Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

service which, by the result, we know was appointed for him. Various considerations lead to the conclusion, that he manifested in his childhood great gentleness and docility, united with affectionateness, which peculiarly endeared him to his parents; and that he entertained towards them, at all times, a warm sentiment of filial respect and love. His early acquaintance with the mahommedan religion, of which the constant theme is, There is but one God-falling in, as it did, with the natural dictates of a simple understandingmust have left strong impressions in favour of that principle which he held, without wavering, as essential to religious belief, and endeavoured to promote among Hindoos and among Christians—the unity and supremacy of the only true God; while at the same time his mild and benevolent disposition made him shrink from that dogma of Mahomet which leads to force the faith of the Koran upon unbelievers, and to propagate it by the sword. Then the knowledge of the Sanscrit, in which the doctrines of the ancient faith of the Hindoos are enshrined, enabled him to trace these in their simplicity; and while the diversity of opinions among the idolaters as to the supremacy of their respective objects of worship, made him disposed to seek for truth among the more ancient sources of information, the acuteness, as well as the soundness, of his understanding, led him to fix upon the pure and essential principles of religious faith, in the midst of what contributed to perplex or alloy them; and to interpret what was allegorical, mystical, or obscure, in the sacred books of his religion, by those plain and rational doctrines which he could not but select as fundamental, and as the guide in the explanation of all others. When domestic uneasiness, arising from his virtual rejection of his father's faith, together with the desire to seek after truth among others, led him, even in early youth, to leave the parental abode, and to sojourn in different regions—* at which period, in his wanderings, he went even into Thibet-he saw still wider departures from what he considered as the fundamental truths of religion : but he also experienced from the female sex that considerate and soothing kindness and care, which, especially as contrasted with the violent spirit and persecuting zeal of their husbands, sons, and brothers, left indelible sentiments of respect and gratitude towards them; and this must have contributed to prepare him for rising above the narrow views of his country, and for the efforts which he afterwards made to prevent their dreadful self-immolation, and to restore them to their due rank and influence in society. With all these circumstances, operating to train him for his work, he united a humble dutiful regard to God, which led him to seek for divine guidance, and which prepared him for the reception of truth. These are his own words :

“I have often lamented that, in our general researches into theological truth, we are subjected to the conflict of many obstacles. When we look to the traditions of ancient nations, we often find them at variance with each other; and when, discouraged by this circumstance, we appeal to reason as a surer guide, we soon find how incompetent it is, alone, to conduct us to the object of our pursuit. We often find that, instead of facilitating our endeavours or clearing up our perplexities, it only serves to generate an universal doubt, incompatible with principles on which our comfort and hap

* See the Rajah's Letter, App. (A); and the Biograph. Sketch.

piness mainly depend. The best method perhaps, is, neither to give ourselves up exclusively to the guidance of the one or the other; but by a proper use of the lights furnished by both, endeavour to improve our intellectual and moral faculties, relying on the goodness of the Almighty Power, which alone enables us to attain that which we earnestly and diligently seek for."-Veds, p. 46. (1816.) Surely the truth of the great principle of our Scriptures was fulfilled in him— Acknowledge God in all thy ways, and he shall direct thy paths'.

In what way his character was appreciated in his own country, we learn from various sources : it is comprehensively stated by an eminent writer, when he speaks of him as a Brahmin whom those who know India agree in representing as “one of the most virtuous and enlightened of men”. His character as it presented itself among us, and as it is also exhibited in his writings, is, in the estimation of those who are most competent to judge, correctly delineated in the notice of him to which I have already referred ; and I will offer that delineation to your present attention, with its introductory statements. “The great notoriety of the Rajah, together with his own unvarying urbanity and solicitude to avoid giving pain to any one, even to the inconsiderate and presuming, exposed him to extreme interruption and inconvenience, and at times to much vexation. Habitual caution to shun every overt-act by which his Brahminical rank might be forfeited, to his own and his children's injury, and to the impairing of his hopes and means of usefulness, seems occasionally to have given to his system of conduct the air of uncertainty if not of ambiguity. Perhaps, also, there were occasions when questions proposed, with the skill of the practised disputant, to elicit an expression which might support some pre-formed opinion respecting the Rajah's sentiments, led him, through ignorance of the real bearings of the case, to accord with that which hi remarkable clearness of discrimination would have rejected at once if the whole tendency of the enquiry had been before him ; and this effect may have been aided by those nice shades in the import of words, which are, as opinions modify, continually varying in their influence. And, sometimes, that disposition to acquiescence, which eastern politeness requires, and which his own kindness of heart contributed to strengthen, was known to place him in circumstances, and lead him to expressions, which made his sincerity questioned. But, where he was best and fully known, the simplicity, candour, explicitness, and openness of his mind were striking and acknowledged ; and from these, together with his profound acquirements, his extensive information, his quick discrimination of character, his delicacy and honourable sentiments, his benevolent hopes and purposes for human welfare, his benignant concern for the comfort and happiness of all around him, his affectionateness and humility of disposition, his gentleness and quick sensibility, there was a charm in his presence and conversation which made one feel love for him as well as high respect. It was impossible to be much with him in the narrow circle of private life, without entertaining attachment to him; or without feelings approaching to reverence, for the greatness of his endowments and the way in which he had devoted them to the welfare of his fellow-men, for the high excellencies of his character, for the purity and refinement of his sentiments, and for the earnest and elevated

piety of his spirit. Those who had the best opportunities of knowing him say that the perusal of the Scriptures was his constant practice; and that his devotion was habitual—-manifested by stated prayer, and by a frequent absorbedness of soul, the external expression of which left no room for doubt as to the direction and object of it.” The same devoutness of spirit was manifested in his last illness. His medical friend, who was continually with him throughout, and who has given the public a brief but comprehensive account of it,* says that “he conversed very little during his illness, but was observed to be often engaged in prayer."

The absolute unity, unrivalled supremacy, sole worship, and essential mercy of the only true God, are too strongly asserted in his writings, and were too unequivocally maintained by him in conversation, to leave any doubt as to his doctrinal opinions on those points. He repeatedly told me and others that he never introduced his opinions unnecessarily; but that when the subject was introduced, he never hesitated to avow them: and of his entire disbelief in the doctrine of the trinity, of the incarnation, &c. we have abundant assurance. In his replies to the Missionaries who attacked his selections from the instructions of Christ, t he also developes his views respecting the person of our Lord. That he regarded him as entirely subordinate to the Supreme Being, and dependent upon him, for all his high powers and authority, must be obvious to every one

* See the close of the Biographical Sketch.

+ The Precepts of Jesus the Guide to Peace and Happiness, extracted from the Books of the New Testament, ascribed to the Four Evaneglists.- Calcutta, 1819 or 1820. London, 1823.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »