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instruction and edification, having repeatedly conveyed to the Directors his earnest desire, that they would establish a mission there, they, in compliance therewith, sent out, in 1827, a missionary from England with that view.
By desire of the individual to whom we have already referred, two of the brethren, belonging to the Society's mission at the Madras station, alternately visited Chittoor in that year, for the purpose of administering the Christian ordinances to those among the natives who had embraced the Gospel, and appeared to be scripturally entitled to the same. On the first of these visits, 40 adults were baptized; and about 70, who were professed converts from Hindooism and Mohammedanism to the Christian faith, were, at the same time, united in church-fellowship. The brethren, during this visit, formed at Chittoor two native schools, one for boys and the other for girls, which, before the arrival of the missionary from Europe, were increased to four ; all of them being supported by the benevolent individuals already mentioned.
The missionary sent from England for this station, on his arrival at Chittoor, in August, 1827, found there a Christian church, composed of between 60 and 70 natives; three native catechists, who preached to the prisoners in the Zillah Jail; and several native schools. Among the church-members, however, were many whose measure of Christian knowledge, and whose personal conduct by no means corresponded to the expectations which the missionary had formed concerning them. These, therefore, he placed under a regular course of catechetical instruction, and also adopted other suitable means, with the view, in dependance on the divine blessing, of imparting the light of Christianity more fully to their minds, and expelling such evils from their lives, as had disqualified them for participating in the privileges of a Christian church.
In the meantime, the preaching at the Jail was continued--two native services (one in Tamil, and the other in Teloogoo), and an English service, were performed on the Lord's-day; the Scriptures were read and explained daily at the house of the missionary, for the benefit of as many persons as chose to attend ; and two additional schools were established in the mission compound, immediately under the eye of the missionary, in which, chiefly, the children of professedly-christian parents were educated. The whole number under instruction in the six schools amounted to nearly 160.
One of the three catechists, before mentioned, having died, and the two others having been removed, one to Bangalore, and the other to Bellary, the missionary was supplied with two native assistants, one from the former place, and the other from Madras; who, possessing talents for public speaking, and generally-correct views of Christian doctrine, applied them. selves to the acquisition of Teloogoo, that they might be enabled to preach in the villages around Chittoor, where that language is principally spoken.
The missionary, after persevering for a considerable time in his laudable efforts for the purification of the church, to which he had been introduced on his arrival at Chittoor, and succeeding only in a very partial degree, came at length to the determination of dissolving it altogether, in hope, with the divine blessing, of at length forming a new church, composed of persons whose conduct should be according to the Gospel of Christ. But, alas ! it pleased the Almighty to remove him by the hand of death before these expectations had been realized. His decease, however, did not take place till he had had the satisfaction to witness the completion of some important arrangements for the stability and advancement of the mission; among which was a convenient mission-house, erected on a spot of ground presented to the Society hy a respectable European resident at Chittoor; and a mission chapel, which was opened for native worship a short time prior to the death of the missionary.
The mission is, at present, under the superintendence of an able native assistant from the Madras station, aided by two native teachers belonging to that of Chittoor. According to the latest accounts, the attendance on the native services had increased, and the schools, in all of which the education is scriptural, were improving.
Let us pray that the Lord would be pleased to provide a successor to the late highly
valued missionary at this station, who shall prosecute the work of the mission with a piety and zeal equal to those of the lamented deceased, and under whom, in fulfilment of the hope he so ardently cherished while yet alive, a native Christian church shall be gathered, consisting of numerous and exemplary members, who shall walk in all the commandments of the Lord blameless, and prove burning and shining lights amid the darkness of the surrounding hea. thenism ; and, by the grace of God, to the eventual dispersion of that darkness! Amen.
16th June, 1832.
NARRATIVE OF THE CONVERSION OF THE REV.
JOHN BILDERBECK FROM THE ERRORS OF POPERY, TO THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY AS CONTAINED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. (DELIVERED BY HIM AT HIS ORDINATION.)
