IV Among the Colonists SUBURBS OF RIO DE JANEIRONOVA FRIBURGOFREEDOM OF WORSHIPIMPARTIAL OFFICIALS.
THE territory embraced in our second journey lies north of the city of Rio de Janeiro and includes that section of the Provinces of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Geraes traversed by the Leopoldina Railway, which now has an extension of 1,280 miles, in operation. The contract for the Mauá Railway, the first constructed in Brazil, was given April 27, 1852, and the first section from Mauá to Raiz de Serra, a distance of about ten miles, was opened to traffic in December, 1854. The beauty and interest of the ride from the city of Rio de Janeiro across the water, a distance of fourteen miles to Mauá may be readily imagined from the description already given of this wonderful Bay. The change from the heat and the dust of the dirty narrow, crowded streets of the city as the Petropolis "barca" or steamer pulls out from the wharf and glides smoothly over the calm waters, passes the scores of ships at anchor, and on into the stiff sea-breeze blowing fresh from the ocean, is most refreshing and exhilarating. As we go sailing among the islands, leaving behind the great city surrounded by mountains, "distance lends enchantment to the view." The railroad runs along a flat section of sandy soil, among low hills, then across a marshy land of miasma and mosquitoes to the foot of the Serra; here the train is broken up into small sections, each with a separate engine to push it up the mountain by means of a cogwheel working on the central rail. The road winds around the hillsides, climbs up the heights, crosses bridges over dashing cataracts and gurgling streams from one side of the gorge to another, and finally reaches its highest point above the level of the sea, having ascended 2,595 feet in a distance of 3 3-5 miles. There is a slight descent from this point to the city of Petropolis amongst the hills. The ascent through the mountain gorge, the wild forest and huge cliffs, ravines, dashing streams, spreading lowlands traversed by the railroad, the extensive bay, dotted with scores of islands, the city on the other side of the water, encircled by the Tijuca and Corcovado range of hills and mountains, present a noble panorama perhaps unequalled by any in the world.
The city of Petropolis, "the summer paradise" for the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro, dates from about 1844. Formerly it was the summer home of the Emperor Don Pedro II.; his palace, "a far gayer and more cheerful looking edifice" than the one in Rio de Janeiro, stands in a central position surrounded by extensive grounds. The Foreign Diplomatic corps still reside here for the most part throughout the entire year. It is a city without a rival in Brazil. Through the midst of the town run the pure waters of the Piabauba river and its small tributaries; the high banks, "encased in lively green grass, and crossed by black and scarlet bridges, shaded by feathery Brazilian cedars" and other trees. There are many magnificent residences with beautifully kept grounds, a few well furnished stores: and since the removal of the State Capital to this place a number of public buildings have been erected and there are churches, school buildings, etc. The city is well lighted with electricity, and there are several manufacturing establishments which make use of the power from the numerous waterfalls. These skillful improvements, agricultural and industrial, are due almost entirely to the enterprise and energy of the German and Swiss colonists. The colony was founded by the provincial government in 1846, and in a few years numbered 8,200. Some of the early settlers grew wealthy and moving farther out, became coffee planters on an extensive scale. The general aspect of the whole region round about bears the impress of these colonists; and Petropolis itself is more European in appearance than Brazilian. The flower gardens are gorgeous, and there are numerous walks and drives among the hills along the winding valleys, "here with the virgin forest seen in profile from a partial clearing, there deep with gathered shade, twined and corded, throttled and festooned with all its llianas, tufted with wonderful epidendra and air-plants, bearded with gigantic mosses of grotesque shape, and rich in every vegetable form from the orchid to the cardamon, from the simple bamboo and palm to the complicated mimosa, from the delicate little leaves of the myrtle to the monstrous aroids and the quaint, stiff candelabra tree."
Our first efforts to circulate the Scriptures in this section met with little encouragement. The great majority of persons residing there were of the wealthier and higher classes, who generally seemed so fully satisfied with the things of this world that they cared little to hear of the invisible and eternal. A few Protestant Germans and others bought Bibles. But things have wonderfully changed about Petropolis during these twelve years. The city has been made the Capital of the State, and with this removal the population has considerably increased; the Government officials and employees together with others have become residents, and as might be expected, citizens from all parts of the State come to the Capital on business. As a result it has become a much more important centre for Bible distribution than formerly. Our colporteurs have from time to time made a thorough canvass of the city, which has a population of about 15,000 and have extended the work far out into the country in every direction. Formerly the Presbyterian missionaries carried on work with more or less regularity in the city, but more recently, when the Methodists decided to establish there a boarding school for girls, the work was all turned over to them. In this step the Presbyterian brethren gave a beautiful example of that spirit that should characterize missionary operations in all fields. The Methodists have secured both school and church property in the city and the work has developed encouragingly. The missionary in charge of the church has followed up the work of the colporteurs along several lines and the influence is spreading in all the region round about. One of our colporteurs spent several weeks in making a thorough canvass of the community just after the Methodist Conference had held its annual session in the city in the year 1899. The growing work and the presence of this body of workers seemed to have made quite an impression in the place even upon the minds of some of the more worldly and fashionable people. The colporteur was more successful than any one had been on former occasions, and sold many copies of the Scriptures to all classes, even in the homes of the wealthy.
