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Art. II.—1. Statement exhibiting the Moral and Material Progress
and Condition of India during the Year 1871-2: presented to Parliament by Her Majesty's Secretary of State for India, and ordered by the House of Commons to be printed. London,
1873. 2. Indian Missions. By Sir Bartle Frere, G.C.S.I., &c., late
Governor of Bombay. Reprinted from The Church and the
Age London, 1873. 3. Lecture on Missions, delivered in Westminster Abbey on
December 3rd, 1873. By Max Müller, M.A., Professor of Comparative Philology at Oxford; with an Introductory Sermon by Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, D.D., Dean of West
minster. London, 1873. 4. Report of the General Missionary Conference held at Allah
abad, 1872-3. London, 1873. 5. Statistical Tables of Protestant Missions in India, Ceylon, and
Burma for 1871. Prepared at the request of the Calcutta
large share of the interest of the rest of the civilised world ; but it has special claims to be regarded with interest by the people of modern England. The thoughtful portion of the English people cannot but feel deeply impressed with the strength of those claims and with the weight of the responsibilities arising out of the peculiar relation in which England stands to India. It cannot be supposed that India has been given to us for no other purpose than our national aggrandisement. It must surely have been, mainly and ultimately, for the benefit of India itself that so great and populous a country was committed to our care, that we might impart to it the benefit of our just laws, our rational liberty, our mental enlightenment, and our progressive civilisation. And if this be admitted, we must admit more. We must admit that it was intended we should endeavour to impart to it also a knowledge of that religion which has made our own nation what it is, and without which no nation can ever become free, happy, or permanently great. Our duty as a Christian nation to promote not only the material welfare of the people of India, but also, as far as it is possible for us, their moral and religious welfare, is becoming more and more widely recognised, in proportion as our intercourse with India increases. A remarkable amount of interest in the progress of Christianity in India has recently been awakened, and a demand for information has been excited.
We purpose, therefore, to give our readers some idea of the position and prospects of Indian Missions. In proceeding to do so we think it desirable at the outset to help our readers to realise in some degree the vastness, the variety, and the difficulty of the field in which those missions are carried on, that they may be enabled to form something like a correct estimate both of the results that have already been attained and of the results that may still be expected.
The possessions which have fallen to the lot of the English nation in India and the East are the most extensive and populous, and probably also the most valuable and important, that any people ever acquired beyond its own natural boundaries. India alone, not including Ceylon, Burma, or the Eastern Settlements, comprises upwards of a million and a half of square miles, an area which is nearly equal to that of Europe ; and though nearly two-thirds of the soil are uncultivated, so thickly peopled are the cultivated districts, that the population of India was estimated in 1872 as amounting to nearly 300 millions, which is more than equal to the population of the corresponding area in Europe, and which constitutes probably more than a fourth, certainly more than a fifth, of the whole population of the globe. Nowhere, except in China, is there a field of missions so vast as that which India presents; and in no other part of the world-certainly not in China—is there to be found so varied a field. In proportion to the variety is the interest ; but in proportion to the interest is the difficulty.
It might not be too much to say that the work of propagating Christianity in India is the most difficult work in which the Christian Church has ever been engaged. Some of the difficulties that formerly existed have, it is true, disappeared, and the strength of some has diminished. Others, again, are still very formidable.
There is one difficulty less now than in the days when Christian missions were first introduced into India. The opposition of the Indian Government has disappeared. Scarcely two generations have elapsed since the Indian Government ceased to refuse permission to missionaries to labour in India, and scarcely one generation has elapsed since it ceased openly to patronise idolatry. It administered the affairs of all the principal pagodas, and required its Christian servants to do honour to pagan festivals. It was commonly said at that time that it was impossible to convert the Hindus, and some of the people who said so did their best to fulfil their own predictions. The Indian Government has always professed to observe a strict neutrality between the various religions professed by its subjects; but until a comparatively recent period the neutrality it observed was a one-sided neutrality, which showed itself mainly in the encouragement of the indigenous religions and in opposition to Christianity. We have reason to be thankful as a nation that a very different state of things now prevails. The Government still indeed professes to hold a neutral position, and in certain particulars it is desirable that it should always continue to do so. No man should be favoured, no man should be molested, on account of his religion ; all religious professions should be equal before the law. But this neutrality is now no longer regarded as inconsistent with the repression of crimes committed in the name of religion, with the protection of converts to Christianity in the enjoyment of their civil rights, or with an enlightened, prudent solicitude for the peaceful diffusion of the blessings of Christian civilisation and morals. The Indian Government moves forward slowly, but it keeps constantly moving, it takes no step backwards; and hence, notwithstanding its characteristic caution, the caution necessary to its position, perhaps there is scarcely any Government in the world that has achieved a greater aggregate of progress within the memory of the present generation, especially in regard to educational and social reforms. This statement receives a remarkable illustration from one of the works contained in the list prefixed to this article, a document presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for India, and ordered by the House of Commons to be printed. It is entitled, 'A Statement exhibiting the Moral and Material Progress of India during the Year 1871-2,' and a considerable portion of the statement is devoted to a survey of existing missions in India. This portion of the book evinces an enlightened interest in the progress of Indian missions, considered with reference to their bearing on the intellectual and moral advancement of the people. Probably no such utterance on the subject of Christian missions ever before proceeded from any Government, and what renders it specially encouraging to all who take any interest in that work is that, as it is based on statistics and official information, its impartiality cannot reasonably be called in question.
