« PreviousContinue »
IRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY MESSRS. GRAVES, COOKSON & Co.,
UNITED SCOTTISH PRESS.
The duties of the Compiler require him every year to make the circuit of India, as well as visit Ceylon. Already the round has been taken five times. Unequalled opportunities have thus been afforded of consulting experienced Missionaries about their modes of operation, and of examining the principal libraries in India. An attempt has been made in the following work to turn these advantages, in some measure, to account. It is intended chiefly for young Missionaries. No claim is laid to originality. Much of the volume consists of extracts. This will be far more satisfactory to those for whom the compilation is designed. When any course is recommended, it will come with much greater authority from an experienced Missionary who can testify to the results.
Besides specially consulting Missionaries like Dr. Mullens of Calcutta, Dr. Wilson of Bombay, and Dr. Caldwell of Tinnevelly, the Compiler has had the privilege, at different periods, of discussing plans, to a greater or less extent, with 364 European and Native Missionaries. He has examined the libraries of the Bengal, the Bombay, and the Madras Branches of the Asiatic Society; the Public, the Cathedral,* and Bishop's College, Libraries, Calcutta.
* One of the characteristic rules drawn up by Bishop Wilson may be quoted for the benefit of some parties :
“9, Persons leaving Calcutta, or intending to dispose of their Libraries are cautioned carefully to restore FIRST any books which they have borrowed.
- The Bishop relies chiefly on the CONSCIENCE of those friends who borrow books from the Library to adhere strictly to the above Rules. The number of books which he has lost for want of CONSCIENTIOUSNESS is most lamentable.”
On the other hand, the compiler has laboured under several serious disadvantages. His personal acquaintance with some branches of Missionary work is very limited; his other duties have compelled him to write hastily.
The Conference Reports and" Ten Years' Missionary Labour in India,” put a young Missionary in possession of a great amount of valuable information. Still, it is highly desirable that experienced Missionaries should bring together, in a somewhat different form, hints for young labourers entering upon the work. It is now upwards of thirty years since Hough's Missionary Vade Mecum was published. It is not enough that one Missionary should give his opinions. Several should write, that questions may be viewed from different stand-points.
The object of the following work is not to show to Christian friends in England the progress which has been made, and to encourage them in the prosecution of the great enterprise. The book is intended solely for Missionaries and members of Missionary Committees. The main design is to point out whatever appears defective in modes of working and to suggest: improvements. It is extremely difficult to write of such matters without giving offence. The compiler has endeavoured, to some extent, to guard against it by making general statements. Baxter says, “I have excepted in our confessions those who are not guilty, and therefore hope that I have injured none."* Occasionally it is asserted, that “some Missionaries” act reprehensibly in such and such a way. Of course this does not apply to the majority. Every Missionary and his friends will know whether or not he is to be blamed in the matter. It is evident that it would be quite impossible to give names.
* Preface to Reformed Pastor.
Among Missionaries the compiler numbers some of his dearest earthly friends; many of his happiest hours have been spent in their company. He trusts that all who know him intimately will give him credit for at least good intentions. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”
The compiler's opinions of Missionaries in general may best be expressed in the words of Mr. G. Smith:
“Among the more than five hundred European and American Missionaries in India, there are doubtless some who have made a mistake in selecting their field of labour abroad, and there may be a few who have chosen what may be called Missionaryism as a mere profession ......But every Christian layman in India, who personally studies the character and the work of the Missionaries, will unite with me in declaring that in no Church, and in no profession is it possible to find so large a band of devoted, intelligent, and seli-denying men-many of whom have consecrated to the regeneration of India the most scholarly attainments, literary gifts, and even considerable private fortunes as the tive bundred Missionaries in India.”*
Still, considering the rapid progress which is being made in every department of science and art, it would be absurd to suppose that Indian Missions, so comparatively recent in their origin, should not be susceptible of great improvements. Every intelligent labourer, by careful observation and experiment, may aid in bringing about important reforms. There are still numerous questions to be solved.
The compiler readily includes his own production among the defective machinery. Job says, “Oh, that mine adversary had written a book.” Critics may easily find much that is wanting, and much that is wrong. During his stay at Madras, the compiler has had to write hastily, and print off at once. Considering the long round he has to make, and how soon the night
* Address at Edinburgh.