Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

..

if they had no connection with religion, be deemed proper objects of law, shall, or shall not, be permitted or promoted in its dominions. Therefore missions, bibles, religious tracts, and disputations against pagans and Mahometans, are matters of which governments have no right to take cognizance. Let them simply look to the protection of all their subjects, while .those subjects, as their own concern, maintain, or dispute, or promote, or surrender, their respective religions ; when governments do more than this, and interpose authority to sanction one system by silencing the propagators of another, they adopt in their conduct, even if the one which they sauction were the true one, the ignorance and presumption of those barbarous ages which were unwilling to leave any province of power undivided, with the Almighty. The whimsical and wretched caprice, however, of the human mind, is strikingly visible in the difference between the manner in which that presumption operated in former times, and that in which it is stimulated to act in the present. The presumption of governments, in former times, was displayed in officiously imposing and almost forcing agents and means on the Almighty, and forbidding him to do any thing respecting religion, without them; now, governments are urged to refuse him all means and agents, unless he will have the complaisance to send them where these governments have no interest, and tell him that if he chooses to have recourse to his miracles, he may, but as far as ordinary agents, as far as all the agents within their power are concerned, nothing shall be suffered to be done for him on half this globe..

But dismissing this more abstracted idea of the question of toleration, and adopting the ordinary language which ascribes to governments so much authority respecting religion, that the tree exercise of it is to be considered as a privilege conferred by them, and to be denominated toleration, we may ask what is the least that can be allowed to constitute toleration to Christianity in India. That Christians are merely permitted to reside there, is no toleration, unless they are free , to exercise that kind of agency which is of the essence of their

Christian character. And it is of the essence of their Christian character, to wish and endeavour that some more persons beside theinselves may be Christians. This wish and effort will extend to their domestic relatives; and by what law is it to stop short of the Hindoo or Mahometan servant that dwells under the same roof, and joins in the offices of life, or of the heathen brother, or sister, or father, that occasionally comes to visit that servant? But walls form no proper boun. daries to the wishes and efforts of pious benevolence; they will extend to the nearest Hindoo neighbour, tliey will reach

to the second and the third in the vicinity, and in short just as far as the means and influence of the Christian individual can reach. Unless he can thus practically realize the spirit of his religion he is not tolerated as a Christian. Now the principle and action of a Christian mission, are no more than such an exercise of the Christian character, on a somewhat ·larger scale. -- Whether Mr. Fuller's confidence that this will be tolerated, is well founded, will very soon be known.

The apologist next gives a short sketch of the religious notions and customs of the Hindoos, and asserts the incontrovertible facts of the detestable moral tendency of their superstition, and the wretched state of their actual morals. Of this latter fact it may be of use to make a few of the testimonies more familiarly known, in the words in which they are cited by our author ; because it is not till rather lately, that the public has begun to come to a right understanding on the subject. After stating the consenting averment, on this point, of all the friends of the morality of the New Testament who have been in India, he says,

o I have read enough, Sir, of the communications of men of this description' to make me disregard the praises bestowed on the virtues of these people by others. I find these praises proceed either from deistical writers, whose manifest design is to depreciate the value of Christianity, *or from persons residing in the country, who "“ despairing,” as Dr. Buchanan says, “ of the intellectual or moral improvement of the natives, are content with an obsequious spirit and manual service. These they call the virtues of the Hindoo; and after twenty years service, praise their domestic for his virtues.?

" I know not,” says Bernier, an intelligent French traveller, “ whether there be in the world a more covetous and sordid nation. -The Brahmans keep these people in their errors and superstitions, and scruple not to commit tricks and villanies so infamous that I could never have believed thein if I had not made an ample inquiry into them.”

- " A race of people,” says Governor Holwell, “ who from their infancy are utter strangers to the idea of common faith and honesty. This is the situation of the bulk of the people of Hindostan, as well as of the modern Brahmans : amongst the latter, if we except one in a thousand, we give them over measure. The Gentoos in general are as degenerate, superstitious, litigious, and wicked a people, as any race of people in the known world ; if'not eminently more so, especially the common run of Brahmans; and we can truly aver, that during almost five years that we presided in the judicial Cutchery Court of Calcutta, never any murder, or atrocious crime, came before us, but it was proved in the end a Brahman was at the bottom of it.”

