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Extracts from the third Annual Report of the Bristol Mis
sionary Society. The Lord said unto Abraham, “ In thy seed shall all nations be blessed." This great and comprehensive promise being ratified by the solemnity of an oath, by the sign of circumcision, and by the rites of sacrifice, was the foundation of all subsequent dispensations of Heaven, and more unalterable than the laws of the Medes and Persians. From that time, Providence seems to have been wholly occupied in preparing the way for its accomplishment.
The history of the twelve patriarchs, and that of the nations with whose fate their interests were connected ;----the cruel bondage of their posterity in the land of Egypt, and their miraculous deliverance ;----their journeys through the wilderness, and their settlement in the promised land the Sinai covenant, and all the statutes and ordinances of the Levitical economy ;----the spirit of prophecy from time to time poured upon the Church, and the extraordinary interpositions of Providence on her behalf ;---the separation of the ten tribes from the family of David, and their dispersion among the heathen ; the peculiar care constantly exercised over the kingdom of Judah; their captivity in Babylon, and their restoration to their own land ;----the rise and fall of the Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires, which were productive of such important consequences to the kingdom of Judah, were all subservient to the appearance of the promised Seed, on which the salvation of Jews and Gentiles depended.
When the fulness of the time was come, and whilst a general expectation prevailed of the advent of the promised Saviour, and every eye was attentive to mark the signs of the times, which might indicate his coming ----" God sent forth his Son into the world;" and angels sang on the plains of Bethlehem, “ Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, and good will towards men.” The grand design of these wonderful arrangements in the divine administration, having received its accomplishment in the incarnation, obedience, vicarious death, and triumphant resurrection of the Son of God; before his ascension into heaven, he delivered it, as an incumbent duty in solemn charge to his followers, that they should go forth and preach the Gospel to every creature; and to animate their exertions, he said, “ Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
To the posterity of Abraham, who are called the Children of the Covenant which God made with their fathers, the Gospel was first preached, by the Apostles ; after which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, those venerable men turned to the Gentiles, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon them through faith. So ardent was the zeal of the primitive Christians, and so glorious were the triumphs of Christianity through the different provinces of the Roman empire, that during the two first centuries, it seemed as if the commission of the Redeemer was about to be executed in its fullest extent. But, alas! Corruption, which had insinuated itself into the vitals of the Church, now extinguished her holy zeal, and paralyzed her Missionary exertions. Ages of midnight darkness succeeded. Genuine Christianity expired at the shrine of spiritual despotism; or, stained with blood, sought her safety in obscurity. About the same time, the Mahometan impostor appeared as a scourge in the hands of God, against the degenerate Christians of the East. Darkness covered the whole Church, until God said, “Let there be light,” and the morning of the reformation dawned. Little, comparatively, had been done since the commencement of that auspicious day, towards the diffusion of the Gospel amongst the nations, until the reign of George the Third.
The Missionary Society was established on the most liberal and comprehensive principles, to confront the blasphemies of infidelity and atheism, and to combine the energies of Christians of all denominations, in one grand effort to spread the Gospel through every region of the globe. The operations of the Society have been attended with the most pleasing
The Missionary zeal which it has kindled through the whole Christian Church, the numerous and valuable insti. tutions to which it has given existence, especially the British and Foreign Bible Society; the fundamental principle of its constitution, in which different parties may conscientiously unite and co-operate, and the remarkable outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the labours of the Missionaries, render the period of its formation one of the most important æras in the history of the world, and seem to indicate that it is the great instrument destined by Divine Providence to bring on the glories of the millennium. It is with peculiar emotions of delight and fervent gratitude to the God of all grace, that the Committee of the Bristol Auxiliary Missionary Society report to the friends the progress of the Parent Institution since their last Anniversary.
The Otaheitan Mission still continues to flourish. The number of those who have renounced the idols of the country, and are become the worshippers of Jehovah, is daily increasing. They are regular in their attendance on the means of instruction, and conscientious in the observance of the Sabbath, of secret and of family prayer. They hold their prayer-meetings, which are well attended; and so striking is the change which the Gospel has produced among them, that they are derided by their neighbours, who call them by the name of Burea Atua, the praying people.
Kings, chiefs, and even idolatrous priests, are among the converts of the South-Sea Mission; the gods have fallen into general disrepute, and the people scruple not to call them bad spirits-foolish spirits—while they acknowledge Jehovah to be the good Spirit.