In our Monthly Chronicle for February last, we communicated to our readers particulars of the ordination of Mr. John Bilderbeck, who, some months previously, had come to England for the purpose of completing his studies preparatory to his engaging in permanent missionary labours in India, under the patronage of the Society ; it was further stated, that Mr. Bilderbeck had been educated in the Jesuit's college, at Pondi. cherry, and afterwards brought to a knowledge of the truth through the instrumentality of the Society's missionaries at Madras. .
It was also intimated, that, being unable to bear the severity of this climate, he was under the necessity of returning to India before his design in visiting England had been fully accomplished. He accordingly left this country, on his return to India, on board the Lady Kennaway, on the 1st of January last, having been appointed by the Directors to labour at some station belonging to the Society within the Madras Presidency, as stated in the Monthly Chronicle for February ; in which, likewise, is contained a parting letter of Mr. Bilderbeck to the Directors, written by him on board the “ Lady Kenna. way,” while detained at Portsmouth.
Mr. Bilderbeck, at his ordination, gave a detailed and interesting account of the circumstances which led to his conversion from popery, and to his subsequent reception of the gospel as contained in the pages of inspiration. This narrative we now present to our readers, with the expression of our regret that it has not appeared earlier.
Considerations and Circumstances which led Mr.
Bilderbeck to devote himself to the Missionary work.
It may be imagined by many, that, because I was born and educated from my infancy amongst the idolatrous natives of India, that, on that account, I have always had some de. gree of sympathy for their condition. Such, however, has not been the case ; for a con. stant familiarity with their objects and modes of worship, connected with the close conformity of Roman catholicism with paganism, insensibly hardened my heart against any feeling of commiseration, and desire for their spiritual welfare; and this was not excited until I myself became really enlightened, and the subject of divine grace. The considerations that the heathen originated in the same parents with myself—that they possessed souls immortal as my own, and therefore equally capable of enjoying eternal blessedness, or suffering never-ending misery that they were also guilty before God-ihat they stood as much in need of salvation as myself--that they were also included in the promises of God—that the gospel was as peculiarly adapted to them as it was to me that the Lord Jesus intended that this “gos. pel of the kingdom of God should be preached unto all nations”-and that, not in a few instances, the preaching of it had been succeeded by most salutary results, these led me so far to imbibe the missionary spirit, as to cherish a degree of solicitude for the welfare of those who were perishing for the lack of knowledge. My soul's desire and prayer to God for the heathen was that they might be saved; and I regarded with lively interest the proceedings of those Societies which had for their objects the spiritual good of the poor heathen. I was at this time employed in a mercantile house, labouring for the bread that perisheth, with every prospect of bettering my worldly circumstances; but, whilst actively seeking after the good things of this world, my mind became more powerfully and commandingly arrested to the claims of the heathen, from a speech delivered by the Rev. John Smith, soon after his arrival at Madras, on the occasion of the anniversary of the London Missionary Society, which was held in November, 1828 ; in which he most stre
nuously advocated the importance and duty of making personal exertions and sacrifices in the cause of Christ, chiefly enforcing it on those who were under obligations to redeem ing love. I now felt convinced that I was no longer justified in sitting in indoient inace tivity, and that, as I understood the language of the country, and could converse in it with facility (which made the obligation greater), I thought it was my duty exclusively to devote myself to the work of making known to my perishing brethren around me “the unsearchable riches of Christ !” I made the important question a matter of private prayer and mature deliberation. Fearing lest it should turn out to be a mere feverish excitement of the moment, I availed myself of the earliest oppor tunity to wait on Mr. Crisp, my father in the gospel, to seek his advice; but, before I could develope my feelings, to my great surprise he opened the subject by first asking me what I thought of the missionary work. I then put him in possession of my views, and solicited his opinion, which was very favourable. Meanwhile, he affectionately advised me to reconsider