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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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employed^ nine were heathens and Romanists.
For some time the missionaries were able to make
a favourable report of the ability and faithfulness
of most of them in the discharge of their office ;
but after a while the heathens did not, in every
instance, maintain a fidelity and diligence propor-
tioned to the readiness with which they had un-
dertaken their office The Committee were urged
to make use of Brahmins also as Scripture readers
in Sanscrit, in the expectation that their influence
and the language would allure all classes of natives,
and especially other Brahmins, to attend to what
they read ; but the Committee, though they in no
way discouraged any such forward spirit, and even
cherished and employed its energies wherever they
thought that nothing material would be risked,
declined to lay out any of the Society's funds in
maintaining such readers. As schoolmasters, and
even as superintendents of schools, the employ-
ment of heathens was unobjectionable, as the duty
to be performed was reduced to rules, and means
were at hand to ensure their due observance. But
as Scripture readers, they could not be depended
on to accomplish the Society's object, which was
to spread abroad pure Scripture truth, the truth as
it is in Jesus. For not only might the fidelity of a
heathen, as such, in expounding the parts of Scrip-
ture that he really understood, be suspected ; but
also, the positive incompetency of the natural man
to receive the things of the Spirit of God, must
necessarily disqualify him from being a correct in-
terpreter of the sacred Word. Indeed, those who
applied for this employment, actually proposed to
read and expound the Scriptures, conjointly with
the Hindoo shasters ; thus, by the unhallowed
mixture, to adulterate and confound the glorious
Gospel of Christ with the inventions and fables of
men, and, as it were, to set up the image of Baal


CHAP, in the temple of the living God. Such a proposi-

'_ tion more than justified the rejection of the offer of

these men's services.
Erection 4. Qn the 15tli of March 1819^, the missionaries
sion ^ ™^^" removed to the new mission-house on the premises
church, purchased for them by the Society.^ The fresh
Town. and salubrious air of the situation greatly revived
them. To the services before regularly held^ an
Enghsh service was soon added on Thursday even-
ings, at the particular request of the East Indians,
between sixty and eighty of whom regularly at-
tended. Many of them visited the missionaries
for rehgious conversation, and awakened hopes
concerning them. They began to establish worship
in their households, and the appearance of piety
among them encouraged the hope that they
would ere long furnish the mission with useful
assistants. There was likewise a greatly improved
attendance upon the Tamul services, and the mis-
sionaries began to feel the want of a more spa-
cious place of worship. Indeed, this necessity
was felt in 1817, when the Corresponding Commit-
tee circulated a paper, inviting subscriptions for
the erection of a church, the cost of which, includ-
ing the purchase of the site, was estimated at three
thousand five hundred pagodas (£1400 sterling).
This proposal met with a favourable acceptance
among the Europeans, and liberal contributions
were raised and the building commenced. Diffi-
culties, however, arising from an opposition which
was stirred up among the natives, who objected to
the situation, the Government of Fort St George
were induced to interpose, and to refuse to sanc-
tion the completion of the work on the present site.
At the same time they fully approved the object of

^ B. X. chap. vi. sec. 27.


the buildings and gave directions to the proper de-
partments to select a suitable situation for it. They
also engaged to indemnify the Committee for all
the expenses incurred in the present building, and
assured them of their countenance and support in
all their measures for the furtherance of the So-
ciety's objects, so far as might be consistent with
the paramount duty of preserving the public peace.
Accordingly^ they undertook to erect, at the public
expense, a church for the native Protestants, and
allowed the use of it to the Church Missionary
Society. To add to the value of this important
benefit, Government directed that the church should
be built on the Society's premises in Black Town,
which the Committee had purchased On the 3 0th
of June 1819, the foundation-stone was laid with
due solemnity.^ It was completed and transferred

