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The Diffusion of Christianity not obnoxious to the
But, if we use means to convert the natives to Christianity, will they not rebel?
This unfounded surmise seems to have been well calculated to impose on the minds of men at a distance from the scene. It was first suggested by very honest, probably, but certainly not well-informed minds; which, in their view of India, mistook a part for the whole; and, in considering a particular act of some native troops for which they could not account, thought of ascribing it to motives which never entered into their minds. Prudent and peaceable means of extending the Christian Religion will not be the cause of rebellion in India, while we have a foot of land in the country. The natives are entirely a divided people in religious sentiment. They differ
every objection, which unreasonable and indecent oppo“ sition hath raised, by arguments unanswered and unan, “ swerable.”
See Sermon by Robert, Lord Bishop of Oxford,
preached before the “ Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts," OR Feb. 15, 1771, p. 17.
from one another, as well as from us. There are numerous Casts of Religion, and differences of religious belief, amongst them. Missionaries of various sects, Christian, Mahometan, Brahminical, and Boodhist, have existed among them from time immemorial. There is no novelty, as some in England consider it, in the atteinpt to convert the Asiatics to Christianity. It began in Hindostan more than a thousand years ago. But such facilities as are now presented to us for influencing the minds of men throughout these extensive provinces, were never before possessed by any Christian people.
Prudent and peaceable means of instruction, exercised on the multitudes of orphans who have no religion, on persons grown up who have lost their cast and seek a faith, and on Christians who Scarcely know why they are called by that name, (for these are the three descriptions of persons who will chiefly engross the labours of Missionaries for some time to come) will not excite to rebellion; but will call forth, in a few years, a general expression of thankfulness from all parts of India, to the British nation.
It is not intended, by the foregoing explanation, to urge the Legislature to adopt any direct means, in the way of expensive establishment, for proselyting the natives. : This is, indeed, a duty; but we have another duty which is greater, and which will be noticed presently. All that is expected at present, in regard to the natives, is, That the governing power would not shew itself hostile to the measure of instructing them; which, certainly, with some exception, has hitherto been the case. It has been even attempted to justify this hostility: not indeed by the governing power, but by its avowed defenders. It has been attempted to justify it, on the plea of “ danger 'to " the country,” and on the plea of the “sufii“ ciency of the Brahminical faith; ” two arguments which every man, who is competent to offer an opinion on the subject, will consider to be of equal value. Whatever,” therefore, “ the plea, the attempt has been made" we write it with shame) “ to justify hostility to the Chris“ tian instruction of the natives of India.”
But the adoption of means for the instruction of the natives, is not the primary point of England's duty, in relation to her Indian Empire. She owes her primary obligations to her own children. This is her supreme duty. Let us first give religious advantages to our own countrymen; and the adoption of means for the more general and systematic instruction of the natives may be expected to follow, in due time. Let us first organize our own Church in Asia, and then that Church will be the fittest instrument for carrying on the general conversion and civilization of the natives.
Advantage of a Religious Establishment to the
British Soldier in India.
The political expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for India, is not less evident than its religious obligation.
When our countrymen go forth thither, they go, in general, never to return. It has been calculated, on an average of forty years, that, of the number of English who enter into the India service, not a tenth part see again their native land. If this be the fact, ought not their religion to follow them to that inhospitable clime?-to be their solace in their exile ?me to be the guardian of their morals; and their defence against superstition, or ultimate atheism ? And is not this a proper question to be submitted to the wisdom and justice of the British Parliament? 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 wear away their time in painful reflection on their distant homes, their absent families, and 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.
A common argument against an Ecclesiastical Establishment for India, is, that there are only about 30,000 English in that country*. This is specious, but it amounts to little. To say nothing of the 100,000, and upward, of Half-cast descendants of the English, most of whom are brought up, at least nominally, as Protestant Christians, let us reflect on the peculiar situation of the English inhabitants in India. These 50,000 persons are in circumstances very different from those of 30,000 in England.
They are diffused in small societies, in more than a hundred different stations, through various provinces of an extensive empire; and they are necessarily
* Women and children included, they amount, probably, to double that number. An Episcopal Establishment is given to Canada, although there are only twelve clergymen, including the Bishop, in the whole Province.