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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Knowledge and for the Propagation of the Gospel,
also the Church Missionary Society, lost no time
in convening general meetings of their members,
at which resolutions were passed, expressive of the
high sense they entertained of the departed pre-
late's services in India, and of the dee^D regret they
felt at the loss which the Indian Church sustained
by his death. The Christian Knowledge and
Church Missionary Societies founded each two
Heber Sc7iolarsM2:>s at Bishop's College, Calcutta, as
a lasting memorial of their regard for his character,
and gratitude for his services.

At his own University, Oxford, and his former
parish, ''beloved Hodnet," as he often called it,
similar feelings prevailed. Oxford raised a monu-


ment to his memory in St Paul's Cathedral, and
Hodnet erected another in the parish church. Even
in America, where his journal had been reprinted
and extensively circulated, the news of his death
was followed by similar tokens of regret.

29. Before Heber accepted the Bishopric of Cal- E-^pe-
cutta, he strongly recommended the division of the dividmg
unwieldy diocese into three bishoprics, making the the dio-
Bishop of Calcutta the Primate. But his friend

Mr Wynn, President of the India Board, informed
him that insuperable objections existed to the adop-
tion of his proposed plan. His own experience
more and more confirmed him in his opinion, and
the circumstances of his lamented death now gave
practical proof of its necessity. Accordingly, the
three Societies just mentioned took this opportunity
to memorialise the British Government on the ne-
cessity of establishing a bishopric in each of the
Indian presidencies. They expressed their persua-
sion, that it was impracticable for any one bishop
duly to superintend so vast a charge, and strongly
represented the importance of appointing more than
one to so immense a diocese. These memorials,
however, produced no immediate result, India con-
tinuing till after the premature fall of two more
bishops, to be presided over by only one diocesan.

30. It is hardly possible to read the history of f^^'^^^''-
the first two Bishops of Calcutta without- observing Mkidicton
the difference in their characters, and how exactly
each seemed to be adapted to the state of puljlic
feeling in India, at the time they were respectively
raised by Divine Providence to preside over that
vast diocese. This observation cannot be better
expressed than in the words of Ileber's successor.
Bishop James '—'' If ever there was a man well


^ At a meeting of the Society for tlie Propagation of the
Gospel in 1827.




of Heber's

calculated to lay the corner-stone of the Church
establishment in a foreign land^ ever one whose
correctness and precision of judgment, whose un-
compromising firmness of mind, whose piety and
learning fitted him for such a purpose, it was Bishop
Middleton — one who never swerved from that path
which his Christianly-formed conscience told him
was the true one — one who, if ever man did, digged
deep and laid his foundation on the rock. Nor were
those peculiarities less striking in themselves, how-
ever different in their nature, which belonged to
that generous and highly-gifted being, whose loss
we more recently have mourned ; his it was, to
conciliate, to soothe, to subdue : it was his, to win
over, by his openness and frankness of manner,
all that had else beset his path ; and to unite all
those varying discordant humours, that too often
arise to perplex and confound the zealous advocate
of the Christian cause ; while, by the splendour of
his talents, he kindled a new flame, and all around
him were incited to shew a sympathy with a mind
like that of Heber."

31. The exhibition of Heber's character and ex-
ertions, given through this chapter, leaves little to
be said of him in conclusion. Some have thought
that he did not at all times sufiiciently maintain
the dignity of his station ; and certainly, in this
respect, he presented a perfect contrast to Bishop
Middleton. But his apostolic simplicity, which, in
all situations, he uniformly maintained, commanded
the reverence and respect of every one to whom he
was introduced. His easy and open carriage, con-
ciliating address, and the affectionate earnestness
he evinced to promote the best interests of mankind,
invested him with a dignity in the eyes of all,
which no ofiicial reserve and distance of manner
could have commanded. Even those who differed
from him on questions of Church government and


discipline were drawn to him by the influence
of his Christian deportment ; and if they main-
tained the essential and fundamental doctrines of
the Gospel^ he was ever ready to receive them in
the spirit of charity. The claims of his character,
however, to our veneration, rest not so much on
the amiableness of his disposition, or on the bril-
liancy of his talents, or even on the purity of his
morals, as on the fervent, devoted, indefatigable
zeal he evinced m the cause of missions, during the
whole of his professional career ; but more espe-
cially after his appointment to the See of Calcutta.
From the time of his consecration to the last hour
of his life, he devoted himself to the discharge of
the duties of his sacred office, with a zeal and dili-
gence worthy of the great object in which he was

