Johann A Schürmann ~ Correspondence

Benares Mission Report 1842-43

2nd half of 1843 | Report | Benares Auxiliary to London Missionary Society, Benares to Board of Directors LMS, London.

lndia.—Benares Auxiliary to London Missionary Society.

The following deeply interesting document we give without any comment, it must greatly commend itself to our readers.

Since our last report was published, our Mission has passed through unusual number of vicissitudes. In November 1842, Mr. Budden left Benares for the bracing climate of Simla, agreeably to the advice of his medical attendant. We are happy to say that has returned to the plains in the enjoyment of excellent health, and has taken charge of the Mission at Mirzapore, in the absence of Mr. Mather. Mr. Shurman after an absence of fifteen months, returned to Benares in June 1843. We are sorry to state, that in consequence of domestic aflliction, he was obliged in October, to leave Benares for Europe, via Bombay, with little hope of ever being able to resume his work in this country. In the end of September, we were cheered by the arrival of Mr. Buyers in excellent health, after an absence of three years from his station. We have been just called to part with Mr. Watt, who has been obliged to leave for his native land, on account of confirmed bad health. We sincerely trust his visit to Europe ma have the desired effect of restoring him to health, and enabling him to return to labour with us in this wide field.

In giving an account of our mission, the Native Church presents itself, as requiring to be first noticed. When our last report was published, three members of the church were under suspension, on account of unchristian conduct. One of the three soon gave the best evidence of repentance, and we had much pleasure in restoring her to the fellowship of the church. The other two, we are sorry to say, have shown so little evidence of penitence, that we have been obliged in their case, to confirm the sentence of exclusion from church fellowship. They continue, however, under the means of grace, and we still trust they may be led to see the evil of their way, and return to him from whom they have gone far astray.

The number of native members in full communion at present is twelve, three having been added to the church during the last fifteen months. One of these is a Hindoo, who had been for some time employed by us as a teacher. He had left our employment, and had gone to the country, taking with him a copy of the New Testament. While with us he had shown no desire for the word of life. We considered him utterly unconcerned about divine things. It appears, however, that while absent from us, he carefully read the volume for which he had so little regard when he was with us, he recalled to mind the instruction he had formerly neglegcted, and by God's blessing his heart was inclined to the truth. He returned to Benares, and to our astonishment presented himself as a candidate for baptism. He was kept on probation for several months, and after much conversation with him, and inquiry we received him by baptism into the christian church. His conduct has been, on the whole, very satisfactory since he joined our small community. On one occasion he was exposed to great temptation, which almost overcame him, but grace prevailed, and he has since that time conducted himself with much humility and consistency. He has a considerable acquaintance with medicine, and promises to be a useful member of the mission.

The other two accessions to our number have been from our orphan boys. These boys had been for some time under deep impressions, and at length the signs of a new life became so decided, and their desire to join the church so strong, that we saw it our duty to admit them. They appeared to be such as had been already is added to the saved, and should therefore be added to the church. Nine month have elapsed since their admission, and their conduct hitherto has been such as to justify the step we took. May they be preserved by Him who carries the lambs in His bosom! —

We had hoped ere time to have received into our number two of our native schoolmasters. They have appeared for along time under deep impressions, and have, so far as we can judge, arrived at a thorough conviction, that salvation is to be obtained through Christ alone. They attend our every service, and have made marked progress in the attainment of christian knowledge. They have frequently spoken of baptism, but the dread of persecution deters them from openly professing Christ. We trust the truth will soon take so firm a hold of their hearts, as to deliver them from their fears, and induce them to join the church of God. — We have had applications for baptism, which, on account of the ignorance and apparent unworthiness of the applicants, we have been obliged to decline.

The services in Salem chapel have been maintained as in former years. In addition to the services on Sabbath, on Wednesday afternoon a Bible class is held in the chapel, when the native Christians, the orphan boys, and a few others meet with us. On these occasions we have conversed regarding a variety of important scripture subjects, which appear to have interested the native Christians, and from which we trust they have derived benefit; the native Christians are weak, and require to have "line upon line, and precept upon precept." We think that, on the whole, they are improving. The spirit of piety shown by some of the young members of the church is very pleasing, and gives us the hope of better days. We trust that two of these may, when duly educated, be added to the list of Catechists.

