James Hough.

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

. (page 22 of 54)
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 22 of 54)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

be detained a day or two in the place where they
then lay. Instantly did she resolve to return ; and


her companions still holding their determination
to flee^ this noble-minded woman, strong in faith
and conjugal devotion, went back alone to her
solitary abode in the mission-house, trusting in the
shadow of the most High, in the midst of a people
at all times difficult to dwell amongst, but now
specially dangerous, in consequence of their being
infuriated against all of European complexion. She
found on the premises some of the mission servants,
who welcomed her with jo}^ ; and in the assurance
of God's protection, she felt a peace of mind which
the dangers that encompassed her could not disturb.

6. Her faith, and hope, and love, were, through They are
Divine mercy, speedily requited. In a few days ^kd^^"^'
Mr and Mrs Hough returned to the mission-
house, as the ship would not be able to proceed on
her voyage, it was found, for some weeks ; and in
the short compass of eight days more, she received
the joyful intelligence that Mr Judson had arrived
at the mouth of the river. The correctness of her
apprehension what his feelings would be to find her
gone on his arrival, was now confirmed. When
the pilot came on board the vessel, he was over-
whelmed with the intelligence, that on account of
the dangerous situation of affairs, the mission had
been broken up, and that they had all taken pas-
sage for Bengal.^ To his great relief, however, he
shortly after received more correct information,
and as soon as wind and tide would permit, they
proceeded up the river, and his devoted wife had
the inexpressible happiness of embracing him again.
They had now been separated eight months, during
which time both had passed through severe trials,
the greatest of which was their anxiety for each
other. The vessel in which Mr Judson sailed for

^ Account, p. 130.


CHAP. Chittagong not being able, through contrary wmds,

'_ to reach that port, tliey were tossed about m the

Bay of Bengal for three months, when they made
for Masulipatam. Mr Judson then left the vessel
and proceeded to Madras, hopmg to find a passage
home from thence ; but this was the first he could
secure, and in the joy of their meeting, the remem-
brance of their past sufferings served to enhance
their gratitude to God for their present deliver-
ance. Painful as was the trial of their protracted
separation, it was a kind Providence which com-
pelled him to so long a cessation from his work.
We have seen how he was distracted by the dis-
putations of the Burmese, and such was his state at
Madras, that, but for this constraint mercifully laid
upon him, there can be little doubt that his mind
would soon have been gone, past hope of recovery.
Two mis- 6. A few weeks after Mr Judson s return, in
fi-om"^^ September 1818, two young missionaries arrived
America, from America, named Edward W. Wheelock and
James Colman. Mr Wheelock was unable from
the state of his health to enter upon his work, and
in a few months he was taken from them. He
had suffered much on the voyage, and a week after
his arrival he was attacked with an illness which
soon reduced him to a low state. Every means at
hand was used for his recovery, but mthout avail ;
and it was at last deemed advisable to try the
effect of a voyage to Bengal ; but he came to an
untimely end before the vessel reached Calcutta.
<^oni- 7. In the year 1819 Mr Hough proceeded to

mcnt of Serampore, leaving Messrs Judson and Colman in
public charge of the mission. In the sprins; of this vear

worsiiip -^ *^

a piece of ground was purchased, and a place of
worship, called a zayat, was erected near the mis-
sion-house, by the public road side. Mr Judson
had already been accustomed to assemble his do-
mestics daily for family devotion, and also to


expound the Gospel to the natives^ from the tmie
that he could make himself understood ; but on
April 4th the building of the zayat being sufficiently
advanced for the purpose, he performed public wor-
ship for the first time. He had previously con-
structed what he calls '^ the skeleton of a Burman
Liturgy/'^ filling up such parts as were more imme-
diately required, which he found of great use in
conducting the public service. The attendance
was small, and much disorder and inattention pre-
vailed, which was attributed to the novelty of the
scene. Here Mr Judson had daily opportunity of
conversing with the people in front of the zayat,
and of declaring to them the glad tidings of salva-
tion. Mrs Judson also resumed her meetings with
the females, which had been given up, from the
scattered state of the Burmans around them, at a
time of peculiar difficulty. Mr and Mrs Colman
were occupied in acquiring the language.