The Missionaries at Otabeite are engaged in translating the Scriptures into the language of the natives, a portion of which they have printed at Port Jackson for distribution among the islanders. In a letter, dated Eimeo, September 17, 1814, they state that the school has increased to upwards of two hundred, the greatest number of whom make a pleasing progress in spelling, reading, and writing in sand. The call for books is very great, and the desire of learning general amongst them. The following is an extract of a letter from the Rev. Mr. Marsden to Mr. Hardcastle. “I have received the most pleasing inform ation from Eimeo. The Lord is doing great things for them, and by them Christianity is gaining ground fast among the natives. Much has been done, and much will be done. The flourishing state of the South-Sea Missions, at the earnest request of the Missionaries, induced the Directors to determine on sending additional labourers, who are acquainted with printing, gardening, medicine, and other useful arts; that when they arrive at Otaheite, they may be able to print whatever may be wanted for the use of the Mission, as well as to promote various other branches of civilization. O God! though we have long sown in tears in that unpromising soil, we thank thee that we now reap in joy. This is thy work, and it is marvellous in our eyes."
The Rev. Messrs. Kam, Supper, and Bruckner, who embarked for Java at the close of the year 1813, arrived at Batavia on the 26th of May, 1814, where they were kindly received by his excellency governor Raffles, who cordially approves of the Mission, and cheerfully co-operates in any plan tending to promote the views of the Society. Soon after their arrival, an Auxiliary Bible Society was established in the governor's house, and Mr. Supper and one of the Missionaries was appointed Foreign Secretary. Here are two Baptist Missionaries, of whom our brethren speak in high terms of commendation. One of whom preaches every Sunday afternoon in the Malay language. Both of them have since been very ill. Mr. Supper ascribes their illness to their living in a very unwholesome place, and has taken pains to find a more suitable situation for them. The field of labour here is vast :-“ Our number here,” say the Missionaries, “is as the dust of the balance," and they earnestly implore that additional labourers may be sent to assistance,
Mr. Le Brun, on his arrival at the Isle of France, was received by his excellency the governor in a friendly manner; who not only expressed his readiness to render every assistance to the Mission in that place, but his earnest desire to promote a Mission to the Island of Madagascar. The Directors have resolved to commence that work, as soon as proper instruments can be obtained.
In China, the indefatigable Mr. Morrison, and his excellent coadjutui, Mr. Milne, are labouring for the salvation of that immense empire.--Mr. Morrison has printed two thousand copies of the New Testament; ten thousand copies of his Chinese Tract; and five hundred copies of his Chinese Testament, in a language which may be read by hundreds of millions of the human race. But what are they to the necessities of the population of one-third of the whole globe, who speak the Chinese language?--Mr. Milne declares that the city of Canton alone would be but indifferently supplied with a million of copies !-He
laments that their funds are exhausted, that they cannot go a single step further, nor print a single copy more, unless further aid be afforded from this country. This, ” he adds, * is the fact; and I hope it will plead more strongly than ten thousand entreaties with the Christian public." Our grateful acknowledgments are due to the Religious Tract Society, who have voted a handsome sum to Mr. Milne, to assist in printing of Chinese Tracts; and also to the British and Foreign Bible Society, who have generously voted to Mr. Morrison the sum of Two Thousand Pounds, to assist him in the translation and distribution of the Holy Scriptures*; The following account of the confession and baptism of a Chinese convert, the first fruits of Mr. Morrison's labours, your Committee hope will be peculiarly interesting." Jesus," says the young convert, “ making atonement for us, is the blessed sound. Language and thought are both inadequate to exhaust the gracious and amiable goodness of the intention of Jesus. I now believe in Jesus, and rely on his merits to obtain the remission of sins. I have sins and defects, and without faith in Jesus for the remaiøsion of sins, should be eternally miserable. Now that we have heard of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus, we ought, with all our hearts, to rely on his merits. I entirely call upon God the Father, and rely upon God for the remission of sin, I also pray to God to confer upon me the Holy Spirit.”
“At a spring of water,” says Mr. Morrison, “ issuing at the foot of a lofty hill by the sea-side, away from human observation, I baptized, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the person whose character and confession has been given above. O that the Lord may cleanse him from all sin in the blood of Jesus, and purify his heart by the influences of the Holy Spirit. May he be the first fruits of a great harvest ;-one of the millions who shall believe and be saved from the wrath to come."