- A man must be long acquainted with them,” says Sir John Shore, Governor General of Bengal, “ before he can believe them capable of that bare-faced falshood, servile adulation, and deliberate deception, which they daily practise. It is the business of all, from the Ryott to the Dewan, to conceal and deceive : the simplest matters of fact are design

edly covered with a veil through which no human understanding can penetrate.'

« Lying, theft, whoredom, and deceit,” says Mr. Carey, “ are sins for which the Hindoos are notorious. There is not one man in a thousand who does not make lying his constant practice. Their thoughts of God are so very light, that they only consider him as a sort of play-thing, Avarice and servility are so united in almost every individual, that cheat. ing, juggling, and lying, are esteemed no sins with them; and the best among them, though they speak ever so great a falshood, yet it is not considered as an evil, unless you first charge them to speak the truth. When they defraud you ever so much, and you charge them with it, they coolly answer, “ It is the custom of the country." Were you to charge any company of ten men with having among them lyars, thieves, whoremongers, and deceitful characters, however improper it might be, owing to your want of proof, yet there would be little probability of your accusing them falsely. All the good that can with justice be said in favour of them is, that they are not so ferocious as many other heathens."

I have said nothing of the Mahometans; but it is well known they are not behind the Hindoos in superstition, and greatly exceed them in ferocity, pride, and intolerance. p. 15. .

Mr. Fuller remarks on the total want of any shadow. of proof, that, either prior or subsequent to the Vellore mutiny, representations were made to the troops on the Peninsula, of the increase of missionaries and bibles, and on the very suspicious character of that class of Europeans to whom Major Scott Waring not improbably refers, when he tells, and repeats, and again repeats, that “ gentlemen of sense, observation, and character, have, in private letters, assured him such representations were made to the army and people, and much contributed to rouse their apprebensions and indignation';" he also expresses a just contenipt of the principles of a writer, who can first declare, " We know that the mutiny was excited by the sons of Tippoo Sultaun," and afterwards, in the preface to his pamphlet, with just the same easy assurance say, “From later information I have reason to believe that the sons of Tippoo Sultaun are innocent of the charge preferred against them.” As to the troubled and frightened Hindoos hearing of the translation of the Scriptures into their language, he drily hints how much more they must be frightened and enraged at the English, on hearing that their own most learned Pundits assist in the work. He notices the Major's ignorance in saying that among the missionaries " spread over India," there are Arminian Methodist, and United Brethren missionaries; as the former denomination of Christians have no niission in India, nor ever had, and the mission which the latter once had at Serampore, has, he believes, ceased to exist. Two short paragraphs of Major S. W. cited and commented on by Mr. Fuller, will shew how much

[ocr errors]

honour and intelligence the advocates of religion must sometimes have the misfortune to oppose. The first is ac page 70.

“ I am assured” says Major S. W.) “ by gentlemen lately returned from India, that notwithstanding the very great increase of missionaries of late years, the case is not changed since my time ; that they have not made a single Mahomedan convert, and that the few Hindoos who have been converted, were men of the most despicable character, who had lost their casts, and took up a new religion because they were excom. municated.”- presunie these gentlemen, lately returned from India, are the same persons whom this writer elsewhere denominates, men of sense, observation, and character. The reader will now be able to judge of the value of these boaşted authóirities. Every particular in this paragraph is false. There has been no such great increase of missionaries of late years as is pretended. There are Mahometans, as well as Hindoos, who have been baptized, but of more than eighty natives who had been bapti. zed before May 25, 1806, only three had previously lost cast : eight of them were Brahmins, and seven Mahometans. The whole number which had been excluded for immoral conduct might amount to eight or nine. As nearly as I can make it out, the above is a true statement. The reader may see a list of the baptized down to Nov. 1804, in No. XV. Periodi. cal Accounts. I can assure him that the missionaries might have had more proselytes than they have, if they would have received such characters as these men report them to have received; but their object is to make converts to Christ, and not proselytes to themselves. Indeed so little are the assertions of this writer to be regarded, with respect to the character of the native converts, that it would be the easiest thing imaginable directly to confront them by the testimony of competent witnesses. Mr. John Fernandez, a gentleman who came from India early in 1806, makes the following declaration. « There are several Mahometan converts among the missionaries, and some very respectable Hindoos who have embraced Christianity. To the best of my recollection there are but two at Serampore who had previously lost cast : these had been for a long time reckoned Portuguese, and were not in worse circumstances than other people. Some of the highest class of Brahmins have, to my knowledge, embraced the gospel, whom the natives call Mookoorja, Chatterja, Barridja, &c.

