Page images
PDF
EPUB

that the Lord was preparing me for the blessing he was about to give me, so that before my mouth was shut my hands were full. o, blessed be the name of the LORD my God for ever, Amen! I am very grateful, and thank you a thousand times for the trouble you bave taken in writing to me. It is not to me alone you have caused joy, but to many others also, on hearing of you, and receiving the advice you have given. By the grace of our LORD JESUS CHRIST I have obtained the victory over the weakness and sin that was in me, and my expectation in CHRIST alone has not perished. I declare it to bis praise and glory, that I am no longer under the power of sin, but of grace, and act no longer according to the Aesh, fulfilling its dead works, but by the grace obtained I crucify, and labour daily to crucify, the body of sin in my Hesh, not fulfilling the evil dispositions of my heart, but living in CHRIST a new life, forgetting old things, advancing more and more towards the prize of my heavenly calling, which is in Jesus CARIST.

* The arm of the Lord has been with us of late, and is with us this day. The LORD has helped us, and we have made our assemblies as public as we can Since the month of January our assemblies began to be public. Such as were so disposed met together; their hands feeble, and knees stiffened, from being so long bowed down. The demon of persecution could not long bear our reunion without efforts to destroy it; but God, who watches over his own, bas still preserved us to the glory of his name. Being ill, I requested St. Denis to read the word of God to the congregation; and it appears that Almighty God designed to leave me on my bed, that I might not be taken with the others. I waited till after the hour when prayer should have been over, but saw no one. That instant my little boy came running as fast as he could, saying, “ we were assembled, the guard came to take us, and I escaped to let you know it." I was immediately inspired with courage. I rose, called together my mother, grand-mother, &c., and read several passages of Scripture to comfort them, and prepare them for the persecution that was coming upon us. I did my books, letters, &c, and expected they would come to take us. This was the 7th of February. I would not run into prison of my own accord, but having waited and finding nothing was said to us, I went to see my brethren and sisters. I found there were thirty-two, and ST. Denis preparing to write to the President, which he did, and I carried this letter to his Excellency, by which we requested him to cause us to be judged and punished if we were found guilty by the law. When I arrived under the piazza of the palace, I asked an officer on duty if I could see the President, who answered, Yes. tentered the hall, where I found the President seated, and surrounded by a circle, as well of officers as civilians. After saluting them, I presented the letter to the President, who asked me from whence it came. I replied, “ From the Methodists who are in prison." His good humour was immediately changed. “ Methodists," said he, "I did not know that." Colonel VICTOR, who was present, thinking perhaps that through fear I would wish to conceal myself, addressed himself to the President, saying, “President, this is a Methodist," as if the President did not know it. Immediately the President replied, “ You are fanatics." “ Pardon me, President, we are not.” “Why, you have changed your religion." “If I have changed my religion, President, it is the Government which has made me do it.” “How is that ?" said he, “ It was the late President who sent for the Missionaries. I heard the letter read, and saw the late President's signature: this is what I can tell you." "Enough, enough," said be, "I will send an answer." I went to the prison and waited till it was late ; but hearing nothing, and being ili of the fever, I returned to my mother's. The next day orders were given for the brethren and sisters to appear before the Chief Judge. A dollar was demanded of each on leaving prison, and they were conducted by a single serjeant. On their arrival the Chief Judge forbade them, in the name of the President, to assemble together again. “No one can hinder you from worshipping God as you please ; but let every one abide at home, for as often as you are found assembled you shall be put in prison ; and if you unhappily persist, I have received orders to disperse you every where.” Several wished to reply, but he refused to listen, saying, “It is not from me; it is not my fault; these orders are given me." All our brethren and sisters, went out, animated with a holy zeal, determining not to abandon their assemblies. The next day we were assembled. After an exhortation, we sung a bymn, which being finished, we kneeled down to pray: a shower of stones came as if they would have demolished the house, and have stoned us like STEPHEN. With one accord, we commended ourselves to our faithful Creator, aud continued in prayer till they had ceased. On Friday in the same week MRS. AUGUSTINE of

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

ered us her house to meet in, on condition that we would not sing. We met ontbe Sunday following. After a discourse which I delivered, I said, " My brethren and sisters, I take your opinion; judge, is it proper that we should sing a hymn to God, or not? I will not do it of myself, for I do not wish to expose you in any thing." Madame AUGUSTINE trembling said, with several others, " It is right we should sing a hymn to the LORD: sing, Brother.” Then we sang, and we continued to do so. Almighty God is with us; blessed be his name. Amen. Some have been turned aside, but I need not represent to you the conduct of those weak ones, who have been under the power of fear three years. What courage is necessary on such occasions! He who has not for his sole end the glory of God, cannot continue without sin; he is exposed as AARON was, to make a golden calf to satisfy the inconstancy of the inconstant. I thank God that he has given me courage to go from house to house to converse with the people on God's word.

