Gibraltar, India, Malta
March 10th, 1890
Poona, India. Monday
My beloved Angee,
We left Bombay on Thursday last arriving at the above place the same evening, so that we shall have a long stay. I had thought of moving on to Bangalore the next day, but found one of the great Hindu festivals commenced at that time and would continue until Monday morning and I was not sorry to get a few days rest in such a beautiful climate as this is. There is a meeting here but in a very weak and unhappy state, there being several who are considered in fellowship, but for some unknown reason will not come to the table. The leading brother is a godly man, called Connor and with him I have had a nice time and we have had meetings at his house every evening. At Bombay there is a dear bright happy brother called Phillips and it was an agreeable surprise on Saturday afternoon to see his face here at the same hotel I am staying at – he wished to see the few saints here and had come over to spend the Lord's day and returned again by night train that evening at 10, so this was a special cheer for us. On Saturday afternoon we drove out to see a very old Hindu temple a few miles in the country – a young man speaking English, a high caste Brahmin and son of the high priest in charge of the temple took us over it explaining the various gods and during this work I asked him if he believed in them – his answer was that he believed in one supreme Being, but rather evaded the point of my question – I remarked to him that their things were dead and never had life and that the true God was a living God. After much conversation with Phillips and myself he seemed quite interested in what we had to say and sat down on the stone steps leading up to the temple evidently desiring to hear more. Phillips handed him a little paper "God's Righteousness" and asked him to read it. He read it as clearly as a person fresh from a University could have done – his perfect utterance of our language surprised us. There were a few other Hindus around us but do not suppose they understood what we were talking about, Lazarus spoke to him a little in his own language and was much interested in him too. We asked Lazarus as we were returning what he thought of this young Brahmin – his reply was that the Brahmin could not believe in Jesus Christ unless God changed His mind. Well we returned to our hotel, retired to my bedroom and Phillips, Lazarus and myself knelt down to ask God to give that heathen man the knowledge of the only living and true God and Jesus Christ Whom He had sent. It is the first time I have ever heard Lazarus pray and now it was in his own language so that I could not understand it but enjoyed the spirit and tone of it very much. Phillips could understand a little of it and said it was very sweet, supplicating God to take away the stony heart and give him a new one. You may judge of our joy at thus finding an open door for the gospel on the very steps of a heathen temple built on the top of a hill and one heathen hearing it and uttering its truths as he read the little paper. One is made to feel, as Lazarus reminded us that none but God can do what is necessary in the conscience and heart to enable us to believe on that worthy name of His beloved Son. It is an awful sight to see the power of the devil[sic] upon these poor creatures who at the time of these carnivals appear to surrender themselves men and women for a certain number of days to everything that is horrible. They paint their faces and dress themselves in the most hideous way and come together in groups – perhaps about a dozen or more men dancing around a woman in the centre who is also dancing – drunkenness is considered quite a virtue at such a time. I have never before seen this in all its terrible demon power as on this occasion and how it does make one's heart yearn for the day when these poor creatures shall be delivered from such a cruel tyrant as Satan is such a corrupter and destroyer of everything that is good even in a natural way. All this is an integral part of their religion too and this extends from one corner of India to the other during this feast so you can imagine what a saturnalia it has been for the last few days.
Our meetings yesterday were strangely contrast[sic] to our custom - at 11am we met at a believer's house for a reading and had a Wesleyan missionary among the company - he proposed the last chapter of Philippians and we all enjoyed the time together and the missionary was a true man and had a real heart for the Lord Jesus – he was very thankful too for a few thoughts that were quite new to him. In the evening at 7 I preached the Gospel at our brother Mr Conner's house and a good number of soldiers came in and after this, those in fellowship broke bread. I did not much like the Lord's supper coming in at the end of the day, but it was a happy moment. I am glad Lazarus is getting better – the poor fellow has had a bad cough which continues to trouble him, but he is looking much better when we left Bombay. This evening we start for a 40 hour journey over 600 miles to Bangalore over a nearly new line called the Southern Mahratta – these long rides are very wearisome but there is no help for it. D.V. shall hope to reach Madras by end of the week and shall soon get up to Calcutta then. Trust you are all preserved in good health – through mercy I am in good health, although there is much sickness here too as well as Bombay. Shall be glad to hear how you are getting on with your house changing, I often picture you at the drawers packing up and am glad such a heap of my old clothing was disposed of while I was home which will save you the trouble of handling that again. Now with much love and more to your dear self, Arundel, Harry & Emma, and all the darling children and Emmie and all dear friends believe me my beloved Angee.
Being very affectionate Husband.