the subject. A day or two after, I received a note from the Rev. John Smith, inviting me to breakfast at his house; when the meal and family worship were over, and we were left alone, he, to my astonishment (as he was ignorant of the interview I had with Mr. Crisp), proposed exactly the same question; and added that he would be happy to render me every assistance in preparing for the work at Madras. Struck with these sin gular coincidences, and as my own private judgment had been previously made up for the work, I thought I saw the finger of infinite wisdom clearly pointing out the way in which I should walk. I now did not hesitate, but was enabled to offer myself, saying, “ Here am I, send me !” “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, I conferred not with flesh and blood :" it is true I intimated my desire for the work to my friends, but did neither anticipate nor wait for their approbation. I surrendered myself at once to the disposal of the Mission. ary Society, with a resolution to bear the consequences, be they what they may. I have hitherto, by divine grace, been support ed, preserved, and blessed in my preparatory studies and labours; and, though painfully deprived of those superior advantages which I had anticipated from some years abode in this land of privileges, yet I am willing to regard the finger which has hitherto directed my path, to embark in the same errand, relying on the same grace, and to spend and to be spent in the service of God amongst the Gentiles. Were it not for the innumerable obligations I am under to redeeming love, I should consider the work not sufficiently commanding in itself to claim my personal
and exclusive devotedness ; but “I thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for them, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again !” Since my dear Redeemer gave himself up unreservedly for my salvation, cheerfully exclaiming, “Lo! I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) I delight to do thy will, O! my God!” I am constrained to give myself up unreservedly to his work, joyfully responding, “Here am I, send me;" --and since Christ thought no sacrifice too great to save souls, I humbly trust that I shall feel no work too laborious to promote his glory! These are the considerations and the circumstances that induced me to devote myself to the work of a missionary among the heathen.
Mr. Bilderbeck's early Life. · I was born at Madras, in the East Indies. My parents were of the Roman Catholic persuasion. As soon as I could speak, they taught me to repeat, at the hours of resting and rising, the Lord's Prayer, and that to the Virgin Mary, commonly called “ Ave Maria ;" which were preceded and followed by the sign of the cross, as customary amongst the Papists, and was led constantly to worship at the Romish church. Thus, at a very early age, I was led to imbibe the principles, prejudices, and superstitions of her system. When my parents died, I was placed under the care of a valued uncle, why sent me for education, when very young, to the Jesuit academy at Pondicherry, a French settlement about ninety miles south of Madras. Besides the various branches of polite literature to which the attention of the young men were directed, great pains were taken to form and establish the minds of the young men in the principles of popery ; but, during my whole stay in this institution, I do not remember having seen so much as a leaf of the Bible !
His removal to Madras. After three or four years had elapsed, my uncle invited me to spend some time with him at Madras; but it pleased the Sovereign Disposer of all events, not long afterwards, to remove him from me. His death was followed by an alteration in my situation ; for, instead of returning to the Jesuit academy, I was placed, by those who now became my guardians, and were respectable Protestant merchants in the same place, under the care and tuition of the late Rev. Thomas Nicholson, one of the missionaries of the London Missionary Society :' thus,
when my father and mother forsook me, the Lord took me up.' But I proved to be a most rebellious child ; for when, by this eminent missionary, my mind was first directed to the study of the Holy Scriptures and Dr. Watts's Catechism, I felt very un
willing to attend to them. His spiritual instructions were received with bad feelings. From the prejudices of early life, my mind was completely bent upon favouring that which my parents had approved. This feel. ing of opposition, however, did not continue long; it pleased God to remove Mr. Nicholson by death on the second of August, 1822. I was peculiarly struck with the composure, joy, and holy serenity that he manifested in the prospect of dissolution. This so affected me, that I determined not to reject his religion as being unworthy of my notice or reception before I had investigated it.
