Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

heathen lands, and have for this purpose placed Missionary .boxes in our rooms; we are now represented, by the so-called adherents of justice, to our Government, in the most unfavourable light, as if we, moved by a base selfishness, had attempted to lay burdens on, and levy contributions from, the subjects of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia. Such are the crimes for which we are now proceeded against, and of which we shall most probably be declared guilty.

"If the accompanying Memorial be read with attention, a world of reflections press themselves on mere reason, allowing it to be blind as regards spiritual things. There among other things the individuals aimed at are charged with believing themselves ' awakened and born again.' The ordinary feelings of our nature are shocked at the thought of persons in a so-called Christian land, being brought before a worldly tribunal, to answer to the charge of considering themselves converted from sin to God, yea, born again. This, among many other things, affords a clear evidence that the scriptural doctrine of conversion does not accord with the spirit of this ' enlightened age;' a spirit which, if it allows the theory as a branch of theological science, condemns every practical application thereof as enthusiasm, sectarianism, and the like; while, at the same time, the champion of the alehouse, with his intoxicating glass in the one hand, and cards in the other, is not charged with heterodoxy, but considered as a true Christian, a virtuous member of society. The complaints specified in the Memorial are as old as Christianity itself; for so soon as any have been roused from their slumber in sinful security, the world has uniformly cried out, ' They despise their fellow-Christians, neglect their work, and such like :' they are beside themselves.

"A proof of the excessive zeal of these friends of order, in painting in

such lively colours the unhappy consequences of sectarianism in K , is

furnished by the first paragraph of the Memorial; where it is most unadvisedly stated, that the poorest among the peasantry are induced to offer their most valuable property, such as gold, silver, silks, &c &c. The logical conclusion to be drawn from this is, that Finland, particularly the parish of K , must be a place of unexampled wealth, when the

poorest (mark ' the poorest') of the peasantry have gold, silver, &c, to dispose of. What then must the possessions of the rich be?

"The case has already been brought forward at three extraordinary meetings of the sessions; and although the Memorial, as far as regards the holding of meetings, does not directly apply to the Clergy, yet rive of these, besides about one hundred farmers, and several persons of rank, who have either allowed such meetings on their property, or attended them, have been summoned to attend. At whose instance the Clergymen name's have been called to appear, remains a profound secret. He have requested to be informed of this, but hitherto without success.

"That the minds of our opponents are in a state of violent fermentation, which shuts their ears, and blinds their eyes, is very evident, when we consider that they, although 'learned in the law,' have entirely forgotten what the Koyal Ordinances of January 12th, 1726, and March 20th, 1735, as also the Clerical Oath and other Government statutes require; (I must not of course refer to the contents of St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy and Titus ;) and now drag Ministers of religion before the temporal Court, because they, in fulfilling their official duties, instruct their hearers on Sabbath-afternoons. The historical records of our country cannot exhibit an instance of a similar proceeding. The case was brought forward again on the 25th of September last, and adjourned Bine die. About one hundred witnesses were examined, of whom the greater part had to travel one hundred miles to the sessions, to testify that they had been occasionally present when the Clergyman gave Christian instruction to his flock. O tempora ! O mores 1 During the examination of the witnesses, a characteristic discovery was made, which awakened the astonishment even of our enemies. The witnesses who, with few exceptions, are universally known as incorrigible drunkards, and such like persons, who scarcely know the first rudiments of the Catechism, were required by the prosecutor, on their oath, to give their subjective and objective views of our meetings, and of the doctrines there promulgated; as, if we taught ‘the pure word of God, and the like.’

