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1873.] Missionary Conference in India - American Missionaries. 111 propriety, I do not think it is without knowledge, or without God's approval.
The work which opens here is exceedingly attractive, and promises such good results, that the missionaries will be encouraged to give it more attention than heretofore. The great complaint has been that the educated natives hold themselves aloof from Christian influences, and evidence to the contrary is most encouraging."
· AMERICAN MISSION
MISSIONARY CONFERENCE IN INDIA
By Rev. CHARLES HARDING.
I HAD the privilege of attending a General Missionary Conference recently held at Allahabad. One hundred and eighteen delegates were present, eighty-eight were foreign missionaries, twenty-one were native ordained preachers, and nine were laymen. Besides these, a good number of Europeans and Americans not delegates were present. These came from all parts of India, representing twenty different missionary societies. It was doubtless the largest and most important conference of missionaries ever held in modern times. More than forty carefully prepared papers were read, upon various subjects pertaining to mission policy and work, and after these papers, followed, each day, a free discussion. There was a disposition to deal fairly and candidly with every subject. Past defects and failures were humbly acknowledged, and all seemed to feel that our only help was in God. The frequent recognition, from all parties, of our dependence on the Holy Spirit was quite marked, and the yearning desire for his presence, so often expressed in prayer, seemed almost like a premonition of times of refreshing near at hand. There was of course some diversity of opinion regarding questions of mission policy, but there was a perfect unity of aim and purpose, namely, to bring men to Christ, and to establish Christian churches throughout this land. It is evident, also, that opinions regarding the best mission policy are becoming less diverse, year by year.
The spirit that pervaded the Conference was admirable. It was so manifest that all were loyal to Christ, and were seeking only to establish his kingdom here, that even when opinions were most conflicting, the harmony and mutual confidence were not at all disturbed. I think this increased confidence which was awakened, with the mutual love founded upon it, was one of the most precious fruits of the Conference.
Quite in harmony with the spirit of the meeting, a communion service was held Sabbath morning, and all came together to the table of the Lord — members of different denominations taking part in the exercises. It was a most delightful scene, which we shall never forget.
The native element in the Conference added much to its interest and value. There is evidently a strong and devoted band of men coming forward from among this people to be leaders in the Lord's work. At some other missionary conferences, native Christians have exhibited hard and discontented feelings towards the missionaries; but bappily there was almost nothing of this at the recent meeting. Missionaries see now, more clearly than formerly, their true relations to the native churches; and the pastors and churches, acting now more
independently, recognize their obligations to Christ, and are less disposed, and certainly they have less reason, to complain of the missions.
It was very gratifying to see so large a representation from America. There were thirty-three missionaries from America present, and only thirty-two or thirty-three from England. There were actually in attendance at the Conference about sixty persons, men and women, from America. In a letter recently published by the Bishop of Bombay, he speaks of the term “ American Missionary” as almost a household word in India, and this is not far from the truth. The church in America has been greatly blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and it is certainly fitting that it should be known in all the world as a missionary church.
BOMBAY, January 13, 1873.
DOES IT PAY?
By Rev. C. H. WHEELER, OF HARPOOT. FIFTEEN years ago, in company with Mr. Dunmore, I for the first time visited Palu, a city of some 8,000 inhabitants, on the northern bank of the Euphrates, forty miles east from Harpoot. By the aid of the Turkish governor of the city, we succeeded, in spite of the opposition of the Armenians, in securing a place to spend the night. Our only visitor was a young man who, Nicodemus-like, came by night, hastily purchased a Bible, and departed. In due time we located a native helper there, and from time to time visited the place.
Eight years ago we made the first attempt to introduce self-support, by call. ing on the dozen or so adherents of the gospel to aid in supporting the preacher, in which I came near suffering a Bull Run defeat. Aware of the prospective effort, they had pledged their word, each to the other, to resist to the last. “ For," said they, “if these missionaries once make a beginning, they will not stop till they throw all the burden on us.” So, when the subject was introduced in a formal meeting, “They all, with one consent, began to make excuse," affirming their utter inability to pay anything. In vain I changed the base and the weapons of attack, till at length, after a two hours' effort, one man was shamed into pledging five paras, half a cent, per month.
