Imágenes de páginas

and to assure us, (hear, Oh Israel !) in the same treatise, and almost in the same page, that the Christians of India are the most despised and wretched of its inhabitants ; that whoever takes up the cross, takes up the hatred of his own people, the contempt of Europeans, loss of goods, loss of employment, destitution, and often beggary ; and yet that it is interest alone, and a love of this world, which has induced, in any Hindu, even a temporary profession of the gospel ?

“ And this is the professed apologist of the people of India ! My brethren, I have known the sharpness of censure, and I am not altogether without experience in the suffering of undeserved and injurious imputations. And, let the righteous smite me friendly, I shall receive it (I trust in God) with gratitude. Let my enemy write a book, so he be my open enemy, I trust through the same Divine aid) to bear it or to answer it. But whatever reproofs I may deserve; to whatever calumnies I may be subjected ; may the mercy of Heaven defend me from having a false friend for my vindicator!”

Soon after this he commenced his first visitation, accompanied by his friend and chaplain, the Rev. Martin Stowe, who had followed him from England. As it was late in the season before he could leave his family, which at first he intended should also accompany him, he was obliged to travel by water in preference to the then hazardous journey by land. He accordingly left Calcutta in a pinnace for Upper India, and ascended the Ganges as high as Allahabad, upwards of six hundred miles from Calcutta ; stopping at all the principal places, and particularly wherever any official duty awaited him, or a congregation of Christians could be collected, however small; and though obliged to preach, as was often the case, within the contracted rooms of a temporary Indian dwelling house. At Dacca, he was called to the painful trial, for such his journal proves it to have been, of parting with his friend Stowe; who, from imprudent exposure, brought on himself a disease of the climate, which in a few days destroyed his life. Bishop Heber, in giving an account, which is pathetically descriptive of his loss, to Mrs. Heber, mentions incidentally, what he had not otherwise alluded to, that from the very beginning of the journey they had prayed and read together daily, and that, on the last Sunday which he saw, they had received the sacrament together; and adds, " I trust I shall never forget the deep contrition and humility, the earnest prayer, or the earnest faith in the mercies of Christ, with which he commended himself to God.”

And his pious habit of drawing instruction from every event, is finely illustrated in the following passage of the same letter. 66 One lesson has been very deeply imprinted on my heart by these few days. If this man's innocent and useful life (for I have no doubt that the greater part of his life has been both innocent and useful) offered so many painful recollections, and called forth such deep contrition, when in the hour of death he came to examine every instance of omission or transgression, how careful must we be to improve every hour, and every opportunity of grace, and so to remember God while we live, that we may not be afraid to think on him when dying! And, above all, how blessed and necessary is the blood of Christ to us all, which was poor Stowe's only and effectual comfort!” Any man might be proud of such an eulogy as he gave to the memory of his friend,

which, indeed, he dwells upon in successive letters to Mrs. Heber, as if unable to abandon the subject. This lingering over the recollection of a deserving object evinces the strength of his attachment, and the more powerfully because alluded to incidentally, and in a way which he could not have supposed would meet any other eyes than those for whose special perusal the letters were intended.* In the same manner did he show the strength of his domestic feelings, when, a few days before the decease of Stowe, after indulging himself in a description of the beautiful scenery of the river in his journal, he suddenly, and, as if exultingly, remarks

To day I had the delight of hearing again from my wife, and this is worth all the scenery in the world !"

It was understood between the Bishop and Mrs. Heber, that they were to meet at Boglipoor, a place on the river some distance above Dacca, but the dangerous sickness of their children com

* His letter to Miss Stowe on the death of her brother is a fine specimen of the manner in which a feeling and Christian heart, though wounded, could pour consolation into a bosom more deeply wounded still.

pelled Mrs. Heber to remain at Calcuta, and this feeling and sensitive man was doomed to be disappointed of the happy meeting he was anticipating, and to be deprived of the company of his beloved wife, in a journey which was yet to be extended through a whole year! In a letter to her at this period he says, “ your joining me is out of the question;" and adds, “ I am strangely tempted to come to you.

But I fear it might be a compromise of my duty and a distrust of God! I feel most grateful indeed to him for the preservation of our invaluable treasures.” And having said this he went on his way, in the path to which duty called

From Allahabad he travelled on horseback, with, as is usual, and even necessary in that country, a considerable suite, to Almorah in the Himalaya mountains, and from thence across the country to Surat, where he embarked for Bombay; at which place he arrived on the 19th of April; and in a few days he had the delight of meeting his family, who came thither by sea from Calcutta, after an absence of more than ten months. On the route from Allahabad to Surat, he visited several small congregations of Christians; not a few of whom

« AnteriorContinuar »