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To say that christianity has been propagated in the 'east, as other religions have been propagated, is to say nothing. It is little to say that thousands have adopted the name, and that it pervades'populous provinces. For three centuries past, the Romish church has diffused the name of christianity throughout the east; and this success demonstrates how practicable it is to “propagate our religion,” (in the common sense of this expression,) throughout all nations of the world. Providence seems to have ordained this previous labour of the Romish church, to facilitate the preaching of the true gospel at the appointed time; for christianity is found even in its worst form to possess a moral and civilizing efficien.cy
But it is in the east, as in the west-all are not Christians who are called Christians. “He is not a Christian, who is one outwardly; neither is that baptism which is outward in the flesh.” The fact was, the Romish church preached Christianity in the east, without the Bible.
Let us now enquire what has been the consequence of sending the Bible to the east. It is nearly one hundred years since the Bible was sent to the Hindoos; but not by our country. This honor was given to the protestant churches of Denmark and GerInany. It was sent to a certain nation in the south of India; for there are many nations in Hindostan. What then was the effect of giving them the Bible? It was the same as that which followed the giving the Bible to us, while we lay in almost Hindoo darkness, buried in the ignorance and superstition of the church of Rome. It gave light and knowledge; God blessed his own word to the conversion of the heart, and men began to worship him in sincerity and truth.
That province in India; which was blessed with the Bible, has since "seen a great Light.” During nearly the whole of the last century, multitudes of
Hindoos (both heathens and Roman catholicks) became members of the protestant church, one generation after another; and amongst thein there has ever been found, according to the records of the mission,* such a proportion of serious piety, as you might expect to find, when the gospel is preached with faithfulness and zeal.
During the whole of the last century, Providence favored them with a succession of holy and learned men, educated at the universities of Germany : among whom was the venerable Swartz, called the Apostle of the East; and others not much inferior to him; men whose names are scarcely known in this country, but who are as famous among the Hindoos, as Wickliffe and Luther are amongst us. The ministry of these good men was blessed in many provinces in the south of India, and the bounds of their churches are extending unto this day. The language of the country is called the Tamul; and the first translation of the Bible in that language, was made, as we said, about one hundred years ago. Like Wickliffe's Bible with us, it became the father of many versions, and, after a succession of improved editions, it is now considered by the Brahmins themselves (like Luther's Bible in German) as the classical standard of the Tamul tongue.
A Jubilee has lately been celebrated in India, in honor of the Gospel. In the month of July, 1806, a jubilee was observed by these Hindoo churches, in commemoration of the arrival of the two first protestant missionaries on the 9th of July, 1706. The year 1806, being the hundredth year (or the second fiftieth) since the gospel first visited their land, was to them “the year of jubilee.” The happy occasion had been long anticipated, and was marked with demonstrations of joy and gladness.The people, as we are informed, walked in proces
*The records are published in upwards of 30 vols, thick 4to,
sion to their churches, carrying palms in their hands; and singing the 98th Psalm; and after offering up praises and thanksgivings to the Most High, they heard a sermon suitable to the day. The sermop at the jubilee of Tritehinopoly was preached by their aged minister, the Rev. Mr. Pohle, from these words : "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."*
These were the effects of sending the Bible to the east. Men were “brought to the knowledge of the truth;" and at the end of a hundred years, the natives kept the jubilee of the Bible.
Such, my brethren, was the light in the south of India. And now a light has sprung up in the north, of which you have heard. Our own country hath begun, though late, to dispense "the word of life.” And although the time has been short, the success has been great. In the north, in the west, and in Ceylon, translations of the scriptures are going on in . almost all the languages of oriental India.
Our own country hath at length assumed an interest in diffusing the gospel. “In the fulness of time,” we trust, her different societies have come forth, as with one consent, to begin the work of evangelizing the east. “In the fulness of time,” we trust, hath this country begun, by these instruments, to employ her great power, and her enlightened zeal, in extending the knowledge of the true God throughout the world.
We ought not to regret that the work is carried on by Christians of different denominations: for if they teach the religion of the Bible, their labour will be blessed. We have no contentions in India, like those in Britain, between protestants of different names. There they are all friends. The strife there is between light and darkness; between the true God and
•See secounts of the "Society for promoting Christian koowledge." just put
an idol. So liberal and catholic is the Christian in Asia (while he looks over the map of the world, and can scarcely find where the isle of Britain lies) that he considers even the term "protestant,” as being in a certain degree exclusive or sectarian. “The religion of the Bible,” or “the religion of Christ," is the name by which he would describe his creed. For when the idolater once abjures his own cast for the gospel, he considers the differences of protestants, (if he ever hears of them) as being very insignificant. Indeed he can not well understand them. Io the great revolution that takes place in his mind (if his conversion be real) he cannot contemplate these minute objects. We ought not then, I say, to regret that different classes of Christians are enployed in the work. For the case is an exact parallel of that recorded in the gospel (Mark ix. 38:) “And John answering said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followed not us; and we forbade him, because he followed not us. But Jesus said, "Forbid him not."
On my arrival from India, a few months ago, I learned that a controversy had engaged the attention of the public, for some time, on the question of sending missions to the east. In the future history of our country it will scarcely be believed, that in the present age an attempt should have been made to prevent the diffusion of the blessed principles of the Christian religion. It will not be believed that an attempt should have been made to prove by argument, that it was wrong to make known the revelation of the true God to our fellow-men; or if, in some instances, it might be permitted (as in the case of remote nations) that we ought not to instruct that people who were affirmed to be the most supersti. cious, and the most prejudiced; and who were our own subjects. We scarcely believe ourselves that, twenty years ago, an attempt was made to defend the traffic in slaves, and that books were written to
show that it was humane in its character, just in its principle, and honorable to our nation. The discussion, therefore that has taken place on the civilization of the east, has been of important use. Men in gentral were not informed. The scene of action was remote, and the subject was new in almost all its relations. Even to some of those persons who had been in India, the subject was new. Just as in this country, if you were to ask certain persons whether they had any acquaintance with the religious world, they would say they had never heard there was such a world; so some from India hazarded an opinion concerning the "inveterate prejudices" of certain tribes in the east, who scarcely new the geography of the country where they lived; what their religion was, or whether they bad any religion at all. They had scen no Star in the East; they had heard of a jubilee for the Bible. Like the spies of Israel who brought vack "an evil report” from Canaan, they reported that India was no "land of promise" for the gospel; that the land was barren, and the men were Anakins. But the faithful Swartz gave another testimony. He affirmed that it is "exceeding good land;»and “his record is true.” He who was best qualified to give an opinion on the subject, who preached among the Hindoos for nearly fifty years, founded churches among them in different provinces, established schools for their children, disseminated religious tracts in their own tongue, and intimately knew their language, manners, prejudices, and superstition; he who restored the Christian character to respect, after it had fallen into contempt: who was seleciod by the natives as an arbiter of their differences with the English, and whom both Hindoos and English loved and feared in his life, and honoured in his death;*
At the funeral of Sir. Swartz łbe Bindoo Rajah of Tanjore came to do bonour to his piemory in the presence or his Brauninical court. He covered the body with a gold clotb, and shed a flood of tears. He afterwards composed an epitaph, for bini whom he called "bés father and his friend" and caused it to be inscribed on the stone which covers Swazlz's grave, in one of the Christian churches of Tanjpre,