صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

"Your Committee have thus very little to report in regard to their own proceedings. But in the absence of the usual missionary intelligence, it is their privilege to record an event which not only gives a peculiar interest to the first report of your Committee, far beyond what any efforts of theirs could have given it, but which will, they believe, be long memorable in the history of your great enterprise. With unspeakable satisfaction, and, they trust, with a feeling of deep and devout gratitude to God, they have now officially to announce what they ventured in their late address to express their hope of, that ten of the thirteen missionaries in India have declared their adherence to the Free Protesting Church of Scotland. Your Committee feel that they would be doing injustice to these devoted men, were they to attempt expressing their sentiments on the great question which has terminated in their separation from the Established Church of Scotland, in any other language than their own, and would refer, therefore, to the communications which have been received from them, for a full exposition of their views on the momentous subject.

"In regard to the brethren at Bombay, their declaration of adherence to the Free Church has already been for some time before the public. It is unnecessary, therefore, to occupy the time of the Assembly in reading it, and the more so, that it is hoped the Assembly will have the gratification of hearing from the lips of Dr Wil. son himself, in his own name and in that of his colleagues, an expression of their unhesitating and cordial resolution to cast in their lot with their protesting and seceding brethren at home. Your Committee cannot help regarding Dr Wilson's presence at this Assembly as one of the many providential occurrences whereby God has been graciously pleased to strengthen the hands and encourage the hearts of the Free Protesting Church of Scotland, especially in her missionary undertaking.

"Of the determination of Dr Duff and his fellow-labourers at Calcutta, the members of Assembly also have been made aware, by the publication of resolutions unanimously adopted by the five missionaries, and which your Committee lost no time in communicating to the friends of the cause through the newspapers. But your Committee cannot deny themselves the gratification of embodying in their report a letter from Dr Duff, which accompanied those resolutions, and to which they would humbly request the special attention of the Assembly, as a document alike worthy of the quarter from which it emanates, and fitted to animate and encourage those to whom it is addressed."

Dr Gordon here read a letter from the Rev. Alexander Duff, D.D., to the Convener, which we do not insert, as it will be published elsewhere.

I had entertained hopes up to this morning (continued Dr Gordon) of being able to lay before you a similar communication from Madras. But I can state that that document, come when it will, will not be behind that which I have now read. (Great cheering.) The Rev. Doctor then resumed the reading of the Report :

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"The_business of your Committee is to report facts, not to offer comments on them. Yet they cannot help remarking that the intelligence they communicate is fitted to arrest the attention of all classes. To the Free Church, the intelligence is fraught with encouragement. But it is fitted also to suggest some very serious reflections to those friends of the missionary cause who have been opposed to us, on the ground that this question is not a religious question, and that but for the excitement produced by a long-continued controversy, the disruption might have been prevented without the sacrifice of principle on the part of any. Such persons must surely be led to reconsider the subject, by the striking fact that the missionaries of the Church of Scotland, quietly pursuing their pious labours far from the scene of controversy, have unanimously and without hesitation united themselves to their protesting brethren. The subject of the controversy has appeared in the same light to others; for your Committee are enabled to state the opinion of one of the most distinguished Christian men in Western India, D. T. Webb, Esq., Chairman of the corresponding Committee of the Bombay Mission, who, in a letter to Dr Wilson, says:-"The crisis of the Church has arrived, and certainly no course but secession open, I sincerely believe.' Your Committee cannot help believing that the determination of their brethren in India, and the expressed opinion of one


of the most enlightened, pious, and active friends of the missionary cause there, must have the effect of not only rousing into greater activity the zeal of the friends of your cause, but of impressing many who may hitherto have thought but little on the subject.

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"Your Committee have only a single word to say in regard to finances. already been stated that no direct appeal has yet been made to the liberality of the Church; but some zealous friends of the cause have already commenced their contributions. Your Treasurer reports that, up till yesterday, he had received L.327. "And this, Moderator, is the amount of the funds with which you enter on the mighty enterprise to which you have been called. Looking to your position merely with the eye of sense, and calculating as human wisdom is wont to calculate, your Committee might be ready to sit down in despondency. But they feel assured that He who has so honoured the infant Free Church of Scotland, as to place her in the unprecedented situation of having thirteen heralds of the Cross carrying the message of salvation to the Gentiles, and half that number labouring among his ancient people the Jews, while she is almost entirely destitute of the means of maintaining such agency, will give her grace to honour Him, by confiding in his assurance that He sendeth no man a warfare on his own charges—and to her people the grace of liberality, whereby means shall be provided in abundance for meeting the present, and providing for all future, emergencies."

