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

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This I should have attributed to the ductility so
common among the natives, were it not that he
stated his reason, out of the Testament and a Ta-
mul book, which he is translating into English,
with a degree of intelligence that surprised me. I
mean not to say that this youth is a convert to
Christianity ; nor is there anything in him that
favours the hope that his heart is yet duly affected.


^yf^- for he sees not the evil of sin in his OAvn bosom ;

'- and though he acknowledged^ that to adhere to

idolatry through fear of his relatives would prove
destructive to his soul^ and that it was to be attri-
buted to his want of sufficient hght, yet he could
not promise to pray for Divine instruction and
support. His knowledge has had the effect^ how-
ever, of causing him to forsake the pagoda, and to
employ his leisure hours over his Christian books
at home. This I know to be the fact ; and he told
me the same of another youth in the same class
with himself ; and of a third, instructed in an
English school at Madras, he made a similar report,
adding, that though he could not walk in opposi-
tion to his father^ he turned his ceremonies into

^' Are not these things encouraging ? Does it
not appear that the leaven is beginning to work ?
We see an effect produced, short of a saving effect
indeed, but such an one as nothing ever yet accom-
plished but the method of education adopted by
our Society and by kindred institutions. And is
it not rational to expect — yea, is it not highly irra-
tional not to expect — that youths, so instructed,
will grow up less prejudiced in favour of idolatry
and against Christianity than their fathers ? And
if they live to have children, it is most probable
that they will rather foster than check, in the
minds of their offspring, such impressions as they
themselves have received.

^^ Some may smile at this exultation over such
a trifle ; but the wanderer in the gloom of night,
who has missed his way, leaps at the prospect of a
distant light, however dim, and thither bends his
course. Then, amidst the darkness that envelopes
us, let us press onward in the way which these
instances of partial success seem to point out as
the right way ; and then our children, or children's


children, if not ourselves, may witness a trium-
phant result to our exertions/

18. In the year 1820, the rapidly increasing ^f^^;'^^°^
demand for exertion, and the declining state of his missSn-
own health, induced the author to apply to the ^^ies^*
Madras Corresponding Committee for the help of cottah.
a missionary. In consequence, in July, Mr Rhe-
nius was sent to him from Madras ; and soon
finding that there was already work enough for
another, they applied for Mr Rhenius's former col-
league at Madras, Mr B. Schmid, who was per-
mitted to join them in October. Here they
worked together till the following March, when
continued sickness compelled the author to retire.^
The schools, at the time of his departure, were in-
creased to thirteen, two Enghsh and eleven Tamul,
containing four hundred and ninety- seven scholars.
There were extensive openings among the Shanars,
or Toddy caste, inhabiting the Palmeira forest to
the south, who have been described in a former
volume. These people were less attached to idola-
try, and more inclined to embrace the Christian
faith, than any other class of natives ; and, as in
the days of Swartz and Jsenicke, there seemed to
be good reason to hope that, if duly attended to
by a European missionary, and amply supplied
with native catechists, they would soon repay the
benevolence of the Christian public, with a tenfold
proportion of joy in their bosoms, crown the mis-
sionaries' labours with an abundant harvest, and
encourage all who watch, and pray, and toil for
the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom upon
earth, to persevere unto the end.

1 C. M. S. Keport, 20, pp. 182-185, 348. Miss. Register
1820, pp. 296, 297.
" See above, sec. 10.



CHAP. 19. It was proposed to select some Shanar youths
^^^' for the Palamcottah seminary^ to be trained for
Progress catechists and schoohiiasters among their own
cfm^nnrv P^oplc^ thc congTegatioiis that were beginning to form
among them being hkeiy soon to create a demand
for Christian teachers. The average expense of
each seminarist was estimated at one pagoda (eight
shiUings) a month. The first class of the several
schools near enough to attend were assembled at
Palamcottah, the first Saturday in every month,
for examination in the New Testament, and writ-
ing from dictation. At the conclusion, another
chapter was given out, which they were to read
attentively, and come prepared at the next exami-
nation to be catechised upon it. They were ac-
companied by their masters, and formed a respect-
able congregation. The masters were prepared
with oUas, to write down what they heard,
which they found useful afterwards. The hea-
then were allowed to be present, and they some-
times entered into friendly discussions upon the
word of God.

The circulation of portions of the New Testa-
ment and tracts was becoming considerable, and
it was attended with beneficial effects. In the
last nine months, sixteen hundred and seventy
copies had been distributed ; and the supply being
exhausted, several heathens and others were anx-
iously waiting a fresh arrival. From all parts of
the district, and even from the capital, Tinnevelly,
reports were frequently coming in of the general
spirit of inquiry that was awakened. The Book-
readers were sometimes pointed at with scorn as
they walked along the streets, but they were sel-
dom deterred thereby from studying the sacred

After the author s departure, the missionaries
removed to his house, which the Corresponding


Committee had purchased for the mission. It was
situated on the high road from Palamcottah to
Tinnevellj, about a mile from the former, and two
and a half miles from the latter. It has already
become a place of resort for inquirers after know-
ledge, and petitioners for books. A large space of
ground was attached to the house, adjoining to
which were an English and a Tamul school, with
space to build as many more as might be required,
and even a church. In the mean time, one of the
school-houses was used as a temporary place of
worship, and part of the mission-house was pre-
pared for the reception of the seminarists.^

1 C. M. S. Keport, 21st, pp. 142, 143, 156.

There was a weekly assemblage of mendicants in tlie Fort of
Palamcottah, when paddy (rice in the husk) was distributed,
and a word of exhortation given to them. These meetings
were similar to those of the Rev. Henry Martyn at Cawnpore,
(B. xi. c. i. sec. 27). The most necessitous of these poor crea-
tures received a new cloth at Christmas. No instance of spiri-
tual benefit resulting from these weekly addresses came to the
author's knowledge at the time ; but he has since met with one,
recorded by an anonymous writer, which serves to encourage
the hope that the seed of the Divine word sown on this unpro-
mising soil did not all perish. In a work published by L. & J.
Seeley, entitled, " Anecdotes Illustrative of the Catechism of
the Church of England," the following anecdote is given, upon
the Question and Answer, " What is the outward," &c., " Water,
wherein," &c., p. 94 : —

" A lady in India gave the following account of an aged
female who was baptized a short time since : — ' She is about
seventy. I asked her what led her to think of changing her
religion. She replied, " Before, I worshipped plenty idols ; what
good ? I went to the church on Monday to have alms ; heard
the catechist preach; then after he done, Mr Hough asked
questions, and if we knew we were sinners. I went home and
thought, what this? Then the light come into my mind, and
1 feel myself great sinner. Then I tell my son and daughter,
I like to be a Christian. They laugh, but me not mind. I
feel very great love to Jesus Christ, and I think upon Him
always." I asked her why she wished to be baptized? She

of the


^HAP. 20. The missionaries paid special attention to

^' L the seminary, as an engine of primary importance

Progress to the Working of the mission. At first some in-
terruption was occasioned by some arrangements
which they adopted affecting the prejudices of the
pupils on the subject of caste ; but this occurrence
proved eventually advantageous. Their occupa-
tions and instructions varied but little from the
course usually adopted in similar establishments,
as described from time to time in the foregoing
pages. Besides geography, history, arithmetic, and
English, they were daily instructed in the prin-
ciples of Christianity, and were carried through
the Old and New Testaments. In 1824, there
were thirty-five young men and boys in this
school ; and of the tokens of the Divine blessing
vouchsafed to them, Mr Rhenius thus spoke : —
^^ Those who were last year in an awakened state
have not only continued, but also advanced there-
in. Their conduct, in general, corresponds with
the gospel. Some of them have, during the year,
discovered much piety and zeal for the cause of
Christianity among their countrymen : they have
their private prayer meetings. When they visit
their homes, they take tracts with them to read to
their relations, and other people whom they meet
with. At different times during the week they go
into the high road which passes our compound,
and read tracts or portions of Scripture to the
passengers." In the following year, they were

said, " That I may come to Christ, and get pardon and salva-
tion." Fearing that she might have wrong views of the ordi-
nance, I asked her if she thought baptismal water could pardon
and save her ? She replied, with great earnestness, " no, no !
water can do nothing. Only Christ can save me.'' ' "

