« AnteriorContinuar »
nected with Protestants in other places, been taught in our schools, and brought into partial intercourse with our ministers ; and, having seen and felt the superiority of Protestantism, they expressed their earnest desire to receive the benefit of our teaching, and to enjoy the free and unfettered study of the Bible. They presented to me an address, signed by about forty heads of families, formally praying me to establish a school in their town; and I returned an answer to it, pledging myself to make every effort to do so.
While waiting for the Scriptures, the Sabbath arrived, and I asked them if they wished to join me in worship. They were glad of the invitation ; and accordingly, on Saturday night, they brought the necessary benches, and on the Sabbath morning I had the happiness of preaching the first Protestant sermon in Tamil, and addressing the first audience of natives ever assembled in that town to hear a Protestant Missionary. After sermon, they testified their love by presenting me with a fowl for my dinner,
They now felt that they had committed themselves. The matter got abroad, and the priests began to hurl their anathemas. A paper was read in the large Romish church, declaring that whoever had signed the petition, inviting the Protestant padre to open a school in that town, could not be permitted to have either burial or marriage in connexion with that Church-a lesser excommunication, in fact-a deprivation which is most keenly felt in this country, as it is by all ignorant people.
At length the Scriptures arrived, and I felt that now was the time to decide what course the Government would take. Under the old régime, I could not doubt that strong efforts would have been made to prevent the Scriptures from being brought into the town, but I could not conceive that a Republican Government would venture to act in this manner. The underlings, however, hoped it, and determined to attempt it.
The coolie, or burden-bearer, came to my house and said that the packages of Scriptures had been stopped at the police office at the entrance of the town, and it was required that they should be opened and examined. I sent the Catechist, Nathaniel, to open them, and to pay any duty which might be demanded. He found the peons at the station to be Romanists of the caste-party. They began to murmur and say, “A little time since you took in a cart-load of books, and you are now taking in a coolie-load. What is all this? You never used to do this. This is all new.” Nathaniel simply told them it was not their business, but that, if there was any duty to pay, he would pay it. They made a pretext to take him before a superior officer, who, however, only rebuked them for their pains; and the precious volumes bad free entry.
A second Sabbath had now arrived, and I asked them if they would come again to worship, saying that, after worship, I would give and sell the Scriptures. This was a severer test of their sincerity even than the last ; but they determined to come with all boldness. In the morning—not at night, as before—they sent chairs ; and at eleven o'clock they assembled, in number about forty. I had heard that, in the course of the week, one of the priests, of whom there are forty in the town, had said in his sermon, “If any man preach any other Gospel to you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed, though he be an angel from heaven.”
I was irresistibly led to take for my text the verse of the Epistle to the Galatians in which the same words occur. The object of my remarks was to shew that I brought them no new Gospel, but the old Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. “I do not,” I said, “ bring you the bulls of popes, the decrees of councils, or the tales of saints, but the very words of Christ—the same as you have in your Latin Bible, only that we have translated them for you into Tamil, that you may read in your own tongue the wonderful works of God; and if,” I said, “any man puts his curse upon me for teaching you this, I will take that curse and put it as a crown upon my head : for some men's curses are blessings, and some men's blessings are curses. The praise of some men is reproach, and the reproach of some men is praise.”
I also shewed them in some particulars, as, for instance, in the "forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats,” (it was the season of Lent) how they might know who
preached a new gospel and who preached the old. They were evidently much impressed. “Sir,” said my Christian servant, Manikam, when we were alone, “the Word of the Lord entered their minds this day like a nail !"
When the service was concluded, the Scriptures were brought down ; many were sold ; and the rest were given away in portions. I could have sold several more whole copies of the Bible, if I had ordered them. And now was seen a most interesting sight. From a place of worship, the room was changed into the appearance of a large school. Like men who have found a long-known, but long-hidden treasure, they began earnestly to examine the precious contents of the Word of Life, and many were reading aloud some passage which had arrested their attention. (Page 337.) Would that the friends of our noble BIBLE SOCIETY (one of the greatest ornaments of our nation, and a better bulwark than our wooden walls) could have looked into that room : they would have beheld one of those rare scenes which more than repay years of toil. Now had they lighted the light of Heaven in this dark place; and I felt that if I accomplished nothing more than leaving behind me these priceless volumes of revealed truth, a great work would have been done.
