« FöregåendeFortsätt »
CHINA.–VISIT TO A BUDDHIST MONASTERY. By the kind permission of the Rev. George Smith, late of the Church Missionary Society, we present to our readers the following passage from his recent interesting Work on China; together with the engraving on the preceding page illustrative of one of the many superstitious customs prevalent among these singular people. The extract contains an animated account of a visit paid by the Author to a Buddhist Monastery in the neighbourhood of Ningpo, and thus commences :
“On the 15th of September, I set out on my second visit to the monastery of Teen-tung, accompanied only by my Chinese boy. I was carried in a chair, about a mile and a half through the city, to a retired part of the eastern suburbs. Here, on a little lake, entirely surrounded by shops and warehouses, was the boat which was engaged to convey me and my boy, with a few articles of provision, towards our place of destination. As soon as I made my appearance, the boatman became excited, and was quickly involved in a quarrel with my boy. On discovering that the boat was hired to convey a foreigner, the boatman wanted to raise the sum agreed upon between him and my boy some hours before, when no mention had been made by the latter that his master was a foreigner. A long and angry altercation ensued between them, and a crowd was soon attracted towards the spot in which we were. To a person unacquainted with the Chinese temperament, the danger of a serious personal encounter between them would have appeared imminent; but their excited gestures and impassioned tones were carefully restrained within the limits of caution, and no assault was committed.
“As soon as this preliminary difficulty was overcome, we proceeded along the canal, amidst a multitude of boats laden with people, who were bringing vegetables and provisions to market. These canals are the only mode of transit, for heavy commodities, from one part of the country to another. About a mile from the city the country begins to assume a very pretty appearance, and to the native mind presents many associations of interest and awe in the multitude of tombs, which enshrine the remains of their forefathers. We passed a number of Sze-tang, or ancestral halls,' some of which belonged respectively to the Cheang, the Woo, the E, the Ju, and the Sze families. These various clans reside within the city, and have a common right to the ancestral halls, in which the tablets, commemorative of their departed ancestors, are ranged in order according to their generations. Little temples continually succeed each other every mile, with two or three Bonzes sauntering about the entrance. A bag, fastened to a long pole, so as to reach to the boats which were passing by, was held out from some of the temples, in order to receive the offerings of the devout (p. 665). Every boat contributed a few copper coins to the sacred bag for the idol, on receiving which the agents of the institution commenced sounding a gong, by way of celebrating their offerings. In each of the bags I deposited, as my gift, a few Christian books on the sin of worshipping idols. The people in the suburbs were very desirous of receiving books, and followed the boat some time after I ceased from distributing them. One man, in his anxiety to catch a book, lost his balance, and fell into the canal.
“I landed at a little village near the terminus of the canal, and proceeded, in a chair, over the hills to the Buddhist Monastery at Teen-tung. About sun-set I was domiciled in some apartments, which I was permitted to appropriate to my use, in one of the quadrangles of the monastery. My luggage was deposited in the inner room, in which I slept, leaving my boy to occupy the outer room. In the
latter was a large idol, which brought us occasional visits from some of the worshippers. One of the earliest visitors was a priest, who, after lighting a few fragrant sticks and presenting them to the idol, bowed down before it, knocking his head three times against the ground. The frequent sounds of bells and gongs during the night deprived me of those peaceful slumbers, which I might have expected to obtain in a more favourable situation. These vigils of the Buddhist Monks were far from being calculated to soothe the mind. On such a spot, however, feelings of thankfulness were sometimes more vividly realised than elsewhere, at the remembrance of that grace which alone makes a Christian to differ from the heathen around him.
