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Female immolation in India having lately excited some interest, and hoping that the public voice will instantaneously call the attention of the Legislature to the subject, in the apV'oaching session of Parliament, you will perhaps please to insert the following in your useful'publication.
As female immolation is a religious nte of the Hindoos, it has been questioned, whether a legislative suppression of the practice would not infringe the principle of religious toleration—a question certainly of the first importance. But the principle of toleration which forbids the interference of the civil magistrate in religious matters, relates purely to the conscience, where the lives of the subjects are not endangered: the lives of men are the field of magisterial legislation—the conscience is the province of religious liberty, and it is •or each to keep within its respective sphere; should the magistrate attempt to invade the province of conscience, he must expect a resistance; and should •conscience make an attack upon life, it W for the magistrate to repel. When conscience, whether in the name of religion or otherwise, dictates the destruction of life, of which the magistrate 's guardian, then it passes over the boundary of religious liberty, and enters the department of civil control; in such sanguinary acts the magistrate does not interfere as legislator of religion, but as evil protector of the lives of subjects, Vol. x.
an office essential to the existence of society. The conscience of the duellist suggests that" his o\vn life and that of his antagonist, should be devoted to destruction at the shrine of his titular deity, honour; but doe's this sentiment of the duellist involve a liberty of conscience which forbids the interference of the magistrate ?—by no means; the lives of subjects are not exclusively their own, they belong also to the community of which they make a part, the being of which in a congregated capacity is dependant on individual existence. The vain suicide claims a right to sacrifice himself; here also the law interposes, rejects the claim; condemns the act, and refuses the rites of Christian burial. But should the duellists and suicides now begin to say, that though their selfdestruction would certainly be still the same in itself and consequences, yet that it did not now proceed from the same principle as formerly, but that they now believed it to be the will of a deity they acknowledged, that under their circumstances they should terminate their existence: would this alleged change of principle so make this selfdestruction a religious matter of conscience that it should be tolerated, and the civil power no longer take cognizance of it? Should the votaries of such a deity greatly multiply, and it be further alleged that this deity also enjoined female immolation in case of widowhood, would the principle of religious toleration forbid the interference of the civil power? If so, then our own country F
would from the same cause be afflicted with precisely the same baneful effects which India now suffers. How awfully desolating would be the ravages of such an horrid practice amongst us 1 what wide breaches would a few years make in the ranks of our community! how would it dissever those social ties, and destroy those kindred sensibilities, so essential to the happiness arid prosperity * of a people; and what multitudes of abandoned helpless infants would it cast as a burdensome charge on the precarious care of the nation. But this we do not fear; that principle in our laws which takes cognizance of the duellists and the suicides, would we think interfere in this case, and prevent the direful consequence amongst us: then why not extend the same salutary principle of legislation to our fellow subjects in India? As they are brought under the same Government as ourselves, why should they not with us participate in all the benefits of its wisdom? As they are amenable to tribunals established by British authority, and this authority forbids selfdestruction amongst us, why not by a similar application of this authority amongst them, stop the ravages of the funeral pile, rescue the widows of Hindostan from the consuming flames, and secure to the children of India the fostering care of parental regard? The policy of the interference in a political point of view (though it is conceived this would not forbid it) is not now a subject of discussion; nor should the Christian or the Philanthropist hesitate on so comparatively inferior a consideration. Our Christian zeal calls upon us in consistency to forbid that act, which in every case is not merely the consuming of a living body, but also the destruction of an immortal soul, which hurries the wretched widow from the region of hope, from the voice of our Missionary messengers of mercy, and awfully consigns her to an everlasting . destiny. Every filial feeling admonishes us to stop the son from fixing the funeral pile, and becoming the executioner of his mother; every parental affection commands us to oppose this revolt of maternal fondness, this unnatural consignment of infancy to all the miseries of orphanage; all the jealousies of our national character, and all the sympathies of our nature, rise up in indignation at the merciless ac
tivities of this inhuman abomination. Let our countrywomen employ every stimulus they can command on behalf of their degraded sex in India; arid let every community of our countrymen rise spontaneously in the e'nsuing session of Parliament, and practically evince their commiseration by energetically supplicating our Senate to stay this degradation of our Empire, this rebellion of nature, this agony of humanity; that those that cry and the fatherless may be delivered, that the blessing of those ready to perish may come upon us, and the widow's heart sing for joy.
In submitting to you the following strictures, I fear you will deem me either intrusive or litigious, or as wishing to set your hand against every man's, that every man's hand may be set against yours; but such is not the case. 1 merely turn to your Miscellany M knowing no other which embraces such a combination of talent, fidelity, and impartiality. .
