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LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY., Issue 10437, 5 October 1897
LONDON MISSION ARY SOCIETY.
Iu connection with the London Missionary Society the Rev. R. Baron, F.L.S., F.G.S., delivered an address on missionary work in Madagascar in the Kaikorai Presbyterian Church last night. The Rev. R. R. M. Sutherland presided, and there was a fair attendance.
The Rev. R. Baron, after mentioning the origin of the people who inhabited the Island of Madagascar, and the tribes into which they were divided, the chief of which were the Hova, he proceeded to give an account of missionary work there. The work of the London Missionary Society in the island was more extensive than that of all the other missions of the society put together, and had been one of the most successful in the whole world. An English miner, who bad lived in the island for many years, wrote to a Home paper that everything of value in the country seemed to be due to the missionaries, from the building of the Queen’s Palace to the manufacture of soap—(Laughter). It was a Scotch missionary named Cameron who taught the Natives to make soap. The Natives had learned cleanliness, and had built houses similar to those in which the missionaries lived. Mr Baron described a heathen hovel, the inmates of which included, besides human beings pigs fowls, geese, turkeys, etc. He had himself slept beside the pigs.—(Laughter.) In the capital of Madagascar these filthy dwellings had now almost entirely disappeared, and brick buildings had been erected in their place. This had been brought about by the missionaries living in decent houses themselves. There were people, he remarked whosaul that the missionaries should live like the Natives. He did not agree with that, they did not want to come down to the Natives; they wanted to lift the Natives up, and by living in decent houses themselves the people had begun to follow in their footsteps. They had tried to educate th© people. Their chief aim, of course, was to make Christians of them, and all their other work was contributory to this Christianity itself tended to run into superstition unless it was accompanied by intelligence and knowledge. Therefore they had introduced schools. They had no fewer than 1,000 elementary schools and at present there were 40,000 school children in connection with their society alone. They had also high schools for boys and girls, a large college in which young men were trained to be evangelists and preachers, and a normal school for training school teachers. They had also created a literature in the island. Before the missionaries went to the island the people had no books or written language. They had now a very excellent translation of the Holy Scriptures, which the Malagasy were very fond of reading. They had also printed more than two million tracts, two million lesson books, besides grammars, geographies, arithmetic books, text books of nearly every science, hymn ’
books, etc. The language of the Malagasy was sweet, and in illustration of this he repeated a hymn and the Lord’s Prayer in the tongue. How could they estimate the influence of this healthy literature upon the minds of the people ? They had a very large medical mission, and'the churches in connection with their society numbered 1,500. Many of the churches, however, were hardly worthy of the name of church, being of a very rough-and-ready' sort. The congregations, too, in many oases, were composed of people who were at heart heathen. Theyhad given up their idolatry and cruel practices of former times, but it was one thing to destroy idolatry outwardly and quite another thing to eradicate heathenism trom the heart. He found many people who were of opinion that it was an easy thing to change people from heathenism to Christianity, and the missionaries ought to simply preach the Gospel as a testimony in one place and then go on to some other place. Well, he should not give a penny in support of such missions. He had preached to heathen people who had never heard the Gospel before, and he would tell them the effect of it. The people would appear to be taking in everything, but they simply stared at the whiteness of h:s skin or the cut of his coat. It was a most difficult thing for a man whose mind had been steeped in heathenism to raise his thoughts to spiritual subjects all at once. The spiritual truths of Christianity required spiritual perception, and they had to train the people—preach to them day bv day, week by week, month by month, and year after year, before they could be raised to spiritual perception. Having described some of the churches, he referred to the behaviour of some of the congregations. The people were sometimes very irreverent, carrying on talking, walking about, and taking snuff. In Antananarivo, the capital, and its neighborhood, the churches were very different, being more like the average churches in New Zealand. In these congregations there was a good deal of intelligence and a number of good Christian people. Their life was best judged by what they did. They were doing nearly all the work. There were now twenty - five of the London Missionary Societies, and they had on their hands the. largo printing office, high schools, college, hospital, mission establishments, the 1,000 and the 1,500 churches. Now they would see that forty-nine-fiftieths of the work was done and nine-tenths of the money that was required was supplied by the Natives. The greater part of the contributions which came from New Zealand and elsewhere went towards the salaries of the missionaries. What he had related would give them some idea of the character and extent of the work of missions in Madagascar, and ho was sure they would see that God had blessed their labors in a wonderful way.—(Applause.) A collection in aid of the funds of the Missionary Society was taken, and after a few remarks by the Chairman the meeting closed with the pronouncing of the benediction.
LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY., Issue 10437, 5 October 1897
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