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HISTORY OF MISSION

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 593 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HISTORY OF MISSION FIELDS The continuity of missionary enthusiasm maintained through the primitive, the medieval, and the modern periods of the Church's history, operating at every critical epoch, and surviving after periods of stagnation and depression, is a very significant fact. It is true that other religions have been called missionary religions, and that one of them long held first place in the religious census of mankind. The missionary, activity of Buddhism is a thing of the past, and no characteristic rite distinguishing it has found its way into a second continent. Mahommedanism indeed is active, and is the chief opponent of Christianity to-day, but the character of its teaching is too exact a reflection of the race, time, place and climate in which it arose to admit of its becoming universal. It is difficult to trace the slightest probability of its harmonizing with' the intellectual, social and moral progress of the modern world. With all its deficiencies, the Christian church has gained the " nations of the future," and whereas in the 3rd century the proportion of Christians to the whole human race was only that of one in a hundred and fifty, this has now been exchanged for one in three, and it is indisputable that the progress of the human race at this moment is identified with the spread of the influence of the nations of Christendom. Side by side with this continuity of missionary zeal, a notice-able feature is the immense influence of individual energy and the subduing force of personal character. Around individuals penetrated with Christian zeal and self-denial has centred not merely the life, but the very existence of primitive, medieval and modern missions. What Ulfilas was to the Gothic tribes, what Columba and his disciples were to the early Celtic missions, what Augustine or Aidan was to the British Isles, what Boniface was to the churches of Germany and Anskar to those of Denmark and Sweden, that, on the discovery of a new world of missionary enterprise, was Xavier to India, Hans Egede to Greenland, Eliot to the Red Indians, Martyn to the church of Cawnpore, Marsden to the Maoris, Carey, Heber, Wilson, Duff and Edwin Lewis to India, Morrison, Gilmour, Legge, Hill, Griffith John to China, Gray, Livingstone, Mackenzie, Moffat, Hannington, Mackay to Africa, Broughton to Australia, Patteson to Melanesia, Crowther to the Niger Territory, Chalmers to New Guinea, Brown to Fiji? At the most critical epochs such men have ever been raised up, and the reflex influence of their lives and self-denial has told upon the Church at home, while apart from their influence the entire history of important portions of the world's surface would have been altered. If from the agents themselves we turn to the work that has been accomplished, it will not be disputed that the success of missions has been marked amongst rude and aboriginal tribes. What was true in the early missions has been found true in these latter times. The rude and barbarous northern peoples seemed to fall like " full ripe fruit before the first breath of the gospel." The Goths and the Vandals who poured down upon the Roman Empire were evangelized so silently and rapidly that only a fact here and there relating to their conversion has been preserved. This is exactly analogous to modern experience in the South Seas, Asia and Africa, to a survey of which we now turn. The South Seas.—Missionary work in the Pacific began with Magellan (1521), when in a fortnight he converted all the in-habitants of Cebu and the adjacent Philippine Islands! The Jesuits, Recollets and Augustinians also worked in Mariana, Pelews and Caroline Islands, though the two latter were soon abandoned. The beginning of modern effort was made by the London Missionary Society in 1797. 2 E. Stock's Short Handbook of Missions has a chapter on " Some Notable Missionaries and another on " Some Prominent Native Christians." Australia and New Zealand.—The earliest attempt to evangelize the aborigines of Australia by a separate mission was that of the Church Missionary Society in 1825. This work centred at Wellington Valley and Moreton Bay, but was given up in 1842. A new beginning was made in 185o by the Anglican Board of Missions for Australia and Tasmania, and now each diocese is responsible for its own area. At Bellenden Ker, near Cairns, in North Queensland (diocese of Carpentaria), many natives have settled upon a reserve granted by government to the Anglican Church, and at another reserve, Fraser Island, the diocese of Brisbane has also undertaken successful work. Nomadic aborigines have hardly been touched. Apart from Queensland most of the black population is in West Australia; here the Roman Catholic Church is the main evangelizing agency. In the north and central districts the German missions have been active. Both in Australia (especially in Sydney and Melbourne) and at Thursday Island there is work among the Chinese. In Tasmania the aborigines are extinct, the last pure-blooded native dying in 1876. The half-castes settled in the Bass Straits are ministered to by the bishop of Tasmania. The Maoris of New Zealand first came under Christian influence through the efforts of Samuel Marsden, a colonial chaplain in New South Wales about 18o8. In 1822 Wesleyan missionaries reached the island. The first baptism was in 1825 but during the next five years there was a great mass movement. In 184o the country became a British colony, and soon afterwards George Selwyn was consecrated bishop. He was so impressed with the work of native evangelists that he founded a college in Auckland where such teachers could be trained. In this he was helped by J. C. Patteson, and out of it grew the Melanesian Mission. The Maori rebellion, fomented by French Catholics, was an outbreak against everything foreign, and the strange religion Hau-hauism, a blend of Old Testament history, Roman Catholic dogmas, pagan rites and ventriloquism, found many adherents. Yet the normal missionary organization suffered very little. Later came Mormon missionaries, and these have to some extent further depleted the Christian ranks. New Guinea.