“I was disturbed at an early hour in the morning by a priest groaning in the ante-room, and uttering doleful sounds, as he prostrated his body before the hideous idol, after re-lighting the perfume-sticks. I remonstrated with the poor creature, who, with a vacant stare, asked me whether there were no Buddhist Priests in my own country, and what idols we worshipped. I gave him a tract, which he was unable to read, and which I therefore received again.. In the afternoon I passed through some of the lesser temples, in which a few priests were performing their customary mummeries. I was at length attracted to the principal temple, in which about thirty priests were engaged in celebrating the evening service. The abbot stood in the centre with his face towards a colossal idol, at the distance of a few yards. A number of priests were marshalled in a row at a little distance on either side. At the tinkling of a bell they commenced a chant in slow time, and gradually increased in rapidity of utterance, as the quick beating of a hollow sounding-board led to an equally quick articulation of their unmeaning sounds, sometimes in a rehearsing, and at other times in a singing tone. Some of the priests, while repeating the sounds, secretly held out their hands towards me, making signs for some of the books which I carried under my arm. At length they all bowed down for some minutes before the idol, with their muffled faces on the ground. The sight of such an instance of delusion overcame all hesitation on my part; and, proceeding at once into the temple, I passed between the rows of priests, and placed a tract before each of them, as they lay on the pavement beating their heads. The tract contained a remonstrance against the sin of idolatry, and was written by a Chinese Christian, Leang Afa, himself a convert from idolatry,
“In the evening I proceeded to an out-temple distant a few hundred yards, where two priests were stationed. They appeared to take pleasure in exhibiting the ugly little idols, which were enshrined within the principal hall. As I remonstrated with them, in the presence of many other persons, on their folly in asking me to worship such senseless blocks, I proceeded to point to the idols with my umbrella; whereupon the principal idol soon gave way to the force with which, in my carelessness, I poked its various parts. The whole assemblage burst into a loud laugh, on which I was emboldened to show how little the other idols could help themselves. As I gave them a slight thrust they trembled, tottered, and tumbled from their thrones. The people again laughed heartily, as the priests tried for some time in vain to make one of the idols maintain its sitting posture, the fall having disordered its component parts. Thinking that this liberty might put their good humour to too severe a test, I became more serious in my manner, and spoke of the wrath of God on those who thus dishonour his name. The only intelligible reply which I received was, that it was the Chinese custom to worship idols."
BAPTISM OF THREE CHINESE CONVERTS IN SCOTLAND. It will be remembered, that when the Rev. Dr. Legge arrived in this country, in March, 1846, it was intimated, that he was accompanied on his return to England by three intelligent Chinese youths, whom he was induced to bring with him, that they might be placed under a course of instruction and training, with a view, ultimately, to their being engaged in the spread of the Gospel among their countrymen. Our readers will learn with devout gratitude, that there is now every prospect of the realization of this hope. The means of grace which they have enjoyed, since their arrival in this country, have happily issued in their conversion to Christ; and, in the month of October last, they were baptized and received to the fellowship of the Church. As they have also made rapid and decisive progress in the acquisition of general and religious knowledge, there is strong reason to hope that they will return to China, thoroughly furnished for their work, and be made the instruments of turning many unto righteousness. The following is the copy of a letter addressed by Dr. Legge to the Foreign Secretary, containing an account of the circumstances which led to their visit to England, with a brief notice of the celebration of the baptismal ordinance, and their admission to the table of the Lord:
My Dear SIR,—It is with a heart full of gratitude and enjoyment that I proceed to give you a fuller account of the baptism of my three Chinese friends than appeared in the General Chronicle of the “ Evangelical Magazine" for this month. My acquaintance with them, you are aware, commenced between six and seven years ago in Malacca. The two eldest were brought to our school in the College there by their parents, while the youngest came under my care in a more remarkable way.- I was visiting one day some districts in the neighbourhood, rather thickly occupied by Chinese farmers, and distributing tracts along with several members of the native church. As we passed a herd of buffaloes, the Evangelist A-Gong, pointing to the boy who was in charge of them, said, “There is an object for the benevolence of the Kung-hwuy-(meaning the London Missionary Society). His father and mother are dead, and none of his own people can or will do much for him. Why should you not take him with you to the College, and educate him as your own son, to be a preacher of the Word ?" The boy was called, and at once signified his willingness to follow us. A few words of explanation served to satisfy the farmer with whom he was residing. A-Suu went with us, and has ever since been, as A-Gong termed it, a protégé of the Kung-hwuy.
