« НазадПродовжити »
and we had plenty more like him. About the time of his death the count showed an excess of births over deaths on Molokai. This was the one solitary instance of the kind in this kingdom. It evinced the superior moral condition of that island. After this, for eleven years, Rev. A. O. Forbes carried on the work ably and devotedly, periodically visiting and ministering to the lepers after they came there in 1865, organizing the Siloam church, and installing their first pastor.
“A considerable proportion of the lepers were members of Protestant churches, many deacons and some ministers. Their spiritual wants were well supplied by church and Sabbath schools, and have always been the object of solicitous care from the other churches and the Hawaiian Board.”
It is due to the Hawaiian government, to the residents upon the Islands, and to the Christian natives, that the exaggerations and misrepresentations, which perhaps naturally accompanied the early accounts of Father Damien's work, should be corrected, and that the corrections should have general notice. The corrections are made in simple justice to those who were concerned with the lepers before and since Father Damien's work among them. They are made in no spirit of detraction, but rather in a spirit of hearty appreciation of Father Damien's heroism. The friend who has sent us the corrections which we have quoted, himself a resident of the Islands, writes : “No one questions the motive of Father Damien in going to the leper settlement, nor would any of our Protestant Christians detract from the work he did, or deny that he died a martyr to his self-sacrifice. But granting all this, the representations made in American and English papers and magazines åre unfair and unjust to those who have put forth earnest effort to do all that was possible for these poor people.”
The peculiar charm in Father Damien's character lay in what “The Spectator” calls the “moral detachment” of his mind. This was manifest in childhood, and as he made the successive choices of his life it became more and more evident that it was the ruling factor in his religious consecration. So that when the occasion called for the mission, under the auspices of his church, to the lepers, he responded with the naturalness and promptness of one who had never made account of the ordinary ties even of the Catholic priesthood. The scene of his departure for his work is thus sketched by his biographer:
“At a meeting that was held to celebrate the dedication of a chapel just completed by a Father Leonor at Wailuku in the Island Maui, Father Damien chanced to be present, together with the Bishop of Honolulu and others of his clergy. Among them were present some young priests of the Congregation, who had just arrived at Honolulu to supply the increasing needs of the mission. During the conversation Mgr. Maigret expressed deep regret that owing to the scarcity of his missioners he was unable to do anything for the poor lepers of Molokai, and especially did he regret that he was unable to provide them with a fixed pastor. Already his lordship had from time to time sent one of the missionaries to confess and administer the sacraments to the dying ; but this only happened rarely, and there was no guarantee of its being continued. Hearing the Bishop's lament, Father Damien took in the situation at a glance, and eagerly offered himself to supply the long-felt necessity. • Monseigneur,' said he, 'bere are four new missioners ; one of them could take my district, and if you will be kind enough to allow it, I will go to Molokai and labor for the poor lepers, whose wretched state of bodily and spiritual misfortune has often made my heart bleed within me.' This generous offer was gladly accepted, and that very day, without even saying Good-by!' to his friends, he embarked with the Bishop on a vessel that was just leaving the harbor of Honolulu with a consignment of fifty lepers."
THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.
A GENERAL VIEW OF MISSIONS. SECOND SERIES.
IV. SOUTHERN AFRICA. The French Protestant brethren connected with the Paris Society have a flourishing mission in southeastern Africa, in the British possessions, but extending beyond them. They have some 6000 communicants, all of the Caffre or Zulu race, that vigorous branch of the vigorous Bantu family which fills the greater part of Central and Southern Africa, until in the extreme south it abuts upon the peculiarly modified Hottentot race, which by some unexplained mystery speaks a language allied to the Egyptian.
Christian Frenchmen are born to be missionaries. It seems to be almost a pity that a few millions more of them could not, by a friendly reversal of the dragonnades, be forced back into Protestantism, in order to furnish more Protestant missionaries. We know that they are at once the most numerous, the most zealous, and the most effective of the Roman Catholic missionaries. One illustrious name and example will come up before every mind. He was not, indeed, a Frenchman in allegiance, but French in training, and probably largely in race. The sympathy and gayety of the French temperament, and the absence in it of the stiff British pride of race, have always made the French loved by inferior races, even when they have done much less for their advantage than the English. And, as Mrs. Stowe justly says, there is something in the French character which, when it receives Christ in very truth, reproduces his image in almost unique beauty. It may be that only a remnant will be saved of a republic which ages of superstitious tyranny have driven, almost or quite irrecoverably, into malignant atheism. But that remnant, Protestant, Jansenist, or Romanist, will assuredly have a seat very near the throne of Messiah the King. It is impossible to read the simple reports of the “ Journal des Missions Évangéliques ” without feeling a peculiar spirit of encouragement for the work of the Lord among the nations breathing from them.
