Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

THE CHURCH.

"Built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself

being the chief corner-stone."

OCTOBER, 1872.

MISSIONS IN INDIA.

In

We may

BY THE REV, G. H. ROUSE, M.A.

IV. AGENCIES AT WORK: SCHOOLS, &c. The superintendence of schools and colleges forms another very important department of missionary work. These are of two kinds,Fernacular and English. The vernacular schools are somewhat similar to our British schools at home. In them instruction is given in reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, and so forth; and also in Scripture history and doctrine; all the instruction being in the vernacular. There are both boys' schools and girls' schools of this class

, and very often the number of conversions from the missionary's wife's school exceeds the number that results from the missionary's own preaching

many cases the children in these schools are orphans. There are several orphanages in connection with different societies. make special mention of the fact that God has brought this amount of good out of the recent terrible famine in Orissa, that a large number of orphans, about a thousand in all, for whose support as “famineorphans" the Government pay, have been entrusted to the charge of our brethren of the General Baptist Mission. Many of these are, from year to year, added to the Church, and we trust that a rich harvest will be gathered out of so promising a field.

But, besides these vernacular schools, there are in several of the cities and large towns of India, English 'mission schools and colleges. This department of Christian effort was inaugurated by Dr. Duff, and

been specially worked by the Free Church and other Presbyterian Missions. But not exclusively by them,--the London Missionary

some such institutions in connection with its own operations ; and we have a small one in Calcutta, and a larger one at Serampore. In these institutions a thoroughly good English education is given, the course of study being directed by the requirements of the Calcutta and other Indian universities. The range of study for this purpose covers the English language and literature, history, geography, science,

Societyhas

VOL. XIV. NO. X.

[ocr errors]

mathematics, philosophy; and, in addition, instruction is given in thi evidences of Christianity, and the facts, precepts, and doctrines o Scripture. This religious instruction is given daily, and all th students have to attend it. The object of these institutions, of course is to train up the students in the belief of Christian truth; and hence attendance on religious instruction is the condition of their bein admitted to the advantages of attending the other classes. Thes schools are generally well attended, the number of students ranging from 200 or 300 to 1000, or more; and though the object of ladi in entering them is simply to get on in life, or, as they phrase it, to get a situation, yet these institutions are doing a very great deal in spreading a knowledge of Christianity, and preparing the way for its ultimate triumph. By means of them we reach a class who could not as a rule, be reached by bazaar-preaching; or in any other way; and w bring them under Christian influences in the formative period of life when the impressions made are deepest; and thus many who entered these institutions simply to get a situation," have gained there the unsearchable riches of Christ. As before said, the course of study her includes the English language, literature, history, science, and all the elements of a high education; and above all, Christian evidences history, doctrine, and morality. A youth enters one of these institutions in the school department at eight or nine years old, and leaves the college department at the end of another seven or eight years. During the whole of this time he is, whilst in school, under Christian influences his mind is disciplined and furnished, his moral nature is educated, and he leaves the institution with a good knowledge of English, it language and its thought, and with a more or less thorough acquaint ance with Christian truth ; in very many cases, after so careful training, and with the naturally acute intellect of the Hindoo, a young man leaving one of these colleges has a more accurate knowledge of English than many an educated Englishman, and a more intelligen apprehension of Christian truth than the mass of the members of our Churches.

What is the result? To begin with, it is impossible for such a man to be a sincere Hindoo. Hindoo religion and Hindoo science are closely united together; and no one who has passed through such a college can believe that there are seven seas surrounding the earth, one of salt-water, one of butter-milk, one of treacle, and so forth; or tha the eclipse of the sun is caused by the immortal head of a great dragor which tries to swallow it, but is driven off by the horrid noise whiel the Hindoos make on such occasions, in order to frighten it away ; that when the sun sets it goes behind a mountain 672,000 miles bigh More than a thousand scholars leave missionary institutions in Benga alone each year; most of whom despise Hindooism, or treat it, like the philosophers of ancient times, as very good for the uneducated mass, They do not break off with Hindooism altogether, because of the social penalties involved in such a step; but in their heart they utterly despise it. And this is a great thing gained; because, although we alm

it individual conversion, and are satisfied with nothing less, yet all this contempt for Hindooism is rapidly and thoroughly weakening the hostile force of the Hindoo religious system, and thus is “preparing the way of the Lord.” In this respect mission colleges and Government colleges stand on the same level. The result of the English education n Government colleges, also, is to produce a rejection of Hindooism; and he thousands who leave these colleges, do so with a more or less reakened faith in idolatry. It is calculated that in India there are as many as half a million of persons who have received a good English education, and who are therefore above the average in position and influence whose faith in Hindooism is partially or altogether destroyed. The writer's pundit, when asked why he did not learn English, and so be enabled to take a position with a higher salary, replied: "Sahib, I have not learned English because I have observed that no one who does so remains an orthodox Hindoo.” Are all Christians equally steadfast in their allegiance to a purer faith? So much for the results of English secular education.

But, in mission colleges, Christian teaching is also imparted. Every day every lad has to attend a class in which systematic instruction is given in the evidences of Christianity, the histories of the Old and New Testament, and the truths and precepts of the gospel-instruction that is not merely formal and theoretical, but accompanied from time to time with earnest appeals to the heart and conscience; and the testimony of missionaries is to the effect that the students take as much interest in this religious instruction as in any part of their studies. As the result of several years of such training, the lad leaves college well acquainted with Christian truth. What comes of it? Sometimes, nothing; many reject the truth there, as they reject it here. In other cases, comparatively few in number, the result is true conversion and the open profession of Christianity. But although the baptized converts are few, yet, being persons of good education, they exert an influence above

and

many have been, and more will be, very efficient assistant missionaries. But between these two extremes there are a considerable number who, though they have never openly confessed Christ

, because of the severe social penalties which such a step would involve

, yet have a sincere belief that Christianity is true, and would confess their faith if it were not for the consequences. With most of them, no doubt, their belief is a mere matter of the intellect; yet, even in their case, something is gained for the ultimate spread of the truth, because their influence, as far as it goes, is rather in favour of Christianity than against it ; and

although they are not Christians, perhaps may become so.