We are not of opinion that the Government system of education in India can fairly be regarded as hostile to Christianity or to the work of missions, though we are unable to regard it as a perfect system. We do not see how any system of education can be regarded as perfect which ignores the emotional part of man's nature, which ignores a divinely-sanctioned morality, which ignores religion. Probably the Government itself does not consider its system as perfect, but only holds it to be the best that is possible under the circumstances. It is an important consideration that the Government makes grants in aid on a liberal scale to missionary schools and colleges. At one time, indeed, it refused grants to such institutions in one of the presidencies, but that ill-advised policy has been abandoned ; and if the missionary societies, or other associations of persons unconnected with Government, were to set themselves to promote the education of the people on a larger scale, larger funds would doubtless be provided by Government to aid them in their undertaking. The teaching in the schools and colleges entirely supported and managed by Government is restricted to secular subjects ; but though to this extent it is non-Christian, it is certainly not the intention or wish of Government that it should be anti-Christian ; and if in any particular it should appear to have acquired this character, the blame, we believe, is to be attributed, not to the system itself, but to the manner in which it has been worked. It cannot be admitted to be a necessity of the Government system that any of the text-books used in the teaching of the Indian languages should teach immorality or indecency, or that any members of the European educational staff should diffuse around them an atmosphere of scepticism. Whatever defects may attach to the Government system of education, and whether those defects be essential or accidental, it cannot be doubted that in the main it has proved to be an immense benefit to the people of India. It was thought at one time that the young men, whom the Government was training up in its schools, would turn out to be a specially dangerous class; but fortunately this anticipation has not been confirmed by the result. On the contrary, the educated classes have generally shown themselves to be better citizens and better servants of the State than the members of any class the country ever knew before. Some of them, it is true, have abandoned their old faith without adopting any other faith instead ; but it does not follow that their condition has become more hopeless
, for it has been proved in the history of India again and again that a bad religion is worse than none.
On comparing the relative strength of the various obstacles to the regeneration of India that appear to exist, we are inclined to regard as the most formidable a pernicious influence of the very existence of which many persons who are interested in this question are scarcely aware. We mean the influence of the Hindu philosophies on the national character, the influence of those philosophies in fostering, if not causing, the dreaminess and apathy of that character. It is doubtless owing in a great
degree degree to the heat of the sun that many of the people of India are so apathetic ; but it appears to be due also in a considerable degree to the circumstance that they have been systematically taught apathy as a religious virtue. Some of the Hindu philosophies are atheistic, some materialistic; but the systems which have at all times been most popular, and consequently most influential, are pantheistic and idealistic. The more purely pantheistic and idealistic any system is, the more popular it is, and in the same proportion it is found to be the more productive of apathy. It is rare to find these systems thoroughly understood, and still more rare to find them carried out consistently into practice ; but there are few indeed, down even to the lowest class, except only in the hill districts and the forests, who have not acquired some acquaintance, however slight, with the terminology of these philosophies, and fewer still who have not imbibed their unpractical spirit and caught their dreamy tone. The poison is held in solution in the popular mind. Worse effects, however, than listlessness and dreaminess have arisen from the prevalence of these systems. It is to this cause, we believe, more than to any other, that we have to attribute the moral weakness of the Hindu character, its indifference to truth, its unfaithfulness to its convictions of duty, its willing subjection to the tyranny of custom and the authority of great names, its want of public spirit, its carelessness of the future. What could be expected of the philosophy of apathy but that it should leave things to take their course? There is much real work now being done in India, especially in the teaching of truth and the diminishing of evil; but all that work is being done, not by the followers of the Bhagavad Gîtâ, or by Vedantists, or by quietists of any school, but by Christians from Europe, whose highest philosophy is to do good, and by those natives of India, now a considerable and increasing number, who have been stimulated by the teaching and example of Europeans to go and do likewise. The prevalence in India to so great an extent of these pantheistic idealistic philosophies must necessarily act as a formidable obstacle to the reception of the Christian religion. They have produced not only mental apathy but moral insensibility. They have not only enfeebled the intellect, but eaten out the hearts of the people. Christianity professes to provide a remedy for moral evil; it aims at a restoration of harmony between man's moral nature and the constitution of things under which he is placed ; it presupposes a moral government and a moral Governor; it