« PrécédentContinuer »
por on whether persons baption known to populou
the sheets might be consigned to the trunk-maker's without delay, and without much loss to the religious public. It is painful to say this, but it is the truth.
The Church Missionary Society furnishes you with tables at the beginning and the end of their report, by which you may calculate results, so far as figures can represent spiritual influences. The Society itself does not perform these calculations for you, nor does it draw attention to the darker shades in the panorama; but all honour is due to the plain-dealing truthfulness which enables a careful reader to arrive at the knowledge of the facts. For example, it appears that the cost of the Mediterranean Mission, which includes Constantinople, Greece, Asia Minor, and Palestine, for 1862, was £5,059 1s. 2d. In the table of results at the other end of the volume, we find that the number of adult converts from Mohammedanism, or other forms of superstition, baptized by the missionaries of the Society in these four populous territories, was 0); that the number of children known to have been baptized was 2; and that of persons baptized, of whom nothing was known, not even whether they were infants or adults, there were 12. They were, therefore, pretty certainly children, or young people.
This is not very encouraging. The African statistics do not for the most part, tell a much more flattering tale. But the measure of discouragement offered by the figures is the measure of the honesty of the missionaries, who will neither invite converts to baptism unprepared by repentance, nor fabricate paper successes for their directors at home. If such men do not succeed, it cannot be because their characters were unworthy, but because the heathen were disobedient, or, perhaps, because the whole Christian manifestation, of which these ministers were the representatives, was unsuited to the genius of the people addressed.
All the figures, however, do not bear this dark complexion. In some districts of India, it is evident that this Society is now beginning to reap the reward of fifty years' continuous labour. In Southern India, including Madras, the Tinnevelli, and the Travancore districts, no fewer than 1,500 persons were baptized in the twelve months of which this report takes account, of whom nearly half were adults. But over the whole of Northern India, from Calcutta to Punjab, there were not more than 142 adult baptisms; and but twenty-three over the whole of Ceylon. It is, therefore, only in Tinnevelli and Travancore that the result rises above the usual low average. The African stations report altogether 141 adult baptisms; the Chinese stations, four; the New Zealand missions, 191; and the North-West American stations among the Indians, fire. The total number of adult baptisms throughout all the stations of the Church Missionary Society (including the 600 converts in the revival in Tinnevelli) was 1,183, and of infant baptisms 2,610. The
whole expense of the missions in Hindostan is stated at £60,258 198. 6d.; of those in Western Africa, £11,568 188. 10d.; of those in China, £3,765 158. 3d. ; of those in New Zealand, £8,563 138. 8d.: and of those in America, £5,041 11s. 2d.
The working expenses of the Society at home, including the salaries of officials, and all the printing, by which interest is awakened and maintained, are fixed at about £15,000. The total income is £135,205 12s. 10d.
It is impossible to institute any comparison between money and spiritual results. They are incommensurables. If but one soul were brought to endless blessedness by the combined effort of all the missionary societies, the labours in time of so many agents would be overpaid by so transcendently glorious an issue in eternity. But the thought will rise, that it was natural to anticipate, under Christ's mediatorial government in heaven, a larger reward to the labours of our missionaries than that which actually appears. We most strenuously contend for a more believing interpretation of the facts. It is of the nature of the influence of a genuine life in God, that none can tell the measures of its action on the souls around ; and these figures are the worst possible tests of usefulness. They take no account of the Nicodemuses of paganism, who are always numerous in proportion to the ignorance and ferocity of the heathen population. They take no account of the numbers who are “almost persuaded” to be Christians, and need but the example of a few prominent countrymen to assist them to an open confession of their faith. And, above all, they take no account of that general influence on society, with its style of thought, its language, its conscience, and its customs, which is one of the most valuable results of missionary labour, and one of the most effectual preparatives of future and perhaps not far-off conversion on the widest cale. Wherever the tree has become “ wild,” it requires some time to make it “good," and the good olive-tree of a Christianised paional life is far more likely to bear the fruit of individual convernion than the wild jungle of Indian and African paganism. The gents of the Church Mission console themselves under the discouagement of few individual confessions of Christ by the heathen, by he persuasion that society in general is undergoing a moral revoluion in the East; and, so far as we can see, with great justice. The ainderance to individual profession is social opposition, and in provortion as this is diminished by general distrust in the institutions f paganism, it becomes easier for feeble individualities to assert hemselves on the Christian side. “The sacrifices which are now o be made by single individuals in a village, in coming forward, ppear to the people too great. They say, We are willing to ollow you if others were to join us.'"-p. 99. A commendable feature of this report is the general care exhi
