Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

of these I helped in three and then a fourth, crying, Ohe, jam satis est,” but a fifth would get in. They had hardly pushed from the shore when the boat took a lurch and almost capsized the inmates into the canal, but it fortunately righted. I now got into one myself, an open one by the way, no other covered one being available, and we were again on the move, some of the converts punting the canoes up the canal. In this way we proceeded as far as Koorahpooker, where, the tide failing us, the boatmen towed up the boats after the fashion of the Egyptian baris. The scenery is beautiful along the banks of the canal, in which we were punted and hauled along for about five miles, till we came to Sojnabarree, where is a little pukka building, once a Hindoo temple, but now converted into a chapel for the worship of the true God. We had not time to go and see it, which I regretted much ; for I was told it had been scarcely altered when converted into a chapel : only the reading desk now stood where once sat the monstrous idol. The Missionary came into possession of it by the conversion of the owner, who, upon his conversion, at once made it over to him for a chapel.

About this place we took our leave of the canal, and wended our way over inundated fields studded with villages, through some of which we had to direct our course by tortuous windings, now tacking to the left, now to the right, now almost returning to our starting point. Thus we passed over extensive fields of paddy ripe for the sickle, and at last arrived at the much wished for Janjera at a little before twelve o'clock, where we found the Christians assembled to the number of about 600 awaiting our arrival. We adjourned immediately to the vestry, which, unlike those we are wont to see, is detached from the church, and looks very like a dawk bungalow. Here, while the bell was tolling, we rid ourselves of the mud and cramps we had contracted in the canoes, and proceeded straight to church, which is a pretty edifice built in a sort of Gothic style, and sufficient to accommodate perhaps 700 people, crowded as the natives of India alone can crowd.

As
you

enter the church, there is a space of about thirty feet by twenty for the Catechumens, who are separated from the baptized by a rail of about seven feet high, at the entrance of which is a beautiful stone font; within the rails are benches arranged, with which the unbaptized are but sparingly supplied. As you walk

up the aisle the altar is a conspicuous object, raised so as to be ascended to by three or four steps, all within the rails of the altar. Above the altar is a window of plain frosted glass, with a cross of red stained glass in the centre. On either side of the chancel were seats provided for the visitors, whence we had a full view of the converts, who sat in the primitive fashion still retained in country churches in England, the men on the one and the women on the otber side of the church. They were rather disorderly at first in providing themselves with seats, and a hum was heard through the church till the ministers came in, when all were quiet save some naked little urchins who kept running about, even during service, in spite of all the endeavours of their mothers to keep them quiet.

a

Mr. B— having been taken ill in the vestry, was unable to take any part of the service, so the whole duty devolved on Mr. JI liked the service here better than in our town churches ; the people seemed more attentive and more earnest in what they were doing, and there is more manifest individual devotion. Hard by on my right front was a man of middle age, whom I could not help observing for his earnestness throughout the service-during the Litany and the rest of the prayers he knelt on the bare pavement, with his right hand covering his face, and the left supporting the right arm. He led in singing, but this, with due reverence I must acknowledge, was not the most agreeable to our unaccustomed ears. We had not overmuch of it. Strange to say, the women take no part in the singing.