When, in answer to the prayers of the church, the “great and effectual door” was opened for the entrance of the Gospel into China in 1842, and our Mission was in consequence removed the following year from Malacca to Hong-Kong, A-Sou accompanied me to that island. With the rest of my pupils, however, I was obliged to part. I would willingly have impoverished myself to carry with me the six members of my first class, all lads of great promise ; but their parents were inexorable, and I bade them farewell.
About a year, however, after our settlement in Hong-Kong, I heard that several of my old scholars were quite unhappy because of the suspension of their education, and would gladly join me in China, if they could be received. I instantly wrote to a Chinese Christian in Singapore, to inquire into the truth of this report; and, if it really were so, instructed him to communicate with our Missionary at that station, Mr. A. Stronach, who would for. ward their voyage to Hong-Kong. The answer to my letter was the arrival of the two others, who were baptized in Huntly-Kim-lin and Hoot-kiem. I felt gratified by such a proof of their attachment and confidence, and could not but hope that God, in whose pro. vidence they had taken so long a journey from the land of their nativity and their fathers' house, would bring them ultimately to Himself.
You will recollect that, when I was compelled, in 1845, to entertain the project of returning for a time to England because of ill health, I wrote to you requesting that the Board of Directors would sanction my bringing these three young men to this country, for the purpose of education. Repeated attacks of illness required that I should quit the station before a
reply was received. I would not suppose that a negative could be on the way; and, as the generous liberality of Captain G. Hamlin, in accordance with the many noble acts of service which his father and brothers have done to the Missionary cause, gave us all a passage on terms which were really more than the gratuity of a passage to my pupils, I ventured, with their ready acquiescence, and the concurrence of my colleagues, to bring them with me.
On our arrival, in April, last year, I found that the Board had been unfavourable to their leaving their own country. The evil was done, however, and I feel deeply grateful for the kindly welcome which was given both to me and to my company. In less than a month after their landing in London, they were domiciled under my father's roof in Huntly, regularly attending the parish school, and their general and religious education anxiously and affectionately superintended by my old and most beloved friend, the Rev. Mr. Hill. It is stated by the Huntly Correspondent of the “ Evangelical Magazine,” that “the young men had not been long there before they greatly endeared themselves to their teachers, their schoolcompanions, and indeed were beloved very generally in the town." I maintained a frequent correspondence with them, and was continually receiving accounts of them from Mr. Hill and my friends. Nowhere could they have been more favourably located for their personal comfort, for their acquisition of knowledge, and for the development of their characters under the influence of the truth. Their progress in their several studies was quite satisfactory, their general deportment uniformly correct, and above all, as their knowledge of the Scriptures increased, it was evident that they received the truth in the love of it. Six months ago, Mr. Hill wrote to me, That, if they were to apply for admission to the Christian Church, his answer would be in the words of Peter, “ Can any forbid water that these should not be baptized ?"
When I paid a farewell visit to Huntly, therefore, in the end of November, I took the opportunity of impressing on them separately the obligation to profess their faith in Christ. My interviews were equally pleasing, I may say, with all the three. Humbly, yet with decision, they signified their wish to be baptized in the name of Christ. Mr. Hill was absent at the time through the pressure of bad health ; but they each wrote to him an account of the resolution to which they had come. The eldest thus writes :
“My dear Sir, ---After finishing my lesson to Dr. Legge, I take my pen and feel myself responsible to inform you of what has occupied my thoughts for some time back.
“One night as I was thinking of my far distant relatives, and of my birth-place, I reflected that I might have still been living there in ignorance and darkness, knowing nothing of the love of Jesus, who laid down his life and shed his precious blood, that sinners, such as I, might inherit eternal life. Oh! glad was I that though my lot was cast in the land of darkness and superstition, yet it pleased the Lord that I should receive a christian education : indeed, the Lord has been very kind in sparing me, that I should not be cut off, while I was still in that land, and before ever I heard the glad tidings proclaimed. Oh! how thankful I am to those friends who have taken such an interest in promoting my future welfare, and much more so to you, who have spent so much of your precious time in instructing me in things which pertain to my everlasting peace.