His Renunciation of Popery. After this event, I was removed to the care of another valuable missionary of Christ belonging to the same society, the Rev. Edmund Crisp, late of Madras, and now of Combaconum. His kind instructions proved a blessing to me. I soon suspected the errors of my foriner sentiments, and began freely to search the Scriptures for myself, till I was led to the conviction that popery was a prac. tical libel upon that sacred religion which was established by Christ and his apostles! Were I not afraid of intruding on your time, I might introduce the train of arguments on the ground of which I renounced popery. But suffice it to say, that the diametrically opposite sentiments and practices which I discovered between the holy apostles and the Romish priests, who pretend to be their immediate successors, could not but arrest my serious attention, and lead me to call for an explanation from the latter of the difficulties which to me seemed irreconcilable, irrational, and unscriptural. I found, however, that no satisfaction could be given, and that they could do no more than abound in unwarrantable threats. I felt it, therefore, to be my duty, from the honest convictions of judge ment, and the force of truth, to leave their church, and to embrace and defend protestantism, as that which was most in accordance with the word of God. Some of the priests told me, on one occasion, that, if I took upon myself to read and interpret the English Bible, I and my Bible would most assuredly go to hell! Others said that, 1! 1 persisted in acting contrary to the authority of the church that gave me birth, I should die with an ulcer in my throat! And I am persuaded that, if any calamity should happen to me to-night, or during my voyage to my native land, they would account for it in no other way than by attri. buting it to the judgment of God for with drawing from their communion! This investigation of truth continued from the year 1823 10 1826, without, however, making any saving impression on my mind. My decided Tenunciation of popery soon exposed me to no little personal trial. The smiles of my friends, which I had once valued, were now
forfeited ; those who cheerfully received me at home now no longer gave me a reception, and the root of bitterness sprung up to disturb our peace and harmony. I cannot here enter into particulars, without unnecessarily doing violence to the feelings of some abroad. The premature death of a near relative has since pleasingly recalled the mutual exercise of our best feelings.
His Return to Pondicherry. After a residence of about four years with Mr. Crisp, circumstances rendered it necessary for me to leave his house and go to Pondicherry, where I had been formerly educated. Here I resided again nearly a year, during which time my life was one open violation of the laws of God; gross temptations presented themselves in every direction, and were not unfrequently complied with, contrary to the remonstrances of conscience, and the convictions of judgment. The valuable instructions of Mr. Crisp, and the prayers he had often offered for me at social worship, frequently occurred to my recollection ; and I felt that I was retrograding very far from those principles of virtue and religion which he had taken so much pains to instil into my mind.
He re-visits Madras. This filled me with distress; and the restraining grace of God at length checked my undisciplined course of life, whilst a concern for my immortal soul led me to apply for leave again to return again to Madras. It being acceded to by my friends, I went there, and took up my residence with a pious family, the head of which was a member of Mr. Crisp's church at Black Town. .
His Conversion to Christ. I once more resumed my attendance on Mr. Crisp's ministry, and was much benefited by his discourses, which were remarkable for their simplicity and spirituality ; and, by the divine blessing, they always tended to enlighten my mind about those things which concern my eternal interests. I went on from one state of feeling to another, till at last I was brought to feel the odiousness of my sins, the enormity of my guilt, and my total helpless and hell-deserving condition as a sinner against God. I now sought, by frequent and ardent prayers, an interest in Christ, in whom I found all that I needed as a rebel : his righteousness to justify my guilty person-his blood to atone for my sins
and his Spirit to sanctify my nature ; and, as a consciousness of my sinfulness increased, the preciousness of the Redeemer likewise increased. The services of God on Sabbath days became peculiarly delightful to me. I not only lived in the enjoyment of religion myself, but became exceedingly anxious that it should also be enjoyed by my own ser
vants, and those of the family with whom I lived. These servants were mostly heathens.
