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When to these two great ideas is united the third-SALVATION BY FAITH, and these triune ideas, -God! IMMORTALITY ! HEAVEN !--take full possession of a man, he is ready for anything. Counting this life as nothing, he willingly dies, if need be, the death of a martyr, and under most excruciating tortures. Mortal agony is endured by the hope of immortal joy.
We propose to trace on these leaves the history of one such, to whom no peril, no suffering, was to be avoided, if thereby his fellow-men were to derive benefit. We allude to that self-sacrificing, eminent American missionary, Adoniram Judson.
Five years after the close of the American Revolution, August 9, 1788, Adoniram Judson was born, in the town of Malden, Massachusetts. His father was the pastor of a Congregational church, and therefore his son was, in common phrase, "well born,” for in the New England States, the clergy are of preëminent influence.
As a boy at school, Judson was noted for his sprightliness of disposition, studious habits, and ease in acquiring knowledge. At the proper age, he became a student of Brown University, and graduated there in 1807, with the highest honors of his class. He subsequently taught school at Plymouth, where his fine amiable traits and pleasing address won universal esteem. Unfortunately he had, while at college, fallen into the very common error of young men of his age, of disbelieving the truths of the Christian religion. These skeptical ideas were dissipated afterward by a very sudden and surprising incident.
Closing his school, he determined to travel in the Southern States, here it was thought he had an idea of settling, and much against the wishes of his parents. He got ready, and bade them farewell : they shed tears at the parting, and their continual affection and love were seldom from his mind, during his absence. This, to young Judson, was a second Damascus journey. It was destined to change his whole career, and lead him eventually into that high calling, for which he was so peculiarly fitted. He had not long been absent when an event occurred that changed his determination. He put up at an inn, on his journey, where, it seems, one of his favorite fellow-graduates was also stopping, though he was ignorant of the fact. The same night the graduate died, and when Judson approached the
corpse, as he thought of a traveling stranger, he was horrified as he gazed upon the inanimate form of his favorite college associate, and the same one, principally, through whom his infidelity had been imbibed. He fell into a train of solemn reflection. This circumstance, and his parent's prayers, began to whisper at his heart. He resolved to abandon his tour, retrace his steps, and devote himself to the study of the Holy Scriptures. He soon returned home, greatly to the surprise and joy of his parents and friends.
True to his purpose, he commenced a rigid examination of the scriptures, and the subject of revealed religion, and soon after, entered the Andover Theological Seminary, though it was ordinarily a privilege enjoyed exclusively by religious young men, having the ministry in view : this regulation, however, was suspended in his case. He devoted himself to his studies with unwearied application. As a result of his investigation, his infidelity, that had trembled before a father's prayer, a mother's tear, and a friend's death-bed, was completely overturned.
It was during his last year at Andover, that the tract of an eminent divine, entitled “The Star in the East,” devoted to the subject of foreign missions, fell into his hands. Speaking, in after life, of the feelings he had upon its perusal, Judson remarks : "For some days I was unable to attend to the studies of my class, and spent my time in considering my past stupidity, depicting the most romantic scenes in missionary life, and roaming about the college rooms, declaiming upon the subject of missions. My views were very incorrect, and my feelings extravagant; but yet, I have always felt thankful to God for bringing me into that state of excitement, which was perhaps necessary, in the first place, to enable me to break the strong attachment I felt to home and country, and to endure the thought of abandoning all my wonted pursuits and animating prospects. That excitement soon passed away; but it left a strong desire to prosecute my inquiries, and ascertain the path of duty."
He was now determined to become a missionary of the cross, and the East Indies seemed to him to be the best field for his efforts. The following is the manner in which he says he came to this resolution : "It was during a solitary walk in the woods, behind the college, while meditating and praying upon the subject, and feeling half inclined to give it up, that the command of Christ, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,' was presented to my mind, with such clearness and power that I came to a full decision, and though great difficulties appeared in the way, I resolved to obey the command at all events."
This design was morally heroic. In that day, were obstacles difficult to be overcome. The entire absence of missionary societies to advance the interests of foreign missions, compelled those who desired to devote their lives to that cause, to look almost entirely to themselves for support. Judson having come to the determination, was anxious to depart ; nor did he wish to go alone : his heart was fired with a holy zeal, and he wished to see others unite with him, and work for the redemption of the world. He consulted with several young men of promise, who had missionary objects in view, and was gratified to find them alike enthusiastic. They applied to the church representative for assistance, but were mortified to find that, owing to the little attention formerly given to the subject of missions, they had to submit to much delay. Judson, in the meantime, devoted himself to the active duties of a clergyman. His reasoning was clear •and lucid; his appeals, warm and earnest; his delivery, much admired. On one occasion, a Universalist minister of some note attended his church. After service, he remarked to a friend : "I pitied that young man when I saw him enter the pulpit, this morning, but before he came down, I pitied myself."
