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A few days later, October 3rd, Mr. Johnson wrote again :
“With regard to the business I wrote to you upon, I have this day seen Skrefsrud and he has begged me not to think of leaving the station, as he says he loves me and knows I love him, and would therefore wish that we should all live together in peace. But there is one thing I wish you could kindly use your influence in doing: and that is, to see if there is not some way by which they can be put on a better footing with the Society, and receive a little more adequate means of subsistence than they do at present. Just fancy, in a place like this, where every article, bread, oil, &c., has to be sent for, how little Rs. 180 is for two families together. They get Rs. 100 from the Society, and Rs. 80 from me. Now, if Boerresen could get Rs. 150, and Skrefsrud (having no children) a little less, say Rs. 120, then they could live as two separate families in one house and there would be no occasion of stumbling or rock of offence. Trusting that you can do something for us in this way, I conclude. Boerreson will devote himself to Bengali, and Skrefsrud to Santali, as they are doing now."
VII. The proposal which Mr. Johnson so generously advocated in these letters was not carried out. With the zealous co-operation of the Rev. T. Evans of Allahabad, the association, designated “ The Indian Home-Mission (Auxiliary to the Baptist Mission) to the Santhals," was resolved upon. A conference of the gentlemen composing this mission was held at Ebenezer on the 12th of November, 1868, when, from funds collected in October by Mr. Evans and Mr. Boerresen, Rs. 1,963-8 was appropriated to the completion of the mission buildings, and repairing damage, &c.," and other arrangements, for the more comfortable support of the missionaries, were made. The Baptist Missionary Society continued its monthly payment of Rs. 115, which has since been made uninterruptedly, down to the present date.
Of Mr. Johnson's accident in February, 1869, and of the baptisin of the first Santhali converts on the 28th of March, I need not write. Indeed my extracts from Mr. Johnson's letters may here cease. Mrs. Johnson died in July, and in the next month the desolate widower went home to England, and his connection with the Ebenezer mission was not renewed after his return. The extracts I have given show plainly enough the infirmities of his character, but they show also his great simplicity and unselfishness, and his generous, patient consideration for the men he did so much to help and sustain as his colleagues. They show also his loyalty to the Society in connection with which he laboured, and made it evident that in all he did at the station he was instrumental in forming, his purpose was to secure a fresh field in which the Baptist Missionary Society might win many souls to Christ.
How far Messrs. Boerresen and Skrefsrud sympathised in this feeling may now very well be questioned. No one at that time suspected them (of any motives which were not in harmony with our own. I will, however, quote some correspondence which took place immediately after Mr. Johuson had returned to England. Read in the light of recent events, it may very probably be understood as I certainly did not understand it at the time. I understood the writer then as seeking for encouragement to carry on without hesitation and mistrust the good work we were all supposed to have chiefly at heart.
In September, 1869, Mr. Skrefsrud wrote to me in the following terms:
“Mr. Johnson on leaving Ebenezer gave over the management of the Santhal Mission to me, to be the responsible agent, not the Missionary, of the Society in England, and that he did, he said, by your authority. As this, however, was merely something verbal, and as I have never heard a word from you about the matter, I should be thankful to know from you in what relation Mr. Boerresen and myself stand to the Society, as well as the Santhal Mission. I do not allude to pay or any such thing, but simply by what authority do we work here, and by what authority do I manage the Station and execute the various functions ? What is the Society to us, and what are we to the Society ? We have several people here who must be baptized, a church must be formed; but before I commence that I should like to know ‘By what authority dost thou do all these things.' Hoping that you kindly will, as soon as convenient, clear it all.”
My reply, under date of September 11th, was
“As to your own status in relation to the Baptist Missionary Society, I need not recount to you the history of your connexion with Mr. Johnson. Indeed, I suppose my knowledge of it is much less perfect than your own. After you both joined Mr. Johnson, he besought the Society to aid him in sustaining you as his coadjutors. As a temporary measure, and in compliance with his earnest desires, the Rs. 100 monthly, which you have drawn since 1867, was granted. Authority to pay this I have received, and this embraces all the instructions I have received concerning you. The Committee have, in short, done for you all they were asked to do, and have done no more, leaving more definite arrange. ments as to your relation with themselves to be determined when they were asked to come to some settlement regarding them.
"The indefiniteness of your position has perhaps attracted the less attention on both sides because of the effort Brother Evans has made to sustain the work in which you are engaged by funds independent of the Baptist Mission treasury. I believe it was hoped that enough might be obtained in India to sustain you more amply than at present without further votes of help by the Committee.
“You write as if your right to labour at Ebenezer depended in some degree upon the fulness or otherwise of your recognition by our Committee as their own missionary. Not at all so. In asking you to take charge of every department of labour during his absence, Mr. Johnson did nothing which the brethren here and the Committee at home would not fully approve and sanction. We Baptists are little trammelled by any forms of official responsibility. He who is himself saved, whosoever he be, we hold to be fully qualified and empowered to speak of salvation and to recommend the Saviour, and these are the things you are doing, and in which we all here and at home wish you heartily God speed.
“If, however, you are not satisfied with such recognition, but desire formal acknowledgment by the Baptist Missionary Society as one of their missionaries, then this must come from themselves, and it were well that you should write to them and request them to determine the question. Without their special authorisation, we here could not act in this matter; glad as all of us will be in every way to encourage and help you.
“Is this enough? If I need say more, let me know in what respects, and I will write again.”