From Petropolis the work has extended across the country to the small town of Theresopolis, located among the mountains, which has a climate thought by many to be superior to that of Petropolis. The seed of the Gospel has been sown and the fruits are being gathered already before the completion of the railroad constructed from Rio Bay to that desirable section of country.
We may now return to the city of Rio and take another ride of four miles across the Bay, landing at Santa Anna, where the Leopoldina railroad system proper starts. The sandy and marshy lowlands over which the road runs to Cachoeira at the foot of the Serra, and the section traversed by the branch to Macahé and Campos, resemble very closely the country and scenes along the Central and Petropolis roads.
In the early part of the period of which we write one of our most faithful colporteurs, André Cayret, spent much of his time in Campos and the region round about, and sold large numbers of Scriptures in that city, and the neighbouring towns, villages and country settlements. He was a Frenchman by birth, trained in the Catholic religion and forbidden by priest and parents to read the Bible. In his boyhood, just before leaving France, he saw an open Bible in a show window from which he read some verses. He was so much impressed that he afterwards obtained and read a New Testament but it was only after he came to Brazil that he was led into the fuller light and could claim Christ as his personal Saviour. He was one of the most devout and earnest workers I have ever known. He began work for the American Bible Society about 1879, and was the most successful salesman of the year. Some of the points he visited had not been heretofore explored. He met with all kinds of treatment and with very fair success in the towns in which he laboured; travelled to a considerable extent on the railways in the Province of Rio de Janeiro, thus coming in contact with a large number of people, and putting the Gospel into the hands of many who take it to places where neither missionaries nor colporteurs have yet been. He received some very ugly treatment and was threatened with imprisonment and all sorts of punishment. On one occasion he came into the depository and filled a coffee sack, in which he was fond of carrying his books, with Scriptures to go out into this section of country along the Leopoldina railway from Niteheroy. Before he left we went into a side room and knelt before God in prayer. Not many days after he returned with his sack about as full as when he left. I said: "Well, Sr. André, not much success this time?" "Oh, yes," he replied, "I did a good work, thank God." 'But your sack seems still to be full." "Yes, but this time it is full of images, saints and idols. I carried the Word of God into the homes of the people, they read, were enlightened, and gave up all these idols." He had a large quantity of them, some of them of considerable value, being made of silver. While on a trip in one of the Southern Provinces in 1892 he was taken sick, and, worn with age, exposure and toil, he lingered only a few days and then peacefully passed away to his reward. He died far away from home, leaving a faithful, good wife, an adopted daughter and a large number of friends to mourn his departure; but he was not entirely among strangers: The Presbyterian missionaries and friends in the city of Curitiba kindly administered to him during his illness, and then laid the body of God's servant to rest, awaiting the resurrection. He was Gods instrument for placing in the hands of thousands copies of his written Word, and he pointed many to the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."
The city of Campos, located near the mouth of the Parahyba river, has a population at present of about 20,000 inhabitants. The active work of the Presbyterian mission in this city runs through a period of a number of years. More recently the Baptists have established themselves here and from this central point they have followed up the work of the colporteurs, extending their efforts in many directions along the river, railways, and country highways. The workers here have cooperated actively with us also in circulating the Scriptures.