These meetings were continued by the missionaries. C. M.
S. Report, 23d, p. 141.


employed in making excursions into the villages,
and some of them proposed of their own accord to
attend the idolatrous festivals of the people. They
were now and then ridiculed, and sometimes in
danger of being ill-treated ; but, on the whole, the
tracts, and those who read and distributed them,
were well received. Many who carried away their
books came to the missionaries for more, expressing
a wish to be well acquainted with Christianity : not
a few Brahmins were of the number. Some per-
sons even paid for the tracts ; and, in several in-
stances, people of one village asked the seminarists
to go to others, where the inhabitants, they said,
would be glad to hear them and to receive such

In 1822, a change was made in the schools, in
consequence of the establishment of an English
school by Government, under charge of the chap-
lain of Palamcottah, from which Christian instruc-
tion was excluded. In consequence, the English
schools on the mission premises and in Tinnevelly
were closed, most of the pupils now manifesting a
repugnance to continue the course of Christian
education observed in them. The discontinuance
of these schools was a great interruption to the
missionaries ; but it enabled them to give more
attention to the native schools, and to employ one
of the English masters, a pious and intelligent
East Indian, very usefully in their inspection.
They were now increased to thirteen, and contained
four hundred and eleven scholars.

20. A beginning also was made in female edu- Female
cation. In 1819, two small schools were estab- ^d^^^'^^"-

^ C. M. S. Keports, 25th, 26th, 27th. A particular account
of these labours of the seminarists is given, from the mis-
sionaries' journals, in the Missionary Register 1816, pp. 501-


ciiAP. lished, after much difficulty, for the daughters of
^'^^' the Christians in the south. In 1823, one was
opened at Palamcottah for girls of all descriptions,
which soon contained twenty- three scholars. Next
year, the numbers increased to thirty-six ; and,
with the view of extending female education in
this mission, and for the better conducting of its
increasing concerns, some addition to the Society's
establishment became necessary. An advantageous
purchase of new premises was, in consequence,
effected. The house and ground were conveniently
situated, being directly opposite the old premises,
the public road passing between them. In Sep-
tember 1824, the widow of the late Mr Schnarre,
missionary at Tranquebar, was appointed by the
Corresponding Committee to take charge of this
establishment. The girls were instructed in read-
ing and writing, with other appropriate branches
of female education. Mr Schmid remarked of
them — ^^ It is astonishing how quickly they im-
prove. Their very features appear to me to become
daily more expressive and pleasing. May only the
Lord prosper our endeavours, and shower do^vn his
Spirit upon them, that they may become inheritors
of his kingdom, and lead others also into the way

The ministry of the Word of God was manifestly
accompanied with his blessing. Until the appoint-
ment of another chaplain to Palamcottah, the mis-
sionaries performed the usual public ser^dces in
English. When relieved of this duty, they were
enabled to pay undivided attention to the Tamul
service ; and the English school-room adjoining
their premises, being shut up for the reason just
stated, was now exclusively appropriated as the

C. M. S. Reports, 24, 25, 27.


place of worship, where the service was performed
twice on the Lord's day. At their Tamul devotions
every evening for the mission family, several Ro-
manists and heathens attended, when a portion of
Scripture was read and explained. In addition,
the missionaries soon began a stated service for the
heathen on Wednesday evening, in the town of
Tinnevelly, at the place where the second English
school was formerly kept. Upon this service they
remark — '^ The attendance of the heathen has been
most encouraging hitherto. From thirty to as
many as one hundred and eighty at a time, have
there heard of the truth as it is in Jesus, and received
religious tracts. The attention which prevails,
especially during the prayers, is remarkable."

