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The history of Christianity in India : from the commencement of the Christian era : second portion: comprising the history of protestant missions, 1706-1816 / by James Hough (Volume 5) online

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the words of truth in his mouth, and the olive-
branch of peace in his hand. Archbishop Menezes
destroyed all the copies of the Syriac Scriptures
that he could find, together with her formularies,
history, and every ancient record he could find, for
the purpose of obliterating every vestige of her
identity with the Church of Antioch, and forcing
her into communion with Kome. Bishop Middle-
ton, on the contrary, deprecated any alteration in
the Syrian Church brought about by foreign inter-
ference, or any conformity of it even with the
Church of England, to the loss or injury of its own
distinctive peculiarity. He admired its wonderful
preservation, though he deplored its grievous errors
and sad degradation. He wished it to be the Church
of Travancore ; and that it might be more worthy
to occupy that position, and become the centre of
light to the heathen around, it was the purpose of
his heart to furnish it with an ample supply of the
Syriac Scriptures, and other means for the refor-
mation of itself. Whether of these two prelates
acted more in accordance with the character of a
Christian bishop, let the reader judge.

Life of Bishop Middleton, vol. ii. p. 206.


62. The Bishop next prosecuted his voyage to Coiumbo
Ceylon, where he was welcomed by the new go- IheVi-'^^'^
vernor. Sir Edward Barnes, and the British resi- ?i^op's
dents, as their diocesan, the island, on the {"on.*^'^"
recommendation of Sir Robert Brownrigg, and
with the Bishop's concurrence, having been re-
cently annexed to the See of Calcutta, with a resi-
dent archdeacon. The government chaplain, the
Honourable and Reverend T. J. Twistleton, was
the first archdeacon ; and the Crown reserved for
itself the future appointments to that dignity. The
government was authorised to defray the expenses
incurred by the Bishop during his stay in the
island, in the discharge of his Episcopal functions ;
but not a single rupee was placed at his own dis-
posal. In consenting, therefore, to take upon his
already overcharged mind the care of an island in
itself too large for one diocese, he was to reap no
personal advantage whatever, either in the form of
patronage or money. As to an adequate indemni-
fication for much additional trouble and responsi-
bility, he neither ex23ected nor desired it. But he
did hope that a small annual salary, of about five
hundred pounds a-year, would have been allowed,
to enable him to stand prominent in the building
of churches, schools, and other works of charity,
without which the cause of Christianity must suffer
any where, in the very person who was sent to
promote it. Whereas, he was merely invested with
jurisdiction in Ceylon, as in India, without any in-
fluence, or any visible means of doing good in the
island ; and his only compensation for all this in-
crease of labour and anxiety was the hope of
advancing the cause of Christianity among the in-
habitants, by conferring upon them the advantages
of the Episcopal functions. The evil resulting from
such an arrangement was, indeed, on the Bishop's
forcibly representing it to the government at home,


CHAP, partially remedied^ by the grant of three hundred
^' pounds to be placed at his disposal^ for religious
and charitable purposes at the time of his Epis-
copal visitations. This sum he now received^ but
it was very inadequate to the calls upon his
bounty ; and when it became known that he had
this money to distribute^ it gave rise to demands
upon him utterly beyond his means to supply.^

During his present visit he held a visitation and
confirmation, and three consecrations of churches
and burying-grounds. He preached also several
times. The district committee had become lan-
guid during his long absence, but he found no
difficulty in reforming it, and invigorating its pro-
ceedings. He presented to the fund to be raised
for translating the Society's tracts, the three hun-
dred pounds placed by Government at his disposal,
and undertook to write to the Society for a press.
He was careful also to explain the objects and ad-
vantages of his college, with reference to Ceylon,
in such a manner as to secure the patronage and
support of those who were able to assist him. He
looked also into the state of the school ; and, which
he considered of most consequence, he collected
a body of information respecting the ecclesiastical
affairs, which would furnish matter for a paper to
be addressed to the British Government. In all
these proceedings the governor cordially co-ope-
rated with him, and attended every solemnity in
which the prelate was engaged — a matter of great
importance with respect to the natives, who, when

^ The Dutch descendants, many of whom were of the most
respectable rank, but now in a state of extreme poverty and
want, supposing that the sum might be intended for charitable
relief, came in hundreds to the Bishop's residence one morning,
[)resenting a painful scene of misery ; the}^ could scarcely be
niade sensible of their mistake, and were waiting at the door
till the night came on. Life, vol. ii. pp. 217, 218.


inclined to Christianitv, are greatly encouraged by
the example of their rulers : and even those who
have no mind to change their own religion^ have a
much higher respect for those of their superiors
who attend to their religious duties than for those
who neglect them.