I felt it my duty to warn the people of their responsibility in receiving the Sacred Scrip. tures; charged them to study the page of Inspiration attentively, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit; and “if,” I said, “if any man would take from you these Scriptures, give your life, but give not up the Word of God." Many portions of the Sacred Volume were formerly taken from the people, and many burnt in the town. One man told me that he had once possessed several parts of Scripture and other religious books, but that, in a dangerous sickness by which he had been attacked some time since, a Priest, who came to give him the “extreme unction," seeing these volumes, said, “How came you with these! What do you want of them? They are of no use to you. I want them ;" and carried them off.
The report of the service, and of the distribution of the Scriptures, spread like wild-fire over the whole town. That the Pariahs had attended worship, sitting in chairs, was a great scandal, even to Frenchmen. Alas! there is not much égalité in human hearts, whatever there may be on human lips. I said to one of them, “Does this surprise you ? They always sit on chairs in my chapel in Madras during service. I know no distinction between men in the House of God—I only know they are all equally sinners, and equally need the grace of God. They may sit how they please. But," I added, “ you will perhaps remember that it has long been the boast of the Romish Church, that nobles and people mingle together, without distinction, in the services; and you know it is so." He could say nothing against this statement. When the people spoke to me, on my first arrival, on this subject, and I read to them the passage in James concerning “the man with the gold ring,” it was beautiful to see the joyful surprise they manifested at this heavenly decision of the quæstio rexata. They were not satisfied until they copied out for themselves the whole passage, as a weapon for future use.
I was much interested in several of the remarks made by the people. Although Paria hs, many of them are men of energy and good appearance ; even a practised eye might hesitate to decide whether they are of high or low caste : they are also in comfortable circumstances, and men of influence, at least among their own class. Two of them keep shops, and have some property: one of these, Chinnea Tambi, is a man of much intelligence and native vigour of mind, thoroughly interested in the movement, and earnestly desirous of seeing its accomplishment—a frank, open-hearted man—a difficult subject for a tortuous priest. He has already suffered by his bold defence of his people. Sixteen years ago he was driven from the city, and barely escaped with his life.
His belief is, that, if a Mission be established at Pondicherry, the greater part of the Pariahs, comprising more than 1000 families, will eventually join it, and many others also. “Ah !" said he, “they do not know this Word--they do not know what it is ; but when once they taste its sweetness, they will come to you in floods.” And again—"These people are like fish in a tank covered with green duck-weed-they will never eat that, but if the
weed be cleared away, and rice strewed on the water, they will come in shoals, ' Bosk, bosk,'* to eat it."
The urgent entreaty of the people is, that you will establish a Mission in this city. They feel they cannot come out, except under the protection of a European Missionary. They therefore implore you, without delay, to send them a Missionary to watch over their souls, to teach them the Word of God, and establish schools for their children. They are mostly poor, and in bonds ; but it is the glory of our sacred Puritanism, that it has always been the friend of the poor, the bond, the slave—the generous and incorruptible advocate of civil and religious liberty. Will you not help these oppressed ones? Will you not succour these double bondsmen of priestly tyranny-bondsmen in body and in soul ? Will you not enter this door, which has been so long bolted and barred against the Truth, and which God himself has so remarkably opened to you? I know your financial difficulties, but I scarcely think you will hesitate to follow such leadings of Divine Providence. It seems to me as if God were about to give you Pondicherry in lieu of our poor, desolate Tahiti, and calling you here to wound the boar which has trodden down His vineyard in that far isle of the ocean.
Among those who long for your compliance with the request of this letter are some Native Christians, formerly connected with the old Missions, whom different circumstances have brought to this place, and who have mostly conformed to the Roinan worship, from want of pastors to give them the rites of religion. One interesting old woman, a widow, however, has remained true to her principles.
Faithful, among the faithless found, "she has never bowed the knee to this Baal. She came to me, and, placing herself on her knees, with much earnestness and many tears, and much natural eloquence both in words and manner, she lifted up her hands, and said, “Twenty-five years I have been in this wil. derness. The others have all gone to worship there—the young ones—but I could not go there. Night and day I pray. I say, 'O Lord, thou hast placed me in this wilderness : when shall I drink of thy cup? Ah! is it that I am not worthy to partake of thy benefits? Wilt thou take me away before thou hast shewn me this mercy? If it be even so, let it be according to thy will. And what is to become of this body? Where will they put it when I am gone! Ah! thou canst take care of this also--thou canst do all things.?” It was delightful to see her and hear her: I was deeply affected. Twenty-five years has she kept her faith. I had great joy in setting before her the love of an ever-present Saviour, and in leading her to hope that she might yet, even in this life, and in that place, partake of the cup of the Lord.
Such is my narrative of this most interesting visit. Let all the praise be given to Him to whom alone it is due-to the Author and Giver of every good and perfect gift!
BARBARITIES AT THE NEW HEBRIDES.
(Extracted from the Annual Report.) In duly estimating our deep obligations to instruct and bless the perishing heathen, we ought to be keenly sensible of the heavy wrongs they have suffered from our countrymen and others, “ who profess and call themselves Christians,” but whose unholy lives and cruel deeds often present a more formidable obstruction to the progress of the Gospel than all the absurdities and abominations of Idolatry combined. The name of God is blasphemed among the Heathen by those who profess to be His worshippers ; and most grievous is it to the heart of the devoted Missionary to he hindered in his work by men who speak his own language, and call his country
* The Tamil language abounds in these imitative sounds, which give it much of the picturesque.
their home. For, although to these mournful allegations there are many distinguished exceptions which we gratefully acknowledge, yet it admits not of a doubt, that, amongst the most serious impediments to Missionary success, must be classed the avowed hostility or the practical ungodliness of those who unworthily bear "the name of Christ.” When the idolater of the East is admonished of the evil of sin, invited to the Saviour, and urged to take His gentle yoke, he points to many, who profess the Missionary's faith, more vile than the heathen among whom they dwell; or he points to multitudes impoverished, emaciated, and half idiotic, and reminds the Teacher of Righteousness that they have been made what they are by the cupidity of Christians, who, in defiance of law, forced on them the tempting narcotic, alike destructive to the body and the soul. And, to the Savage Islander of the Pacific, the white man and the Christian is known only as the plunderer of his country and the murderer of his kindred ; and if the labours of the peaceful Missionary are resisted and his life endangered, it is chiefly from the spirit, thus awakened, of deadly hatred and indiscriminate revenge.
The spirit of retaliation, superadded to the natural ferocity and awful degradation of the Native Tribes, has been exemplified during the past year, with fatal power, in the Islands of the New Hebrides.
From the journal of our Missionaries, Messrs. Turner and Nisbet, who accompanied the “ John Williams” in her last voyage to those Islands, the following mournful facts are selected.
Of Erromanga, where the devoted Williams fell a victim to the dark and cruel deeds of preceding voyagers, our Missionaries write
“Our prospects for that unhappy Island are as dark as ever. The Natives now use every scheme to get foreigners within their reach. They come off swimming with one arm, concealing a tomahawk under the other, and with a bag of sandal-wood as a bait. While the bag is being hauled into the boat, they dive under the keel, tip it over, and then strike at the white men with their tomahawks. They have taken several boats lately in this way. The ‘Elizabeth,' Captain Brown, a sandal-wood barque, went ashore last February in a gale in Dillon's Bay: it is supposed that all perished in the wreck except two, who reached the shore, but were killed directly. This savage state of things is not to be wondered at, as the sandal-wood vessels are constantly firing upon them. We know of some, who, if they get a Native Chief within their reach, will keep him prisoner until the people fill boat-loads of sandal-wood for his release. We have heard, too, of Natives being first mangled on board with a cutlass, then thrown into the sea and shot at. They call this redress for previous crime ; but these are the very things which have made Erromanga what she is; and they are hindering our labours to a fearful extent in many other Islands. It is difficult to check the reckless conduct of such men ; but the Divine judgments are finding them out. There is evidently a curse upon the trade. During the last eighteen months alone, upwards of sixty of our own countrymen prosecuting it have been cut off by massacres and shipwreck.”