• I frequently assembled them in my study, and conversed and prayed with them. I am thankful to say, not without some happy results. The recollection of such seasons of my first Christian career, though pleasant, gives pain to my mind ; for they show me the necessity of repenting, and doing my first works.'' Oh, for more of the vitality of genuine religion! I was the subject of these serious impressions about the middle of the year 1827 ; but, for the want of greater resolution, I did not become identified with the people of God in church fellowship, although I saw the propriety of being so, and even enforced it upon others. In speaking one evening on the subject with the mistress of the house in which I lodged, who was also undecided on the point (though her husband was a member of Mr. C.'s church), she, knowing that my situation was similar to her own in that respect, said that she felt the force of my arguments, but would feel them still more if I were to reduce my sentiments to practice myself. I then perceived that I was not only doing great injury to myself, by keeping away from this ordinance of Christ's appointment, but was also a hindrance to one whom I conceived to be a disciple of Jesus.
His Union with the Church in Black-Town. .
IRELAND. Rev. George Mundy's Tour in the South and
West of Ireland, on behalf of the Society.
Sabbath, March 18th.-I preached twice at the Independent chapel at Youghal. Held a public meeting at the Town Hall on Monday, which was well attended. The remaining part of the same week I was in the neighbourhood of Bandon and Clonakilty, accompanied by Rev. Mr. Watson. Meetings ai latter place well attended.
Sabbath, March 25th.-Preached in the morning at the Independent chapel, Cork, and Rev. Mr. Urwick preached in the evening. Held two public meetings there on Monday. On Tuesday morning formed a Juvenile Society amongst the young people of the congregation, and enrolled abont'thirty collectors. Had another meeting in the evening. These services were all well attended. The collection was upwards of £50.
During the remainder of the week I attended meetings at Fermoy, Mallow, and Charleville, and am much indebted to many kind friends, and excellent ministers of the Establishment, for the assistance which I received from them.
Sabbath, April 1st. I preached twice at Rev. Dr. Townley's, at Limerick, and held two public meetings there on Monday, which were well attended, and the collection nearly double that of last year. One person, however, was offended, who excited some evil. disposed persons to come on Sabbath evening to break Mr. Townley's chapel windows after service, a circumstance which Mr. Townley never experienced before. From Limerick I proceeded to Nenagh, Maryboro', and Dublin. On Friday, 5th instant, the public meeting was held there (viz., Dublin), which I attended, and on Saturday I addressed the collectors of the Ladies' Society.
Sabbath, April 8th.-Preached at Dublin, to very large congregations ; at Mr. Urwick's in the morning, and Mr. Stuart's in the evening.
Monday, April 9th.Proceeded to Carlow, where I preached, and held a meeting on Tuesday at the Presbyterian chapel. On Wednesday, the 11th, returned to Dublin, and held a meeting at Mr. Urwick's in the evening; and, having no other service this week, I remained in Dublin, to attend the Church Missionary anniversary meeting, which was held on Friday, the 13th, and felt much pleasure in rendering our Episcopal friends my humble assistance on the occasion.
Sabbath, April 15th.-Preached twice at the Independent chapel at Sligo, and held a public meeting there on Monday. From thence I proceeded to the county of Tyrope, where I held several meetings, accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Miller, the Presbyterian minister at Cookstown, and having preached
I therefore immediately resolved to send in my application for church fellowship the fol. lowing day, and begged that this lady would also send hers, which she did; and, in the ensuing month, on the 1st of August, 1828, we were both received by the church, and recognised as regular communicants. This was a most solemn day with me, not merely on account of the peculiarities of the occasion, but because it was just the day previous to the sixth anniversary of the death of Mr. Nichols sun, which had laid the first ground of my in quiry after truth. Since my arrival in England, I have received the most painful intelligence of the death of the lady to whom reference has been just made ; but I have not the slightest doubt of her eternal blessedness! This is my humble history : a change has thus been wrought both in my views and feelings. I hate those things which I once loved, and love those things that I once hated. I cannot resist these internal evidences, and trust I can exclaim, without presumptuous boasting, that “Whereas I was once blind, now I see !'- that I know I have passed from death unto life, because I love the brethe ren'--and that, being justified by faith, I have peace with God.' These circumstances lead me to hope that God, by his sovereign and unmerited grace, has called me to the knowledge of Him, whom to know is life eternal !!