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No. 57, a tract of twenty pages, On Caste, addressed to professors of religion, points out the evils of caste, and the great inconsistency and wickedness of Christians thus conforming to Brahminical institutes, which are so diametrically opposed to the principles and true interests of Christianity. The substance of the tract is taken from an article which appeared in the 13th No. of the Madras Tamul Magazine.
No. 58, called Improper Marriage Alliances, is a translation of No. 318 of the publications of the American Tract Society, containing the history of a man who, by contracting marriage with an unconverted woman, was gradually seduced from the paths of piety and a walk of consistency and godliness, into the vortex of pleasure and worldly amusement, became a confirmed infidel, and died a miserable death. The object of the tract is to caution professors of religion against forming marriage alliances with persons destitute of piety.
No. 59, called Evils of Comedies, points out the pernicious, demoralizing and destructive consequences, to individuals, families, and the community at large, from taking part in, supporting or sanctioning the performance of village plays; by which young persons are allured into the worst of company, contract habits of drunkenness, idleness, profligacy, and every species of vice and debauchery, ruin themselves, and prove a bane and a pest to society at large. The tract closes with an account of a respectable family reduced to wretchedness and total ruin by the dissolute conduct of the head of it, brought on by his joining in the nightly performance of the village comedy.
No. 63, The Evils of the Tongue, (the only publication issued during the year, of the scripture tracts,) refers to the various kinds of evil speaking prevalent in the district, as lying, swearing, slander, backbiting, abuse, &c.; shows that such talk is vain and foolish, and by large quotations from scripture, proves it to be contrary to the revealed will of God, and urges its discontinuance.*
Of the children's series, Nos. 9, 10, and 12, have been reprinted, and one new tract, No. 18, has been added to the list. This, entitled An Account of the Savior, may excite interest from its having been written by a youth in one of the mission village schools in the district, from a perusal of the gospels. It was somewhat condensed for publication.
No. 13, of the miscellaneous series, contains The Happy Death, a tract of eight pages, and is a brief account of the devoted life and happy death of the late Mrs. Hall, of the Madura mission.
No. 14, of the same series, is The Mother's Manual, a tract of twentyfour pages, and contains much instruction of a simple, interesting and useful character, addressed chiefly to Christian mothers, on the mode of training children, in order that, by the divine blessing, they may grow up in the fear of God, be a comfort and help to their parents, and prove useful members of society. Several anecdotes are subjoined by way of example, showing the influence of religious instruction on the infant mind, adopted from a little publication issued some years since by the Church Mission press at Madras. The tract is understood to have been first written (though afterwards enlarged) by one of the missionary ladies of the district.'
mendicants, itinerant or stationary, (many of them probably base impostors,) greatly venerated and well supported by the credulity of the people, contributions to them being deemed, by the populace generally, exceedingly beneficial in reference to the interests of the soul in a future birth, or as aiding the accumulations of such religious merit as directly leads to its final emancipation from the thraldom of moral evil and consequent transmigrations, and to its union with the deity.
* All the above tracts, except No. 57, are twelve pages each.
The Report of the Bible Society is also an interesting document, evincing the advances which have been made in printing and distributing the word of life among the perishing heathen. It is surely a matter of rejoicing to know, that bible societies, tract societies, and Sunday schools, are in operation in countries which but a short time since were wholly heathen; and to the philosophical observer it must furnish satisfactory proof that the money which has been expended in conducting missionary enterprises has not been wasted or used in effecting trivial objects. Let those who are ever ready to inquire, as the ancient objectors, 'For what purpose is all this?' let them read and learn. But we must just notice the pamphlet which stands first at the head of this article. The laws and customs of which it is a compend, are arranged under the heads of Doury and Inheritance; Adoption; Possession ; Gifts ; Mortgage and Hire; Purchases; Loans of Money on Interest, and Slaves. The first title contains a variety of provisions respecting the descent of estates and the condition of orphans. Some of them are singular, but we pass them without specification. We are not indeed sure, that these laws, after all, are not the product of British jurisprudence; but if they are the genuine enactments of the natives of India, it would seem, that the lot of the female among the Malabars is far better than in most of the eastern countries. Under the title of Adoption, we notice the following provisions :
'Persons wishing to adopt a child, must first ask leave from their brothers, sisters, or nearest heirs; having gained which, they must, in presence of those heirs and other witnesses, including barbers and washermen, drink saffron-water, in which the before mentioned heirs, and also the parents of the child to be adopted, have dipped their fingers.
An adopting father drinking saffron-water alone, the child will succeed to the property of its own mother: if the adopting mother drink alone, the child likewise succeeds to the property of its own father.
If only part of the near relatives consent and dip their fingers in saffron-water, whilst others refuse, a child may still be adopted, though it will only inherit the share of those heirs who so consent; unless the non-consenting heirs for ten years forget to take possession, when they forfeit their claim.'
The title of Possession contains a number of specific regulations, in regard to fences, planting trees, and their fruit; in which a proper distinction is made between trees which require care and oversight and those which do not. Under the title of Slaves, a curious case is stated, in the following articles :
A married couple having children may emancipate any of their slaves at pleasure.
A man having no children may emancipate any slaves, by proclaiming it at the church any three Sundays.'
But we must dwell no longer on these productions of the Ceylon press. We have adverted to them as prefatory to some thoughts in connection with East Indian missions, and for the proof that is furnished us of the success which has so far crowned the exertions of christians at the present day. There are many bright rays which dawn through the darkness, giving promise of the glorious day yet to come.
