Life of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, Late Missionary to Burmah;
With an Account of the American Baptist Mission to that Empire.
Mr. Judson commences Preaching.—Mrs. Judson sails for
England and America.
THE mission had now been established several years, and something had been done, by private conversation, and through the press, to convey the knowledge of salvation to the natives. But it was thought that the time had arrived for more public and enlarged efforts. Mr. Judson was sufficiently master of the language to preach publicly. Tracts and portions of the Scriptures were ready to be placed in the hands of inquirers. It was, therefore, resolved to erect a small building, (called a zayat,) adjoining the mission premises, near a great road, leading to one of the principal pagodas, and consequently much thronged. Here it was designed to preach the Gospel, and to converse with any person who might choose to visit it. This was a hazardous attempt. The missionaries had remained unmolested, because they lived retired, and had been able to obtain the favour of the Viceroy. But a public attempt to preach the Gospel, and to convert the natives to Christianity, was likely to attract the attention and displeasure of the government. It was well known, that a renunciation of the established religion would be punished with death.
But the missionaries resolved to make the attempt, and trust in the Lord for protection.
Messrs. Colman and Wheelock immediately commenced the study of the language; but their health was so impaired, particularly that of Mr. Wheelock, that their progress was slow and limited.
In April, 1819, the zayat was opened, and a new era in the mission commenced.—Here Mr. Judson preached on the Sabbath, and on other days conversed with such of the natives as were disposed to attend. A school was kept in part of the building. Mrs. Judson thus describes the zayat, and the method of conducting the school.
"The zayat is situated thirty or forty rods from the mission-house, and in dimensions is twenty-seven by eighteen feet. It is raised four feet from the ground, and is divided into three parts. The first division is laid entirely open to the road, without doors, windows, or a partition in the front side, and takes up a third part of the whole building. It is made of bamboo and thatch, and is the place where Mr. Judson sits all the day long, and says to the passers by, 'Ho! every one that thirsteth,' &c. The next, and middle division, is a large airy room, with four doors and four windows, opening in opposite directions; made entirely of boards, and is whitewashed, to distinguish it from the other zayats around us.
"In this room we have public worship, in Burman, on the Sabbath; and in the middle of which I am now situated at my writing table, while six of the male scholars are at one end, each with his torch and black board, over which he is industriously bending, and emitting the curious sounds of the language. The third and last division, is only an entry way, which opens into the garden, leading to the mission-house.
"In this apartment all the women are seated, with their lights and black boards, much in the same position and employment as the men. The black board, on which all the Burmans learn to read and write, answers the same purpose as our slates. They are about a yard in length, made black with charcoal and the juice of a leaf; and letters are clearly imprinted with a species of white stone, a little similar to our slate pencils. A lesson is written out on this board by an instructer; and when the scholar is perfect master of it, it is erased, and a new one written."
Mrs. Judson studied the Siamese language, and with the assistance of a teacher translated the Burman catechism, tract, and the Gospel of Matthew into that language. Several thousands of Siamese lived in Rangoon. Under date of April 29, 1819, she writes—"Relative to the mission, it is gaining ground slowly, but I hope surely. We have a place erected for public worship, where Mr. Judson and myself spend the day in conversing with all who call; he with the men, and I with the women. On the Sabbath we have regular public worship in the Burman language. The building is situated on one of the public roads; which, on account of its being lined on both sides with pagodas, is called Pagoda road.
"This last week has been a very interesting one to us, on account of having had several very hopeful inquirers, who really appeared to be a prepared people for the Lord. I have a meeting every Wednesday evening with the females, many of whom appear attentive and inquisitive."
The 30th of April, 1819, is a memorable day in the history of this mission. On that day, Moung Nau,1 the first convert, made his first visit to the zayat. He was then silent and reserved, and excited little attention or hope. But the next day, and on several succeeding days, he repeated his visit.—He soon gave conclusive evidence, that God had indeed changed his heart, and made him a believer in Christ. Mr. Judson thus notices some of the events in his journal.
