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MEMORIAL SKETCH OF THE REV. LUKE SCOTT.
BY THE REV. JOHN S. SIMON.
(Continued from page 648.)
IN March, 1865, Mr. Scott left Trincomalee and commenced his work at Point Pedro. He laboured there for one year; and then, owing to peculiar circumstances, removed to Jaffna. During his residence at Point Pedro, he suffered several times severely from fever, as well as from a sharp attack of dysentery. Notwithstanding these shocks to his health, he toiled manfully at his post, and found himself gradually acquiring fitness for the aggressive missionary-work which his heart yearned to do. He gained a sufficient knowledge of Tamil to enable him to engage in conversation with the people, to take part in public discussion, and finally to preach with a certain degree of freedom. He signalized his birthday this year by delivering his first Tamil sermon without the aid of a manuscript, and though frequently embarrassed afterwards, yet with characteristic perseverance he conquered his difficulties. On December 26th, 1865, he had so far advanced in his acquisition of the language that he dispensed with the services of his Moonshi, and on the following 22nd of February he preached his Tamil trial sermon before the District Meeting in the Pettah Bungalow, Jaffna. Thus able to speak to the people in their own tongue 'the wonderful works of God,' Mr. Scott threw himself heartily into the varied duties of the Point Pedro Circuit.
In company with the Rev. Joseph Benjamin, the Assistant Native Minister, and others, he visited the villages in the neighbourhood: services were held, considerable numbers of portions of Scripture were sold, and many persons were conversed with. Indomitably he moved about through the sultry air, investigating, noting, gathering stores of experience which he fondly hoped that the Master would use for His own glory in the long years to come. Wherever he went the almost universal cry was for schools; and, like many of his fellow-labourers, Mr. Scott had to bemoan that sore lack of funds which so hopelessly cripples the advance of modern Christianity. In the course of his journeys he had an opportunity of inspecting the work that is being done by the Roman Catholic Church in Ceylon. His description of one village that he visited is instructive. On September 7th he went to the Roman Catholic part of Ploly, and entered sixteen houses there. He found that the Roman Catholics generally manifested 'that bigotry so peculiar to them all the world over.' He inspected the
church and mission-house which were in course of erection: he describes the former as being very large, capable of containing upwards of one thousand people. Although unfinished, worship was carried on regularly in it. He took a sketch of the altar, for happily the spirit and skill of the artist were strongly developed in him. Images of the Virgin and St. Xavier stood in niches in the background. The reredos, with its prominent crucifixion-group, occupied the centre, whilst on either side of it images of Anna the prophetess and St. Thomas the apostle were ranged in glass cases. The usual Romish decorations completed a scene which, we think, was not much calculated to teach an intelligent Tamil that the mission of Christianity is to turn men away from dumb idols to serve the living God. The church and altar were built of hewn coral-stone, which was afterwards to be covered with plaster. Going away from this building, Mr. Scott attempted to sell portions of Scripture, but his offers were rejected with scorn. He soon came to the house of a native, and detected the creed of its inmate by seeing two pictures, taken from a Roman Catholic book of devotion, fastened on the wall with an ingeniously constructed gilt-paper cross between them. The man who occupied the hut showed him a copy of Genesis and Exodus, issued by the Jaffna Bible Society, in a very dilapidated condition. Many leaves had been torn out, and this son of the True Church calmly informed his questioners that he found the paper useful for wrapping the medicines in which he dispensed to the people. In another house they found a copy of St. Luke's Gospel, and the inmate being more civil than his neighbours, they persuaded him to buy the Gospel of St. John and the Prophecy of Isaiah. The inhabitants were chiefly fishermen and toddy-drawers; and as to their sanitary condition, Mr. Scott says the village was extremely dirty and neglected, and contrasted strikingly with the heathen villages surrounding it. Thus we see produced in Ceylon the almost invariable characteristics of Roman Catholic neighbourhoods the wide world over. The Missionary party succeeded in selling a few books, and left the place hopeful of some
Bible distribution became an important part of Mr. Scott's work in Ceylon; and, notwithstanding much disappointment, he continued to believe that ultimately it would tell on the spiritual condition of the people. From time to time his own experience, or that of a fellow-worker, yielded evidence of its value and nerved him to more energetic toil. One fact, which was related to him by the Rev. Mr. McArthur, of the Church Missionary Society, we gladly record. Mr. McArthur, when giving an account of a ‘Bible tour' from which he had just returned, mentioned that he had met with a man who, upwards of twenty-five years before, had received a copy of the Book of Proverbs from some unknown Missionary. This he had kept. About two years prior to Mr. McArthur's last interview with him, he and the Rev. John Kilner saw him and gave him some portions of Scripture. These he seemed to have got off by heart, being even able to repeat the genealogies of St. Matthew and St. Luke. Mr. McArthur had visited him
on his death-bed; and, as he firmly declared that he believed in Jesus Christ, had baptized him. The people in the neighbourhood bore testimony to his marked good behaviour after beginning to read the books given him by the Missionaries.