8. These exertions were not lost. .They soon f
began to see the word of God taking effect. For preLion
some time the Burmans had supposed that the mis- on the
sionaries came amongst them merely to obtain
their wisdom, in order to return to their native
country and communicate it to others ; but seeing,
after having acquired their language, that instead
of leaving them, they built a place of public wor-
ship, and that Mr Judson spent almost all his time
in preaching the '' New Religion," they changed
their minds, believed that they were come to do

^ In a private letter to Rev. Marmaduke lliompson, Chaplain
at Madras, dated from Rangoon, July 31. 1819. He had made
the acquaintance of this gentleman during his visit to Madras,
and finding in him a cordial friend to his mission, he main-
tained a correspondence with him, descrihing his progress and
trials. The author is now writing from Mr Judson's second
letter, lent to him by ]\Ir Thompson, witli other original docu-
ments, for the }>resent History.



CHAP, them good^ and acknowledged that it must be a
^' singular religion^ and worthy of attention to pro-
duce such effects.
The first 9. In the month of June, they had the happiness
couwIIl of receiving their first Burmese convert. His name
was Moung Nau, and he was about thirty-five
years old. This man was among the most constant
of the hearers at the zayat, and had now resided
with the mission family some time, that he might
be in the way of constant instruction. At length,
on the 6 th of June, he wrote the following letter
to Mr Judson, in which he avowed his conversion
to the faith of Christ, and requested to be bap-
tized : —

'' I, Moung Nau, the constant recipient of your
excellent favour, approach your feet. Whereas
my Lords three have come to the country of Bur-
mah, not for the purpose of trade, but to preach
the religion of Jesus Christ, the Son of the eternal
God, I, having heard and understood, am, with a
joyful mind, filled with love.

^' I believe that the Divine Son, Jesus Christ,
suffered death, in the place of men, to atone for
their sins. Like a heavy laden man, I feel my
sins are very many. The punishment of my sins
I deserve to suffer. Since it is so, do you, sirs,
consider, that I, taking refuge in the merit of the
Lord Jesus Christ, and receiving baptism in order
to become his disciple, shall dwell, one with your-
selves, a band of brothers, in the happiness of
heaven, and (therefore) grant me the ordinance of

^^ It is through the grace of Jesus Christ, that
you, sirs, have come, by ship, from one country and
continent to another, and that we have met to-
gether. I pray my Lords three, that a suitable
day may be appointed, and that I may receive the
ordinance of baptism.


^^ Moreover^ as it is only since 1 met with you,
sirs, that I have known about the eternal God, I
venture to pray, that you will still unfold to me
the religion of God, that my old disposition may
be destroyed, and my new disposition improved."

Besides the terms of this letter, which proceeded
entirely from himself, he gave, in his uniform con-
duct, satisfactory evidence of having embraced the
truth in sincerity ; and on the following Sunday
Mr Judson administered to him the ordinance of
baptism. After his admission into the communion
of the church, he continued to manifest an excel-
lent spirit, and to give great and increasing satis-
faction to his teacher. The missionaries subse-
quently employed him as a copyist, with a view to
the enlargement of his mind, in order to qualify him
for the service of the Gospel among his countrymen.

10. The baptism of Moung Nau took place a The next
short time before the sixth anniversary of this ^gj'jg^^^"
mission, and was followed in November by that of

two other Burmans. The name of one was Moung
Byaay. This man, with his family, had lived near
the missionaries for some time, regularly attended
Divine worship, was a remarkably moral character,
and, though fifty years old, had taken the trouble
of learning to read. The name of the other was
Moung Thahlah. He was a clever person, had
read much more than the generality of his coun-
trymen, and had been for some time under the
missionaries' instruction. These two men, giving
in very interesting accounts of their state of mind,
applied for baptism, which was administered to
them on November 7th. A few days after, the
three converts, of their own accord, held the first
Burman prayer meeting at the zayat.

