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It will doubtless be with much surprise that our readers will learn from an article on another page that there has been a revival of hook-swinging in India. This horrible transaction, which took place a few miles from Madura in October last, was not the freak of an individual. Thousands of Hindus were in attendance, and willing hands drew the car on which was mounted the pole with the victim. The man was chosen by lot to make a sacrifice to the goddess of rain. The serious drought had impressed the people with the idea that this goddess needed propitiation. But the rains had well set in before the hook-swinging was arranged for. Nevertheless the people proceeded with the hideous rite. It seems that the government has never formally forbidden hook-swinging as it has the suttee. The Madras Mail of October 29, in its account of this instance of hook-swinging, says that the young man was still living and bid fair to recover from the shock. We feel like apologizing to our readers for presenting, with photographic accuracy, such a representation of the maltreatment of a human being as will be found on another page; but in these days when so much is said of the excellencies of the ethnic religions, and Brahminism and Buddhism are so often lauded, we feel that an object-lesson in regard to one of them, though repulsive, may be valuable.
We have received from the United Society of Christian Endeavor a Portfolio of Programs for Missionary Meetings, prepared by Rev. S. L. Mershon. The programs number twenty, and relate to all classes of missions at home and abroad, with references to books and other sources of information, by use of which the young people can prepare themselves for missionary meetings. The issue of this Portfolio is another pleasant sign that the Societies of Christian Endeavor are definitely turning their thoughts toward intelligent Christian work far and near.
Thought and effort for the kingdom of God outside of their own immediate circles will do more than anything else for the development of these organizations of young people. The missionary element, which is so heartily favored by all leaders in the Christian Endeavor movement, will greatly aid in strengthening the tone of piety among young people, and will turn sentiment and feeling into practical Christian channels. May God bless these young disciples in their missionary work !
For long years the Pera church at Constantinople has been in sore need of a suitable place of worship, but the cost of procuring a site and erecting a church in that portion of Constantinople was altogether beyond the means of the people. It is with great joy, therefore, that we are able to announce that the friends at Constantinople have arranged for the purchase of an estate in the Pera quarter, the buildings upon which will, for a time, meet the needs of the congregation. To aid them in their efforts the sum of $9,000 has been collected from friends in the United States, through the efforts of Rev. Dr. Cyrus Hamlin, who has thrown his whole soul into the enterprise.
This sum of money is now already in hand, and with the £ T. 1,500 ($6,600) which the members of the Pera church are to provide, will secure premises which will suffice for the present needs of the Protestant community in that section of the capital, and thus meet a long-felt vant.
Rev. Dr. Elias Riggs, writing from Constantinople, November 19, incidentally mentions the fact that that day was the the eighty-first anniversary of his. birth, and refers to the supplement to the Bulgarian Hymn-and-Tune Book which was just passing through the press. The book will be a boon to the Bulgarian-speaking Christians, some of the hymns proving so acceptable as to be reprinted even by those outside of evangelical communities. Owing to the absurd suspicions on the part of the Turkish officials, the censor of the press, has stricken out some hymn, or stanzas, or lines from every form of the book. Dr. Riggs says that they were not greatly surprised that such hymns as "Fear not, O little flock, the foe,” and “ Jesus shall reign where'er the sun,” were not allowed to be printed, but when such hymns as “The head that once was crowned with thorns,
,” “Till He come, oh, let the words,” and “Oh, no! it is not dying," were stricken out, it was hard to comprehend what hidden political bearing could have been suspected as existing in any of them. The Bulgarian Commentary on the New Testament is now being prepared in the hope that it will soon be issued. The congratulations of all who know him or who know about him (and what a host this is !) will be extended to Dr. Riggs, that, though past the bound of fourscore, his bow still abides in strength, and that he is able after almost sixty years of toil in the Turkish Empire to render such efficient service in the missionary work.
