Johann A Schürmann ~ Correspondence
Letter to the Editor
BENARES MISSION.(To the Editor.)
Banares, Feb. 16th, 1844.
My dear Brother -- I have the pleasure of sending you a copy of the Report of our Mission for the last ﬁfteen months. I had thought of sending you for the Magazine a more detailed account of some of our operations than the Report presents; but I ﬁnd myself at present so much pressed for time that I cannot fulfil my intention. I must therefore, instead of entering into details, point out two mistakes of some importance, which I observe in your notice of our Report published in 1842.
The notice appeared in the Scottish Congregational Magazine for March 1843, under the title of 'Missionary Prospects in India.' I am sure you will be obliged to me for pointing out the mistakes referred to. Our Indian Missions are in a low state. This is an undeniable and melancholy fact. Many advantages must result from making the fact known. The more vividly our discouragements and difﬁculties are perceived, the more fervently my we expect our Christian friends to pray for us. On this account, our state and prospects should never be represented in a brighter light than sober truth will warrant. All should he revealed to the eye of the Christian public. But if the picture should not be fairer, neither should it be darker than the reality. The latter evil is as much to be avoided as the former. So much are we the creatures of extremes, that it is very difficult to secure the golden mean even when most anxious to do so.
In your notice of our Report, two statements appear which represent our state as darker than it really is, dark though that be: -1st, It is said, "At the least ﬁve years have passed since one heathen has been converted." Your correspondent was mistaken when he made this statement. Either in July or August, 1839, Isáidás was baptized, who had formerly been a wandering Hindoo devotee, and who has since been a most consistent and warm-hearted Christian. You have likely heard of him. He is one for whom we all have a high regard and in whom we place great conﬁdence. You see he was baptized a little more than three years previous to the publication of our Report of 1842.
Besides, within the year embraced by the Report, we baptized Dhanná, who had come to Benares during the famine of 1837, and had then broken caste, but had to all intents and purposes remained one of the heathen until some time towards the end of I841. A most pleasing change took place in his character, and he has since his baptism afforded us much satisfaction.
The fact is, that within the ﬁve years spoken of by Mr. Watt, several had been baptized, of whom only the two I have mentioned have continued to walk worthy of their profession. These instances of the divine blessing have done much to cheer our spirits under great discouragement.
In the second place, you mention there are ﬁve missionaries at Benares in connection with our society, and repeat that during ﬁve years no heathen has been converted. From this one would infer that during these ﬁve years these ﬁve missionaries had been labouring here. During no period, since the formation of our Mission, have ﬁve missionaries been labouring at Benares in connection with our society. Nothing can be more illusive on this point than the mere list of missionaries’ names. By looking at such a list, you can never know whether a mission be strong or weak. Some are able to a little or nothing, owing to their recent arrival in the country and their ignorance of the language, while others are laid aside by sickness. Where the list is long, the number of actual labourers may be, and often is, very small.
This may be illustrated by looking at the list of missionaries given in our Report of 1842. Mr. Buyers was in England durin the whole of the time the Report embraced. During a great part of the time, Shurman was in Calcutta. During the period spent at Benares, he was chieﬂy engaged in the work of translation. Mr. Watt was just beginning to engage in missionary work when he was laid aside by sickness, which caused his absence for three months from the station. Mr. Budder arrived in January I842. Three weeks after his arrival, he fell sick, and besides studying the language so far as his ill health allowed him, he was of course able to do nothing. Thus you see that so far as European agency is concerned, during the season referred to, the burden fell on me; and when you remember that I bad to contend with a foreign and difficult language, with a severe and wearying out climate, and with all the secular cares of the Mission, besides helping Mr. Shurman in his translation-labours, you can easily suppose how inadequate the work of the Mission was performed.
During the period embraced by the Report I now send, you observe our Mission has passed through a number o vicissitudes.I need not say that such frequent changes are very injurious to a mission's efficiency.
But it is time to stop. You may soon expect to see our dear brother Watt, who will give you full details regarding these and other points affecting our Mission. We have parted with him with deep regret; for we love him as a brother. His heart is much in his work, but his bad health has forced him away. I trust we are enabled to say, 'The will of the Lord be done.'
Mr. Watt will tell you how much we require a new chapel. Could not our Scotch friends help us? Any aid they could give would be most gratefully received.Yours very truly,
THE SCOTTISH CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE. New Series. Vol IV, 1844. Glasgow: James Maclehose Page(s): 230-231.
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(Created: 22.01.2015. Last updated: 25.01.2015.)
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