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THE

QUARTERLY

CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR.

VOLUME X.-NUMBER I.

FEBRUARY, 1838.

ART. I.—DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF CONVERTING THE

HEATHEN.

THASAWALAMY: or the Laws and Customs of the Malabars of

Jaffna. Revised, abridged and arranged by ROBERT ATHERTON, Esq., C. S.: with the assistance of John Rodrigo Mootiar Modeliar, Government Assessor; Sigevaganader Ayer, Vala Supermanier Ayer, and Senaderaya Modeliar, Proctors, of the District Court of Jaffna. Press of the American Mis

sion: Manepy, 1835. Annual Report of the Jafna Religious Tract Society for the

Year 1834-5. Annual Report of the Jaffna Religious Tract Society for the

year 1835-6. Annual Report of the Jaffna Bible Society for the year 1835.

We have here some of the fruits of the mission press in the island of Ceylon. In addition to these works, the titles of which are given above, we have also before us several tracts and small books in the Tamul language, and a Tamul almanac, which, besides a variety of useful and customary information respecting the eclipses and position of planets, and a Hindoo calendar, contains selections from the scriptures, and other moral and religious instruction. The scripture selections seem to be arranged on opposite pages to the calendar; and thus many who might resort VOL. X.

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to it merely for the purposes of information respecting the seasons and weeks, might have their curiosity excited and their attention arrested by the truths which are fraught with life to their souls. A description of this work is given in one of the Tract Reports, which we quote:

'A Tamul almanac of fifty-two pages, adapted partly to the taste of the Indian public, and partly to the inculcations of christianity and the principles of crue science. This is much sought for, and appears to be very popular. The native calendars, heretofore in use in the district, are wholly subservient to astrology and other delusive and superstitious purposes. These it is one object of the almanac to supplant, by showing, that while the astrologer has no knowledge of several of the planets discovered of late years by the astronomers of Europe, his calculations, even on his own principles, must be incorrect. Proofs are adduced that astrological science is altogether false and illusory. The following Table of Contents will best explain the character of the work: Names of the Yugas, Planets, Constellations, &c. : Supposed results of an astrological view of the heavens for the current year : Refutation of the prevailing system of astrology, which is founded on a partial view of the planetary system, while several planets, both primary and secondary, are wholly unknown to Hindoo astrologers : Eclipses calculated on the principles of Hindoo astronomy: Position of the planets for the year: Hindoo calendar: Parable of the rich man : Scripture selection on the creation and the flood : Parable of the sower: Parable of the wheat and tares: The prodigal son: Instruction for the learned and the unlearned: The thirty verses of the sage Agastya: On idolatry: Precepts of christianity : Proofs of the spherical form of the earth: Errors of the Puranic system of astronomy : Fundamental principles of the solar system.'

Besides this work, numerous tracts are specified as having been issued during the year, showing that the mission press is by no means idle, but that it is an efficient instrument in the dissemination of the truth. In the Report for 1835–6, it is said :

* The total number of tracts issued during the year, including the report of the committee for the previous year, is 210,000, (making 3,815,000 pages) which, added to the number reported at the last annual meeting, makes a total of 903,642, since the formation of the society, in addition to the tracts received from year to year from the parent society and other sources.'

Of the general series, sixty-two are on the list ; of the miscellaneous series, fourteen; of the children's series, eighteen: besides handbills, tracts in Portuguese, and two occasional works. The following description of some of these tracts is gathered from the two Reports now before us, commencing with that for the year 1834-5:

‘No. 53, the first in order, is a paraphrase of the Sermon on the Mount, called The Admonition ; being a reprint, with some verbal modifications and a short application, of a tract printed a few years ago at Madras, under the sanction of the Church Missionary Society. It fills twenty-four pages, and has been spoken of as well received. Ten thousand copies were printed.

No. 60, the first of the new scripture series, is entitled The Notification; being a reprint of a tract of twelve pages, (then recently published in the district,) with an introductory address to different classes of persons, as Brahmins, headmen, parents of children who have received christian instruction, &c., inviting their attention to the important subjects contained in the word of God, several of the most interesting and instructive of which it adduces; as the new birth, John iii.; the marriage-feast, Luke xiv. ; Dives and Lazarus, Luke xvi., &c. &c.; each extract being followed by explanatory or practical remarks, introducing another portion in elucidation, confirmation, or otherwise, of what is previously quoted or stated. Eight thousand copies were printed.