We have received the first number of a new monthly paper entitled The North China Church News, issued at Peking by the Executive Committee of y the North China Tract Society. As our knowledge of the Chinese is only sufficient to enable us to determine when the paper is right side up, we are unable to say much concerning it, save that it is an attractive issue, of sixteen quarto pages. Its object is to provide a medium for communicating with the Christian communities in the several native churches. Our missionary, Rev. W. S. Ament, of Peking, is the editor, and the paper is printed at the American Board printingpress.
CRITICISMS have appeared of late in more than one quarter upon the plan of asking young people in colleges and seminaries to take the pledge presented by the “Student Volunteer Movement.” It has been said that young people while in their courses of education, especially those in the earlier portion of such courses, are not prepared to decide as to what their lifework shall be; that they do not understand either the work which is to be undertaken or their own fitness therefor. It is said, moreover, that circumstances are liable to change before the period shall arrive when these students can enter upon active work, and that for these and other reasons it is not only useless but wrong for them to decide as to their future course in life. There would be force in this objection were the pledge adopted by the “Student Volunteer Movement” a definite declaration that those taking it would enter upon foreign missionary work. The pledge is not “We will go as foreign missionaries," but rather, “We are willing and desirous, God permitting, to become foreign missionaries." Full allowance is made in this statement for the future developments of God's providence in reference to one's course in life. The simple declaration is that the individual, hearing the
call of God which bids his servants to preach the gospel to every creature, is willing and desirous to go to those most needing the gospel, even if it be to the ends of the earth. It is our profound conviction that this statement is one that every Christian on earth should be ready to make, whether he thinks he can go abroad or not. For most certainly no one has evidence that he is a Christian if he is not willing to go where God wishes him to go, and as a devoted Christian he should desire to do the most he can for Christ's kingdom. He should be eager to take not the easy post but the most difficult. Does any one question that to-day the foremost places of service are where Christianity is in conflict with heathenism and Mohammedanism? These posts all Christians should be willing to take, and if they are filled with true and holy enthusiasm they will desire to take. Providences may hinder, God may shut up the way; or it may be found that the persons are not qualified for such service. But none the less should they be willing to go where Christ is not known, and none the less may they desire to. We see no reason, then, why young men and women in our institutions of learning should not have presented to them the highest ideal of Christian service, and be asked to say before man and before God whether they are willing and desirous to enter upon that service. Let it be clearly understood that they are not in this asked to decide before the proper time shall come and before the providences of God in their individual cases have been fully developed, whether they shall actually go as foreign missionaries. But why should they not be asked to say that they are ready and desirous of giving themselves fully to Christ for that service which he may require and as his providence shall show the way? The spirit of this pledge is simply the Christian spirit, meaning that the person who takes it is ready for the largest service possible, and if God in his providence shall so order it, this service shall be rendered in the field of greatest need and difficulty. Such a pledge, when intelligently understood, cannot be made at too early an age.
There is one place in our missions where the weekly offering system does not work well, but the difficulty does not arise from the indifference of the people. Mr. Stover, of Bailundu, West Africa, reports that the young Christians of their church are quite ready to give a tenth of their income, but inasmuch as they have no currency except cotton cloth, the tenth of a lad's earnings, say from four to six yards per month, cannot well be divided into four parts so that one part can be put into the contribution box each Sabbath. Such driblets of cloth would be worthless. If cotton cloth had been the currency at Corinth, Paul might have urged the Christians there to have laid by them in store upon the first day of the month rather than the first day of the week. Would that all Christians were as ready to give at least a tithe as are these young Christians in Central Africa !
We do not wonder that our missionaries sometimes feel appalled by the numbers of people around them. Mr. Chapin, of Lin Ching, in speaking of the daily sight of new faces, says: “There is a feeling like being buried among the crowds of humanity.” If the Christian Church could only look upon the multitudes of Chinese without the gospel, surely their hearts would be moved, as was the Saviour's, with compassion.
ONE MILLION FOR 1892.
