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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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nity of witnessing of their religious services, and
also with their Hebrew books.

While at Cochin, divine service was performed in
the old Dutch church, and the Supper administered
to forty persons by Archdeacon Loring. It appeared
that this holy rite had not been administered for
twenty years before. Such instances of spiritual
destitution, we have already seen, were perpetually
occurring among the European inhabitants of India ;
and severely must it have pained the prelate's feel-
ings to have discovered thpm. But he was come
to India, as he had declared, to set things in order,
and he went forward confiding in the Lord for aid
and success.

On the 2 2d of April he reached Cannanore by Bombay,
sea, where he landed for the purpose of licensing
the Church, and then pursued his voyage north-
ward. He reached Bombay on the 14th of May,
and, on his landing, was received with the honours
due to his rank. At the Government House, the
Governor, Sir Evan Nepean, the Commander-in-
Chief, and all the members of Council, were assem-
bled to give him an honourable reception.

21. The establishment of a District Committee Christian

of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge ic.u?^'
had been postponed until the Bishop's arrival, and. Society's
for this purpose, such persons as were favourable to tee"'""^'
the object were assembled on the 8th of June at his
house. After a brief statement of the operations of
the Society, and of his general views with reference



CHAP, to the diffusion of Christianity in India, the parties

1_ present unanimously agreed to form a Committee

for the same objects as those at Calcutta and Ma-
dras. The Governor, the members of Council, and
many other persons of rank and influence, enrolled
their names among the subscribers. In a short
time, a sum exceeding £200 in benefactions, and
.£150 in annual subscriptions, was contributed ; and
a large portion of the benefactions was soon remit-
ted home for the purchase of the Society's publica-
tions. Nor were the Committee remiss in early
attention to the wants of the European soldiers,
regimental schools, and the British seamen fre-
quenting the port, or in giving effect to the Bishop's
suggestions for advancing the honour, and extend-
ing the consolations of the gospel among the nume-
rous Europeans who are often exposed in India to a
state of such dangerous abandonment.
Proceed- 22. Another object of interest to him was the
Bombay. Bombay Education Society, which we have already
described.^ He had before accepted the office of
patron to this Society, and now readily attended the
meetings of the managing committee, and gave
them the aid of his suggestions and influence.

On the 7th of July he consecrated St Thomas's
Church, which was built, as we have seen, nearly a
century ago. A few days after, he consecrated the
cemetery also, a large spot of ground about a mile
and a half from the town ; at the same time, he
recommended the discontinuance of the practice of
interment within the church, the inconvenience of
which, especially in a tropical climate, is too ob-
vious to need explanation. He next held a visita-
tion of the clergy ; and also confirmed several young
persons, dehvering, on each occasion, an appropriate
charge, in his usually impressive manner.

B. xii., c. 1, s. 20, established Jan. 29. 1815.


Another object requiring his attention was the
arrangement; with the concurrence of the Govern-
ment^ of the several distinct duties of the clergy.
By the Governor's desire, he also framed a table for
the regulation of the surplus fees ; and he urged on
the proper authorities an increase in the number of
chaplains, suggesting, at the same time, where he
thought they should be stationed, and where decent
places for divine service should be provided. On
this subject he wrote, at the same time, to the
Madras Government also, expressing his dissatisfac-
tion with the churches which he had seen, men-
tioning the stations where others were required,
and requesting that in future every plan of an in-
tended building might be first submitted to him, in
order that he might correct any architectural incon-
gruities, and suggest such improvements as would
give it the appearance of what it professed to be, a
Christian temple for the worship of the one true
God. He thought it must scandalise the Hindoo
and Mahomedan to see those who possessed the
resources of the country, and professed to have a
better faith than they, worshipping their Maker
in buildings not to be compared with their own
mosques and pagodas, and hardly discernible from
barracks, or, as the Bishop expressed it on another
occasion, in ^^ barn-like edifices."

