|CHAPTER XXIV. -- THE GREAT MEETING AT BANGALORE--THE ORPHANAGE AT COLAR--BURMAH--CALCUTTA--ENGLAND.|
Brother Robinson, pastor of the Methodist Church, has done a good work in Burmah, and his influence has been felt. He was much thought of by all the other denominations.
I was given a sketch of the Burmese religion. One of the strong points in their religion is the transmigration of the soul. Guadama was the last great man born. He was born six hundred and twenty-five years before Christ, and lived in this world about eighty years. He was the son of Thokedaucareh, king of Burmah. He had previously lived in four hundred million worlds, and had passed through innumerable conditions of each. He had been almost every sort of worm, fly, fowl, fish or animal, and almost every grade of human life. At length he was born, son of the above-named king.
The moment he was born he jumped upon his feet, and spreading out his arms, exclaimed. "Now I am the noblest of men. This is the last time I shall ever be born."
His ears were so beautifully long they hung on his shoulders. His height was nine cubits. When grown up, his hands reached to his knees; his fingers were of equal length, and with his tongue he could touch the end of his nose!
The only sacred books of the Buddhists are the laws and sayings of Guadama.
When this was told me, and explained in points that I could not pretend to give, it seemed incredible; and yet, when one is there, and mingles much with the people, one can see how tenaciously they hold to just that superstitious belief. Oh, how darkness has covered the land, and gross darkness the people.
Among other interests in Burmah I had hoped to distribute about eleven Bibles among those who wanted them. I knew God would bless His own Word. But when I got to Calcutta, where I hoped to be able to get the Bibles, as I could not get them at Burmah, I found that Bibles in the Burmese language were very large, and very expensive; so that I was only able to send one, to a very interesting case, a Burmese man, with whom I think the Spirit of the Lord was working, and he was very anxious for a Bible.
How much good anyone with a missionary spirit could do here in Burmah, or India, and especially if he or she had an aptness in acquiring the language.
I had wished that my own daughter would have such a desire to do something for her fellowmen. I have prayed and asked the Lord to thus incline her heart, if He would have her. I have educated her, and done all I could, as far as I was able, to prepare her for a useful life; and now I leave it with her and her God. He knows my heart. I long to have her do what I know she could do if she was only fully consecrated to God. I would not have her come to this country without a full and entire consecration. And in her own land I fear she will do but little without it, like so many others. When I think of what God has done for me, and how He has led me since I gave myself fully to Him, I am encouraged to praise Him for all that has passed, and trust Him to guide my child that she may work for Him. Amen.
At eight o'clock one night I held a meeting in the Methodist Church for colored men especially, as there are a number in Burmah, and Rev. Mr. Robinson, who is pastor of the Methodist Church, was very much interested in these men. Several of them had families; and he had tried to get them to come to church.
Being an American, he seemed to sympathize with them, and to know how they felt in that country where customs are so different from what they are in the United States. So he said while I was there he thought it would be nice to call them together and have me talk to them, which I was very glad to do.
There was a nice company of these men gathered; some were from the West Indies, some from the west coast of Africa, and some from Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. One man from the West Indies had been in Burmah for twenty years.
They were all men of average intelligence, clean, well-dressed, and sober; there were but three men in the company who acted a little as though they were under the influence of strong drink; one of these was from Boston, and his name was John Gibbs. He had been in Burmah sixteen years; another was a Mr. Jordan, a man of good position, a stevedore; he had been here sixteen years, also; and another, a fine looking young man from Baltimore, by the name of Jenkins.
There were about twenty of these men in all. They sang, just like colored people can sing. I spoke to them from the fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah. I dwelt mostly on the words, "Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts." The Lord helped me, and His Spirit was present.
I asked before I began who amongst them was converted. Only one man answered; he was a grand, old man. He had walked in the light of full salvation, and followed the sea, for fifteen years.
After I had got through speaking I asked him to pray; he did: and how the Lord helped him! He said he had been in Burmah twenty-five years. His son was with him; a nice young lad; may God save him! When the prayer was over, I said, "Is there anything you would like to sing?"
"Yes," said one young man, from the west coast of Africa, and who had been here only three days, "Sing such a number."
I found it; it was, "Stand up for Jesus, Christians, stand." As soon as it was announced they all seemed to know it, and they sang it well. After they were seated I talked to them a while. I said, "Now, who of you would like to have us pray for you? Hold up your hand."
And six or seven said, "Pray for me." Then Brother Robinson, the pastor of the church, spoke to them. Then after another season of prayer, I said, "What shall we sing to close?" when young Gibbs, from Boston, said, "Please sing 'God our help in ages past.'"
He started it, and they sang it as if they knew how. Oh, it was good. How I have prayed that God would get glory out of this meeting to Himself, and save those men. Amen.
