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My great God, my Lord,
Not so large as the sole of his foot.t. Sometimes these prophets address the people as follows: “Children of earth, justification has arrived. Let every one worship. If you believe and obey God, and do not neglect worship, you will obtain justification, o children! Disciples ! let all act righteously unremittingly. May we dwell in the silver town, the silver city. That we may enter the golden palace, deceive not, steal not, speak not falsehood. When the mouth opens, let it be a rock; when it shuts, a precipice; one word, one print of the foot. In every way pray and sing praises to God. Our parents on earth are not our parents : our parents are in the state of existence before us. Now we call things at random; we know nothing whatever. Disciples ! Satan keeps a strict watch over us-pray fervently to God. God will watch over us. Fear not, disciples ! Demons are enemies to God, and have no agreement with him. Pray and beseech God to be delivered from suffering."
BLESSING OF CHILDREN. The Karens have a singular practice of blessing and naming their children when a few days old. The oldest member of the family, with a wisp of seven different kinds of bambu, brushes from the child, and says, “ Brush away poverty, brush away suffering; brush away bad luck, brush away want of success; brush away dwarfishness, brush away thinness; brush away sleepishness, brush away laziness; brush away impurity, brush away contamination : brush away, wholly brush away all." He next brushes towards the child, and continues, “ Brush up integrity of character, brush up successfulness of character; brush up stores, brush up property ; brush up dependants, brush up followers; brush up good things, brush up things that are fitting and proper."
* That is the expected redemption, which will arrive at the appointed time. Hence the longer they have waited, the nearer is the period of its arrival.
+ By this language it is meant to imply, that Ava will be destroyed.
As among the Hebrews we find that the child was named in many instances from the circumstances of its birth, or from some peculiarities in the history of the family to which it belonged; so a similar practice prevails among the Karens. The assistant at my elbow was called Hope, because his father, suffering from the oppression of the Barmáns, hoped to derive aid from his son to meet their extortions.
“ The Arabs make court to their superiors by carefully avoiding to address them by their proper names.” The Karens have a similar practice, and do not consider it respectful to designate people by their proper names. In the absence of epithets, which are very common, a person is designated as the son of another, after the manner of the Hebrew expression, “son of Pharaoh's daughter.”
It is very common in Karen, as in Hebrew, to avoid the use of the pronouns of the first and second persons, their place being supplied by nouns.
THE FIRST-BORN. Among the Hebrews, “the first-born was the priest of the whole family;" and he is such among the Karens. When an offering is made to a malignant spirit, the victim is slain by the first-born, who also offers the prayers and performs the other ceremonies required. The first-born is regarded as a superior among his brethren, and the Karens call themselves “ the first born" of nations.
ASTRONOMY. The astronomical systems of all the nations around the Karens teach that the sun, moon, and stars revolve around a great north mountain, in planes parallel with the surface of the earth; while the Karens retain the old Jewish idea, that the heavenly bodies go round the earth, descending under and rising above it.
HADES. Under the earth, the Karens suppose, that there is another world, where people go at death. It is enlightened by the same heavenly bodies as the earth; but its days and nights are the reverse of ours, the sun rising there when it sets here.
It is regarded as an intermediate state, where all the dead go, and where the inhabitants are employed much as the inhabitants of the earth, corresponding to the Jewish idea of Sheöl.
Connected with this subject, the Karens have an obscure notion of a final resurrection. One of their old prophecies says,
“O children and grand children! you think the earth large. The earth is not so large as a bean! When the time arrives, people will be more numerous than the leaves of the trees, and those who are now unseen, will then be brought to view. O my children, there will not be a hiding place for a single thing on earth.”
The Karens explain this by saying, that the earth is as large as a bean when compared with the whole of God's works. Concerning the numerous people that are to appear, they confess their ignorance, but think that the inhabitants of Hades are intended, whom God will cause to come up on the earth.
LANGUAGE. : • The Karens do not speak Hebrew, but they have a vague tradition of having formerly had an ancient language, that is now lost. Moreover, they believe that they formerly had books of skin ; yet they have no idea of a book of skin, never having seen parchment. Tradition says, that these books were made of skin, and here is the extent of their knowledge on the subject. An old couplet, and the only one that I have been able to gather from a long story, says,
« The written book, the court-book of skin,
The book was lost before dark.” The present spoken language of the Karens is not, however, without strongly marked features of an Arabic or Hebrew original, so far as its alphabetic powers are concerned.
Adopting the notation of Alpha, the consonants of the Karens are as below:
a á i u
q or kw
ch By turning to the two separate tables of the two parent alphabetic stocks, with the derivatives principally employed in “ Eastern India," as given in the Calcutta Christian Observer for June, 1834, the letters are all found in the one denominated “ The Arabic, and its branches.” Your correspondent therefore is my testimony.
Professor Stuart says, “ No language possesses so many distinct vowel signs as the Hebrew now exhibits. The reason of this may be traced to the anxiety of the Hebrew grammarians or Rabbins, to perpetuate the nice distinctions of the ancient pronunciation, which had been traditionally handed down to them. No living language needs so many vowel signs, and none probably ever had so many." Now the Karen possesses exactly as “ many distinct vowel signs as the Hebrew now exhibits," which, according to the Professor's testimony, no other living language does. Following the notation of Alpha as before, the Karen vowels stand thus :
The vowel sounds, as given above, do not correspond exactly with the sounds given them by Alpha. The five long vowels and two diphthongs have longer and shorter sounds, corresponding best with the Hebrew vowels, as represented by Professor Stuart; while the three short vowels resemble in a good degree the Shevas in Hebrew.
The conviction then is irresistibly forced upon me, that the alphabetic powers of the Karen language are of Arabic or Hebrew origin. MISSIONARY TRANSACTIONS AMONGST THE KARENS.
Under date of Jan. 1, 1836, Mrs. Judson mentions the funeral of a Karen child, and that there were twenty new made graves of young children who died of whooping cough, where their parents sat weeping over the graves of their little ones. Jan. 2, she says that the week had been peculiarly solemn, inasmuch as ten meetings had been held for the members of the church to relate the state of their minds preparatory to the expected communion. The 3d of the month was observed as a season of solemn fasting and prayer for God's blessing in the breaking of bread. At noon, a Myet Kyen Karen was baptized, who, in old age, and in the midst of great opposition, took up his cross to follow Christ. At the communion in the evening, she remarks, that it was affecting to look round on above two hundred dear Karen converts, and that the sight richly repaid the missionaries for all they had suffered in coming to a pagan land. Jan. 6, she speaks of attending the first monthly meeting of a maternal association, the design of which is to obtain information respecting the right management of children, which was attended by above fifty Karen mothers, and many of their children. On the 10th, she had two hundred at morning worship. Jan. 13, between seventy and eighty were present at the female morning prayer meeting: Jan. 16, she mentions the visit of a Siamese Karen, who informed her that his brethren much wanted to remove to this place for christian instruction, but the king would not allow it, nor permit a foreigner to come among them; so that while their villages are only three days journey from Matah, there appears no way to afford them the gospel ; for the only tract among them they worship instead of worshipping the nals ! Jan. 20, as many as ninety were at the female prayer meeting. She remarks, the obvious improvement in the female disciples : for, whereas the mothers used to be cruel to their children and to be despised by them, these mothers are now kind and are obeyed by their children. They pray with and for their offending children. The duty of bringing up children they deem difficult, as also that of being always in subjection to their husbands. Their practice is, when they have offended, to beg pardon, and try to be more watchful. Jan. 24, she remarks, that during the absence of Mr. Wade, she spent every evening in reading the Scriptures and questioning the people in the manner of a Bible class; and that all, old and young, show much interest in answering the questions. Several inquirers gave evidence of pardon. A father said, at the funeral of his child, “ My Saviour calls for my only little daughter, and I give her to him with all my heart.” Under date of Jan. 26, she mentions again the sickness among the children, for whom she had to prescribe, and her affliction on account of her scanty stock of medicines, After a pleasant season at the female morning prayer meeting, with eighty present, Jan. 27, she spent nearly every moment from sunrise to sunset in attending on the sick; but she says that in the evening she forgot her fatigue, when two of the Karen Christians returned from a distant village, bringing with them a very interesting inquirer, who said he “had not knowledge to pray much, but often begged the Saviour to forgive his sins, and give him a new heart.” On the 30th, two Siamese and a Taling, from Bankok, visited the station, the last of whom listened to the gospel. Five Karens, after ten days journey, arrived to learn more about the Saviour and ask for baptism. She says, on the last of January, that her Sunday-school had increased to fifty, and that more feeling was manifested. When Burmans arrive on business, the disciples urge them to attend worship, and are successful.