63. The most interesting occurrence at this visi- Ordina-
tation was the ordination of Mr Armour. This t]^"^^^^^'

-. Aim our.

person w^e have seen came to Ceylon originally as
a private soldier, and was in 1810 raised, for his
abilities and good conduct, to the office of a
preacher to the natives.^ His translation of the
prayer-book into Cingalese we have noticed already.
He also undertook, after the death of Mr Tolfrey
in 1817, to assist in carrying on the translation of
the Scriptures into the same language, Avhich that
gentleman had left unfinished.''^ Besides under-
standing Cingalese, Tamul, Dutch, and Portuguese,
he had acquired a tolerable knowledge of French
and Latin, and a little acquaintance with Greek.
For some time past it had been the desire of his
heart to obtain ordination in the Church of Eng-
land, and he sought to avail himself of the present
opportunity to seek its accomplishment. Having
stated his case to the Bishop, and laid his journal
before him, he explained his motive in taking
upon himself to preach the Gospel ; — encouraged
by the governor and chaplains, he said, that his

^ Book xii. chap. iv. sec. 16.

'^ On the death of Mr Tolfrey, a Committee was formed to
carry on the translation, consisting of Mr Armour, Mr Chater
of the Baptist, and Mr Clough of the Wesleyan Mission, with
two learned Cingalese natives, and the two AVeslcyan converts,
Peter Panditta and George Nadoris. Their version was com-
pleted in 1823, and, after a strict examination by competent
judges, was highly approved and published. Nevertheless, the
translators subjected it to a more extensive revision, in order
that a second edition might issue from the press in a form still
better suited for general circulation.



CHAP, ministry had been exercised among thousands who
^' must otherwise have been left wholly destitute of
religious instruction or pastoral care. The Bishop
listened to his story with the profoundest interest^
and even compared his labours, suiferings, and pri-
vations with those of St Paul^ for, assuredly, like
the great Apostle of the Gentiles, he was in jour-
oieyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers,
in perils hy the heathen, in perils in the wilderness, in
weariness and painfulness, in deaths oft, in watch-
ings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often —
besides that which daily pressed upon his heart,
the care of thousands, who were to be taught in
rugged forests and pestilential jungles. Having
been associated with missionaries of different per-
suasions, especially in the work of translation, they
had frequently and urgently invited him to join
their respective communions ; but seeing no reason
to forsake the church of his fathers, to which he
was conscientiously attached, he declined their
solicitations : and the Bishop, after a close exami-
nation into his religious views, his personal charac-
ter, and his motives for seeking ordination in the
Church, was fully satisfied. His whole soul seemed
to be devoted to the service of God, and his Chris-
tian demeanour had won for him the cordial esteem
of all ranks of men. His literary pretensions also
were of no ordinary standard ; the Bishop, there-
fore, felt that there could be no reasonable objection
to comply with his earnest wishes, and, without
further hesitation, admitted him to deacon's orders.

Notautho- 64. There was another candidate for ordination,
Christian David, the young man who accompanied
the Bishop from Tanjore to the south in 1816, and
of whose Tamul translation of the Liturgy we have
just spoken.' He was stationed at Jaffna, where,

^ Sec. 50.