Mr. Skrefsrud's reply was :“No, I do not want myre. We could not help laughing at your kind an
naive letter, for which my best thanks. The leading points in the same are two, out of which premises the conclusion is drawn. The first is the Society is not accustomed to grant more than is asked.' You have not asked (for more than you have gotten) therefore you have not gotten (more.) To ask for being taken up as one of the Society's missionaries, has never been my intention, and I have acted on some principles in not wishing to do so, although the strongest reasons are now removed by the entire reconciliation with my old society and Mr. Batech, without any endeavour on my part; but there has been one thing I wished, and that has been to be recognised by them as a fellow-labourer. That this has not been the case in the way wbich I have wished it, is of course my own fault, never having applied for it. I think that it perhaps is better to wait a little still, to hear and understand what arrangements Mr. Evans is going to make with the Society about the Santhal Mission. It seems, however, to me, and I am sure you would say the same, that more ought to be done for the Santhals than Mr. Evans and we can afford to do, and that the Society ought to send more missionaries to the field, the blessed Santhal field.”
VIII. A few words will suffice in conclusion. Let me revert to my queries of the 22nd of May. I confidently affirm them all.
The Ebenezer station was chosen and commenced by Mr. Johnson, as a station of the Baptist Missionary Society. Mr. Skrefsrud seems to claim the credit of having chosen the station for Mr. Boerresen and himself. Mr. Johnson's history of the transaction is quite different; but it may suffice to ask, “Is it possible that these men, who were then simply dependent upon him for subsistence, should of their own selves decide where he and they should live and labour, and act in this without perfect knowledge and consent on his part ? That Mr. Johnson did all this for the Society is clear enough from his language, in the foregoing letters.
The original Pottah was taken in the name of the Society :-so I am told by Mr. Johnson, who obtained it, and by others who have seen the document. If Messrs. Boerreson and Skrefsrud -as I am assured on the best authorityhave since then contrived silently to supersede this Pottab, and to obtain another, making over to themselves all the Society's rights in land and buildings, this fact accounts for the very ambiguous character of Mr. Skrefsrud's reply to my question ;* but it remains to be seen in that case how he and his colleague can explain and can justify a transaction so widely divergent from the lines of common honesty.
"Mr. Skrefsrud's letter of the 2nd of June did not reach me till the evening of the 6th. I replied the next day, and said in my letter :
"On one point, I must beg you to be more explicit. You say, 'For the Pottah I am alone responsible.' I do not know how that is to be understood. It has been said by some who ought to know that the Pottah was taken in the name of the Society or its agent. I suppose it is in your keeping. Will you kindly send me a copy of it? I have been asked to send this home; and, whatever the fact is, they should know it."
The reply to this note has just been received, dated June the 13th, and reads as follows:“Your letter of the 7th instant has duly come to band, but owing to my absence from home I have not been able to answer it before. “As our mission is an individual effort, and perfectly independent of all other missions, you will excuse me for not affording you the desired information for your committee in England, and for not entering further upon this subject."
The buildings were put up by contributions in aid of the Baptist Missionary Society in the person of its agent Mr. Johnson. An account of the building fund, published in the latter half of 1868, gives Rs. 7,180 as the amount up to that time collected. Of this Rs. 1,360 only is ascribed to the efforts of Mr. Boerresen, If his subsequent collections made his share larger than that coutributed independently of him, it is hard to understand how so much money could be fairly expended upon these buildings. Be the amount, however, what it may, it was expended in building upon foundations laid, and erections commenced, for the Baptist Missionary Society, and the rights of that society can. not honourably be ignored.
“The Home Mission” was introduced to the public as an Auxiliary to the Baptist Missionary Society : in proof of which I appeal to its reports printed in 1869 and 1871. Mr. Skrefsrud says this was done without “authority.” Howover that may be, the announcement no doubt served its purpose in authenti. cating Mr. Boerresen's early appeals to the Indian public, until he had made himself sufficiently well-known to be able to dispense with it. The reports of the Santhals," -- the fifth represents “the Indian Home Mission to the Santhal Mission,” which now lie on the table before me, are curiously representative of the history of the transactions to which they refer. The first aud second are entitled “ Baptist Mission to the Santhals,”-the third and fourth are “ Reports of the Indian Home Mission Auxiliary to the Baptist Mission to the Santhals" only. At the beginning, the Baptist Mission was everything, then a mission claimed public support as auxiliary to it, finally this auxiliary mission shook off all semblance of responsibility to others; and the men who so called themselves have elbowed out of their field the society by which they were at the outset sustained, and to which the habitations in which they dwell legally belong
It would not be difficult to point out other inaccuracies in Mr. Skrefsrud's statement, and every reader must see the ungenerous depreciation of Mr. Johnson's services which pervades it. He deserves better of " those his former bounty fed.” It would be painful to enlarge on this subject. Let it suffice to say that Mr. Johnson removed to Ebenezer at the end of June, 1868, and, notwithstanding his accident, did not leave it till early in April, 1869. These facts come within my own knowledge.
IX. It is no part of our intention to point out to our readers the conclusions to be drawn from the above narrative of facts. The Ebenezer Mission is now before the world as an independent mission. Of the missionaries engaged in it only one is a Baptist; the rest are Pædobaptists-all of them, presumably, equally attached to their several views of the question of Baptism-a position which would preclude their adoption by any existing missionary society. Hence, they do not seek such adoption, nor do they need it. The Committees formed in England and on the Continent are more than sufficient to meet all the requirements of the work. The Committee reflect upon the history of the Mission with regret and pain, but justice to the trust reposed in them has left them no other course but to withdraw the help so long given, until new circumstances sball arise to alter their present decision.