Imágenes de páginas
PDF

GeoGRAPHICAL REMARKs.

The map of the islands of Bombay and Salsette, and a section of the coast on the adjoining continent, is given on the preceding page, with particular reference to the mission established there by the American Board.

The island of Bombay, which is the seat of the third presidency of the East India Company, is but about nine miles long. In breadth it varies from half a mile to three miles.

The population in 1816 was, by census, as follows:—

Hindons, 103,786 Mussulmans, 27,811 Parsees, 13,155 Christians, 12,000 Jews, 782 Total in 1816, 157,534

Since the above census was taken, the population has greatly increased. At the resent time it is probably not less than ,000. This population is supported chiefly by trade, the island being the principal mart on the western coast of India. *. Hindoos have many temples of idolatry scattered through every part of the island. One of the most celebrated places for daily worship is called “Bombay-davee,” or the goddess of Bombay, situate near the centre of the native town. In the centre of a large enclosure there is a spacious tank or artificial pool of water, with flights of stone steps on the sides, affording conveniences for bathing and religious ablutions. A row of temples mostly joined together, partly encircle this tank. . In the several apartments of these temples, are placed various images of the most popular s and goddesses. Morning and evening, crowds of males and females of all ranks and s resort to this and other places of worship, and amidst the din of bells, trumts, and cymbols, present their various of. erings, and utter their prayers to their images. e Hindoos are in the habit of presenting some offering, when they go to their temples. A little fruit, rico, ghee, perfume, money, or something is brought and laid upon the altar before the idol. The amount thus given in a year, even by the most indigent, worshipper, is very considerable. In their devotions at the temples and in their houses, there is nothing like social worship. Each one approaches the image, presents his offering, repeats his prayers, makes his prostration, and retires to give way for others. Objects of Hindoo worship are very numerous. In addition to the many temples of public resort, every family and almost every individual is furnished with some miniature god or image of worship. The Šumimu. are of various sects, and have various mosques or places for worship.

A large proportion of Christians on the island are papists of Portuguese origin, The Parsees are a very enterprising, intel. ligent class of people. Their ancestors fled from Persia to India, at the time of the Mahomedan conquests in Persia. They are worshippers of the elements. They have a temple in Bombay, in which the pretend to preserve the sacred fire whic illuminated the holy places of their fathers, many centuries ago. Morning and evening the Parsees repair to the sea-side to worship the rising and setting sun. The Jews on this island and in the villages of the ad. joining continent are generally from Co. chin, and are what Dr. Buchanan denomi: nates “black Jews.” They have a small synagogue, in which they assemble for worship every seventh day. The island of Salsette which lies north of Bombay, is separated from it and the continent by a very narrow arm of the sea. A causeway now connects it with Bombay, Salsette is about 20 miles long and 14 broad. The middle of the island is moun. tainous, broken, and uncultivated, the bor ders generally level and productive. The population is near 60,000. Salsette is much celebrated for its cave temples, excavated from solid rock. These caves are in the interior of the island. They are situated in two sides of a rocky hill, at different elevations and of various sizes and forms. Some of these excavations are magnificent both for their dimo sions and workmanship. One of largest is not less than 50 feet long, well proportioned, with rows of pillars on eac side, as if supporting the incumbent mo of rock above, all excavated from sold granite. The walls in many of these tem. ples are covered with sculpture, presenting roups of Hindoo gods and goddesses, " high and prominent figures. The work manship far exceeds in skill that of any living statuary now to be found among to Hindoos. Similar excavations are foun on the little island of Elephanta in Bombay harbor. At what period these excavation. were made, it is difficult to conjecture; but they are obviously very ancient, and P. sent a lasting monument of the labor, skill and zeal, of #. The Hindoos sup: pose them to have been miraculously produced by their gods. - The coast of the continent adjoining Bombay is generally level from Sea back to the Ghauts, a distance of from 1 to 50 miles. This coast is thickly planted with towns and villages, from one too. miles apart. Each town and village has"

[ocr errors]

own temples and holy places. The Hindoos do not generally build their habitations around on the lands they cultivate, as do the farmers in this country; but they live in clusters or villages in the immediate neighborhood of the temples. If necessary, they will rather go a great distance to their daily labor, than fail of living near the place of their gods. They make every thing subservient to their religion. The

Bombay and the adjoining coast present a fine country, producing in great abundance all the necessaries and comforts of life, in rich variety and profusion. Nothing is wanting to make its numerous inhabitants happy here and hereafter, but the knowledge and influence of the gospel. But for want of the gospel the people are shrouded in darkness, given to o and debased by a cruel and oppressive superstition.

prevailing language of the Bombay presidency is Mahratta. The population speaking this language is near 12,000,000,

HISTORY AND PROSPECTS OF THE BOMBAY MISSION.