The whole aspect of the field of missionary labors has much that is cheering; and willingly would we linger, and mark the progress of that gospel which brings salvation to perishing men. Our readers, we trust, will accompany us in a train of reflections more immediately suggested by the desire of bringing them acquainted with the particular obstacles yet lying in the way of converting the world to God.
It is pleasant to contemplate the success of our labors,—to see the desert converted into a fruitful field, and the parched and barren earth smiling with a bounteous harvest. It is pleasant to stop and rejoice over what has been done. We are pleased with our reveries, when, looking through the eye of faith, we see Ethiopia stretching out her arms to God, and India prostrate at the foot of the cross, and the vast empire of China waiting to receive the law of her God. All these are grateful topics of contemplation. There are others less so, which demand our present notice. It is easy to convert the world in prospect,—to talk of the waning systems of paganism, the crumbling thrones of idolatry, and the glorious superstructure of christianity reared on the ruins of deluded ages. It is easy to take a part for the whole, and to please ourselves with the delusion, that the world is almost converted, when in fact the work is but partially begun. But it is quite another thing to look at the work as it is, in all its difficulties and discouragements, and in all its claims and responsibilities. It is another thing to set ourselves about the work, as the faithful and untiring servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We may be willing to talk and to direct, to give to the great and good cause with our benevolent wishes, and to dream by night and by day of the immortal victories and the splendid triumphs of the gospel. In self-complacent declamation we may be willing to send the beatifying streams from the living fountain through the great desert of the world, till the whole is made as the garden of the Lord. We may cheerfully and zealously convert the world at this cheap rate, and still the world may be as far from being converted as it was before it was blessed with our extraordinary efforts. “This kind goeth not out” by such means.
We do not expect to see the world converted, till the entire energies of the church are employed in the work,—till her sober judgment, her sound common sense, her cool and deliberate calculation, her utmost stretch of activity and benevolence, and her most ardent piety, are brought to bear on this great object. When the pious energies of God's people shall be brought out, then may we look expectingly for the consummation so devoutly to be wished. While the conversion of the world is suffered to remain a minor or a secondary object in the minds of the people of God, we must expect that its progress will be slow and doubtful.
We propose to notice some of the difficulties that obstruct the work of missions to the heathen. Our remarks are not made at random, but are the result of personal experience on the part of the writer, while employed as a missionary in India. Nor do we mention these difficulties as subjects of discouragement, but rather as motives to more constant and fervent prayer, to increased labors, and to perseverance in every department of the work.
It is hoped, that the presentation of this subject will serve to moderate and rectify the inconsiderate expectations of many christians, in reference to the immediate success of missionary labors. It seems to be expected by some, that a given amount of labor or expenditure in a heathen land, will be productive of more immediate good than is realized or anticipated from the same in a christian land. In this it is assumed, without examination or reflection, that the heathen, debased, hard-hearted, ignorant and polluted, as they are well known to be, are really more easily convinced of the truth, more susceptible of good impressions, and more easily converted, than nominal christians. We need simply say, this is a mistake! The heathen of India are no better than nominal christians. Their minds are as blinded, their hearts as hardened, and they believe a lie as read
ily, as any class of impenitent, sceptical or infidel men in this country. They can cavil as adroitly, defend error as manfully, and resist the truth as obstinately, as a similar class of men do here. And what is still more to the point, they can read the bible and religious books with as much indifference, and hear the blessed gospel preached from sabbath to sabbath, and from day to day, with as much apathy as the majority of ungodly men do in this highly favored land.
It is a fact not to be contradicted, that a christian minister among the heathen may go into one of their villages, and, having taken his station under the shade of some wide-spreading tree, or in a temple, or in some chief place of concourse, may refute the errors of idolatry, portray the excellencies of christianity, contend with their priests like an apostle, unveil to them the mysteries of the atonement by a divine, a crucified Savior; he may set life and death before them; and they remain as stupid, as unconcerned, and as unmoved, as impenitent sinners do in an American assembly.
Hence it must be conceded, that the missionary, to say the least, must come in contact with the same aversion to divine truth, the same enmity against God, the same perverseness of heart, the same obduracy and corruption, that are to be encountered in a nominally christian country. And not only this, but all these obliquities and moral corruptions are fostered by the prevailing ignorance and the mental debasement of the people. They are sanctioned by immemorial custom, and sustained by the prevalent system of religion. There is not a sin in all the dark vocabulary of heathen abominations, for which the idolater may not apologize and excuse himself, on the broad sanction of custom, or the practice of his forefathers, or on the authority of his sacred books, or from the character of his gods, or from the precepts and practices of his priests, or for which he cannot plead his own ignorance, or his fate. And thus the guilt of his sin is nullified, and becomes, in his estimation, a foible for which he is scarcely if at all accountable.
Our first difficulty there, as well as here, is with human de pravity. You know the nature of this difficulty. You know what a fertile soil the human heart is, and how rapidly the seeds of depravity will there germinate, and how luxuriant is the noxious growth, and how abundant are the fruits of unrighteousness. But when these germs of evil are nurtured by the hand of ignorance, supported by sturdy custom and the sanction of caste and superstition, and protected by the power of a supposed divine origin, how much harder is it to eradicate them from VOL. X.