Johann A Schürmann ~ Correspondence

PROSPECTS OF THE MISSION AT BENARES.

February 1842 | Rev James Kennedy, Benares to Board of Directors LMS, London.

In the following statement, from Mr. Kennedy, of Benares, we are strongly reminded of the perpetual conflict of hope and fear, the alternations of encouragement and disappointment, to which our Missionaries in India are subject; and of the powerful claims which the Hindoo convert possessee on the tender sympathies and fervent prayers of the friends of Missions. From this communication we also receive fresh proof of the continued influence of puerile and debasing superstitions on the native mind, and of the arduousness of that undertaking, which aims, with the blessing of God, to deliver the millions of Hindostan from the bondage and pollution of ages, and elevate them to the freedom and purity of the everlasting Gospel. Our brother, writing in September last, observes:-

I have so often spoken of inquirers, of whom I hoped well, gut who afterwards left us for the world, that I am now afraid to mention any, until they have actually united themselves by baptism to the Christian Church. Thereare at present some of whom we have high expectations, but the painful experience of the past causes us to rejoice over them with trembling. One. who has been long rofessing to inquire the way to
Zion, has for some time been under deep concern. His feelings are sometimes so much cxcited, that he can scarcely restrain them. It is truly a blessed sight to see a Hindoo weep for his sins.
This person is surrounded by friends, who dread his becoming a Christian, and they have too long kept him in their toils; but I trust and pray he may soon have grace to break through every obstacle, and declare himself on the side of the Lord. When asked lately what was the meaning of the words, "I am come to send fire on the earth?" he said, before several of his unconverted country-men, with deep feeling, "Ah! I know the meaning of that. When one becomes a Christian, it is as if tire were lighted in every corner of the house --flames burst out from every side." As he said these words, he bowed his head and wept.
What strong claims on our sympathy and aid and prayer, have poor Hindoos, when they direct their steps to the way of peace! Nothing but divine grace can enable them to face the opposition and sutfering with which Satan endeavours to throw them back into the mire of their soul-ruining superstition. Besides the person just mentioned, there are other two adult Hindoos, whose hearts have, we trust, been touched by divine grace, and whom we hope to receive soon into our number. 
At this season the people resort in great numbers to the Ganges, and to some celebrated tanks, to olfer water to the manes of their ancestors. They likewise make balls of flour and clarified butter, and feed eows, dogs, and crows, under the belief that they are thus feeding their forefathers. The practice is evidently founded on the doctrine of transmigration, which they hold most firmly, maintaining that those who are righteous in this life will be, in the next birth, raised to the dignity of brahmins, or even gods; while those who are wicked will in their next birth become asses, and dogs, and crows -- will, in short, he turned into beasts in some form or other. The most common remark of the people, when the claims of Christ are presented to them. is, "We wish no new thing. We will walk in the ways of our fatherı."
When preaching last night in the city, to one of the largest audiences I have addressed for a long time, I referred to their own practice in these days, as shewing (they themselves being judges) the folly of the deference paid to their fatlıers. I said, "Who were your fathers? Were they men, or were they not? Were they sinful men, or were they not? What do you yourselves say? In these days you feed dogs and crows, and say you are feeding your ancestors. According to your belief, only wicked people
are after death turned into dogs and crows. You thus declare your belief that your fathers were so wicked, that perhaps they now exist in the shape of these mean and impure animals. This is your doctrine -- not mine. Why then will you, without thought and consideration, cling to your fathers' ways?" This was an argument which evidently told on my hearers.

Source:

Published in:
The Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle for February 1846 Page(s): 41.

Online: Google Books. Viewed: 5.2.2015.

For reference:

Administrator. Johann A Schürmann ~ Correspondence :: February 1842 - Prospects of Mission in Benares, in: Pirltawardli Research Website. Adelaide 2019.
(Created: 08.02.2015. Last updated: 08.02.2015.)
Direct URL: <www.grweb.org/cpo-pirltawardli/en/detail.php?rubric=other_ShurmannJA_correspondence&nr=1152>. Viewed 18.08.2019.