bited by the missionaries in guarding against the applications for baptism made by persons who are influenced by secular views in the abandonment of heathenism. The Church Mission, if we may judge by the present statements, appears to be almost as earnest in sifting their converts as any of the Nonconformist societies. The Rev. Mr. Schneider, of Benares, makes the following wise remarks upon the baptism of inquirers :
“In no previous year have I had so many inquirers as in the past. In most cases, however, the motives for embracing Christianity were chiefly the desire to find employment, and to lave their bodily wants provided for, which were much increased by the pressure of the famine. It is only in a few instances that the wants of the body have been the cause to lead souls to Christ, to embrace Him as the only Saviour from sin and its evil consequences. Expe rience has taught me not to be in a hurry in baptizing inquirers, but to have them first properly instructed, and to inquire well after their motives ; for it is a fact, that many new converts have, after their baptism, not adorned their Christian profession by a becoming walk and conversation : and so have ever proved great offences and stumbling-blocks to the cause of Christ. There i also this idea becoming very prevalent among converts, that, when they are once baptized, the Padre, or the congregation, must also provide for them. I have almost come to the resolution not to baptize an inquirer till I know how he may be able to support himself in an honest way, for is his bodily wants cannot be supplied, he will only be a burden and disgrace to the church."
The Church of England in India exhibits more adaptive power than at home, in meeting the special requirements of its adherents. The Rev. Mr. Vaughan, of Calcutta, for example, who writes like an earnest Christian and a man of original thought, thus speaks of the importance of private meetings :
“I am of opinion that very much attention should be given to meetings of s social kind amongst our people--Bible and prayer meetings. Private interviews are also of great importance. I fear our Sunday services alone will effect very little. I have altogether four meetings weekly for prayer and the study of the Scriptures: I believe they are not without a blessing. One of these I established a few months ago. It is for the women of the village: the suggestion, indeed, came from themselves. It consists of twelve or fourteen, all married women, nearly all mothers. I feel that an influence for good gained over our Christian women cannot be over-estinated in importance."
The “voluntary principle” also is appealed to with the utmost confidence. Even among the semi-barbarous natives of Western Africa, the people are invited to pay their own expenses, without attempting to impose a rate upon the heathen“ dissenters :"
"The out-station of Osielle has been, from its first formation, under the charge of a native minister, the Rev. William Moore. In his annual letter, Mr. Moore expresses his hope that the calamities of the war may prove in the end a benefit to the cause of the Gospel, which he illustrates by a Yoruba proverb, that a man who is beaten, when the pain is over is a different man from one who has not been beaten at all.' The number of native Christians under his charge is 130. The church being out of repair, Mr. Moore called his people together, and represented to them the need of their undertaking the repairs of their own place of worship. One of his congregation, a common Yoruba farmer, exhorted his fellow-Christians to respond to the call, by urging,
hat if our faith do not constrain us to love and to action for Christ, it is dead, ind we shall never gain anything by it. He then referred to the missionaries, he books, the clothes, which Christians in England sent to Africa, as a proof of heir living faith, and called upon Africans to show the same life in their faith. The congregation cordially undertook the wbole charge of keeping the church a repair."
The atmosphere of India, again, seems to be sometimes favourable o catholic union in effort, between Churchmen and Nonconfornists. Here is a wonderful exhibition of it :
* Mr. Bruce chiefly devotes his time to itinerating in the district. He cannot ecord, however, any marked encouragement during the past year. He rentions an interesting occasion when the missionaries of different societies nited their labours at a great Hindu fair. Our party at the Jualla Mukhi air consisted of five missionaries and four native helpers, and most of us reacbed three times a day. The concourse lasted more than a week. We all ssembled daily for prayer in the Urdu tongue at two o'clock. I never felt sore the help of God's Spirit in our work.”