We may now continue along the main line of the Leopoldina railway from Cachoeira at the foot of the Serra do Mar to Nova Friburgo, a distance of about sixty miles from the city of Rio and at an elevation of 2,722 feet above the level of the sea. The scenery along this ascent is somewhat of a repetition of that described on the ascent to Petropolis, though the view of the Bay and its surroundings is a more distant one. The highest elevation reached on the way is about 3,475 feet above the sea-level in the Serra do Mar. Here we find was located the third foreign colony, properly speaking, in this country after the arrival of the Prince Regent of Portugal at Rio de Janeiro, March 7, 1808, and perhaps the first after the decree of December 1815, elevating Brazil to the dignity of a kingdom. It was authorized May 6, 1818, by decree of Dom João VI., who had been crowned February 5, of that year. The colonists were Swiss and Germans, and in a few years numbered about 3,000, the first having arrived in the year 1820. The decree explicitly promised to each of the first hundred families, lands, horses, cattle, seed and provisions, or its equivalent in money, for the first two years, and in addition a stipulated sum for daily wages during the same period. A Brazilian writer in 1875 states that when the first colonists arrived they found nothing prepared for them and were compelled to live for a time crowded together under temporary sheds where they suffered great deprivations. During my first visit to this section in the month of March 1888, as I was on my way to attend Sunday morning service at the Protestant church in the village of São José, I overtook a feeble old man who, supported by his cane, was making his way slowly to the house of God. In conversation I learned that he was, so far as any one in the community knew, the only surviving member of the first colonists. In consequence of neglect by the Government, large numbers of them abandoned the colony and sought employment and homes in the agricultural centres of the Provinces of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Geraes, while others obtained a living by returning to Rio and enlisting in the regular army. However, in the year 1832 and later, others came from Europe and settled round about Nova Friburgo, and to these colonists is due in a large measure the agricultural developments and improvements of that section. The city of Nova Friburgo, with a population of only a few thousand inhabitants is located in a narrow valley between high hills at an elevation of 2,700 feet above the sea level; and since the railway has facilitated access from Rio de Janeiro, it has become quite a popular resort for the summer. The German Lutheran church has sustained a regular pastor in this place since the early beginning of the colony; and this pastor, following a large number of the colonists who moved further down the valley to find a more fertile soil and larger tracts of tillable land, established a second church which has been kept up for many years. In the course of time the younger generations began to complain that they did not understand the German language sufficiently to appreciate the services, and so the pastor decided to change, and now for some fifteen years or more he has been preaching almost entirely in the Portuguese language. While our efforts to circulate the Scriptures were confined to the Protestant element we met with no special difficulties, but just as soon as it was known to the priests and to the more fanatical devotees of the Roman Church that we were offering the Scriptures to the Brazilians, then opposition began to manifest itself. My companions in the work on the first journey through this section were a Presbyterian missionary and the colporteur already referred to. We sold considerable numbers of Scriptures along the railway, in the towns of Nova Friburgo, Cantagallo and other smaller places. In the village of São José where is located the second German church above referred to, we visited the Catholic priest, who received and entertained us very kindly. He seemed to have accumulated quite a sufficiency of this world's goods and was living in ease; he showed no opposition to our work and manifested little concern for the spiritual welfare of the people. In the town of Cantegallo the city authorities gave us permission to sell books without a license, and the missionary secured the use of the theatre for preaching: a large number of persons came to hear. One small boy, into whose hands one of the invitations, marked "entrance free" had fallen, said to me, "Who pays for the play? I see the entrance is free." He had never before heard of a free performance in a theatre, nor had he heard of any thing free in the name of religion, since the priests always charged high fees for every performance such as mass, baptisms, marriages, funerals, etc.
As I was passing along the streets one day offering the Scriptures at every house, I saw through a window a woman seated at a table with a few children around her; she seemed to be reading and teaching to them the Bible. I offered her a book and was rejoiced to hear the reply "I have a Bible, thank you." She herself was a Protestant and employed as a teacher in the family. Some of those children have since grown into beautiful, active Christians, and that teacher has become a worker in connection with one of the missionary societies operating in this country.
We have during this period of years made a number of trips through that section and have each time sold a larger number of copies of the Word. The missionary who was with us on the first visit, has since located at Nova Friburgo, and is carrying on a very encouraging work. The work has provoked much opposition upon the part of the priests and has given rise to some lively discussions in the papers. A number of most striking instances of the power of the Written Word to convince and lead men to Christ have been recorded from that section, and the influence is deepening and spreading in all directions; calls are constantly coming from beyond for the preachers to extend their labours further and further that others may hear the good news of salvation. From among the converts several young men are now studying for the ministry in the Presbyterian Church, and other valuable lay workers have been developed. They all delight to bear testimony to the value of the pioneer work done among them by the American Bible Society.