We will conclude this tribute to the memory of
Heber w^ith the testimony of a nobleman who has
for many years been forward to patronise every
undertaking whose object was the propagation of
Christianity in the world. At the anniversary of
the London Missionary Society in the same year.
Lord Bexley is reported to have addressed the
chairman to the following effect : — '^ Sir, I alhide,
with particular pleasure, to that portion of the
Society's report which describes its successful ope-
rations in the East Indies. I feel more, perhaps,
on this topic than on any other, from having
recently perused the journals of the lamented indi-
vidual, who not long ago presided over the spiritual
concerns of that vast country. He has been re-
moved from us, but the effect of his labour is not
gone : he is dead, but he has left a valuable record
behind : and if any one can doubt tlie policy, or

See Taylor's Memoir of Bisliop Ileber, pp. 485-407.


CHAP, the necessity^ of endeavouring to convert the natives

.* of India^ let him peruse that record^ and he will

doubt no more. I have frequently heard it asserted^
and asserted by authorities both weighty and re-
spectable^ that the attempt to convert the native
Indians was altogether hopeless ; and I have heard
it further affirmed, that if the attempt were even
successful_, the effect would not be beneficial : but
what an authority, on the other side, have we in
the late Bishop Heber ! What does the testimony
of that able and excellent man declare ? He states,
that if the religion of the Indians were not of a nature
so degrading, so tending to debase the mind, the
people of that country would be an intelligent and a
useful race : "^ Shall not we, then,' he continues, Svho
hold the sceptre in our hands, endeavour by every
means to carry Christianity among them ?' God
forbid that we should not attempt so to do ! God
forbid that we should not, by every conciliatory
mode, introduce the blessed Gospel among that
people !"-^

Missionary Eegister 1828, p. 401.




In lookino; for a successor to such a bishop as Heber, Appoint-
it was not easy to find a man suited to occupy the rcv.j. T.
high and responsible post from which he had been J^mes.
so prematurely removed. The person selected for
the office was the Rev. John Thomas James, vicar
of Flitten, Bedfordshire.^ Mr James had already
distinguished himself as a scholar and a traveller/
and Avas now actively employed in the duties of a
country parish, little comtemplating the wide and
important sphere to which he was to be removed.

' This chapter is drawn up from the Memoirs of Bishop
James, published by his brother, the Eev. Edward James.
Also from the Calcutta Reports of the Christian Knowledge
Society, the Missionary Kegister, and other periodicals.

2 Mr James published an account of his travels in the north
of Europe ; also a series of views, taken during this tour, wliich
he engraved upon stone with his own hand, and coloured in a
manner which gave the eifect of the original drawings. After
his return from a tour in Italy, he published two works on the
Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and German Schools of ^Painting.
Having seen much of the evils of inlidelity on the Continent,
he was induced, in consequence of the attacks upon Christianity
which had issued from the English press, to publish a work
entitled "The Semi-Sceptic; or, The Common Sense of Reli-
gion considered."