23. While at Bombay, the Bishop and his family Character
visited the celebrated caves of Elephanta,^ and the i^sts.^™^"'
island of Salsette, where he had another opportunity
to hear of the amalgamation of Papal with Pagan
abominations ; out of a population of about 45,000

^ A description of these astonishing works is given by several
visitors, especially by Elphinstone, Moor, Grose, Maria Graham,
and others. One of the best accounts is by Wm. Erskine, Esq.,
in the first volume of the Transactions of the Bombay Literary


CHAP, in the island, there were about 8000 Romanists,

who, though enrolled as Christians, and attending

divine worship at the Portuguese churches, were
yet wedded to all the absurd ceremonies of the
Hindoo mythology, of which they were particularly
observant on births, deaths, and marriages. At
the very time that they were in the habit of at-
tending a Christian sanctuary, and professedly ac-
knowledging Christianity, they retained in their
houses various imjDlements of Hindoo idolatry, and
entered indiscriminately into all the pernicious
usages of that deplorable superstition.

The Bishop passed his time at Bombay in the
constant discharge of his high functions. He was
frequently in the pulpit, and his discourses appeared
to make a salutary impression on the congregations.
During his residence here of about four months, he
preached a series of lectures on the Liturgy, which
were very useful to many who had almost forgotten
the services of their Church.

The Bishop had much enjoyment in the society
of his clergy and other friends, and had the gratifi-
cation of finding his wishes and designs for the pro-
motion of religion, effectually supported by the
personal example and the powerful influence of the
Governor, of whom he writes in language of the
warmest esteem and admiration.

Having finished his business here, and the state
of the monsoon being now more favourable, he em-
barked on the 17th of September, in the midst of
the customary honours, accompanied by Arch-
deacon Barnes, whom he invited to join him in a
visit to Calcutta. The Government provided an
armed cruiser to convey him to Calcutta, and in-
structed the commander to land him on any part of
the Malabar coast he chose, and at Ceylon,
cioa. 24. On the 20th of September he landed at Goa,

where he was honourably welcomed by the Portu-


guese viceroy ; but he saw nothing of the Arch-
bishop^ which he regretted, as that prelate had the
reputation of a man of great worth and respecta-
bility. He occupied a house which the viceroy had
provided for hiin, at the request of an officer at Bom-
bay, who formerly resided as British envoy at Goa.
Through the same friendly intervention, the Bishop
and his party had every possible facility afforded
them for visiting old Goa, with its numerous and
splendid churches, and other religious buildings.
He deemed it prudent not to desire to see the re-
mains of the Inquisition, but found, when too late
to visit them, that his scruples were unnecessary.
But he saw enough to fill him with mournful mus-
ings. It is scarcely possible to imagine a spectacle
more oppressive to the spirits than the old city pre-
sented. The magnificence of its sacred structures
appeared to be an object, as it were, of perpetual
and bitter mockery to the surrounding solitude.
Deserted streets ; altars coldly served by an igno-
rant and indolent priesthood, a crowd of monks and
ecclesiastics ; the lanes which led from one church
to another choked up with weeds and rubbish ; —
such was the picture of a city which might once
have been called '' the lady of kingdoms," the mis-
tress of the east. This desecration is attributed to
several causes, but chiefly to the terrors of the
Inquisition, which had driven its principal traders,
the Arabs and the Jews, from the port.

On the 1st of October the Bishop landed once Canna-
more at Cannanore, where he confirmed thirty-nine "°''^'
persons, and then proceeded from the church to
visit and inspect the barracks, the hospital, and the
school. On the 3d, he re-embarked and reached
Cochin on the following day. The whole party, as Cochio.
on the former occasion, were hospitably received
by Captain Blacker, the British Resident at Balg-
hatty, an island at a short distance. Soon after his




with the

arrival^ he crossed over to Mattancherry, the white
Jews' town^ with a view to further inquiry respect-
ing both white and black Jews/ with whose account
of themselves he was much interested. The Dutch
inhabitants^ who had for some time been without
a European pastor^ presented a memorial to the
Bishop, soliciting the appointment of an English
chaplain^ and offered their principal church for his
use. This suit he was enabled ere long to grant.

