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ness, in as far as all history proves, that the increase of know. ledge, urless accompanied by an increase of grace, renders men worse, instead of better. And though the British governments in India have introduced many beneficial regulations, for the better administration of justice within their territories; though they be actuated by such principles of justice and moderat on as reflect high honour upon the British character, so that our Indian territories are probably better, governed than any country in Asia, yet, good laws without good morals, must prove nearly ineffectual to the communication, even of temporal happiness; and nothing but the gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ can change the moral disposition of man, and raise him from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness.
The success which has lately attended the Baptist Missionaries in Bengal, is a great encouragement to further exertions in that quarter. It proves that the obstacle to the conversion of the natives, arising from attachment to cast, is by no means so great as was originally imagined. It appears likewise, that God is opening a door for the propagation of his gospel in Bengal, in a wonderful and unexpected manner.
The foundation of a college at Fort William by the Marquis Wellesley, is another circumstance which is favourable to missionary exertions. In consequence of this establishment, many books have been published to facilitate the study of the languages; and more are in the press:- and I perhaps do not exaggerate the matter, when i aver that a missionary who shall now proceed to Bengal, may, in six months, make as great progress in the languages as he might have done some years ago in double the time.
Enough has, I hope, been said to prove, not only that a mission to Bengal is highly desirable, but that no effort should be left untried, in order to the accomplishment of it. Above all, we ought to strive with the Lord in all prayer and supplication, and give him no rest till he remove the obstacles which oppose themselves to the spread of the gospel in Hindostan, whether these obstacles arise from the want of zeal, faith, and holy perseverance of the professing people of God in this country, or from other causes. -I shall now suppose all obstacles removed, and proceed to offer some remarks upon the plan and conduct of a Bengal Mission.
It would, I conceive, be very unadvisable to send out a large body of missionaries in the first instance, as was done in the mission to Otaheite. Some solid objections offer themselves to such a step.
Where many labourers are sent out at one time, that strict and minute scrutiny into the character and views of each individual, which is so necessary to the success of all missions, cannot take place; and it were surely superfluous to point out what a handle to opposers and blasphemers the ilf conduct
of only one missionary might afford, and what incalculable mischief it might produce!
The number of missionaries first sent out, should not, therefore, exceed four or five; some of whom ought, I conceive, to be married men.
Missionaries who go to a climate like that of Bengal, ought not to be far advanced in life. Men of sound constitu tions, who are rather of a spare habit of body, are the best calculated for this service.
The first missionaries sent to Bengal, ought to be fixed in Calcutta, if possible: but if unsurmountable obstacles should oppose themselves to this, they might reside at Chinsurah, a Dutch settlement on the banks of the Hoogly, a few miles distant from Calcutta ; in which case one or two of the missionaries should be natives of Holland, that they might be useful to their own countrymen at Chinsurah.
If, however, the missionaries who may be sent from this country, be permitted to settle in Calcutta, a second mission might, with good effect, be sent to Chinsurah by the Dutch societies. This plan of a double mission is free from the objections which lie to the embarkation of a considerable number of labourers at one time, and for the same place.
When a Bengal mission was in agitation, some years ago, it was proposed that the missionaries should settle at Patna or Benares. This was injudicious; for, not to say that the East India Company is peculiarly inimical to the settlement of Europeans in the interior of their Indian territories, it is certain that the natives of the internal parts of Bengal are more firmly attached to their superstitions and prejudices of cast, than the inabitants of Calcutta and its vicinity. The last are consequently better prepared for the reception of the gospel.
Calcutta, besides its Hindoo and Mussulman inhabitants, contains many native Portugueze, and not a few Armenians; amongst whom, it is presumed, a door might be opened for preaching the gospel. Being the metropolis of the British empire in India, and the emporium of its commerce, it is visited by strangers from every part of Hindostan, and even from Persia and Arabia. Though it be blessed with two evangelical ministers of the establishment, yet it is to be feared that it contains a multitude of Europeans who never enter a place of worship, and who need religious instruction no less than the natives.
Missionaries who intend to labour amongst the Hindoos of the province of Bengal, should attain a knowledge of the Shanscrit and Bengallee tongues. To those who would preach to the Mussulmans, particularly those of the higher class, a knowledge of the Arabian, Persian, and Hindostany languages'is requisite. As one individual cannot attain a coinpetent knowledge of so many languages, it seems desirable, in 3 X
order to the formation of a complete mission in India, that while the majority of the missionaries turn their attention to the Hindoos, one at least, or two of their number, should study the three Janguages last mentioned, and attain a complete knowledge of the Koran, and the various religious dissentions and opinions which have obtained amongst the followers of Mahommed. By these means, the missionaries will be able effectually to combat and expose the errors, of every description, of the natives of Hindostan.
Respecting the qualifications of the missionaries, I have only to say, that, to burning zeal for the glory of God, and the conversion of souls to Christ, they should add good natural parts, and considerable attainments in general knowledge. Placed in so conspicuous a station, it is important that missionaries should have the most decided superiority over the most learned natives; and that the joint weight of their characters and knowledge should put to silence the cavils of infidels and gainsayers among their own countrymen in the East. Let the men then who may be selected for this important and honourable service, be of established character; burning and shining lights in the churches of Christ.