After service I walked out to see something of the village and its inhabitants. The village is extensive, and not such as you may walk round with facility, being intersected with passages for canoes and otherwise cut up. On the east of the church my attention was attracted by some hideous images with mouths literally extending from ear to ear, with huge black teeth protruding over the lips, and large goggle eyes with black and red eyebrows almost encircling the head, which was surmounted by something not very unlike a mitre painted yellow, black, red, and green. These images, being placed under a tree hard by a little garden, or rather an apology for one, I thought were intended for the Indian Priapus as the “custos pauperis horti," to frighten little thieves and birds from committing depredations on it, but a Christian coming up, explained to my companion that they were not intended to represent the “ custos furum atque avium,” but the god that is worshipped by the Hindoos in those parts, for protecting them from wild beasts. I will bear testimony to their being hideous enough to frighten away the most savage wild beast. The Christian, after giving us a long history of this god, asked us to his hut, and we gladly accepted the invite and followed him to his dwelling, which was constructed of mud walls with a thatched roof, a miserable-looking hovel, to enter which we should have been obliged to get almost on all-fours; but, fortunately, he led us to his sitting-room, which was the east end of his cow-house, raised a little above the level of the ground, and separated from the vaccine abode by a wall, with a doorway without a door. It was not very elegantly furnished : in one corner lay two or three fish-traps, with as many fishing-rods ; in another, some rude instruments of husbandry, and a basket made of ratan ; in the third corner was a miserable half-starved calf. The host kindly provided us with seats, mine being the ratan-basket turned upside down, and my friend's a log of wood. We had not sat here above a few minutes, and had a few words of conversation with our host, when a crowd began to collect at the door, gazing at us as though we were strange monsters ; but we were shortly relieved from our awkward position by one coming up and telling us that we were wanted in the vestry. We needed not to be told so a second time, but rose immediately, and taking our host as guide, he led us through the maze of huts, and brought us to the vestry, where we found the

a

company, camp-fashion, sitting to lunch, (which Mrs. J—— had brought down with her from home,) the ladies of our party on one bench by themselves and the gentlemen on another, with the eatables and drinkables laid out before them on the floor. I thought, I may be more luxurious, and was about seating myself on a chair, when one called out to me to take care, for it was without a leg ; the table on which I would have laid my plate was in as bad a condition as the chair, so I had no other alternative but to make my hands do the duty of tables.

My friend J—-- was all this time engaged in distributing, as Christmas-boxes, clothes to the poor widows and orphans, who had worn the suits they had on since Christmas previous. After our lunch we gave the children an orange a-piece and sent them home. As we were getting into our boats there was pointed out to me an intelligent-looking man of decent appearance, a convert, who passed as the richest man in the village, having one thousand rupees capital. As for the rest of the people, they are the poorest of the poor, but yet out of their poverty they last year paid two hundred rupees towards the fund projected by the Missionaries of the Tollygunge Mission, for the benefit of that Mission, the object of which is to supply themselves with more decent places for divine worship than those they now have, which are veritable huts, the re-establishing the various vernacular schools, some time since done away with for want of funds, and the establishing industry-schools for the Christian boys brought up in the Mission-house school. As this fund is thrown open to the public, I also paid in my mite. Upwards of one thousand rupees were collected last year.

We returned by the same route in the same tedious manner to the Mission-house by six o'clock, and it was not till late that I took my leave of the company who had guided me through so happy an excursion. I have been asked by my friend J- to accompany him on a journey throughout the Mission, which how we accomplish I hope to tell you hereafter.

Yours,

P.

HOUSES OF PRAYER IN HEATHEN COUNTRIES.

Sır, -As the subject of Missions in India is daily becoming of more importance, any hint as to a better adaptation of our means to that purpose is worthy of consideration. In the accounts that reach us, we continually find complaints of Missionaries having to offer Divine Service in a close dark hut, where there was neither light nor air ; this is not merely the preaching of the word, which of course ought to be done anywhere, but the offering of our holiest services. Now, surely, mere convenience would suggest some other plan than this ; much more when we take into consideration what the effect must be on the surrounding heathens. No wonder they despise our Christian religion, when it comes before them in such a shape as this. The fact is, we have carried our Western notions into an Eastern clime ; and

we have not learnt to adapt ourselves, and the externals of our worship, to the people we are among. Because in a cold country like England it is necessary to worship in buildings, therefore it is necessary

in a hot one like India to do the same. Surely the mere stating the fact shows the inconsequence.

Now, we all have in our hands a book, which relates not only the religious customs of many Eastern nations, but also of those wliose manner of worship was specially ordained by God himself. Surely the manner in which Abraham, Moses, and Solomon ordered Divine worship, may well form a pattern to those that live in like countries. Let our inquiry be how this was, and how far their practices can be adopted by us.

