Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ing ; but they present no real discouragement to the faith and the ardour of Christian enterprize."

The Society state, that they find in the Irish peasantry a native sensibility of character and quickness of perception which gain for the objects of Christian benevolence an intelligent and grateful assent; but they lament that many of the priests continue to oppose the plan of scriptural instruction by every means and argument, “ from the monitory hint to the discipline of the horsewhip." In those districts of the country which have never been visited by the blessings of scriptural education, the same undisturbed and stationary ignorance prevails as distinguished the same districts at the most barbarous periods of their history; and the supply of education, as well as the quality of what is afforded, are regulated by the spontaneous demand of the peasantry themselves. This demand, to the extent in-which it exists, produces what are termed the Hedge-schools, a considerable proportion of which are periodical. The instruction given in them consists in reading, writing, and arithmetic; but they afford no morally improving information ; and the few books to be found in the hands of the children are usually of the most deteriorating description. The schools are wholly exempt from ecclesiastical interference; but whenever the economy of the system is disturbed by the influence of a scriptural school, the priests form a school, which differs from the hedge class by its authoritative establishment, and the compulsory attendance of the scholars ; while it equally differs from the schools of the Society by the absence of the Scriptures, and, generally speaking, of every thing of a religious or morally improving tendency. These schools seem to be undertaken, not $0 much with a view to the advancement of the children, even in what they profess to teach, as for the purpose of interfering with their attendance upon the scriptural schools. So far, therefore, from regarding the great objects of religious and moral improvement, as advanced by the multiplication of these schools, the Committee view their increase as among the most formidable obstacles to such a result. The Committee report

[blocks in formation]

a balance in favour of their treasurer : but their experience is strongly in favour of the practicability of opening five schools to one of the number which it would be possible to establish' upon the foundation of their average income ; so that they find' themselves constrained to inculcate, with greater urgency tkan ever, the Society's necessity of increasing funds.-Christ. Obsa, Supp. for 1823.

HONDURAS.

The following letter is from Mr. Bourne, the Baptist Missionary at this settlement. It is addressed to a friend in Eng. land, and bears date, July 17, 1823.

You will probably hear, before this reaches you, that Belize. is to be the place of my residence, and the commencement of the Mission in this part of the world; and in this, Divine Providence seems much to have interfered, and, by a long detention, and painful course of discipline, to have taught me the path of duty. I have received a letter from Mr. Dyer, stating it to be the opinion of the Committee, that I should remain. at Belize; yet, however, they wish mé still to keep my eye on, the Indians of the Mosquito Shore, and send them information respecting them.

I feel fully satisfied with this arrangement and see much of God in it. It appears of the greatest importance that a Mission, be established here first, not only from its. loud calls, the greater number of inhabitants you get access to at once, and the probability of its supporting itself at no very distant period, but from its local advantages, and the assistance it

may afford to every other Mission in this part of the world. We may hope the period is not far distant when not only something will be done on the Musquito Shore, but amongst the Spanish provinces around this settlement. Indeed, it appears from their internal commotions, that things are now fast making way for the entrance of the Gospel; and I have little doubt but, that, in a little time, a Lancasterian School might be establish, ed in Guatimala, a city containing 32,000 inhabitants.

But probably you would wish to know what is doing in Belize, relative to religion. As to its means, we have, on the Sabbath, one service at six o'clock, A. M.; one at half-past ten; and between one and two P. M. we commence the Sun-, day-school, which continues till about half past four o'clock ; and at half-past six in the evening, we have preaching. The whole of this has often of late fallen to myself, Mr. P. being from home, and Mr. S. being employed up the river. We have besides these, two services on different evenings in the week; also I have devoted a certain portion of time every week to visit the free coloured people, and converse and pray with them from house to house, This, I trust, will in time be attended with beneficial effects. The people to whom I here chiefly refer are disbanded soldiers, who with themselves and famıilies are now near a thousand in number ; and are divided into two, villages, lying north and south of Belize ; but the wet season, which has now set in, has rather obstructed me, the places being at this season in part under water. Some of these people are in the habit of coming regularly to the place of worship, and appear very attentive. Our evening congregations are generally very good; those on the Sunday morning improve gradually, and the school is also on the increase.

From the inconveniences and bad situation of our place of worship, some who have come and expressed a wish to come again are kept away; and on these and other accounts, the two chief of which are the smallness and high rent of the place, I have been induced to come to the conclusion of endeavour. ing to get a new place built. One of the oldest merchants has undertaken to procure a lot for me, and several of the magistrates are favourably disposed. I bave drawn plans of our intended building, and sent them to America, where it will be constructed. By this step it will not amount to one-half of the expense it otherwise would do. In the plan I have strictly studied economy; if you know of any person or persons who can render us any assistance in paying the debt, which will be necessarily incurred, it will be thank fully received,

[blocks in formation]

* * * I have been to two of the Spanish settlements, lying about from 200 to 300 miles south of Belize. Their state, in a moral and religious point of view, is truly wretched. At one of these places there was no priest, nor regular existing civil authorities. The inhabitants are chiefly Indians. I took the opportunity of distributing a number of Spanish tracts among them. They were readily and thankfully received; and what was still more gratifying, many of those to whom they were given could read. I left also a bundle of tracts at this place to go into the interior ; and who can say, by following them with our prayers, what through the Divine blessing may be done!--Bap. Mag. Dec. 1823.

COCHIN JEWS.

The following information has been recently obtained respecting the Cochin Jews. They consist of the White and those usually termed Black Jews, and their freed and household servants respectively. It seems that the merchandize in Hebrews among them is done away. The rules therefore laid down by Moses, which restricted them in this respect, do not now apply; (see Exod. xxi. 2–4; Levit. xxv. 39–41, &c.) Indeed, neither the sabbatical year nor the year of jubilee has been kept since the dispersion, having reference only to the holy land,

The household servants now in their possession were originally purchased, as were those they have freed, from amongst the five lowest casts of the natives ; namely, carpenters, workers in brass, gold and silver smiths, iron smiths, and palayen or pullee-casts; and to make proselytes from these was one of the privileges granted by Chesam Permaul, the Malabaric king, and recorded on the brass plate they now possess.

Part of the ordinances of Moses, respecting the purchase of bond-servants, will be found in Levit. xxv. 44-46. This passage has likewise reference to the strangers that sojourned in the Holy Land, and the heathen, which then surtounded itSince these Jews have been under the British

[ocr errors]

government, they have not purchased bond-men or bond-women; they have, however, established various customs amongst themselves, in regard to the emancipation of their household servants. The rite of circumcision (common to all Jews) was performed on the bond-servant by the master of the family, or one of the elders properly qualified, and thus they imitated the patriarchal institution as enjoined by the Almighty upon Abraham. (Gen. xvii. 12.) It does not appear that they employ circumcised people in their service. After circumcision, the servant was taken to a place where there was much water, wberein he was dipped or baptized, they using the following prayer : " Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, and king of the universe, (or everlasting king,) who hast sanctified us by thy commandments, and hast enjoined us concerning the dipping of servants." After this, the Jews say, the servant becomes, in every respect, as Eliezer. (Genesis xv. 2.) - The steward of Abraham's house." Verse 3, one born in his house;" and ver. 34, “ his servant.” A female servant was dipped or baptized, they using the same prayer as above. With proselytes being natives, like ceremonies are observed as with the servant purchased for money ; the only difference as concerns the baptism is a change in the prayer, to “ the dipping of proselytes,” instead of "the dipping of servants.” There are three men of this description now at Cochin, who were originally heathens, They are termed Geerim, “strangers.” " Deut. x. 18: “ God loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.” Ver. 19: -". Love ye, therefore, the stranger, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." They are, however, looked upon by the Cochin Jews in no better light than household servants, though some Jews allow they should be considered as superior to freed servants.

To make a bond-servant free, the master pays to the synagogue forty-one rupees for every man-servant, and sixty-one for each maid-servant. A certificate of freedom, termed "a bill of liberty,” is made out; and after the servant has fasted the whole day, when the evening service is concluded, he res

« AnteriorContinuar »