“We have succeeded, by the grace of God, in re-establishing the classes. Tbere are now six, consisting some of thirteen, and others of fourteen members. There is an assembly on Sunday morning. Two classes meet during the day, two on Monday, and two on Thursday: and I propose, according as I have begun, to visit each once a fortnight, to help them to continue in the LORD. We have as. seinblies also on Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday eveniogs. Stones are sometimes thrown; and some strangers attend now and then. On Saturday, our brethren and sisters come down from the mountains, to be present at the Sunday worship, and return on Monday very early; and it is in this poor people that we see JESES Christ in the greatest fulness. We continue our assemblies in the bouse of MRS. AUGUSTINE.

“Lately the LORD has put a thought into my mind, and, after consulting two or three of my brethren, we have decided on collecting for building a house, which shall be dedicated to the Lord for his people to meet in. All our bretbren and sisters are glad at the undertaking. And we have already made three collections The collection is made once a fortnight : all of good-will give what they can. I believe the LORD will finish this work for the glory of his name. We cannot, at present, teach the Catechism to children, because Mrs. AUGUSTINE's is a familyhouse ; and we must, apparently, make the collectiou a long time before we have sufficient to purchase ground and materials, or a bouse already built. Our colleetion is very small, for we are all poor in this world; but the LORD will provide. No one would let a house to us: and rents are high, and our means small. O LORD, help us for thy glory! O God, grant us pastors to feed us. O good Shepherd, send thy servants to collect thy sheep, that they may be of one fold.

“ Salute for me all the saints, and especially the pastors. Let them take courage, and seek the dispersed of the house of Israel, and the poor among the Gentiles, and bring them to the good Shepherd, who is the door of the fold."

Dominica. The following extract of a Letter from Mr. Catrs, dated May 27, 1823, shews that religion is still prospering in that Island:

“Ir affords me pleasure to state that our new chapel was opened on LORD's day, the 11th inst. To us it was an occasion of no small interest; and, I believe, our friends in general partook in our joy. The Right Hon. the EARL of Hun. TINGDON, with his usual zeal and condescension, did us the honour of attending the forenoon-service. His Lordship was accompanied by his daughter, LADY SELINA HASTings, and several most respectable Ladies and Gentlemen, amongst whom were the Chief Judge, the Hon. A. GLOSTER, and the Attorney-General the Hon. W. BLANE. The time was solemn as well as joyful, and, I trust, will be remembered with good effect. In the group of worshippers, I could not but observe the negroes, whose sable faces, washed with the tears of gratitude, formed a striking contrast, to those countenances whose sparkling eyes expressed unfeiga. ed delight. The building seems to afford general satisfaction. The services of the day were conducted by Brother HARRISON and myself. I preached in the forenoon from 1 Kings viii. 27. Brother HARRISON preached in the evening an appropriate serion from the latter part of Exod. xx. 24. The collection amounted to £60 currency, which makes the contributions towards the chapel, in all, nearly £1000 currency, about half of the whole cost of erection and purchase of land. The congregation, since the opening, has been good, and promises to continue so, especially on Sabbath evenings. The pews not being quite finished, are not yet rented, but I believe the applications will be very aumerous.

"A few days ago, his Lordship the Governor informed me of his intention of making provision for supplying the whole Colony with the ineans of grace, according to the religious professions of the different quarters of the island, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant.

“A Church Missionary Auxiliary Society has recently been formed here: Mr. Dawes, the agent of the Parent Society, has opened a day Day-School in this town; others are likely to be opened in the country for the benefit of slavechildren.

“Mr. Laing's estales continue to be visited regularly hy Brother HARRISON, and afford considerable encouragement. Several of the negroes have lately joined the Society; and many, who have been members for some time, walk worthy of their bigh vocation. The children are regularly catechised on the different es tates, when the Missionary pays bis preaching visits.

"Our Societies are generally in a good state. We are adding a few in every place, and some have lately found peace with God. If we could only give the country places service once a fortnight, and visit the estates in rotation as often as might be practicable, I have no doubt but the English part of Dominica would be a fruitful field, amply repaying those who give, those who pray, and those who preach. May the Lord be favourable to this people, and supply their spiritual wants."

Palestine.--The Society is preparing to fit out a Mission for this place. A proposal is made for fifty friends to subscribe ten gaineas each toward the outfit of a Missionary to Jerusalem, which is likely to succeed. A benevolent friend writes from the Lincoln District :

« Such a plan presents many claims worthy of notice ; but there is one not to be overlooked. The contributors in this way will feel a sort of relationship with their Missionary, for him, and for his Mission, they will be peculiarly solicitous; so that with wbatever zeal and frequency they may pray for other endeared objects of regard, they will never forget their Missionary, and his errand of mercy! To contemplate him soattering on the very spot where the Saviour of the world died for sinners, will awaken emotions as new and delightful as those which the revivisence of a long departed and lamented friend would occasion. The inclosed £50 in furtherance of the plan, is the offering of a friend in this district."

