« AnteriorContinuar »
er touches the dead body of a man is unclean for seven days, and is banished 'without the camp,' or kraal, lill he be purified. After the death of a chief, all the people are purified on the third day in ruuning water.
When death has occurred in a village, all its inhabitants fast, abstaining even froin a draught of milk the whole of that day, and sometimes longer. A man who has lost his wife, is required by custom to fast for several days, and to withdraw himself from society for the space of two or three weeks; during which he wanders about in some solitary and desert spot, without either comfort or companions. He not only keeps at a dis. tance from the dwellings of men, but casts away his only garment, which is henceforth accounted unclean. His daily subsistence is derived entirely from a precarious supply of roots or wild iruits, &c.
The widow's lot is harder still. On the death of her husband, she, in like manner, retires to the forest or the wilderness, where she is obliged to remain for a much longer period than custom requires of the man. Her means of subsistence are equally precarious; a little water from the brook, and a few bulbous or gramineous roots, generally constitute the whole of her supply of food. After wandering about in solitude for two or three days, she throws away her upper garment, which, as mentioned above, is henceforth deemed impure. She is now, of course, entirely exposed, without covering by day or shelter at night. Having spent a few days more in this state, she cuts and lacerates different parts of her hody with sharp stones, until the blood flows in streams. The numerous scars left by wounds made on those occasions have, in several instances, been repeatedly shown to me. The hut in which she dwelt with her deceased husband is then burnt; consequently, she is obliged to erect a new habitation, or be dependant upon her friends for accommodation. When the days of her mourning are over, and the subsequent new moon makes its appearance, a number of cows or oxen, (if the husband had any,) proportioned to the number of wives that he had, are slaughtered, and new garments made for each from the hides of them. And this appears to be the only portion of his property that is awarded to them by law.'-P. 199–201.
But the most mischievous of all their superstitions, is the belief in sorcery. Mr. Kay has given a most frightful picture of its deplorable effects. Almost every disease and misfortune is ascribed to the practice of witchcraft; magicians or wizards are consulted to discover the supposed crimi. nal; incantations are practised till the multitude are wrought up to demo. niac fury; and then some unhappy wretch is accused, and subjected to a va. riety of tortures-such as scorching with hot stones, stinging with black. ants, and the like--ill a confession of the imaginary criine is extorted. Conviction being thus obtained, the culprit is either condemned to some cruel death, to corporal punishment, or to confiscation of his cattle. Some of the chiefs render this delusion an engine of terrible oppression. When they wish to seize the property of a rich subject, or to destroy any one who has offended them, they bribe the magician or witch-doctor to accuse him of sorcery; and then if he escapes with only the loss of all his property he is fortunate. The scenes of this nature, described by the present writer, are exceedingly revolting, and tend to lower vot a little the favourable estimate of the simple happiness of these tribes, as depicted by some former travellers. Mr. Kay, iudeed, represents those pleasing accounts as altogether illusory; as well as the flattering delineations, given by Barrow and Lichtenstein, of their pastoral simplicity and innocence of manners. But while he proves clearly enough that these intelligent travellers have considerably underrated the extent of misery and moral evil prevalent in these dark · places of the earth,' the worthy Missionary, we cannot help thinking, shows, however unconsciously, a strong disposition to exaggerate even the darkness of paganism, and to paint the Ethiopian a shade blacker than the truth. We are led to draw this deduction, partly from a variety of circumstances stated by Mr. Kaj himself, and partly from the fact that 'several other late writers, of the highest respectability, with the best opportunities for accurate observation, having concurred in giving a more favourable estimate of the Caffer characters. It is, woreover, evident thet Mr. Kay, notwithstanding his residence in Caffraria, is but very slightly acquainted with the language of these tribi:s; and that almost all his information respecting their manners and customs, except when they fell under his own personal observation, must have been acquired through the precarious me. dium of native interpreters. The specimens he has given of their very interesting and beautiful language, are, with the exception of a few words and phrases, copied verbatim from the pub/ications of Mr. Pringle and Mr. Thompson.