A curious illustration of the stimulating influence of new circumtances occurs in the story of the Meerut Mission, in North-Western ndia. In that quarter the Baptists are strong, and apparently roublesome. The Rev. Mr. Hærnle, therefore, baptizes his conerts “in an old branch of the Ganges. Immersion was adopted nith a view to preventing the interference of the Baptists, as some f their agents had already been in the village trying to disturb he minds of the converts.”
We cannot, however, award equal praise to the language of Mr. 'aughan, when speaking of the “ outcasts of Kishnagurh," the aptized but relapsed converts of the Mofussil stations, who have ow become the vilest of the vile. He says: “ Their case is not that f backsliders, who have fallen from grace received. They have lways been dead-spiritually dead-never quickened ; and the ciromstance of their being baptized, and to some extent instructed
Christianity, appears to have rendered them 'twice dead.'” urely this is not proper language to use respecting persons who ave distinctly been “regenerate in baptism,” who have “received ve Holy Ghost, and remission of all their sins.” If Mr. Vaughan's escription of the converts be correct, then there is something the latter with the baptismal service of the Church of England.
The old episcopal love of landed property breaks out now and len in a somewhat daring form. Mr. Tucker, of Tinnevelli, thus escribes the process by which the Church steps into the shoes of efunct paganism :“We have made a few inroads upon the dominion of Satan during the year, having demolished twenty-two demon or devil temples : I mean, new people, coming over, have destroyed the idols of so many temples with their own inds, and given over the lands to the Mission. To prevent future lawsuits 1 these cases, I require a Government stamp paper, upon which is written teir conveyance of the property to me."
We can imagine nothing more likely to prejudice the heathen mind of India, or to give an advantage to the Brahmins throughout the Peninsula, than such an appropriation of the old properties of idolatry. Surely there must be some requirements of the whole population to which these lands might be devoted, thus winning the goodwill of all, instead of stimulating the anger and malice of residuary heathendom.
We have left ourselves scanty space for one or two illustrations of the working of Providence in the spread of the truth. Mr. Vaughan, of Calcutta, thus speaks in his report :
" Amongst the lepers we have been much cheered and encouraged. Last year seven of these poor and unhappy sufferers were brought into the fold. All these, I am happy to say, have held fast their profession, and, upon the whole, their walk has been satisfactory, allowing for certain weaknesses of character, which time and increasing grace will remedy. In addition to these, seven other new converts have been made during the present year-six Hindoos and one Mussulman. The conversion of the latter is peculiarly interesting. Two years ago he was in the Medical College Hospital whilst one of our Christian bons was there. The poor child used to go to the bedside of the Mussulman to read the Bible to him, endeavouring in his simple way to lead him to a knowledge of Christ. After a while the boy died; but his works followed him. The Mohammedan could not forget what he heard from his lips. During the past two years he has been studying the Bible without any human teacher. The result has been, his hearty and entire belief in Jesus as the only Saviour of the world: and he has, I quite hope, simply and entirely reposed his soul on Him for salvation. He was lately admitted into the visible church. He is the fourteenth convert recently gathered out from amongst those poor benighted sons and daughters of affliction.”
A remarkable feature in the report just reviewed is the appearance of natives who, having embraced more or less of Scriptural truth, set themselves up as leaders of new sects, and gather many followers, to whom they propound only partial views of the truth, but yet sufficient to shake their confidence in their old religions. Such an example is that of Mirza Bakir, the first Affghan convert from Mohammedanism who embraced the truth, and was baptized by Dr. Pfander at Peshawur in 1856. He afterwards left Peshawur and was lost sight of, but has again been met with in a new character, as the following extract from the report of Abdoolah, the Sindh catechist, will show :
“To my great surprise I found Mirza Bakir in the city of Shikarpur. He had left Peshawur and come there. A great Hindu has given him a good house to live in, and many gladly support him with excellent food and raiment. Gentlemen and ladies of the city were almost worshipping him, but this they did in private: he has, he told me, altogether about 14,000 persons in Khorasan and India who are secretly his listeners or followers. I found no dangerous doctrine in his preaching, but his mode of preaching I do not much like: he preaches, for the most part, in figures and hints, and he does not attack errors in their first peep, and cuts not the root of errors in the very beginning Perhaps he is wanting in ability to do this.'
It is impossible not to notice, in such instances as these, the sigos