Dr WILSON, from Bombay, addressed the house in a long and able speech, of which our limits will only permit us to give the following brief summary. After a few introductory sentences, the Rev. Doctor proceeded to sketch the progress of error from the time when the knowledge of God was possessed by the whole human race, that is, during the early periods of the patriarchal dispensation, until that knowledge was almost universally lost. The false faith of the Parsees, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, Lesser Asia, and the States of Greece, and also of the Western Nations, were severally described, after which the speaker proceeded to consider the idolatrous religion of India, which he viewed chiefly as a corruption of the true faith. He also pointed out that these idolatrous systems were allied with every principle congenial with the depravity of man, and suited to every variety of temperament and circumstances of life. When we see that man has so fearfully forgotten and departed from God, how could we of ourselves anticipate that all the "ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord." And yet this is a truth which is directly announced in the sacred page. In virtue of its declarations, he called upon every believer in divine revelation, confidently to expect the conversion of the world, and in particular to believe that India, where Satan's throne has been so long set, where God has been so signally dishonoured, and where the human race has been so long left to the endurance of woe, should remember and turn unto the Lord. But we had not only the testimony of the word of God to assure our faith. Primitive Hindooism had been weakened by the predominance of Buddhism for many centuries, and its ancient alliances disturbed by the conquest and rule of the false prophet of Mecca: and now the occupation of India by our own nation had placed it nearer the heart of Britain, and it was comparatively an easy matter to hope for its regeneration. Dr Wilson then combated the false notion that we are to look for the evangelization of the world, without specific evangelistic endeavours, showing that the whole train of prophecy spoke of it as resulting from an extension of the means of grace. He then directed the attention of the Assembly to the example of our Lord and his apostles, and pointed out some of the facilities existing for the introduction of the gospel into India.

I. The principal means of propagating the gospel, which were used by our Lord and his apostles, were conversation, discussion, and public preaching, among all classes of men to whom they could find access, and in all situations in which they could be advantageously practised. These should occupy a prominent place in all our endeavours to advance the Redeemer's cause, and in India they should be particularly resorted to; because, owing to its subjection to a Christian nation, and the attainments and habits of the people, peculiar facilities are enjoyed for bringing them into beneficial operation. From the mountains of Himalaya on the north, to

the Cape of Comorin on the south, and from the coral cliffs on the west, to" Ganges' golden wave" on the east, the missionary may lift up his voice and plead the cause of Jehovah, and proclaim his infinite love in the gift of his Son, and the offer of the blessings of redemption, while none dare to make him afraid. Hundreds and thousands, both of the learned and unlearned, both of the rich and the poor, both of the mean and the mighty, will be found ready to listen to his instructions, and to make them the subject of curious and friendly conference, or of ardent discussion; and he will find the population in general by no means unqualified to understand, and in some degree to feel, the solemn truths which he may be called to announce. Many of the circumstances which have so long preserved Hindooism, and given to it a dignity in the eyes of the people, will, under a Christian agency, serve to destroy it. The people of India have more copious elements of religious thought and speech, though in a sadly disordered state, than those of most infidel nations; and the Sanskrit, from which almost all their religious terms are derived, is the most powerful in its vocables and grammatical forms of all the languages ever current on the face of the globe. They can learn more from a single discourse than can be imagined by those who have not witnessed them eagerly pressing around, or breathlessly hanging on the lips of the Christian preacher. The very opposition of the tenets of our true and holy faith to their monstrous and polluting superstitions, secures the remembrance of them, when they are propounded, to a degree seldom exhibited among partially educated Christians, who give little attention to doctrines to which they have been long accustomed to give only an indolent assent. The polytheist understands the proposition that there is only one God; his reason is compelled to assent to the arguments by which this essential truth is so clearly established; and his conscience, feeble though it be in its utterance, declares his own condemnation. The pantheist understands the declaration that God is distinct from his works; and the appeals which are made to his ignorance, sin, and suffering, compel him to doubt the identity of his own soul with the Supreme Mind, and arouse the fears of the coming day, when his soul will be exposed before his Maker, in all its nakedness, and with all its responsibilities, its guilt, and its impurity. The idolater can be made to understand the vanity of the stocks and stones, and seldom after hearing it proclaimed can he kneel before them with his former confidence and veneration. The legends of the Hindoos respecting various incarnations, though surpassing in every particular the boundaries of sober belief, nay, of ordinary excited fancy, enable them to comprehend the terms which are employed, when the "great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh," is the subject of discourse. Their penances, while they suppose the existence of guilt, can be shown to be unsuited to the end which they profess to have in view. Their ablutions, indicating the existence of moral impurity, can easily be demonstrated to be inefficacious for the removal of the defilement of the soul. Their belief in births and transmigrations prepares the way for the doctrine of regeneration by the Divine Spirit. No laborious processes are required to make them understand the letter of the law or the gospel, though nothing short of Divine influence, I allow, can make them feel either the condemning power of the one, or the peace and comfort which the other speaks. Great effects, I am more and more persuaded, would follow a general announcement of the fundamental truths of Christianity, either by native converts, or by European missionaries, through the length and breadth of that great country. Continued, animated discourse in the vernacular languages of the people will never fail to awaken their attention and sympathy. I myself can most unhesitatingly give you the strongest personal testimony on this subject. My esteemed and honoured fellow-labourers, Mr Mitchell of Puna, and Messrs Nesbit and Murray Mitchell of Bombay, and myself, have traversed nearly the whole extent of the Maharashtra, or Great Country-for this is its meaning-preaching the glad news of salvation; and everywhere we have met with attentive and interested auditors. I myself, in the providence of God, have been led to extend my ministry much beyond this locality-which, I may observe in passing, comprises a population of seven millions of souls. I have declared the doctrine