^^^' Upon receiving the offer of this appointment, he

1 dedined it ; but being afterwards strongly advised

to reconsider his objections, he determined to ob-
tain the best medical advice as to the fitness of his
constitution to endure the climate of India. The
opinion of the physicians favouring the undertaking,
he felt that he could no longer shrink from the
offered post on account of its danger. '^ I sought
it not," he remarked ; ^^ and I accepted, after twice
declining, what I found I had no longer any excuse
for continuing to decline."
Hisconse- On Whitsunday, June 3d, 1827, he was conse-
cration, crated at Lambeth. His time was now fully occu-
pied in preparation for the work before him. At
a meeting of the Gospel Propagation Society, May
25th, which w^as convened for the purpose, he de-
livered an address, expressive of the views and
feelings with w^hich he entered upon his arduous
charge. After a tribute to the piety and talents
of the two prelates who had gone before, which
has been noticed above, he proceeded : — '^ For my-
self, my path is clear and open, — an humbler task,
and yet one which, if Heaven spares me a term of
years, may not pass without fruit : be it mine to
aim at producing a closer union of the Christian
body in general, and to endeavour to present a less
unbroken phalanx than heretofore to the enemies
of the Cross."

On the 13th of June, a similar meeting of the

Society for Promoting Cliristian Knowledge was

held, when he delivered an appropriate reply to a

valedictory address by the Bishop of Gloucester.

Lands at 2. July 14th, the Bishop, with part of his family,

of 0^0^ ^^^ ^^^ chaplain, the Rev. S. H. Knapp, embarked

Hope. at Portsmouth, and sailed next day. October 1 4th,

they arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, where,

though not within his jurisdiction, the Government

had charged him with a special commission to


commence his episcopal functions. Accordingly,
he lost no time in making arrangements for what
was to be done. On the 21st, he preached to the
English residents, and next day confirmed nearly Confirma-
five hundred candidates. These services were per- ^'°"'
formed in the Dutch church ; but the British Proposes
inhabitants being anxious to erect a church for lioVof a
themselves, a public meeting was held, in the (iiiirch.
afternoon of the same day, to take into considera-
tion the best mode of fulfilling their desire. The
Bishop presided ; and, after an appropriate address,
laid before the meeting the offer he was com-
missioned to make, on the part of the Government
at home, to give a grant of land, and supply half
the expense of building the church, provided the
inhabitants would furnish the other half This
proposal was cordially met ; and next day, in pre-
sence of the Governor and nearly all the English
inhabitants, the Bishop consecrated the piece of
ground allotted for the church, and also another
piece to be used as a cemetery.

While at the Cape, he presided at a meeting of
the District Committee of the Society for Pro-
moting Christian Knowledge. He also found an
opportunity to send a pastoral letter to the English
settlers on the island of Tristan d'Acunha, expres-
sive of his satisfaction on hearing of their Christian
conduct, and proffering the assistance of the Dis-
trict Committee at Cape Town.

3. After spending eleven days at the Cape, the Arrives at
Bishop and his party again embarked for Calcutta,
where they landed January 18, 1828, witli the
accustomed honours, and were hospitably received
at the Government House by Earl Amherst, the
Govern or- General ,

Before the Bishop had time to acconnnodate
himself to the novelty of his situation, he sat down
to the work before him. The business of the dio-







cese had accumulated in enormous arrears during
the vacancy of the see ; many important cases had
been awaiting his arrival, and he found them to
embrace matters of no ordinary delicacy and
anxiety. To these, therefore, he immediately
directed his unremitting attention, and for several
weeks he was almost incessantly occupied with
diocesan affairs.

4. One of the first objects of his care was Bishop's
College, to which he paid his first visit early on the
morning after his arrival, and found there, as he
had reason to expect, much to engage his imme-
diate and serious attention.-^ He looked to this
institution as the most promising means of educat-
ing Christian missionaries born in the country, and
hoped that the time was not far distant when it
would be no longer necessary to send out mission-
aries from England. A few weeks after, he paid
the college a second visit, for the purpose of exa-
mining the students ; at the same time, he inti-
mated his intention to repeat the examination at
stated intervals, which he continued to do as often
as he could find opportunity. In the month of
March, he addressed the Society for the Propaga-
tion of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, on the state and
prospects of the College, and mentioned several
regulations which he had made, with the approba-
tion of the principal and professors, for the improved
management of the institution. In stating the alte-
rations he proposed to introduce in the system of

