« PreviousContinue »
thousands of native Christians, who are at this moment "as sheep without a shepherd;" and who are not insensible to their destitute estate, but supplicate our countenance and protection. Surely the measure cannot be contemplated by the Legislature, for a moment, without perceiving its absolute propriety on the common principles of justice and humanity.
In regard to the other subject, the instruction of the Hindoos, many different opinions have been delivered in the volumes alluded to, the most prominent of which are the two following: First, that Hinduism is, upon the whole, as good as Christianity, and that therefore conversion to Christianity is not necessary. This deserves no reply. The second opinion is, that it is indeed a sacred duty to convert the Hindoos, but that we must not do it by force. With this opinion the Author perfectly coincides. To convert men by any other means than those of persuasion, is a practice fit only for the Inquisition, and completely at variance with the tenor of every page which he has written. The means of conversion, which he has recommended, are those which are appointed in the Holy Scriptures, namely, "Preaching, and the Word of God." The first and present means are the translation of the Word of God into the various
languages; and the next are the labours of teachers and preachers.
The Author is not, nor has he ever been, the advocate for force and personal injury toward the Hindoos. No: he pleads the cause of humanity. The object of his Work, and of his Researches, has been to deliver the people of Hindostan from painful and sanguinary rites; to rescue the devoted victim from the wheels of Moloch's Tower; to snatch the tender infant from the jaws of the alligator, and from the murderous hands of the more unnatural mother: to save the aged parent from premature death in the Ganges by the unnatural son; to extinguish the flames of the female sacrifice, and to "cause the widow's heart to sing for joy."
Another object of his Work has been to shew, that while the feelings of the Christian are painfully affected by the exhibition of these sufferings and atrocities, Infidelity, on the other hand, can behold them, and DOES behold them, with all the coldness and apathy of Voltaire. And this is the great practical triumph of Christianity over philosophical unbelief. While, by the former,. the best feelings of our nature are meliorated, and improved, and softened, and extended, they become, by the influence of the latter, sullen, and cold, and torpid, and dead.
The remaining opinion on this subject, which is worthy of notice, is the following: "The "conversion of the Hindoos to Christianity is "indeed a solemn obligation, if practicable; "but the attempt may possibly displease the "Hindoos, and endanger our Empire." This fear is grounded solely on an ignorance of facts, and on the remoteness of the scene. Christianity began to be preached to Hindoos by Europeans, 300 years ago, and whole provinces are now covered with Christians. In the present endeavours of Protestant Missionaries, the chief difficulty which they generally experience is to awaken the mind of the torpid Hindoos to the subject. They know that every man may choose the religion he likes best, and profess it with impunity; and that he may lose his cast and buy a cast again, as he buys an article of merchandize. There are a hundred casts of religion in Hindostan; and there is no common interest about a particular religion. When one native meets another on the road, he seldom expects to find that he is of the same cast with himself. They are a divided people. Hindostan is like the great world in miniature; when you pass a great river or lofty mountain, you generally find a new variety. Some persons in Europe think it must be a novelty to the Hin
doos to see a Missionary. There have been for ages past, numerous casts of Missionaries in Hindostan, Pagan, Mahomedan, and Christian, all secking to proselyte individuals to a new religion, or to some new sect of an old one. The difficulty, as was before observed, in regard to the Protestant Teachers, is to awaken attention to their doctrine.*
The general indifference of the natives to these attempts, whether successful or not, has been demonstrated by recent events. After the adversaries of Christian Missions had circulated their pamphlets through British India, (with the best intention no doubt, according to their
* In fact, there is scarcely one point in their mythological religion that the whole race of Hindus have faith in. There "" are sectaries and schismatics without end, who will believe
only certain points that others abjure: individuals of those "sects dissent from the doctrines believed by the majority: "other philosophical sceptics will scarcely believe any thing, " in opposition to their easy-faithed brethren, who disbelieve "nothing. Hence may, in part, be discerned the liability "under which inquirers labour, of being misled by sectaries "into receiving schism as orthodoxy, and of forming general "conclusions from individual or partial information. But, in "fact, there is NO GENERAL ORTHODOXY AMONG HINDOOS." See the Hindoo Pantheon, p. 180, by Edward Moor, Esq. F. R. S.
judgment,) announcing the intelligence that some of the English wanted to convert the inhabitants by force, and to blow Hindostan into a flame; the natives seem to have considered the information as absurd or unintelligible, and to have treated it with contempt. For immediately afterwards, when, by the defection of the British troops, the foundations of our empire were shaken to their centre, both Mahomedans and Hindoos (who, if they wished to rebel, needed only to sound that trumpet which was first sounded by a Senior Merchant in Leadenhall-street, no doubt with the best intentions) evinced their accustomed loyalty, and crowded round the standard of the supreme Government in the hour of danger.*
* A worthy Clergyman belonging to the Presidency of Fort St. George, who witnessed the troops marching against each other, and knew not for a time what would be the fate of the Empire; after the danger was over, makes the following most just and striking reflection, in a letter to a friend. "It cannot "but have occurred to every reflecting mind, in looking back
on past scenes, if it had pleased God in his providence to have "dispossessed us of our dominions, how little would have "remained to shew, that a people blessed with the light of the "glorious Gospel of Christ, had once borne sway in this land! "But now," (he adds exultingly, in allusion to the Translation, of the Scriptures) " the Word of God in the languages of all