No. 61, Marriage Alliances, a tract of twelve pages, intended chiefly for native christians, consists of extracts from different parts of scripture, prohibiting the union of the people of God with heathens and unconverted persons, as the passage in 2 Cor. iv. 14--18: “ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," &c.; also pointing out some of the evils resulting from such connections in the old testament history, as in the case of the sons of God uniting with the daughters of men, which so tended to the increase of wickedness, as at length called forth the anger of God, and resulted in the destruction of the world by the flood ;-that of Solomon, Samson, and others, whose character, though eminent in the annals of the church, is nevertheless tarnished by their marriage with women of other nations, who had forsaken the worship of the true God.

No. 62, another tract of the scripture series, of twelve pages, called Idol Worship, contains a selection of the most striking historical passages recorded in the sacred volume, on image worship: as the graphic description of the idolater given in Isaiah xliv. 9-20; Elijah and the worshipers of Baal, in 1 Kings xviii.; Daniel's being cast into the den of lions, and Shadrach and his companions into the fiery furnace, with the deliverances wrought for them by Israel's God, in whom they put their trust. Of this tract, which is still in press, 20,000 copies are to be printed.

Of the miscellaneous series, Nos. 6, 7, 8, and 9, tracts of four pages each, called Dissuasives against the use of Ardent Spirits, were intended to aid the efforts making in the district to check the prevalence of intemperance. They contain anecdotes on the pernicious and destructive evils of intoxication, and arguments in favor of temperance, with warnings, cautions, advice, &c. Of each of these, 6,000 copies were published.

No. 10, a tract of twenty pages, called The Marriage Vision, a translation from English, in the form of an allegory, shows the evils that result to christian pilgrims from contracting marriages with the daugh

ters of Babylon, and the benefits to be experienced by selecting as partners those who will prove fellow-travelers and helpers on the road to Zion. Four thousand copies were printed.

No. 11, a tract of twelve pages, called The Good Erample, is a brief memoir of the late Mrs. Winslow, chiefly intended to aid the promotion of female education in the district. Mrs. W. having been, in connection with the female boarding-school under her care, and with the village schools of the station, much engaged in this department, and thus extensively known and deservedly esteemed by the youth of her sex, it is hoped that much good may result from the publication. Six thousand copies were printed.'

The following is from the Report for the year 1835–6:

No. 54, the first publication of the general series, is called Devout Inquiries, written in the form of a conversation between a convert to christianity and his minister, by one of the native catechists of the district. It takes as its groundwork, Luke x. 27, and shows the duties of christians, as inculcated in the bible, toward God and their neighbor, enlarging on the conduct which true piety in the heart will induce.

No. 55, Bible Doctrines, is an amplification of the decalogue, and of other chief doctrines of holy writ, being a reprint, with modifications, of a tract previously printed in the district. It is mainly calculated for usefulness among native christians, and such as acknowledge the truth of revelation.

No. 56, called Festivals, describes in brief the parade and show of the many annual heathen festivals of the district, held at different temples of greater or less celebrity, and lasting from ten to twenty or more days each; enlarges on the numerous evils and demoralizing practices attending them and resulting from them, and gives an estimate of the probable expense they are to the district,

-not less, it is believed, than 10,000 Rds. annually,--and all this is worse than thrown away; the practices being, as it is shown, abhorrent to a God of truth and holiness, and greatly prejudicial to the temporal as well as destructive to the eterpal interests of those concerned in them. It also shows how much the temporal happiness of the district might be advanced by the appropriation of such a sum to charitable purposes, as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, instructing the rising generation, &c. &c.; brings the instructions of the divine word to view, and urges the reader to reflect on his conduct and embrace the Savior as the hope of his soul.*

* The above estimate is wholly exclusive of the ordinary support of the temples, the numerous priesthood in its various gradations, and the numberless daily superstitions prevalent among the people, which last item alone leads to the employment of a host of magicians, astrologers, soothsayers, conjurers, and fortunetellers, of every name and description; and these, not as a set of strolling vagabonds, regarded as a nuisance to the district, and excluded from good soci. ety, but forming a regular, acknowledged and integral part of the community, the objects of universal reverence and esteem, well supported, and living in respectability by their craft. To these might be added great numbers of religious

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