Wesleyan Missionary Nolices.

Devil Worship in CeylonMr. Clough, who has lately returned from Ceylon, for the benefit of his health, gives the following account of this horrid worship among the natives of this Island :

"In Ceylon, there exists, at least, five distinct systems of heathen idolatry; namely, Braminism, Buddhism, Capoism, Baljism, and Yakadurism : and a minute description of these different forms of idolatry, the nature and tendency of the ceremonies connected with them, and the demoralizing effects which they severally have upon the native inhabitants, would excite the deepest sympathies in behalf of these benighted heathens.

“ The account here given is respecting that form of Singhalese idolatry which is called Yakudurism, the literal meaning of which is, The expulsion of devils : but when the whole round of its ceremonies is considered, it properly means, The urorship of derils! Whether such a form of idolatry does really exist in any part of the heathen world, has, I am aware, been called in question. That people, at a distance from the spot where such scenes are practised, should entertain doubts, is not to be wondered at ; for, on the first annunciation of so deplorable a fact as that of the Devil being worshipped, the thing appears altogether so shocking, that very strong testimonies are required to make such a relation of human woe at all credible. But this Paper will be filled up with a statement of a few facts, collected by one who has been many years resident in the country, and has a vailed himself oi ev. ery means of information on the subject; and, for the purpose of satisfying his own mind, has often done violence to his feelings, by being present on occasions when these borrid ceremonies have been performed and it is hoped that a testimony of this kind will give additional weight to similar statements which have been otten made in Missionary and other communications from that part of the world. VOL. VI.

60

Therefore I now state, and I wish it to be heard in every corner of the Christian world, that the Deril is regularly, systematically, and ceremoniously worshipped a large majority of the native inhabitants of the Island of Ceylon? The established heathenism of this island is Buddhism, which both condemns and probibits the worship of devils : at the same time, the essential principles of Buddhism are such. as open the way for the introduction and establishment of the degrading notions which have establisbed this species of Satanic adoration in this country. Buddha was an atheist, in the most absolute sense of the word: his writings, or, more properly, the writings of his learned followers, which are very voluminous, exhibit a most complete and sophistical system of atheism. In these writings, tbe eternity of matter is asserted; the existence of a Creator is unequivocally denied; every idea of the existence of one Eternal Almighty God, the maker and upholder of all things, is banished from the minds of the reflecting Buddbists: they are truly left in the state described by the Apostle," without God in the world. They have no “Universal Father;" no divine Superintending power; the world has no moral and righteous Governor; and, consequently, no final Judge! So that, strange and affecting as the statement may appear, yet it is an awful fact, that, in every part of the world where Buddhism has established its atheistical influence, the inhabitants are left to the uncontrolled dominion of the devil! And in such regions, presenting so few obstacles to the usurpations of the grand adversary of mankind, Satan has established his throne,-usurped universal empire, -legislated for his owo do minions,-dictated the form of his own government,-and prescribed the religious ceremonies (it such words can be used) that are most congenial to his own mind. Viewing a large proportion of the family of man under such circumstances, it is by no means difficult to conjecture what would be the nature and tendency of a system of devotion dictated by the Devil, and of which he himself was to be the object. And such is the idolatry in question, one of the ceremonies of which is given in this account.

" It is a humiliating fact, that while Buddhism has made so many successful ef forts to erase from the minds of men all ideas of the existence of a God, their writings every where abound with accounts of the Devil. For during the 350 transmigrations of Buddha, in the different bodies he assumed, the existence of the Devil is acknowledged, and Buddha meets him at every turn as his grand and chief adversary. And a native painting, made in the Burman Empire, is now by me, representing Buddha's last grand conflict with the Prince of Devils, wbo is leading on an army of Devils to oppose his assumption of the character of Buddha. So that, in these writings, the existence of the Devil is acknowledged, and he is recognized also in his own infernal character. In the form of Devil worship es tablished in Ceylon, this Chief of Devils, in his own real character, is also recog. nized and acknowledged. Uuder him is a succession of subordinate devils, of different sizes, dispositions and colours ! These all bave to do with human aflairs In a word, the world, and all things in it, is under their controul and government. The demon worship of the Greeks and Romans acknowledged good as well as evil demons. But from all I have ever been able to collect, I have never yet heard of a benevolent being in the worsbip, as practised in Ceylon. They are all evil; esercising a most wicked and malicious influence over the affairs of men: and on this account the natives are in continual fear of them. Hence, a very seosible native young man, in my company one evening, refused to pass under a large tree wbich overbangs the road : and on my asking his reasons, he told me, with great gravity, that every branch and ewig of that free was full of devils. The ideas which the natives have formed of the nature and character of these objects of their devotion, may be inferred, both from the accounts given of them in their books, their attempts at representing them in pictures, and the manner in which they invariably speak of them : all of which, if we may add the services rendered them, go to show that these invisible beings, in the opinion of the Natives, are wicked, malignant, mischievous, cruel,-in a word, diabolical and such are the objects of devotion pointed out by the Yakadurism of Ceylon.