^ The Rev. Marmaduke Thompson, in a letter of July 20.
1819, thus expresses his feelings on this occasion :— " Now, let
me tell you of the holy triumph that we have just enjoyed. We
have solemnly laid the first stone of our new mission church
within our new premises; it took place on the 30th of June,
and it was indeed a great and happy day to us. Several friends
assembled with us at the mission house, with Major D'Havil-
land and his family, the superintending engineer, who is ex
officio the architect. From thence we proceeded to the long-
desired spot. There we found our Tamul congregation ranged
opposite to the place where the missionaries and myself were to
stand, with a considerable number of natives and others all
around us, and spectators on the tops of the adjoining houses.
The service began with the 117th Psalm, in Tamul; then fol-
lowed prayer, in English, by myself; Mr Ehenius addressed
the people, his own congregation chiefly, in Tamul, and then
laid the stone. Having happily had it suggested to him, by a
gentleman present, to explain this part of the ceremony, to pre-
vent any erroneous notion among the heathen spectators of any
such thing in it as their own superstitious practices, he again ad-
dressed them. Then a doxology was sung in Tamul, in which
Hallelujah sounded out very distinctly and aiiectingly. Mr
Rhenius offered up a pra^-er in Tamul, and we concluded with
the apostolic benediction, in English and Tamul alternately ;


CHAP, to the charge of the Corresponding Committee in
^^^' the following year^ and opened for Divine service
on the 11th of October. The aged missionary, Dr
Eottler, preached on the occasion, in Tamul, from
Genesis xxviii. 16, 17. There were present upward
of one hundred and fifty native children belonging
to the different schools in Madras and its vicinity
under the Society's care, the schoolmasters, cate-
chists, and readers, and about one hundred and
fifty other men and women, some of them avowed
heathen, together with several East Indian and
European inhabitants. Many heathen stood at the
doors and windows to witness the service, and
much order and reverence prevailed. Thus did the
Lord overrule the opposition of the Society's ene-
mies for good, and their object was accomplished
in the most desirable manner.^

With the progress of the mission, the feelings of
the heathen towards their Christian countrymen
improved. The converts themselves informed the
missionaries, that the name of Christian was be-
come less a badge of reproach ; that not long ago
a heathen would not endure to be seated near one
of them, and that if a Christian had entered his
house and rested in it, he would, on his departure,
immediately purify the place where the man had
sat : but that now all this had ceased, and the com-
munications between them were in general unre-
stricted and friendly. Much of this improvement

Mr Klienius following me sentence by sentence, so as to end
both together ; the effect of which was very solemn and impres-
sive. The people were all very attentive, and the expressions
of satisfaction, as the)'' were dispersing, were very gratifying.
It was, on the whole, I suppose, one of the most interesting
ceremonies of the kind ever witnessed in Madras."

^ C. M. S. Eeports, xviii., pp. 115, 116 ; xix., p. 162 ; xx. p.
154; xxi. p. 143.

two mis-


was attributed, under God, to the exertions and
influence of the Catechist, Sandappen, of whose
piety, dihgence, and discretion, the Corresponding
Committee speak in the highest terms.^

5. In 1819, a third missionary arrived for Ma- Arrival of
dras, the Rev. George Theophilus Barenbruck, and
another in the following year, the Rev. James Rids-
dale, a clergyman of the Church of England, in full
orders. On the erection of the mission church at
the expense of Government, together with other
local circumstances, it was deemed expedient that
the station of Madras itself should become exclu-
sively an English mission ; while the Lutheran
missionaries in connection with the Society would
have stations of useful labour in various quarters.
Accordingly, Messrs Rhenius and Schmid were now
removed to Palamcottah ; Mr Ridsdale undertook
the English department of the Madras mission ; and
Mr Barenbruck devoted himself exclusively to the
native department of its concerns, until the arrival
of another English clergyman in April 1822, the
Rev. William Sawyer, who in a few months became
competent to the charge of the Tamul department,
when Mr Barenbruck, a Lutheran, was removed to

Mr Sawyer was originally designed for Bengal ;
but was detained at Madras in lieu of Mr Wilson,
who, as mentioned in the last chapter, had been
transferred to Calcutta. The native congregation
was at this time in an encouraging state. Besides
the Tamul services on Sunday, a regular Wednesday
evening service had been recently begun, and meet-
ings on Tuesday and Thursday evenings were held
in a schoolroom near the bazaar, where there was
a constant concourse of people. This house was

» C. M. S. Report xix., p. 169.