“In order, we presume, to cool an excessive zeal, it has been so arranged, that the subordinate Clergymen charged have all been removed from the neighbourhood—one even to beyond Tornea. The last mentioned has had full opportunity to reduce his temperature, (if journeying in the open air can do this,) seeing he was ordered, only three months after his arrival at the far-distant Tornea, to attend the sessions at K ; and had to travel two hundred and eighteen miles Swedish, (nearly fourteen hundred English !) to answer to the charge of encouraging, not drinking and dancing assemblies, but meetings for godly edification. Melancholy, indeed, would be the condition of the Heathen, if the rest of the civilized world took the same view of efforts to send the Gospel to the dark places of the earth, which is taken by our lower authorities. Christians, in other hands, think and act differently. The Lord grant them greater success in their endeavours, than we in our father-land have met with ! The hope of increasing, by our small contributions, the funds of the Swedish Missionary Society has, for the present at least vanished.”

“The religious awakening which has, by the blessing of God, taken place in the north of Finland, has, I am told, been reported sub secreto to the Imperial Senate, as entirely of a political character, and the Clergymen connected therewith have been represented as leaders of an association most dangerous to the public weal. The consequence of such misrepresentations may easily be anticipated. But I am too well acquainted with Acts xxiv. 2–8, to allow myself to feel astonishment or alarm at the most raging storms of Satanic wrath. “If God be for us, who can be against us?' General experience testifies, that, when the spirit of darkness is conquered in the theological field, he removes the strife within the political sphere, and fancies he has then reached his proper vantage-ground, in contending against the servants of Christ. The Jews could not obtain the crucifixion of our Saviour as a heretic ; but they accomplished their end by charging him with sedition. The case comes on again at K > the 19th of next month, and the Clergyman, referred to in my last, must anew take his long journey to appear there. He fearlessly continues holding meetings, and collecting for the Missions, to the great surprise of his opponents. May the God of peace strengthen us in our weakness ''

“In consequence of an unavoidable journey in another direction, for the performance of official duties, the Clergyman residing at Tornea had it not in his power to be present at the sessions last month. He sent in a Memorial, explaining the reason for his absence, as also containing his defence; but all this was of no avail. The Court, in direct opposition to existing laws, has, de jure, deprived this servant of God of his personal liberty, by ordering that he shall, by legal measures, be brought before the sessions next April. It depends therefore on the Crown Officer of the district, in whose power he is now left, whether or not this Clergyman of the national Church shall as a prisoner, be conveyed to the next meeting of Court. Only Pastor M has been charged with promulgating erroneous doctrines. Such as personally know M , a man of good common sense, and richly gifted with spiritual knowledge and wisdom, on the one hand; and, on the other, the prosecutor, a man sunk into intemperance, and utterly destitute of literary, much more of religious, culture;

cannot but consider his attack on M as most absurd, and unfortunate

for his own object. The Lord, whose ways are unsearchable, has so order, ed it, that our enemies have ventured upon a field of contest, where they nre by no means a match for us. To help the prosecutor out of the

dilemma into which he was thrown by the natural question of M ,

'What are the errors which I am charged with disseminating?' the Court decided that the prosecutor could not state particulars, the general charge

being sufficient. M is therefore charged with heresy, without being

informed as to the doctrines deemed heretical.''