"May 6. Moung Nau was again with me a great part of the day. He appears to be slowly growing in religious knowledge, and manifests a teachable, humble spirit, ready to believe all that Christ has said, and obey all that he has commanded.
"He is thirty-five years old, no family, middling abilities, quite poor, obliged to work for his living, and therefore his coming day after day to hear the truth, affords stronger evidence that it has taken hold of his mind. May the Lord graciously lead his dark mind into all the truth, and cause him to cleave inviolably to the blessed Saviour.
"8. Burman day of worship. Thronged with visiters through the day. Had more or less company, without intermission, for about eight hours. Several heard much of the Gospel, and engaged to come again. Moung Nau was with me a great part of the day, and assisted me much in explaining things to new comers. Towards night, a man came in, by name of Moung Shwa Oo, whom I think it time to mention particularly, as he has visited me several times, and though, like Moung Nau, apparently backward at first, he appears to be really thoughtful. He is a young man of twenty-seven, of very pleasant exterior, and evidently in good circumstances.
" May 9. Lord's day . Moung Shwa Oo came in the morning, and staid through the whole day.
Only two or three of all I conversed with yesterday came again—Had, however, an assembly of thirty—After worship, some warm disputation. I began to feel that the Burmans cannot stand before the truth. In the course of conversation, Moung Nau declared himself a disciple of Christ, in presence of a considerable number; and even Moung Shwa Oo appeared to incline the same way.
"11. Had more or less company from morning till night. Among the rest, Moung Shwa Oo, and two or three others, who appear to be pretty well satisfied that the Boodhist religion has no foundation. Conversation was very animated, and somewhat encouraging; but I wanted to see more seriousness, and more anxiety to be saved from sin.
"Heard much to-day of the danger of introducing a new religion. All agreed in opinion, that the King would cut off those who embraced it, being a King who could not bear that his subjects should differ in sentiment from himself, and who has for a long time persecuted the priests of the established religion of the empire, because they would not sanction all his innovations. Those who seemed most favourably disposed, whispered me, that I had better not stay in Rangoon and talk to common people, but go directly to the ' lord2 of life and death .' If he approved of the religion, it would spread rapidly; but, in the present state of things, nobody would dare to prosecute their inquiries with the fear of the King before their eyes. I tried to set them right in some points, and encouraged them to trust in the care of an Almighty Saviour; but they speak low, and look around fearfully, when they mention the name of the ' owner of the sword .'"
Many visiters attended at the zayat, and a number of individuals appeared to be affected by the truths of the Gospel.
The hearts of the missionaries were filled with gratitude and joy at this manifestation of the grace of God, towards the Burmans.
" June 6. Lord's day . After partaking of the Lord's supper in the evening, we read and considered the following letter of Moung Nau, which he wrote of his own accord.
" Letter of Moung Nau to the Missionaries.
"I, Moung Nau, the constant recipient of your excellent favour, approach your feet. Whereas my Lord's three have come to the country of Burmah, not for the purpose of trade, but to preach the religion of Jesus Christ, the Son of the eternal God, I, having heard and understood, am with a joyful mind filled with love.
"I believe that the Divine Son, Jesus Christ, suffered death in the place of men, to atone for their sins. Like a heavy laden man, I feel my sins are very many. The punishment of my sins I deserve to suffer. Since it is so, do you, sirs, consider that I, taking refuge in the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, and receiving baptism, in order to become his disciple, shall dwell one with yourselves, a band of brothers, in the happiness of heaven, and therefore grant me the ordinance of baptism. It is through the grace of Jesus Christ, that you, sirs, have come by ship from one country and continent to another, and that we have met together. I pray my Lord's three, that a suitable day may be appointed, and that I may receive the ordinance of baptism.
"Moreover, as it is only since I have met with you, sirs, that I have known about the eternal God, I venture to pray that you will still unfold to me the religion of God, that my old disposition may be destroyed, and my new disposition improved."
