Page images

aries themselves, as well as by those who are engaged in the important office of educating youth for the future service of missions.

To the importance of that service no Christian can be insensible: and I regard it as one among the most favourable signs of the present times, that, while Providence has, in a manner visible and almost miraculous, prepared a high way in the wilderness of the world for the progress of His truth, and made the ambition, the commerce, the curiosity, and enterprise of mankind, His implements in opening a more effectual door to His Gospel, the call thus given has been answered by a display of zeal unexampled at any time since the period of the reformation; and America and England have united with Denmark and Germany to send forth a host of valiant and victorious confessors, to bear the banner of the Cross through those regions where darkness and death have hitherto spread their broadest shadows.

Nor can it be a matter of reasonable surprise to any of us, that the exertions of this kind, which the last fifteen years have witnessed, should have excited a mingled feeling of surprise and displeasure in the minds, not only of those who are strangers to the powerful and peculiar emotions which send forth the missionary to his toil, but of those who, though themselves not idle, could not endure that God should employ other instruments besides; and were ready to speak evil of the work itself, rather than that others who followed not with them should

cast out devils in the name of their common Master. To the former of these classes may be referred the loud opposition, the clamours, the expostulation, the alarm, the menace, and ridicule which, some few years ago, were systematically and simultaneously levelled at whatever was accomplished or attempted for the illumination of our Indian fellow-subjects. We can well remember, most of us, what revolutions and wars were predicted to arise from the most peaceable preaching and argument; what taunts and mockery were directed against scholars who had opened to us the gates of the least accessible oriental dialects; what opprobrious epithets were lavished on men of whom the world was not worthy. We have heard the threats of the mighty; we have heard the hisses of the fool; we have witnessed the terrours of the worldly wise, and the unkind suspicions of those from whom the missionary had most reason to expect encouragement. Those days are, for the present, gone by. Through the Christian prudence, the Christian meekness, the Christian perseverance, and indomitable faith of the friends of our good cause, and through the protection, above all, and the blessing of the Almighty, they are gone by! The angel of the Lord has, for a time, shut the mouths of these fiercer lions, and it is the false brother now, the pretended fellow-soldier in Christ, who has lift up his heel against the propagation of the Christian Gospel.

But thus it is that the power of Anti-Christ hath

worked hitherto and doth work. Like those spectre forms which the madness of Orestes saw in classical mythology, the spirit of religious party sweeps before us in the garb and with the attributes of pure and evangelical religion. The Cross is on her shoulders, the chalice in her hand, and she is anxiously busied, after her manner, in the service of Him by whose holy name she also is called. But outstrip her in the race, but press her a little too closely, and she turns round on us with all the hideous features of envy and of rage. Her hallowed taper blazes into a sulphurous torch, her hairs bristle into serpents, her face is as the face of them that go down to the pit, and her words are words of blasphemy!

What other spirit could have induced a Christian minister, after himself, as he tells us, long labouring to convert the heathen, to assert that one hundred millions of human beings, a great, a civilised, an understanding, and most ancient people, are collectively and individually under the sentence of reprobation from God, and under a moral incapacity of receiving that Gospel, which the God who gave it hath appointed to be made known to all?

What other spirit could have prompted a member of that Church which professes to hold out the greatest comfort to sinners, to assert of a nation with whom, whatever are their faults, I, for one, should think it impossible to live long without loving them, that they are not only enslaved to a cruel and degrading superstition, but that the principal

persons among them are sold to all manner of wickedness and cruelty; without mercy to the poor; without natural affection for each other; and this with no view to quicken the zeal of Christians to release them from their miserable condition, but that Christians may leave them in that condition still, to the end that they may perish everlastingly.

What other spirit, finally, could have led a Christian missionary, (with a remarkable disregard of truth, the proofs of which are in my hands,) to disparage the success of the different Protestant missions; to detract from the numbers, and vilify the good name of that ancient Syrian Church, whose flame, like the more sacred fire of Horeb, sheds its lonely and aweful brightness over the woods and mountains of Malabar, and to assure us, (hear Oh Israel) in the same treatise, and almost in the same page, that the Christians of India are the most despised and wretched of its inhabitants; that whoever takes up the cross, takes up the hatred of his own people, the contempt of Europeans, loss of goods, loss of employment, destitution, and often beggary; and yet that it is interest alone, and a love of this world, which has induced in any Hindu, even a temporary profession of the Gospel?

And this is the professed apologist of the people of India! My Brethren, I have known the sharpness of censure, and I am not altogether without experience in the suffering of undeserved and injurious imputations. And, let the righteous smite


me friendly, I shall receive it (I trust in God) with gratitude. Let my enemy write a book, so he be my open enemy, I trust (through the same Divine aid) to bear it or to answer it. But whatever reproofs I may deserve, to whatever calumnies I may be subjected, may the mercy of Heaven defend me from having a false friend for my vindicator!

My own experience in India is, I own, as yet but little; but the conclusions which I have been led to form are of an extremely different character. I have found, or seemed to myself to find, a race of men, like other men who are not partakers in the regenerating principle of the Gospel, very far gone, indeed, from God and His original righteousness; but exempt perhaps, by the fortunate circumstances of their climate and habits, from some of those more outrageous and appalling vices of which so dreadful a picture is drawn in those nations to whom the apostles preached Christ crucified.

I have found a race of gentle and temperate habits; with a natural talent and acuteness beyond the ordinary level of mankind, and with a thirst for general knowledge which even the renowned and inquisitive Athenians can hardly have surpassed or equalled. Prejudiced, indeed, they are, in favour of their ancient superstitions; nor should I think, to say the truth, more favourably of the character, or augur more happily of the eventual conversion and perseverance of any man or set of men, whom a light consideration could stir from their paternal creed, or who received the word of truth without

« PreviousContinue »