of the Cross in three languages, the Máráthí, Hindustani, and Gujaráthí, from the Shiravati in Canara to Sirowi in Rajputana, and from Bombay to Berar, and every.

where, with the greatest encouragement, as far as readiness to listen to the truth is concerned. Of the common people, in general, it may be said that the " common people hear us gladly."

2. The apostles, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, composed memoirs of the life, labours, sufferings, death and exaltation of their master. These inspired records it is our duty to translate into the languages of India. Dr Wilson recounted what had been accomplished in reference to this object by the missionaries.

3. The political position of the apostles prevented their engaging in the education of youth. In India efforts in this direction can be made with facility. Notwithstanding the reputed power of the Brahmins, and the alleged aversion of the Hindoos to form intimate personal connections with those of a foreign faith, the people around us are willing to commit the education of their children to Christian ministers, and to send them to schools where the doctrines and precepts of Christ are inculcated. Our duty, both as rulers and private persons, is clearly marked out by our prerogatives and opportunities. We must, as faithful to God and his cause, and cherishing the deepest benevolence to the natives around us, offer them the greatest blessings which we have to bestow. Should any portion of them refuse to accept them on our own terms, we have no right to proffer them on lower terms, while others in sufficient abundance, are ready to receive them. If we uphold profane instruction, to the disparagement or neglect of religious instruction, we range ourselves, perhaps unwittingly, on the side of the adversaries of the Lord. Knowledge is power; and if we give power, without seeking to associate it with right principles, its first movement may be that of bursting through every religious restraint, and demanding our retirement from those shores, before the great expected fruits of our sovereignty-the evangelisation and civilisation of the country-are in any degree apparent. Late occurrences in India have greatly strengthened the opinion which I have now expressed. With the most important of the proceedings of our different missions in the educational department, the members of this House are well acquainted, as from time to time they have been duly reported to the public. The institution at Calcutta, founded by Dr Duff, and so admirably conducted by himself, and Messrs Mackay, Ewart, Macdonald, and Smith, is a model school and college for the whole of India, for the whole of the East; and the branch schools on the banks of the Ganges are worthy of the parent stem. It is scarcely possible to form too high an estimate of the good which they have accomplished, both directly and indirectly. The institution founded at Madras by Mr Anderson, and conducted by him and his excellent colleagues, Messrs Johnstone and Braidwood, I have heard characterized by impartial observers, as probably one of the most remarkable for the amount of its scriptural tuition on the face of the globe. Of the institution at Bombay, founded by myself, and to which my esteemed brethren, Messrs Nesbit and Murray Mitchell, are devoting no small share of their energy, it does not become me to say more than that, notwithstanding a powerful combination formed against it by some bigoted natives, solely on account of its spiritual success, and certain disadvantages particularly connected with the want of accommodation, it has highly commended itself both to our countrymen and the natives, as is well evinced by the large contributions made in India for erecting for it suitable buildings, and that, as at Calcutta and Madras, God has set his seal upon it by actual conversions. The discovery of mineral treasures in the southern Maratha country, noticed lately before the Royal Asiatic Society, was made by one of its pupils, well instructed both in the works and word of God. The success of the institution at Puna, founded by Mr Mitchell, and now under the zealous and efficient care of himself and Mr Aitken, is in one respect the most remarkable which has been exhibited in India. Puna is the heart of the last important province conquered in the interior of the country. It is the capital of the Marathas, the only Hindoo power that successfully opposed the Mussulmans, and formed in opposition to them a distinct empire; and it is one of the strong-holds of Brahmanism in India. Of our Márathí and Gujaráthí schools, both in Bombay and Puná, in which many hundred boys are receiving scriptural instruction, comparatively little is known in this country. They form, however, a most important part of the agency which both our judgment and conscience