“ Having all these advantages, I think it necessary that I should be baptized, so that I may make an open profession of being a Christian, and become united to the Christian Church in this world—not that I may be a Christian in the eyes of ungodly men, but that I may be so in truth and reality before the Lord. I also pray, that the Lord may enable me to make known the glad tidings of salvation to my benighted countrymen, that they may inherit the everlasting crown, which is promised to those who love the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Many a time I am afraid that I am not able to divide the word of the Lord rightly, but why should I be afraid, since the Lord has said, “My grace is sufficient for you,' and given many other promises, which strengthen my weak mind.
“I hope you will be here next week, that I may see you before I am baptized, and I hope the Lord will vouchsafe His gracious presence with us during that solemn scene.
" I remain, your humble and affectionate friend,
Their application for fellowship was brought regularly before the Church under Mr. Hill's care, and at a special Church-meeting on the morning of the 15th ult., they were most cordially welcomed into its communion. Arrangements had been made for their baptism on the forenoon of the same day. It had been set apart by the Church as a day of thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest, and it was felt that the administration of the ordinance-the presenting to the Lord these sheaves of the spiritual harvest of China-would well harmonize with the occasion.
The event, considered in itself, was one of thrilling interest. The like was never heard of before in Scotland. They stood there, three men from “ the land of Sinim," brought op in the worship of idols, bowing down the first years of their life-time to the work of men's hands,-there they stood to avouch our God to be their God, and to declare that our Saviour was precious to them also, who believed in his name from the ends of the earth. The grati. tude to God, which filled my own heart, will sustain me, I trust, in all my future labours in China. If I had planted, Mr. Hill had watered. Both, I am sure, gave God the glory of the increase, as we united in the act of their baptism-the formula being pronounced over them, first in their own language by myself, and then in English by him. A deep hush pervaded the whole of the vast assembly, which the occasion had brought together. Hundreds of eyes glistened. Hundreds of hearts thrilled with emotions of love and praise. Impressions were made on many, of which we hope the result will be the solemn surrender of them. selves to Christ.
The event was not only memorable in itself. It possessed also a great public significancy. Thirty-four years ago a Missionary went out from that Church in Huntly to China, but he was not permitted to enter among its people, and tell them of the Gospel. He was not permitted to rest even on its borders, but was obliged to depart from China, and ultimately to take up his position at Malacca, distant from it, as the vessel sails, nearly 2000 miles. For thirty years after, the country continued shut and barren. The prayer was, to the throne of grace, “Oh rock, rock, when wilt thou open !" Had it been told to Dr. Milne, when he lay upon his death-bed in 1822, that, in twenty-five years, three young men, natives of that Malacca where he had laboured, would be baptized in Scotland, in the very church where he had so often worshipped and nursed the idea of becoming a Missionary, he would have put the announcement from him as the suggestion of a lying spirit. Had it been positively reaffirmed, with the addition that they would go back to China, from which he had been driven, and would there preach and teach in the name of Jesus, he would have cried out, “Not that, not that! Let them come here. They will have a field here. In China they will meet with persecution, torture, death." Had it then been told him finally, that of none of these things would they be in danger from the law and government of China, for ere that time God would have moved in His providence to throw down the brazen-leaved gates, and make a highway for His people to go up and possess the land-if this had been told him, he would have ex. claimed, “Let me live, O Lord, till the day of that baptism, and then I will say, "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation?'”
But to return to the young men who are the subject of my letter. They are, as you know, now with me in London, and will return with me to China, God willing, in the beginning of next year. They are full of schemes for the benefit of their countrymen-thinking and talking of the various ways in which they can render the knowledge that they have acquired available to others, so as to advance the cause of Christ. I hope they will be able, indeed, to render efficient assistance in some of the departments of our Mission at once; but it is proposed to retain them for several years in the Theological Seminary under my care, that they may be. come thoroughly instructed for the work of Evangelists, in whose qualifications and character the Churches may be able to repose the fullest confidence.
I am happy to embrace this opportunity to lay, through you, a short account of our Semi. nary before the friends of the Society. Mr. Boaz, as the representative of the Brethren in Bengal, has made his appeal to the public for funds to build a College in Calcutta. The state of India undoubtedly requires such an Institution. Without it, our Missions will sink