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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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ample, a spirit like his own was infused into the
ministering and itinerating brethren who laboured
at those stations. His literary exertions also were
of no secondary order. Besides assisting in the
translation of the Scriptures, and composing seve-
ral useful works, he compiled a work entitled, ^^ A
View of the History, Literature, and Mythology of
the Hindoos," a work of great research, in four
volumes, and forming a durable testimony to the




to the

mission —
means of

writer's industry and ability. In a word^ he left
behind him such an example of holy diligence, of
disinterested activity, of humility and comprehen-
siveness of mind, as will rank him among the
richest benefactors of Hindoostan, and cause his
memory to yield a fragrant savour to the praise of
the Redeemer's grace, when India shall become the
inheritance of the Lord.^

41. Though the death of Mr Ward was severely
felt, yet the general aspect of this mission was en-
couraging. Mr Williamson's accession about this
time, and his appointment in the college, has been
mentioned. A Mr Buckingham also joined the
mission about the same period. This young man
received his first religious instruction under Mr
Ward, and he now became a useful assistant in the
work. Several other additions are reported in the
same year, and the efforts used by the various
native preachers were more regular and extensive
than heretofore. Besides visiting the villages
around, three small chapels were lately erected in
the town of Serampore. Tracts were distributed

^ One of his colleagues, Dr Marsliman, preached his funeral
sermon, and published with it a memoir of his departed friend.
In the memoir he thus describes Mr Ward's diligent improve-
ment of his time : — " Of this we need no other proof than he
gave in his (recent) voyage to Europe and America, which occu-
pied only two years and nine months, from his leaving India to
his return thither. But, in this period, although he traversed
England and Scotland, and great part of America, preaching in
nearly every town, and sometimes almost every day, he found
time to write his ' Reflections on the Word of God,' which was
brought through the press just before his death, to prepare for
the press a third edition of his ' View of the Hindoos,' and to
put to press his ' Farewell Letters ' (alas ! truly such to most to
whom they are addressed) ; besides a variety of smaller works
intended to serve the cause of religion and humanity." — Vide
Miss. Herald for August 1823, et seq. Also, Miss. Register for
April 1824.


to a great extent, no less than eight thousand
having been given away at one festival. Various
means were employed to promote the edification
and usefulness of the native converts at large. Once
a week they assembled for improvement in Scrip-
tural knowledge, when they were encouraged to
express their own sentiments on passages of the
sacred volume chosen by themselves, and the Com-
mentary of the Rev. Thomas Scott, which had been
translated for their use, was read to them in Ben-
galee. One proof of the good effect of these exer-
cises was the establishment of a Native Missionary
Society, managed almost entirely by themselves ;
which was followed by the publication of a small
monthly work in Bengalee, entitled, '' The Increase
of Christ's Kingdom ;" and such was now the ex-
tent of the native Christian public in Bengal, that
the sale of this publication, though at a very low
price, nearly covered the expenses.

42. At the close of this decade, the native Chris- f-}^^^ ^^

1 • • n • !• • 1 • r. the con-

tian population, nominally residing m the city of gregation
Serampore, amounted to one hundred and fifty ^^ ^^"^"
individuals. To provide for their edification, regu- lage.
lar seasons of worship were appointed on the Lord's
day, and throughout the week. A native Chris-
tian village was established about this time, for the
purpose of promoting the general comfort of the
converts, and also facilitating the communication
of religious instruction to them. This village stood
a very short way from Serampore, on an open and
elevated spot of ground, and it consisted of thirteen
houses, with a small chapel in the centre. A native
teacher resided there, who conducted daily worship
in the chapel, and in other ways laboured to build
up the people under his charge in their ^^ most holy
faith." One of the missionaries also occasionally of-
ficiated in this village, which was soon enlarged by
the removal thither of several families from the town.