^ Before tbe Bishop left England, a revision of the statutes
of Bishop's College had taken place, on the suggestion of the
late Bishop Heber, by which societies as well as individuals
were authorised to found scholarships : the sum now fixed for
each scholarship was 12,000 rupees, or about £1200 sterling;
and if the nomination were reserved in perpetuity to the foun-
ders, 15,000 rupees, or £t500 sterling.


education hitherto pursued, he drew a distinction
between a university education in England, after
which professional studies are to begin, and the
education at Bishop's College, which was intended
to be at once a school to the students, and a uni-
versity to those who were probationers in theology,
and were then; e to enter immediately on their
duties as catechists and missionaries. But this
course did not quite meet his views. He wished
that something more professional, something more
of direct preparation for the ministry ; above all,
more of Scriptural study should be there pursued ;
that it should not be forgotten, that it was insti-
tuted as a mission college, and that the object
should be, not so much to educate the students for
classical scholars, as to qualify them to go forth as
catechists and teachers of Scripture lessons to the
heathen, and, hereafter, if found duly qualified, to
be ordained as '^ ministers of Christ, and stewards
of the mysteries of God."

On Ascension day, at an early hour, the Bishop consc«
consecrated the college chapel and burial-ground — crates the
a ceremony which had been expected with much and settles
interest by the Christian community of Calcutta, ^"siness
and was accordingly attended by a numerous com- with the
pany of the first respectability. College.

In the letter to the Gospel Propagation Society
just mentioned, the Bishop stated that he had been
engaged in making provision for carrying into full
effect the statute of the college for the appointment
of a syndicate to superintend the press established
there, and had been seeking out those who were qua-
lified and willing to become associate syndics in the
different oriental languages. On the day of the
consecration, the Bishop was enabled to accomplish
this important object. He presided at a meeting
of the syndicate, which was attended for the first
time by several oriental scholars, whom the Bishop










crates the
church in
Fort Wil-

had requested to become associate syndics in diffe-
rent eastern languages. At this meeting much im-
portant business was settled relative to the revision
of translations already made, or in progress ; some
regulations were also made with regard to the press ;
and the translation of several Scriptural tracts was
undertaken. After the business of the syndicate
was concluded, the Bishop proceeded, with the
members of the council, to inspect the plans for the
proposed addition to the buildings of the college,
and they agreed as to the best to be adopted.

5. Another object of the Bishop's serious atten-
tion, was some arrangement for the more effective
ministerial supervision of Calcutta. Instead of
leaving the Company's chaplains to find their own
range, as heretofore, he proposed to assign to each
a particular district, within which he should visit
the Europeans when sick, and perform what are
generally considered the parochial duties of the
clergy in England. For this purpose he divided
the city of Calcutta into three ecclesiastical dis-
tricts or parishes, according to the present number
of chaplains ; and the plan having received the
sanction of Government, directions for carrying it
into effect were published, with a plan of the dis-
tricts annexed, in a gazette extraordinary, on
April 3. 1828. He purposed to make the same
arrangement at Madras and Bombay.

6. Shortly after, he succeeded in accomplishing
another object, which Bishop Middleton had much
desired. After great perseverance and laborious
correspondence, he prevailed upon the Government
to concede that the issuing of marriage licences
should be placed in the hands of the clergy ; and
he immediately appointed the chaplains of the ca-
thedral to be surrogates for that purpose.

7. On the 27th of March, he consecrated the
church and burial-ground in Fort William. April


8th^ he confirmed about four hundred young per- Confirma-
sons m the cathedral ; and on the 10th, he held
another confirmation, and visited the schools at
Dum-Dum. He took a lively interest in the edu- Advocates
cation of the natives, and especially encouraged gj^jj^^jou
that of the females, which was continuing to ad-
vance. The Committee of the native female
schools met in his palace, which was filled on the
occasion, principally by English ladies ; but seve-
ral natives of the first respectability were present,
and, for the first time, contributed liberally to the
object. This was reasonably regarded as an indi-
cation of the decline of their deeply-rooted preju-
dices against the instruction of their wives and
daughters, and encouraged the hope that they
would henceforth allow them to learn something
more than how to plait and oil their hair.