ordain a



acting under the authority of the government, he
preached and administered the sacraments, though
without even Lutheran ordination. He Avas con-
scious of the irregularity of these proceedings, and
earnestly desired to remedy it ; and gladly would
the Bishop have compHed with his request to be
ordained, had he been at liberty to follow the dic-
tates of his own judgment. He was satisfied with
Christian David's character and qualifications for
the ministry among his own countrymen, nor had
he any doubt that he would make a good mission-
ary ; and he even expressed his behef, that no man
had laboured more faithfully in the Christian cause.
Still, he was restricted, by the terms of his patent,
from ordaining any persons horn in India; and
though m Ceylon, a king's colony, he might be
thought more free to act in this matter than in the
Company's territories, the inhabitants of that island
being, of whatever description, the hings loving
subjects, yet the powers given him in the Ceylon
patent were limited to those which he received by
the patent for India. He felt, therefore, that he
was not authorised to depart from the terms of the
original patent, until it should be explained and
settled as he desired. '' Till that is done," he re-
marked, ''my condition is very distressmg. My
task under any circumstances cannot be a very easy
one ; but, as it is, I am labouring in chains, and
toasting my strength and life for comparatively no-
thingy ''Tlie Church is now made to appear to
reject the well-disposed : for a Bishop, who cannot
ordain at his discretion, is something new and inex-
plicable." Such, however, was the case ; and, under
these circumstances, he deemed it right, though
painful to his own feelings, to decUne ordaining
Christian David. '' He was, however, poor man,"
the Bishop feelingly remarked, " sadly disappointed
and hurt, to my great concern." He recommended




prej udices

him afterwards to the favourable notice of the
Christian Knowledge Society, and was glad to learn
that they had sent him a donation ; but he could
not recommend them to employ him without some
kind of ordination, and it was not expedient that
he should receive Lutheran orders for the purpose,
so long as any hope remained of the removal of the
present restrictions/

^h. After passing between five and six weeks
pleasantly and usefully at Columbo, the Bishop,
accompanied by Archdeacon Twistleton, set out for
Point de Galle, seventy-five miles to the south,
where he had arranged again to embark. In his
first day's journey he visited a small church recently
built, which was served by a Cingalese minister,
under singular circumstances. The father of this
person was onein the highest rank of the ancient
nobility of the sland, bearing the title of '^ Mode-
lien of the King's Gate ;" and, though still retain-
ing his original condition as a Budhist, he sent his
son, with a cousin, to England for education. The
young man was placed at Exeter College, Oxford,
and in due time ordained by the Bishop of London^
for the colonies. Having married a respectable
English gentlewoman, he returned to Columbo,
where of necessity he lived apart from his own
family, who continued heathens. After having en-
joyed for so long a period free intercourse with the
best society in England, he was cruelly disappointed
at finding himself excluded from it on his return to
his native country. The Bishop exerted all his
influence in his favour, and invited him to his own

^ We have already seen the faihire of the Bishop's endea-
vours to have these restrictions removed ; and he now sent home
another strong representation on the subject, which was ulti-
mately successful, as we shall see, but not in time to relieve his
anxious mind.

'^ Dr Hawley, present Archbishop of Canterbury. (1 846.)


table ; but it does not appear that any of the Eng-
lish residents were induced^ by his truly Christian
example, to lay aside their prejudices against peo-
ple of colour, or even to suspend them in the pre-
sent interesting case. But his ministrations would
not be the less acceptable to the Great Head of the
church, in the humble post which he was content
to occupy.^

66. The Bishop being detained a few days at School of
Point de Galle, by contrary winds, visited a large at poinT
establishment of boys and girls in the neighbour- ^ic Gaiic.
hood, formed by a benevolent lady, Mrs Gibson,
the wife of an English agent at that station. The
children in this asylum were orphans, whose
parents had perished by the road-side during a
severe famine some years before, leaving their
children in a state of misery and want which
warmly interested the feelings of this humane lady,
and called her benevolence into active exercise.
Having rescued the children from starvation, she
continued to feed and clothe them, and formed
them into two separate schools, which she superin-
tended herself with unremitting assiduity. The
boys were taught trades, and some were already
tolerable carpenters, tailors, and shoemakers. The

^ The author knew a gentleman in India under similar cir-
cumstances. He was educated at a public school in England,
the nephew of a dignitary of the Church, and a well-informed
man. At Palamcottah, he was freely admitted into the best
society ; but he would not have enjoyed this immunity at Ma-
dras, or a less retired station ; and so strongly did he feel the
exclusion, that rather than have his children, by a native
mother, exposed to a similar indignity, he actually had them
brought up as heathens, knowing that as such they would be more
respected. This was a dreadful alternative, and proved that he
knew little of Christianity but the name. The fact, however,
ought to make Englishmen in India reconsider the prejudices
that are calculated so deeply to wound an educated mind, and
to drive one devoid of religious principle to such desperation.