The other sample is not inferior.

“ In the course of several years” (says Major S. W.) « they have made about eighty converts, all from the lowest of the people, most of them beggars by profession, and others who had lost their casts. The whole of them were rescued from poverty, and procured a comfortable subsistence by their conversion." That is, reader, thus say the gentlemen lately returned from India. I need not repeat the refutation of these falshoods. Before, they were all said to have previously lost cast, but now it seems to be only some of them. But, “ the whole of them were rescued from poverty, and procured a comfortable subsistence by their conversion.” A considerable number of the Christian natives live many miles from Serampore, and subsist in the same manner as they did before thoir baptism, and without any aid from the missionaries. The subsist

ence of others who reside in the neighbourhood of Serampore is from the same employment as it was before they became Christians ; and those who receive pay from the missionaries are such as are employed by them. Mr. John Fernandez says, “ I have been present almost every time when the converts have professed their faith before the brethren, and have repeatedly heard the missionaries tell them, that unless they worked with their own hands they would receive no help from them. Enquirers were always kept for some time on probation.” Some of them were Byraggees, a sort of religious beggars; but they are no longer so, when they become Christians. No one is supported in idleness. If any are bettered in their circumstances it is by being taught to be industrious and frugal. But many of those whom our author calls “ beggars by profession” lived in much greater fulness by that way of life than they do now by labour ; and it is not very likely that they should have relinquished the one, and chosen the other, from interested motives. What is it that kindles the wrath of this man ? If a word be spoken against the character of these people while they continue heathens, he is all indignant; but if they become Christians, the foulest reproaches are heaped upon them. Is it because these beggars are become industrious, and cease to live upon the superstitious credulity of their neighbours, that he is so offended? Does he think that the British government would be overturned, if all the rest of the beggars were to follow their example ? p. 86.

A man who can still get on with his pamphlet: making, in spite of such desperate scrapes of exposure, has nothing further to fear from conscience or shame. .

From the degree of “ uneasiness” and “alarm," which some of the missionaries acknowledge to be sometimes caused by their appearance in the villages, the Major takes occasion to infer, and reiterate perhaps fifty times over, that a little longer continuance of such conduct, and such effects, will lead to the destruction of the British empire and people in India. Mr. Fuller coolly observes,

• One would think then, the destruction of the missionaries themselves would be not only inevitable, but immediate. As the Brahmans are displeased with none but them and the native converts, if they escape, there is no cause for others to fear. The truth is, the common people are not so under the influence of the Brahmans as to be displeased with hearing them publicly confuted. On the contrary, they will often express their pleasure at it; and when the latter remain silent, will call out, " Why do you not answer him ?” · It may be worth noticing, that the Major has ranted and railed against the senior Mr. Carey on accouut of the journey to Dacca, from not having taken the trouble to perceive that the person who accompanied Mr. Moore on that journey was Mr. William Carey, Mr. Carey's second son. It may also deserve to be mentioned, that the Major, speaking of one of the early Baptist missionaries, Mr. John Thomas, and a professed Brahmin convert, named Parbotee, says he had inquir

« ПредишнаНапред »