CHAP In the year 1825^, the following stations^ in con-

nection with the Serampore mission^ were placed

under the superintendence of the College. The
parent Society in England^ however^ still contri-
buted liberally towards their support^ and in a
short time was induced to resume the charge of
several of them^ when found to press too heavily
upon the Serampore funds.
"^t^j^sf re ^^* ^^^^^^^' — ^^ Thomas was still in charge of
this post. He resided at Sahebgunj^ the civil
station of the district^ and was assisted by four
natives^ who made monthly excursions through
this populous country. The journal of a single
month enumerates nearly one hundred \dllages
visited in this manner. The result was^ that much
inquiry was excited respecting the doctrines that
were taught. Among his numerous visitors from
all parts^ Mr Thomas mentions^ in 1818^ a Malio-
medan of considerable influence ; also some Roman-
ists from Hasnabad^ a distance of ^yq days' jour-
ney^ who complained to him that their priest prayed
in a language they did not understand^ and ex-
pressed a desire to see a proper missionary among
them. In the following year fi\e heathen were
publicly baptized ; seven others declared their con-
viction that Jesus is truly the Saviour of men ;
and^ in 1820^ a whole village was reported to have
expressed their desire to renounce idolatry and
embrace Christianity.

In order to avoid many acts of injustice and
oppression^ to which the native Christians were
exposed from the heathen landholders and magis-
trates, a new village was formed, about sixteen
miles north of Sahebgunj, called Christianpore,
and nearly half the congregation soon took up
their residence there. But the experiment did not
answer, and in three or four years the village was
given up.


In this district four schools were erected and
endowed by the resident Enghsh and the native
landholders^ which were to be supplied with masters
from the college at Serampore. Though Mr Thomas
had many trials to contend with^ yet he persevered,
with his native assistants, now increased to six, in
traversing the district, which was described, in the
Serampore Report for 1823, as ^^one of the best
cultivated fields in Bengal." At the close of the
decade the native Christians amounted to about
one hundred ; but as they inhabited several villages
in different directions, and some at great distances,
the exact number could not be ascertained/

44. Dacca. — The first attempt to plant the Gospel Progress
at this station, made in 1810, proved unsuccessful; R^LnSs
but a Christian friend residing there continued to and others
exert himself for the benefit of his heathen neigh-
bours ; and, at his instance, two native preachers
were sent thither. They arrived in May 1817,
and laboured both in and round Dacca with success.
There were Armenian and Greek Christians at
Dacca, who rejoiced in these labours. One of these
preachers was named Ram-prusad, and about forty
persons. Christian and heathen, assembled to hear
his first sermon. Some wept, all listened with
attention, and afterwards declared their hearty
approval of what he had taught. The Greek priest,
in particular, expressed lively joy at hearing, for
the first time, a converted Hindoo '^ preach Jesus
Christ according to the Scripture." ^'^I have seen,"
said he, ^' an idolater preaching Jesus Christ in a
manner which has not only amazed me, but has

"^ In 1824, an attempt was made to form a station at Mymun-
sing, the chief town of a district east of Jessore ; but no report
of the progress was received during the remainder of this




sion of a

of general

charmed my heart. I have^ therefore, been blessed

In several neighbouring villages inhabited by
Eomish proselytes, scarcely less ignorant than their
heathen brethren, the preaching of the Saviour was
heard with avidity ; but for some time the priests
frustrated every effort to give them religious in-
struction. A young man and his wife had to
encounter much severe persecution on account of
their attachment to the Gospel ; but they perse-
vered. An opening was soon after presented in
one of these villages of Romanists, where the people
had shaken off the 3^oke of the priest because of
his oppression. On the whole, the prospect in this
neighbourhood was highly encouraging.

45. A Jew and liis wife were baptized here at
the close of 1817. The man's name was Solomon.
He made great progress in the study of the Bible,
and grew in grace and in love to the Lord Jesus.
He soon began also to feel deeply interested for
the salvation of his benighted brethren of the seed
of Abraham. Some time after his conversion he
removed to Serampore, where his meek spirit and
steady walk, and his labours among the natives,
greatly endeared him to the brethren.