VOL v. F


CHAP, girls kcarned lace-making and needle- work. The
^' English and Cingalese languages, religious and
moral lessons, were daily taught, and on Sundays
the children attended divine service in the Fort.
This little Christian estabhshment was another
oasis to refresh the Bishop on his way through
these regions of moral wilderness. He was glad
to find that the government encouraged the estab-
lishment by a monthly donation of one hundred
rix-doUars ; while he himself presented to it a
handsome contribution, and his lady ordered some
of the girls' work to be sent after her to Calcutta.

On the whole, the Bishop was well pleased with
this visit to Ce3don. Though spiritual and practical
religion was in its infancy, yet he saw enough to
encourage hope, and felt a special interest in the
prospect presented to him by the numerous body
of native Christians, and especially those un-
der Mr Armour's pastoral care.^ So desirous was
he to encourage the good work already begun in
several quarters, that he expressed a wish to reside,
if possible, in Ceylon one year in three, and with
this \dew had almost decided on purchasing a resi-
dence in the island ; but he did not live to accom-
plish his intention.
Arrival of 67. Tlio Bisliop returned to Calcutta in June,
and a '' ro- whcrc lic had the satisfaction of finding the princi -
lessor. pal and a professor for the college awaiting his
arrival. ' The principal w as the Kev. William Hodge
Mill, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and the
professor, the Eev. Just Henry Alt, of Pembroke

^ At this time, the Church Missionary Society had six mis-
sionaries in Ceylon (22d Eeport, pp. 172, etscq.), and the author
learns from one of them, Rev. W. Ward, that those who had
the opportunity, paid their respects to the Bishop, both at his
public visitation at Columbo, and at his private residence; but
he felt the same difficulty here as on tlie continent, in publicly
recognising them as his clergy.


College, in the same university, who had both
offered their services, on the application of the
Gospel Propagation Society, to the English univer-
sities. At a special meeting of the Society, on the
2od of June 1820, they received their appoint-
ments, and sailed shortly after for Calcutta, where
they arrived in the following February. The Bishop
was highly satisfied with both these appointments ;
but he could not yet set them to work, as he had
not received back the statutes which he had drawn
up for the administration of the college, and sub-
mitted to the Gospel Propagation Society for ap-
proval. The college buildings also were not yet
ready for their occupation ; and under these cir-
cumstances, and knowing that when his duties were
once begun, the}^ would prevent his travelling at
any time far from home. Principal Mill proposed to
improve the present season of leisure, by visiting
the other presidencies. He conceived that the
personal inspection of the several tribes of native
Christians in other parts of the peninsula would
serve many useful purposes in the future progress
of his labours, and, with the Bishop's concurrence,
he left Calcutta in October, in prosecution of this

6S. About this time, the Bishop) was made Account
anxious by the formidable opposition beginning to M(!hun
be arrayed, by certain natives, against the progress Roy.
of genuine Christianity in Bengal. In 1815, shortly
after his arrival, he received a visit from a Brahmin,
who afterwards became well known in England,
Ram Mohun Roy. This man avowed that he had

° Mr Mill's letter to the Gospel Propagation Society, giving
an account of this tour, is published in the Appendix to Bishop
Middleton's Life, No. lY. Copious extracts from this interest-
ing document are also given in the Missionary Register for
September 1823.


(.'HAP. renounced idolatry, together with some hundreds
^' of his countrymen, and was seeking a knowledge
of the Christian religion. '' At present/' the Bishop
remarked, '' he has got no further than Socinianism,
and was actually about to form a ' Unitarian So-
ciety' if I had not dissuaded him. But he has
called it ' The Friendly Society.' Our next con-
ference is to be on the divinity of Christ/' &c.^ He
continued occasionally to visit the Bishop, who, at
one time, entertained hopes of his conversion, and
pleased himself with the prospect of one day bap-
tizing him. But these expectations were totally
disappointed on the Brahmin's publication of his
sceptical notions, which destroyed all the prelate's
confidence in his sincerity. In 1817, he thus de-
scribed his downward course : ^^ As to Ram Mohun
Roy, I fear he is not, and never will be, even a So-
cinian ! He seems, at present, to be as pure a deist
as ever breathed. He has, indeed, renounced idol-
atry, as forming no part of the religion of nature ;
but not one here supposed him near being a Chris-
tian after he had written his book ; it was before
he was an author, and when he would talk for hours
together upon the beauty of our religion, and the
truth of the Gospel, He afterwards fell into bad
hands ; and I see as little chance of his being a
Christian, as of my becoming a Hindoo. He is, at
this moment, the chief talker among the pliilosophers
here ; and is much too well pleased with himself to
receive the doctrines of Christ, They would only
degrade him." -