CHAP, filled with Christians and heathens, and as many
^^^- stood at the doors and windows as the space would
admit. Mr Barenbruck described the spirit of in-
quiry that seemed to be awakened among the peo-
ple as very encouraging.

When Mr Sawyer took charge of the mission,
the stated members of the congregation were one
hundred and nine, and the communicants from
twenty-five to thirty. On the 12th of February
1823, he made his first attempt to read prayers, and
the 8th of June, to preach, in Tamul, and a few
months after he was able to relieve the catechist
from the whole duty. Among the congregation
there were some of whom he expressed the hope
that they had experienced the transforming efficacy
of the Divine Spirit on their souls, for they were
living a life of faith in God's dear Son. ^' Two or
three," he remarked, '' might be adduced as living-
examples ; and, in the happy end of one lately de-
parted, the grace of God was singularly magnified."
'' In my weekly visits to their respective habita-
tions, I have sometimes had much satisfaction.
At these opportunities, though spiritual advice and
reproof are considered as most prominent, hints are
occasionally given with regard to domestic economy,
and other points of minor consideration."^
Baptism 6. He then speaks of three baptisms of heathen

min ^^d^" converts, and the reception of three converts from
other con- Romauism, during the year 1823 ; and in a subse-
^'®''^'' quent report he gives the following account of the
baptism of a Brahmin, Jan. 1. 1824, which cannot
but be read with interest : —

^' The congregation was large ; many heathen
children and some adults, besides our ordinary
number of Christians, attended. Mr Ridsdale read

' C. M. S. Report, 24th, p. 13^.


prayers ; after which I proceeded to the most plea-
sant task that I ever performed m my Hfe — that of
baptizing this interesting man. Before the ad-
ministration of the ordinance^ I desired him to say
what he had previously expressed a desire to say to
the people. This he did to the following effect : —

'^ ' Friends in Christ Jesus ! — I^ as one who am
about to be admitted this day to the privileges of
the holy Gospel in Christ Jesus^ am desirous to
shew you, in as concise a manner as possible, my
former state, and my present change of mind
wrought by Almighty God, through His dear Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.

"^ ' My forefathers were of the Kauadannier tribe
of Brahmins. My name is Soobarayen. I, together
with many thousands of my caste, who are still de-
ceived in the darkness of heathenism, and bound
by the many deceitful Shasters, used to worship an
image of stone ; but Jesus Christ, in a wonderful
manner, hath blessed me with clearer light. Con-
sider this goodness, of which I am not in the least
worthy ! Jesus Christ having joiued me to His
holy communion, and having strengthened me, I
do believe Him to be the only Way, the Truth, and
the Life ; and that there is no salvation in any
other besides. In conclusion, I beg you. Christian
brethren, to beseech God on my behalf in all your

^' After this address, the attention of the congre-
gation was called to the circumstance of his break-
ing the sacred Brahminical cord ; which is the
grand fetter, in which Satan binds these poor
priests to his service. Taking the cord in his hand,
he said, with great emphasis : — ' In breaking this
string, I desire to renounce the service of the devil ;
and, dividing myself from him., to become the ser-
vant of Christ.' ,

^' After this, I baptized him by the name of John.


CHAP '^ Whether the man will continue stedfast or not,

L is known only to Him who is the searcher of

hearts. In the mean while, we would be very strenu-
ous with our friends, in entreating their interest
for him at that throne of grace, from which no
humble and beUeving petitioner was ever sent
empty away."^

The baptism of this Brahmin was the occasion of
giving a salutary check to the influence of caste
among the Christians connected with the mission.
The observance of the distinctions of caste by four
Christian youths of the seminary, in refusing to
eat with their Parriah schoolfellows, and even with
John himself, though a Brahmin, because he had
broken caste by eating with the Parriah scholars,
was highly offensive to him, as he considered it
entirely opposed to Christian love and unity ; and
the more so, as these four youths were all Soodras,
which is the lowest caste recognised among the
Hindoos. In consequence, it was thought right to
suspend them, and there was every prospect that
this event would issue in the extinction of this ob-
servance in the seminary.