—In this large island some Gossner missionaries (1854) were the pioneers. They could not do much, but their successors, the Utrecht Missionary Union, who began work when the Dutch took possession of the north-west of the island, are making themselves felt through their six stations. In German New Guinea the Neuendethelsau (1886) and Rhenish (1887) Societies have fourteen stations. In British New Guinea, the south-east portion of the island, the London Mission (1871), the Australian Wesleyans (1892) and the Anglican Church of Australia (1892), have arranged a friendly division of the field and met with gratifying success. Work was begun in 1871–1872 when under the oversight of S. Macfarlane and A. W. Murray a number of native teachers from the Loyalty Islands Rarotonga and Mare settled on the island. The first converts were baptized in 1882 and the establishment of a British Protectorate (1884–1888) gave the work a new impetus. The name of W. G. Lawes and James Chalmers (who with O. Tompkins was killed by cannibals, 1901) of the London Missionary Society, and that of Maclaren, the pioneer of the Church Missionary Society's work, are immortally associated with Papua. The history of mission work here is one of exploration and peril amongst savage peoples, multitudinous languages and an adverse climate, but it has been marked by wise methods as well as enthusiastic devotion, industrial work being one of the basal principles. Besides the Protestant agencies already named, the Roman Catholic Order of the Sacred Heart has been working in the island since 1886; its centre is at Yule Island, and it works up the St Joseph's river. Other Islands.—The London Mission ship " Duff " in 1797 landed eighteen missionaries (mainly artisans) at Tahiti, ten more in the Tonga or Friendly Islands, and one on the Marquesas. Those in Tahiti had a varying experience, and their numbers were much reduced, but in July 1812 King Pomare II. gave up his idols and sought baptism. By 1815 idolatry was abolished in the larger islands of the group and there ensued the task of building up a Christian community. Foremost in this workwere William Ellis (q.v.) and John Williams (q.v.), who formed a native agency to carry the gospel to their fellow islanders, and so inaugurated what has since been a characteristic feature of South Sea Missions. In 1818 two Tahiti teachers settled in the Tonga islands, which the " Duff " pioneers had abandoned after half of them had been killed for a cannibal feast. When the Wesleyans came in 1821 the way had been prepared, and soon after, led by their king, George, the people turned to the new faith. About the same time Rurutu in the Austral Islands and Aitutaki in the Cook Islands were evangelized, also by natives, and Christianity spread from island to island. John Williams himself removed in 1827 to Rarotonga and from there influenced Samoa, the Society Islands and Fiji. To Fiji in 1834 came James Calvert and other Wesleyan missionaries beginning a work which under them and their successors had extraordinary success. Williams met his death at Erromanga in 1839, but he had established a training school on Rarotonga, and bought a ship, the " Camden," which was of the greatest service for the work. In 1841 work was begun in New Caledonia, in 1842 in the Loyalty Isles and in the New Hebrides, associated from 1857 with the memorable name of John G. Paton. In 1846 a teacher was placed on Niue, Savage Island, and in ten years it was evangelized. Meanwhile the original work in Tahiti had been taken over by missionaries of the Paris Society, though the last London Missionary Society agent did not leave that group till 189o. In 1861 Patteson was consecrated bishop of Melanesia, and the Auckland training school was removed to Norfolk Island. By arrangement with the Presbyterians the area of the mission includes the Northern New Hebrides, Banks, Torres, Santa Cruz and Solomon Islands. Patteson was murdered in 1871, a victim of the mistrust engendered in the natives by kidnapping traders. In 1877 John Selwyn was consecrated bishop. Wesleyan native evangelists from Fiji and Tonga carried Christianity in 1875 to the Bismarck Archipelago. The solitary worker (W. P. Crook) on the Marquesas did not remain long, and after he went nothing was done till 1833–1834, when first some American and then some English missionaries arrived, but met with scant success and gave it up in 1841. Since 1854 teachers from the Hawaiian Islands have worked in the Marquesas, but results here have been less fruitful than anywhere else in the South Seas. In Hawaii itself much was accomplished by American missionaries, the first of whom were H. Bingham and A. Thurston (1820), and the most successful, Titus Coan, under whose leadership over 20,000 people were received into the churches between 1836 and 1839. Under the reign of Kalakaua (1874–1891) there was a strong reaction towards heathenism, but since the annexation of the islands by the United States of America the various churches of that land have taken up the task of evangelization and consolidation. In the Micronesian Islands, while animism and tabu were strong, there was not the cannibalism of the southern islands. Work was begun in the Caroline Isles in 1852 and in time spread to the Gilbert and Marshall groups. In the Carolines and Marshalls it has now largely passed to German missionaries, the Americans having enough to do in the Philippines, where there are already over 27,000 Protestants. The outstanding features of missionary work in the South Seas are (I) its remarkable success: cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide have been suppressed, civilization and trade have marvellously advanced; (2) the evangelical devotion of the natives themselves; (3) the need of continued European super-vision, the natives being still in many ways little better than grown-up children. Africa.'—In Africa, as in the South Seas, mission work has gone hand in hand with geographical discovery. It is in every sense a modern field, or rather a collection of fields, varying in physical, racial, social and linguistic character. The unaccustomed conditions of life and the fatal influence of the climate have claimed as many victims here as did savagery in the Pacific ' See F. P. Noble, The Redemption of Africa; J. Stewart, Dawn in the Dark Continent; Sir Harry Johnston, " The Negro and Religion " in Nineteenth Century, June 191o.
End of Article: HISTORY OF MISSION
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