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RESIDENCE IN MADURA.
[AUGUST, 1861-FEBRUARY, 1862.]
[The seven months spent in Madura were occupied with immediate preparation for the care of a separate station. The best portion of the day was devoted to study, and almost every side of a missionary’s life was learned through practical effort, alone or with the older members of the mission. The time passed quickly and most pleasantly. Madura is the centre of missionary operations in that district, and beside the acquaintance which the new missionaries formed with other workers, the regular meetings of the mission gave an opportunity to acquire a knowledge of missionary organization. Their life in the city is so variously described in the following letters, that scarcely any explanation is needed, and if the reader misses some details of Oriental life, it is because the final establishment at Periakulam seemed the best occasion for introducing them.]
Since last Tuesday, one week, the mission meeting has been held here. It is held once a year, to bring together all the missionary helpers, hear reports of stations and recitation of lessons learned during the year. It is an important and interesting meeting, for the natives more than for the missionaries. All the exercises have been interesting, but one above all, and of this I must write. By the last mail I received a letter from Labaree, giving an account of the remarkable outburst of a benevolent spirit in the Nestorian community. I read the letter at the monthly concert. By the same mail came a printed letter from Deacon Moses, Nestorian, which, I suppose, you have seen. This letter was read at a religious service, early in the course of the meeting, and evidently produced a great impression upon the natives. Its results were soon felt. Day before yesterday, Saturday, the meeting was at Pasumalie, three miles from here. I rode out as early as possible, but was late at the introductory prayer-meeting. When I entered I found that something peculiar was passing, and it was not long before I found out what it was. One of the first things I saw on entering was a man stooping down and having his ear-rings pulled out by another ; he then brought them and said he would give them to the American Board. In fact the scene at Oroomiah was enacting here in Madura. One man after another rose in rapid succession, spoke a few earnest words, and laid down his offering. One catechist took off a silver chain and gave it. Thereupon one of the missionaries took off his chain and gave that. The people are poor, and have little to live on, but they gave nobly. One with a monthly salary of two dollars gave four dollars. One man rose, said he had pots and vessels and cloths to buy, and had only been a month in employ, he would give twenty-five cents; one just married gave his wedding-ring. The people, you must know, carry a good deal of their property on their persons, and wear ornaments profusely. One man said he would sell his hen
and give the price, which he stated to the meeting, but afterwards got up and said he had valued it a cent and a half too low, and must add the difference now. Another gave some chickens, another a handkerchief; another gave for his congregation a dollar, but said that was only a nest-egg, and he hoped that it would bring one hundred dollars before long with it. who had been up four times before, giving money and jewels, got up again, and taking his cloth off, said, “ It has only been to the washerman's twice; I'll give that.” Another gave a lamp, another a leathern pillow which he had been making as a specimen of his handiwork.
These are but a few instances of those who gave. Over a hundred catechists and teachers were present, and hardly one failed to add something. Above the interest from giving was that from the feeling manifested. The giving was interrupted by constant and hearty prayers. This was but a half-hour prayermeeting, and an examination was to follow ; but they all said, “ We would rather pray than recite, - this is not a common day. Let us defer the lessons.” How could the missionaries refuse? This was clearly the presence of the Spirit; leave was granted, and a young man arose, the same who had given his wedding-ring, and said : “God, by Joel, promised to pour out his Spirit in the latter days; these are the latter days. Has not the Spirit come?” Many were weeping over the house, and missionaries themselves were overcome. The chairman called for a prayer; two broke out together, and we did not rise before five had poured out their thanksgiving and supplication most fervently. Such emotion and such earnestness in prayer are not often noticeable here. There was no undue excite
ment; all was orderly and quiet. One man said, “Money is no great thing to give, we must offer our health and strength and praise." Another rose and with tears began to confess a wrong of which he had been guilty to his brother. Prayers and offerings were following each other fast; we had been nearly four hours together, and dinner-time had come. must stop.
We came from the church feeling that this was a remarkable day indeed, such as has rarely been known here. Of course the missionaries have to follow the good example given them, and I know, for the first time, what it costs a poor minister to give. One man gave a cow and a calf, though the calf was not yet actually existing. One said, “ We must not despise those who give much, for the Lord Jesus has done this."
The meeting brought about three hundred and fifty dollars, but this has since been raised to about five hundred, for the people all wanted another meeting when the women could come. Saturday we had it : all the school-girls came in, and young and old women and babies. The meeting began by a nice-looking woman stepping up and laying down twenty-five dollars for her husband. This is the largest sum given by any of the natives, and exceeded only by what some of the missionaries gave. A man got up and began to read selections from the Bible; they doubtless were good, but I fear were unheard, for men, women, and children were pressing up to the table, and laying down their offerings. Little tots, that could hardly walk, came up, and old women, who seldom had a cent in their pockets, came, and gave something so small that your currency does not recognize it, but which I doubt not has a value in the kingdom of heaven.
I fear I have made poor work of this most exciting event, in my narrative of it; let me give you some idea of this meeting as a whole. I told you the general object. It is the most stirring scene : one hundred and fifty catechists, teachers, and pastors come together to meet the missionaries for mutual help and instruction, - a visible fruit of thirty years' labor. Some of these men would appear well anywhere, strong characters, zealous Christians, intelligent, quick, well-pleasing. Dressed in their clean white clothes, with their bright faces and winning ways, you can't help loving them ; set them to singing one of the Tamil lyrics, and see if you don't feel that their souls are truly quick with a new life. All the catechists have a course of study laid out for them for each year, in Church History, Bible Exegesis, Theology, and Mental Philosophy; the teachers have simpler studies. At this meeting they are examined as to their proficiency in the several branches. Each station, too, is reported through the catechist. They have also a Native Evangelical Society, whose object is the support of the pastors in the mission, and its establishment and successful progress are an indication that the piety of the native church is advancing. The missionaries have also their meetings for busi
To-day it was voted that no missionary be sent to a station before he pass a certain examination. He cannot, I mean, have charge of any station as his own till then. Accordingly I cannot have a station assigned me yet. The examination is to be held by the close of the first year, but as much sooner as the individual chooses. Mr. Noyes is anxious to have me share his field by January next; so I shall try to be ready in