The orphan boys were nine in number when our last report was published. Since that time we have received two boys, which makes e resent number eleven. Along with them five other boys attend, all but one the of native Christians, making sixteen the number of scholars. The education of the orphan boys is proceeding, on the whole, satisfactorily. Four of the senior boys are learning English. They have not yet made much progress, but we expect their progress in future to be more rapid than it has hitherto been. They have read the second book of lessons of the Irish education board on to p. 90; the English instructor, No.3, to p. 62; and the elements of English Grammar to p. 10. In Urdu, (Persian character,) five boys are reading Marshman’s history of India, p. 137, and Gilchrist’s Urdu Grammar, p. 35. In Hindí the same boys are reading Marshman's brief survey of History, p. 162. Five boys have gone through Miss Bird’s Geography in Urdu, and are at present learning the small Hindí work on Geography published by the Agra School Book Society, as more simple and intelligible. In arithmetic they are working at the rule of three. They are leaming to write in three characters  — the Nagrí, the Persian, and the Roman. They write the Kaithí, the running form of the Nagrí, well, and are making progress in writing the other characters mentioned. The most of the younger boys read the New Testament in the Roman character fluently. Three of them read the Nagrí character. Four are learning arithmetic.

While giving to the orphan boys entrusted to our charge, the best education in our power, we endeavour to make everything subservient to their religious instruction. They are daily taught the knowledge which makes wise to salvation, and efforts are made to impress the truth on their hearts. They are at present reading in 1 Kings in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament they are reading the epistle to the Colossians. The older boys have, along with the native Christians, read the most of the "Díni Haqq kí tahqíq," or examination into the true religion, published by the church missionaries of Benares. It has been already stated that two of the orphan boys have been added to the church. At the time of their admission, several of the boys appeared under deep impressions, and one of them proposed himself a candidate for church fellowship. These impressions have, we fear, passed away as the morning cloud and the early dew. When spoken to about their state they seem concerned, but the deep thoughtfulness which we formerly observed, has disaspeared. Our  fervent prayer is, that they may all be early brought into the fol of the Redeemer. Some of the boys possess good talent, which, if properly cultivated, and sanctified by divine grace, would fit them for extensive usefulness among their countrymen.

In the department of preaching to the heathen, we have not been able to do so much as the importance of the work requires. The absence of some members of the mission, and the bad health of others during a part of last year prevented us from fulfilling our preaching engagements with the regularity and frequency with which we are anxious this important work should be conducted. With the exception, however, of a short period during the most trying season of the year, the city has been visited by at least one of our number, for the purpose of preaching to its inhabitants. Since the arrival of Mr. Buyers, and the setting in of the cold weather, much more has been done in this department than had been effected for a considerable time previously. At present we have daily services in different parts of the city, and are enabled to declare to many the words of eternal life. In ese labours we are assisted by the catechists as in former years. The senior catechist, Narpat, is becoming infirm, and unequal to his former exertions. Bhagwándás and Isáídís are regularly engaged in their work. Preaching to the heathen is attended with many difficulties and discouragements, but with the command and example of our Saviour before us we are assured it deserves our best and most untiring efforts. We are anxious it should always have the foremost place in our mission.

Immediately after the publication of the last report, Mr. Kennedy and family, accompanied by a catechist, set out for Agra by land. Mr. Budden on his way to Simla travelled with them to Fatteh Garh. This tour occupied above three months and afforded almost daily opportunities of preaching the gospel. The inhabitants of the villages and towns which were visited heard the truth, with an attention and deference which are seldom found in large cities. The ignorance of the people is affecting. We met with many who had never heard even the name of Christ, and all which those who had heard his name could say regarding him was, that He was the God whom the English worshipped. Except when at stations where missionaries reside, it was exceedingly rare to meet with an individual who could give the faintest outline of christianity. It may with the fullest truth be said, "Gross darkness covers the people." A few heard, as if struck with the excellence of Christ's character and the suitableness of his work. If one could judge by their looks and words they appeared to have had something like an intelligent interest excited. The greater number heard with the utmost deference, which was however secured, it is by politeness to the European preacher, and not by the excellence of the message. Portions of the scripture, and many tracts, were distributed. We trust it may yet appear that the efforts made on this tour have been blessed.