8. The Bishop was not inattentive to what was Deplores
going on in the Hindoo and Mahomedan colleges sfoVof'uie
in Calcutta, which were patronised and liberally Bible from
assisted by Government. The progress of the lg,T\a
students in EngUsh literature had recently at- Calcutta,
tracted much attention. But the Bible was a j^ro-
hihited hook! Deeply did the Bishop lament the

fear, the groundless fear, of the English authorities,
which caused the exclusion of the Scriptures ; for
he saw, from all that was passing around, that
both these institutions in their present state obvi-
ously led to deism, and, we add, to hostihty to
British rule.

9. The sensitiveness that still existed in the Mission-
minds of some Englishmen high in station, made ^""^ ^•^''■'•
the Bishop cautious how he moved in tlie sup])ort

of measures that he found in active operation for
the conversion of the natives. He considered that
one indiscreet step might do more harm than many
discreet ones would do good. '' In the missionary
cause," he wrote, May 4th, '' it is difficult to get a





the mis-
in his

clear view of the proper line to be taken ; nor till
I have made my visitation shall I venture on any
general views^ though I shall have an anxious eye
upon them in every part. I am quite clear of
this^ that there is much which may be improved
by and by." That his caution proceeded from no
want of zeal in the cause^ is evident from the in-
terest he took in proceedings of the Gospel Pro-
pagation Society. He also accepted the office of
President of the Calcutta Auxiliary of the Church
Missionary Society^ and presided at the meetings of
the Committee. His anxiety to have none but
effective missionaries sent out^ he thus expressed
to the Gospel Propagation Society, in the com-
munication noticed above : — '^ Let me make it my
especial request to the Society, that the strictest
attention be paid to the temper and deportment of
persons selected for the high and important office
of missionaries. If they have not steady, sober
judgment, and mild manners, whatever other ac-
quirements or abilities they may possess, they will
never produce any good effect here." Then, after
speaking of the heathen, he remarks : — ^' They
must be won, if won at all, by being shewn the
beauty of Christian holiness demonstrated by
Christian example ; in their present state, few
truths can be tavight them otherwise than this.
Let us have another Swartz in temper, in manner,
in judgment, and in Christian feeling, and I fear
not to say that, under the blessing of God, we may
look for a Swartz's success."

10. To the missionaries themselves, he afforded
every encouragement his kindness of heart could
suggest, directing his attention to every object
that would increase their comfort, or in any way
tend to promote the success of their labours. In the
charge delivered at his visitation, he specially ad-
dressed them on the nature and importance of


their office ; on the dangers and privations attend-
ing it ; and the encouragement they had, in the
character and success of those who had gone before,
to persevere : he added — '' Go on, blessing and
twice blessed. Be it my duty to guard your in-
terests, to study your welfare ; to aid, to advise
with you in all spiritual concerns; to strengthen
you in all things, according to my ability ; and to
prove myself (a title I covet more than all) pub-
licly, privately, the missionary's friend. And if
there should be any now present who are not of
the same communion with ourselves, let me repeat
here what I have elsewhere said, ^ None that
Cometh in the name of Christ shall ever be re-
garded as a stranger by me.' The curious and
carnal questions which the refinements of European
study have brought forth, concern not those whom
we have to instruct ^ in the first principles of the
oracles of God.' The plain and yet saving truths
of the Gospel, the primary essentials of Christian
doctrine, in the ^pure Word of God,' are all that a
missionary here can or ought to attempt to exhibit
to his hearers. If some of those who, in our na-
tive country, dissent from our establishment on
certain questions, and thus place themselves with-
out our pale, are too apt to regard us with some-
what of an unfriendly view, here, at least, all such
feelings ought and must vanish and disappear in
sight of our common adversary ; all those who are
Christians in principle are with us, and not against
us ; the only dissenters in this land should be the
idolatrous heathens, or the professed enemies of
the cross of Christ."

While, however, he attached great importance
to the character of the European missionary, he
regarded the East Indians and convei'ted natives as

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 49 of 54)