Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/93

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MADAGASCAR.

91

Russel, the English Minister, stipulated for provisions securing civil and religious freedom, both to native Christians and to missionaries. The Church has continued flourishing without interruption. In 1866 there were eight large congregations in the capital, which was then supposed to contain 30,000 inhabitants, and sixteen churches in the surrounding villages. It was estimated that in these villages there were 3,000 communicants and 15,000 converts; and there is every evidence that the Christian religion has taken a permanent hold of the people of Madagascar. In another generation it bids fair to be reckoned among the Christian nations of the earth.

From the year 1866 we do not meet with anything of much special interest concerning Madagascar until 1874, when two English gentlemen, Dr. Mullens and Mr. Pillan, visited the island to see what farther might be done there for extending the interests of the missionary cause. The result of this visit was, in the words of Dr. Mullens, ‘‘to shape out the framework of an enlarged mission.” It was proposed to thoroughly fit up the training college for native pastors, to push forward the normal school system, and to make native agency more effective, and to encourage the missionaries by exciting a new interest in the work at home. There were about a thousand congregations organized in the island, though it was thought that the membership of sincere Christians was not over 30,000. The rolls did indeed contain 60,000 names, but in view of the facility and eagerness with which native pastors admitted members, it was believed that this number exaggerated the total of the true native Christians. But it was certain that the entire 300,000 among whom the Lon-London Society was laboring had renounced their idols and were in the way of becoming true converts to the Christian faith. The favorable report of these gentlemen doubtless stimulated the friends of the Society to renewed efforts. Besides the London Missionary Society, the Friends and Norwegians had promising missions on the island, each covering districts of about 100,000 people. In this year, 1874, an English Bishop was appointed for the island.

The next notice of the island that arrests our attention, and which needs to be recorded in order to give the reader an idea of the progress of the English missionary operations, is contained in the following statements of the special envoy of the British government, Gose Jones, to the Queen of Madagascar, in