25. The chief object which the Bishop contem-
plated in his second visit to the Malabar coast, was a
more minute and careful investigation of the condi-
tion of the Syrian church, than he had time to
undertake when here before. He then had an inter-
view with the Syrian Metran, whose name was Mar
Dionysius, and it was saddening to hear him speak
of the desolate condition of his churches, and to
solicit on their behalf the friendly offices of the
English prelate. The Metran was attended by seve-
ral of his clergy, bringing with them a small number
of Syrian books, and among them a copy of Schaaf s
Syriac Testament, which was in use in all his con-
gregations. Of the Philoxenian version, he seemed
to know nothing. Bishop Middleton presented him
with a copy,^ which he had brought for this express
purpose^ together with an inscription in Syriac, im-
porting that it was presented to Mar Dionysius by
Mar Thomas, the first Bishop of Calcutta, on his pri-
mary visitation at Cochin.
Visit to 26. In order to obtain the particular infonnation

ch %^'^^ ^^^^^ ^^^ desired of the actual state of these churches,
the Bishop determined to visit as many as his time
would allow. For this purpose he so arranged his
visit, as to form one northern, one eastern, and one

^ For a particular description of those people, see vol. ii. of
this History, book viii. chap. vi.
^ White's edition.


southern expedition of two days each.^ He was
accompanied by Archdeacon Barnes, and was every-
where received with entire confidence ; the catta-
nars and people answered all his questions freely,
and during the ten days that he passed among them,
he took ample notes of all the information which
he could procure. His principal meeting was with
twelve cattanars and four laymen, who, by direc-
tion of their bishops, met him at a place in his route,
and after a conversation which lasted for two hours
and a half, he felt more disposed to admire their
knowledge than to complain of their ignorance,
considering their utter want of books and education.
He obtained transcripts of the liturgy and formu-
laries^ of their church, under the immediate inspec-
tion of the diocesan : and he hoped to ascertain,
more fully than had yet been done, what was the
purity in which they maintained the principles of
the Christian faith, and in what degree they sym-
boHsed with the Church of England. He had
prepared himself for this undertaking in a manner
worthy of the importance of the subject, having
devoted a considerable portion of his time to studies
connected with it, and more especially to the assi-
duous cultivation of the Syriac language.^

^ The principal clmrcbes visited by the Bishop were, Tri-
poontorah, Curringacherry, Moolentonty, Candenaad, Udiam-
poor, Diamper, Verapoli, Agaperumboo, Angamale, Tekkah
Peroor, Kotym, AUepie.

^ ^ These were made use of in the eompihition of the Syrian
liturgy and formularies, given in the Appendix to Vol. iv.

^ The Bishop gathered much information respecting the
actual state of the Syrians, which he intended to publish, wlien
he could find leisure for the purpose. But not having time to
arrange these materials before his death, and regarding them
in their undigested state, as unworthy of the public eye, he
directed them by his will to be destroyed, together with all his
unpublished compositions. The historical information which


CHAP. The best return that he could make the Syrian

L_ prelate and his clergy for their communications,

was a present of some printed copies of Syriac gos-
pels ; and great was the joy with which they re-
ceived them^ and their impatience for a similar
supply, comprehending the whole Scriptures of the
Old and New Testament, These presents he ac-
companied with a few words of appropriate counsel.
At one place he expressed an earnest hope that
they would patiently study the Scriptures, and
carefully teach the children of their poor ; and
he generally addressed them in the language of
exhortation and encouragement. They uniformly
promised to remember his injunctions, declared their
readiness to hold fast their faith without wavering,
expressed their extreme anxiety for further guid-
ance and instruction, and solicited his paternal pro-
tection and kind offices. The impression he left
behind him wherever he went was very favourable ;
and there can be no doubt, that his intercourse
with this interesting people prepared the way for
that friendly association which was now in progress,
and continued for a few years, between them and
missionaries of the Church of England.
Aiiepie 27. At Allepie the Bishop met with the first of

these missionaries, the Rev. Thomas Morton, of
the Church Missionary Society, whose arrival in
1814 has been recorded above. He appeared already
to have acquired considerable influence over the
Syrian laity in the neighbourhood ; for he had suc-
ceeded in procuring from them, for their cattanars,
a more punctual payment of fees and other dues
than they themselves were able to obtain. The

he collected, adds nothing to the history of the Syrian Church
in Malabar, given in the former two volumes of this History.
See the Bishop's Life, chapters ix,, x., xi.


