« PreviousContinue »
no great antagonist to the Christian faith. The vastness of the field is the great difficulty — at present well-nigh insuperable. And it is because the visit of the Prince of Wales has shown the extent of that field, its great resources, its mighty difficulties, its priceless fruits of victory, that the call sounds more loudly in the ears of the Church's workers to increase their efforts, to add to their sacrifices, and to go up
the land for Christ.
PROGRESS OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH IN INDIA, Slow as the advance of Christian truth in India may appear to be, even to its most sanguine friends, nevertheless every thoughtful mind will allow that that advance is real. The moral progress of the empire also has been unspeakably great. The heart of idolatry has been eaten away; education has spread widely; the Scriptures and Christian books are carefully studied at home, the power of the living Spirit is everywhere at work. It is moulding the opinions and the faith of the masses; but it affects more deeply individual minds. Here and there men and women are converted; large congregations listen intently to the story of the Cross; multitudes of Hindu boys never become idolaters at all; the landholder reads his Bible at home, and quietly drops caste observances; the Brahmin student sent to the city to learn English for a livelihood, after hard struggles, becomes a Christian; and the merchant and the shopkeeper purchase Christian books, and study them ; churches are slowly gathered ; congregations increase ; a Christian community is formed; the native convert becomes a preacher; the preacher converts others, and wins souls for Christ; Christianity is securing a native home in India which it will never leave. The air is full of change, and restlessness, and progress.
Life is stirring everywhere; the life of the seed, the life of the sapling, the life of the wheat grain, priceless in value, which encloses within its tiny sheath the germs of mighty harvests in the days to come.
It is good that the victories we long for should not come too soon or with too much ease.
It is good for all true workers to rightly estimate the difficulties of this mighty enterprise ; that facts like those which the year has brought before us, should make us pause and hold our breath as we contemplate these populous nations, these splendid pageants, these religious systems so richly endowed, so strongly sustained by multitudes of followers. It is good to remember that the mighty reformation of opinion and of life at which we aim must be wrought not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. It is good that we toil with energy, that we labour with hope, and fix our eye on the great days to come.
presents no nobler fields of conflict to the Church. Where shall the Redeemer win a nobler triumph ? The idols He shall utterly abolish. Deities whose names have thrilled the heart of nations for a hundred generations, in whose sacred fanes successive ages have gathered multitudes to vow and offer, and hold high festival, shall fall prostrate, and their mighty temples be given to the screech-owl and the bat.
The great shrines of Southern India, with their vast halls and their rich offerings ; the towers of Jagannath, with their marble throne ; the temples of Benares and Muttra, the mosques of Delhi and Lucknow, the golden shrine of Umritser shall crumble and perish. Caste, books, and priesthoods, festivals and philosophies shall die. The dead past shall bury them. A new and -a divine life shall flow in the heart and work and faith of its mighty peoples, shall waken them to Divine purposes, and stir them to noblest deeds.
Light, truth, and peace shall elevate and sanctify them all. The mighty cities, with their countless populations and strange industries, shall pour forth their rejoicing crowds to give their Redeemer welcome.
THE MADAGASCAR Mission.
The numerous re-arrangements and extended plans adopted by the Board for the improvement of the Madagascar Mission, as the result of the visit of the Deputation, have nearly all been carried into effect during the past year. At once a wider work has been taken up in the education of the young, and more systematic efforts have been adopted to supply suitable preachers to distant country congregations. The missionary brethren have gone to reside in the new centres of effort to which they were appointed ; visits have been paid to new localities ; and life and earnestness have been infused into the Christianity there found to be at work.
But on many points of detail with regard to these matters the Directors are without information. The Madagascar mails, always irregular in the winter, have recently been more irregular than ever, and only a small number of Annual Reports have as yet reached London.
THE MISSION IN CHINA.
The work of the society in China has not been marked by any striking results during the past year. But the nine stations have been well occupied. The missionary staff is very complete. Good work has been quietly and steadily carried on, and, as might be expected, the annual reports, though quiet and unromantic in their tone, show solid and satisfactory results. It is just this steady, patient toil which is needed in the vast empire, and time must be allowed for the work to grow before a full harvest can be reaped.
THE SOUTH SEA MISSION.
A hundred years have passed since the island groups of the Pacific Ocean were suddenly and clearly revealed to Englishmen by the great navigator, whose able surveys and tragic death have given him world-wide fame. Before the time of Cook the voyages of Magelhaen and AlonzoMendana had added the Phillipine and Solomon Islands, and the Marquesas to the known world; Quiros had visited Tahiti and its neighbours ; Tasman had discovered the Friendly Islands and Fiji; Anson and Drake and Mulgrave had shared the toil. But Cook, in the fulness of his knowledge and the extent of his researches, eclipsed them all. Since his day the names of Tahiti and Hawaii, and the Hervey Islands, New Caledonia, Australia, and New Zealand have been familiar to every English ear. Vancouver and Byron, Marshall and Gilbert, D'Entrecasteau and La Perouse, have followed in his steps, and have left their mark upon the chart of that mighty sea. Slowly and surely the early outline of its many treasures has been filled in by new discoveries, and the modern world finds within its seventy millions of square miles twelve thousand islands, wonderfully scattered, yet not less wonderfully grouped among its waters, relics of the vast continent, which in the bygone time occupied its place and now lies buried beneath its quiet waves. The wondrous scenery of these enchanted spots has been graphically depicted by many a pencil and many a pen. The rugged volcanic hills, the massive coral reef, the groves of cocoa-nut, chesnut and palm, the profusion of creepers and wild flowers, the deep cavern, the still lagoon, the creamy surf, the sheltered bay, are all familiar scenes.