Feb. 3, about eighty mothers attended the maternal association in the morning, and in the evening she attended the funeral of a member of the church, supposed to be one hundred years old, who was greatly resigned to death, and died in confident hope of heaven. On the 6th a special prayer-meeting was held in behalf of the inquirers, now thirty in number, and before its close twenty more requested prayers. On the 7th, there was a crowded and attentive assembly, and great appearances of a revival; six requested prayers. No less than one hundred and twenty attended the female morning meeting on the 10th, and Mrs. W. says, the Lord was in the midst of them. She mentions a spirit of prayer in the church, while sinners were anxious to be saved. On the 12th, Mr. Wade returned, after five weeks absence, rather unexpectedly, but, it would seem, very opportunely. Feb. 14, one hundred and fifty attended in the zayat at daylight, and the meeting was solemn and impressive. At the hour for Sunday-school, the zayat was crowded, so that Mr. W. took his class to the house, and the Christians went to a private house for prayer, while the female missionaries conversed and prayed with the inquirers and children. Four of the five Karens from a distance, gave evidence of regeneration. At evening sixty desired prayers. Under date of 17th, she says, her morning meetings were crowded, and Mr. W.'s lecture, every evening larger than ever before, and that there was such an increase of feeling among the inquirers, that they resolved to hold a “ three days' meeting," though brother Mason was absent, and no other assistance could be had. The protracted meeting commenced on the evening of the 20th, when the Karen brethren, who had been sent out ten or twelve miles in different directions to invite attendance at the meeting, returned bringing a goodly number of precious souls with them.
The remainder of her journal is so interesting to us, that we shall give it to our readers without abridgment.
21. This morning the zayat was nearly full before daylight, and the early prayer meeting unusually solemn. The meetings during the day were crowded and interesting. At the inquiry meeting one or two of the boys wept when speaking of their sins, which was noticed by the Karens as something quite remarkable. Our number of inquirers to-day is about seventy, but this number includes several who have for some time indulged a hope in Christ, and are waiting for baptism.
22. This morning the zayat was filled at an early hour, and the Christians seem, many of them, awake to the interests of precious immortal souls. After two prayers, I spoke to the inquirers of the suffering Christ, when my interpreter was so much affected that he could not for some time speak, and tears rolled from many eyes, “ unused to weep.” At the inquiry meeting above eighty were present, and we trust angels are rejoicing over repenting sinners here. When Mr. Wade opened the meeting at eleven o'clock, I did not attend, on account of administering to the sick, &c., but soon after the commencement of prayers and exhortations, the whole assembly were melted into tears, and the Holy Spirit seemed truly hovering over the multitude. The addresses of the Christians were scriptural, and delivered with much feeling, while tears rolled down their cheeks. After rather a long meeting, Mr. Wade dismissed the people, but nobody seemed willing to leave the place, when Mr. Wade sent for me to come and help him. When I went into the zayat, I beheld a crowded congregation, with above one hundred on the anxious seats, all unwilling to leave a place so sacred, so awfully solemn. More I will not attempt to say ; only those who have seen and felt, can sympathize in scenes like this. The evening meeting was one of intense interest; after which several expressed a belief that their sins were forgiven. Two young men likewise came forward and asked for baptism, having obtained a hope in Christ within the last two weeks.
23. The meetings to-day were similar to those of yesterday, while one hundred and thirty sat before us in the anxious seats. It was a day never to be forgotten. Several more express a hope in Christ. Having from fifteen to twenty-five sick to attend daily, besides other cares, and obliged to take the lead in all the meetings, we feel exhausted and worn out with fatigue, so that we cannot continue the meeting much longer. May the Lord continue his own good work. Some of these dear Christians seem in prayer to exercise true simple faith in God.
24. This morning, though several of the church members were absent on business of importance, above one hundred and thirty were still on the anxious