Imágenes de páginas


117 for blood; and among the games of Feejee children nothing was more common than the imitation of a cannibal-feast, with all the horrid mimicry of slaying the victim, carrying the body in procession, and the cannibal song, followed by the repast. When we add that death by natural means was one of the rarest occurrences, and that an old person was scarcely ever seen in those islands, it will be understood why the Missionaries were disposed to place Feejee in the “ lowest deep" of heathenism, and, witnessing from day to day the orgies of hell amid the scenery of Eden, wrote of those islands with sickened hearts, as emphatically “dark places of the earth, full of the habitations of cruelty.”

And the religion of the Feejeeans was in keeping with their morality. It is true that they generally professed their belief in a supreme god, Ove, whom they described as the creator of mankind, and as inhabiting the heavens or the moon; but there is no evidence that any worship was rendered to this deity. Their homage was spread over a multitude of inferior gods, with limited powers and narrow spheres, some of them the children and grandchildren of Ove, and others the spirits of departed ancestors, to whom they ascribed the presidency over particular districts or tribes, and whose numbers they were continually multiplying. Images of their gods were kept in their temples, but merely as ornaments; so that, in the usual sense of the words, they could not be charged with idol worship; but these gods were believed by them to inhabit particular shrines, such as stones, trees, vegetables, and even animals, and they unscrupulously rendered homage to them. The gods were communicated with by the priest, who, along with certain seers, that pretended inspiration and predicted future events, were in concert with the chiefs, and together swayed the people. These false gods of Feejee their worshippers endowed, as in the case of all false religions, with their own evil qualities, exaggerated and magnified, freely ascribing to them fornication, adultery, war, and even cannibalism, and only too faithfully, as we have seen, exemplifying the law by which man assimilates to whatever object he adores.

The belief in immortality is common among those islanders, but is unaccompanied by that belief in a “judgment to come” which is necessary to arm the doctrine with moral power, while it is associated with, and degraded by, the strange imagination that the inferior animals, vegetables, and even stones, share the glory with man; and a natural well is actually shown in one of their islands, across the bottom of which runs a stream of water, in which, they say, may distinctly be perceived the souls of men and women, beasts and plants, of stones, canoes, and houses, and of all the broken utensils of this frail world, swimming along into the regions of immortality! There is even to be found among some of the tribes a belief that the earth is to be burnt and renovated by fire, in which we seem to recognise the broken fragment of a primeval revelation. But the most remarkable traditionary fragment of this kind is that of the universal deluge, which has found its way to these isles of the Pacific, like one of those flowers from remote lands, which the tide sometimes casts upon their coral shores. Not only is there the general account of the deluge, but the building of the ark by the carpenter Rodoka and the eight persons who were saved, identifying the story with the Noachic food, and adding another


[OCT. instance to the rich store of evidence which Faber and others have accumulated of the universality of the tradition.

(To be continued.)

SIAMESE MERIT-MAKING. The Buddhists in Siam, as elsewhere, make it the great business of living, so far as their religion is concerned, to acquire merit. By this they do not mean living pure and moral lives, being good parents, children, neighbours, speaking truth and doing right at all times : they mean, performing certain acts which may be done by very bad men, as most of them are. An American Missionary at Bankok gives the following specimens

« The Buddhist priests of Siam are accustomed to go out every morning to gather their day's food. They do not beg, but pass around and present themselves with their rice-pot and satchel in front of the people's houses, or boats, or markets, and there remain in silence until those who are so disposed give to them, which nearly all are inclined to do. Siamese mothers appear to be very particular to instruct their children in the work of feeding priests; and I have seen them, before their little ones were able to walk, force them to make their little contributions. They tell them if they do thus they will get much merit and be happy.

"It is no small tax upon the people to support their priests, but they do it with a willing heart. When I was once at the old capital, I saw a woman, from her own stock, feed more than fifty priests, who each came to her in his turn, and received his portion. She gave to each a cup of boiled rice, some curry stuff, a little betel-nut, and a cigar. This, I suppose, she was in the custom of doing daily. If I had asked her why she thus spent so much of her living, her answer would have been, 'To make merit.'

“ One who travels in Siam will often see a shelf fastened up on a tree or a post, in front of the Siamese houses. If he were to ask the dwellers there what these shelves are for, the answer would be, To feed crows upon. And when he further asks, ' And why do you feed the crows ? the answer comes, "To get merit, to be sure.' So when a Siamese has thrown out some fish, or rice, to the wolfish dogs that throng the land, he feels an inward satisfaction, flattering himself that by this act he has added to his store of merit. Missionary physicians here are accustomed to treat those who are sick, and desire their help, without charge. The natives in turn seem almost to envy our situation, and, instead of feeling much obligation to us for the services we may have rendered them, congratulate us because we have the means of making merit so fast.

“ The Buddhist religion teaches that it is sin to destroy animal life, and that whoever is the means of saving or prolonging it has done a meritorious act. A few months ago I caught a serpent of the poisonous kind near my back door. The natives say that its bite will produce death in thirty minutes. My old teacher urged me to set this serpent at liberty, as I had now a good opportunity to get merit. They hold that the only acts which produce merit to any great amount, are those put forth unselfishly. The man who feeds his elephant because he carries burdens for him, or his dog because he watches his house, or his buffalo because he ploughs his ground, gets no merit, because he does it selfishly. But 1855.] JEWELLERY VERSUS MISSIONARIES.

