life of mrs. ann h. judson, late missionary to burmah;
With an Account of the American Baptist Mission to that Empire.
History of the Mission, after the Death of Mrs. Judson,
with concluding Remarks.
THOUGH we have traced the life of Mrs. Judson to its close, the readers of this book will, it is presumed, be pleased to learn some particulars respecting the subsequent progress of the mission, for which she lived and died. Her husband and his associates, though they felt deeply the loss which they and the mission had sustained, were not disheartened. Their faith did not fail, and they resolved to proceed in their endeavours to save the souls of the heathen.
Mr. Judson, and Mr. and Mrs. Wade continued awhile at Amherst. Here Mr. Judson commenced preaching, and worship was again held in Burmese, after an interval of two years and a half. A school of twenty girls was formed, under the charge of Mrs. Wade, from whose letters we extract the following interesting particulars.
" Amherst, May 1, 1827.
"Our first scholar, Mee Loke, was brought by Moung Shwa-ba, January 18th, about seven weeks after our arrival at this place; she is a fine promising girl, twelve years old. About the same time, in one of my evening walks, I met a little girl about five years of age, of a more than usually interesting appearance. I asked her name, and where she lived; to which she readily answered—and then ran before to point out her grandmother's house, a little low dirty hut in the midst of the market. I found the grandmother to be a rather sensible Burman woman, and learned that the little girl was an orphan, both her parents having died during the late war. After making some inquiries what she would be able to learn in such a place, &c. I informed her that I intended to educate a number of girls at the mission house in our own family. This idea seemed to strike her very favourably; she proposed to give me the little girl, to educate as my own child, and accordingly brought her to us the next day. This is our Sarah Wayland . With these two girls I commenced this female boarding-school.
" May 6.—Six girls, who had been waiting some time for admission into the school, have been received to-day. Their parents and friends fully understand that our great object is to teach them the Christian religion.
" May 16.—Mah Quay, the mother of Mee Poo, one of the scholars, who often visits me, this morning expressed herself highly pleased with the school.
She assured me, that both herself and husband wished us to take their child as our own. I then suggested, that it was not the welfare of these girls in this world only, that induced us to do so much for them—informed her how much pains was taken every day to teach them the Christian religion—and added, 'Perhaps your daughter will become a disciple of Christ; how would you like that?' 'Let her become a disciple,' she answered, without the least hesitation. 'Her father and myself have not worshipped the pagodas1 for some time, and have many doubts upon the subject. We are perfectly willing that our daughter should change her religion. Let her become a good Christian.'
"24. A fine, intelligent little girl, who has often been here with Mah Men-la, wishes very much to be admitted into the school; but her father says, that here she would never learn any thing of the religion of Gaudama, but would surely become a disciple of Christ, and he will not therefore give her to us. To-day, when I asked her if she still wished to come and live with me, a tear immediately brightened her fine black eye, while she answered, 'I very much wish to come and live with you, mamma, but my father will not allow it.
"25. Mah Niyht, a woman who has placed her three daughters in the school, of course often visits me, but has hitherto been quite indifferent to the subject of religion. To-day however, she seemed to get considerably interested in a conversation, and acknowledged, with much apparent feeling, that the Burman system of religion was destitute of any support or comfort for a death-bed. 'To us,' she said, while a tear started in her eye, 'all beyond the grave is covered with gloomy uncertainty and darkness.' Oh that this might prove a moment of conviction from the Holy Spirit.
"26. As I went into the school this morning, I observed a small quantity of boiled rice, rolled up very neatly, and laid in a safe place, just in the way the Burmans make what they consider meritorious offerings to the Nats.2 I inquired who put the rice in that place and for what purpose. The girls, with their accustomed frankness, immediately answered that Mee Noboo had placed it there as an offering to one of the Nats. When she was asked if she thought the Nat would come to receive it, she hung her head and made no reply; but a little girl, still younger, said, 'Yes, Mamma, the Nat will come.' 'Well, watch for him, I replied; and if he does not come before dark, I will give you a lamp, to watch in the night; for I very much wish to see a Nat.' All the larger girls now began to laugh, and told Mee Noboo that she might watch many days and nights, but would not see a Nat, for no person in the world had ever seen a Nat come to take an offering. After a little pleasantry upon the subject, I told them Mee Noboo's mind was very dark to believe in Nats—endeavoured to show them the absurdity of making such offerings, and spent some time in trying to give them some idea of the angels of heaven, fallen angels, and of the eternal God, to which they listened with much apparent interest.
" Aug . 5.—Have just been informed by one of the Christians, that Mee Poo, who has been in the school about six months, when last at home on a visit, heard something said about going to worship a pagoda, when she immediately exclaimed, with much earnestness, 'O my father, and my mother, do not worship those images and pagodas. Gaudama, where is he? Can he see or hear us? And these heaps of bricks, and figures of stone, what can they do for us? Is it not better to worship the God who made the heavens and the earth, and who is now alive , and will live for ever?'
