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Christianity in India," are pointed out; and the Evan-
THE death of Bishop MIDDLETON, and the time which elapsed before his successor could arrive at Calcutta, gave a serious but unavoidable check to the progress of Oriental Missions. Bishop's College, the great work of the Church of England, and of her first representative in Hindostan, has continued upwards of two years without any European officer but the Principal; because its founders were unwilling to appoint and dispatch the Professors, until Bishop Heber had communicated his sentiments upon the subject. It is now ascertained, that in July last his Lordship left Calcutta upon his visitation, without having written to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The earliest season, therefore, at which his letters. can be expected, is the end of 1825; and if the answer should reach him by Midsummer 1826, the correspondence between the Society and the Visitor of the College will have suffered an interruption of four years.
Upon a hasty view, this prospect is discouraging. What institution, it will be asked, can struggle against such lamentable delays? How can the Church propagate Christianity in India, if every bishop has a system of his own, and makes room for it by upsetting what has been already done? Such were not the means by which Europe was converted from Paganism. The Popes, with all their faults, acted a wiser part. It was the steady prosecution of one plan which enabled Rome to achieve her conquests. The infirm of purpose can accomplish no great work; and although some may be dazzled with the glitter of their success, and others alarmed at the apprehension of their triumphs, experience teaches us to fear little from their enmity, and hope nothing from their co-operation.
These are the natural expressions of disappointment, which will be called forth by recent proceedings in the East. The loss of four years, two of which to all appearance might have been saved, is a subject of deep regret, if not of just complaint; it produces doubt and alarm; and no one can pronounce such feelings unreasonable nor unfair. Even if the result should prove favourable, if the circumstances which are so unpromising should turn out advantageous, it will not be less true that the present prospect is gloomy, or less prudent to prepare ourselves for the worst.
That these have been our own feelings we do not deny. But further reflection causes them in great measure to subside. A careful examination of the works enumerated in a preceding page, has convinced us, that the counsels of Bishop Middleton cannot be disregarded. Their solid and practical qualities will force themselves upon the notice of every one. The inherent worth of the system is a pledge for its ultimate adoption. The condition of Hindostan will not suffer us to stand still: some movements, if not some progress, must be continually made; and no movements will be safe, and no progress permanent, unless the advice of Bishop Middleton is treated as it deserves. Other schemes may be preferred by the partiality of parents and guardians, other systems may be carried on with more zeal and activity, other speculations may be entertained by speculative men; and each may do some good in its way. But the imperfections of each and all can only be counteracted by submission to the guidance of one master spirit. The confusion resulting from separate and sectarian undertakings will prove the importance of uniformity; the desultory efforts of individuals will seek a connection with some authorised leader; that leader will be discovered in the Church and the Missionary Establishment which she has founded; and then the propagation of the Gospel will cease to be fabulous or transitory. We do not say that all this will take place speedily, but we are confident that it will take place eventually. It may be delayed by the infatuation of the Indian authorities, or accelerated by their prudence and talents; but unless it comes to pass, Christianity will be swept from the face of Hindostan ; and believing that such a calamity will not be inflicted, we believe also that events which must conduce to it will be averted. The completion and efficient working of such an institution as Bishop's College, is, humanly speaking, indispensable to the Missionary cause; and therefore, in spite of present appearances to the contrary, we infer, that the College will be eventually supported by its Visitor, and enabled to answer the expectations of its Founders.
The facts upon which this reasoning rests are gathered in great abundance from the various works before us. letters of the Abbé Dubois have given rise to a controversy from which much may be learned by all parties. The Abbé is a gentleman of great respectability, and his information upon Indian affairs is extensive. The errors of his church have blinded him to many important truths, and a large portion of his argument is sophistical and inconclusive. But there is no reason to doubt the truth of his statements; they
are the result of long personal experience; and they have been encountered by his opponents with more vehemence than discretion.
The first of these opponents, Mr. Hough, has applied himself to one part of the question with success: he has answered the jesuitical portion of the Abbé's Letters, and pointed out the absurdity of saying that the Hindoos are unconvertible. But as Mr. Hough undertakes to defend the Church Missionary Society and all its kindred institutions, he exposes himself to the Abbé's best thrusts, and is unable to parry them. The character of the work is in general fair and candid; but the consistent Church Missionary is indifferent to the principles of the Church.
Mr. Townley takes a lower line :-Both in Asia and in Europe he enacts the part of an itinerant preacher; and if his harangues in Hindostan are similar to his harangues in England, he may be expected to produce the same effect among Indians that Captain Gordon is producing among Irishmen. His answer to the Abbé is principally remarkable for undertaking to prove a great deal, and proving in reality very little.
The Persian Controversies, by Professor Lee, are of a very different character from that of any of the foregoing; yet they harmonize remarkably with the other publications, by shewing how strongly Mahometanism is entrenched behind false philosophy and false criticism, and how incompetent our ordinary missionaries must be to cope with those learned doctors of the Koran, over whom the genius and piety of Martyn obtained no victory, and who threaten to stand their ground against the more laboured arguments of Professor Lee.