"We have all, for some time, been satisfied concerning the reality of his religion, and therefore voted to receive him into church fellowship, on his being baptized, and proposed next Sunday for administering the ordinance."
On the 27th of June, 1819, Moung Nau was baptized, the first baptism which ever occurred in the Burman empire. It was a day of unutterable joy to the missionaries, who had so long been "going forth weeping, bearing precious seed."
" June 27. Lord's day . There were several strangers present at worship. After the usual course, I called Moung Nau before me, read and commented on an appropriate portion of Scripture, asked him several questions concerning his faith , hope , and love , and made the baptismal prayer; having concluded to have all the preparatory exercises done in the zayat. We then proceeded to a large pond in the vicinity, the bank of which is graced with an enormous image of Gaudama, and there administered baptism to the first Burman convert. O may it prove the beginning of a series of Baptisms in the Burman empire, which shall continue in uninterrupted succession to the end of time!"
On the succeeding Sabbath Mr. Judson says: "We have had the pleasure of sitting down, for the first time, at the Lord's table, with a converted Burman; and it was my privilege, a privilege to which I have been looking forward with desire for many years,—to administer the Lord's supper in two languages."
The power and grace of God thus displayed in the conversion of one Burman, the first who ever ventured publicly to profess the religion of Christ, afforded evidence of his approbation of the mission; and gave the most cheering encouragement to the missionaries. The new convert became a valuable assistant to Mr. Judson, and showed a strong desire to communicate to others the knowledge of that Saviour, who had become precious to his own heart. Mrs. Judson gives a most interesting account of him in a letter dated the third of June.
"'In our religion,' said he, 'there is no way to escape the punishment due to sin; but according to the religion of Christ, he himself has died in order to deliver his disciples. I wish all the Burmans would become his disciples; then we should meet together as you do in your country; then we should all be happy together in heaven. How great are my thanks to Jesus Christ for sending teachers to this country! and how great are my thanks to the teachers for coming! Had they never come and built that zayat, I should never have heard of Christ and the true God. I mourn that so much of my life passed away before I heard of this religion. How much I have lost!'—It is peculiarly interesting to see with what eagerness he drinks in the truths from the Scriptures. A few days ago, I was reading with him Christ's sermon on the mount. He was deeply impressed, and unusually solemn. 'These words,' said he, 'take hold on my very heart; they make me tremble. Here God commands us to do every thing that is good in secret, not to be seen of men. How unlike our religion is this! When Burmans make offerings to the pagodas, they make a great noise with drums and musical instruments, that others may see how good they are. But this religion makes the mind fear God; it makes it of its own accord fear sin.'—When I read this passage, Lay not up for yourselves treasures, &c. he said, 'What words are these! It does not mean that we shall take the silver and gold from this world and carry them to heaven; but that by becoming the disciples of Jesus, we shall live in such a manner as to enjoy heaven when we die.'—We have taken him into our employ for the present as a copyist, though our primary object was to have him near us, that we might have a better opportunity to know more of him before he received baptism, and of imparting to him more instruction than occasional visits could afford. Mornings and evenings he spends in reading the Scriptures; and when we all meet in the hall for family worship, he comes and sits with us; though he cannot understand, he says he can think of God in his heart."
The operations of the mission proceeded, with many encouraging indications of divine favour, and of the effect of truth on the minds of several of the Burmans. Moung Thah-lah, Moung E, Mah Baik and others, appeared to be seriously intent on the salvation of their souls.
In July, Mr. Judson enlarged and revised the tract for a new edition, and added to it several prayers. Its title was, "A View of the Christian Religion, in four parts, Historical, Practical, Preceptive, and Devotional." It was sent to Serampore to Mr. Hough, and an edition of five thousand copies was printed.
