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The New Zealand Evangelist

Religious Intelligence. Foreign Summary

Religious Intelligence. Foreign Summary.

Europe.—Britain.—The Jews.

God appears still to be pouring out the vials of his wrath. By the latest accounts, hostilities have commenced in both the south and north of Europe. The Pope continues still at Gaeta, a strong seaport on the coast of Naples. The prospect of his return to Rome is as uncertain as ever. The spirit of nationality and independence burns strong in the bosom of the Italians, and their hatred to the Aus-trians, in whose interest the Pope is supposed to be, is correspondingly intense. The popish Governments of Europe are by no means hearty in offering him their aid, they are especially lukewarm in supporting his temporal claims. Austria has succeeded in quelling the insurrection in Hungary, which is represented as being in its object like the repeal of the union rebellion in Ireland, but carried to vastly greater length than the ill-advised attempt of O'Brien. France had narrowly escaped another revolution, but the foresight and firmness of the Government prevented it. The secession of Mr. M. Gasparin and Monad from the Reformed Church is being followed by other ministers in the South of France; so that the Free Presbyterian or Evangelical page 94 Church is likely to increase rapidly in strength and efficiency. The Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel's “Essay on the Union of Church and State” is furnishing a subject of critical comment for almost every Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily periodical in the Empire. The first public appearance that Mr. Noel had made, since he demitted his charge, was in Exeter Hall, delivering a lecture to the Young Men's Christian Association, his lecture being one of a series on important subjects, delivered to them by eminent ministers of London and other places. The Church of England is being moved. Mr. Noel's congregation are about to petition the Queen in Council for a revision of the Canons and Liturgy, and other reforms. In the diocese of Exeter Puseyism is becoming intolerable. It is fast destroying all the distinctive protestantism in the Establishment, it is emptying the churches and filling the chapels. In Plymouth the laity are using every constitutional means of redress. They have petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Queen, for an application to Parliament for a revision of the Canons and Liturgy, and protection against the Romanizing practices of Bishop Philpotts and the tractarian clergy. Their encouragement from the Archbishop has not been great. The time may arrive when such a change might be effected without causing more evil than good; but such a time has not yet come, says Dr. Sumner. A similar spirit has suddenly appeared among the laity of the Scottish Episcopalian Church. The Bishops and Clergy of the Scottish Church have long been regarded as more than Puseyistic, and some parts of the Liturgy, especially the Communion Office, as more Romish than Rome itself. A few years ago, the Rev. Mr. Drummond,of Edinburgh, the Rev. Sir William Dunbar, of Aberdeen, and some other Evangelical Ministers were forced out of her communion. A large body of the laity are at present earnestly pressing a revision of the Liturgy, especi-ally of the Communion Office, and the substitution of page 95 more scriptural services. Evangelical truth will certainly be advanced by the movement. The working Men's Essays on the Sabbath are still exciting lively interest. The “Pearl of Days,” by a labourer's daughter, has reached its twenty-fifth thousand, and has been reprinted also in America. The question of “Sunday Trains” has crossed the Tweed. The English shareholders are beginning in earnest to discuss the subject of closing the railways on Sabbath. The Postmaster-General has declared his readiness to close the Post-Office on Sabbath in any town where a majority of the inhabitants wish it, and the minority are disposed to acquiesce. The physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual advantages of the Sabbath are being more and more appreciated, and to secure it unimpaired is fast becoming one of the struggles of the times. Parliament had resumed its labours; retrenchment was to be the order of the day. The West Riding election, and the voice of the country seem to have shelved, for a season at least, the bill for the endowment of Popery in Ireland. Trade was reviving. The cholera was abating, if not ceased, but in Glasgow it had cut off 3777. The prospects of the country were improving, but the state of Ireland was still painfully distressing. Of some 90 or 100,000 emigrants to Canada from Ireland, more than one-third had perished on the way to the places of their destination. Famine, cholera, fever, small pox, had made fearful havoc, and the banks of the St. Lawrence were covered with graves.

The revolutions in Europe have given liberty and privileges in many places to the Jews. The Sultan has lately granted them liberty to build a synagogue, or, as they wish to call it, a Temple upon Mount Zion; and a deputation of the descendants of Abraham from Palestine have been visiting America to raise funds for this purpose. An eloquent speech of Judge Noah's, of New York, has been going the round of the papers.