11. At this time the brethren stood in need of Death of
the encouragement which these first-fruits of their ^f a^v".^
labours afforded them ; so mercifully did the I^ord




in the

prepare them for the trials that were at hand.
Some months before, the old king of Ava had died,
and his eldest grandson, the declared heir- appa-
rent, succeeded him on the throne. His accession
was, as usual, attended with much bloodshed at
Ava, and a change of the local governments
throughout the empire ; and the missionaries lived
in continual apprehension of the consequences to
their little band. The former king was hostile to
the priests of Buddhu, and frequently manifested
his feelings by such acts of persecution, as kept
that religion in a low and declining state, which may
account for the little molestation hitherto offered
to the promulgation of the gospel ; but the hopes
of the priests and their adherents now revived,
and every discovery of the new king's disposition
tended to restore the religious establishment of the
country to its former privileges and rank.

12. This alteration of affairs soon extended to
Rangoon, and the missionaries were not long in
feeling its unfavourable effect on their work. Be-
sides their three converts, they had received some
inquirers, who gave hope of their sincerity. One
of these was a young man of learning and influ-
ence, and a teacher of considerable distinction.
His name was Moung Shway-guang, and on his
first acquaintance with the missionaries he ap-
peared to be half deist and half sceptic, and for a
long time engaged in disputation with them. At
length, however, he avowed himself convinced of
the truth of the gospel, and became so attentive
to it, that the enemies of the ''new religion" ac-
cused him before the viceroy of having embraced
heretical sentiments. The principal informant was
the head of ecclesiastical affairs in Rangoon ; and
upon the viceroy directing further inquiry to be

made into the allegation, the


'dviu, went to his chief opponent^ made his peace

of Ava.


with him^ and discontinued his pubhc attendance
on the missionaries, though continuing to visit
them in private. Others also who had resorted to
them now grew alarmed, and the zayat became
almost deserted. But the three converts remained
faithful, though it was generally expected that the
labours of the brethren would soon be proscribed
by authority from the government.

13. Under these circumstances, they resolved to Mission-
proceed to the court of Ava, lay their missionary cepUon^at
designs before the throne, and solicit toleration for ^^^ court
the Christian religion. Accordingly, they left Ran-
goon in December ; and, after toiling up the river
Irrawaddy three hundred and fifty miles, in almost
continual danger from the daring robbers who in-
fest it, they reached Ava on the 25th of January
1820. On their arrival they proceeded to the
house of an officer whom they had known when
viceroy of Rangoon, and through him obtained
admission to the royal presence. Knowing that
the king was not to be approached without a pre-
sent, they had prepared one appropriate to their
character, the Bible, in six volumes, covered with
golden leaf, in Burman style, each volume being
enclosed in a rich envelope. They were intro-
duced by Moung Zah, the private minister of state,
and found the king surrounded by splendours ex-
ceeding their expectation. The spacious extent of
the hall of audience, the number and magnitude of
the pillars, the height of the dome, which was
completely covered with gold, presented a grand
and imposing spectacle. As the king was passing
through the hall, he stopped when he came to the
missionaries, who were kneeling, and asked,
''Who are these?" ''The teachers, great king,"
Mr Judson replied. "What! you speak Burman
— the priests that I heard of last night ? When
did you arrive ? Are you teachers of religion ^


CFiAP. A.re you like the Portuguese priest ? Are you
— L_ married ? Why do you dress so ?" These and
similar questions being answered, apparently to
his satisfaction, he sat do^vn on an elevated seat,
his hand resting on the hilt of a sword, in a sheath
of gold, which he had carried in his hand, and his
eyes intently fixed on the brethren.

Moung Zah now read their petition aloud, and
when ended, the king himself deliberately read it
through, and gave it back to the minister, who
then put into his hand a tract, w^liich the mission-
aries had requested him to present. As the king
looked on it, their hearts rose to God on this eja-
culation, for a display of His grace — ^' Oh ! have
mercy on Burmah ! have mercy on her king ! "
He held the tract lonor enousfh to read the first
two sentences, which asserted that there is One
Eternal God, who is independent of the incidents
of mortality, and that, beside Him, there is no
God. He then dashed it to the ground, and with
it fell the missionaries' hope. Moung Zah made
another attempt to conciliate him, by unfolding
one of the volumes of their present, and displaying
its beauty, but he took no notice of it ; and after
a few minutes the minister interpreted his royal
master's will in the following terms : — '^ Why do
you ask for such permission ? Have not the Por-
tuguese, the English, the Mussulmans, and people
of all other religions, full liberty to practise and
worship according to their o^vn customs ? In re-
gard to the objects of your petition, his majesty
gives no order. In regard to your sacred books,
his majesty has no use for them ; take them away."
After a temporary revival of their hopes, the mis-
sionaries found that the policy of the Burman go-
vernment, in regard to the toleration of any foreign
religion, is precisely the same as that of the Chi-
nese ; that it is quite out of the question, whether