We left the city of Nova Friburgo by train and went slowly winding around and climbing over the hills. I had a long conversation with our conductor. He admitted that the Bible was a good book but said the people do not need it, they know what is right and what is wrong; it is only necessary for men to believe in the true God, deal honestly and justly with his fellowmen and be hospitable. He laid great stress on the virtue of hospitality; and said when a man knows these things he doesn't need to know more. This man, seemingly a moralist, very kind and hospitable, is a striking representative of a very large class in this country. They tell us they never kill anybody, never steal anything and never lie, deal honestly, recognize that there is a God, and are always hospitable and charitable; consequently they think they are at peace with their Creator, and that all will be well with them in this life and in the life to come. It seems almost impossible to make them realize that they are sinners. We next stopped at the small town of Sumidouro; and, following what I have thought to be a wise plan, I first called on the priest and offered him a Bible. He had but little to say, and seemed quite satisfied with his surroundings and the condition of the people. He said the only difference between our Bible and his was that his had notes and explanations while ours had none. As we canvassed the town I met a soldier of the great Italian General, Garibaldi, who had heard the Gospel in Italy. He had wandered off to Brazil and settled in this town among the hills. He gave us a warm welcome into his humble home and there we had very delightful conversation about things pertaining to the Christian warfare and the Captain of our Salvation. In the afternoon I went along a country road leading from the village and by the roadside I sold a Bible to an old grayhaired man. When I was returning to the town about sundown I saw him sitting outside his cabin door with his family and two or three neighbours all gathered around listening as he read aloud the wonderful Words of Life. I did not dare to disturb them, but prayed that the Spirit might help them to understand the truth. At night I preached to a number of attentive listeners in a room hired for the purpose. Among the auditors were the members of this household and at the close of the sermon, I had an interesting conversation with the old gentleman and others. A negro boy came up and asked what I charged for confessing a person. I asked him what he wanted to confess. He said that about fifteen days before he had confessed to the priest all the bad things he had done; but since then he had done a number of evil things, and if it would not cost him too much money he would like to confess them all to me that I might obtain pardon for him. I tried to point him to Christ, but he seemed so ignorant and so fixed in his idea of confessing only to a priest, and thus with money buy absolution, that he could not grasp the truth. We left in that town more than a score of Bibles, talked with many persons of Jesus and his salvation, preached to them the Gospel and prayed for them. As we journeyed by train the following day we sold more than twenty copies of the Scriptures, and had several interesting conversations with fellow-passengers.
We passed along the railroad into the State of Minas Geraes again and were once more in the valley of the Parahyba, this time at Porto Novo on the dividing line between the two States, and where a branch of the Central Railroad ends and one of the Leopoldina begins. This State of Minas Geraes which we enter a second time is one of the most important of the Republic. It has an area of 3,184,099 square kilometers and a population of about 3,200,000, or nearly one-fifth of the population of the entire country. We shall have occasion to enter this extensive territory on several other journeys from different points, and the reader will bear in mind that it may, very properly speaking, be divided into four sections; the first is the extensive plateau below the Serra de Mantiqueira, of which the city of Juiz de Fora, mentioned in the first journey, is the chief commercial, agricultural and industrial centre; the second is the highland and mountainous mining region above the Serra, with Ouro Preto, as the principal centre; the third is the great Sertão, or inland region of elevated plains and hills extending to the west and southwest; and the fourth is the spreading valley of the San Francisco reaching northward. The climate of the first section, though warm and at times damp, is by no means so hot and humid as that of the lower sea-coast region; that of the second is temperate and considered one of the most healthy in the world; while that of the third and fourth is variable.
The Parahyba river which we now cross, rises in the state of São Paulo in the highland region near the coast about 3,000 feet above the sea level and flows in a northeasterly direction, west of the Serra do Mar, a distance of 635 miles and empties into the ocean. The plateau declines somewhat as it extends eastward to the Serra do Mar. The chief industry of this part of the valley and the plateau is coffee raising. The climate is warm and the soil fertile, and here we find some of the most productive coffee farms of the State. A ride through the country on horse-back or even along the railway on the train will give one a very good opportunity to observe the different phases of coffee raising. There are two periods when the trees present a most interesting aspect: the first, when they are in full blossom. In the early morning, after a refreshing shower, or while the heavy dew still lingers, as one rides along the rows of low, bushy, coffee trees all covered with small white blossoms, from the scene so enchanting to the eye, there arises an aroma that fills the whole atmosphere with its sweet perfume. A few months later, when the atmosphere is cooler and the rains have ceased for a season, the scene changes, and we find that the little flowers have turned into beautiful red berries. We may now see the men, women and children with their baskets gathering the precious fruit to be spread out for drying on the large cemented inclosures about the farm house. When we realize how interesting and profitable this coffee industry has been for years throughout these regions, we are not much surprised that the planters have confined themselves to this one crop, and greatly to their own disadvantage, have until recently, neglected almost entirely all others. Now that the production has greatly increased, not only from Brazil but from other parts of the world, and the price consequently been much reduced, the farmers have begun to realize the necessity of planting other things besides coffee; and they are finding that their fertile lands readily produce corn, beans, rice, potatoes and other necessary articles of food.