"7. The grandmother of Mee Men, a little girl about five years old, made me a visit to-day. After inquiring about her health, I observed, You are growing old, and cannot expect to live long. 'It is true,' she replied, 'and I have been thinking much on the subject lately.' I then inquired, Into what state do you expect to enter after death? 'Oh, I do not know,' she replied; 'I have been trying all my life to perform enough meritorious deeds to ensure me happiness in another state; but little Mee Men tells me that every body will go down to hell, if they do not worship the great God who made heaven and all this world too. So I try to worship him, but my mind is extremely dark.' How do you worship him? she was asked. 'I first pray to my dead relations to speak to God for me, and then I try to pray to Jesus Christ; but did not know what to say to him, until Mee Men began to teach me the prayer which she learned here.'"
The following extract from a letter dated Dec. 7, 1827, exhibits the dreadful condition of many poor children in Burmah. Truly the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty . How desirable it is, that the children should be thus rescued from their barbarous masters, and from parents who seem, indeed, to be without natural affection . Will not the females of our land combine their prayers, and their efforts, to support and multiply these schools?
"Little Mee Shway-ee is about seven years old, and was by her parents made a slave to her brother, one of the magistrate's interpreters, who from the situation which he fills, keeps the Burmans in great fear of him, so that we never heard of this poor child until it was almost too late. The case was then represented to us with the greatest precaution, through fear of suffering the vengeance of the wicked interpreter. Mr. Judson immediately called the man, told him that he knew all about the poor child, and that if he would bring her to us without the least delay, he would not inform the magistrate against him; but if not, he would do it immediately. The child was then brought to us,—but my blood chills at even this distant recollection of what an object was presented. Her little body was wasted to a skeleton, and covered from head to foot with the marks of a large rattan, and blows from some sharp edged thing which left a deep scar. Her forehead, one of her ears, and a finger, were still suffering from his blows, and did not heal for some time. Her master in a rage one day caught her by the arm, and gave it such a twist as to break the bone, from which her sufferings were dreadful. Besides, she had a large and dreadful burn upon her body, recently inflicted. Whether the wretch intended to put an end to her life this time, is uncertain; but he no doubt concluded that the event would prove fatal; for he shut her up in a close hot room, where no one was allowed to see her, and told his neighbours that she was very ill in a fever. She had been tortured so long, that her naturally smiling countenance was the very picture of grief and despair.
"Almost the first words which this poor little sufferer said to me was, 'Please to give your slave a little rice, for I am very hungry.' She was asked if she had not her breakfast: to which she replied, 'Yes, but I get very little, so that I am hungry all day long.' I was happy to find that she had no fever. But notwithstanding all that could be done, she cried almost incessantly for forty-eight hours, and had at times symptoms of convulsions. The inflammation then began to subside; and after nursing her with unremitted care by night and by day myself, for two weeks, I had the inexpressible satisfaction of seeing her begin to play with the little girls. Although we did not inform against the Moorman interpreter, the Burmans ventured to do so, and the result was, a pair of chains and imprisonment.3"
This poor child afterwards died; and in her last hours she gave evidence that the instructions which she had received had, by the blessing of God, made her wise unto salvation.—'I am dying,' said she, 'but I am not afraid to die , for Christ will call me up to heaven. He has taken away all my sins, and I wish to die now, that I may go and see him. I love Jesus Christ more than every body else.' But it is only those who heard her, from day to day, lisp her little prayers and praises to God, who caught, with a joy unfelt before, the first dawn of light which beamed upon her dark mind, who watched, with hearts raised to God, its gentle progress, that can realize what a precious and heavenly scene, the death-bed of little Mee Shway-ee presented.
In April, 1827, the mission was strengthened by the arrival of the Rev. George D. Boardman, and wife, at Amherst, from which place they soon removed to Maulmein, and entered upon their labours. A few months after Mr. Judson and Mr. and Mrs. Wade, followed them to the same place, as the native population was fast deserting Amherst. The little band of missionaries, now concentrated at Maulmein, devoted themselves to their work with great zeal, and it pleased God to encourage their hearts, by the most marked tokens of his favour. Thirty converts, several of whom were from the female school, were baptized during the first year, and these were united in one church, with the native Christians, who had removed from Rangoon.
Mah Men-la died at Amherst, before Mrs. Wade left that place. The following extracts from two letters to Mr. Judson, giving an account of her illness, and death, will close our history of this interesting convert.