force us to use. The instruction which they are the means of conveying, though elementary, is not to be despised; for it embraces more than the first principles of the oracles of God, and forms a good preparation for Christian ministration, and is directly auxiliary both to conviction and conversion.

4. I need not recall to your minds what was done by the apostles in reference to the formation of Christian churches in the different countries which they visited. Through the favour of God upon us, I must mention, however, that we have founded native churches both at Bombay and Puná. Though small, they are most important, both for the maintenance of Christian communion and Christian discipline, and the exhibition of the Christian character to the unconverted. Their members have been brought to the knowledge and profession of the truth in different circumstances, in connection with each of the varieties of agency which we employ; and this fact forms a mighty encouragement for us to sow beside all waters. Some affecting instances have followed the simple preaching of the Word, and some the perusal of books. Perhaps the most striking, however, have been those which have taken place in connection with our educational institution. Several of the cases of conversion, both at Calcutta and Madras, have been similar to those to which I have alluded, and like them will undoubtedly be recorded in the history of the Christianisation of India.

5. The apostles of Christ were careful about the appointment of a native ministry in all the countries to which they carried the gospel. "The things that thou hast heard by me, among many witnesses," says Paul to Timothy, "the same commit thou unto faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." In every land of the globe, and especially in a country of such an immeasurable magnitude as India, and so remote from the churches which seek its conversion, we must imitate the apostolic example in the particular to which I have now alluded. Native preachers are as imperiously needed for the evangelisation of this great continent, as native soldiers are required to co-operate with the European troops for the preservation of its peace. When the Old Testament Church enjoyed the favour of inspiration, there were schools of the prophets, on the sons of whom the Spirit of God in due time descended. Something corresponding with them is not less needed in this our day, and something corresponding with them is to be found in our institutions, which I have already brought under your notice, but only in their general educational aspect. At each of these seminaries there are several ingenuous and promising youths, who have witnessed a good confession before many witnesses, in the course of receiving education for the Christian ministry in all the necessary branches of human and divine knowledge. The operations which I have now briefly noticed, you will agree with me in thinking, are conducted in a country super-eminently deserving of our attention. Laying all romance aside, and forming a rigid and sober judgment, we must declare that India, whether viewed in reference to the immensity of its population, the greatness of its apostacy from God, the facilities for evangelical operation which it presents, the claims which it has on our benevolence as subject to our own sway, and the influence which it exercises over the whole of Asia, is beyond all comparison the most inviting field for missionary effort on the face of the globe. On looking at the particular stations which we already occupy in that country, I cannot but think that we have enjoyed the special favour of God in reference to their selection. A perusal of the Acts of the Apostles will show that the first efforts of the divinely inspired servants of Christ were directed to the cities and towns, which, for good or for evil, have an incalculable influence on the surrounding territories; and a little attention to church history will show that in cities and towns Christianity received its first establishment, the word pagan, or villager, having remained for a long time synonymous with heathen. All the cities which we already occupy as central missionary stations-and be it observed it is only as such that I speak of them, for I plead for an immediate pervasion of every province by the Word of God -must appear of overwhelming interest when their situation and circumstances are adverted to. Calcutta is the capital of Bengal, and the first town of the grand Gangetic valley, which, in reference to its population and resources, has no parallel in any region of the earth with which we are acquainted. Madras commands the

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