« VorigeDoorgaan »
Few events in the history of modern missions have created so intense an interest in the hearts of British Christians of all denominations, as the persecution to which the little flock of native converts in Madagascar has been subjected during the last five years. That interest must be contemplated as so much gain, on the broad scale, to the cause of Christian missions. It has awakened prayer and sympathy. It has confirmed many holy feelings and called forth many benevolent efforts. The "things which have happened” in Madagascar, and which for the moment obstruct the “ free course of the word of the Lord, must ultimately be overruled for the furtherance of the Gospel. No weapon
that is formed against Zion can prosper."
The following narrative has been drawn up in compliance with the suggestions of many valued friends, who have wished to be in possession of a succinct and authentic account of the circumstances connected with the Christian church in Madagascar, and especially with the escape of the six refugees who have been now nearly a year in England.
The History of Madagascar by the Rev. W. Ellis, lately published under the sanction of the London Mis* By Jackson and Co., Newgate Street.
sionary Society, contains a narrative of the principal events which relate to the suppression of Christianity in that country in February, 1835, and of various subsequent events during the succeeding two years. The present volume might, therefore, seem almost superfluous; or at any rate a brief appendix to that work might be thought to supersede the necessity of this. There are, however, many persons in the religious community, to whom the larger work is not easily accessible; yet, having their best sympathies identified with the cause of missions, may be gratified, and, it is hoped, profited by the perusal of a small and cheap volume, such as is now prepared for their use.
Mr. Ellis's work is the only existing complete view of the history and state of Madagascar. The narrative contained in this volume relates almost exclusively to the persecution. Readers who may wish for a more ample elucidation of the character of the country and its inhabitants and manners are referred to the copious details in Mr. Ellis's two volumes.
In placing the history of the persecution contained in this volume in the hands of the Christian public, it is the earnest wish of the writers to create only such feelings as primitive Christians would have wished to create by a recital of the sufferings of their persecuted and afflicted brethren. They would neither indulge an acrimonious spirit, nor employ "wrathful” terms in describing the conduct of the unhappy and unrelenting persecutors.
The religion of the Saviour inculcates on all, the spirit of meekness and love, the heartfelt forgiveness of injuries, with prayer for them that persecute and revile the
disciples of the Son of God, himself the bright example of all the charities which his religion teaches.
The history of the "faith and patience” of any portion of the suffering church, enduring, as in days of old, a “great fight of affliction,” may not be without utility to those who, under circumstances far less appalling, are striving for the faith of the gospel. They will find in the meekness and constancy of modern martyrs new illustrations of the life and power of the gospel. They will see that its principles, embraced by faith and operating by love, produce the same holy results as in apostolic times, and that they have lost none of their vital energy by the lapse of centuries. Truth is immortal; and its Divine Author attests its divinity, as revealed in the Gospel, by the purity it creates, the elevation of character it sustains, and the holy consolations it yields, even amidst the terrors of martyrdom itself. The results of modern missions furnish important links in the chain, the unbroken chain of evidence, by which the truth of Christianity is attested to the world from age to age.
It is hoped this narrative may deepen the interest already cherished in the bosoms of British Christians on behalf of Madagascar, and may excite them to more importunate prayer in its favour, so that its wounds may be healed and its captivity turned.
Names, dates and places have been specified with considerable caution; occasionally they have been concealed or stated ambiguously, in order to avoid the danger of the narrative ever being made a clue in the hands of the native government, where it may perchance fall, to assist in the apprehension and condemnation of any
parties in the island, yet exposed to the malice and fury of their rulers; and hence, should some circumstances mentioned seem to require further elucidation, the reader will candidly excuse the seemingly incomplete or obscure passage, by regarding it as one of those cases where it might have been cruelly hazardous to have been more explicit
If any profits arise from the sale of this volume they will be applied to the relief of Madagascar Christians, who are still suffering there for Christ's sake, and in part to those who have effected their escape and found an asylum either in Mauritius, or in England, a land where liberty and charity love to dwell.
The first and second chapters of the narrative contain a brief account of the island, of the state of the country, of the late King Radama, and of the accession and government of the Queen. The third chapter is devoted to an exhibition of the native religion, and the fourth to an outline of the operations of the mission established there by the London Missionary Society. These chapters have been introduced in order to render the whole narrative the more complete, and especially for the sake of such readers as may not be in possession of the more ample sources of information already adverted to.
J. J. F.
near London. May 22, 1840.