Изображения страниц


The map of the islands of Bombay and Salsette, and a section of the coast on the adjoining continent, is given on the preceding page, with particular reference to the mission established there by the American Board.

The island of Bombay, which is the seat A large proportion of Christians on the of the third presidency of the East India island are papists of Portuguese origin. Company, is but about "nine miles long; In The Parsees are a very enterprising, intel. breadth it varies from half a mile to three ligent class of people. Their ancestors fled miles.

from Persia to India, at the time of the The population in 1816 was, by census, Mahomedan conquests in Persia. They as follows:

are worshippers of the elements. They Hindoos,

have a temple in Bombay, in which they 103,786 Mussulmans, 27,811

pretend to preserve the sacred fire which Parsees, 13,155

illuminated the holy places of their fathers, Christians, 12,600

many centuries ago. Morning and evening Jews,

the Parsees repair to the sea-side to worship Total in 1816, 157,534

the rising and setting sun. The Jews on

this island and in the villages of the adSince the above census was taken, the joining continent are generally from Copopulation has greatly increased. At the chin, and are what Dr. Buchanan denomipresent time it is probably not less than

nates “black Jews." They have a small 240,000.

This population is supported synagogue, in which they assemble for chiefly by trade, the island being the prin- worship every seventh day. cipal mart on the western coast of India. The island of Salsette which lies north

The Hindoos have many temples of idol- of Bombay, is separated from it and the conatry scattered through every part of the tinent by a very narrow arm of the sea. island. One of the most celebrated places A causeway now connects it with Bombay: for daily worship is called “Bombay-davee,” Salsette is about 20 miles long and 14 or the goddess of Bombay, situate near the broad. The middle of the island is mouncentre of the native town. In the centre tainous, broken, and uncultivated, the borof a large enclosure there is a spacious ders generally level and productive. The tank or artificial pool of water, with flights population is near 60,000. of stone steps on the sides, affording con Salsette is much celebrated for its cave veniences for bathing and religious ablu- temples, excavated from solid rock. These tions. A row of temples mostly joined caves are in the interior of the island. together, partly encircle this tank. In the They are situated in two sides of a rocky several apartments of these temples, are hill, at different elevations and of various placed various images of the most popular sizes and forms. Some of these excava. gods and goddesses. Morning and evening, tions are magnificent both for their dimencrowds of males and females of all ranks sions and workmanship. One of the and ages resort to this and other places of largest is not less than 50 feet long, well worship, and amidst the din of bells, trum- proportioned, with rows of pillars on each pets, and cymbols, present their various of- side, as if supporting the incumbent mass ferings, and utter their prayers to the of rock above, all excavated from solid images.

granite. The walls in many of these temThe Hindoos are in the habit of present- ples are covered with sculpture, presenting ing some offering, when they go to their groups of Hindoo gods and goddesses, in temples. A little fruit, rice, ghee, perfume, high and prominent figures. The workmoney, or something is brought and laid manship far exceeds in skill that of ang upon the altar before the idol. The amount living statuary

now to be found among the thus given in a year, even by the most in- Hindoos. Similar excavations are found digent worshipper, is very considerable. on the little island of Elephanta in Bombay In their devotions' at the temples and in harbor. At what period these excavations their houses, there is nothing like social were made, it is difficult to conjecture; but worship. Each one approaches the image, they are obviously very ancient, and pres presents his offering, repeats his prayers, sent a lasting monument of the labor, skill, makes his prostration, and retires to give and zeal, of Hindooism. The Hindoos supway for others. Objects of Hindoo worship pose them to have been miraculously proare very numerous. In addition to the duced by their gods. many temples of public resort, every The coast of the continent adjoining family and almost every individual is fur. Bombay is generally level from the sea nished with some miniature god or image of back to the Ghauts, a distance of from 10 worship.

to 50 miles. This coast is thickly planted The Mussulmans are of various sects, and with towns and villages, from one to six have various mosques or places for worship. miles apart. Each town and village has its

own temples and holy places. The Hin Bombay and the adjoining coast present
doos do not generally build their habitations a fine country, producing in great abund-
around on the lands they cultivate, as do ance all the necessaries and comforts of
the farmers in this country; but they live life, in rich variety and profusion. Nothing
in clusters or villages in the immediate is wanting to make its numerous inhabi-
neighborhood of the temples. If necessary, tants happy here and hereafter, but the
they will rather go a great distance to their knowledge and influence of the gospel.
daily labor, than fail of living near the But for want of the gospel the people are
place of their gods. They make every shrouded in darkness, given to idolatry, and
thing subservient to their religion. The debased by a cruel and oppressive super-
prevailing language of the Bombay presi- stition,
dency is Mahratta. The population speak-
ing this language is near 12,000,000.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The American mission in Bombay was commenced in 1812. It was the first Protestant mission ever attempted on the western coast of India. Paganism, in its most imposing forms, held its votaries with an iron grasp.