The Gospel work through this section was begun a few years ago by our colporteurs, who first visited the towns and villages along the railroad. In these places we encountered much opposition at times and there was often little to encourage our efforts, owing to the war waged upon us and our Bibles by the priests. However, God now and then gave us signs of good being done and evidences that the darkness was giving away. After the work had been going on for some time, I made a second trip through this region, and at the town of Santa Luzia, where we went for the first time, I had an experience quite characteristic of what frequently has happened to us. On arriving in the town with a colporteur and a good supply of books, we secured lodging in a small hotel. We called on the municipal authorities then present in the town. They were slow to give us permission to sell the Scriptures, but finally after considerable explanation they consented. We started through the town from store to store, from house to house, and frequently stopped persons in the streets, offering to every one the Word of God. Very few were at all inclined to buy. By and by I saw an opportunity to hire a hall in which to preach to the people. A large audience filled the place and numbers gathered in the street around the door and windows. Curiosity seemed to be the motive that had brought most if not all of the hearers out that night. When I had concluded my sermon, the public school teacher of the place arose and asked permission to speak. I said only with the consent of the people. They all with united voice, said they were willing that he should speak. If any trouble should arise I wanted the responsibility to be on them. He began by saying that the Bible of these Protestants was false and that he wished to show to the audience wherein it was false. He then drew from his pocket a little book which I recognized as being a volume with a mixture of Bible stories and Roman Catholic interpolations, written by a German priest, approved by Bishops and Archbishops of Europe and Brazil and translated into Portuguese by the Bishop of Pará. He declared this to be the true Bible, since it was so fully approved by the Apostolic Roman Catholic church, and said he would proceed to read a passage and compare it with a similar passage from the false Protestant Bible. He asked for one of ours which was quickly handed to him. He chose the story of Jacob and the flocks of Laban, and read from his book the following which is a literal translation: "Jacob remained for the space of twenty years keeping the cattle of Laban. He (Laban) in various ways went on diminishing the remuneration agreed upon; God, however, blessed Jacob more and more every time, so that he became extremely rich. He married and had many servants, sheep, camels and asses." He then opened the Bible and began looking through the New Testament for the story of Laban and Jacob. After he had been turning the pages for some five minutes or more and was becoming much confused, the colporteur, kinder of heart toward him than I, took the Bible, and opened for him at Genesis xxx and xxxi. He then began reading the story which evidently did not sound just as the priest had told him it read from the false Bible. When he came to the verse, "Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and hath given them to me," he stopped and exclaimed with great surprise, "how is this?" After some effort he seemed a little more composed and proceeded to explain that his true Bible stated that Jacob's prosperity was due entirely to God's intervention and blessing, while the Protestant's false Bible taught that his success was due entirely to his own chicanery and shrewdness. The audience who had listened attentively to the reading were at a loss to see on what ground he made the distinction, and some said it must be because the priest had said so.
He made another failure, and then asked for the statutes of the American Bible Society, and said the Society was not authorized to distribute Bibles in Brazil. I then handed him a copy of the Constitution and bylaws of the Society and a copy of a resolution of the Brazilian government which I had had printed in pamphlet form for circulation and which reads as follows: "Rio de Janeiro, May 4, 1868. Most illustrious and Most Excellent Senhor.There was presented to His Majesty the Emperor, the complaint of Torquato Martins Cardoso against the president and the chief of police of this province, prohibiting the sale of sacred books on the ground that they were considered contrary to the doctrines of the Apostolic Roman Catholic Religion.
"And his August Majesty, having heard the judicial Council of State, with whose opinion he agreed by his imperial and immediate resolution of the 22 ultimo, was pleased to order to be communicated to your Excellency:
"1. That it is the strict duty of this presidency to respect and maintain the individual liberty, guaranteed by article 179, §§ I., 5 and 24 of the Constitution.
"2. That the chief of police cannot proceed against the reclaimant except in the cases expressed in articles 277-278 of the Code, and then not arbitrarily but by legal procedure.
"3. That it is not lawful for an officer of the Imperial Government to utter or maintain the intention of proceeding arbitrarily in case of a deficiency in the laws of the country.
"I communicate this to you for your information and due execution.
"May God keep your Excellency. Signed Martins Francisco Ribeiro Andrade. President of the province of Sergipe.
ARTICLE 5.All other religions will be allowed with their domestic or private worship in houses set apart for this purpose, without any exterior form of a temple.
ARTICLE 179. I. No citizen shall be compelled to do or not to do anything except by virtue of the law.
5. No one shall be persecuted because of his religion as long as he respects that of the State and does not offend public morality.
24. No kind of work, culture, industry or commerce shall be prohibited to the security of the citizens so long as it does not oppose the public customs.