any of the subjects of the emperor, who embrace a
rehgion different from his own, will be exempt
from punishment ; and that they, in presenting a
petition to that effect, were thought to have been
guilty of a most egregious mistake, an unpardon-
able offence.

Something was at last said about Mr Colman's
skill in medicine, when the king once more opened
his mouth, and said, '' Let them proceed to the
residence of my physician, the Portuguese priest ;
let him examine whether they can be useful to me
in that line, and report accordingly."

They were immediately hurried away to the said
physician, who very speedily ascertained that they
were in possession of no wonderful secret, which
would secure the emperor from all disease, and
make him hve for ever. It afterwards transpired
that this medical inquisitor gave a very false re-
port of them, asserting that they were a sect of
Zandees, a race that had been very obnoxious to
former emperors.

14. The brethren returned to their boat ex- Their re-
hausted in body and mind, and immediately bent Rangoon,
their course homeward. They reached Rangoon
on the 18th of February, and began to think of
abandoning the mission ; for, though permitted to
retain their religion, toleration to foreigners being
the law of the empire, yet death was threatened to
every Burman who shoukl leave the religion of his
fathers. It seemed hopeless, therefore, to labour
any longer for the conversion of a people in the face
of such danger ; but this apprehension shewed their
want of faith in the power of Divine grace to for-
tify the soul against all fear of man. They found
the three baptized converts unmoved by any threat-
ened danger. They gave them a full account of
their reception at the capital, apprehending that
when thev saw their teachers driven away in dis-


CHAP, grace from the presence of their monarchy they
^^' would have Httle zeal for a cause thus proscribed
and persecuted ; but they were mistaken. All of
them appeared firmer than ever in their attach-
ment to the Gospel, and vied with each other in
trying to explain away difficulties, and to convince
their teachers that the cause was not yet desperate.
Fidelity of 15, '^^ But wliitlier are the tcaclicrs going?" the
verts.°"" poor men anxiously inquired. The brethren as-
sured them, in reply, that it was their intention
never to desert Burmah ; explained to them the
circumstances of Chittagong, whither they proposed
to retreat till the Lord should remove their present
dangers ; and then, in their turn, asked the con-
verts what they would do during their absence ?
Two of them proposed to bear them company. The
third, Moung Byaay, remained silent and thought-
ful ; at last he said, that as no Burman woman was
allowed to leave the country, on his wife's account
he could not follow them ; but, continued he, with
some pathos, '^ If I must be left here alone, I shall
remain performing the duties of Jesus Christ's reli-
gion ; I shall think of no other." This interview
rejoiced the missionaries' hearts, and filled them
with gratitude to God for the grace manifested in
these converts.
MrJudson ig. Mouug Byaay, however, could neither eat
Rangoon! ^or slccp at the thoughts of losing his teachers, and
came to them again four days after, accompanied
by his brother-in-law, Avho was also an inquirer
after truth, to entreat them not to go. He told
them that he had been round among those who
lived near them, and found some who even then
were examining the new religion ; and expressed
his conviction that, if they staid a few months ■.
longer, till eight or ten disciples were made, and
then appointed one to be the teacher of the rest,
the religion would spread of itself, though they '



should leave the country. '' The emperor himself
cannot stop it/' he exclaimed. How satisfactory,
how beautiful, this disciple's simple faith in the
power of the Gospel ! And it proved as encour-
aging as beautiful to the missionaries. Moung
Byaay was joined in these entreaties and assurances
by Moung Nau, who came in while he was speak-
ing ; and the' missionaries, moved to tears by their
importunity, promised that they should not be for-
saken. It was, therefore, determined that Mr Col-
man should proceed to Chittagong, and that Mr
Judson should remain.