Of Abraham we are frequently told that he builded an altar, and planted a grove. May we not suppose that this was the place where he and his household went daily to worship ? the altar for sacrifice, the grove for a shade and protection from the heat, for the worshipper? Isaac (Gen. xxiv. 63) “went out to meditate in the field at eventide." The margin reads "to pray.” In the tabernacle made by Moses, "according, we must bear in mind, “to the pattern which God showed him in the Mount,” there was a covered place only for the priests, the people worshipped in the open air. Again, in the settled place of Jerusalem, where God placed His name in the temple built according to the likeness of the temple in heaven, still the people worshipped in the court, under the canopy of heaven. Why do not we take example from these? Why do we persist in transplanting our northern notions to the land of the East ?

Let me offer these few suggestions rather to draw from others, better able to judge than myself as to their practicability, than as setting them forward positively. Suppose a Missionary has a dozen villages under his charge, in each of which there are two or three or more converts. He is not able to build a church in each, yet he wishes to hold occasional services : he wishes to have some place where the converts can meet morning and evening in his absence, for prayer, before they go out to their daily work : also some consecrated place where the dead can lie without fear of disturbance. Let them purchase a piece of ground, say a quarter of an acre, dig a trench round it, plant it with trees, build in it a tabernacle, say twenty feet long by ten broad, fitted up with altar, lecturn, and faldstool. In this he could perform Divine Service periodically, the people could worship outside, under the shade of the grove, and in his absence they could resort here for prayer. The place would have the aspect of sanctity, would be reverenced by the Christian, and respected by the heathen. Here at a future time a church might be built ; here the dead might rest. Surely, until Christianity is the established religion of India, such a mode as this might be most advantageously adopted.

I am, Sir, yours, &c.

E. C. L. B.

a

ABORIGINES OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA.

THE Venerable M. B. Hale, Archdeacon of Adelaide, has put forth in the local newspapers an appeal, dated August, 1850, in behalf of an Institution about to be formed at Port Lincoln for the religious instruction and moral training of the aborigines. The following extracts will be interesting to our readers :

“ The whole means at present employed for the instruction of the aborigines in the neighbourhood of Adelaide consist of schools for the children of either sex. They are only schools. Every reflecting person must see that something must be added to the schools, as at present constituted, before we can entertain any hope of their being permanently useful to the natives.

Th distinct sets of children have now been instructed in that school since its foundation, and have gone forth again upon the world. Their position, upon leaving the school, becomes at once one of banishment from the sound of the Gospel of Christ. Their habits are such as to prevent the employment of any agency to keep them in mind of that Supreme Being whose name they have been taught to call upon. They are without pastoral superintendence, without the means of grace, without refuge or protection from the contaminations of vice which surround them on every side. The school has not been without instances of youths who have given the plainest indications of being under strong religious impressions; but what youthful piety-unless indeed sustained by a miracle of grace—could stand against the torrent of vice which must assail the poor young native who goes forth amongst the manifold temptations of this place ?

An Institution is now about to be formed, where those natives who have been brought up at the Adelaide School, and others who may seem fit subjects for admission into it, may be gathered together in one little community, apart from the vicious portion of the white population and the wild portion of the blacks, where they may be kept under regular Christian instruction and enjoy the means of grace, where the attempt may be made to lead them by degrees into habits of industry and a more settled mode of life.

Port Lincoln has been selected as the locality for the intended institution. Our natives, from this part of the Colony, will be there removed from the influence which the elders of their own tribes at present exercise over them ; and it is known from experience that

; natives who have been brought up as strangers to each other are by no means forward to associate together in the wild state. There is therefore scarcely any reason to fear that our people will ever wish to forsake the Institution with a view to join the Port Lincoln natives in their bush life. It is hoped also that they may be prevented from making any attempt to return to this part of the Colony overland : the fear which they have of the Port Lincoln natives, on account of their wilder and more daring character, will go far in deterring them from making this experiment. But our unwearied endeavour will be to

« PreviousContinue »