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superstition had supplanted us in almost every region. But by the revolution of events, this obstacle is now nearly removed.
It was an opinion delivered by sir Isaac Newton, after the study of the prophetical books, that the power of superstition which had so long enslaved the world, would at last be broken by the strong arm of infidelity. And we have just seen this strong arm" give the last blow to the temporal power of Kome. This loosens her hold upon remote nations. Now then the fulness of time for enlightening the Gentiles seems to be come, for the obstructions are nearly removed, and the means are granted. And no soonerare the means granted, than the desire is given and thus, in every age, the designs of the Almighty are executed by the 'sons of men.
But let us now inquire by whom it is that the light of Christianity is diffused throughout the heathen world? To whom has been assigned the honor of leading the way in this undertaking?
Our own church acknowledged the object a hun. dred years ago, and led the way. Two societies were incorporated for the purpose by the royal sanction; and letters were written by the King of Great Britain and by the Archbishop of Canterbury, to the humble missionaries in the east, to animate, strengthen, and encourage them in their important work. *
These societies still exist and prosecute the primary objects of their institution. A mission in India has been supported by "the Society for promoting Christian knowledge with eminent success; for it was under its patronage that the apostolic Swartz preached the gospel to men of "different tongues, kindreds and nations."
But it is evident that, at the present time, missions are conducted to a greater extent by other sa
• See letters in Appendix.
cieties than by our own. When the gospel was first preached to the heathen, our Saviour gave the commission to individuals; that is, they were not associated by any power of temporal empire. And it would appear as if it were to be promulgated to the Gentiles a second time, by the same means. But this is a subject which will occupy the serious attention of our church.
The church of Rome certainly considered it to be her duty, as the church of Christ, “to teach all nations.” Now it has been so ordered that the church of England should possess at this time a greater facility of access to the remotest nations, than Rome ever had in the plenitude of her power. While therefore we contemplate with a benignant eye the laudable exertions of the subordinate societies, it would well accord with the dignity and character of the church of England, to resume the lead in this work; and, standing as she does like a Pharos among the nations, to be herself the great instrument of light to the world. *
Let this nation understand the voice of that providence which hath exalted her to such a height in the view of mankind. It saith in the words of the text, “let there be light." But when we speak of the nation, we mean the church; and the voice of the church is to be heard at the universities. Is not this the university that gives the light of science to the world? Let it also give the light of religion. We are proud to acknowledge that this seat of learning hath already begun to diffuse the truth of revelation in the heathen world. Some of its members have already gone forth to the east. Men of your own body, who had acquired the highest honors in science, are now in that country engaged in translating the scriptures into the oriental languages. And it would give new ardor to their undertaking, to know that it meets with your countenance and approbation.
“Ye shine as lights of the world, holding forth the word of life." Phil. ii, 18:
But it will be proper to give some account of the darkness which exists in heathen lands, that our nation may feel it her duty to send for the light. For it has been asserted by some that there is no darkness; at least among the idolaters of India; and passages are quoted from their ancient poetry to prove that their morals are sublime and pure. It would however appear from passages in the holy scriptures, that the nations addicted to idolatry, are not only involved in darkness and error, but live in the commission of turpitude and crime. In the Old Testament it is stated, that "the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty;"* and that "even their sons and their daughters they burn in the fire to Moloch;"| and it marks the prevailing characters of idolatry to be these two, cruelty and impurity. In the New Testament the same characters are assigned to it; and are exemplified in the state both of the Greeks and Romans; of the Greeks in the fourth chapter to the Ephesians,& and of the Romans in the first chapter of the Epistle which is addressed to them: and this too in the period of their learning and civilization.
If, then, turpitude and crime marked the idolatry of the enlightened states of Greece and Rome, how much more may we expect to find them amung,
the ignorant and idolatrous nations of the present day? I resided many years in the heathen world, and was satisfied, by casual observation, that the character of their idolatry corresponded with that which is given in the scriptures. I resolved however to visit the chief seat of the Hindoo religion, in order to exam. ine the nature of that superstition which held so many millions in its chain. For this purpose I made a journey to the great temple of Juggernaut, in the
• Psalm lxxiv, 20.
+ Deut. xi, 31. I S. Paul writes to the Greeks at Ephasus in these words: "I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that yd henceforth walk not as orber Gentiles #al! the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened; who be: g pase feeliny, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all unclean. ness with greediness." Eph, iv, 19.
province of Orissa, which is to the Hindoos (what Mecca is to the Mahometans) the strong hold and fountain-head of their idolatry. I chose that season of the year when there is the celebration of the great annual festival called the Rutt Jattra.
On our entering the province of Orissa, we were joined by many thousands of pilgrims, who were proceeding to the festival. Some of these come from remote regions, with their wives and children, travelling slowly in the hottest season of the year, and are sometimes upwards of two months on their journey: Many of the pilgrims die by the way, and their bodies generally remain unburied; so that the road to Juggernaut may be known for the last fifty miles, by the human bones which are strewed
in the way.
On the great day of the festival, the Idol was brought out amidst the acclamations of hundreds of thousands of his worshippers. He was seated on a lofty throne and surrounded by his priests. After a short interval of silence, we heard a murmur at a distance among the multitude; and behold a body of men, having green branches and palms in their hands; advanced with great speed. The people made way for them, and when they had come up to the throne, they fell down before the idol that sat thereon and worshipped; and the multitude again sent forth an acclamation "ike the voice of a great thunder."
Thus the worship of the idol began. But on this subject, we cannot recite particulars. Suffice it to sav, that this worship had the two characters before mentioned. Men and women devoted themselves to death before Moloch. I myself beheld the libation of human blood. And I merely give you this short record, because I witnessed the fact.
I feel it my duty to state to you that these Idolaters are, in general, our own subjects; and that every man, who can afford it, is obliged to pay a tri
bute to the English government for leave to worship the idol. This is called the revenue of the temple; and a civil officer supported by a military force, is appointed to collect the tax. Other temples in Hindostan have long been considered as a legitimate source of a similar revenue. The temple of Juggernaut is now under our own immediate management and controul. The law enacted for this purpose is entitled "A regulation for levying a tax from pilgrims resorting to the temple of Juggernaut, and · for the superintendance and management of the temple:” passed by the Bengal government, third of April, 1806. It will give me sincere pleasure if the further investigation of this subject, shall tend in any degree to soften the painful impression which the above statement must make on the public mind.
There is another enormity of Hindoo supersition which is well known to you, and which I need not describe ; I mean the immolation of female victims on the funeral pile. I shall only observe, that the number of these unfortunate persons who thus perish annually in our own territories, is so great, that it would appear incredible to those who have not inquired into the fact. The scene is indeed remote; but these are our own subjects, and we have it in our power to redress the evil. There is a time appointed by the Divine Providence (according to the prophetic record) to every nation, for its amelioration and felicity. Such a time came to our nation, when the light of christianity visited it, for our ala ters were once polluted by human sacrifices. The same happiness, we would hope, is now come for India. If it should be said that the sacrifice of women cannot be abolished, it will be a sufficient answer to state, that when the Mahomedans were in power, they did abolish it partly: and the Brahmins thentselves have suggested means to us by which, in the course of time, it may be entirely abolished. But the proper answer for the present is to ask an