There was no translation of the Bible, no schools for the common people, no school-books, and no printing in the vernacular language of the country. Every thing was to be done. For nearly two years many embarrassments were experienced by the missionaries, which greatly retarded them in their study of the native language, and their various missionary operations. And when these obstacles were, by a kind Providence, removed, they had every thing imposing and formidable in a complicated and ancient system of paganism to contend with, sustained by a learned and numerous priesthood :-a system, every feature of which is calculated to discourage investigation, and to deter its votaries even from examining the claims of every other religion.

Though the visible progress of the gospel has not been so great in Bombay as in some other parts of the pagan world, yet there is no just cause of discouragement. Immediate success cannot reasonably be expected among pagans of their character and circumstances. Chained as the Hindoos are by the principle of caste, and awed by the most tremendous sanctions of apostacy from the faith of their venerated shasters, with minds perverted by false philosophy, and hearts by licentiousness and sin, how can it be expected they should at once embrace the gospel? There is no reasonable prospect of the extensive progress of the gospel among pagans under such circumstances, till after many years of patient and persevering labor on the part of missionaries. We cannot reasonably expect that those who have grown up to maturity of life, under such a system of impurity and false philosophy, will ever be induced to forsake it for the self-denying and holy principles of the gospel. The hope of extensive success rests much on the rising generation. To this class of the population, our missionaries have directed their special attention and efforts. Schools have been in operation on the islands of Bombay, Salsette, and on the coast for a number of years. There are now many hundreds of youth who have been educated in the schools of the mission, and in consequence of being thus instructed, look upon paganism and all its array of false philosophy with disgust. It is believed that few comparatively of those who have been thus instructed, are satisfied with the religion of their fathers.

In consequence of the moral and religious instruction which has been communicated by schools, preaching, the distribution of the Scriptures, and religious tracts, a spirit of religious inquiry is beginning to show itself. Some few of high standing in society, have openly embraced the gospel and give pleasing evidence of piety. There is good reason to believe that the way is preparing, and the time bastening on, when a great change will be effected in Bombay and in various other parts of India.

[ocr errors]

It is worthy of special notice and thanksgiving to God, that our missionaries in Bombay, and missionaries in similar circumstances in other parts of India, have never manifested, or cherished feelings of discouragement. They can see and understand the circumstances of the people, and are comparatively happy and satisfied in spending their lives and wearing out their energies to lay the foundation for the ultimate triumph of the gospel. They see enough of success to convince them that God approves of their work. While they believe that God is able to give immediate and extensive success to his gospel in prostrating the idols of the heathen, they are no less convinced, that their minds must be prepared by human instrumentality to examine the claims of the gospel and to understand its doctrines and duties.

None of our beloved missionaries have been disheartened by the slow progress of the gospel;—they labor in hope, and in sure expectation of eventual and complete success, They may never see the Hindoo pantheon overthrown and the banners of the cross waving over its ruins; but their successors, who enter into their labors, will see the complete triumph of this sacred cause. Eventually it will be seen that these pioneers have done a service as important to the conversion of India, as those who shall have the happiness of seeing the millions of the votaries of Hindooism flocking to Christ as doves to their windows. Let not the churches be faint hearted in furnisbing the munitions of the sacred warfare, so long as their sons, who are in the field of toil and of danger, encourage them to effort and perseverance by their own example!

Let the friends of missions never forget the paramount importance of united and persevering prayer to God for the influence of his Holy Spirit. They may cause the Bible to be translated into every language under heaven, they may send the preachers of the gospel to every heathen tribe in existence, they may furnish means for the instruction of the entire population of the globe, and what would be effected without the spirit of God! It is the prerogative of God alone to give the increase. Let every friend of missions show the genuineness of his attachment to the cause, by bis uniform, cheerful, and increasing donations in sending forth and sustaining laborers in the field, and by his fervent and unceasing prayer to God for his blessing.

Christian reader, the field for your missionary exertions is great and constantly opening to your view. The time is short in which you can labor in it. What you do, must be done quickly. Soon you must give up an account of your stewardship; and if found faithful, what will be your happiness to be admitted to the joy of your Lord! Ocheering thought to meet in heaven the souls of pagans brought home to glory through your instrumentality!

Near the close of last year a new station was commenced at Ahmedauggur by the Bombay mission. This station is situated on the continent

, 175 miles, east by north, of Bombay. The city of Ahmednuggur was the residence of the sultan Ahmed, in the time of the Mohammedan empire in India

. It contains a population of more than 50,000. Its location is elevated on the table land of the Ghauts, where the atmosphere is comparatively cool. To this station invalids may resort, with a fair prospect of receiving benefit

, from change of climate. It is in the beart of the Mahratta nation, and affords a promising field of usefulness.

To this are attached Messrs. Graves, Hervey, and Read, with Babjee, a converted Brahmin.




Foreign Missions,



Which was held in the City of New York, Oct. 3, 4, and 5, 1832.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »