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Self Lost in Service - Alexander Duff of India
Chapter VII. The Disruption

IN 1843, when many ministers and members left the Church of Scotland, some surrendering their homes and livelihood, at the bidding of conscience and formed the Free Church of Scotland, the missionaries in Calcutta at once joined the Free Church, and made the same sacrifice. As the home committee, in their capacity as trustees for the Church of Scotland, claimed all the buildings and furnishings in the Institution, the missionaries resolved not to challenge the claim and offer the heathen the sight of a legal dispute, and in consequence they lost everything. To Duff the position was very grievous, yet, though a man of quick impulse, who expressed strongly what he felt strongly, he tried to be forbearing through it all, and, when he was told of some evil speaking about himself, replied: "I leave the cause with God; He alone can interpret motives aright." The shyness he felt towards the new representative of the Church of Scotland, who took over the buildings and apparatus, soon passed, and they became quite friendly.

The Missionaries having gone so far in what they believed to be the path of duty, the way opened for their further advance. For the second time, through the kindness of an Indian gentleman, they secured a house in the native city, and re-opened their Institution. What a glorious surprise it was to do this with the same missionaries, the same staff of teachers and monitors, the same converts and more than a thousand pupils! It is very pleasant to record that the two Institutions are now united and known as the Scottish Churches College.

As the rural mission at Ghospera on the Hoogly to the north of Calcutta now passed to the Church of Scotland, in order to avoid the appearance of rivalry, the Free Church opened a station on the other side of the river. The money for this station came from the well-known Major Outram, who wrote and asked the doctor to recommend a scheme to which he could contribute. The Major on hearing from Dr Duff at once sent the balance of his share of the prize money which he received when Scinde was conquered; he would not use for his own personal advantage what he held to be blood money. This officer, whose courage (which rose almost to madness) and character obtained for him the title "The Bayard of the Indian Army," at a later date paid a visit to the Free Church Institution, but stipulated that he should not be asked to make a speech!

From all sides, Hindu, as well as Christian Anglican, Congregational, and Presbyterian, in America no less than in Asia and Europe, came expressions and proofs of indignant sympathy, while all the Protestant missionaries in Calcutta, though they differed on the merits of the Disruption question, united in a request that Dr Duff and his colleagues should continue to work in Calcutta. Duff received a gift of money from an unknown friend and his two sisters in America, who had been deeply impressed by the missionary's sacrifice. This money he resolved to share with Bombay and Madras. The Madras missionaries, however, as they considered the local circumstances made Calcutta more exigent, returned the money with the message, "Give us your prayers and keep the money; we have enough, my brother. What is that between thee and us?"

About this time four of the catechists were licensed to preach the Gospel, which cheered Dr Duff's heart greatly, and so. deeply was the home Church stirred by these results in Calcutta and elsewhere that a pastoral letter from the General Assembly was sent to all the missionaries. After the letter, was read, the Bengalee Church was formally organised on 1st October 1848, the fruit of seventeen years' work, and the year closed with the jubilee of the C.M.S., Dr Duff side by side with Bishop Wilson. Next year Duff agreed to co-operate in starting a first-rate Quarterly Review for India, provided "nothing hostile to Christianity or Christian subjects appeared in it, and that clear statements are made when necessary as to sound Christianity and its propagation by missionaries in India."

When Kaye left India he handed over the Editorship of the Calcutta Review to Dr Duff, which he held for some years. Duff accepted this additional burden because he regarded the work as calculated, in many important ways, to promote the vital interests of India, and therefore complementary to his more direct missionary work. He refused any remuneration himself, but accepted five hundred rupees a year for scholarships and prizes.


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