On the 7th of August, Mr. Wheelock embarked for Bengal, in so low a state of health that no hopes were entertained of his return. A few days after he sailed, a violent fever deprived him of his reason, and in a paroxysm of delirium, he plunged into the sea, and was drowned, the vessel sailing with such velocity that no effort could be made to save him. Thus early did his Master call him away from the earth.
Among other visitors at the zayat, was a learned Burman, named Moung Shwa-gnong: he was a man of talents, and disputed with Mr. Judson, with great skill and earnestness. The grace of God changed his heart, and he at length became a firm believer, but his progress was slow; and several others became trophies of the power of the Gospel, before he was made willing to submit to its power.
Another Burman, Moung Ing, became a sincere convert to the religion of Jesus. When Mr. Judson stated to him the danger which would attend a profession of his belief in Christ, and asked him whether he loved the Saviour better than his own life, he replied deliberately and solemnly; " when I meditate on this religion, I know not what it is to love my own life ."
On the 7th of November, Moung Thah-lah and Moung Byau, who had furnished ample testimony of their true conversion, were baptized, and united to the little church.
In the mean time, Moung Shwa-gnong had been accused to the government of a design to renounce the Burman religion. The Viceroy did not then molest him, but an alarm was produced, and the zayat was deserted. The natives did not dare to visit it.
It became evident, that the approbation of the Emperor must be obtained, or little hope could be entertained of any considerable success in preaching the Gospel.—Mr. Judson and Mr. Colmar accordingly resolved to visit the Emperor at the seat of government. They embarked in a boat, on the 22d of December, 1819, and ascended the river Irrawaddy, taking with them as a present to the Emperor, a bible, in six volumes, covered with gold leaf, in the Burman style, and each volume enclosed in a rich wrapper.
On the 25th of January, 1820, they arrived safely at Amarapora, at that time the capital of the empire, about 350 miles from Rangoon. It has since been forsaken, and the capital established at Ava, four miles below.
The missionaries visited several of the chief officers of government, and endeavoured, by presents, to secure their favour. They prepared a petition to the Emperor, and at length they were brought into the presence. The following extract is made from their account of this interview:
" Jan . 27. We left the boat, and put ourselves under the conduct of Moung Yo. He carried us first to Mya-daymen, as a matter of form; and there we learnt, that the Emperor had been privately apprised of our arrival, and said, 'Let them be introduced.' We therefore proceeded to the palace. At the outer gate we were detained a long time, until the various officers were satisfied that we had a right to enter; after which we deposited a present for the private minister of state, Moung Zah, and were ushered into his apartments in the palace-yard. He received us very pleasantly, and ordered us to sit before several Governors and petty Kings, who were waiting at his levee. We here, for the first time, disclosed our character and object—told him, that we were missionaries, or 'propagators of religion:' that we wished to appear before the Emperor, and present our sacred books, accompanied with a petition. He took the petition into his hand, looking over about half of it, and then familiarly asked several questions about our God, and our religion, to which we replied. Just at this crisis, some one announced that the golden foot3 was about to advance; on which the minister hastily rose up, and put on his robes of state, saying, that he must seize the moment to present us to the Emperor. We now found that we had unwittingly fallen on an unpropitious time, it being the day of the celebration of the late victory over the Cassays, and the very hour when his Majesty was coming forth to witness the display made on the occasion. When the minister was dressed, he just said, 'How can you propagate religion in this empire? But come along.' Our hearts sunk at these inauspicious words. He conducted us through various splendour and parade, until we ascended a flight of stairs, and entered a most magnificent hall. He directed us where to sit, and took his place on one side; the present was placed on the other, and Moung Yo, and another officer of Mya-day-men, sat a little behind. The scene to which we were now introduced, really surpassed our expectation. The spacious extent of the hall, the number and magnitude of the pillars, the height of the dome, the whole completelycovered with gold, presented a most grand and imposing spectacle. Very few were present, and those evidently great officers of state. Our situation prevented us from seeing the farther avenue of the hall; but the end where we sat opened into the parade, which the Emperor was about to inspect.