"When her case became dangerous, she was removed to the mission house.—She is not inclined to converse much; but how delighted you would be to hear her now and then talk of entering heaven, and of meeting Mrs. Judson , and other pious friends. The other day, after having dwelt for some time on the delightful subject, and mentioned the names of all the friends she should rejoice to meet, not omitting dear little Maria , she stopped short, and exclaimed, 'But first of all, I shall hasten to where my Saviour sits, and fall down and worship and adore him, for his great love, in sending the teachers to show me the way to heaven.'—Another letter says, 'I feel it a pleasure to do any thing for her, she is so grateful and affectionate.'—A letter received this morning, adds, 'While the funeral procession is moving towards the house appointed for all living, I sit down to inform you, that last evening, about nine o'clock, Mah Men-la's happy spirit took its flight to her native skies. Her departure was quiet and serene; without a groan, or sigh, or even a gasp, to distort her smiling countenance. She had often said, that to her death had no terrors; and though insensible at last, she seemed to bid him welcome.'"
It is delightful to know from Mr. Judson's testimony, that the Rangoon converts who had been scattered by the war, had not disgraced their holy profession. They had made it their daily prayer, that the disciples and teachers might meet again.—"God, they said, had answered their prayers, therefore, their hearts were glad."
After the termination of the war, Dr. Price returned to Ava. His medical skill procured for him the favour of the Emperor, and of the nobility; and he had frequent opportunities to converse with them on the subject of religion. He took under his tuition a number of boys, the sons of some of the highest officers of government, to whom he communicated the truths of the Gospel, as well as the principles of science. He was fully persuaded, that his situation would enable him to serve the cause of the Redeemer, with great success. His journals narrate several interesting conversations with the Emperor, and other individuals, in which he was allowed to state the doctrines of the Gospel, and to assail directly the principles of Boodhism. He was, too, encouraged to believe, that the instructions which he imparted by public lectures, and private conversations, on astronomy, geography, natural philosophy, and other branches of science, would indirectly tend to shake the popular system of faith, which in Burmah, as in all other heathen countries, is closely connected with erroneous and absurd notions of science.
But while advancing in this course of usefulness, cheered by some tokens of good, and allured forward by hopes of success, his health failed. A pulmonary consumption fixed itself upon his system, and after a lingering disease, this zealous and highly valued missionary died, near Ava, on the 14th of February, 1828.
We shall now close this sketch, by a brief review of the situation and prospects of the missionaries, according to the latest dates, from the several stations.
Tavoy .—After about a year's residence at Maulmein, Mr. and Mrs. Boardman removed to Tavoy, about 150 miles to the south-east. It is 35 miles from the sea, and contains 9000 inhabitants; and, as is supposed by Mr. Boardman, nearly 1000 pagodas, of different sizes. Here they immediately commenced preaching, and instructing the children in schools, and several of the heathen soon embraced the religion of Jesus, some of whom belonged to an interesting race of people, who inhabit the forests and mountains, called Karens, and who appear favourably disposed to the Gospel. One of their head men, Ko-thah-byoo, is travelling among his countrymen, preaching to them the religion he has professed. Mr. Boardman is also assisted by another native convert, called Moung-Shway-Bwen.
Maulmein.—Mr. Judson was at this place, at the last date, March 15, 1830, engaged principally in the work of translation. Mr. Cephas Bennett, a printer, who sailed, with his wife and child, from Philadelphia in May, 1829, arrived at Maulmein, January 15, 1830, with a press, and Burman types, and immediately commenced the operations of the printing office.—Mr. and Mrs. Wade had gone to Rangoon.—Five native converts were employed as assistants, as exhorters, school teachers, readers of the Scriptures, &c.—The Lord poured out his Spirit on the station. The female school as was mentioned before, had been particularly blest, and a number of the scholars had been baptized. The first convert was Mary Hasseltine , one of the little girls who were with Mrs. Judson at Ava.—The whole number baptized, from January, 1828, to March 15, 1830, was sixty-two! Ten of these persons were English soldiers, belonging to the 42d regiment, who have been formed into a separate Church.—The New Testament had been thoroughly revised for the press, and several important tracts had been prepared in the Burman, Taling, and Siamese languages.—Mr. Judson had commenced the translation of the Old Testament. There was a school for female children, under the charge of Mary Hasseltine, and another school, for boys, had been commenced.
Soon after the close of the war, Mr. Judson paid into the Treasury of the Board, above four thousand dollars, which he had received chiefly from the British government, as a compensation for his services, as interpreter. In addition to this, he has paid into the Treasury about 6000 dollars, being the whole of his private property.