The Sermons and Charges of Bishop Middleton, with a Memoir of his Life, by Archdeacon Bonney, complete the series of publications to which we are calling the attention of our readers; and if the latter is less minute and satisfactory than we could wish, the former comprise much information in a small compass, and furnish a clue to the labyrinths of Oriental controversy. The scheme so beautifully and distinctly sketched by the first Bishop of Calcutta for evangelising his immense diocese, is not calculated to counteract, but to support similar undertakings. It accords in a remarkable manner.with other schemes which are now in progress, and offers to supply their deficiencies, and correct their errors. It neither disbelieves, and desponds with the Abbé Dubois, nor falls into that cant of fanatical assurance by which missionary proclamations are so often disfigured. It grapples both with the Maho
metan and the Hindoo. It offers to instruct and send forth European missionaries, duly qualified and duly authorized, to preach the Gospel. It provides for the education of native teachers, and the institution of native schools. It proposes to furnish the inhabitants of Asia with genuine translations of the Bible. And it will do all this, not by the instrumentality of a mere voluntary Association, which may cease, or may misconduct itself to-morrow, but through the agency of a corporation, regularly chartered by the King, and governed by the prelates of the Church. These are strong circumstances in favour of the system, and perhaps still stronger may be discovered by attending to the books before us.
To begin with the Abbé Dubois. It is thus that he describes the endeavours of his brethren, the Jesuits, to convey Christianity to the Hindoos:
"The disappointment and want of success of Xavier ought to have been sufficient to damp the most fervent zeal of the persons disposed to enter the same career. When a man of his temper, talents, and virtues, had been baffled in all his endeavours to introduce Christianity into India, his successors could scarcely flatter themselves with the hope of being more fortunate. However, this was not the case. His Jesuit brethren in Europe were not to be deterred by difficulties or contradictions in undertaking, where the cause of religion was at stake. In consequence, Jesuits were sent from every Catholic country to India, to forward the interests of the Gospel.
By degrees those missionaries introduced themselves into the inland country. They saw that in order to fix the attention of these people, gain their confidence, and get a hearing, it was indispensably necessary to respect their prejudices, and even to conform to their dress, their manner of living, and forms of society; in short, scrupulously to adopt the costumes and practices of the country.
"With this persuasion, they at their first outset announced themselves as European Brahmins come from a distance of five thousand leagues from the western parts of the Djamboody, for the double purpose of imparting and receiving knowledge from their brother Brahmins in India. Almost all these first missionaries were more or less acquainted with Astronomy or Medicine; the two sciences best calculated to ingratiate them with the natives of every description.
"After announcing themselves as Brahmins, they made it their study to imitate that tribe: they put on a Hindoo dress of cavy, or yellow colour, the same as that used by the Indian religious teachers and penitents; they made frequent ablutions; whenever they showed themselves in public they applied to their forehead paste, made of sandal wood, as used by the Brahmins. They scrupulously abstained from every kind of animal food, as well as from intoxicating liquors,
entirely faring like Brahmins on vegetables and milk; in a word, after the example of St. Paul (1 Cor. ix. 20. 21.) "Unto the Jews, they became as Jews, that they might gain the Jews; to them that were without law, as without law. They were made all things to all men, that they might by all means save some." It was by such a life of almost incredible privations and restraints, that they insinuated themselves among these people.
"Fully aware of the unalterable attachment of the natives to their own usages and practices, they made it their principal study not to hurt their feelings, by attacking all at once the superstitions with which most of their customs are infested: they judged it more prudent at the beginning to overlook many of them, and wait for a more favourable time, to put the converts right on the subject. Their colour, their talents, their virtues, above all, their perfect disinterestedness, rendered them acceptable even to the Hindoo princes, who, astonished at the novelty and singularity of the circumstance, bestowed their protection on these extraordinary men, and gave them full freedom to preach their religion, and make proselytes to it.
"The Jesuits began their work under these favourable auspices, and made a great number of converts among all castes of Hindoos, in those countries where they were allowed the free exercise of their religious functions. It appears from authentic lists, made up about seventy years ago, which I have seen, that the number of native Christians in these countries was as follows, viz. in the Marawa about 30,000, in the Madura about 100,000, in the Carnatic 80,000, in Mysore 35,000. At the present time hardly a third of this number is to be found in these districts respectively. I have heard that the number of converts was still much more considerable on the other coast, from Goa to Cape Comorin; but of these I never saw authentic lists." P. 4.
At length Pope Benedict XIV. condemned all these superstitious practices, and from that moment the Christian religion declined:
"At that very time happened the European invasion, and the bloody contests for dominion between the English and French. The Europeans, till then almost entirely unknown to the natives in the interior, introduced themselves in several ways and under various denominations into every part of the country. The Hindoos soon found that those missionaries, whom their colour, their talents, and other qualities, had induced them to regard as such extraordinary beings, as men coming from another world, were in fact nothing else but disguised Fringy (Europeans); and that their country, their religion, and original education, were the same with those of the vile, the contemptible Fringy, who had of late invaded their country.
Fringy, is the appellation under which the Europeans are designated by the natives of India; it is derived from the term Frank, and has been introduced by the Mahometans.