At that time, existed in London, an efficient organized missionary board, having for its object the circulation of the Bible and the “preached Word” among the heathen. By those to whom application was made by Judson and his companions, it was thought advisable to send one of the number to England, to confer with the managers of that society, and ascertain whether any concert of action could be established between the board and the American missionaries. On this business, they resolved to send Judson. With instructions, therefore, how to proceed before the London Society, he sailed for England in January, 1811. War was then raging between France and Eng
land, and having taken passage on an English vessel, he was captured with the rest of the crew, by a French privateer, and conveyed as a prisoner to Bayonne. Through the intercession of an American gentleman, he was set at liberty, provided with a passport, when he proceeded to England which he reached four months after his departure from the United States.
He found the plan he had in view impracticable, but the directors of the London society expressed a readiness to receive him and his brethren under their patronage, in case they could not obtain support in America, and gave them instructions to be used by them at their option.
Returning to the United States, Mr. Judson and another of the candidates for missionary service, attended the meeting of the Board of Commissioners at Worcester in September. The funds of the Board were scanty, and there was some indication that their enterprise might be yet further delayed. Mr. Judson urged immediate movement, on the ground of impending war with England, which might cause a long postponement, if not a final, abandonment of missions to the east. After anxious deliberation, the Board adopted Messrs. Judson, Hall, Newell, and Nott, as its missionaries, with a designation to the Burman empire, recommending, however, that they should continue their studies for a time.
In the preceding year, Mr. Judson first met Miss Ann Hasseltine, with whom he formed an acquaintance that led to an offer of marriage. However such a proposal might have been viewed by her under ordinary circumstances, coming as it did from one about to be self-exiled for missionary service, in a distant land, and among a semi-barbarous people, it was no wonder that she hesitated. With qualities that fitted her to move in the choicest society, and sensibilities that might well shrink from the eminent self-denial involved in acceptance of the prosposal, her devoted piety gave her power to sympathize with the missionary's spirit. Her decision was deliberately made, to share his sufferings and toils and unselfish joys. In her Mr. Judson found a most fortunate companion, and the cause of missions an unrivaled ornament. Together, they were a pair peculiarly qualified for mutual support in founding a mission against obstacles few would have ventured to encounter, and fewer still would have had strength to
The future was no$ indeed foreseen, but its possibilities were present to their minds. In asking her father's assent to their union, extenuating nothing, Mr. Judson frankly asked whether he could " sent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, to insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death." The sacrifice was made, a sense of duty overcame the promptings of parental tenderness, and the youthful pair, bound together by ties of united duty and affection, prepared for their departure. They were married on the 5th of February, 1812, and on the day following, Mr. Judson, with his four colleagues, Messrs. Hall, Newell, Nott, and Rice, received ordination at Salem. Messrs. Judson and Newell, with their wives, sailed from Salem on the 19th in the bark Caravan, for Calcutta, and the rest of the company from Philadelphia on the 18th, for the same destination.
The Caravan arrived at Calcutta on the 18th of June. The missionaries were cordially welcomed by Dr. Carey, and invited to await at Seram
pore the arrival of their associates. They accepted the invitation, and were received with marked kindness by the mission family. Their enjoyment was rudely interrupted. In about ten days they received a summons to Calcutta. There a government order was served upon them to return immediately to America. Their position was embarrassing. The state of the Burman empire, their original destination, seemed to forbid the present establishment of a mission there. To leave Calcutta then, was apparently to abandon their whole enterprise. They finally asked and obtained leave to sail to the Isle of France, whither & vessel then in the river was bound. The vessel could take but two passengers, and Mr. and Mrs. Newell embarked in her, leaving their companions to follow by the first opportunity. Mr. Judson remained two months in Calcutta, during which time that change took place in his views which sundered his present relations as a missionary, and was made the instrument of enlisting a new agency in the work of human evangelization.