“There are some “he says “who may consider the permission page 96 extended to the Jews in Jerusalem to build a Temple, or a magnificent synagogue, a concession of little importance; but taken with other extraordinary signs of the times, it has a most important bearing. We may be unmindful and indifferent in relation to these signs, but there is a Divine hand which directs, a Divine agency which controls these movements; there are Divine promises yet to be fulfilled, Divine attributes which are yet to be made known to the unbeliever. * * * The accomodations to the pious which a new and extensive place of worship will afford, will attract a greater number of our people to Jerusalem from the surrounding countries. Admonished by the signs of the times, and by the expectation of important events, we find the aged Jews with some little means, coming down the Danube, from the Red Sea, and over the mountains of Circassia, journeying towards Jerusalem, there in holy meditation and prayer, to spend the remnant of their days, and to sit under the wall of the temple, and pray for the peace of Israel.”

The Jews, in their scattered yet separate existence, are a standing monument of the truth of the Bible. They are still “beloved for the Fathers’ sake,” “children of the covenant,” heirs of many promises; their restoration will be “as life from the dead “to the church of Christ. Every movement among them is to us an object of interest, and every token of Divine favour towards them ought to add increased energy to our prayers, that the Deliverer may come out of Zion,—that all Israel may be saved,—that the fulness of the Gentiles may come in,—and that the earth may be filled with the glory of the Lord.

China.—Medical Missionary Society.—Chinese Ladies.

This Institution was founded in 1838. It was thought that by employing Medical Missionaries, and furnishing means for alleviating and removing bodily suffering, a more ready acceptance would be given to the elevating, purifying and saving truths of the Gospel. The object is to some extent being accomplished. There is much interesting matter in the last report. It appears that diseases of the eye are of all maladies the most prevalent. Cholera and small pox had also prevailed. Among other things Dr. Magowan states that:—

page 97

“Alopecia, or baldness, is almost a universal affection among the females of this part of the province of Chekiang. There is scarcely a woman who has attained her thirtieth year, whose head, (with the exception of the parietal and occipital portion) is not perfectly bald. The affection does not appear under the age of eighteen and twenty, and is unaccompanied with change of colour, the rest of the hair remaining black until fifty and upwards. It is difficult to assign a cause for the prevalence of Alopecia in this place. In one of the Shetland islands (where the affection is so common as to give rise to a saying among the inhabitants, “that there is not a hair between a Fair Isle man and heaven,“) the cause has been referred to the free use of fish; the same might be suspected to exist here, were it not that the males, whose diet is the same, are remarkably exempt from the affection. It cannot, therefore, be owing to the use of fish, unless the tonsure of the male acts as a prophylactic. Chinese females spend much time at the toilet, and almost entirely confine their care to the combing and arranging of the hair. They employ a simple mucilaginous liquid, obtained by macerating the shavings of the lien in water, which gives a gloss to the hair, but cannot, from its nature, tend to produce baldness. It might be attributed to the practice of wearing the hair drawn back tightly from the forehead; but as this fashion prevailed at one time among our European ladies, without occasioning Alopecia, so far as information can be obtained, it can hardly be attributed to that cause. The thing remains a mystery.

