« VorigeDoorgaan »
CHINA. STATE AND PROSPECTS OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS. From the various statements which have recently appeared in our public journals, the friends of Missions cannot but look with trembling anxiety to the influence which political events are likely to have on the progress of that Sacred Enterprise to which their energies and their prayers are consecrated; and the Directors are gratified in being able to present the substance of various communications lately received from their devoted brethren labouring in that distant field, from which it will be seen, that, while we ought to continue instant in prayer, it behoves us also to abound in thanksgiving.
For the last three or four months the public papers have been occupied with accounts of disturbances between the English and Chinese at Canton. The Representative of our country has thought it necessary to make a second display of the power of Britain before the Chinese, and to intimidate the Commissioner Ke-Ying into a compliance with his requisitions. Hence, it may be feared, that the harmony of the Governments is only a deceitful calm ; that nothing but a sense of weakness could make the Chinese submit to their present position; and that circumstances may still occur to precipitate the two countries into war. Such an event would be most deeply to be deplored. Not only would it interrupt the present labours of our Missionaries, but however it might terminate in a peace dictated by our Ministers—it would also leave the minds of the people in a state ill-disposed to receive from our hands the lessons of Divine Truth.
Tsin-Shen, of whose ordination to the work of the ministry we lately gave an account, writing in July to Dr. Legge, says, “When the Colporteur, A-Lok, was distributing his tracts in Canton, the people fell upon him and beat him, and attacked him also with stones; and, when A-Fat was preaching, the people kept muttering and reviling, and threatened to pull down his house. In Hong-Kong, too, Asun, while engaged in his work as a Colporteur, has often been abused by many. They say, 'The English come here to distribute these books, which teach men to do good. How is it that they come likewise seeking to fight with us, and to usurp our land? There is no good doctrine in that.' You may see,” he observes, “that the present time is unfavourable to the preaching of the truth.” “We ask our friends,” adds Dr. Legge, "to join with us in prayer to the Governor among the nations that He will avert the catastrophe of war. Wonderfully did He overrule the events of the last war to present a great and effectual door for the preaching of His glorious Gospel. Let its still small voice' but continue to be heard by the Chinese for a few years, and it will open all their country more effectually to the rest of the world, than could be done by the thunder of all the cannon in the British Armies."
But our faith is confirmed to find, that, notwithstanding all opposition, the Word of the Lord is being glorified in the South of China! We give the following extracts from a letter written by Mr. Gillespie to Dr. Legge, dated HongKong, 20th July :
“I wish to tell you about the little doctor, and the progress which he has been making for some time past. After repeated examinations, it was resolved to baptize him. A friend in Dr. King's Congregation, Glasgow, has sent £15 to support him for a year as an evangelist and tract-distributor amongst his countrymen. He is going on very well. We have some other interesting cases. There is, for instance, that of a man whom Asun met in his domiciliary visits in this place, who had for some time been worshipping God according to the forms of prayer contained in Dr. Medhurst's Chinese Prayer-book. He inquired of Asun, if this was the right way to pray to God? Asun told him that it was; and that there was no occasion for incense, gilt paper, and candles. He also asked him if he was a Christian? He said, No, he had never even been at any of the chapels; only this tract had fallen into his hands. A young Chinese woman also attends Union Chapel every Sunday. She is a pattern of attention, never takes her eyes off the preacher, and, as soon as service is over, she is to be seen running homewards as fast as possible, lest she should have been too long absent. Her master has kindly allowed her to come regularly to the chapel. Besides these, there is a Chinaman, a rice-merchant, who attends our Chinese Bible-class every morning. He was much struck by seeing in Asun's house the customs of a christian family, worshipping God morning and evening, acknowledging His goodness at meals, &c.; and now he is deeply interested in the truths of the Gospel. There are, on an average, sixteen men in regular attendance on this class ; sometimes more, sometimes less. The man just mentioned has brought two young men, his acquaintances, to hear the Gospel expounded ; and the little doctor has sometimes brought his friends. Amid many discouragements, there are evident tokens of the blessing of God resting on His word and ordinances."