We know not what to say about our labours and prospects in this stronghold of idolatry. Even here the gospel is often preached to quiet and attentive hearers. The open hostility is not so marked and violent as might be expected. But the callousness of the people is heart-depressing. The gospel has been preached for a number of years by missionaries of other societies as well as by ours—day after day have the messengers of the truth, in different parts of the city, warned the people to flee from the wrath to come, and invited them to the shelter of the cross -- the folly of idolatry has been exposed, and the wisdom and duty of worshipping the true God maintained — often have the statements made been acknowledged as just and true, and yet, when we look around with longing eyes to see if there be any turning to God, we meet on every hand with melancholy and unquestionable evidence, that Satan maintains his sway. It is sad to look on the moral aspect of the people, after so many efforts to enlighten them. When contemplating it we feel in danger of giving way to despondency, and leaving them to tread the road they so much love, as if it were hopeless to wam and beseech them any more. We have much reason to pray that our faith fail not. It may be said that we should be satisfied with the permission we have to prosecute our work in comparative quietness, and should wait patiently for success, believing it will certainly come, though not so soon as we desire. We are, we trust, thankful for the liberty we enjoy of preaching the gospel in this stronghold of Satan, but we cannot be satisfied when we see the thousands around us to whom the truth is addressed, either turning a deaf ear to it, or at best payng it a hollow compliment, while they remain immersed in idolatry, and are sinking into perdition. We would not be satisfied with this state of things. We long to see the truth going forth in its primitive and native energy, to overturn the idolatry of this city, to break down every bulwark which Satan has raised in defence of his kingdom, and to erect on the ruins, glorious trophies of its power. We cannot for a moment doubt, that all this the word of God, attended by the Spirit of God, can easily accomplish, and the highest request we have to make of our friends is, that they strive with us in prayer to that His Spirit may descend, and His kingdom come. If God’s blessing be imparted, no form of opposition, no accumulation of difficulties can prevent our efforts from being crowned with success. If God's blessing be withheld, no vigour of effort, no planning of wisdom can save us from defeat. The great lesson which our position in Benares teaches us is, that the favourable result of our labours entirely depends on the blessing of heaven. May we, and all who feel an interest In our work, implore this blessing to descend, convinced, that before it Satan is discomfited, and his strongholds levelled with the dust! —

Some friends would advise us to abandon so unpromising a field, and carry on our operations elsewhere, until, by some interposition of providence, the way is opened to the hearts of the people. To this advice we must demur. A prominent reason for our non-compliance is the fact, that other stations bears too strong  a resemblance to our own. From most stations in India we hear the complaint, that few or none are turning to God. If those stations be abandoned, where the success obtained does not bear any proportion to the labour bestowed, three-fourths of the missionary stations in this country will be denuded of their missionaries. Instead of talking of retreat, we must set our hearts more firmly than ever on carrying on the war against Satan’s kingdom, in the hope, that He whose right it is to reign, will take to Himself his great power and reign.

Translation.—

When our last report was published, Mr. Shurman was in Calcutta was carrying on the translation of the Old Testament into Urdú, and superintending the press. We are happy to state that this important work has been finished, by which the desideratum in our native christian literature is supplied, of which we had long complained. Every effort has been made to conform this version to the original, and though it undoubtedly has defects, which are unavoidable in so extensive and difficult a work, we believe it is a valuable boon to the christian church of Hindostan. May God's blessing attend the perusal of his own word, thus opened up for the first time in its complete state to the many inhabitants of this country whose language is Urdú!  Along with the Old Testament, Mr. Shurman carried through while in Calcutta, a new version of the New Testament, which adheres, for the most part, to Martyn's translation. --

The New Testament in Urdú, printed under the superintendence of Mr. Buyers in London, at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society, has reached Benares and is used by our mission.