Metran^ also had granted him his licence to preach
in the Syrian churches, as soon as he should have
made sufficient progress in the Malayalim language ;
a privilege of which Bishop Middleton, however,
recommended a very cautious use. Experience had
already shewn that it was not impossible to scatter
discord among the Syrians ; and the ministrations
of a stranger not intimately familiar with their
peculiar idiom or modes of thinking, might very
seriously aggravate the evil. While, therefore, the
Bishop was thankful to observe that they were pre-
pared to look up to the Church of England for
instruction, and to receive favourably anything that
her ministers might do for them, he saw that there
was ''danger," as he expressed it, ''lest while we
endeavour to instruct them, we should divide them,
and thus drive one half of them into the arms of
the Church of Kome."

On the 16th of October the Bishop and his com-
panions embarked for Columbo,^ the capital of
Ceylon ; for though that island Avas not then under
his jurisdiction — being a colony of the Cro^vn, and
not included in the Letters Patent of the Bishop
of Calcutta — yet the Governor, Sir Eobert Brown-
rigg, had invited him to pay him a visit. The
vessel reached Columbo on the 21st, and the Bishop
was received with due honours by the governor and
his staff. Nothing could exceed the courtesy of Sir
R. Brownrigg, who studied to gratify his distin-

^ A title usually given to Syrian prelates in Malabar.

^^ The extent to which his bounty was made available for the
relief of the poor Syrians will serve to explain the cheapness
of provision in India. On coming away, he gave directions to
have rice distributed among the inhabitants of the parishes
which he had visited, amounting to about four or five thousand
people ; and for £25 they were all to be maintained for a fort-


CHAP, guished guest by the exhibition of whatever was

L_ most Hkely to interest him. Among the native

converts introduced to him were two remarkable
persons — one^ who was formerly a priest of Boodhu,
whose appearance and conversation indicated a high
degree of intelligence ; the other was a Mahomedan
convert, who appeared to derive great satisfaction
from a remark of the Bishop, that although Maho-
met professed to come mth a revelation from God,
he had in truth made no revelation at all ; for that,
with the exception of what relates to Mahomet
himself, the Koran contains absolutely nothing
which deserves to be called new. The Bishop was
highly pleased with these specimens of the native
Christians of Ceylon.
Progress 28. He was gratified also to find the circum-
of Chris- gtances of the island more favourable to the difiu-

ricirilty 111 _ ^ • rr^i

Ceylon. siou of Christianity than on the continent. Ihe
whole was under the immediate and absolute domi-
nion of the British Crown, ruled by a governor who
had no other desire but to promote the temporal
and eternal welfiire of the people ; and, through his
paternal care, they were advancing in civilisation
and religion. The observance of the Lord's day
was enforced at Columbo even on the heathen. The
establishment of schools, the building of churches,
the circulation of books, the conversion of the
natives — all designs, in short, for the moral and
intellectual improvement of the inhabitants — were
going forward with a free course. None of the
apprehensions and prejudices that prevailed else-
where were found here to intercept the prosecution
of noble and benevolent enterprises. The natives
manifested no suspicion of their benefactor's designs,
and appeared to be open, cheerful, and confiding.
Whatever other cause may be assigned for this con-
fidence, it was doubtless to be attributed, in great
measure, to the ingenuous and liberal conduct of


the governor. The Bishop visited the Tamul schools
established and supported by Lady Brownrigg ; the
seminary for the education of the Cingalese ; the
Christian village of Galkrese, where the governor
was at that time building a church ; and tlie mili-
tary and orphan schools.

Besides the two chaplains at Columbo, the mis-
sionaries of various denominations — Wesley ans,
Baptists, Independents, and Romanists — all called
to pay their respects to the Bishop. He visited
the Wesleyan Mission, and found that they were
printing the discourses and miracles of our Lord
in Cingalese. They and the Papists attended the
service of the church. All the Protestants acted to-
gether with cordiality ; the governor and the clergy
countenanced them in their peaceful labours ; and
the Bishop was glad to observe, that with this en-
couragement, the missionary work was advancing.