Dr. Legge has forwarded an account of the individual mentioned by Mr. Gillespie as “the little Doctor," which will be interesting to our readers. “The first time,” he writes, “that I saw the individual in question was shortly after our arrival in Hong-Kong, about the middle of 1843. Passing along the street one day, I observed a crowd of boys gathered round one of the most singular beings I had ever seen. He was a little man, squalid with filth, his head unshaven, with his hair plaited in two tails instead of one according to the regular Chinese fashion, and carrying a small box strapped on his back. The children were evidently amused with him; and judging, from his general appearance and lack-lustre eye, that he was half-witted, I went on. Several times after that I saw him in similar guise, but it was more than twelve months before I had any personal intercourse with him. One day, as I was visiting and distributing tracts from house to house, I met with him in the shop of a rice-merchant, and entering into conversation with him, found he was what we should call a quack-doctor a character having much of the astrologer associated with it, as was perhaps the case in this country two hundred years ago. He carried on that occasion in his hand a large contorted staff, with a small spade at the end of it, which he used, I understood, to dig the simples that he sought for on the hills. On parting with him I gave him a tract, and shortly after observed him hovering near the chapel on Sabbaths and other days, about the time of service. Once I saw him put his head in at the door, but he withdrew it, and ran off as soon as he was observed ; and, though I sent a boy after him, he could not be induced to return. At last, seeing him in the neighbourhood one evening, I went up to him, and after much persuasion, and using a little gentle constraint, succeeded in getting him to enter the place with me. From that time he was a pretty regular attendant, and it was soon evident that the Truth was laying hold of him. At first he took his place on a form close by the door, and would not advance nearer to the preacher. Gradually, however, he came forward, almost form by form, till before the end of 1845 his usual place was on a seat immediately below the desk. During all this time a very pleasing change was taking place in his external appearance. He had ceased to come to the house of God with unwashen hands and face. His hair was nicely
combed. His clothes began to be of a superior kind. His intellect, as it seemed to me, brightened ; and, when he joined in the hymn of praise, a light beamed in his formerly unmeaning eye. Much prayer was made for him, and I left China confident in the hope that he would be found ere long deciding on the Lord's side. That hope has now been fulfilled. In addition to what Mr. Gillespie says of him, I may translate another sentence or two from Tsin-shen's letter : ‘Our examinations of him were many. It was plain he had a constant heart and true faith. His attendance on preaching had been long continued, without a symptom of weariness; nor did he appear to be actuated by any desires of worldly gain. He was baptized, therefore, and an addition made to the number of our church. Ten thousand thanks to the abundant grace of God!'"
The case of this singular man gives us occasion to rejoice in the universal adaptation of the Gospel. None are so low and degraded that it cannot elevate them. In him, moreover, we have an exemplification of that principle stated by the Apostle, “ God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not to bring to nought things which are, that no flesh might glory in His presence.”
“ The communications received this month from Hong-Kong," continues Dr. Legge, "confirm the opinion which I have always entertained of that island, as a promising field of Missionary labour. Ultimately, when the number of Missionaries and Native Preachers is so increased that we can occupy effectively the large cities of China, Hong-Kong, as a sphere of direct exertion, will be lost in the shadow of their vastness, though its adaptedness for carrying on educational operations may always render it a moral Pharos to the adjoining continent. But in the meantime, while the labourers are few, a greater impression may be made upon its population than on the population of any other place where Brethren are engaged. The same individuals may be visited continuously, and receive“ line upon line, and precept upon precept;" the importance of which is, I think, well illustrated in the case detailed above. The difficulties, moreover, of making a profession of Christianity are less in a British Settlement than in China itself, and I am much deceived in my judgment if the number of converts in Hong-Kong, for some time to come, do not exceed those gained at any other station.”
In addition to the preceding intelligence from China, the Directors have learnt with great pleasure that the three young men, brought by Dr. Legge from China in the beginning of last year, have all decided to profess their faith in Christ; and they trust on their return they may prove, with God's blessing, valuable auxiliaries in promoting the kingdom of Christ.
It will also rejoice their Constituents to learn that Dr. Legge, being mercifully re-established in health, hopes to embark for China in the commencement of the ensuing year, accompanied by Four ADDITIONAL MISSIONARIES appointed to that vast field of labour.