While on his passage from America, as he was engaged in the study of the original Scriptures, his attention was drawn to the subject of Baptism. The reflection that he was soon to meet Baptist missionaries, and that he might be called to defend his faith on the points of difference between them-an apprehension which turned out to be groundless-led him to study the subject more closely. Before reaching any conclusion, his arrival at Calcutta and subsequent difficulties arrested the inquiry. He resumed it after the departure of Mr. Newell, and ended by adopting the sentiments of the Baptists. It cost him a severe struggle to arrive at a conclusion that must sever him from the patronage of the Board that had honored him by its confidence, and leave him to the contingency of gaining support from a communion with whose members, saving two or three individual exceptions, he had no personal acquaintance. On first learning the state of his mind, Mrs. Judson was much distressed, but after a similar investigation, her views were conformed to his. They were baptized on the 6th of September.
Mr. Rice united with Messrs. Hall and Nott in a regretful communication of this “trying event" to the Board. But his own mind was excited to a review of his opinions, and in a few weeks followed the example of DIr. Judson. They resigned their commission from the Board, and wrote letters appealing to American Baptists for sympathy and aid. Meanwhile, it became necessary to take immediate measures to find a refuge from the hostility of the East India Company, which was heightened by intelligence of war between Great Britain and the United States, and by the suspicion, from their protacted stay, that the missionaries designed to remain permanently at Calcutta. They were peremptorily ordered to take passage for England ; and in this emergency, they engaged a passage to the Isle of France. They had gone down the river for two days, when an order came, arresting the vessel, on the ground that she had on board passengers ordered to England. All escape now seemed impossible; but after remaining on shore three days, they received from an unknown hand à pass authorizing their passage in the ship they had left. By two days' hard rowing, a distance of seventy miles, they reached Saugur, and found the vessel proyidentially lying at anchor.
They arrived at the Isle of France on the 17th of January. The hostility of the East Indian government followed them : the governor received a notice to look carefully after them as suspicious persons. To this he paid no attention, and on the contrary treated them with much kindness, offering them, if they chose to remain on the island, his countenance in their work. But it was not a desirable field for missionary labor. They thought of Madagascar, but a mission there appeared impracticable, and it was at last decided to attempt one at Pinang, or Prince of Wales' Island, for which purpose Mr. and Mrs. Judson embarked for Madras. In the meantime, Mr. Rice returned to America, to effect in person with the Baptists the needful arrangements for their support. Tidings of the unexpected event, that threw upon the sympathies of the denomination two missionaries already providentially in India, had preceded him, and he received a cordial welcome. Auxiliary societies were formed, and a meeting of delegates assembled in Philadelphia, by whom was formed the Baptist General Convention, more recently organized by the name of the American Baptist Missionary Union. Mr. and Mrs. Judson were adopted as their missionaries, while Mr. Rice rernained to give his services to the domestic agency of the Convention.
Where the appointed missionaries would labor was not, indeed, known even to themselves. On reaching Madras they heard of the order for the transportation of the American missionaries from Bombay to England. Dreading the like treatment, they made all haste to escape from British dominions. There was no outward bound vessel in the harbor, except an unseaworthy craft about to sail for Rangoon, the principal port of the Burman empire. In this they took passage, and, after braving numerous perils, reached their destination in July, 1813, resolved, if practicable, to remain there. The trials they had met with providentially overruled the apprehensions that caused them to shrink from a mission in Burmah, and brought them to the place of their original destination. The day of their arrival was one of gloom. Uncertain as to the issue of their enterprise, lonely from the want of Christian society, and without intelligence from friends at home, they went on shore, scarcely knowing whither they should go. The health of Mrs. Judson, moreover, had suffered from excitement, fatigue, and danger, so that she was scarcely able to land. They found shelter and the temporary companionship of Mrs. Felix Carey, in the mission-house that had been occupied about five years by English missionaries, but was now to be abandoned for the occupancy of others to whom the evangelization of Burmah was manifestly committed.
The Burman empire, then including Arracan and the Tenasserim proyinces, of which it has been stripped, and Cassay, a part of which independent, is an absolute despotism. The monarch is styled the “Master of Life and Death," and his edicts are the unquestioned law of the land. The country is divided into districts, each under the rule of a viceroy, or governor, by whom the imperial decrees are executed on the whole people.
The religion of Burmah, if such it may be called, is Boodhism, a super stition which enslaves nearly one-third of the human race. It acknowl edges no living or intelligent first cause, but affirms the eternity of matter. It holds that four Boodhs, or deities, have successively appeared at intervals of several thousand years, and have been absorbed into Nicban, a state