In regard to the progress of Christianity and civilization, the information furnished by Mr. Kay is interesting, though by no means so ample as we should have expected. After advertiug to the strange opposition, which, under the most absurd pretexts, was given to the extension of Christian missions in Caffraria, both by the Dutch and English Colonial Governments, up to a very recent period, Mr. Kay gives a pleasing though cursory statement of what has been effected during the last ten or twelve years. Four Societies, the London, the Glasgow, the Wesleyan, and the Moraviais, have, within that period, entered, in Christian competition, on this wide and interesting field; and their stations are now planted among most of the principal tribes, from the Cape frontier to the coast of Natal, and from the south-eastern sources of the Orange river to Kurrichane, the chief town of the Murootzi tribe.* 'On every station,' says Mr. Kay, 'the Mission plough is busily eugaged, and bids fair for ultimately putting down the field labour of the women altogether.' A variety of fruit-trees are now flourishing luxuriantly in many of the Mission gardens. Potatoes, parsnips, beet root, and other valuable esculents, have been introduced. and in some instances are beginning to be adopted by the native cultivators. Soothsayers, wizards, rain-makers, and sorceresses, are unable to maintain their ground, 'or sustain their reputation in the vicinity of the light that came from heaven, Schools have been established; and, notwithstanding the difficulties arising from the want of books, numbers are now able to read the gospel in their mother tongue. The difficulties of an unwritten and unorganized language have been mastered; and grammars, dictionaries, and scripture translations, are now printed in the cog. nate Amakosa and Sichuana dialects. Comparatively few decided coliverts, indeed, have as yet been gained from among the adult Caffers; but two or three respectable chiefs of secondary rank have entered the pale of the Christian church; and, renouncing polygamy and other pagan customs to which their class are strongly wedded, have exbibited an example, which there is reason to hope will ere long be extensively followed.
The author gives an interesting account of a Missionary Meeting, held in the Amakosa territory on the 21st of March, 1832, at which seven native chiefs, together with a number of civil and military officers from the colony, were present. On this occasion all the chiefs spoke with ardour and eloquence in favour of the Christian religion—the "Great Word,' as they emphatically call it and expressed their full conviction that the labours of the Missionaries, independently of their spiritual benefits, had tended greatly to promote the peace and prosperity of their country. Their speeches, of which Mr. Kay has inserted a translation, furnished by a brother Missionary, are striking and curious; but we cannot make room for a specimen.
(TO BE CONTINUED.)
* All the maps of South Africa which we have examined, are extremely defective and inaccurate, in regard to the designations and positions of the Native 'Trib s, and of the Missionary settlemonto among them, with the saception of ope just published by Mr.J. Arrowsmith:
RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION OF THE COLORED POPULATION.
We have perused with great pleasure the following Report of the Synod of South Carolina in regard to the Religious instruction of the colored population. It is a bold, decided, and Christian Document. We trust that all the whole South will soon show a practical regard to the seuti. meuts here expressed.
Of the Committee to whom was referred the subject of the Religious Instruction of the Color.
ed population, of the Synod of South Carolina und Georgia, at its late Session in Columbia, s. C.-Published by order of Synod.
Believers in Divine Revelation, require no arguments to prove to them, that the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, is designed for the whole human family; nor that it is the duty of those into whose possession, in the sovereign mercy of God, it has come, to make it known to others who may be destitute of it.
"The field is the world”-“Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature”-are the words of our Lord. In the great act of Atonement, He preferred not one nation or people above another. Says He, “My flesh-1 give for the life of the world.” As his disciples, we are to live for the salvation of the world, so far as we have ability and opportunity, without preferring in our regards, one nation or people above another. The general rule, therefore, of benevolent enort is, that we impart the Gospel, with its accompanying blessings, in the first place, to such of our fellow creatures as are incst dependent upon us for it; to such as are most needy and accessible.
In casting our eyes over the field of our labors, we see that we have not acted according to this rule. We feel condemned by it. There is a numerous and important class of persons;-we may say—a distinct people, within our bounds, in perishing need of the Gospel, accessible and wholly dependent upon us, to whom we have not imparted it, at least in such measures as their necessities and our duty demand. Our very knowledge of their moral degradation is limited, because we have not carefully inquired into it, and, consequently, our Christian sympathies are not yet awakened in their behalf. To extend our view beyond our bounds, who would credit it, that in these years of revival and benevolent efort, in this Christian Republic, there are over two millions of human beings, in the condition of Heathen, and, in some respects, in a worse condition: and, if we include the whole population, almost entirely neglected? These are astounding truths-and truths to be confessed with fear and contrition.
But what is to be done? Shall we continue as we are, and as we have been? The conscience of every sound mind says, no. Let light be shed upon the moral and religious condition of our colored population; let the conviction of our immediate duty to extend to them the privileges of the Gospel, pervade the Church; and a system of operations be maturated and put into effect for that purpose.
From long continued and close observation, we believe that their moral and religious condition is such, that they may justly be considered the Heathen of this Christian country, and will bear comparison, with Heathen in any country in the world.
Our design, in this report, shall be, to set forth the duty of that portion of the Church of Christ which we represent, to evangelize these Heathen. And what is our duty, is the duty of the whole Church of Christ, in the slave-holding States, in all her denominations.We shall do well, therefore, to extend our view, and embrace the colored population and the Church of Christ throughout the slave-holding States.
Before we attempt to set forth the duty, it will be proper to show, that the negroes are destitute of the privileges of the Gospel, and ever will be, under the present state of things.