About three weeks after the baptism of John,
Mr Ridsdale gave an account of six other converts,
whom he baptized in the mission church. They
were all of humbler caste, but their cases appear to
have been equally satisfactory.^ Thus from time
to time the missionaries report the reception of
heathen and Romish converts, until, at the close of
1826, they amounted together to one hundred and

^ In the Missionary Register for 1824, p. 322, this convert
is, by mistake, identified with another, mentioned immediately

' Ibid.


7. At the same period, the Tamul schools for increase
boys had mcreased to seventeen^ contaniing seven seminTry
hundred and forty-eight scholars ; ^ and four for estabUsh-
girls, with one hundred and thirty children. There
were also three English schools for girls, contain-
ing one hundred and twenty. Mrs Kidsdale had
charge of the Female schools ; and under her care
they advanced steadily, attended with many encou-
raging circumstances.

The seminary for training native teachers was
another important branch of the Tamul depart-
ment. When the Government undertook to build
the mission church, the Corresponding Committee
announced, in a circular, to the friends who had
contributed to this object, that their subscriptions
were again at their own disposal ; but made, at
the same time, an appeal to them in behalf of a
seminary, which they wished to establish in con-
nection with the church. They then gave the fol-
lowing description of the object in view — that it
was to be '' the establishment of a seminary, or
college, for the instruction of native Christian
youths, for various services in the Society's mis-
sions ; as schoolmasters and catechists, and they
trust priests also, by Episcopal ordination, when-
ever their qualifications and piety may render them
eligible for the higher sacred offices. The system
of instruction will also comprehend the elements of
general knowledge and the sciences ; and the insti-
tution will be open, either in these departments

^ Of these, the Christians were 128
Brahmins, 73

Soodras, 417

Parriahs, 130

C. M. S. Reports, 27th, pp. 12o-127; 28th, p. 88.


CHAP, exclusively^ or in its whole course of instruction, to
^^^' youths, destined for mere secular avocations, whe-
ther Christians, Hindoos, or Mahomedans ; but
there will be a permanent establishment of pupils
for the primary purposes of the institution, who
will reside in the seminary, and whose employ-
ments and government will be adapted entirely to
the nature of their future destination.

^' The Corresponding Committee have had this
institution in contemplation from the commence-
ment of the Society's missions on the coast ; but
they have not before possessed all the means which
are requisite for its establishment. It is hoped
that the means now in their power will be adequate
to the purpose. The missionaries of the Society in
Madras are every way qualified, by learned and
collegiate education, for the superintendence of the
seminary ; the ground comprised within the mis-
sion premises affords ample space for the necessary
buildings ; the course of instruction, and elemen-
tary works necessary for its accomplisment, are
preparing ; and it is hoped that suitable youths
may be gradually found, to the number at present
proposed to be maintained on the foundation of the

The Committee then conclude with their appeal
to the contributors to the church, and nearly the
whole of the subscriptions, amounting to about seven
hundred pounds, were allowed to be transferred to
the proposed institution.^

This seminary was opened in the month of Janu-
ary 1823, with seventeen native youths, and six
East Indians. Twelve of the natives were selected
from the Tranquebar schools. The Lutheran mis-

^ 0. M. S. Keport, 20th, pp. loo, 156. Missionary Register,
1820, pp. 484, 485.


sionaries had previously educated young men for
the service of the mission, of whom the five that
remained were now transferred to the seminary
under Mr Sawyer's care. The situation of the
mission premises in Black Town being too confined
for the pupils' health, the seminary was in the fol-
lowing year removed to Perambore, a healthy and
retired situation about three miles olF. The pro-
gress of the institutions, and the difficulties con-
tended with, will be best described in the words of
Mr Sawyer's report at the close of 1826. He says,
'' The total number of boys now under instruction
is thirty ; of which twenty-three are natives, and
seven country-born.