In addition to this aggressive work, Mr. Scott laboured hard to consolidate the Church over which he was placed. On September 22nd, 1865, he presided at what he believed to be the first Local Preachers' Meeting ever held at Point Pedro. There were present Messrs. Joseph Benjamin, Niles, Solomon, and John Valupille. It was agreed that Mr. Niles should come forward in three months for examination, and that Messrs. Solomon and Valupille should present themselves in six months from that date. On December 23rd, Mr. Niles was examined, and won golden opinions. It seems that nearly all the 'Institution Questions' on the Evidences and Doctrines, drawn up by Dr. Hannah, were asked, and the answers were declared to be as good as any given before a District Meeting in England. Mr. Niles, who is now one of our Native Ministers in Ceylon, is the son of the Rev. Mr. Niles of the American Mission, one of the earliest converts gained by that Society in the island. The 'experience' of the young Local Preacher is interesting. He was educated at the Batticaloa School, began to attend the Enquirers' Meeting at the age of fourteen, and was soon after converted. He began to preach under the direction of the American Missionaries, but finally joined the Wesleyan-Methodists. On Christmas Day the examiner and examinee met again, but for a more pleasurable employment. Mr. Scott invited Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Niles to breakfast, and thus the English Missionary and his native guests celebrated the season of peace and goodwill.
Mr. Scott also commenced a Tamil class for the study of the Evidences of Christianity, composed of the senior boys in the English school. At the first meeting six youths were present, and they were subsequently drilled in Leslie's Short and Easy Method with the Deists.
At the close of the year 1865, the first Watchnight Service held at Point Pedro was conducted. It took place in St. Peter's Chapel, and the congregation included Sivites, Burghers and native Christians. Mr. Scott and Mr. Benjamin preached, and the Rev. William Walton, of Jaffna, gave the final address. The solemnity of the occasion was somewhat marred by the boy to whom had been committed the duty of striking a bell twelve times at the midnight hour. In his excitement the youth dropped the bell with a clash, and his subsequent conscientious attempts to 'ring out the old' only heightened the grotesqueness of the performance. However, all discords away as the new year was ushered in with that hymn which, as the anarching music of the Methodist host, will one day beat round the globe:
'Come, let us anew
Our journey pursue,
Roll round with the year,
And never stand still till the Master appear.'
Mr. Scott's residence at Point Pedro was pleasantly diversified by visits to Jaffna, where, at the monthly meetings of the English Missionaries of various Societies, interesting conversations occurred and much strength was derived from the sympathy of fellow-workers. In Jaffna also he had the pleasure of renewing his acquaintance with Dr. Claughton, the Bishop of Colombo, whom he had previously met at Trincomalee. On Friday evening, August 11th, just before sunset, the Bishop invited Mr. Walton and Mr. Scott to take a walk with him, and the conversation was most pleasant. Its theme was the divisions existing in the Christian Church and the best manner of removing them. We will give Mr. Scott's recollections of what was said:
'The Bishop expressed himself with surprising liberality in reference to Dissenting Churches, and deeply deplored that we could not or did not unite in worship and communion. He proposed to us his plan of reconciliation, so as to unite us in future. It was this: That, on the point of Ordination, all Dissenting Ministers who are already ordained should be acknowledged; and that, respecting those who shall be ordained hereafter, the Bishop should be called in to join in "laying on hands" with the senior Ministers who perform the ceremony, after which the Bishop should have nothing to do as the Pastor of the so-ordained Dissenting Ministers-indeed, should have no power over them whatever. This, Dr. Claughton thought, would be sufficient to secure & good understanding, and allow an exchange of pulpits, worship in the same place, and partaking of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper together.'
Mr. Scott rather slyly remarks that 'the Bishop said nothing about the senior Dissenting Ministers being called in to assist in the ordination of Episcopal Clergymen.' A second part of Dr. Claughton's scheme related to Confirmation. He suggested that when the Bishop made his tour he should confirm the children of the various Dissenting congregations, but that such children should be prepared for Confirmation according to the teachings of the sect to which they belonged, provided that they were not radically mistaught.'
This scheme showed a stronger desire for unity than any Mr. Scott had heard of before. The Bishop admitted that the Church of England would be an immense gainer by it, but that was not his point-he longed and prayed for unity in the Church. Mr. Scott asked him if he thought Baptism should be administered to adult heathens before they gave signs of true conversion? To this he answered that he considered a fair knowledge of Christianity and sincerity on the part of the candidate were sufficient, even though the person had not savingly trusted in Christ, because, by refusing the rite, he might be cut off from Christian privileges, and its administration would probably lead him to a saving acquaintance with the Saviour afterwards. Mr. Scott says of Dr. Claughton: 'He seemed to have a good opinion of Methodists."
The District Meeting held at Jaffna in February, 1866, was shadowed by the serious illness of one of the little Missionary band, the Rev. William Walton. He was a native of Staleybridge, and was born December 24th, 1834. At the age of nineteen he was converted to God during special services held
Wesley Chapel, Halifax. Being convinced that it was his duty to devote