession and conduct of mankind. What, then, have professedly christian legislators nothing to do,-no function to discharge, with respect to the religion they profess? Yes, two things : one in common with all other men, which is, to become religious; and another connected with their office, that is, to afford equal protection to all who are so; that they may safely profess and freely promulge what they believe.

It is the bane of rulers, and the calamity of those whom they govern, that they never view christianity, any more than they do other systems of religion, but

in combination with legislative authority, and as constituting national distinction. It is therefore difficult, with them, to dissociate its promulgation from reasons of state and measures of coercion. Some such ideas seem to be the legitimate result of all human establishments of religion. For, whether we view them in their principles, or trace them in their practical details, in all countries, and through every generation, it is almost impossible to conceive of them, but as prejudicing some important truth, violating some attribute of our intellectual, moral, and accountable nature, and incurring some spiritual detriment, or inflicting some social wrong. Gentlemen, therefore, who constitute the presiding authorities abroad, though of the establishment of their country, yet resolving all religions, of whatever denomination, into a matter of mere expediency, and with the page of history open to them, it is no wonder if their apprehensions should be somewhat wakeful.

When, many years ago, an interference on the part of government was sought to be averted, it was said, by his excellency the governor-general of India, ‘Do you not think, Dr. Carey, it would be wrong to force the Hindus to become christians? “My lord, it was replied, “the thing is impossible; we may indeed force men to be hypocrites ; but no power on earth can force men to become christians !

But it is one thing for governors to exert a direct authority for the forcible establishment of christianity; and quite another, to thwart and formally to obstruct those who, by rational methods, seek to

« PrécédentContinuer »