ARTICLE 277.To abuse or ridicule any religion whatever established in the Empire by means of papers printed, lithographed or engraved, that should be distributed by more than fifteen persons or by means of discourses spoken in public meetings, or at the time and place where the worship takes place.Penalties of imprisonment from one to six months and a fine corresponding to half that time.
ARTICLE 278.To propagate by means of papers printed, lithographed or engraved, that should be distributed by more than fifteen persons or by means of discourses spoken in public meetings, doctrines that directly destroy the fundamental truths of the existence of God and the immortality of the soul.Penalties of imprisonment from four months to one year and a fine corresponding to half the time."
My adversary was greatly taken aback by such documents and the audience looked on and listened with amazement. He was compelled from the documentary evidence to admit the existence of such an institution as the American Bible Society and that it was not contrary to the Constitution and laws of the Empire that the representatives of the Society should carry on the work of selling and distributing the Bible through the country. He then said to the people that I was not an authorized minister of the Gospel nor the duly accredited representative of the Bible Society. I produced my certificate of elders' orders in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which had been translated into Portuguese and duly recognized and registered by the Imperial Government, and also the certificate of my appointment as the authorized Agent of the American Bible Society for Brazil. It seemed useless to continue the meeting longer, and so I proposed that we dismiss the audience, at which suggestion my assailant seemed greatly relieved. A number lingered to ask questions and some to buy copies of the Bible. When we returned to our hotel a soldier in full uniform frightened us by knocking at our door; we were much relieved and greatly rejoiced when he informed us that he wanted to buy a Bible.
The next morning we went on with our canvass of the town and sold a number of Scriptures. By and by we were accosted by an official of the Municipal Council who demanded to know by what authority we were selling books through the streets. I replied that we had the verbal permission of the highest authorities that were present in the town when we arrived there. He informed us that we were violating the laws of the township, and since we had no written authorization for our work, he was commissioned to arrest and imprison us for the offence. He then drew from his pocket the papers to this effect, all duly signed and stamped. All such documents to be of value had to have a certain amount of revenue stamps; so far as I could judge not one was lacking in this case. We had no alternative but to gracefully yield to the arrest and be led away through the streets to prison. Our enemies rejoiced, ridiculed and sneered at us as we were marched on to the jail. When I had had time to reflect a little, I called to mind another document which I found very useful in those days: it was the passport of my American citizenship. I called the official's attention to it and threatened to appeal to the United States Minister at Rio de Janeiro if they did not release me. They seemed to recognize that I might be in the right and thought perhaps it might turn out to be a serious matter. Finally they consented to take the case before the president of the town council, who in the meantime had arrived from a journey on which he had been for several days. When we appeared before him, the official made his representation of the case, and I then made ours, showing in the first place that we were not merchants or peddlers in a business sense, but that we were messengers of the Lord Jesus Christ engaged as we believed in our King's business; and in the second place, that we had taken the precaution to explain the nature of our mission to the authorities and obtain their consent. The president, who was a fair minded man, very soon gave his verdict in our favour, and ordered our release. The official who had us in charge, plead with him to make us at least pay for the revenue stamps used on the papers for authorizing our arrest. The president answered that he had nothing to do with that, that he considered our arrest illegal and demanded our immediate release. Of course we at once had our liberty and went about our work. In this experience we began to feel what it means to suffer and to be persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. When I came to thank the president for his kindness and informed him that it was my purpose to leave the colporteur to make a thorough canvass of the town and community, he advised me to secure a license to prevent any further disturbance. As the amount demanded was small, I acted on his advice that the colporteur might have full liberty and protection after I left him.
By this time the priest, who had instigated all this opposition, appeared on the scene and openly in the streets denounced us and our Bibles, saying that we were devils and that our Bibles were false, that they were the work of the devil and full of lies. A crowd gathered around us, at the railroad station, and as the priest stretched out his arm and with extended finger just over our Bibles, denounced them as false and dangerous books, threatening with excommunication any who might buy and read them, we sold several copies to anxious enquirers after the truth. The next day, after I had left to meet another of our workers at a central point in this section, the colporteur, who was not well, sat in the door of the hotel and sold more than sixty copies of the Scriptures to persons who came for the express purpose of buying.
The work has continued to go forward and the fruits are being gathered by the Christian workers. Just ten years from that time, I was preaching one night in a rented hall in the new Capital of the State: a stranger came in and took a seat near the door, listened attentively, and when I gave an opportunity for those desirous of salvation to come forward, he was the first to give me his hand. After the meeting in conversation I learned that he had bought a Bible on the occasion above referred to.