We do not deny that many enjoy the means of grace; that there are a large number of professing Christians amongst them; and that in a few Churches, and on a few plactations, some particular attention is paid to their religious instructions. We rejoice in all this. But it is, at best, a day of small things, and although our assertion is broad, we believe that, in general, it will be found to be correct.
A people may be said to enjoy the privileges of the Gospel, when they have free access to the Scriptures-a regular Gospel Ministry-houses for public worship, and the means of "In relation to the first of these,-- Free access to the Scriptures,-it is universally the fact throughout the wave-holding States; that either custom or law prohibits to them the ac. quisition of letters, and consequently, they can have no access to the Scriptures. The proportion that read is infinitely small; and the Bible, so far as they can read it for them. selves, is, to all intents, a sealed book; so that they are dependent for their knowledge of Christianity, upon oral instructions as much so as the unlettered Heathen, when first viested w our Missionaries
grace in their own dwn ar Gospel Ministry-houses for non when they have free access If our laws, in their operation, seal up the Scriptures to the negroes, we should not allow them to suner in the least degree, so far as any effort on our part may be necessary, for the want of a knowledge of their contents.
Have they then that amount of oral instruction, which, in their circumstances, is necessary to their enjoyment of the Gospel? In other words, have they a regular and efficient Ministry? They have not. In the vast field extending froin an entire State beyond the Potomac to the Sabine Kiver; and from the Atlantic to the Ohio, there are, to the best of our knowledge, not twelve inen exclusively devoted to the religious instruction of the negroes! What effect will the labors of these few individuals, produce on a mass of one or two millions of souls, and wore? The number divided between them would give to each a charge of near 170,000!
As to Ministers of their own color, they are destitute both in point of numbers and qualifications; to say nothing of the fact, that such a ministry is looked upon with distrust, and is discountenanced. In the present state of feeling in the South, such a ministry could neither be obtained nor tolerated.
But do not the negroes have access to the Gospel, through the stated ministry of the whites? We answer, no. The white population itself is but partially supplied with Ministers; such being the fact, what becomes of the colored? And the question may be asked with still greater emphasis, when we kuow that it has not been customary for our Minis. ters, when they accept calls for settlement, to consider servants as a regular part of their charge. They certainly are as inuch so as are children; and Ministers are in duty bound to watch, as well for the souls of the one, as the other. But they are called to preach to masters, and to masters do they preach.
If we take the supply of Ministers to the whites now in the field, the amount of their labors in behalf of the negroes is small.
How many sermons and lectures are prepared and preached to them on the Sabbath, and during the week? How many Bible classes, Sabbath schools, and inquiry ineetings, are instituted for their special benefit? To a limited extent, in some parts of the vast field the Ministers devote the afternoon or evening of the Sabbath day, to the religious instruction of the negroes, and they succeed in establishing a Sabbath school or two. But we venture the assertion; that if we take the whole number of Ministers in the slave-holding States, but a very small portion pay any attention to them. But justice obliges us to say that in ordinary cases, much cannot be expected from Ministers to the whites; for when they faithfully discharge their duties to their own congregations, they find it impossible to do iwuch for ihe negroes: especially when their congregations are spread over a large extent of territory, and the number of colored persons in proportion to white, is two, three, or four-fold greater. They confine themselves to one field, and it proves sufficiently large to engage all their powers.
Let the negroes now come and come of them who may, for no effort is made to draw them out-let them now come to hear the preaching of Ministers to white congregations, and such is the elevation of their language and thought--such the amount of knowledge they take for granted in their audiences, they might as well preach in Hebrew or Greek. The negroes do not understand them. And hence, their stupid looks, their indiferent staring, their profound sleeps, and their thin attendance. What is there to light up the countenance with intelligence-to rivet the attention to banish drowsiness, so common to laboring men, when sitting still—what is there to attract them to the House of God ?-Nothing but sound and show. Solid instruction, pungent appeals to conscience, will bring men to the Church of God, and retain them in attendance there: and nothing else will. But Divine truth is not thus adapted to the negroes, by Ministers in their sermons to the wbites, and if the negroes are to be put off with such a dispensation of the Gospel as this, we should literally consign them to ignorance and superstition and vice forever.-We need no better evidence to confirm us in this opinion, than the condition of those negroes who enjoy such a dispensation of the Gospel, and such only. The whole, professors and nonprofessors, are low in the scale of intelligence and morality; and we are astonished thus to find Christianity in absolute conjunction with Heathenism, and yet conferring few or no benefits! The two classes are distinct in their education, station, association, duties, trials, and should have a distinct Ministry. The Gospel, as things now are, can never be preached to the two classes, successfully in conjunction. We mean not, that servants should be separated into distinct and independent Churches; this, in our view, is not desirable, but that, while they are admitted members of white Churches, and taken under their care and discipline; they should be instructed and preached to for the most part separately.