Rangoon .—A native convert, Moung Thah-a, commenced preaching at Rangoon, after the war, and several persons were converted.—He visited the missionaries at Maulmein, to ask counsel and aid. They were so entirely satisfied with his character and qualifications, that they ordained him, in January, 1829, as pastor of the church at Rangoon. He returned thither, and continued his labours with zeal and success. The church there consists of more than twenty members, all but three or four of whom have been baptized by Moung Thah-a. The others are the remnants of the former church, gathered by Mr. and Mrs. Judson.—Moung Ing, who was with Mr. Judson at Ava, has been ordained, and is now labouring at Rangoon; and Mr. and Mrs. Wade arrived there from Maulmein on the first of March, 1830.—They were highly gratified with the appearance of the native converts. The success of Moung Thah-a is a gratifying omen, that God designs to make use of native preachers, to convert their countrymen to the knowledge of the Saviour.
Reinforcement .—We have mentioned the arrival of the printer, Mr. Bennett, with his family.—On the 23d of May, 1830, the Rev. Eugenio Kincaid, and the Rev. Francis Mason, were set apart as missionaries in the Baptist meeting-house, in Baldwin Place, Boston; and on the 24th they sailed, with their wives, in the ship Martha, Captain Lovett, for Calcutta.—Mr. and Mrs. Kincaid are to be stationed at Maulmein, and Mr. and Mrs. Mason at Tavoy.—On the 28th of July, the Rev. John Taylor Jones was ordained, in the Federal street Baptist meeting-house, Boston, and set apart as a missionary to Burmah. On the 2d of August, Mr. Jones and his wife sailed in the ship Corvo, Captain Spalding, for Calcutta. The services on these occasions were solemn and highly interesting. Many prayers have been offered to the God of missions for His blessing on these His servants. May He carry them in safety to Burmah, and make them instruments of extensive and permanent benefit to the heathen.
The facts which have been stated show, that much success has attended the mission, notwithstanding it has been impeded by intolerance, interrupted by sickness and by war, and weakened by the death of five missionaries.—If we take the number of converts only, as the measure of its success we may safely affirm, that few missions in modern times have accomplished more in the same period, and with the same means.
But in the establishment of a mission, there is much to be done in laying the foundations. The language is to be acquired; the habits and feelings of the natives, are to be learned; the Scriptures are to be translated; tracts are to be written and printed; and the other weapons of the Christian warfare are to be collected and prepared, before a missionary can make a successful onset upon the strong holds of Satan, in a heathen land. The first missionaries, therefore, must necessarily be pioneers, to remove the obstructions, and make straight in the desert, a highway for their successors.
Mr. Judson has performed this service for the Burman mission. He has acquired the language, and has prepared a Grammar and Dictionary, by the aid of which future missionaries will be enabled in a brief period to qualify themselves to preach the Gospel. The New Testament is translated, and portions of it have been printed and circulated. The Old Testament is now in the hands of Mr. Judson. Thousands of tracts have been distributed. The experiment has been tried, and it has been proved, that the truths of the Gospel can triumph over the errors, and subtleties of Burman minds, and the levity, deceitfulness, and sensuality of their hearts. We may be assured, then, that if the Gospel be preached in Burmah, with the usual blessing of the Holy Spirit, it will become the power of God to the salvation of the natives.
There is, then, ample encouragement to preach the Gospel in Burmah; and those who have traced the history of the mission, must have seen many wonderful tokens of the divine will, that the American Baptist churches should be principally instrumental in converting the Burman empire, to the Christian faith. The voice of Providence, on this point, cannot be mistaken. These churches are responsible to God, for the support, enlargement, and vigorous prosecution of this mission. They are responsible to the Christian world.
But Burmah is a small part only of the field which is spread out white to the harvest, and inviting the labours of the reaper. According to the lowest computation of the numbers of the human family, upwards of four hundred millions of our fellow men are Idolaters, or Mahometans. The largest and fairest regions of the earth, are yet under the dominion of superstition and its manifold miseries. By whom is the Gospel to be preached to these millions of human beings; and these dark places of the earth, to be recovered to the dominion of the King of Zion? Plainly, it must be done by the Christian church. Let every Christian, then, do his duty. Let young, and old, do something for the conversion of the heathen. Let Sabbath school teachers inform the children concerning the miseries, and superstitions of the heathen, and enlist their sensibilities in the cause of missions, while they impress on their tender minds, the duty of Christians to preach the Gospel to every creature.
Churches of Christ, remember that you are not your own. He who purchased you with his blood, calls on you to engage in this glorious enterprise, with the full measure of your ability; and to advance, with united hearts, and concentrated energies, like an army with banners, to fight the battles of the Lord, until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of Immanuel.—
Salvation! O Salvation!
The joyful sound proclaim,
Till earth's remotest nation
Shall learn Messiah's name.
1 The pagodas, it will be remembered, are themselves
objects of worship among the Burmans, although nothing but solid piles of brick
2 Inferior demons, which the Burmans fear, and strive to please by offerings.
3 This wretched man, after a short confinement, committed suicide by taking poison.
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