With this very thin entering wedge their purses - not their hearts at last opened to the amount of some eighteen cents per month, and I came away rejoicing in a small beginning. A church of fifteen members was formed four years ago, they furnishing the pastor a house and assuming half of his salary of $112, with the knowledge that our aid would be decreased year by year, and cease in five years, or less. During these four years this “aid' has amounted to $146, and has now ceased, they, meanwhile, having increased the pastor's salary to $164. Meantime the church has received fourteen additional members. Their new chapel, with two good school-rooms beneath it, has cost them $1,370, of which $400 was granted by the Board, and they have paid $850, the balance, $120, being a debt.
Among the largest contributors, two are worthy of special mention. One is their deacon, Hazar, who, eight years ago, grudgingly gave six cents per annum, and now, with radiant face, tells his joy in being able to give $41, the present
year. Another, Mesrope, who then generously put his name down for two cents a month, has paid this year $32" tithes,” and added an “offering ” of $17; but he has not yet been received to the church, because, though a man of integrity and apparent piety, he fails to see, as the church does, the wrong of mercantile partnership with his brother in another city, whose reputation for business integrity is not so unsullied. Thus careful are this little church in receiving members to their communion.
Thus we bid them good-by, as an independent church, to receive, during 1873, $25, in aid of a boys' school, — in which, however, but a small part of the pupils will be theirs, — and a small sum for a girls' school, if the “ sisters ” of the community can be persuaded to give up their free private schools in their own homes, and send the girls to be better taught by a graduate of Harpoot Female Seminary. At our recent visit, the people informed us that they had been estimating all the Board's outlay upon their city, including salaries and traveling expenses of preachers, and even the supposed expense of missionary tours, and found that they amounted to “not less than 50,000 piasters
- a little more than $2,000.”
Does it pay? we ask. Of the nineteen churches in our field, fifteen are, like Palu, independent of foreign aid, and the other four nearly so ; while four other communities, in which churches will soon be formed, already support their preachers, six others, where there is a like prospect, pay half of the salaries, and in fifteen other communities the work of self-support has begun. I give this concise resumé, that you with us may thank God for this form of encouragement, and pray for that baptism of the Spirit which we and the people so much need, that the spiritual building may go on to completion.
We could tell of heart-burdening discouragement, of the sayings and doings of some even who seem to be real Christians, which make our hearts ache, and compel us to sigh at times for a resting place in America, or heaven. We could tell how this, that, and the other, who ought to be fellow-helpers in the good work, seem to be busy in decrying or pulling it down, as mere show," or something worse. But, God helping us, we will not be disheartened, for we see also constant and ever increasing evidence that the work rests on none other than the true foundation, Christ Jesus.
The great mass of the church-members, and not a few persons not yet connected with the churches, appear to us to be real friends of the Saviour. But our one all controlling desire is to see the dumber of such greatly increased, to see a score of new churches formed in prominent centers, that with our own eyes, and from this side of heaven, we may see the completion of the Board's missionary work in this field. But this can only be by the general outpouring of the Spirit, for which we beg you, and all the friends of missions, to pray. HARPOOT (Eastern Turkey), December 25, 1872.
ONE YEAR IN JAPAN - CHANGES.
By Rev. J. D. Davis. We have been in Japan a year, having arrived here December 1, 1871. It has been a year of mighty changes in this empire; I desire to group a few
of them together, and begin with those of which we have heard since leaving America, November 1, of last year :
The Daimios are deprived of their power and nine tenths of their revenue. The Samurai, the retainers of the Daimios, are thrown back upon their own resources for support. The Yetas, who have heretofore been considered something less than human, have had their disabilities removed, and are citizens.
The first line of railroad has been most successfully opened, and a line of telegraph is finished through the length of the empire, putting it in the electric circuit of the world. The old restriction against the export of rice is removed, and twelve vessels are now in our bay, loading for America and Europe.
The promiscuous use, by both sexes, of the public baths, has been prohibited; also the printing and sale of obscene books and pictures. The disgusting obscenity connected with some of the religious festivals is also prohibited, and following close upon these prohibitions comes the abolition of a system by which fathers and relatives sold young girls for a term of years, or for life, for the vilest purposes, and thus fed and kept up a most gigantic system of licentiousness, which has poisoned both the bodies and souls of the masses in this empire. This vast army of unfortunates are released from their contracts, and no more such contracts are to be made in the future.