The writer of this paper laments that, wanting the pen of a ready writer, he is unable to do greater justice to such a subject, and thus to rouse the compassionate feelings of Christians for the deplorable state of 30,000,000 of his fellow-creatures. He therefore intreats all the servants of God, into whose hands these observations may fall, to make up for his incapacity by the fervency of their prayers. Let the Christian reader enter into his closet, and earnestly pray to the Father of Lights, that he will be pleased to stir up the minds of his servants in this country, to exert themselves with prudence and zeal in this blessed cause. If such prayers be offered up in faith, they shall not, they cannot be in vain; they may be the means of saving much people. TALIB.
ON SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
To the Editor.
As I was inuch pleased with the insertion of the extract from Mr. Howe, in your Number for September, I am induced to hope others may be so with following extract from the eminently great and pious Dr. Owen; which seems equally suited to the present times of the Church, Yours, &c. J. B.
SPEAKING of Spiritual Gifts, he says, " Thus it ever was, and ever will be in the church of God, that some have better
gifts than others. As the whole church is hence to learn to acquiesce in the sovereignty of "the Spirit of God, who divideth' to every man severally as he willeth," so those who have received these better gifts, either in their special nature, or degrees of usefulness, have some duties singularly incumbent on them, whose discharge will be required at their hands; such as,
1. To walk humbly, with a constant care that a sense of their gifts and abilities do not, in their minds, puff them up; fill them with conceits of themselves, as though they were somewhat, and so make them exalt themselves above their brethren. Indeed, it is a very hard and difficult matter for men totally to suppress those insinuations of a good conceit of themselves, and preferring themselves above others, which gifts singular in their use and kind will suggest. Neither will it be effected without a constant exercise of grace. For this cause the apostle would not have a novice called to the ministry, or public exercise of Scripture gifts, "lest he be puffed up with pride, and fall into the condemnation of the Devil." Afflictions and temptations are, for the most part, a needful balance for eminent gifts; and if we reckon aright, those of us whose gifts are inferior to other men, provided we use and improve what we have received to the best advantage, we have no reason to envy those whose gifts outshine ours; for if they are gracious, they have work enough cut out for them, to keep them watchful over themselves unto humility; where yet it is to be feared that things do not always so well succeed; but that, by sinful surprisals and self-elating imaginations, there is work made for repentance and trouble. Yea, he who is eminently gifted, if he be not in proportion eminently humble, hath but an unquiet life within doors: and if such a person be not truly gracious, he is in the ready way" to fall into the condemna tion of the Devil." Such a person is a prey to every tempta tion, and will also seduce himself into all evil.
2. As it is required of such persons to be liumble, so also in an especial manner, to be thankful. The things whereof they are partakers are gifts; and not to be thankful for gifts, is the most gross ingratitude.
3. A fruitfulness proportionable unto the excellency of their gifts, is expected of persons thus eminently endowed.
He who had received five talents, was not only obliged to trade with them, but to get five talents more. The increase of one or two talents, would not have answered his obligations: To whom much is given, not somewhat, but much is required. The hiding of many talents is a sin, whereof there is no mention in the scripture: it is a sin that hath an enormity in it not to be supposed; and those who may be concerned in it, ought to tremble with the apprehension of their danger. Our Lord is coming, and alas! there is none of us who have traded with
his talent as we ought to have done. We hope that, in his infinite mercy and compassion, he will spare and pardon, and accept of that little which we have laboured after in sincerity; but, in the mean time, we ought always to consider, that labour and fruitfulness ought to be proportioned to what we have received."
And when the king came in to see the guests, &c.-Matt. xxii. 11.
THE Persians," in circumstances of grief or joy, visit each other with great attention; which is a tribute of duty always expected from persons of inferior condition, especially if they are dependant. The guests are ushered into a large room, and served with coffee and tobacco. After some time, the master of the house enters; and his visitors, rising to receive him, con, tinue standing till he has passed through the whole company and paid his respects to each: he then takes his seat, and, by signs, permits them to be also seated *." In the parable now referred to, the circumstances of which may be reasonably supposed conformable to existing customs, it is evidently implied, That the guests were collected together previous to the appearance of the king, who came in to see the guests. So also in Luke xiv. 10, in a similar parable, it is said, "When thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room, that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher." This unquestionably confirms the application of the Persian ceremony to the parable first cited. It may just be further observed, that in the last-mentioned passage, it seems as if it had been the prevailing practice of the master of the house "to pass through the guests, and pay his respects to each of them," as was certainly the case in Persia.
Goldsmith's Geography, page 216,
To the Editor.
IN reading the prophecy of Jeremiah, I have found considerable darkness upon the face of that expression, "O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived" It certainly cannot be intended to convey an idea that there is deceit (in the present acceptation of the word) in God; for, as to God, "his ways are perfect, and there is no unrighteousness in him :" and yet, when I consider, the industry of the enemy of souls * Jeremiah xx. 7+