A colporteur passing through this section in 1899 wrote: "I arrived here at an early hour this morning, not thinking it wise to spend Sunday in São Paulo, where the padre is much stirred up, as well he might be. The two days that I spent there God blessed my work in a very remarkable manner, and I had good reason to be astonished, considering how little I really knew of the language. I canvassed the large city of five or six thousand inhabitants from end to end, and did not encounter one individual who had enough faith and confidence to defend the Church of Rome against her condemnation by the Word of God. The people are getting awake, thank God. I surprised a few of the city fathers by telling them that they need not seek for the secret of the present unhappy decadent condition of Brazil in the price of coffee, heavy taxation, or bad government, but in the latter part of verse five of the twentieth chapter of Exodus, and they one and all admit it, some very sadly.
"I feel that we are on the eve of a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, for men and women are being stirred up to perceive the real truth of things in a manner which needs some other explanation besides that of the Protestant missions in Brazil. What I have seen and what the people tell me leaves me no doubt that the circulation of the Scriptures is a big factor in this coming revolution of ideas, and that the Word of God is being especially blessed to open the eyes of the blind, and to be a light unto these benighted people. I enclose a list of sales in eight days: 39 Bibles, 81 Testaments, and 237 Portions. Forty-two Gospels were given away, chiefly to the numerous prisoners and to the soldiers of the city prison."
At the town of Ubá I met two colporteurs, who gave interesting accounts of their trip on mule-back across the country from Juiz de Fora; they had sold a number of copies of the Word, especially in rural districts, and were greatly encouraged with the prospects of the work to be done among the tillers of the soil. We had a season of prayer together that night, asking the Lord to direct our work in the city of Ubá. The following day we had good success and arranged to have preaching in the theatre at two o'clock on Sunday and in a private house at seven o'clock Sunday night. The Sabbath morning was fair; great numbers attended mass in the Catholic Church. With us it was a time of prayer and preparation for the hour when for the first time we were to preach the Gospel publicly in that place. At the appointed hour a large number of hearers, principally men and boys, gathered to hear the sermon. I was much impressed with the very close attention and good behaviour of three men who sat on the front seat very near me. At the close they went quietly out and entered a house adjoining the theatre. Some one then called my attention to the fact that two of them were Sons of the priest of the town and the other was the sacristão (sexton and vestry keeper) of the church, who had been sent by the priest to hear what I had to say and then to report to him. Very soon the priest appeared from the house where he had been secretly waiting to hear their report, and in the public street began in a very loud and excited manner to denounce the Protestants and their Bible; he sought to incite the people to persecute and drive us out. No one seemed disposed to molest us, and I wondered that he had so little influence over them. Very soon I learned that he had a very bad name in the community; for besides being the father of several illegitimate children, he had married one of his sons to one of his daughters, and when the people complained about it, his answer was that they had different mothers. Public sentiment protested so strongly against this act that he was forced to secure for the couple a separation, there being no such thing possible as divorce.
This was the beginning of evangelistic effort in that section; the work has been followed up by frequent visits of our colporteurs who have always had good sales of Scriptures.
From Ubá we continued our journey along the valley following the line of the Leopoldina Railway, did good work in the small town of Rio Branco, and very soon began to climb the Serra de São Geraldo. The highest point reached on this Serra by the railway is about 2,333 feet above the level of the sea. From these heights there are magnificent views of the Rio Blanco (White River) valley. Near the town of Rio Blanco two Englishmen, who had not succeeded well in their coffee planting enterprises, began a few years ago to plant sugar-cane and more recently the industry has spread extensively throughout that valley.
We were now starting on our journey for places not yet visited by colporteur or missionary. The second day one of the colporteurs, a new man, (the son of a Catholic priest) asked me to turn aside from our route to a farm where lived some relatives of his. I thought this might be an open door, or call of the Spirit, since the people had never heard the Gospel. About three o'clock P. M. we came to the house, and were cordially welcomed by the lady of the house. The gentleman came in about five o'clock, and a dinner of black beans, rice, farinha (a kind of meal made from the root of the mandioca), mush, salad, chicken, and coffee was served in primitive style. When the gentleman was asked if we might preach to them that night, he replied that he was not able to pay for it. The colporteur replied: "You don't have to pay for it." He said: "But I always have to pay the priests a big price for all they do for me." The colporteur responded: "This is a minister of the free Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it won't cost you anything to hear." Here was the invitation: "He that hath no money," etc. The family, the servants, a few travellers, and ourselves made a congregation of thirty-five or forty. Save the two colporteurs, not one of them had ever before heard a Gospel sermon. Several seemed to comprehend in part, at least, the truth, and were more deeply interested.