'' Since the establishment of the seminary, eight
of the elder youths have been placed in different
situations according to their qualifications ; four
are now employed as schoolmasters and assistants
in the Madras mission ; two are employed as wri-
ters in offices ; one as schoolmaster in the English
school at Tranquebar ; and one in service. Of the
youths now in the seminary, six are sufficiently
advanced in learning to undertake the charge of
schools ; but, not being of proper age to hold such
appointments, they will be kept some time longer
in the institution ; in the mean while they will be
daily acquiring additional knowledge and experi-
ence. Of the country-born young men, four
have commenced the study of Latin, and two
of the more intelligent native boys are about to

'' The institution, from its commencement until
the end of last year, was tried, in a peculiar man-
ner, by the perverse tempers and blind prejudices
of the boys and their parents. These things were
not without their use, in giving 'the mission prac-
tical experience, and a knowledge of the most
effectual methods of overcoming the prejudices


CHAP, and gaining the esteem and aiFection of the
Z^ youths."

He next speaks of the permanency and enlarge-
ment of the seminary, which its opening prospects
seemed to him to require. '' Such an establish-
ment should be on a sufficiently extensive scale to
allow of the efficient instruction of sixty students
in Enghsh, Tamul, Gentoo, Sanscrit, Latin, Greek,
and Hebrew. Of these students, a fourth part
might be country-born, and the rest natives. The
internal management of the institution should be
in the hands of two missionaries, if possible ; one
of whom should confine his attention to the theo-
logical instruction of the elder youths, while the
other could pay more particular attention to their
classical learning. A Moonshee should be em-
ployed for every branch of native instruction ; and
a person well instructed in the national system of
education would be required as English school-

Then, after proposing its removal to a more eli-
gible situation, called Koyapooram, he thus de-
scribes the increased accommodation that would
be required : — ^' The buildings requisite will be, a
house for two missionaries and families ; with suit-
able apartments for the purpose of sleeping-rooms,
day-rooms, and school-rooms for the country-born
and native youths. These buildings should be
erected as near as possible to the residence of the
missionaries in charge, in order to a constant in-
spection of the whole establishment."^

The English department of the mission, under
Mr Ridsdale's care, was not less encouraging. In
1823, he reported that the attendance on public

' C. M. S. Reports, 24th, p. 136 ; 25tli, p. 113 ; 27th, p. 126.
Missionary Register 1827, p. 549.


worship had become progressively more regular and
devout ; and that increasing ministerial intercourse
between the missionaries and their flock was
attended with evident spiritual benefit to the people,
while it imparted encouragement and satisfaction
to themselves. By the year 1825, the English con-
gregation had so much increased, that the church
became insufficient for its accommodation. In con-
sequence, it was enlarged in the following year, the
government of Madras readily contributing its aid
toward the work.

8. The members of the congregation, grateful to c. m. s.
the Church Missionary Society for the means of ^^^^f"^'
grace thus afforded them, formed an association formed,
among themselves, in furtherance of its general de-
sign for the conversion of the heathen. A female
association was next formed ; and the two associa-
tions proceeded together with equal zeal, and con-
tributed materially to the Society's funds. These
exertions kept in activity the principles of gratitude

and benevolence among the members of the con-
gregation. They likewise derived great benefit from
a lending library which Mr Kidsdale established for
their use. ^^ Many young persons," he remarked,
" have substituted its volumes for novels and such
trash, which before occupied their attention."

9. The Press formed an important department Printing
of this mission. Its operations were commenced in p''®^^"
1819, with the revised version of the Scriptures in
Tamul by Dr Rottler and Mr Rhenius. Several
religious tracts, in Tamul and Teloogoo, were pub-
lished in the same year. Under Mr Ridsdale's
direction, the press became a profitable resource for

the Society's treasury ; besides executing all the
work for its missions on the coast, without any
charge, except the cost of paper. Besides defray-
ing all its expenses, it was reported, in 1824, the
press ^^ has, this year, contributed a surplus of two


CHAP, thousand two hundred and thirty- seven rupees to
^^^' the general fund of the Correspondmg Committee.
During the same period^ it has completed an edition
of four thousand ^ye hundred copies of the Tamul
version of the New Testament, for the Auxiliary
Bible Society ; twenty- three thousand school-books
and tracts, for the Committee's stores ; and twenty-
nine thousand for the School-book and Tract

With such rapidity did these operations continue
to increase, that two years after, in 1826, the Cor-

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 30 of 54)