Independently, however, of these aggravating causes, the spirit of these untutored Islanders is terrific, and many of their customs horrible. The following tragic tale is selected also from the journal of Messrs. Turner and Nisbet. After describing the wreck of a British vessel, named the “ British Sovereign," on the Island of Fate, they add :
“The Captain and the rest of the crew, having escaped from the wreck, arrived at the same place, near Olatapu, on the Sabbath, on their way to the large harbour on the Southwest side ; but the people of the Station determined to kill them. Some treated them with cocoa-nuts and sugar-cane, while others went off to muster the district for their massacre. The tribes at hand were assembled-all was arranged ; and they proceeded in company with
the foreigners along the road towards the desired harbour. They walked single file-a Native between every white man, and a few on either side. The Chief, Melu, took the lead, and gave the signal, when every one wheeled round and struck his man. A few Tanna men escaped to the sea, but were pursued and killed, with the exception of two, who fled to the bush. Ten of the bodies of the unhappy sufferers were cooked and devoured on the spot, and the rest were distributed among the various settlements. We minutely (say our Missionaries) investigated the cause of this cold-blooded massacre, and are sorry to record, that we could discover nothing but a desire to procure human flesh and the clothes of the unfortunate victims."
But such revolting deeds are not restricted to foreigners. Even towards their nearest kindred the wretched Savages appear insensible to pity, and utterly destitute of natural affection; and the necessity and value of Christian Missions in these dark lands is strikingly illustrated by the following statement :
“Our Teachers on the Island of Fate have been the means of saving the lives of infants, which heathen custom was wont to bury alive. One child was actually buried, and then dug up again, and is now alive. Three aged women would have been buried alive, but for the remonstrance of the Teachers. This custom is awfully prevalent here. It is even considered a disgrace to the family of an aged Chief if he is not buried alive ; and, when the old man feels sick and infirm, he will tell them to bury him, which they do, amid the weeping and wailing of his family and friends. Persons, too, at whatever age, if delirious, are buried alive forthwith, lest delirium should spread among the family. A young man was buried thus lately. He burst open the grave, and escaped. He was seized, buried again, and a second time he struggled to the surface : then they took him to the bush, and bound him to a tree to die. Verily, the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.'”
The Directors are induced to present these heart-sickening recitals, as they faithfully describe the realities of Missionary life in those distants Islands; and in the hope that they will awaken, on behalf of their heroic Christian Brethren, who have chosen fields of labour amidst such perils, the most tender sympathy and fervent prayer. During the past two years, Three native Evangelists have fallen victims to the brutal violence of the people whom they sought to bless and save. Yet the spirit of the martyrs lives in their Brethren, and, on the last voyage of the Missionary Ship, no less than Thirteen well-trained Evangelists, (Natives), with Three European Missionaries, were left on those Islands, not counting their lives dear unto themselves for the salvation of souls, and the glory of God. The love of Christ constraineth them; for while they know that the redemption of these Savages from present and future misery can only be effected by His atoning sacrifice and His Almighty Spirit, they know also, with an assurance equally conclusive, that, by the application of these glorious provisions, their salvation is not only possible but certoin. They have heard of the mighty achievements of His mercy in
lands that lie on the expanse of that mighty ocean ; they remember that Tahiti and her sister Isles, that Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Raratonga, and Mangaia, with the Sandwich Group, were once as dark and deeply blood-stained as the Islands to their West ; they know that their own Fathers and Brethren, once robbers, murderers, and an nibals, have been washed, and sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God; and they anticipate, with firmest faith, the day when the Prince of Peace shall extend His triumphs over the Barbarians of the New Hebrides and Caledonia ; and to hasten this glorious consummation, they are resolved to labour, and are willing to die.