"We looked through the hall, as far as the pillars would allow, and presently caught sight of this modern Ahasuerus. He came forward, unattended—in solitary grandeur—exhibiting the proud gait and majesty of an eastern monarch. His dress was rich, but not distinctive; and he carried in his hand the gold-sheathed sword, which seems to have taken the place of the sceptre of ancient times. But it was his high aspect and commanding eye, that chiefly rivetted our attention. He strided on. Every head, excepting ours, was now in the dust. We remained kneeling, our hands folded, our eyes fixed on the monarch. When he drew near, we caught his attention. He stopped, partly turned towards us—'Who are these?' 'The teachers, great King,' I replied. 'What, you speak Burman—the priests that I heard of last night?' 'When did you arrive?' 'Are you teachers of religion?" 'Are you like the Portuguese priests?' 'Are you married?' 'Why do you dress so?' These, and some other similar questions, we answered; when he appeared to be pleased with us, and sat down on an elevated seat—his hand resting on the hilt of his sword, and his eyes intently fixed on us. Moung Zah, the chief officer of the King, now read the petition, in which the missionaries had respectfully asked liberty to teach their religion without any hindrance from the government.
"The Emperor heard it and stretched out his hand. Moung Zah crawled forward and presented it. His Majesty began at the top, and deliberately read it through. In the mean time, I gave Moung Zah an abridged copy of the tract, in which every offensive sentence was corrected, and the whole put into the handsomest style and dress possible. After the Emperor had perused the petition, he handed it back without saying a word, and took the tract. Our hearts now rose to God for a display of his grace. 'O, have mercy on Burmah! Have mercy on her King!' But, alas! the time was not yet come. He held the tract long enough to read the two first sentences, which assert, that there is one eternal God, who is independent of the incidents of mortality, and that, besides him, there is no God; and then with an air of indifference, perhaps disdain, he dashed it down to the ground! Moung Zah stooped forward, picked it up, and handed it to us. Moung Yo made a slight attempt to save us, by unfolding one of the volumes which composed our present, and displaying its beauty; but his Majesty took no notice. Our fate was decided. After a few moments, Moung Zah interpreted his royal master's will, in the following terms: 'In regard to the objects of your petition, his Majesty gives no order. In regard to your sacred books, his Majesty has no use for them—take them away.'
"Something was now said about brother Colman's skill in medicine; upon which the Emperor once more opened his mouth, and said, 'Let them proceed to the residence of my physician, the Portuguese priest; let him examine whether they can be useful to me in that line, and report accordingly.' He then rose from his seat, strided on to the end of the hall, and there, after having dashed to the ground the first intelligence that he had ever received of the eternal God, his Maker, his Preserver, his Judge, he threw himself down on a cushion, and lay listening to the music, and gazing at the parade spread out before him.
"As for us and our presents, we were hurried away without much ceremony. We passed out of the palace gates with much more facility than we entered, and were conducted first to the house of Mya-day-men. There his officer reported our reception; but in as favourable terms as possible; and as his Highness was not apprized of our precise object, our repulse appeared, probably, to him, not so decisive as we knew it to be. We were next conducted two miles, through the sun and dust of the streets of Ava, to the residence of the Portuguese priest. He very speedily ascertained that we were in possession of no wonderful secret, which would secure the Emperor from all disease, and make him live for ever; and we were accordingly allowed to take leave of the reverend Inquisitor, and retreat to our boat."