The wise Creator, the loving Father, the beneficent Provider appears on every hand, and we can only adore and wonder at the excellence of the works which speak His praise.
But the inhabitant of these fair scenes has been found to be no geutle member of the human family, passing an innocent life in the practice of simple virtues. Everywhere the savage has proved a most prosaic being, given to tyranny, murder, brutal cruelty, vice, often to cannibalism. Eighty years ago the Society commenced its work of redemption among these lost and degraded tribes. While the East India Company shut missionaries out of India, and the West India planters would allow no light to be thrown upon the condition of their slaves, the Duff bore away
the first heralds of the Gospel sent by our fathers to savages and outcasts on the confines of the globe. They had a painful experience ; supplies were exhausted ; in some cases character failed ; fears overcame steadfastness ; in Tonga lives were lost. But the few held on, made the work strong, and
reaped the first reward ; and at last little churches were gathered, the heathen fought against the truth and were worsted; plans assumed definite shape, and that solid hold was taken of the great enterprise, and that solid work was done, which has never slackened, but has extended more widely and exercised a deeper influence down to the present day.
While the great groups occupied by the Society have been successively mastered, Christianised, and raised, and while in Hawaii and New Zealand, in Fiji and the New Hebrides, the brethren of other societies have been accomplishing the same work, the progress of the Australian colonies, and the extension of trade on all sides of the Pacific, have made the islands more fully known. The whaler and the trading schooner have found new markets for their goods, or a safe resting place in their hard wanderings. And never have the acknowledgments made by scientific men and travellers and statesmen been more hearty than during the past year. Professor Rolleston, addressing the Anthropological Section of the British Association in August last, after referring with great respect to the work done in Polynesia by the London Missionary Society, quoted the following passage from an essay by Dr. Gerland, on the dying out of the native
“The decrease of the Polynesian population is not now going on as fast as it was in the first half of this century ; it has in some localities entirely ceased, whilst in others the indigenous population is actually on the increase.
On the other hand, we cannot ignore the fact that the Europeans themselves, in spite of many important exceptions, have done a great deal for the natives, and are always doing more and more. Whilst in this matter the English Government deserves great praise, and whilst Sir George Grey has done more for the Polynesians than almost any other man, the missionaries, nevertheless, stand in the very first rank amongst the benefactors of these races, with their unwearied self-sacrificing activity; and Russell (* Polynesia,' Edin., 1840) is entirely right in saying that all the progress which the Polynesians have made was really set on foot by the missionaries. They have had the greatest influence upon the eivilisation of the natives ; they have taken their part, and protected them when they could ; they have further given them the fast foothold, the new fresh object, motive, and meaning for their whole existence, of which they stood so much in need.” In this way the older missions have been growing strong, and a numerous and well-instructed native agency is available for the evangelisation of the groups of islands which are still entirely heathen. These heathen groups are clustered along the western portion of the Pacific Ocean. And while the Society has set itself to the great work of evangelising New Guinea and the islands at its eastern end, it is a
matter of great satisfaction to the Directors that the societies which have shared the work in the Pacific with themselves are extending in the same direction; the Melanesian Mission will visit the Banks and Solomon Islands; the Wesleyan missionaries will occupy New Britain and New Ireland ; while the Presbyterians enlarge their work in the New Hebrides ; and the Hawaiian Churches evangelise the Marquesas and Micronesia. Under God's blessing, the successful accomplishment of His noble scheme will not only save these manly races from extinction, but will bring to them enlightenment, safety, and comfort, and will secure for them an honourable place in the Christian history of the world.
THE SOCIETY'S MISSION IN AFRICA. The Continent of Africa, with its many kingdoms, provinces, and people, has remained prominent in the public eye throughout the past year ; and events have occurred which have not only exhibited its people more clearly, but have greatly increased the public interest in their welfare. The Society has long had an efficient mission in South Africa; and the victories. which it has won, both within and beyond the Cape Colony and Kafirland, in defending the liberties of the native races are amongst its proudest trophies. For several months the Directors have devoted careful attention to a proposal which has been made to them by R. Arthington, Esq., of Leeds, to commence a mission in Central Africa. It was known that the Free Church of Scotland had already prepared to found the Livingstonia Mission on Lake Nyassa, and that the Church Missionary Society had been invited to occupy the districts of Karague and Uganda, on the Victoria Lake. The proposal was laid before them by Mr. Arthington in the following way >
“ It is much in my heart to take with you a courageous and faithful step in the moral conquest of Africa ; whilst we shall, if God be with us, be instrumental in His hand in gathering out to Christ's glory and our joy many of His elect people in that continent.
“You know that the Presbyterians of Scotland have taken in hand the Nyassa, and that the Church Missionary Society is likely to take in hand the Victoria Nyanza, that is, the inhabitants of their shores, for evangelisation. I propose we should take in hand Lake Tanganika.
“I have the joy, therefore, of offering five thousand pounds towards the purchase of a suitable steamer, and the establishment of a missionary station at some eligible place on one of the shores of that lake. I learn on good authority that the way is quite open in a direct line (which is very direct) from Zanzibar to Ujiji on Tanganika; that the Sultan's pass is.