The work of evangelizing the heathen villages within the range of the French mission is carried on entirely by native evangelists and private members, male and female. These evangelists are supported entirely by the people. This has been a growing burden for years, as money has, for some reason or other, been getting scarcer and scarcer. Thus far, however, the evangelists seem to have continued at their work, whether they received less or more, and of late, happily, the tide of prosperity seems to be returning. Within a year or two there has been a remarkable revival, less among the Christians than among the heathen, and large additions to the classes of inquirers and catechumens. The interest around each Christian village, it is remarked, corresponds almost exactly to the degree in which it has given a worthy example. Polygamy is a great barrier, especially with the chiefs and principal men, and so also is the refusal of the missionaries to compromise with the practice of selling daughters for wives. “Our daughters are our bank,” they say, and they resist an interference with their bank account as warmly as if they were white men.
The French brethren have established an isolated mission on the banks of the great river Zambesi. This has as yet made scarcely any converts, but is establishing an influence, amid extreme privations and monotonous miseries. The native king, Lewanika, is a thorough heathen, and a jealous, sanguinary tyrant, but is wonderfully proud that he enjoys the illustrious dignity of having white missionaries settled in his kingdom. Like the barbarian German kings who were breaking up the Roman empire, but valued themselves immensely on receiving some title or badge from the Emperor, this African tyrant contemns the law of God from morning till night, but thinks he is sure of a blessing now that he has God's messengers with him. After one of his massacres, he with all his chiefs had to listen to a sermon from the missionary on the guilt of murder. They showed great uneasiness, and from the king down sent or came, each one to excuse himself from the guilt, and to put the blame on somebody else. And when Lewanika next wanted to do a deed of murder, he merely administered poison to his victims, and putting them ashore on an island in the river, left them to die, representing afterwards to the missionary that these people had come to their deaths, he hardly knew how, but that he had been guilty of no bloodshedding! He was as pious over it as the tyrant Tiberius when he made known to the Senate, concerning the deaths of certain descendants of Augustus, that he had not been guilty of shedding the blood of the divine Julius; he had merely starved the young princes to death.
Lewanika, however, is very desirous of frequent conferences with the missionaries, and allows them unrestricted freedom of speech, or rather, unlike some pious rulers of Christendom, seems to assume that this is an inherent attribute of God's prophets. And his conscience does seem at last to have been so far affected that he put an energetic veto on the scheme of a murdering and plundering foray against a weaker tribe, and only gave way when tumultuously overborne by his chiefs and people, who declared that in such a time of scarcity it was a simple necessity. An African king appears to have despotic power over individuals, but very little power as against the will of his tribe, and sometimes very little against that of his council.
Unpromising as these beginnings of the Zambesi Mission may appear, they show a readiness to be convinced of sin, though not as yet to depart from it, far greater than appeared in the beginning among some other Caffre tribes, which now number hundreds, or even thousands, of sincere Christians.
The Protestant churches of French Switzerland have an interesting mission in the Transvaal Republic, extending down to the coast, and to the Portuguese town of Lourenço-Marques. But a law of the jealous Boers now forbids more than five native families to reside on one plantation. This has already broken up several mission-stations, and may break up all in the Republic. Some murmur that the recognition of Transvaal independence was a doubtful good, if it means added power to tyrannize over the natives. But if the sacred principle of nationality implies an obligation to give over Ulster to the tender mercies of Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, who are the black Caffres that they should ask for better measure than is to be dealt out to white Scotchmen ?
