Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

state have been dismembered. We seem at present to be trying the question, “Whether religion be necessary for a state;" whether a remote commercial empire, having no sign of the Deity, no temple, no type of any thing heavenly, may not yet maintain its Christian purity, and its political strength amidst Pagan supertitions, and a voluptuous and unprincipled people?

4. When the Mahomedans conquered India, they introduced the religion of Mahomet into every quarter of Hindostan, where it exists unto this day; and they created munificent endowments for the establishment of their faith. The same country under our sovereignty, has seen no institution for the religion of Christ.

5. How peculiar is that policy, which reckons on the perpetuity of an empire in the east, without the aid of religion, or of religious men; and calculates îhat a foreign nation, annulling all sancity in its char. acter among a people accustomed to reverence the Deity, will flourish forever in the heart of Asia, by arıs or commerce alone!

6. It is not necessary to urge particularly the dan. ger from French infidelity and its concomitant principles, as an argument for a religious establishment in India; for although these principles have been felt here, the danger now is much less than formerly. Under the administration of Marquis Wellesley, Frenchmen and French principles have been subdued. And nothing would now so consolidate our widely extended dominions, or prove more obnoxious to the counsels of our European enemies in their attempts on this country, than an ecclesiastical establishment; which would give our empire in the east the semblance of our empire in the west, and support our English principles, on the stable basis of English religion.

7. The advantages of such an establishment, in respect to our ascendency among the natives, will be incalculable. Their constant observation is, that "the English have no religion;" and they wonder whence we have derived our principles of justice, humanity, magnanimity, and truth. Amidst all our conquests in the east; amidst the glory of our arms or policy; amidst our brilliant display of just and generous qualities, the Englishmen is still in their eyes“ the Cafir;” that is the Infidel.

8. The Scriptures have been lately translated into some of the vernacular languages of India. The natives read these scriptures, and there they find the principles of the English. “But if these scriptures be true,” say they, “where is your church?” We answer "at home.” They shake the head, and

say

that something must be wrong; and that although there are good principles in our holy book, they might expect something more than internal evidence, if we would wish them to believe that it is from God; or even that we think so ourselves.

CHAPTER V.

Objections ta an ecclesiastical establishment considered.

“Is an ecclesiastical establishment necessary. Our “commercial Indian empire has done hitherto with

out it."

1. Perhaps the character of our Indian empire has suffered by the want of a religious establishment. From whatever cause it proceeded, we know that the moral principles of our countrymen were, for many years, in a state of public trial before the tribunal of Europe, in relation to this commercial empire; and that Indian immorality was for a time proverbial.

2. It was observed, in extenuation, at that peridd, that the case would have been the same with any other nation in our peculiar circumstances; that India was remote from national observation; and that seducements were powerful and numerous.. All this was true, And yet we are the only nation in Europe having dominions in the east, which being aware of these evils, declined to adopt any religious precaution to prevent them. What then was to be looked for in a remote and extensive empire, administered in all its parts by men, who came out boys, without the plenitude of instruction of English youth in learning, morals, or religion; and who were let loose on their arrival amidst native licentiousness, and educated amidst conflicting superstitions ?

3. Since that period the honor of the nation has been redeemed, and its principles have been asserted in a dignified manner.

An amelioration in the service, equally acknowledged in the character and prosperity of our empire, has auspiciously commenced, and is rapidly progressive.

4. But perhaps an objection will be founded on this acknowledged improvement. If so much, it will be said, can be done by wise administration and by civil institution, without a church, may we not expect that the empire will for the future be propisiously administered, and flourish in progression, without the aid of a religious institution ?

In answer to such an observation, we might ask, what it would avail the English nation that it were swayed by the ablest policy for the next ten years, if during that period, youth were denied the advantages of religious instruction, and the national church were abolished ? Peculiar as is the administration of India as subject to Britain, no comparison can be instituted between its present consolidated empire, and its former factorial state; or between what was tolerable a few years ago, and what is expedient

5. It cannot be justly objected to an ecclesiastical establisment in India, that it will promote colonization. It will probably have a contrary effect.

It is to be hoped indeed that the clergy themselves will remain in the country to an old age, in order that they may acquire the reverence of fathers, and that their pious services may not be withdrawn, when those services shall have become the most valuable

and endearing to their people. But it may be exI pected that the effect of their christian counsel, will

accelerate the return of others; by saving young persons from that course of life, which is so often des structive to health and fortune.

6. What is it which confines so many in this remote country, to so late a period of life? The want of faithful instructors in their youth. What is it which induces that despadent and indolent habit of mind, which contemplates home without affection, and yet expects here no happiness ? It is the want of counsellors in situations of authority, to save them from debt, on their arrival in the country; and to guard them against that illicit native connex ion (not less injurious, it has been said, to the understanding than to the affections, which the long absence of religion from this service has almost rendered not disreputable.

7. Of what infinite importance it is to the state, that the Christian Sabbath should be observed by our countrymen here; and that this prime safeguard of loyal, as well as of religious principles, should be maintained in this remote empire. But how shall · the Sabbath be observed, if there be no ministers of religion? For want of divine service, Europeans in general; instead of keeping the Sabbath holy, profane it openly. The Hindoo works on that day, and the Englishman works with him. The only days on which the Englishman works not, are the Hindoo holidays: for on these days, the Hindoo will not work with him. The annual investa

ment sent to England, particularly that belonging to individuals, has this peculiar to it, considered as being under the law of Christian commerce; that it is, in part, the produce of Sunday labour by Christian hands.

8. Does it not appear a proper thing to wise and good men in England, (for after a long residence in India, we sometimes lose sight of what is accounted proper at home,) does it not seem proper, when a thousand British soldiers are assembled at a remote station in the heart of Asia, that the Sabbath of their country should be noticed! That, at least, should not become what it is, and ever must be, where there is no religious restraint, a day of peculiar profligacy! To us it would appear not only a politic, but a humane act, in respect of these our countrymen, to hallow the seventh day. Of a thousand soldiers in sickly India, there will generally be a hundred, who are in a declining state of health; who, after a long struggle with the climate and with intemperance, have fallen into a dejected and hopeless state of mind, and pass their time in painful reflection on their distant homes, their absent families, and on the indiscretions of past life; but whose hearts would revive within them on their entering once more the house of God, and hearing the absolution of the gospel to the returning sinner.

The oblivion of the Sabbath in India, is that which properly constitutes banishment from our country, The chief evil of our exile is found here; for this extinction of the sacred day tends, more than any thing else, to eradicate from our minds respect for the religion and affection for the manners and institutions, and even for the local scenes of early life. 9. Happy indeed would it be, were it possible to re a learned and pious clergy to colonize in EnIndia. They would be a blessing to the counut let us rightly understand what this coloni

« ForrigeFortsæt »