Thus were the expectations of the missionaries disappointed. They returned to Rangoon, and formed the project of abandoning it, and establishing a mission in Arracan. But the native converts earnestly besought them not to abandon Rangoon, assuring them that there were several of their countrymen, who were thinking and inquiring concerning the Christian religion, and that some would embrace it in defiance of danger.—One of the converts said that he would "follow them to any part of the world."—Another, that he would "go where preaching was to be had."—"Another, who thought it his duty not to leave his wife, expressed his determination, if left alone, still to perform the duties of Jesus Christ's religion. "No other," said he, "will I think of."—
Moung Byaa came to them, with his brother-in-law, Moung Myat-yah:
"'Teacher,' said he, 'my mind is distressed; I can neither eat nor sleep, since I find you are going away. I have been round among those who live near us, and I find some who are even now examining the new religion. Brother Myat-yah is one of them, and he unites with me in my petitions. (Here Myat-yah assented that it was so.) Do stay with us a few months. Do stay till there are eight or ten disciples. Then appoint one to be the teacher of the rest; I shall not be concerned about the event; though you should leave the country; the religion will spread of itself. The Emperor himself cannot stop it. But if you go now, and take the two disciples that can follow, I shall be left alone. I cannot baptize those who may wish to embrace this religion. What can I do?' Moung Nau came in, and expressed himself in a similar way. He thought that several would yet become disciples, notwithstanding all opposition, and that it was best for us to stay awhile. We could not restrain our tears at hearing all this; and we told them, that as we lived only for the promotion of the cause of Christ among the Burmans, if there was any prospect of success in Rangoon, we had no desire to go to any other place, and would therefore, reconsider the matter."
Thus, at the moment when ruin seemed to threaten the mission, the Lord was strengthening the hearts of the converts, and encouraging the missionaries to remain at their posts, and proceed in the work of teaching the religion of the Gospel, trusting in his power for protection. It was finally resolved, that Mr. and Mrs. Judson should remain at Rangoon, and that Mr. and Mrs. Colman should proceed to Chittagong, and form a station there, at which the other missionaries, and the converts, might find a refuge, should it be found impossible to remain at Rangoon, and where the Gospel might be spread among a population as idolatrous and wretched as that of Burmah itself. Accordingly, in March, 1820, Mr. and Mrs. Colman embarked for Bengal, whence they proceeded to Chittagong, where they arrived in June.
They erected a house in the midst of the native population, and made rapid progress in the acquisition of the language, which was commenced while in Rangoon. Mr. Colman had begun to communicate the truths of the Gospel publicly, and had witnessed their effect on the mind of his teacher, when these animating prospects were blasted by the sudden and lamented death of this missionary.
In Chittagong, he might have lived comfortably in civilized Christian society, under the protection of the English government, and been usefully employed in missionary avocations. But, in imitation of the Redeemer, and prompted by feelings of compassion for immortal souls, he chose his residence in a native village, Cox's Bazar, where he was surrounded by poverty, ignorance and delusion, and where, too, he fell a martyr to his zeal, July 4, 1822.
Mr. and Mrs. Judson were thus again left alone at Rangoon, though their solitude was cheered by the affectionate attachment of the converted Burmans, and by the appearances of sincere inquiry in the minds of several others. The teacher, Moung Shwa-gnong, became gradually settled and firm in his faith, though he still hesitated to be baptized.
On the 20th of April, 1820, Moung Shwa-ba, another Burman convert, was baptized at Rangoon. He was afterwards taken into the service of the mission, and became a very useful assistant to Mr. Judson.
Mr. Judson about this time finished the translation of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
On the 4th of June two other converts, Moung Myat-yah, and Moung Thah-yah, were baptized.
Mrs. Judson had for some time been afflicted with the liver complaint. She went through two courses of salivation, without effect, and it became necessary to visit Bengal, to obtain medical assistance.—Preparations were accordingly made for sailing; but several indivuduals who had renounced the religion of Gaudama, and embraced Christianity, were desirous to be baptized, before the missionaries sailed.—Three men, Moung Myo-dwa, Moung Gway, Moung Shwa-gnong, together with Mah Men-la, the tenth convert, and the first female, were baptized.—"Now," said Mah Men-la, "I have taken the oath of allegiance to Jesus Christ, and I have nothing to do but to commit myself, soul and body, into the hands of my Lord."