46. In 1 8 1 9, Mr Owen Leonard j oined this station,
where his exertions were eminently successful, while
his conduct soon gained for him the esteem of the
chief inhabitants of the city. He found Ram-
prusad a faithful and affectionate helper. As
Dacca is very conveniently situated, having water
communication with all the east of Bengal, he
proposed to establish here a general depot for books
and tracts designed for circulation through that
extensive and populous district. This arrangement
afforded great ficilities for the diffusion of Chris-
tian knowledge.

Mr Leonard's attention was specially directed to


the establishment of schools for the natives. Soon
after his arrival he established an Auxiliary School
Society^ which was encouraged both by the Euro-
pean gentlemen at the station and many of the
leading natives. This plan was attended with an
encouraging effect. In about four years the Ben-
galee schools were increased to seventeen^ which
were kept up in such a manner that they gave
seventy-six scholars each as the average attend-
ance, the whole number amounting to thirteen
hundred and two. The examination of the schools,
at different periods, afforded the liveliest satisfac-
tion to their benefactors. "'Many of the boys/'
said Mr Leonard, on one of these occasions, '^ had
to come nearly three miles fasting ; they were
collected before eight o'clock, and were detained
till three in the afternoon ; yet the only regret that
appeared on any of their countenances arose from
not being favoured with an opportunity of reading
before the Committee ; whilst those who were so
happy as to obtain a hearing, could scarcely be
persuaded to leave off, and in the end went away
in triumph."

A Persian School was opened for respectable
Mahomedans, but it was attended by Hindoos also.
The greater part of the scholars were young men
of respectable connections and abilities ; they were
not, however, always very docile. In this school
the Rev. Henry Martyn's version of the New Tes-
tament was constantly used. In the Scriptural
readings and general conversation, the pupils
sometimes manifested great inflexibility ; and
occasionally Mr Leonard found it necessary to
reprove some whom he detected scoffing. The
objections most deeply rooted in the minds of both
classes related to the Divinity of the Saviour, and
the doctrine of God's taking upon him human
nature. However, by attention, and discipline




tion given
to Ben-

thirst for

mildly yet firmly administered, they were brought
in time to pay more serious regard to what they
were taught.

The Scriptures were read in all these schools.
In some of them their introduction at first created
alarm, but this, ere long, subsided ; indeed, the
gradual disappearance of opposition to the Bible
in the different schools for natives at other stations
also, and maintained by different Societies, was now
among the most pleasing and animating features
of improvement .

47. Mr Leonard was under the necessity of em-
ploying Bengalee teachers in his schools, and he
devoted to their improvement, and to other natives
who chose to accompany them, four days in the
month. When assembled, every man was furnished
with a Bengalee Bible, in which he read a portion
in turn, and then put what questions he desired to
have answered on difficult passages. When all
present had read, such part as appeared to have
excited particular attention was selected for further
comment, and closed with a suitable application.
After the address, desultory conversation circu-
lated, chiefly upon the comparative merits of Chris-
tianity, Hindooism, and Mahomedanism . Every
individual was at full liberty to offer his opinion^
and to defend it so far as he might think it tenable.
Care was taken to observe the best temper through-
out ; however opposed to each other in opinion,
all parted good friends ; and there was reason to
hope that they anticipated the next meeting with

48. While the Bengalee masters were themselves
thus instructed in the Scriptures which they had
to teach their pupils to read, Mr Leonard visited
the schools on appointed days for the purpose of
explaining them. On these occasions the natives
often crowded into the room, when he embraced


the opportunity to draw their special attention to
the Word of Life. There was no lack of attentive
hearers, and he sometimes continued these addresses
till darkness compelled him to close the pleasing-
work. At the conclusion he distributed a number
of the gospels or tracts which the pupils had read
at the time.

All this shews that a desire for information was
not confined to the youth training in the schools.
Of this fact another instance is given. At the cele-
bration of one of the Hindoos' idolatrous festivals,
when it was computed that nearly two hundred
thousand persons were assembled, some members
of Mr Leonard's family, he being absent at the time,
ventured to commence the distribution of tracts,
which does not appear to have been attempted on
such an occasion before. No sooner was this known,
than thousands assembled about the gate, filled the
garden and the house, and would not depart till
each had received a book. The distribution occu-
pied five successive days, on the first of which alone
more than three thousand individuals were supplied.
They came to the festival of a stone, and carried
away the bread of life.