The Boers of South Africa, of whom the most are within the Cape Colony, are there, I believe, guilty of no intrigues against their British allegiance, to which, indeed, they have no great temptation under a power which is both Teutonic and Protestant, which allows them ample openings to a great career in other parts of the world, and which grants them wide powers of self-government at home. But in nationality, though they have a large admixture of Huguenot French blood, they still remain obstinately, or I should rather say perseveringly, Dutch. When the wealthier young men receive a university course, it is still taken in the Netherlands. I have seen it represented that Cape Colony is not a whit nearer being Anglicized than it was seventy years ago. And that peculiar harshness and insolence towards subject races, which has been remarked as distinguishing all branches of the Teutonic race, is more pronounced among the Boers of South Africa than even in our own South, although it is restrained from proceeding to brutal outrage by the ingrained sense of justice which Niebuhr has remarked as distinguishing the Dutch, and also by the firm hand of British authority. The Boers are intensely religious, and even pietistic. Not only the church, but the prayer-meeting is an undisputed power among them. No one, it is said, has any hope of social or political preëminence among them who is not supposed to be eminent in the spiritual life. Indeed, as has been sarcastically remarked by some unecclesiastical Englishman, the arms of the Colony ought to be a kirk rampant. But for a long time they were very unwilling to act as if the natives had any souls to be saved. The first Moravian missionary, George Schmidt, aroused such indignation by presuming to baptize some Hottentots, that he was banished back to Europe. For fifty years the Brethren were kept away from the Cape.
Finally, however, the Boers have advanced so far as to allow that the inferior races are capable of an inferior salvation. They have provided them, or allowed them to provide themselves, or both, with spacious churches. They furnish them with regularly educated white pastors ; but no exchange of pulpits is ever permitted, it is said, between these and the clergy of the Boers themselves. One extraordinary fusion of services, however, has been known to occur. An aged Caffre had died, whose reputation for piety was so uncontested and eminent, that the congregation of the white church attended his funeral in a body. To check all presumptuousness, however, into which the natives might have been betrayed by seeing the gods come down to do honor to one of themselves, it was insisted that the body of the aged saint should be deposited in an outbuilding, and should be buried on the open heath.
They have stiil, however, remained jealous of missionary undertakings among the yet unevangelized tribes. But at last one of their Synods has, to the general astonishment, recognized in all form its obligations to this work, and has made provision for commencing it. So while our Northern Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and Methodists, working in the South, are suspected, and our Southern Episcopalians are much more than suspected, of retroceding from Christianity in their dealings with the rights of the colored members of the Church of God, the Presbyterian Boers appear to be slowly and painfully climbing up towards it. There is reason to hope that in due time the native races of South Africa, and even the Boers themselves, may be Christianized.
The established Lutheran Church of Finland, the head of which is the Archbishop of Abo, has a mission, now some twenty years old, in King William's Land, in Southwestern Africa. The number of converts is small, some two hundred, but they are much encouraged that, after having in twelve years baptized their first convert, they then increased to one hundred, and within a year have just doubled their number. The heir to the throne of the native kingdom within which their work is done, who exercises an independent jurisdiction over a part of it, has lately been dealing so tyrannically with them that they have been fain to fee into the immediate territory of the king. The Christians, having to choose between their possessions and their religion, have almost unanimously chosen the latter, and have followed their teachers.
The “ Missionary Herald” for January, 1888, says : “ The Portuguese government has received from Mozambique a telegram announcing that the famous Bonga of the Zambesi has been beaten by Portuguese troops, and his thirty-six villages, defended by palisades, have been destroyed. The security of commerce upon the Zambesi is now assurel." This important service of the Portuguese may be so far set off against their intermeddling on the Shiré. — In the Zulu Mission of the American Board, Mr. Harris, of Ifumi, reports that during the Week of Prayer in 1888, thirty made a public profession of faith at Ifumi, and as many at Ahmahlongwa. Mr. Ireland, of Amanzimtote, reports that: “ The evangelist Rev. David Russell has made another useful visit to this station. For three days and a half we had two services each day, from Monday afternoon to Thursday evening. Including some twenty-five to thirty catechumens, who had met in class once a week for several months, more than fifty professed to come out on the Lord's side before the meetings cane to a close. We had large, earnest congregations, of some four hundred, twice each day, and the services were solemn and interesting.” — Rev. E. H. Richards, of the East Central African Mission of the American Board, reports some of the prayer-meeting expressions of his people. As the “ Herald” remarks, the plain strength of religious feeling clothed in the unhackneyed language of these Africans is likely to be found refreshing. Temba, twenty-three years old, prays : “ We thank thee, O God. Thou hast helped us to-day; thou hast helped us many days in many ways. Put thy truth in our ears ; remember us surely. Give us good hearts, Father, to hear thy truth. Take us out of the weeds and off from the rocks. Help everybody and teach them. Thou art able to send the missionaries, let them come in plenty. We worship thee; we serve thee; wash our hearts, all of us; make us to understand thy truth; do not forget us; lead us in thy pleasant paths. Help all people to understand and obey thy words. We thank thee in Christ's name. Amen.” Mahkalule, twenty years old, prays : “We are in thy house, O God.