"The action against the Finnish Clergyman was resumed at the K— sessions, and continued for several days. On the evidence of one hundred and fifty witnesses, we had established the fact, that our meetings had no other object than the instruction of the people in Christianity ; the promoters of the scheme perceiving that their gatherings from the political mine were by far too meagre to support the wished-for charge of sedition, turned their attention to another course of proceeding, which they hoped would be more successful. A scrutiny was commenced regarding our private and domestic life ; and circumstances, having not the most distant connexion with meetings or Missionary-boxes, were inquired into. All that we have said for years gone by, on any subject, so far as the memory of the witnesses extends, is carefully entered in the minutes of evidence, without any reply being mBde to our inquiry as to why this is done. The following are among the general interrogations addressed to the witnesses :—' Have these Clergymen delivered the pure doctrines of the Gospel?' 'Have they been burdensome to their congregations?' * Have they persuaded any to put money in the Missionary-box?' 'Have you seen what they have in their chests of presses?' 'Have you observed any intolerance in them?' &c. &c. To show whether our doctrine is consistent with the Bible, and the symbols of our Church, and whether our conduct diverges in any respect from that of the multitude, servants are called, and even drunkards from the spirit-shops. Can any one venture to say that the witnesses against us are competent ? Many of them, who are thus examined regarding our orthodoxy, cannot read with any correctness ; and they are asked if the defendants are free from erroneous opinions! It would be less surprising if such witnessesas have been present at our meetings, and seen the Missionary-boxes, were allowed to testify to much irrelevant matter; but our amazement knows no bounds when we perceive that many witnesses who have never seen either the one or the other, are allowed, according to the words of one of our opponents, 'to make general reflections,' all which are inserted in the minutes, whether connected with the charges or not. One of these reflecting friends was a brother Clergyman. His evidence had no immediate reference to any of the persons charged; but he gladly embraced the opportunity of pouring out a flood of invective against all vital godliness, which he designated enthusiasm. During his extended Culminations, one of the defendants was reminded of the prayer of David, 2 Sam. xv. 31. Nor did he lift his soul to God in vain. The witness, in the heat of his zeal, forgot where he was, and the oath he had taken, departing most grievously from the truth. It turned out so, that he cited a certain document in support of his statements, which, by the marvellous arrangements of the God of grace, was actually in the possession of one of the defendants; and the production of which in Court convicted the unguarded witness of perjury. This seemed to operate as a check on our persecutors. The case was, however, again adjourned, to give the prosecutor time for producing further evidence."

"I referred in a former letter to a religious awakening in the neighbourhood of N C , where a young Clergyman, Mr. O , lias

zealously endeavoured to fulfil his spiritual engagements. He also has been prosecuted before the Court, and I have now the opportunity of stating the result. The charge against him is, that he has, on seven several Sabbath-days, had meetings of the people, to examine them in the Catechism, and promote their Christian improvement. For this, and no other crime, he is fined two hundred and eighty-eight rubles; iind inasmuch as the meetings were held on the Lord's-day, he is fined one hundred rubles eighty kopecks for Sabbath-breaking! O having presented a memorial to the Court, demonstrating that it was his unavoidable official duty as a public Teacher, thus in season and out of season to instruct his people, he is fined for this act twenty-eight rubles eighty kopecks. Of the other persons charged, a farmer is fined three hundred rubles; and the others, some fifty, some thirty. The case is carried to

the High Court at VV , and the Consistory of A .

"The examinations against us at K were continued and adjourned

more than once, to afford time 'for further evidence.' That we may expect a much more severe sentence than O , is clear, inasmuch as we

have held more numerous meetings. The general opinion is, that we shall, for our meetings and Missionary-boxes, be fined heavily, and deprived of our clerical office. In the midst of all these storms and hinderances, the work of the Lord proceeds gloriously. With heartfelt joy I can assure you, that the God of love has employed these persecutions as a means of awakening not a few to a concern for their souls. Praised be His gracious name for ever! Many young Clergymen in the north and south of Finland have listened to the call of God, seek eternal life for themselves and others, nnd conduct regularly such meetings as these for

holding which we suffer. Among the students in W , many have

been quickened by the Spirit of God. The mind which was in Christ Jesus, is rooted in many directions, and spreads; so that Satan will require much time, labour, and painB, to darken that sun of righteousness, which has arisen, after u glorious dawning, upon a people sitting in darkness. The Lord help and strengthen us now and ever! Amen."

"F , September 18/A, 1939.

"At length, the long-continued and oft-adjourned prosecution against

us has been brought to a close at the K sessions. The prosecutor

craved a sentence against the Clergymen charged, condemning them to double penalties, and urged that M , D , and L should be deprived of their office, and banished from the country. The Court, in passing sentence, remitted the whole case, as regards the Clergymen, to

the decision of the Consistorial Court in A . But the farmers and

others who had either opened their rooms for, or attended, the so-called illegal meetings, were amerced in fines amounting to a total sum of not less than twelve thousand rix-dollars (about £700). Both prosecutor and defendants complained of the sentence, and appealed to the High Court. One farmer was fined fourteen rubles forty kopecks for the crime of having a Missionary-box in his house. A peasant was fined fourteen rubles forty kopecks, because he had sung one of the ' songs of Zion,' on a Saturday evening, at home in his own house, and an equal sum for Sabbath-breaking; it being carried that the Sabbath begins at 6. p. M. on Saturday. Various articles which had been contributed to the Mission cause, and the proceeds arising from the sale of which would have been transmitted to the Swedish Missionary Society, were confiscated, and ordered to be sold by public auction, for the benefit of the poor of the parish of K .

[ocr errors]

"Is it possible that we live in a Christian land, and experience siich things? The Teacher is visited with pains and penalties, because he i instructs bis hearers; the hearers are amerced in unheard-of heavy fiaes, because they listen to the instructions of their Teachers! It isnow established in our country, that a Crown Officer can set at nought the Clergy's liberty of teaching,—a liberty secured to our forefathers, by the Kings of Sweden, and solemnly pledged to us by the Emperor of Russia. We need not go further in search of the cause of all this, than the truth, that as in the beginning, so now, he that is born after the flesh persecutes him that is born after the Spirit. The original enmity between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent continues to operate. But praised be the God of grace, who has counted us worthy to suffer shame for the name of our Lord Jesus. A time of refreshing from the Lord has certainly been sent to our land. We had deeply-interested

hearers at the sessions of K , from numerous and far-distant places;

for the most part Ministers of the Gospel, burning with zeal to contend manfully against Satan and his hosts. Pray for us, that we may be faithful unto death."

26.—American Mission To The Nestorians At Ooroomiah.

[The following pleasing account of the American Mission to the Nestorian Churches will, we think, be interesting to our readers. The first extract is from the valedictory address of the Board to the devoted Missionaries previously to their embarkation for Persia. The other portion of the statements speaks for itself.—Ed.]

Though you are to reside in the land of the Moslems, your labours will be specially directed to one of the oriental churches, the Church of the Armenians. There are perhaps 200,000 Armenians in Constantinople, and as many as 2,000,000 in different parts of Asia. They originated in the country, not far from the shores of the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Seas, which is supposed to have cradled the human race. Many of them are still found in that country ; but the nation is widely dispersed, as the result of the wars of Togruhl, Timoor, Shah Abbas, Mohammed II., and other conquerors, in ages long since past; and also as the result of their peculiar fondness for trade and commerce, which has made them the richest, if not the most intelligent, of the Christian sects in the East. The other oriental sects are the Greek, the Coptic or Egyptian, the Jacobite, and the Nestorian. The last two of these, the Jacobite and Nestorian, belong to the Syrian nation, and seceded, in the fifth century, from the church of Antioch, then forming a part of the Greek church ; as its small remnant, found in Damascus and Mesopotamia, now does. It was also in the fifth century, that the Armenians were separated from the Greek church. The differences in doctrine and ritual between these various sects are on no points of vital importance, though regarded, of course, as of serious magnitude by the sects themselves.

The Board, under whose patronage you go forth, has missions among the members of the Greek, the Nestorian, and the Armenian churches. Our missionaries to the Greek church occupy two stations in Greece, three in Asia Minor, two in Syria, and one in Cyprus. Those to the Nestorians occupy a station in Persia, near the eastern base of the Koordish mountains; and a second station is about being occupied on the western side of the same mountains. The Missionaries to the Armenians are at Constantinople, nnd at three stations in Asia Minor; and a station is about being formed at Erzeroom, within the bounds of the ancient Armenia itself.

The object of our missions to tho oriental churches, is first, to revive the knowledge and spirit of the gospel among them; and secondly, by this means, to operate upon the Mohammedans. At the same time, this does

« AnteriorContinuar »