“Ulces are very common amongst the poor; the worst form of those that have been treated, were on the feet and legs of women. Bandaging the feet, if not the cause of ulcer, certainly prevents to a great extent their cure; they are also affected with corns, and other callosities of the feet. Other evils, the result of this pernicious and cruel practice, might be detailed. That a custom so harbarous could be imposed upon a comparatively civilized country, whose inhabitants number by hundreds of millions, is one of the most singular facts in the history of our race, and illustrates the deference which the Chinese pay to Imperial wishes. The custom, comparatively speaking, is of modern origin, and owes its existence to the whim of Leyuh, the licentious and unpopular prince of Keang-nan, whose court was in Nankin. He ruled from A.D. 961 to 976, and was subdued, and finally poisoned, by the founder of the Sung dynasty. It appears that he was amusing himself in his palace, when the thought occurred to him, that he might improve the appearance of the feet of a favourite concubine. He accordingly bent her feet, so as to raise the instep into an arch, to resemble the new moon. The figure was much admired by the courtiers, who at once began to introduce it into their families.— Soon after, the province of Kiangnan again became an integral part of the empire, from which point the new practice spread, throughout all provinces and all ranks, until it became a national custom. Many lives were sacrificed by suicide. Those females whose feet had not been bound, were persecuted by their mothers-in-law, and despised by their husbands; so much so, that many page 98 hung themselves, or took poison. About 150 years after the origin of the practise, we find a poet celebrating the beauty of the “Golden lilies,” which he makes just six inches long; from which it would appear that six centuries ago, they were of the same size as at the present day. According to the theory of Lord Monboddo, and Monsieur Lamarck, such continued compression for centuries should have occasioned a material alteration in the structure of Chinese feet, but nothing of the kind is observed; for until they attain their seventh or ninth year, when the painful process of bandaging commences, the feet are perfectly natural, both in size and figure. This custom, though deeply entwined in the feelings of the people, could be abolished by a single sweep of the vermilion pencil. The present dynasty could abolish the cruel custom with less opposition than was experienced in introducing that degrading mark of subjection, the tonsure. There have been, and new are, in China, those who possess the humanity and moral courage to express their dislike of the practice. Among them may be mentioned Yuen, a member of the Hanlin college, a writer of celebrity in the latter part of the last century. In the most popular of his works, entitled “The Sayings not of Confucius,” he represents Prince Leyuh, as suffering in purgatory, for the introduction of such a vile custom, and awaiting with much impatience the expiration of the 700 years, which he had been condemned to suffer, before he could attain to his original state of a Priest in Sungsan; but in profound ignorance of another punishment, which awaited him on the completion of the first period.—Authentic history informs us that a celebrated robber, during the period of anarchy which ushered in the reigning dynasty, cut off the feet of an immense number of women, and made a pyramid of them. The spirits of these women, several myriads in number, are represented by Yuen as voeiferously demanding of heaven further chastisement upon Leyuh, whom they regarded as the author of their sufferings, and small feet, to which the robber had an antipathy. Whereupon, the Prince was condemned to make a hundred myriad of shoes for those women. It may here be added that the Chinese females can scarcely stand, and cannot walk without their shoes.

“Indeed,” says Dr. Macgowan, “it is extremely difficult for a medical observer to omit noticing a practice so fraught with painful interest to every humane mind, and so intimately conected with the physical interest of this great empire.

Persia. The Scriptures.—Dr. Glen's Interview with the King.

It is cheering to learn that in Persia there is an increasing desire among the educated and influen-page 99tial classes to obtain and study the Holy Scriptures. The New Testament was translated into Persian many years ago by the Rev. Henry Martyn. The Old Testament has been recently translated into the same language by the Rev. Dr. Glen, a Missionary of the United Secession Church in Scotland, who has been for many years in Persia. Dr. Glen and his son have lately returned to Persia for the purpose of circulating the Scriptures. They had obtained an encouraging reception from both the Premier and the King of Persia. In describing the interview with the King Dr. Glen says, “Previously to our entering the hall, the Khan had committed my translation of the Old Testament, with Martyn's translation of the Angeel (New Testament,) and Merrick's version of Dr. Keith's Evidence of Prophecy, to a subordinate servant to be presented on a tray when called for. The first volume that happened to be handed to his Majesty was Martyn's Translation of the New Testament, to which he seemed to be no stranger. The next volume presented was the first of the Old Testament. The title page of this he read aloud, stating by whom, and at whose order it had been translated and printed, and succeeded, almost to admiration in pronouncing as pointed, such words as 'United Associate Synod of Scotland,'—'Thomas Constable,'—'Edinburgh,'&c.,—which last, at his request, we told him was the Paye Tacht, (foot of the throne) of Scottish Kings in ancient times. On handing back the book to the servant in waiting, he first kissed and then put it to his forehead, with the same indication of reverence which he would have shown had it been their own sacred book, the Koran. The last volume put into his hand was Merrick's version of Keith's Evidence of Prophecy, and what surprised me most of all was his reading the whole of the preface aloud, containing two closely printed, large octavo pages, descriptive of Dr. Keith's object in composing the original work in English, namely, that of neutralizing or repelling the objections of European sceptics to the page 100 divine origin of the Bible by showing the fulfilment, in modern times, of predictions made by the prophets, hundreds or thousands of years ago—a result which none but God could forsee, or enable any mortal to foretell.” They left the royal presence gratified and thankful by the encouragement and success that God had vouchsafed to them.