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THE POSSIBILITY OF CONVERTING THE HINDOOS
In a work recently published by the Abbé Dubois, late Jesuit Missionary in Mysore, entitled, “ Letters on the State of Christianity in India,” the Author replies in the negative to the following questions: “First, Is there a possibility of making real converts to Christianity among the natives in India ? Secondly, Are the means employed for that purpose, and, above all, the translation of the Holy Scriptures into the idioms of the country, likely to conduce to this desirable object?” His negative to both these queries he hesitates not to repeat in various parts of the work; stating it as his “decided opinion, First, that, under existing circumstances, there is no human possibility of converting the Hindoos, to any sect of Christianity: and, Secondly, that the translation of the Holy Scriptures circulated among them, so far from
conducing to this end, will, on the contrary, increase the prejudices of the natives against the Christian Religion, and
many respects, detrimental to it.”
These assertions” he endeavours to support “by such arguments and proofs as a long experience and practice in the career of proselytism have enabled” him, as he conceives, “ to adduce.” pp. 1, 2.
His “arguments” are founded upon the bad character of the Hindoos, but especially of the Brahmins-upon the extensive influence of the latter over all other castes of Hindoos--upon the nature of their superstitions and the inveteracy of their prejudices --upon the contempt into which Christianity is, from various causes, brought-upon the persecutions to which converts are exposed, &c. &c. (passim)—all of which he regards as insurmountable obstacles to the dissemination of the Gospel in Hindoostan.
His “proofs” are deduced from the total failure, as he asserts, of the means hitherto employed. If there were the slightest probability of success, it must, he thinks, ere this have crowned the exertions of RomanCatholic Missionaries, who have laboured in India for three centuries back, concealing, with care, every thing in the Christian
Religion likely to wound the feelings or offend the prepossessions of the natives, and endeavouring, sin every possible way, to conciliate their minds. And since these means have proved hitherto, and still continue to prove, abortive, he regards it as the wildest of speculations for Protestant Missionaries to think of gaining upon a race of people like the inhabitants of our Eastern Empire, with a mode of worship destitute, as he declares, of all attraction.
From a review of the whole subject, he concludes, that God has predestinated the Hindoos to eternal reprobation !!—that, “let the Christian Religion be presented to these people under every possible light,” “the time of conversion has passed away; and, under existing circumstances, there remains no human possibility to bring it back.” p. 42, &c.
If his reasoning be sound, and his conclusion fairly drawn, we behold, in the millions of human beings who inhabit the vast continent of India, a race of our fellow-creatures in as hopeless a condition as that of apostate angels: and, instead of cherishing the rising sympathies of our common nature, which would move us to stretch forth the hand of charity to raise them from so wretched a prostration of soul, it is our duty to stifle
every tender emotion that struggles within our bosoms, on beholding their hapless condition; lest we should, involuntarily, speak to them in the accents of mercy, tell them of the dying love of Christ, and thus, before we are aware of it, be fighting against the purposes of Almighty God. If the Author's views be correct, then we are justified in maintaining our sovereignty over the Hindoos, without once offering them that only equivalent compensation which is to be found in the benefits of the Christian Religion!
A question involving such tremendous consequences, to so great a proportion of mankind, demands the most serious deliberation. And after perusing and re-perụsing the Abbé's Letters, with · that attention which the importance of the subject demands, and carefully comparing his assertions with my own “experience and practice” in the Missionary Cause for some years in India, I have arrived at conclusions diametrically opposite to those which he has drawn : and I here pledge myself to prove, First, “ the possibility of making real converts to Christianity among the natives in India.” Secondly, that “the means employed for that purpose, and, above all, the