29. On Sunday, October 2 7th, the Bishop preached Bishop
in the Fort Church from Isaiah Ixii. 1.^ The mis- l'^^±lT
sionanes of all denominations were present ; and
at the conclusion of his discourse, alluding to their
difference of opinion in matters not essential to sal-
vation, and to the toleration which they enjoyed
in the island, he added — '^ My counsel, therefore,
is that of the Apostle, ^ Take heed lest this liherty
of yours become a stumhling-hlocJc to them that are
toeak. Sj^eak the same thing ; he joined together in
the same mhidj and the same judgment.' And I offer
it, not from any conviction that it is already needed,
but in the way of prevention, and in the spirit of
conciliation and love." Finally, he reminded them

^ " For Zion's sake will I not hold ray peace, and for Jerusa-
lem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go
forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that



CHAP, that the most fixtal discrepancy which a native could
^' detect would be a disagreement between the doc-
trines and the practice of our religion ; that the
righteousness of our faith must not resemble the
flashing of a meteor, which is gazed upon for a
moment, and then is lost in darkness ; that it must
be a pure and placid light, issuing from the sanc-
tuary of a heart devoted to God, and enlightened
by His Holy Spirit.

This friendly ^"^ counsel" seems to have been
received by them all in the spirit in which it was

Sir R. Brownrigg expressed himself anxious that
the island of Ceylon should be placed under the
Bishop's jurisdiction, which was subsequently ef-
fected. In the mean time he wished to establish
a committee of the Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge. The attempt had been made some
time before, at the suggestion of the Bishop of
London ; but, from some cause or other, it failed.
Now, however, the governor and clergy gave reason
to hope that the measure would be carried.

In this manner the Bishop spent ten days at
Columbo, which glided pleasantly away amidst his
exertions for the progress of Christianity in the
island, the interesting objects presented to the
notice of himself and his party, and the attentions
they received. The governor and his lady parted
from them with reluctance. Sir Robert and all his
staff accompanying them to the place of embarka-
tion, when they once more put to sea.
Bishop re- 30. The Bishop arrived safe at Calcutta, having
completed a visitation which occupied him a year,
and out and home together, extending to five
thousand miles, the most extensive visitation per-
haps at that time ever made by an English Bishop.
He looked back upon the events of the journey
with hope that God had blessed it with some fruits.

turns to


Everywhere he had laboured to fulfil his commis-
sion^ to set in order the tilings that were wanting.
He had confirmed and delivered suitable exhorta-
tions to about one thousand persons ; he had
preached almost every Sunday where he found
churches ; and had acquired a knowledge of the
religious wants of his vast diocese which he could
not have obtained at Calcutta in a whole life.
^^The history of such a visitation/' he remarked,
^Svould fill a volume. I have seen perhaps every-
thing in India which is at all important with
reference to Christianity."

With this accession of knowledge, he sat down
with increased confidence to the resumption of his
duties. His first object was to bring to the notice
of government the insufficiency of the ecclesiastical
establishment. The Europeans, civil and military,
were scattered over a vast extent of country, stretch-
ing from the 8th to the 28th degree of north lati-
tude. The number of chaplains was wholly in-
sufficient to satisfy the religious necessities of the
country. No one clergyman was w^ithin many days'
journey of another. In several places, even where
a considerable Christian congregation might be col-
lected, no clerical persons were seen for many years.
Many of the civil servants in India might be said
to be almost in a state of excommunication from
Christian ordinances, for twenty years together,
with the exception of the opportunities afforded by
an occasional visit to the seat of Government. Not
only the offices for marriage and burial, but that
of baptism also, were continually ministered by lay
persons ; generally, though not always, by the
magistrate or commanding officer of the station.
Numbers of young men, Avho had received their
appointments to India at a very early age, were
left wholly without public religious instruction ;
and, consequently, were in danger of sinking.


(iiAr. crradually and silently, into a state of \drtual

L_ apostasy.

Measures 31. He also exerted himself to relieve his clergy,

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 6 of 54)