The Bazar Schools,

supported and superintended by us, when our last report was published were seven. We have at present eleven such schools under our charge. We give a tabular list of the places where the schools are held, the names of teachers, and the average attendance :-

 Schools Teachers Average Attendance
 Nadeser Hauman Parsad25
 Jaggatganj Hirdhari Lal
 30
 Gobriyá Ganesh
 Agnulal 50
 Chet ganj
 Basant 35
 Raja ka darwaza Hiralal 45
 Kododai ki chaukí, Gangadin 40
 Jatanbar Iswari Dyal
 30
 Briddhkal Rup Sing
 20
 Qazi ki mandi Iswari Parsad
 25
 A'lipur Ramdin 35
 A'rdali Bazar Salikram 40
By this list it is seen that the average attendance at these schools is 387. The number of names on the lists is considerably higher. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are taught. The longer we are acquainted with these schools, the more strongly are we convinced that, when properly superintended, they are fitted to accomplish good. At present the are more constantly and systematically visited than they were during a considerable part of last year, and we find in them a corresponding improvement. They are good preaching stations, and are depositories for our tracts. When examining the boys, and communicating to them christian instruction, their parents and passers by stand near to hear what we have to say, and thus the gospel is preached to young and old. In June of last year, Briddhkal Chapel was opened for christian worship on Sabbath morning. Several of the teachers with their pupils attend regularly. The others attend Salem chapel on Sabbath mornings as in former years. After public worship is concluded, a number of the boys repeat a portion of scripture and of a christian catechism, which they had committed to memory the previous week. They afterwards read a portion of acrgilture and are examined. Some of the senior boys have made pleasing progress in christian knowledge. Several of the most promising have, during the past year, left our schools to engage in various employments. One of our principal discouragements is the early period at which the boys leave us. We are at present entering into arrangements to keep, if possible, the best an behaved and cleverest boys longer at school, and to give them a better education than has been hitherto given. The teachers attend the house of one of the missionaries every Saturday for the purpose of being instructed.

Girl’s School.

The Bazar school for girls was reluctantly closed in the month of April, 1843. During the absence of and Mrs. Kennedy from Benares, it was almost entirely in the hands of the teacher, whose chief object seems to have been to keep up the number of names on the list. The want of a really christian schoolmistress, weak health, and a feeling of disappointment that it seemed to have accomplished so little good during the three and a half years it had been in operation, prevented its being re-opened, until the return of Mr. and Mrs. Buyers. In the meantime, the few christian girls and junior orphan boys, forming together a class of twelve or thirteen, had the attention given to them which was formerly bestowed on the Bazar school. Their progress was soon found to be so much greater than formerly, that it became a question whether that attention ought to be divided. So far as we have gone, the result of teaching them separately has been most marked and satisfactory. The Bazar school was re-opened by Mrs. Buyers in December, and nearly all the old scholars attend. We are happy to find that several of them remember the instruction they formerly received. Notwithstanding the many discouragements connected with such efforts, we do not feel we should be justified in relinquishing them. Though called to sow in tears, it may be we shall yet reap in joy. The number of girls at present attending the Bazar school is 44.

When closing the review of our labours during the last fifteen months, and when looking at the state of missions generally in this country, how can our feelings find  more appropriate expression than in the prayer: "Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us earaly with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afllicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it."

Source:

Published in:
THE SCOTTISH CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE. New Series. Vol IV, 1844 Page(s): 402-408.

Online: Google Books. Viewed: 15.1.2015.

For reference:

Administrator. Johann A Schürmann ~ Correspondence :: 2nd half of 1843, in: Pirltawardli Research Website. Adelaide 2019.
(Created: 22.01.2015. Last updated: 07.02.2015.)
Direct URL: <www.grweb.org/cpo-pirltawardli/en/detail.php?rubric=other_ShurmannJA_correspondence&nr=852>. Viewed 17.10.2019.