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Tomb of Raja Rammohun Roy in the Cemetery of Arno's Vale,

near Bristol.

SIR,

A LETTER

ON THE

PROSPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY

AND THE MEANS OF PROMOTING ITS RECEPTION IN INDIA.

With no ordinary feelings of satisfaction I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of April last, which together with the queries it enclosed, I had the pleasure of receiving by the hands of my friend Captain Heard. I now beg to be allowed, in the first place, to express my gratitude for your kind notice of a stranger like myself, residing in a remote country: and, secondly, to return my sincere thanks for the most acceptable present of books with which you have favoured me.

I should have answered your letter by the ship Bengal; but I regret to say, that my time and attention had been so much engrossed by constant controversies with polytheists both of the West and East, that I had only leisure to answer by that opportunity a short letter which I had the pleasure of receiving from Mr. Reed of Boston, and was obliged to defer a reply to your queries until the present occasion. For this apparent neglect I have to request your pardon.

I have now prepared such replies to those questions as my knowledge authorizes and my conscience permits; and now submit them to your judgment. There is one question at the concluding part of your letter, (to wit, "Whether it be desirable that the inhabitants of India should be converted to Christianity, in what degree desirable, and for what reasons?") which I pause to answer, as I am led to believe, from reason, what is set forth in scripture, that "in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with him," in whatever form of worship he may have been taught to glorify God. Nevertheless, I presume to think, that Christianity, if properly inculcated, has a greater tendency to improve the moral, and political state of mankind, than any other known religious system.

It is impossible for me to describe the happiness I feel at the idea that so great a body of a free, enlightened, and powerful people, like your countrymen, have engaged in purifying the religion of Addressed to the Rev. Henry Ware, of Cambridge (U. S. A.) in reply to a letter of his.-Ed.

Christ from those absurd, idolatrous doctrines and practices, with which the Greek, Roman, and Barbarian converts to Christianity have mingled it from time to time. Nothing can be a more acceptable homage to the Divine Majesty, or a better tribute to reason, than an attempt to root out the idea that the omnipresent Deity should be generated in the womb of a female, and live in a state of subjugation for several years, and lastly offer his blood to another person of the Godhead, whose anger could not be appeased except by the sacrifice of a portion of himself in a human form; so no service can be more advantageous to mankind than an endeavour to withdraw them from the belief than an imaginary faith, ritual observances, or outward marks, independently of good works, can cleanse men from the stain of past sins, and secure their eternal salvation.

Several able friends of truth in England have, in like manner, successfully engaged themselves in this most laudable undertaking. From the nature of her constitution, however, these worthy men have not only to contend with the religious prejudices of education in the popular corruptions of Christianity; but are also opposed by all the force which the Established Church derives from the abundant revenues appropriated to the sustainers of her dogmas. Happily for you, it is only prejudice, unarmed with wealth and power, that you have to struggle with, which, of itself, is, I must confess, a sufficiently formidable opponent.

Your country, however, in free inquiry into religious truth, excels even England, and I have therefore every reason to hope, that the truths of Christianity will soon, throughout the United States, triumph over the present prevailing corruptions. I presume to say, that no native of those States can be more fervent than myself in praying for the uninterrupted happiness of your country, and for what I cannot but deem essential to its prosperity-the perpetual union of all the States under one general government. Would not the glory of England soon be dimmed, were Scotland and Ireland separated from her? This and many other illustrations cannot have escaped your attention. I think no true and prudent friend of your country could wish to see the power and independence at present secured to all by a general government, exposed to the risk that would follow, were a dissolution to take place, and each state left to pursue its own As Captain Endicott has been kind enough to offer to take charge of any parcel that I might wish to send you, I have the

resources.

pleasure of sending the accompanying publications, of which I beg your acceptance. I now conclude my letter with sincere wishes for your health and success, and remain, with the greatest regard, Yours most obediently,

Calcutta, February 2, 1824.

RAMMOHUN ROY.

"I. What is the real success of the great exertions which are making for the conversion of the natives of India to Christianity?” "II. What is the number and character of converts ?"

To reply to each of these questions is indeed to enter on a very delicate subject, as the Baptist Missionaries of Serampore determinedly contradict any one that may express a doubt as to the success of their labours; and they have repeatedly given the public to understand, that their converts were not only numerous but also respectable in their conduct; while the young Baptist Missionaries in Calcutta, though not inferior to any Missionaries in India in abilities and acquirements, both European and Asiatic, nor in Christian zeal and exertions, are sincere enough to confess openly, that the number of their converts, after the hard labour of six years, does not exceed, four; and in like manner the Independent Missionaries of this city, whose resources are much greater than those of Baptists, candidly acknowledge, that their Missionary exertions for seven years have been productive only of one convert.

To avoid, however, the occasion of a further dispute on this point with the Serampore Missionaries I beg to substitute for my answer to the above queries, the language of the Rev. Abbé Dubois, who, after a mission of thirty years in India, is better qualified than I am, to give a decided opinion upon these subjects, and whose opinions deserve more reliance than those of a private individual who has never engaged in Missionary duties. The quotation above alluded to is as follows:

"Question of conversion,-The question to be considered may be reduced to these two points: 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?

"To both interrogatories I will answer in the negative: it is my 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 prove, in many respects, detrimental to it. These assertions, coming from a person of my profession, may to many appear bold and extraordinary: I will therefore support them by such arguments and proofs, as a long experience and practice in the career of proselytism have enabled me to adduce.

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'When I was at Vellore, four years ago, in attendance on a numerous congregation living in that place, having been informed that the Lutheran Missionaries kept a Catechist or native religious teacher at that station on a salary of five pagodas a month, I was led to suppose that they had a numerous flock there; but I was not a little surprised, when on inquiry I found that the whole congregation consisted of only three individuals, namely a drummer, a cook, and a horsekeeper.

"In the meantime, do not suppose, that those thin congregations are wholly composed of converted pagans; at least half consists of Catholic apostates, who went over to the Lutheran sect in times of famine, or from other interested motives.

"It is not uncommon on the coast to see natives who successively pass from one religion to another, according to their actual interest. In my last journey to Madras, I became acquainted with native converts, who regularly changed their religion twice a year, and who, for a long while, were in the habit of being six months Catholic and six months Protestant.

"Behold the Lutheran Mission, established in India more than a century ago; interrogate its Missionaries; ask them what were their successes during so long a period, and through what means were gained over the few proselytes they made. Ask them whether the interests of their sect are improving, or whether they are gaining ground, or whether their small numbers are not rather dwindling away?

"Behold the truly industrious, the unaffected and unassuming Moravian brethren: ask them how many converts they have made in India, during a stay of about seventy years, by preaching the Gospel in all its naked simplicity: they will condidly answer, Not one, not a single man.

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