The name of the Convert, whose baptism is mentioned in the preceding article, is Chin-Chaou-Gan. He was baptized at Union Chapel, Hong-Kong, on the 13th of June, 1847, and the following confession was read by him on the solemn occasion :
I, Chin-ChaoU-Gan, this day, in the good friends, attentively to listen. I was presence of God and all men, speak that you born in Cochin-China, and when two years may know my history; and I beg you all, old my father took me back to his native place in Hae-nan. While yet very young, unfor. tunately my father and mother both died, so that at length I had to go out to practise the healing of external diseases for a livelihood. A few years ago, I was often led by the Holy Spirit into the Chapel at Hong-Kong, to worship God, and to hear the preachers explaining the meaning of the Sacred Books. I often heard the teachers saying that all men are sinners, and ought to suffer the punishment of hell; but thanks be to Jesus Christ, who descended into the world, on behalf of men, to suffer pain and hardship, in order that the most wicked of sinful men, if they repent of their sins and amend their faults, might, on account of Jesus Christ's merits, obtain salvation. When I heard it I stedfastly fixed my eyes, and attended with my heart, carefully thinking over the teacher's words; and when I returned to my lodging, I said within my heart, Hitherto I have never
heard such words, namely, that Jesus Christ, who was the God of creation in the beginning, came down to save sinners; and I felt that I was a sinner: therefore I resolved to repent of my sins and amend my wicked practices, depending and believing on Jesus Christ, in order to obtain the pardon of all my sins and the salvation of my soul. Now, thanks be to the Holy Spirit, through whose teaching I now repent of my former sirs, and hope, after death, to obtain everlasting life in hea. ven! Therefore, to-day I request the teacher to pray the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for me, and to administer baptism to me. From this day henceforth there is be. gotten in me a new heart to practise new vir. tues, and day and night to serve the only one true God.
This is respectfully presented for the in. formation of all.
INDIA. BARODA.-EXTENSION OF THE GOSPEL. Our devoted brethren in the province of Goojurat continue to receive abundant encouragement in their blessed but arduous work. It will be seen by the subjoined statement, received from Mr. Clarkson, under date August 20th, that the streams of mercy are deepening and widening in their flow through this dry and thirsty land, and that the Mission is rapidly acquiring stability and influence, which plainly indicate the finger of God. It will also be observed, in accordance with uniform experience in similar cases, that, in proportion as the native converts become more decided for Christ, and more godly in their lives, they incur the hatred and obloquy of their heathen countrymen; but the grace which first called them from darkness to light, is able to sustain them under temptation, and make them more than conquerors; and such, we trust, will be their joyful experience.
You will be gratified to hear(writes Mr. C. degree. About thirty baptized persons, com. that our Mission has almost recovered from prising seven families, already constitute a the shock it sustained by our new arrangement learen in one village, which we hope will do in the church respecting Caste.-I refer to much to leaven the surrounding mass of the rule we established requiring the excision heathenism. This has taken place within of the Chotali, or tuft of hair worn on the head the last three months at a village called indicative of Hindooism. Those who fell Narali, twenty miles hence, in a new direcback are nearly all restored, and our church tion. This work, we doubt not, will spread. is considerably increased in christian decision We have established a school amongst them, and brotherly love.
and two teachers. The high Caste believers, Yet the circumstance has altered our who were first gathered in, have obtained sphere of operations greatly. The high land from Government for a village, and we Castes, seeing that we receive into our frater are now about to build six or eight dwellings: nity those who are reputedly polluted, avoid these are estimated at 12,00 Rupees, or £120. us, and all connected with us; entirely cutting This work will occasion considerable labour off all those of their own Caste who are be and expense from which we should be glad lievers from every kind of intercourse; and to relieve ourselves, but we see no remedy. our converts at length sustain the position of The converts are not allowed to dwell in their converts in other parts of India: they are a own localities. A separate place is imperadespised, persecuted, and isolated people. tive. We must needs “ go forward," like
In the meanwhile, the work is progressing the children of Israel, trusting that we shall among the low Caste in a highly encouraging see the salvation of our God.