The main reliance for the support of our missions must be upon the regular systematic contributions of churches and individual donors. The amount received from this source during our last financial year was a considerably larger sum than has ever been received from the same source during any preceding year in the history of the Board, reaching a total of $426,792.44. In addition to this amount from regular contributions the sum of $57,671.33 was received from specially designated contributions, making the grand total from donations $484,463.78.
For the present financial year we have started with the assurance from a Committee of Fifteen energetic business men that we may rely upon an extra $100,000 in addition to the regular and special contributions from other sources. This assurance the Prudential Committee has gratefully accepted and has already included this $100,000 as a part of the regular appropriations for the year.
Now if the regular donations from churches and individuals should advance, on an average, about fifty per cent., bringing them up, in round numbers, from $427,000 to $640,000, there is not much doubt that the total receipts for the year from all sources will reach the long-looked-for and much-needed $1,000,000. Why should there not be an earnest and sustained effort in this direction by every church and congregation? We commend this inquiry at the beginning of a new year, to pastors and officers of churches, to superintendents and teachers of Sundayschools, to officers and members of Young People's Societies, and to all individual donors. Let us together move forward with an increase in our freewill offerings to this broad and fruitful foreign missionary work of not less than fifty per cent. And may God crown the effort with His abundant blessing !
THE REVIVAL OF HOOK-SWINGING IN INDIA.
BY REV. JOHN S. CHANDLER, OF MADURA. [With the following article Mr. Chandler sends us two photographs of the scene which he here describes : one showing the rough car on which was placed the swing, with the man suspended upon it, while the car was moving through the crowd ; the other showing the victim with the hooks thrust through his back. We have had these pictures reproduced by the photo-engraving process that, though the sight is revolting, our readers may have a vivid illustration not only of what Hinduism has been, but of what it is to-day. – ED.]
HAVING learned that the old, cruel practice of hook-swinging was about to be revived after having been abolished for twenty-four years, the Madura Mission directed me to memorialize the Madras government, and pray them to prohibit its revival. The government replied that they would discourage it in every way, but were not willing to absolutely prohibit it. Their discouragement amounted to nothing at all, and it came off on the 21st instant in the presence of 10,000 people. Dr. Van Allen and I went out to see it, for the sake of being able to give an authentic account of it.
There are four villages in the vicinity of Solavandan, inhabited by people of the Kellar, or Robber, caste. In each village is a family that has the right of selecting two candidates for the operation. Out of the eight thus chosen, one was selected by lot, and the lot fell on a young man of twenty-three years, thickset and muscular and rather short of stature.
These people worship the demoness Mariamman, said to be the spirit of a Pariah woman who formerly was attacked by smallpox and was left to die without assistShe has now become the patron of smallpox and cholera, and is believed
to have the power to send or withhold rain ; and hookswinging is thought to be a means of propitiating her, so as to influence her to send rain in abundance.
In 1867 this practice was revived after having been prohibited for many years. But upon representation to Lord Napier at that time he again prohibited it; and now, after twenty-four years, the people, having learned that the present powers that be would do no more than discourage it, have revived it again with great éclat.
It is said that previous to the insertion of the hooks into the middle of the back the muscles and skin are rendered insensible by slapping and pinching. However that may be, there is no doubt that arrack was given to the man at the
time. He was brought to the police-station with the two hooks inserted back to back, one each side of the spine. The hooks were not large, and the flesh taken up by them seemed very
little. The wonderful strength of the muscles of the back was shown by this performance.
The car consisted of a rough platform on wheels, supporting a great frame about ten feet in length and breadth, and fifteen feet in height, the platform itself being six feet from the ground. Up through the middle of the great frame rose a stout circular beam of great strength, three feet above the frame, and on the top of this beam was pivoted the pole, sixty feet in length, from which the man hung thirty-five feet from the ground.
Promptly at three o'clock the hooks were inserted, within some building, and
THE HOOKS INSERTEN.