The American mission in Bombay was commenced in 1812. It was the first Protestant mission ever attempted on the western coast of India. Paganism, in its most imposing forms, held its votaries with an iron grasp. There was no translation of the Bible, no schools for the common people, no school-books, and no printing in the vernacular language of the country. Every thing was to be done. For nearly two years many embarrassments were experienced by the missionaries, which greatly retarded them in their study of the native language, and their various missionary operations. And when these obstacles were, by a kind Providence, removed, they had every thing imposing and formidable in a complicated and ancient system of paganism to contend with, sustained by a learned and numerous priesthood:—a system, every feature of which is calculated to discourage investigation, and to deter its votaries even from examining the claims of every other religion. Though the visible progress of the gospel has not been so great in Bombay as in some other parts of the pagan world, yet there is no just cause of discouragement. Immediate success cannot reasonably be expected among pagans of their character and circumstances. Chained as the Hindoos are by the principle of caste, and awed by the most tremendous sanctions of apostacy from the faith of their venerated shasters, with minds perverted by false philosophy, and hearts by licentiousness and sin, how can it be expected they should at once embrace the gospel? There is no reasonable prospect of the extensive progress of the gospel among pagans under such circumstances, till after many years of patient and persevering labor on the part of missionaries. We cannot reasonably expect that those who have grown up to maturity of life, under such a system of impurity and false philosophy, will ever be induced to forsake it for the self-denying and holy principles of the gospel. The hope of exten*We success rests much on the rising generation. To this class of the population, our missionaries have directed their special attention and efforts. Schools have been in operation on the islands of Bombay, Salsette, and on the coast for a number of years. There are now many hundreds of youth who have been educated in the schools of the mission, and in consequence of being thus instructed, look upon paganism and all its array of false philosophy with disgust. It is believed that few comparatively of those who have been thus instructed, are satisfied with the religion of their fathers. t In consequence of the moral and religious instruction which has been communicated by schools, preaching, the distribution of the Scriptures, and religious tracts, a spirit of religious inquiry is beginning to show itself. Some few of high standing in society, have openly embraced the gospel and give pleasing evidence of piety. There is good reason to believe that the way is Preparing, and the time hastening on, when a great change will be effected in mbay and in various other parts of India.

[graphic]

It is worthy of special notice and thanksgiving to God, that our missionaries in Bombay, and missionaries in similar circumstances in other parts of India, have never manifested, or cherished feelings of discouragement. They can see and understand the circumstances of the people, and are comparatively happy and satisfied in spending their lives and wearing out their energies to lay the foundation for the ultimate triumph of the gospel. They see enough of success to convince them that God approves of their work. While they believe that God is able to give immediate and extensive success to his gospel in prostrating the idols of the heathen, they are no less convinced, that their minds must be prepared by human instrumentality to examine the claims of the gospel and to understand its doctrines and duties. None of our beloved missionaries have been disheartened by the slow progress of the gospel;-they labor in hope, and in sure expectation of eventual and complete success. They may never see the Hindoo pantheon overthrown and the banners of the cross waving over its ruins; but their successors, who enter into their labors, will see the complete triumph of this sacred cause, Eventually it will be seen that these pioneers have done a service as important to the conversion of India, as those who shall have the happiness of seeing the millions of the votaries of Hindooism flocking to Christ as doves to their windows. Let not the churches be faint hearted in furnishing the munitions of the sacred warfare, so long as their sons, who are in the field of toil and of danger, encourage them to effort and perseverance by their own example! Let the friends of missions never forget the paramount importance of united and persevering prayer to God for the influence of his Holy Spirit. They may cause the Bible to be translated into every language under heaven, they may send the preachers of the gospel to every heathen tribe in existence, they may furnish means for the instruction of the entire population of the globe, and what would be effected without the spirit of God! . It is the prerogative of God alone to give the increase. Let every friend of missions show the genuineness of his attachment to the cause, by his uniform, cheerful, and increasing donations in sending forth and sustaining laborers in the field, and by his servent and unceasing prayer to God for his blessing. Christian reader, the field for your missionary exertions is great and tor stantly opening to your view. The time is short in which you can labor in it. What you do, must be done quickly. Soon you must give up an account of your stewardship; and if found faithful, what will be your happiness to be ask mitted to the joy of your Lord! O cheering thought to meet in heaven the souls of pagans brought home to glory through your instrumentality! Near the close of last year a new station was commenced at Ahmedng: r by the Bombay mission. This station is situated on the continent, 115 miles, east by north, of Bombay. The city of Ahmednuggur was the reir dence of the sultan Ahmed, in the time of the Mohammedan empire in India. It contains a population of more than 50,000. Its location is elevated on the table land of the Ghauts, where the atmosphere is comparatively cool. To this station invalids may resort, with a fair prospect of receiving benefit, from change of climate. It is in the heart of the Mahratta nation, and affords a promising field of usefulness. To this are attached Messrs. Graves, Hervey, and Read, with Babjee, * converted Brahmin.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Which was held in the City of New York, Oct. 3, 4, and 5, 1832,

BOST ON:

PRINTED for the BOARD BY chocKER AND BREWSTER,

« AnteriorContinuar »