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LETTER FROM THE DEPUTATION, &c. 223
extension of the Redeemer's cause; we hope for a continued interest in your prayers, and the prayers of the whole Society. May you enjoy much of the divine presence, and yet be spared many years to the church of God. With every assurance of Christian love, and exalted esteem, We are, Rev. and very dear Sir and Brother, Your very affectionate Friends and Brethren in the Gospel of Christ, (Signed) DANIEL TVERMAN, GEoRGE BENNET.
Abstract of the Farewell-letter of the Deputation to the Missionaries on the various Stations of the Society in India.
Isle of France, Dec. 7, 1827. Dear and esteemed Friends and Brethren,
HAviNG, as a deputation from the London Missionary Society, completed our official visits to you, its honored friends and associates in the great and glorious work in which we are all engaged, and having bid adieu to the shores of India to proceed to the discharge of other duties, we embrace the earliest opportunity allowed us to say farewell. A wider scope, beloved brethren, for missionary exertion and for missionary talents, than lies before you, cannot be desired. Not fewer, probably, than one tenth of the human race, one hundred millions of immortal beings and British subjects, lie spread around you; the valley is full of dry bones—very dry; the field is white to the harvest, inviting the reapers to put in the sickle. All these immortal beings standing on the verge of an eternal destiny, all hastening to that tribunal, where it must be determined by the Judge of all the earth ; while alas! with few—very few exceptions, they are without God and without hope in the world. Can you indulge in inglorious supineness, in such circumstances? Can you repose in sloth, when you ought, by day and by night, to stretch forth the hand of Christian philanthropy, and do all you can to snatch these brands from the eternal burnings? We do not question your willingness to use your 224 LETTER FROM THE DEPUTATION best exertions in such a cause; and you will allow us affectionately to stir up your minds, by way of remembrance, to those obligations which you are under to work while it is called day, seeing the night cometh when no man can work. Never had missionaries stronger motives presented, to awaken their zeal, and to rouse them to use their most vigorous exertions. And now is the accepted time, this is the day of salvation. So far as the government is concerned, not one obstacle lies in your way, and the prudent missionary may have access to every city, town, village, and hovel, throughout these extensive countries. You enjoy all the protection and unembarrassed freedom you can wish; and, though the civil power wisely maintains its neutrality, it protects you in using your best exertions, and none dare make you afraid; while you have every reason to believe that the Supreme Authority wishes well to your labors, and prosperity to your cause. We are well aware of the difficulties and discouragements which oppose you : human nature in its worst condition; an idolatrous system, the whole of whose principles and ceremonies are diametrically opposed to those of the religion which you advocate; customs and associations which plead an almost unlimited antiquity; pride, avarice, and sensuality, which are inherent in fallen nature; ignorance, sloth, and deceit, which to human agency are invincible; and all these powerful opponents in alliance with the powers of darkness, whose intervention is never wanting when the truth as it is in Christ is to be withstood, and its doctrines and its precepts neutralized. How formidable do these obstacles appear when duly considered ' Yet there is no reason for either discouragement or despair. The cause in which you have embarked is the cause of God. Greater is He who is for you, than all they who are against you. But, brethren, as it is by the intervention of the appointed system of means that God will destroy idolatry, change the hearts of the heathen, and bring them into the fold of Christ, with what holy diligence ought you, by prayer and study, to seek to be duly qualified for your great work, as workmen who need not to be ashamed ! The knowledge of the language of the people whose conversion you seek is essential to your success; for the better you are acquainted with it, and the more correctly and fluently you speak it, the more respect
TO THE MISSIONARIES IN INDIA. 225
and attention will be given to your message. To that one language, bend your whole attention until you have made it your own ; nor suffer your minds to be drawn away by others, or by the pride of being thought learned, or the vanity of knowing many languages. The possession of any one of the languages of India, in such a degree of perfection as is desirable, will usually cost exertion enough; and, when obtained, will give you access to millions of souls—scope enough for your best exertions. Let not your pundits deceive you, for they are in league with the common enemy, by teaching you a language which those do not understand to whom you have access. Neither soar so high as to be incomprehensible, nor descend so low as to be contemptible and vulgar. There is a style in all languages that is at once plain, dignified, and appropriate, which both rich and poor can comprehend, and which neither can condemn. This is the style which we recommend that you should study, and in which you should preach the gospel. These remarks we chiefly intend for our younger brethren, who have recently arrived in India. Most of you who have been for some time on missionary ground, we are happy in feeling assured, are well acquainted with the language of the people among whom you labor, and speak it both with fluency and correctness. Until then, no missionary is an efficient laborer. To arrive at so high and important an attainment
