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Even where the majority are moved by worldly considerations, there are often a few of a different spirit:
“Of the persons who have embraced Christianity from mixed motives, partly religious, partly secular, such as those I have described, the majority are found to adhere to it after all excitement from without has passed away, and learn to value Christianity for higher reasons. From time to time, also, we discover among them a few pure-minded, truth-loving persons, whom Providence had been preparing even in heathenism for the reception of the truth, and for bringing forth the fruits of righteousness. The congregation, consisting perhaps of the inhabitants of an entire village, was brought in, as it were, by the tide, and yet after a time we discover among the sand and sea-weed not a few pearls of great price, fitted to shine hereafter in a kingly
Rhenius employed a Native Lawyer to plead the cause of oppressed converts. This, with the favor for a time of one or two of the principal European Officers of Tinnevelly, had a powerful influence in inducing people to place themselves under Christian instruction.
In the early stages of the Travancore Mission, the secular element was largely present. One of the Missionaries, till it was disallowed by the Home Society, acted as a judge ; slaves who became Christians were not compelled to work on Sundays. The Syrian Christians in Travancore have high social privileges. By one or two Missionaries at least, the same standing has been claimed for converts, who as heathens occupied very degraded positions. What was styled a “Glorious Awakening,” a “ Pentecostal,” Revival at Kishnaghur in Bengal, was mainly due to worldly motives. The Missionary was deceived by unprincipled Native Agents. The people had suffered severely from an inundation. A considerable sum of money was collected. The Catechists told the people, that if they became Christians, they would obtain bullocks, seed, and many other advantages. Three or four thousand
* Lectures on the Tinnevelly Missions, p. 80.
came over. If their children attended School they were fed and clothed in a great measure at the expense of the Society; they were provided with medicine in sickness, and, as far as possible, the Missionaries sought to obtain employment for them. As might have been anticipated, the constant cry was, “ give, give,” and they never had enough. Even although their children were thus instructed and the Gospel was preached to them Sabbath after Sabbath, little good appeared to be done. After twenty years had passed away, a Missionary who had resided about 13 years in the district, and had charge of three stations, wrote
“ The large majority of our Christians entertain the notions, that the Missionaries were very poor at home, and come out to make nominal Christians, and receive an allowance for each man, woman, and child ; and that we receive large sums of money from the Company to supply all their wants, and that we and the Catechists and others divide it among ourselves, and prosper on their poverty. It stands to reason that the word of God cannot find an entrance into bearts filled with such monstrous prejudices.” *
A Romish priest came to the district and held out high prospects to those who joined him. Another Missionary wrote of the Native Christians :
" It is no question of their going over to Popery—they would join any man, be he Baptist, Independent, or Papist, if he came and really paid down enough to render it worth their while to leave us.
(Page 32.) A third Missionary admitted :
“Some also, especially widows, say, “if we can get the same assistance from you as we get from the priest, we will gladly remain where we are,' so it bappens with many, that two or four annas, more or less a month, determines them which side to
The “ Rice Christians” of South India are an illustration of the same kind. The melancholy history of such
Report of the Calcutta Committee of the C. M. S. for 1859, p. 36.
Missions is full of instruction. Some may suppose that gratitude will be awakened by temporal aid ; that Christian teaching will gradually counteract selfish motives. But it is much the same with adults as with spoiled children. Abbott remarks :
“Never attempt to acquire an ascendancy over children by improper indulgence. It is one of the mysteries of human nature that indulgence never awakens gratitude or love in the heart of a child. A boy or girl who is most yielded to, most indulged, is always the most ungrateful, the most selfish, and the most utterly unconcerned about the happiness of father and another. Pursue, then, a straightforward, firm, and decided course ; calm yet determined-kind, yet adhering to what is
It should be mentioned that efforts have recently been made to place things on a healthier footing in Kishnaghur.
Character of Converts.--The erroneous ideas prevalent at home have already been noticed. Dr. Cald
A Missionary station is not depicted in colours taken from daily life, but is fancied to be a sort of garden of Eden—a chosen spot of consecrated ground-in which there is no ignorance, no superstition, no strife, no immorality-I had almost said, no human nature.”'of
Dr. Mullens thus contrasts Christians at home, the primitive Church, and converts in India, showing what may be reasonably anticipated :
“In our oriental church-life we see reproduced many of the characteristics of the New Testament churches. They exhibit most strangely that peculiar phase of religious society, in which excellences of a high order are found side by side with gross vices and astounding sins ; in which men of devoted piety are found associated with brethren of most deficient morals. This
Way to do Good. The book will yield some valuable hints. + Tinnevelly Missions, p. 112,
mixture is very different from that level plateau of general excellence prevailing in thousands of Churches in England, where though all grades of religious life and spirituality exist together, great offences against morality are rare. An Englishman, especially a non-conformist, influenced by the teaching, the example, the lofty principles, the severe sufferings of bis Puritan fathers, should not readily forget, that the piety of our country in the present day, with its growing morality, its general sobriety, its high philanthrophic activity, its firm attachment to pure doctrine, its settled principle, its large views and sound sense, is the result of the transmitted excellences of eight generations, grafted npon a national character originally generous and noble, and trained by centuries of struggle to the full exercise of the rights of freemen. He should remember too that the highest developements of that character have been reached in our own day, and that the fragrance of a thoroughly biblical piety, has filled the air that we have breathed from childhood.
“ The churches of the New Testament occupied a very different position. Most of them sprang from heathen society and were established in heathen cities and villages, in an age when the morals of the world at large had sunk to almost the lowest point. They breathed the pestilential atmosphere of heather vices; the jungle fever of heathen practice was still in their blood ; and the large-hrarted public spirit, and the high public principle in which English Christians are trained, did not exist iill Christianity produced them. Who can wonder then at the existence of vice among the Christian professors of Corinth ; at their selfish disregard of order and propriety in the celebration of the Lord's feast ; at their miserable quarrels ; at their ignorant readiness to listen to pretentious teachers, and to rtject the authority of the man who amid suffering had first brought them to the Saviour ? Who can think it strange that in Ephesus there were Christians who had not yet forgotten to lie one to another; to seek exhilaration from wine ; to indulge in thievish habits; who thoroughly enjoyed a racy talk plentifully garnished with winking of the eyes, speaking with the feet and hinting with the fingers : or who grieved the Spirit of God by their clamorous mlice, their angry implacability and their impure deeds ? Was it strange that with the old doctrines which they had once followed still floating around them, there should be spots in their love-feasts, that many wished to separate
faith from works, and that the doctrine of Balaam,' invested with plausible Christian sanctions, should be popular.**
“ These things cause no astonishment to Missionaries in India. They can realise vividly these striking anomalies of the apostolic age, and can account for them ; for they see the same things daily with their own eyes ; springing evidently from the same causes. In the first generation of Christian converts, the struggle between the old Adam and the new man was specially severe; they fought upon the very border land of heathenism. They who were truly spiritual, who were enlightened and wrought upon by the Spirit of God, were able through the victory of faith to overcome. The nominal Christians, weak, fickle, and worldly, hankered after forbidden enjoyments, and gave the apostles endless trouble.”+
In the Calcutta Christian Observer for October, 1858, there is an interesting article, containing an account of a discussion by the Calcutta Missionary Conference of the following question
“ What change are we authorised, by Scripture, reason, and experience, to expect will be produced in the first instance, at all events on the moral character and condition of one who has been trained from his earliest years in a system like Hinduisin, and who in mature age renounces that system, and embraces Christianity ?"
In Hinduism there is little or no connection between religion and morality. A debauchee swindler may be most devout after his fashion; the Thug was a zealous' worshipper of the goddess Kali. It is not surprising, therefore, that in not a few cases, converts shew religousness with low ideas of morality. In phrenological language, veneration is well-developed, while conscientiousness is deficient.
Each class of converts has its excellencies and defects. To form a true estimate the members of each must be compared with their original condition as
* For further remarks on the state of the Primitive Christians, see Conybeare and Howson's St. Paul; the Memorial Volume of the Am. Board, pp. 247-250; and the Memoirs of Rhenius, pp. 286,293,
+ Memoirs of Lacroix, pp. 258,260.