119 if he feeds an elephant, a buffalo, a dog, or a crow, from which he can expect no favour in return, then his act becomes highly meritorious. To set at liberty a serpent whose bite is not poisonous is of little account, but to liberate one that is evil and deadly to mankind is pure merit."

[The Macedonian.

JEWELLERY VERSUS MISSIONARIES. THERE is jewellery enough in Christendom to sustain all our Missionary operations, on their present scale, for a whole generation. Could not some of it be spared to send the gospel to the perishing? With what alacrity did God's ancient people pour their golden ornaments, their precious stones, their fine linens and peltries, into His treasury, when it was signified to them that these articles were needed to furnish the tabernacle in the wilderness! “They came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all His service, and for the holy garments. And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing-hearted, and brought bracelets, and ear-rings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold,” &c. (Exod. xxxv. 21, 22.) So great was their liberality, that the officers came to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make.” And Moses was obliged to issue a proclamation commanding them to desist. "So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.” (Exod. xxxvi. 5—7.) Would that we might see another such collection in our day! Let no one say that such offerings are not needed now, because the sanctuary God is now raising is not a material, but a spiritual one. It is true these rich gifts are not to be beaten into golden censers, and candlesticks, and sockets, and knobs, and made into vestments for the priests to wear. But they are needed, nevertheless ; for they can be transmuted into what is of far more value than these-into light for those who sit in darkness; into rivers of the water of life for thirsty souls, and spiritual bread for those who are famishing. By such offerings as these, Missionaries may be sent into heathen lands to proclaiin the glad news of salvation; the Bible may be printed, tracts distributed, the ignorant instructed, and souls, by the blessing of God, may be converted to Christ and gathered into churches, to become living stones in the spiritual temple that is going up in the earth. This is the true science of alchemy. The gospel of Christ has revealed the secret to the world, by which we may transmute what is now valuable, not into gold merely, but into what is far more precious; and then scatter it, as the leaves of the tree of life, for the healing of the nations.

Will any one say that such offerings are not needed, at such a time as this, when the wants of the foreign field are so urgent, and the treasuries of all our Missionary Boards are overdrawn? Oh, how timely would they be, and how refreshing to the hearts of those who are toiling at the Fork. What a new impulse would it give to the cause at home, and what joy and gladness would it send to the isles that wait for His law, and to the ends of the earth, if the people of God, “ both men and women, as many as are willing-hearted," would again pour their offerings into the treasury of the Lord for the service of His temple, till our


TocT. officers should be constrained to say, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded !” Shall the church never see that day under the dispensation of the gospel ? Were all the diamond rings, and breast-pins, and ear-jewels, and bracelets, that now adorn the persons of Christ's professed followers, brought together and dedicated to His service, what a goodly sight it would be! Why, there are not a few Christian disciples, from whose persons, individually, there might be jewellery enough taken to send out a Missionary, and to sustain him for a long time in his work of recovering lost souls to Christ. And as inuch, even then, might be left, as would be decorous for an humble follower of the self-denying Saviour to wear. All ornaments are not to be despised. Some are worn as tokens of affection, and others as mementoes of departed friends, and others are useful as well as comely. But, making all due allowance for these, too often do they serve no other purpose than to make a vain show, and gratify the vanity of the wearer. Might not the disciple of Christ better testify his sense of the value of the gospel to those who are perishing in their ignorance by casting these costly jewels into the treasury of his Lord, than by wearing them as ornaments on his person? Might he not more truly honour his divine Master by aiding to bring lost sinners to behold Him as their Saviour, than by attracting to himself their envious gaze by the glitter of his shining diamonds ? Oh, would not those ransomed souls that might be recovered by his offerings, shine more brightly in his crown of rejoicing in that day, than all the brilliants he can heap upon his own decaying body?

Oh, Christian ! you who daily pray, “Thy kingdom come!" and whose chief business it is to labour for the promotion of that kingdomcontemplate the condition of a lost world for which the Saviour died, and ask yourself what more you can do than you are now doing to give it the gospel. Is there no sacrifice you can make? Have you no jewels, costly and precious it may be, that you can offer to this work? Can you best honour your Lord, and exhibit your devotion to Him, by wearing what you have? Take them off and look at them. Open your casket, and bring out those that are laid so carefully away, to be exhibited only on special occasions. Bring them all together, and lay them down before you. Estimate their value; first to yourself, in setting off your person; and then to those who know not the Saviour, in supplying them with the means of salvation. Kneel down and ask the blessing of Him, to whom you have consecrated all you have, upon your decision of this question; and may it be such as to bring joy and peace to your own heart, and glory to His name !

These thoughts have been suggested by a plain gold ring, that has come into the hands of the writer as the first offering of a school-girl, who has just found her Saviour. Like Mary, she would bestow upon Him some precious token of her love. While away from home, and struggling with scanty means to get an education, it has pleased the Lord to touch her heart and claim her as His own. Besides the surrender of herself, she has little else that she can bring. Such offerings are precious in the sight of Him who scans the heart. What recompense more sweet than His benediction, “ She hath done what she could ?" May the Lord bless both the giver and the gift; and may many others he encouraged to go and do likewise ! [Albany, in The Macedonian."


( 121 )

THE STONHAM ASPAL MEETING. In the county of Suffolk, a few miles from Ipswich, is situate the village of Stonham Aspal, a quiet, sequestered little spot, wbich has for many years past displayed a zeal and energy in the cause of the Church Missionary Society which might put to shame many wealthier commu

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]
« AnteriorContinuar »