JAMES SHERMAN'S NATIVE READER.
the liveliest interest, is a devoted native evangelist, connected with our Mission in TRAVANCORE. He is supported by the Christian benevolence of friends at SURREY CHAPEL; and, at their request, has been named after their beloved PASTOR. The history of his life and experience, as recorded in his own words, portrays in a very striking manner the evils from which he has been delivered, and the blessings he now enjoys by his reception of the grace of life. Sprung from a heathen ancestry, and exposed in early childhood to the worst corruptions of pagan darkness, he would, in all probability, to this day, have been a degraded and wretched worshipper of idols and evil spirits, but for the entrance of the Gospel into his family in the manner he describes. By the solicitude of maternal affection and piety, he was first led to Christ; as years advanced, he felt the power of grace, and was affected with a strong feeling of spiritual compassion for his idolatrous countrymen; and in due time his desire to devote himself to the work of the Lord was graciously answered, by his appointment to labour as an evangelist, under the superintendence of our brother, Mr. Mead, through whom the interesting statement now presented to our readers, has been received. Idolatry and Superstition of his Ancestors. allowed to go inside the pagoda and perform I was born in the year 1816, at Mundy
the poojah, while the people stood outside, cadoo, near Neyoor. My parents were de.
supplicating the demons with great reverence. voted to demon-worship : their ancestors
In times of sickness and approaching death, came from the Company's territory to live
they used to offer rice and plantains to the at Mundycadoo, at that time only a jungle
evil spirits, and were so much addicted to or forest'; but it had, even then, a small
the worship of them that they either collected pagoda, as the heathen delight to build their
money by force for the feast, from house to demon-temples in uninhabited places, where house, or in times of need mortgaged their the evil spirits are supposed to take up their grounds to procure it. The smallest sum abode. This temple is become a very cele
expended at the feast was about 40 rupees. brated one, and is resorted to by persons of
Credulity of Superstition. all Castes. As the pagoda belonged to a
The Shoodran's pagoda was reported to Shoodra, my relations determined to have
have arisen of itself out of the earth, and one for themselves, but at first set apart the
that wonderful things had then taken place. verandah of their house as a place of worship for idols. Afterwards, they erected a
Amongst others they say that an ant-hill sudsmall temple on their own grounds-a pro
denly appeared and rose to a great height, perty acquired by their personal labours in
and when one of the herd-boys struck the top
of it with his staff, blood issued from it. Then clearing the forest. They set up several images in the pagoda, viz. one of stone for Pattra Cali, the principal goddess of the
people, saying that the gods had taken up their
abode in it. Others said, if anybody abused Shanars, and supposed to reign over Palmyra
the goddess, and asked, “ has she horns, that Forests; one for Sevan, wearing a poonool or holy thread, and a forehead jewel of gold
we should be frightened at her?" that immein the form of a crescent; one for Poothem,
diately two horns sprung up in the cocoa-nuts a monster-demon, with a sword and a shield ;
which were suspended as offerings to the two five-headed serpent-gods of stone; and
demon. This trick was invented by the autwo of clay, in a reclining posture, intended
thors of these reports, who diligently searched
for cocoa-nuts with appearances in the fruit to represent giants with breasts resembling
resembling horns, contrary to nature, which cart-wheels.
as soon as they had found they suspended over Expensiveness of Demon-Worship.
the place where the image was seated. They performed poojahs every Tuesday The Shoodran, thinking he could coland Friday. These poojahs are ceremonies lect more money if he ruined our temple, attended with ringing of bells, offering in. raised false complaints against its owners, cense, and invoking the demons. An annual and at last forced them to sell the land on feast for ten days was also held, during which which their temple stood. The temple was time flowers, cocoa-nuts, and cakes were demolished, and the images scattered about : offered, and goats and fowls sacrificed, ac one of the serpent-images, it appears, was companied with dancing, fencing, and fire was taken by a drunkard, and sold for a works. On the tenth or last day of the feast, chuckrum of arrack. But the image of Pattra a Byraghee, or Indian devotee, was alone Cali is still to be found in the garden where