17. Private worship was now resumed in the ^^^^^^^^^
zayat, the front doors being closed to avoid the Gospel,
observation of enemies, who watched for an oppor-
tunity to accuse any natives who might attend.
Inquirers increased, notwithstanding surrounding
difficulties, or sufferings in prospect, and five per-
sons were ere long baptized. Among these was the
principal woman in Mrs Judson's female company,
and Moung Shway-gnong, the celebrated teacher,
who had before forsaken the public ministrations of
the Gospel through fear of its enemies. The mis-
sionaries had met with him on their way home
from Ava, and remonstrated with him on the incon-
sistency of his conduct. They thought, however,
notwithstanding, that his mind was improved, and
could not but indulge the hope that he would one
day become more stedfast in the faith. That day
had now arrived. When he presented himself again
to Mr Judson, at Rangoon, he described the diffi-
culties that encompassed him with so much feeUng,
and with such evident consciousness of his own
weakness, that the missionary was disarmed ; his
heart was wrung with pity, and he sincerely sym-
pathised with him in his mental trials. He com-
forted, and instructed him ; he prayed with him ;
till at length, through the Holy Spirit's application

VOL. v. Q




tory cha-
racter of
the con-

of the word to his soul^ his pride of intellect was
humbled^ his fear of the world overcome^ and he was
baptized in the faith of the Lord Jesus. For a
short time after his conversion he assisted Mr Jud-
son in the revision of those parts of the New Tes-
tament which were not yet published ; but the
opponents of the Gospel did not long leave him
unmolested^ and he soon foimd it necessary to flee
for his life. At present he took up his abode about
one hundred miles from Rangoon ; and^ having
previously furnished himself with tracts and por-
tions of Scripture^ he fearlessly employed himself
in disseminating his new religion^ and excited no
little commotion among the inhabitants of the place.

The accusation and flight of Moung Shway-
gnong produced much alarm among the converts
and inquirers^ the former attending di^dne worship
as privately as possible^ while the latter almost en-
tirely withdrew. Mr Judson was now obliged to
shut up the zayat, and appropriate a room pre-
viously occupied by Mr Colman to the purpose of
religious instruction. The alarm, however, gradu-
ally subsided ; several more of the Burmans were
baptized, until at length their little church consisted
of no fewer than ten persons. Baptism was gene-
rally administered at night, in order to avoid pub-
licity ; and, except in their own private circle, it
was scarcely known that a single individual had
renounced Budhism, and been initiated into the
faith of Christ. On the 3d of July, the first Chris-
tian marriage was performed between persons of
pure Burman extraction.

18. The little flock had now reached the state
which Moung Byaay had expressed a wish that it
might attain before their teacher left them ; and
Mrs Judson's precarious state of health induced
him, in July 1821, to take her to Bengal for the
benefit of medical advice. In the following Janu-


ary they returned, and found all the converts firm,
and the prospect hopeful. Mr Hough and his
fiimily returned in the same month from Serampore.
In the month of March, another Burman was bap-
tized ; while the viceroy shewed no disposition to
interfere with the mission ; and even defeated the
efforts of some of the priests to injure Moung
Shway-gnong. This man seemed now established
in the faith, and was still employed in revising the
New Testament ; and in this Avork Mr Judson de-
scribed him as '' so particular and thorough," that
they got on very slowly, '' not more than ten verses
a day," he wrote, '^though he is with me from nine
in the morning till sunset."

In the same journal Mr Judson gave this en-
couraging account of his little flock : — '' We had
the most pleasing assembly yesterday at worship
that I can recollect ; ten disciples, five hopeful in-
quirers, respectable people, and others, to the
amount of al30ut twenty-five adults in all, exhibited
a spectacle which would have seemed, two years
ago, a perfect miracle."

19. A short time before the period which we Arrival of
have reached, a young physician, Dr Price, with ^^.^^'^^^
his wife, had arrived from America for this mis- physician.
sion ; but Mrs Price did not long survive the heat
of the climate. Mrs Judson's health also again
declining, she embarked for Calcutta, and sailed
thence for Europe.

20 An important change now took place in the Heissum-

J- ^ , • • rm 1 J.^ moned to

circumstances of the mission. Ihe brethren were the court

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 22 of 54)