At every visit to the village schools they took
the opportunity of preaching to the people. At
Keelpatam, a school and house of prayer was erected
for the people, who had applied for rehgious in-
struction ; and a catechist was appointed to take
charge of them. At other places, many adults
attended when the missionaries catechised the
scholars ; '' and not seldom," it is remarked, '' they
make up a handsome congregation, to whom, after
the school business is over, we preach the gospel,
with exhortations to repent and believe in the

21. The first converts baptized by the mission- ^^^J^i^^mof
aries, in 1822, were one of the heathen schoolmas-
ters, named Supramanien, a merchant, of the
Soodra caste, and a Parriah woman, with her two
daughters.^ The man's behaviour on the occasion
was a good token of his sincerity, and very encour-
aging to the missionaries. He might have objected
to be baptized with this woman, who also was a

■ Memoirs of Rev. C. T. E. Rhenius, p. 223.



CHAP, widow^ alleging^ that it would expose him to the

L ridicule of his neighbours^ and occasion the loss of

caste. But instead of this^ he stood by her side
before the font^ as a brother in the Lord, and was
admitted with her and her children into '^ the
fellowship of Christ's true religion." Mr Schmid
has given the following account of the events which
led this man to embrace Christianity, and of his
subsequent conduct :^ — ^^He became schoolmaster
to our girls' seminary afterwards, and his conduct
was always perfectly unexceptionable and loving.
Several years after, when my first child died, he
came to Mrs Schmid, and related to her, that he
had had eight lovely boys and a good wife, but all
had died, one after the other ; so he gave up his
mercantile business, since he had none to care for.
But several years after, when Mr Hough had been
establishing schools, he thought he might as well
be useful to other boys, having none of his own,
and had offered himself to Mr Hough. By being
thus employed, he had become acquainted with the
Bible and the Saviour. Had God not cut off, by
death, his mfe and children, those strong cords
which had tied him down to the earth, he would
never have come to the knowledge of salvation ;
and he intimated to Mrs Schmid that God had,
doubtless, gracious intentions in taking away her
beloved child also."

This is one instance of the advantages that have
accrued from the employment of heathen school-
masters, when Christians were not to be obtained ;
though nothing but this necessity should induce
missionaries to have recourse to them, and their
proceedings require to be watched with more than
double care, lest they introduce with the Scriptural
lessons instruction in their own idolatries.

^ Tn a letter to the author.


The seed hitherto sown was now beghming to
take effect, and in 1823, the total number of
Christians belonging to this mission, at its different
stations, together with seven candidates for baptism,
were one hundred and three. In 1824, thirteen
were baptized at Palamcottah ; and in several vil-
lages there appeared to be an extensive awakening
among the people. The work of God in this dis-
trict continued steadily to advance ; until, at the
close of 1826, the people under instruction amounted
to one thousand families, about four thousand three
hundred children inclusive, and inhabited one
hundred and twenty-five villages. Of these about
thirty families were Soodras, thirty Parriahs, and
the remainder Shanars. Several of these were
merchants and proprietors of land in comfortable
circumstances ; others were mechanics ; but the
majority were cultivators of the palmyra tree.

The following brief statement will shew that the
missionaries were in no haste to baptize these
numerous inquirers after the way of salvation.
The number baptized since the commencement of
the mission, including children, was fifty-nine ; to
these were added seventy- three formerly baptized in
other missions, or received from the Roman Church.
Making a total of one hundred and thirty-two.

Of the state of the people the missionaries say : —
''The conduct of most of those who have been
baptized is worthy of their profession. The un-
baptized are such as have renounced idolatry, and
placed themselves under Christian instruction : the
attention of many, both men and women, and their
desire to know the Lord and his ways, are very
pleasing. The turning of their idols out of their
temples, and the devoting of those temples to the
worship of the only true God and to Him whom he
hath sent — their breaking to pieces of other idols
— their burning of the various utensils used in
VOL v. A a