Besides the pamphlet of this man, to which the
Bishop alludes, purporting to give an account of his
sentiments, he published several other works ; and
at a later period, in 1822, the Rev. Principal Mill

LitV, vol i. p. 178. '' Ibid., pp. 420, 421.


gave the following statement^ of the progress of his
mischievous attempts to overturn the foundations
of the Christian faith : — '^ From being an adversary
of the Brahmins^ his brethren^ on their own ancient
principles^ and endeavouring to restore on the autho-
rity of SOME PART of the Vedas and their commenta-
tors, the primeval tradition of the Divine Unity, and
to expose the evil of idolatry, of bloody and obscene
rites, &c., he has latterly turned to profess himself a
Christian ; but it is such a Christianity, as, being un-
accompanied with any submission of mind to its au-
thority as a supernatural revelation, leaves us no
reason to applaud the change. A work published by
him some time since, under the very welcome and just
title, ' The Precepts of Jesus the Guide to Happi-
ness and Peace,' was an artful attempt, in exhibit-
ing all the discourses of Christ which represented
practice as the sum and substance of his rehgion, to
set the MORALITY of the Gospel against its mysteries ;
studiously omitting all those discourses which joined
the two inseparably together. The work, if divested
of its insidious short preface, was perhaps calculated
to do good, being composed of passages from the
gospels only ; but when the Baptists of Serampore
directly attacked the publication, he issued forth
what he termed, 'A Defence of the Precepts of
Jesus,' being an elaborate tract against the doctrine
of the Trinity, with that of the Incarnation and
Sacrifice of our Saviour. This treatise, certainly
not entirely his own — and, if report speaks truly,
dictated by one who had separated from the Bap-
tists, and has since opened a Unitarian Meeting-
house at Calcutta^ — is conspicuous for nothing so

^ In bis letter to the Gospel Propagation Society mentioned

"^ The lamentable circii instance h(>rc alluded to will be ex-
plained in the next chapter on (lie I'aptist Mis.'^ion.


CHAP, much as the presumptuous vanity of its nominal
^- author ; its affectation of western learning, and
attempts at Greek and Hebrew criticisms, are to
the last degree contemptible ; and what there is in
it to deserve notice, is borrowed from the long- con-
futed supporters of the same impiety in England.
Whatever mischief may be apprehended from this
publication (which, like his other publications, is
not deficient either in style or plausibility of man-
ner) among the malignantly-disposed who will not
inquire further, or among those of the Mahomed an
superstition who with their strong prejudices against
the characteristic mystery of Christianity are yet
half convinced by its evidences, there are yet satis-
factory appearances that the Antichristian apos-
tasy which it supports will not gain ground, among
the Christians of this place ; and the rock upon
which the church is built will remain here, as in
the whole world, unshaken."

Bishop Middleton could not remain an uncon-
cerned spectator of such a movement as this. His
soul was too full of the one grand purpose of his
mission not to be painfully apprehensive of the
consequences to the interests of truth. How firm
soever his confidence in God, he could not but
tremble for those Aveak in the faith, nor fail to
deplore the cause it would give to the enemy to
blaspheme. As the appointed head and guardian
of the Church in India, he deemed it his duty
pubhcly to take up the question ; but he was con-
vinced that he must enter into it thoroughly, for
that a slight answer to the pernicious works pub-
lished by these heresiarchs would be worse than
nothing. It required a volume, and for this he soon
began to collect materials ; but his numerous avoca-

Online LibraryJames HoughThe history of Christianity in India : from the commencement of the Christian era : second portion: comprising the history of protestant missions, 1706-1816 / by James Hough (Volume 5) → online text (page 10 of 54)