Sunday morning at the mass the priest told the people there were some wolves in the town selling false Bibles and preaching lies; said they were stopping in a house of ill-fame, were unworthy the respect of decent people, and ought to be driven out of the town. He warned them against going to the services and said he would excommunicate every one who attended. He did us "much evil. The Lord reward him according to his works," and have mercy on him in his ignorance. Notwithstanding his prohibition and threats, some fifty or more persons came to hear the Gospel. I read to them the history of the Philippian jailer and his conversion, and preached to them for thirty-five minutes from the inquiry: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" and the reply. The hearers gave good attention and showed much interest to know more of the way. In the afternoon a young man came and asked me to go to his cousin's house, and preach at night to forty or fifty who were anxious to hear more of the Gospel. At seven o'clock I started to the house where the people were to assemble. The young man met me, and said the gentleman and his wife had become much disturbed by the threats of the priest to excommunicate all who attended the services, and had concluded not to allow me to preach in their house, but said they were willing for me to meet the people who had assembled. We did not have a formal service of song, prayer, etc., but I sat in my chair in the midst of about forty men and women, and for the space of an hour conversed with them, telling them of the truth as it is in the Scriptures. Greater good may have been accomplished than if the service had been a more formal one. Some asked questions, showing they were concerned to know more of the truth.
Within fifteen days we sold 383 copies of the sacred Scriptures, and I preached in four important towns, centres of much traffic and influence, where the Gospel had never before been preached, besides other smaller places. Some souls came to the knowledge of the truth and found peace, and many more were left with the Word and our prayers that God might lead them to a knowledge of salvation.
Several months after this trip I received a letter from one of our colporteurs who was returning through that section, in which he said the farmer, above referred to, and a number of other persons were very anxious to have me return and preach to them again. Being so much occupied that I could not go, I wrote to one of the missionaries requesting him to go, but he also had too much else to do. During the next year this same colporteur made another visit to the family and found a number in the community so deeply interested that he wrote a most urgent letter asking me to go there and visit them. Again I could not find the time to do so, and again urged the missionary to go. Several months passed before he found the time to go, but finally went. He found this man and several other persons deeply interested in the Gospel. They had been reading the Bibles constantly. During the first visit seven persons asked for baptism and membership in the church. Several months later a second visit was made to that community and nineteen persons professed their faith in Jesus Christ and asked for admission into the church. A young man in this community who was studying for the priesthood, became interested in the Bible through one of our colporteurs, was converted, became a preacher, and is now a most successful teacher in one of the Protestant colleges.
There are many thrilling stories of the power and influence the reading of the Word has had and is still having throughout this region. One of the missionaries relates an interesting incident of a Bible left at the house of a farmer, the reading of which led to the conversion of several members of the family. It was then lent to a second, then to a third, and finally to a fourth family, in all of which like results followed. A lady heard of a missionary at work in a town not far away, and came to hear him preach and invite him to the farms. He made several visits there and at last organized a church with twenty-four members. He regards this as the fruit of one Bible left in the community by one of our colporteurs.
Touring through the regions north and west of this a few years later, one of our colporteurs wrote: "At Rio San Francisco we had really a wonderful and blessed experience. After selling quite a number of books, we were preparing for a start when Senhor Carlos Mariano Pereira called on us and told us that this place had never before been visited by a colporteur or preacher. He is very much interested in the Gospel, and has been a subscriber to the "Expositor" for some years. We met several people who spoke of him, and we found he was the "little leaven" which had leavened considerable of the lump. With great pride this dear old man showed us a Figueiredo Bible from the British and Foreign Bible Society which had been in his possession sixty-five years, and I judge from its appearance and from the old gentleman's conversation that it had been well read. The title page bore the date of 1821. We preached at his house to a very attentive audience which filled the front hall, and there were a great number outside also.
Starting early next morning we arrived late Saturday night at San Miguel, but waited till Monday before attempting any work, when we canvassed the place in about five hours. Our fame had preceded us, and everybody we met said "Livro Protestante." I called on the padre (priest), who seemed at a loss to combat my denial that the New Testament was a Protestant book, and my offer to prove its identity with that approved by the Bishop of Coimbra and Santa Fe. A man who was listening became much enraged, and vowed that we should do no preaching there. In spite of all the opposition we sold forty-eight New Testaments and Portions. About seven in the evening a mob, headed by this man, came to our ranching place with evil intent, but being forewarned we locked the door and blew out the light, while the proprietor, with his two Sons and other friends, determined to resist the mob and protect us and their property. So God raised up men to be instrumental in our escape. By five A. M. we were away, thankful indeed to God that he had delivered us out of the hands of our enemies. As usual, this exhibition of lawlessness can be traced directly to the priest, who called the people together before we had gone a dozen yards from his house, and who, as we afterward learned, advised them to commit our books to the flames.