CHAP, idolatrous worship — their dehvering up to us of
^^^- objects of superstition, and the pecuhar dresses
which the devotees of Satan used when professedly
possessed of him- -their conviction of the wicked-
ness and folly of idolatry — and their desire and
readiness to renounce the customs connected with
idolatry, and to adopt such as become Christians —
these things are truly remarkable. Thusfar darkness
has receded, and light has sprung up among them."
The missionaries add some remarks, which shew
that they very justly appreciate the condition of
the people : — '' How far they have advanced in
true self-knowledge, in justifying faith in the Re-
deemer, and in the sanctifying grace of the Spirit,
we cannot say : but, from what we ourselves have
seen, we cannot but confess, that, in all the congre-
gations, there are at least some who have begun
to experience this work of God. We have many
instances of their teachableness, of their acknow-
ledging their faults, of their speaking the truth, of
their endeavouring to suppress their evil passions,
of their desire to pray, of their wishing well to their
enemies, and of their keeping the Sabbath day holy.
There are, indeed, still many shades in them ; but
we cannot wonder at it, when we consider from
what gross darkness they are emerging, and what
amass of wicked and superstitious habits they have
to unlearn ; besides, among so many, there will be
such as turn to Christianity only because others
do, or in expectation of worldly advantages. Under
these circumstances, it cannot well be otherwise,
than that evil should appear in these congregations ;
and that their old sins should occasionally break
out, and require much of our patience and care. It
was so in the apostolic churches : hence the various
reproofs and admonitions contained in the Aposto-
lic Epistles ; they suit exactly, in many respects,
the state of these new churches. The new congre-


gations, like every other congregation^ are like a
large hospital, in which persons labour under vari-
ous sicknesses : it is the great and glorious work
of Christianity to heal them. Happy are they
that have come under its influence ! May the
Great Physician and Shepherd and Bishop of their
souls give them his Holy Spirit, and be health and
cure to them, according to his gracious promise !

'' That the teachers, whom we have placed
among them, are all, we have reason to believe,
truly desirous of serving the Lord and doing good
to their fellow-countrymen, is a matter of no small
congratulation, and of much gratitude to God : we
desire that they may be particularly remembered
in the prayers of all our Christian friends. The
people have many and various afflictions to endure
from their heathen neighbours and superiors : may
the Lord preserve them in all their trials, and
strengthen them to stand fast unto the end !"

22. At several stations small places of worship Asper-
were erected : at others, the schoolhouses were used s'°cred°'
for that purpose ; and, in 1826, a new church was
built within the mission premises at Palamcottah,
and opened with two full services, in Tamul and
EngUsh, on the 26th of June. The expense of the
building amounted to two thousand rupees, of which
the Madras Committee advanced eight hundred ;
the remainder was raised by contributions, from all
classes of people in the neighbourhood, Europeans,
native Christians, Mahomedans, and heathens.

Thus the work continued to advance beyond the
missionaries' ability to keep pace with it : and they
called upon the Society to provide five missionaries,
at least, for the province, and ample employment
could already have been found for more/

1 C. M. S. Keports, xxvii., xxviii.; Missionary Register 1827,
pp. 94, 95, 558-565.


CHAP. It was not to be expected that the enemies of the
^^^' Gospel should patiently look upon these triumphs
of sacred truth without attempting to impede its
progress. The Christians soon became involved in
a serious persecution from their heathen neighbours. |
But the attempt on the part of Europeans to depre- *
ciate the missionaries' success was still more to be
regretted. Two of the Calcutta newspapers, in order
to throw discredit on the accounts of the advancing
cause of truth in Tinnevelly, brought against the
missionaries the cheap and easy charges of enthu-
siasm, proneness to exaggeration, and a want of
suitable qualifications for their work. Nor did
those who were diligently seeking Christian in-
struction escape accusation. The majority of them
were represented either as proselytes from Roman-
ism, or the converts of Swartz and his associates,
while a small portion of them were allowed to have
been heathens ; and their conduct was charged with
insincerity, and imputed to corrupt motives. There
is no difiiculty in tracing these general charges to
their real source. Christian love rejoiceth not in
iniquity, hut rejoiceth in the truth; but the carnal
mind is enmity against God.

The missionaries were called on to vindicate the
truth of their statements. In consequence, they
drew up an account of their mission from its com-
mencement till the month of July 1827, detailing
the various circumstances connected with their pro-
ceedings, and the facts which had taken place ; and
shewing to the satisfaction of every Christian mind

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 32 of 54)