In talking I told them I believed that God meant they should live in a heathen land as Christians, and as colored men they should show the heathen with whom they came in contact that their God, whom they are taught to believe, is able to save them out here, as well as at home.
We arranged to have them come together on Wednesday evening for a little tea meeting. May God help us. Would to God that He would anoint some one who would work his way to this land, rather than not to come at all, and see after the flock here that stray and wonder and have no shepherd. I saw this need in Liverpool, England; and also in Bombay and Calcutta.
These were colored men; my own people. Some of them had left good, Christian homes, and started out Christians themselves. But they get into these ports, and there are no colored churches or missions to go to, and they feel lonely, and often give up all hope in Christ.
How my heart has ached for them. How I wish that my people in America might feel that they had a mission in this, looking after these poor men that brave the stormy sea. I wish they could think and feel about it, and put their thoughts and feelings in action, as the white people do; for in every port there is work done among white sailors; and if any men deserve to be looked after, and comforted, and helped, and cheered, it is these brave men, white and black.
I hardly ever hear the wind blow at night that my heart does not breathe a prayer to God for sailors. How many young men, and old ones, too, leave their homes converted, and many times get through the voyage all right; but they have no place to go to but these sailors' boarding houses, and they are thrown in with all sorts of sin and wickedness, and they finally drop into those ways.
How my heart has ached for them as I have seen them in London and Liverpool; they could go to church and be better treated there than in the white churches at home; but the old feeling of prejudice follows them, and they seldom venture to church. If there were a church or place of worship where they knew their own people were assembled, they would feel free to go, I think. That is why I think our ministers at home should take this into consideration.
A good many of our American men when they get to England, or India, or Burmah, or any other country, if they stay, feel they must get a wife, of whatever place they are in; if in England, an English wife; if in Burmah, a Burmese wife, and so on; and, in so many of these instances, when these sailors do marry, whether it is a white woman in England, or whether in Burmah, or anywhere else, it is generally somebody that likes whisky; and that is the sad part of it.
In Burmah it seemed that these men were better off than the most that one meets on foreign shores; some of them were engineers on railways, some conductors, some in government service, and they all had good positions, and made money. Some of them had nice families of children; but their wives didn't go to church, and their children didn't go to Sabbath School; so they generally were a hindrance to their husbands, instead of a help, in that respect.
One has no idea of what these things mean, unless they are just where they can see and know it.
The Lord blessed me very greatly in Burmah. The Baptists
Wednesday, April 6th. We leave to-day by steamer, for Calcutta.
Monday, April 11th. Arrive at Calcutta. Thank God. Dr. Thoburn and Dr. Stone come off for us. Get home and have a little rest, for which we are very grateful. I shall never forget the Christian kindness of this blessed man of God. I spent so many pleasant days in his comfortable home. What a blessing God had made him to the church, and to the thousands all over India, and in the United States as well.
To-night at six, I spoke to the baubaus, in the public square. God, I believe, blessed His Word. We had an after meeting, and several English soldiers came forward and sought the Lord.
It is wonderful to hear Dr. Thoburn preach a sermon in English, and turn right away without saying so, and preach the same sermon, word for word, with energy and power, in three other different languages, according to the company gathered--Hindustanee, Bengalee, and Maratee--preaching the wonderful story of Jesus to the great multitudes that gather. God bless him.
Sunday, 17th. Easter Sunday. Somehow I always have a peculiar love for this day. It is the Christian's victory day. For, if Christ be not risen, then have the people heard in vain, and our preaching is vain. But, glory to God, He is risen.
"The rising God forsakes the tomb;
In vain the tomb forbids Him rise;
Cherubic legions guard Him home,
And shout Him welcome to the skies."
Wednesday, 20th. I go with Dr. Stone to Hastings. A good temperance meeting. Then with Dr. Thoburn and some others, breakfast with Miss Hood, at the Presbyterian Mission School. How very kind they have all been to me. God bless them.
Friday, 22nd. Mrs. Meyers and I go to do a little shopping. I need some things, as I am getting ready to leave for England, and how wonderfully God has supplied my temporal needs.
Sunday, May 8th. My last Sunday in Calcutta. In the morning I speak at Dr. Thoburn's Church, and at night in Carson's Theatre. This was my first time in a theatre, but God helped me to speak for Him that night, and I trust good was done.
Saturday, May 21st. Leave at half-past five for the steamer.
Sunday, 22nd. We are out on the ocean and all sick.
Wednesday, June 15th. We enter the English channel this morning; not too hot and not too cold.
Thursday, 16th, 1881. Praise God, we arrive all safe. God has answered prayer for the sick child that was on board, so it is better. My dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Stavely, meet me at the landing and give me a hearty welcome. Amen.