« This system of idolatry has its prescribed forms, which are found in records, the antiquity of which it is not easy to trace. It has its priests, and round of established ceremonies, which point out, in all their appalling display, the place from whence they sprang. The object to which all these lead, is the Devil. From the brief sketch just taken of the atheistical opinions of the people, it is plain be must be considered by them as the being into whose bands fail the government aud sole management of human affairs. To conciliate the esteem and friendship

of the Devil, or, more properly, to avoid bis malignant or mischievousinterference in their concerns, the Natives propitiate him by various offerings and ceremonies, which it is impossible in this place to detail. The chief actors in these ceremonies are the Yakadurayas. These men are supposed to carry on continual intercourse with the Devil: they are also supposed not only to have a particular acquaintance with bim, but also great intiuence over him. I here give no opinion on this subject: but on my questioning these men in privale, whelber or not they really did hold converse with the Devil, they have replied in the affirmative; and yet such has been their confusion or peculiar agitation of mind on these occasions, that I have had reason to beliere they made the confession reluctantly, and with no de. sigo to impose on me. However, this I leave; ouly rewarking, that in the person and whole demeanour of these men, there is something exceedingly strange and unaccountable; and I never could prevail on one of them to look me in the face. Tbey generally converse with much agitation, and I never met one in the country, on the road, but he would really bide his head in the jungle till I had passed. These men, having a particular knowedge of the devils, are resorted to in cases when persons, dedicate themselves to one of these infernal beings; which is a practice of the natives to place themselves under the protection of the devil. I forbear to describe the ceremonies practised on these occasions of self-dedication to Satan. Like most of their works of darkness,' they are performed in the night. Children, at the hour of their birth, are generally dedicated to some one of these evil beings. And it is an awful fact, that in hundreds and thousands of instances, the . poor deluded people are so anxious to place themselves and all connected with ihem under the care and protection of the devil, that their children are solemnly dedicated to him before they are born!, In such cases, the first thing put on the body of the infant, at the period of its birth, is the amulet or the charm, or, in other words, the writing which contains the name, the colour, the office, the influence, and general character of that devil to whom the child is dedicated.

“ So general does this superstition prevail, that in a sermon I once heard the worthy Petrus Panddetta Sekera preach out of doors to a large congregation, against the worship of devils, he made a solemn appeal to his congregation, and said, that he feared almost every individual who heard him that day was living in the practice of Devil Worship. He stated, also, a fact which shows to what an extent the superstition prevails That when he was a priest of Buddha, he commenced a journey to the city of Kandy, with a number of other priests, to attend a celebrated festival. They arrived at a certain place, one evening, said to be under the government of a very noted devil; and all his companions feared to pass through that part of his dominions, without making some offering to him. Petrus, heathen as he was at the time, reinonstrated with his fellow-travellers, but in vain: every one of them went to the place where the devil was worshipped, and, by an act of devotion, acknowledged their submission to bis power,

" When the Portuguese had possession of the Island of Ceylon, they probibited Devil Worsbip by government regulations, and made it a capital offence for any one to profess himself a Devil Priest. The Dutch enacted laws against it, but less rigorous. How far such measures were successful, it is difficult to say ; but it is a fact, that the delusion has so complete a hold on the hearts of the people, and occupies their hopes and fears so strongly, that nothing but the Gospel of Christ can effectually succeed in eradicating its principles, and destroying its practice. Of late years, many important steps have been taken towards a complete overthrow of this system. The Missionaries, on the various Stations, they now occupy, have directed much of their attention to it, and-exposed it by every prudent means ; and in all our Schools among the Children, the horror of this wicked worship is deeply impressed on their minds. So successful bave we been in this respect, that the Christian Youths, taught in our Schools, not only refuse to have any thing to do with such ceremonies themselves, but, by the inost public opposition, manifest their dislike. When they hear of preparations being made, in any house, for what is called a Deril dance, a small party of them will often go to the spot, remonstrate with the people, and, if their own arguments will not avail, threaten to inform, and bring the Missionary, which is generally succes-ful. In the large and populous village of Colpetty, I have known many instances in which our elder boys have, by their own exertions, put down these vile ceremonies : hence, in that village, which a few years ago abounded with such practices, a ceremony of this kind is now scarcely ever performed. At another large and populous village, about two miles to the south of Colpetty, where the same practices were very

« PreviousContinue »