Mr. Milne has lately made a tour of fourteen hundred miles to the island of Java, for the purpose of distributing the New-Testament and Religious Tracts. He was every where welcomed by persons of all ranks with the warmest hospitality, Three copies of the Gospel he left in the Heathen temple, for the use of the priests; and sent others to Banjerman, Pontiano, and Lambras, on the Island of Borneo, The Chinese received his presents with gratitude-listened to his discourses with attention-called him “Padri Tjina,” the minister of the Chinese; strongly importuned him to continue, and establish a Mission at Java: and after his departure, expressed a strong desire that he would return and explain the book which he had given to them; declaring that they could find no rest day nor night in their minds since they had read it. Mr. Mil. ne, in a letter to our worthy Secretary, dated Canton, February 6, 1815, says, “ As there will be a third feet this season, I expect to send you as an appendix to my journal, a few ideas on a plan for the establishment of six or seven new Missions ; or, as Mr. Morrison calls them, branches of the Chinese Mission : some of them, however, relate to other people; viz. the Malays and Javanese, You will see from the journal of my highly and justly esteemed elder brother, that we have resolved on commencing a Mission at Malacca, which work falls to me.-The Lord give me wisdom. It is wished by Mr. Morrison, that as Malacca commands a ready intercourse with all the Malay countries, lies in the way to Siam, Cochin China, and China itself, it might become the chief seat and centre of all your extra Ganges Missions, especially the Chinese." He further adds, "I hope the Bible Society will ever keep their eye on, and turn the stream of their benevolence towards China. We want, Sir, Fifty Millions of New Testaments for China, and after all, only about one-sixth of the population would be supplied. I should ask no higher honour upon earth than to distribute the said number."
In the vast regions of India, comprehending incalculable millions of mankind, all sunk in the abominations of idolatry, or groaning under the despotism
The same noble Institution bas since voted another Thousand, in addition to their forper donations.
and stupified with the delusions of Mahometanism, among whom are sixty millions of our fellow-subjects, your Missionaries are labouring in their different stations with steady perseverance and various success. Mr. Loveless, at Madras; Messrs. Gordon and Pritchard, with the assistance of a converted Brahmin, at Vizagapatam; Mr. Lee, at Gangam, a populous town on the Orissa Coast; Mr. May, Chinsurah; Messrs. Hands, Taylor, and Xavier, at Bellhary; and Mr. Ringletaube, at Travancore, are all diligently employed in founding and superintending schools, translating the Holy Scriptures into the language of the different nations around them, distributing copies of those already translated, visiting the tem les of the gods, expostulating with their deluded worshippers, and preaching the Gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. In many places a deep concern seems to have been excited among the natives; the horrors of Paganism are retiring before the light of the Gospel, and your Committee have the pleasure of reporting that only one victim perished under the wheels of Juggernaut at the last festival.
Your Committee, in order to avoid as much as possible the tediousness of detail, refer you to the last report of the Parent Society, for information concerning the progress of the Lascars, and the advantages likely to be derived from an intercourse with that oppressed and neglected race of men, the prosperity of the Seminary under the superintendance of the Rev. David Bogue, and the state of the Missions at Ceylon, Malta, the different stations in NorthAmerica, and the West-Indies. But they cannot deny you the pleasure which they know you will derive from a short excursion into the delightful plantations of South-Africa; where you will see, on every hand, the briers transformed into myrtles, the wilderness blooming as the rose, and the desert adorned with the plants of righteousness, flourishing in all their beautiful variety, rejoicing as the garden which God has planted.
With mingled emotions of awe and reverence-joy and gratitude, your Committee approach the station of the late apostolic Vanderkemp. The great revival which has taken place there, began with the conversion of the son of a Caffre Chief, who had been a ringleader in folly and dissipation. The extraordinary change produced in the character of this youth made a deep impression on the minds of many.
The religious assemblies of the brethren were now crowded; multitudes were seen bathed in tears, and heard crying for mercy; the believing Hottentots wept for joy over their countrymen ;-fifty persons were shortly received into the Church, and so mightily grew the word of the Lord and prevailed, that others were daily added to their number. In a letter from Mr. Messer, dated Bethelsdorp, April 10th, 1815, he says, “ Brother Read and I have baptized one hundred and thirty adults since the first of January last. Daily my house is crowded with old and young, inquiring after the Lord.” Mr. Read also, in a letter dated April 9th, 1815, confirms the same statement. “ The work of conversion,” says he, “ still goes on rapidly. We can say that almost every day, souls are added to us. Yesterday about two hundred and fifty were sitting round the table of the Lord, many, very many, with tears streaming down their cheeks, whilst receiving the emblems of Christ's body and blood. At such time, I am led to take a retrospective view at the period when I resided at Hackney, and the circumstances in which we found this people ; and I am constrained to adore Him, who has wrought such wonders and caused us to behold them."
It has often been objected against the Missionary Society, that, in the execution of its plans, civilization is neglected. The following statement, your Committee conceive, will be admitted as a sufficient answer to this objection.
“ The government at the Cape had laid a considerable tax on Bethelsdorp. The operation of this tax was greatly feared; especially as (through peculiar circumstances) the amount of two years' taxes was to be paid at once. Remonstrances, says Mr. Read, proved useless; and the only alternative was