On the 19th of July, Mr. and Mrs. Judson sailed for Calcutta, where they arrived on the 8th of August. Mrs. Judson's health seemed to have derived no essential benefit from the voyage. For the advantage of a more healthful climate, she was removed to Serampore. The state of her health continued such, that it was, for awhile, thought necessary that she should remain several months in Bengal; but more favourable symptoms soon appeared, and she resolved to return with her husband to the scene of their labours. On the 5th of January, 1821, they arrived in Rangoon. As they drew near the town they found their friends on the wharf. The first they recognized was the teacher, Moung Shwa-gnong, with his hands raised to his head, as he discerned them on the deck; and, on landing, they met successively with Mah Men-la, and Moung Thah-lah, and several others, men, women, and children, who, after the usual examination at the custom-office, accompanied them to the mission-house. Soon after, Moung Nau, and others, came in, who had not, at first, heard of their arrival. In the evening, Mr. Judson took his usual seat among the disciples; and, as he expresses it, "when we bowed down in prayer, the hearts of us all flowed forth in gratitude and praise."
" January 6, 1821. In the morning Mrs. Judson went to the government-house, where the lady of the Viceroy received her with the familiarity of a friend. She sat sometime conversing with her. While she was sitting with her, the Viceroy just made his appearance, stalking along, as usual, with his great spear. He looked down upon Mrs. Judson a moment, saying, 'Ah! you are come;' and then passed on."
They found the converts in good health, and steadfast in faith. Though they had been separated from their teachers for six months, and had been harassed and dispersed by the fear of oppression and heavy taxes from the government, not one of them had dishonoured his profession.
The occurrences during several succeeding months were similar to those which have been stated. The zayat was visited by many individuals, some of whom came to scoff, others to dispute, and a few to inquire the way to Zion. The little church dwelt amidst its enemies unharmed; owing its safety, however, in part, to the great caution with which the concerns of the mission were conducted. It was not generally known at Rangoon, that any person had renounced the religion of Boodh, and embraced that of Christ.
On the 4th of March, Moung Ing, who was the second convert, but whose absence from Rangoon had prevented his joining the church, was baptized. During his absence, however, he had endeavoured to spread the knowledge of the Saviour, by conversation with his friends.
On the 20th of May, 1821, the Rev. Jonathan D. Price was set apart as a missionary to Burmah, in the Sansom-street meeting house, Philadelphia. He had received a medical education, and was to act in the joint character of a missionary and physician. A few days after, he, with his wife and child, sailed from Salem, for Calcutta, where he arrived on the 27th of November.
Mr. Judson now employed Moung Shwa-gnong to assist him in a thorough revision of those parts of the New Testament which had been translated, but not yet printed, viz: the Epistle to the Ephesians, and the first part of Acts. These were sent to Serampore to be printed.
On the 15th of June, Mah Myat-lah was baptized and added to the little band of believers.
Mr. Judson proceeded to translate the Gospel and Epistles of John, and the latter part of Acts. In this work he derived great assistance from Moung Shwa-ba. But he was seized with a fever, which attacked Mrs. Judson also, and for several days they were unable to help each other. Mr. Judson was restored to health, but Mrs. Judson suffered severely under the liver complaint; and it became evident that she must repair to some more propitious climate, to regain her health. It was, at last, resolved, that she should visit America; and, on the 21st of August she embarked for Bengal. The feelings with which she parted from her husband, and from the little church, may be better conceived than described. Her own words are—
"Rangoon, from having been the theatre in which so much of the faithfulness, power and mercy of God had been exhibited—from having been considered, for ten years past, as my home for life—and from a thousand interesting associations of ideas, had become the dearest spot on earth. Hence you will readily imagine that no ordinary consideration could have induced my departure."
1 The Burmans use a number of titles, like our Mr. Miss and
Mrs. to designate individuals, with reference to their age: Moung , denotes a
young man; Oo , an old man; Mee , a girl; Mah , a young woman; May , an old
2 The King is called the "lord of life and death," "owner of the sword," &c. and has many similar names expressive of his despotic power.
3 One of the titles of the King.
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