The negroes have no regular and efficient Ministry; as a matter of course, no Churches: neither is there suficient room in white Churches for their accommodation.
We know of but five Churches in the slave-holding States, built expressly for their use. These are all in the State of Georgia-all under colored Pastors, in connexion with Baptist Associations, excepting.one, which has been erected within the past year, by a Pres. byterian Clergyman, a member of this Synod, at his own expense--an «xpense of three or four hundred dollars; and he supplies the pulpit himself gratuitously--an example which we should tollow to the extent of our ability in
Tbe galleries or back seats on the lower floor, of the white Churches, are generally appropriated to the negroes, when it can be done with convenience to the whites. Where it cannot be done conveniently, the negroes who attend, must catch the Gospel as it es. capes by the doors and windows.
We can furnish no accurate estimate of the proportion of negroes that attend Divine worship on the Sabbath, taking the slave-holding States together. From an extensive observation, however, we venture to say, that not a twentieth part attend. Thousands and thousands hear not the sound of the Gospel, nor enter a Church from one year to another. So much for the public administration of the Gospel to the negroes.
We may now inquire if they enjoy its privileges in private, in their own houses, and on their own plantations ?
Again we return a negative answer. They have no Bibles to read at their own fire-sides, they have no family altars, and when in affliction, sickness or death, they have no Minister to address to them the consolations of the Gospel, nor to bury them with solemn and appropriate services. Sometimes a kind master will perform these offices; but, for the most part, they depend upon their own color, who perform them as well as they know how, if they happen to be at hand. If the master is pious, the house-servants alone attend family worship, and frequently few or none of these.
Here and there a master feels interested for the salvation of his servants, and is attempting something towards it in assembling them at evening, for reading the Scriptures and prayer; in admitting and inviting qualified persons to preach to them, in establishing a daily or weekly school for the children, and in conducting the labor and discipline of the plantation on Gospel principles. We rejoice that there are such, and that the number is increasing. In general we inay however remark, that it does not enter into the arrangements of plantations, to make provision for their religious instruction; and so far as masters are engaged in this work, an almost unbroken silence reigns over the vast field.
From what we have now said, we feel warranted in the conclusion, that the negroes are destitute of the privileges of the Gospel, and must continue to be so, if nothing inore is done for thein.
Such being the fact, our duty is obvious. It is, to extend the privileges of the Gospel to the negroes, immediately, in a judicious and efficient manner. And we conceive that God imposes this duty upon us, both in His Providence, and in His Word.
He imposes it in His Providence.
It matters not to us of the present generation, so far as the duty under consideration is concerned, by whose consent and agency the negroes were introduced into the United States, nor whether they were introduced in a just or unjust manner. They are here; and here too as immortal and accountable beings. In the Providence of God, we are not accountable for the manner in which they came here. They came here before we were born. Nor are we accountable for our birth in the slave States-for our being born masters. We are not responsible for the creation of this relation; but we certainly are for the continuance of it, and the manner in which we discharge its duties.
We are, therefore, the natural guardians of our servants, and guardians too of almost unlimited authority. According to law, they are property; their persons and services are at our disposal and for every privilege, civil, social and religious, they are absolutely dependent, nor can any person step in between us and them, or touch them in any partic. ular whatever, without our permission. This guardianship, from its unlimited authority, is consequently one of' no ordinary responsibility, and if we would secure the approbation of Almighty God, it should be exercised according to the principles of eternal truth and justice by which we shall be prompted to seek their best temporal and eternal interests, and also those of their posterity.
In as much, then, as the souls of this people are of more value than their bodies, their eternal than their teinporal interests, who will deny that our first duty is to extend to them the privileges of the Gospel of Salvation? Whatever be the condition of their bodies, their souls should not be permitted to suffer. While men are contending and legislating on the subject of their civil condition and prospects, what becomes of their immortal souls? They perish by multitudes, and if we possess the spirit of our Master, we cannot look on with inditerence. Our settled opinion is, that we should direct our etforts to the im. provement of their moral and religious condition in the first place. Let the truth ot God he brought to bear upon them and us, and light will be cast on their condition in every way.
The laws secure to the negroes the rest of the Sabbath; they permit them to assemble for religious worship on that day; and all other days, under particular provision, and on our own plantations, we can instruct them at our pleasure. We may do what we will with our own, without interfering with any man's liberty or conscience,
The negroes in Providence, are shut up in their hopes to us. They are as dependent upon us as our children, and even more so. If we deny them, they are destitute-they are friendless, and they perish; but their sonls will be required at our hands ! God imposes this duty upon us in His Word also.
Generally, on the principles already advanced, that the Gospel is the gift of God to man, all who possess it, are bound to bestow it upon those who do not.
For the sake of impression, we may introduce briefly a few passages-"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."