should be the first concern of a missionary on reaching his
sphere of action; and no other object, however important, should be allowed to divert his attention from it. Any missionary who either cannot, or will not, acquire the language of the people to whom he goes to preach the gospel, is but a cumberer of the ground, and should turn his attention to some other object, and not consume those funds which are raised for the support of useful missionaries, and not the indolent, or those who are seeking their own ease and aggrandizement. Let plain and perspicuous language be the medium through which you place before the understandings of the people, and the consciences of your hearers, the glorious doctrines, and precepts, and motives of the unsophisticated gospel of Jesus. Be it yours to follow the illustrious example of the greatest of mere human missionaries, and to know nothing but Christ and him crucified, and to glory only in the cross. To some this may be a stumbling-block, and to 226 LETTER FROM The DEPUTATION others foolishness; but to many, we trust, it will be the power of God, and the wisdom of God.—Guard, dear friends, against dwelling on subjects of mere speculation, or on such as would afford mere amusement. Let the great things of God fill every address. Nothing will tend so much at once to excite attention, to do good to your hearers, and to destroy idolatry. Let the truth alone be exalted, and error will fall. Life and immmortality are brought to light by the gospel; and the same should be attempted in every sermon that you preach; for, alas! darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people. The fall of man, and the importance of a change of heart—repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, must be the great subjects of every sermon to the heathen. You cannot depart from first principles, without being guilty of a dereliction of duty. And allow us again to recommend that your sermons to the heathen be pithy, lively, warm and affectionate; delivered with a manifest concern to do them good. To be so, they must be short. Much strength is wasted in these countries by long sermons, where so little ought to be unnecessarily expended. A small chapel is desirable at a missionary station where a few converts have been made, who are willing to sanctify the sabbath and to keep it holy, as a place of public meeting for divine worship. But, before such expense is incurred, converts must be made. [Here follow various remarks on the circumstances under which baptism ought to be administered, and other Christian privileges granted to applicants and candidates.] Permit us, dear brethren, to recommend more street and bazaar-preaching; consider what this despised practice did in the days of Whitfield and Wesley, and in the days of Christ and his apostles. This is not sufficiently practised in India by the missionaries, excepting in a few places. No missionary, we conceive, should be satisfied with himself, unless he has preached, in this way, a short sermon every evening, when the heat of the day is over; and, so far from this being injurious to his health, we are satisfied that the exertion would be conducive to it, and prove a counteraction to the deterioration of home-study through the day. Many induce disease, in these climates, by indolence and the want of more bodily exercise. We have every where found that the most healthy are those who make the most exer
To THE MISSIONARIES IN INDIA. 227
tion.—By street and bazaar-preaching, we are aware that you-will perhaps expose yourselves to some contempt; but, by not doing it, you are in danger of a neglect of duty, and the stings of conscience. A love of ease would urge more tranquillity and less publicity. To be known, you must be public ; and both are essential to your usefulness, that both your doctrines and your example may be understood, the one embraced and the other followed. To seek publicity for its own sake would be vanity; but to seek it for the sake of doing good, is the duty of every missionary of Jesus Christ. The school-system in India is diffusing much light and
scriptural knowledge among the rising generation, lessening their prejudices against the doctrines of the gospel, and preparing the way for some great change to which these nations, we conceive, are fast advancing. But allow us to caution you against multiplying schools beyond the power of giving a very frequent superintendence, which should be at least once or twice a week, and that made by yourselves or those assistants in whom you can fully confide. Much has been done; but much improvement we think needs to be attempted in the state of the schools. The masters, if hirelings, will be satisfied with having a few children who can read tolerably well, and repeat a catechism. But why should there not be twenty where there are but four or five 2 A more close, vigilant, and frequent inspection would, we think, cure the evil. But the principal advantage to be derived from the school-system is, we think, the opportunity which the schools give to the missionary, when he visits them, of preaching the gospel to those who stop at the outside, and to the parents who come to hear their children catechised, or others. We would, therefore, recommend that one stated day and hour every week should be appointed and known, that the parents may come to hear their children, as well as passers by. School-rooms should always be selected in public streets and places of great resort, that the people may be induced to stop and hear. When a number are collected to hear the children catechised and examined, a fine opportunity is afforded, either directly or through the children, of placing the great truths of the gospel before their minds. It is preaching the gospel, and not the school, or any other system, that is ordained of God to renovate the world. The missionary who does not think so will be useless, and has