Besides the numerous native schools, one was
established for indigent Christian children, the
descendants of Greeks, Armenians, and Romanists.
This school was supported from the funds of the
Benevolent Institution at Calcutta, and it proved
of great value to the place, as it rendered many
youths valuable members of society, who, without
the instruction there given, woukl have been wan-
dering in the streets in vice and wretchedness.
At one examination, thirty-seven of these boys
exhibited great improvement, which was an ample
remuneration for the pains and money expended
upon them.

In 1824 one of the Armenian vouths embraced




murder of
the mis-

the pure faith of the Bible. The piety and general
information of this young man, besides his accurate
acquaintance with the Persian and Turkish lan-
guages, encouraged the hope that God designed him
for future usefulness in his vineyard.

In 1825, the hands of Mr Leonard were strength-
ened by the accession of Mr D'Cruz from Seram-
pore. Mrs Peacock also, the widow of a deceased
missionary, joined him, to take charge of the female
schools. This year the brethren held several inter-
views with a singular sect of Hindoos, called Suttya
Gooroos, who had renounced idols, and professed to
approve Christianity, of which, through the me-
dium of the Scriptures in their own language,
they had acquired considerable knowledge. While
this unusual circumstance awakened hope in Mr
Leonard's mind, he was encouraged in his exertions
for the young, by pleasing evidence that two of his
pupils had died in the faith of Christ.^ Not much
impression, however, seemed to be made on the
adult population, notwithstanding his great exer-
tions. Nevertheless, though as yet he counted but
few conversions, he was sowing seed abundantly
for a future harvest, whoever might be appointed
to reap the fruit of his labours.

49. Ghittagong. — We have seen with what
promise Mr De Bruyn commenced his labours
among the people called Mugs, on the borders of
this station : but the hopes lighted up by his suc-
cess, were soon overcast by a calamity little antici-
pated. Among the persons who came to him for
instruction was a young man, born at Rangoon,
whose father was a Frenchman, and his mother a

^ Obituaries of the two youths here mentioned were written
by Mr Leonard, and printed in the Missionary Herald for March
182B, and in the Missionary Register for August of the same


Burmese. Being a youth of fair abilities and in
needy circumstances^ Mr De Bruyn took him into
his house^ treated him as his own son^ and instructed
him with great care, with a view to his employ-
ment in the propagation of the Gospel among his
countrymen. His conduct, however, was such as
to cause De Bruyn no little uneasiness ; and having
on one occasion reproved him with more than usual
severity, the lad seized a knife and plunged it into
his benefactor's side. The wound proved mortal ;
after languishing about twenty-four hours, the
sufferer expired ; not, however, before he had writ-
ten to the judge of the district, extenuating the
rash deed of his murderer, and entreating that he
might not be punished. To the brethren at Seram-
pore this was a heavy blow, and it was felt the
more severely, as they had no suitable person at
liberty to take charge of this promising station.
In a few weeks, however, their sorrow was some-
what mitigated, by the intelligence that the con-
verted Mugs kept together, though bereaved of
their teacher, and that some of them had travelled
as far as Dacca, several days' journey, to enjoy the
ordinances of the Gospel. This encouraging token
of their sincerity made the Society more anxious to
provide them with a pastor.

60. In the mean time, they were assembled to- Death of
getlier by a young man, one of the first converts ^j
of De Bruyn, a Portuguese, named J. Eeveiro, who
now used his best ability to supply the place
vacated by the lamented death of his instructor.
In 1818, he was joined by Mr Peacock, from the
Benevolent Institution at Calcutta, where he had
acquired an experience in teaching that peculiarly
qualified him for the establishment of schools at
Chittagong. Soon after his arrival, he gave a satis-
factory report of the converts, describing them as
a far superior race to the Bengalese, and express -

us suc-




and tiials
at the

ing himself greatly pleased with their apparent
honesty and manliness. Early in the follo^^dng
year Mr Ward visited the place, when he baptized
seven converts, which raised the number to one
hundred. This little community had many diffi-
culties to contend with, and much persecution to
endure ; but the Lord vouchsafed unto them grace
to meet these trials, and to hold fast their integrity.

In 1820, Mr Peacock visited Calcutta ; but when
on the eve of returning to his station, he was
attacked by fever, of which he died after eight
days' illness. This missionary^ began^^his career in
life in the navy, but subsequently left that profes-
sion, and became a superintendent of some indigo
factories in Jessore. Upon his conversion from a
life of ungodliness, he renounced all his temporal
prospects, and devoted himself to the service of the
heathen. The first principal scene of his labours
among them was at Agra, where he was associated
with Mr Chamberlain.^ In 1816, he removed to
Calcutta, in order to assist in the management of
the Benevolent Institution.^ His assiduity, and
the ability he evinced for the work of instruction,
pointed him out as a suitable person for Chitta-
gong, where he was enabled to organise the schools,
but not spared long enough to see the effect of his
plans. His premature removal, as we in our ignor-
ance of the Almighty's designs are wont to speak,
was one of those mysterious dispensations of pro-
vidence with which the history of Christian mis-
sions abounds.

51. The hand, however, which removed one
labourer, soon raised up another, in the person of a
Mr Johannes, who was educated in the Benevolent

Period. Ace. vol. iv. p. 80.
Ibid. vol. vi. p. 218.

Ibid. pp. 271, &e., 416, &c.


Institution. He had been for some time connected
with the mission, and shewn himself competent to
conduct the educational department : it was, there-
fore, proposed to him to go to Chittagong, to which
he acceded, and sailed for that distant station
within a week after Mr Peacock's death. He was
joined, in 1821, by a Mr Colman, an American
missionary, who, with his colleague, had been
obliged to leave Rangoon. But he was removed
by death shortly after his arrival at Chittagong,
when the care of the congregation devolved on a
Mr Fink, formerly of the Lai Bazaar Chapel at
Calcutta. It consisted of about one hundred and
fifty members, among whom was manifest a spirit
of earnest and serious inquiry after Divine truth.
They resided in five villages, and were attended by
six native assistants. The schools, containing one
hundred and thirty pupils, remained under the
care of Mr Johannes, and there was reason to hope
that the truth was conveyed to the hearts of some
of the parents, who assembled in the school on the
Lord's day.

In 1824, this bright prospect was darkened by a
disastrous war which broke out between the British
and Burmese Governments. The greater part of
the congregation was dispersed, and Mr Johannes
was obliged for a season to discontmue the schools.
In the following year, however, on the conclusion
of peace, he was able to reopen them, and in a
short time, the Benevolent Institution, which he
established, contained one hundred and forty scho-
lars, principally Portuguese, who were abandoned at
Chittagong. An interesting society was formed of
these youths, for prayer and mutual edification on
religious subjects. By these exercises they were
drawn from the dark and miserable thraldom of
Popery, and become spiritual worshippers of the
living and true God. Mr Johannes performed the




formed in

duties of a missionary also^ preaching every Sab-
bath both in EngHsh and Bengalee^ and proclaim-
ing the Gospel in the surrounding country.

52. Arraca7i. — This province was ceded to the
British on the conclusion of peace with the Bur-
mese ; and as the Mug converts at Chittagong
were originally refugees from Arracan, they now
returned thither in a body, with their pastor, Mr
Fink, at their head, and four native teachers.^
Land was granted for the establishment of the
mission in the island of Ahyab, which is eligibly
situated at the mouth of the Arracan river ; but
there was much to be done before the missionary
could take up his abode on this island. For the
present, therefore, he resided at an easy distance
from the colony, which he frequently visited, and
placed a native assistant there, where about forty
Christians were settled, the remainder being dis-
tributed in the town of Arracan, and two or
three other places. Mr Fink provided a boat, with
which the other three native teachers visited several
places at considerable distances from their home,
spreading the Gospel abroad, and hitherto they met
with no unkind treatment from their countrymen,

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 19 of 54)