A truly gigantic system of education is planned, and the machinery to work it is preparing. The empire is to be divided into eight grand divisions, in each of which there are to be a university and thirty-two middle schools. Then there are to be in the empire 210 academies, and 53,760 common schools. From the middle schools and academies there are to be sent abroad for educacation, each year, 180 young men.
Thousands of volumes of English text-books have been imported, and are found for sale in all the bookstores in the great cities. Translations have also been made, by the Japanese themselves, of many text-books, in Geography, Arithmetic, Philosophy, and even of the higher Mathematics. The old custom of shaving the crown of the head is forbidden, and men are requested to wear their hair in foreign style.
And now, to close the year, comes a list of changes, great and sudden enough to startle the sleep of a Rip Van Winkle. Japan has heretofore had a variable year, using the lunar months ; but with January 1, 1873, she is to start even with the world, and keep with her hereafter. The numerous and ancient holidays of the empire, on which they worshipped at their temples and shrines, are all abolished, except New Year's day, and the birthday of the Mikado, and Sunday is substituted for them. Officials are all to dress in foreign uniform, all the old laws are to be revised and printed in a foreign language, and all new ones are to be printed in the official daily newspaper of the capital. This
array of changes does not look much like Japan's going back. She cannot go back. You might as well try to stop an ocean current with tissue paper as to stop Japan now.
But how is it morally, spiritually? The department of religion, which since the accession of the Mikado, four years ago, has had the especial care of the Shintoo religion, and has been next to the department of state in importance, is abolished, and the department of religion is merged with that of education ; and we see, in many of the other changes which have been made, those which
should properly precede a decree of religious toleration, for which the government seems to be preparing. The first Christian church has been organized, a church composed of nearly thirty young men of intelligence, many of whom bid fair to become preachers of the Word. The first Christian convention bas been held, a committee appointed to translate the Bible, and a union basis agreed upon for native work. The magnificent Bible, sent out by the Bible Society, and which has waited here thirteen years for a favorable opportunity, has been presented to the Mikado. The first translations of parts of the Bible have been printed and are being circulated. There is, especially among the higher classes, a desire to examine the Bible, and to know about Christianity; a desire which must be speedily met either in Christianity or in infidelity.
And here is the great lack and the great danger of Japan. There is only a handful of us here to grapple with an empire in this crisis moment of its existence. Is there nothing in the changes of the last few years, and especially in the changes of the last year, which places Japan in an exceptional position in reference to missionary work? Is there not a call here which the Prudential Committee and the churches will hear, to send us men ? They need not be idle, even now. If they had no language to acquire to occupy them, we could set them at work in their own tongue the day they landed.
We have now a school here in Kobe, where we meet nearly forty young men each afternoon. They pay the rent of the building and all the expenses. They come and read and study the English Testament an hour with Mr. Greene; then they have reading in English, History, Geography, and Arithmetic. Our brethren in Osaka have a similar school, nearly as large.
KOBE, December 23, 1872.
REV. HENRY VENN.
It is known to the readers of the “Herald” that the Church Missionary Society is one of the oldest and one of the most successful organizations in the world. Its constituency is the evangelical portion of the Church of England ; and it may be regarded as an index of the resources, material, intellectual, and moral, of that intelligent and influential body of Christians.
Those who have watched the history of this Society during the last twentyfive years, will have noticed with admiration and delight the comprehensiveness of its plans, the soundness of its policy, its steady growth, and its unswerving catholicity. They must have felt that there were faithful and efficient laborers at home, as well as abroad; and upon inquiry they would have found that the most useful of them all, their leader and their guide, was the Rev. Henry Venn, a member of that family which is so widely known, on both sides of the Atlantic.
On the 13th of January last, this venerable man finished his earthly course; and it is impossible to look back upon his life without emotions of thankfulness and joy, in view of the distinguished service which he has rendered to evangelical truth. He has done much for Christianity in England; and he has greatly quickened and strengthened the operations of his Society in all parts of the earth. He became its Honorary Secretary in 1841; and he has devoted himself to its interests, for more than thirty years, with unwearied diligence and fidelity.