But in many cases, we trust, the truth really reaches the heart, although the man has not yet grace enough

openly confess Christ when it would involve, as was described in a previous paper, loss of caste, and the bitter hatred of one's dearest relatives

. Sometimes they reason thus when urged to confess Christ: Sir, we are as much Christians as you are; we altogether reject idolatry, and we believe that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God,

the

average ;

their children

the only Saviour ; we trust only in Him, we pray only to Him, w desire to serve Him alone. But, if we are baptized, what will be th consequence? We shall be turned out of home, never to go back; ou father and mother will spurn us and curse us, and we can exert n good influence upon them. But let us only stay at home, and no break caste by being baptized, and our parents will allow us to d anything else; we will tell them that we are Christians, and we will tr and make them Christians too. We cannot possibly do this if we ar baptized; but if only we do not take this step, we will try and brin our whole family to Christ.” We know that our Lord's command are to be obeyed, whatever the consequences ; but we can quite under: stand how a sincere Christian, situated as these young men are, may really believe it to be the Master's will that he should, for the present stay at home. Remembering Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea we believe that there is a large number of sincere Christians, educate in our mission colleges and elsewhere, who are still " disciples secretly.' The result of the work of these mission colleges thus is, to weaker the hold of Hindooism on the upper classes, to produce amongs many of the educated natives a sincere belief that Christianity i true, and to lead many to become true, intelligent, influentia Christians.

The conference of Bengal missionaries, held in 1855, testifies : "We consider that this plan of proclaiming the gospel has spread the knowledge of it extensively among the educated; has introduced it into respectable families not otherwise easily accessible to its influence has prevented greatly the spread of infidelity among the young; hai greatly diminished the power of the Hindoo priesthood and of caste and has also led, in not a few instances, to the actual conversion of souls."

Missionary colleges are likely now to become even more importan than before, as the Government has decided to aid vernacular education more, and English education less, and thus a larger number of students are likely to seek admission into mission colleges.

Such have been the main characteristics of the work we are carrying on at Serampore College; but, in addition to this, a smaller number Christian lads, both European and native, have been educated there It is proposed now to devote more attention to the education of nativ Christian youths at Serampore, and that arrangements should be mad for adding to the college-work the training for the ministry in a necessary knowledge, scriptural and secular, of such young men God appears to have called to be preachers of His word. As th Churches grow in strength and in intelligence, the number of me who are fitted for the work of the ministry will increase also; eventually we may hope that Serampore will be to Bengal what Calaba college is to Jamaica, and what our English ministerial colleges ar at home. It should be remembered, however, that the training of nativ

In many places the

an

lave been to some extent instructed in their work by missionaries hemselves ; and for the last few years there has been a regular class for heir training in the vernacular, conducted by our venerable missionary, the Rev. G. Pearce. The instruction of native preachers, in order that they may be better fitted for their work, deserves no secondary place in the list of agencies which we employ.

We have no space to refer to the lectures given in Calcutta and other cities by missionaries to the educated natives, on the evidences and doctrines of Christianity; nor to the medical missions which have been established in some parts of India. But we cannot conclude without a brief reference to the most recent and one of the most interesting and promising departments of Christian effort-the Zenana Mission. In India, all women, except those of the lower classes, are kept in constant seclusion in the retirement of the zenana, or women's apartments. They are never allowed to appear in public, or to see the face of any men, except their husbands and some of their nearer relations.

Thus missionaries can never have access to them, and until a few years ago they were entirely shut out from all evangelistic effort. But about twelve years ago, Mrs. Šale, of our Mission, and Mrs. Mullens,

the London Missionary Society, found their way open to visit one and another of the zenanas in order to instruct the inmates; and since then the work has been vigorously taken up by ladies connected with almost all the Societies labouring in Northern India. A lady will have under her charge a number of zenanas, and, in conjunction with the native Christian women who are under her supervision, she will visit these zenanas regularly. Instruction will be given in various branches of needlework, knitting, and so forth; general information will be imparted ; and especially the pupils, whether young girls or married women, will be taught to read, and will be instructed in the facts and doctrines of Christianity, and will above all be taught to read the New There is a great desire on the part of the native ladies and of their husbands that they should be instructed, and hence there are openings on all hands for the extension of this work. In some cases there is opposition to the teaching of Christianity, and this teaching is tolerated only because the zenana teachers will not visit houses where Christian instruction is forbidden. But in very many cases the religious teaching is most welcome, and the New Testament is read with the greatest interest ; a large number, even of those who are not Christians, in India, acknowledging that the New Testament is the best book in the world. The reports of the Zenana Mission often contain most cheering accounts of the interest felt in Christian truth by the native ladies, and proves that that truth has really entered their hearts. But we must not for some time expect to hear of many of the zenana ladies actually joining the Church. The laws of caste are such, that if a lady were baptized she would probably be turned out of her home and never allowed to see her husband or children again. But no doubt there are many, and will be more, secret disciples; and as the laws of caste become

Testament.

« AnteriorContinuar »