It is common, Sir, in the country to anticipate that the opening of every month will refresh us " with good new from a far country." A portion of this refreshment has been realized, from the contents of the Heralds, and Chronicles and Magazines for December; put m examining the Missionary Chronicle in the Evangelical Magazine for »ial month, I confess, that Missionary intelligence was never read with Such utter astonishment and grief.
My grief was not that the Missionaries have had to tread in apostolic step-. to be "in labours more abundant, Hi prisons more frequent, in deaths . thrice beaten with rods, once stone", thrice-shipwrecked, injourney.ngsolte..
in perils of waters, of robbers, by countrymen, by the heathen, in the city,» the wilderness, in the sea, and ann>ng false brethren, in weariness and p* fulness, in watchings often, in nu'• „ and thirst, and cold, and nakednessBut to read from the Bay of B»** that "The large and handsome houses the Missionaries, and the very spa"
the Missionaries, and tne vw; «r ^ Chapel and judgment-hall, occupy centre of the settlement, while resW d and wellplastered houses for the cni" ^ people extend perhaps for a m"
STRICTURES ON SOME RECENT MISSIONARY INTELLIGENCE. 35
way." So then it may be more than presumed, that we have huts for the poor natives—respectable and well plastered houses for the chiefs, and large and handsome houses for the Missionaries. Oh! "tellit not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcision triumph!"
My grief was not that the Missionaries have had to adopt the bitter exclamation, " Who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" or that they have been forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the Gospel in any place; but to read, that" It was with much satisfaction we witnessed the baptism of one hundred and fifty persons in one day, making up the number of baptized about one thousand one hundred, leaving a remainder of persons in the island unbaptized about two hundred. With the church, which consists of about one hundred and fifty members, we had twice the pleasure of communing at the Lord's Table. Thus happily is this Island evangelized." Here are then one thousand and one hundred persons baptized, and a church consisting of only one hundred and fifty members. Were the persons baptized adult believers? or were they the prolific iufant offspring of the adult believers? If adult believers, why not of the church? and if adult unbelievers, why baptized at all?'
My grief was not that no practical results were visible, that the Missionaries did not see "the mountains and the hills break forth before them into singing, and all the trees of the field clapping their hands." But to read that "our Missionary brethren have appropriate places for the natives, in which to manufacture their tobacco—to boil their sugar—to make salt—to manufacture smith's work—and for making chairs, bedsteads, and sofas; all which they may be said to do well: and of the extent to which they have earned the manufacture of sofas with neatly turned legs, you may judge by the following fact: at a feast of the baptized persons we counted (what was never counted at any nobleman's feast in the British dominions) we counted two hundred and fifty sofas, large and well made after the English model." If this be true, then we may expect on Missionary platforms—an Missionary rooms, and
among Missionary friends, exhibitions of chairs, bedsteads, and sofas, instead of translations.
Again, my astonishment was not, that the Missionaries never migrated from their feasts, their sofas, their large and handsome houses to teach the poor slaves, but that the first thing that is taught is the decalogue.—" Lord's Day, July 7th. I explained to them the ten commandments, and pointed them to Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. Lord's Day, July 15th. I explained the ten commandments, / of course also directed them to the Lamb' of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, and who is the end of the law for righteousness unto all that believe, whether bond or free. To teach them the nature and use of the Sabbath, is one of the first things to attend to. 1 informed them that the fourth commandment not only teaches us to remember trie Sabbath, to keep it holy, but also that we are to attend to our work in the six days of the week.'' Is this preaching the Oospel to every creature? Is this being wise as serpents, and harmless as doves? Is not this the way, Sir, for Missionaries'to be implicated in insurrections? and was it thus the Apostles at their first and second interview taught the slaves of Greece and Rome? than which none could be in a more degraded condition—who were held " pro nuliis, pro mortuis, pro quadrupedibus." Vide their tuition to the converted slaves, 1 Cor. vii. 20—24.
Finally, my astonishment was not that the Missionaries do not acknowledge the need of a superior agency, but to see this statement admitted into the Chronicle: "Iregretmuch thatAfricaner is no more. His influenceamong the Namacquas was very considerable, andwith a little assistancefrom Government, would have rendered the cause of God in that country essentitil service.'' Have the Missionary brethren forgotten that the government is upon the shoulders of the Prince of peace? That his kingdom is not of this world? and that his temple shall be erected, not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts? Now, when these things are published under the sanction of the Directors of a Society which can realize j£30,000. per annum for Missionary objects, they assume a grave form indeed, and compel me to ask, are the Directors and Missionaries carnal men? do they need carnal weapons? and are