Sidor som bilder

who peruses that remarkable controversy.* He dwells, with peculiar earnestness and satisfaction, on the conclusion he had attained respecting the nature of that unity which subsisted between Christ and his heavenly Father--the unity of design, of affection, of operationsuch as existed between his disciples and himself. On all these points, which alone are essential to Unitarianism, he agrees with the Unitarian. In those treatises, however, he also speaks of our Saviour as prëexistent, and as employed in the creation of the natural world ; in which he differs from the great bulk of contemporary Unitarians, more nearly approaching to the sentiments of the excellent Dr. Price. From the conversations which I had with him in the later part of his life, I believe that he was more disposed to regard that prëexistence as only in the divine purposes ; and the creating logos, not as Christ himself, but as that divine power which wrought in and by him. But however this may be, he was undoubtedly a Unitarian; and he has repeatedly said, when not among members of the unitarian sect, “ My heart is with the Unitarians”.

As to his christian belief-the only ground for uncertainty arose from the assertions, on the one hand, of those who will not allow the claims of the Unitarian to the appellation Christian, because he does not receive those doctrines which he firmly believes to be without foundation in the instructions of Christ and his Apostles; or, on the other, of those who have misunderstood the nature of the ground on which the Brahmin's convictions most rested, the manner in which he spoke of doctrines which they themselves always associated with christian belief and deemed essential to it, and the caution with which he habitually avoided all public expression of the adoption of Christianity by those personal acts which would have been regarded by Christians in general as a renunciation of his ancient faith, and probably employed by his enemies in India to lessen his influence and to injure his interests. He never was baptized, though applied to for the purpose by the direction of some of the highest dignitaries of the Established Church : he could not have been baptized into the trinitarian faith.* He might have been baptized into unitarian Christianity, without renouncing what he regarded as the pure doctrine of Hindooism respecting the Supreme Being ; but his system prevented him from engaging in the positive rites of any sect of Christians. While he maintained his caste as a Brahmin, he had an acknowledged right to instruct his countrymen in the doctrines of their religion, which he maintained to have been, in its purest and most ancient form, monotheism in faith and in worship, and to which he laboured, in many cases effectually, to lead his fellow-Brahmins. The acknowledgement of the divine authority of Christ is, in itself, in no way inconsistent with the maintenance of their ancient faith ; for, as Moses and the Prophets had done, Christ and his Apostles taught the same.ť

* See a short account of it in the Biographical Sketch ; and extracts from it, illustrative of his opinions and mode of supporting them, in Appendix (E).

* A passage will be found in Appendix (E), beautifully explaining the baptismal form in St. Matthew's Gospel, on unitarian principles.

+ See Exod. xxxiv. 14. Deut. vi. 4, 5. 1 Chron. xxix. 10–12. Neh. ix. 6. Ps. lxxxiii. 18. Is. xliv. 24. xlv. 5—7. xlvi. 9, 10. Matt. iv.

-We have, in his controversy with the baptist Missionaries, (before the attempt made to deprive him of his caste,) the clear declarations of his belief that “Jesus of Nazareth” was “the Christ of God", that “ he was sent with a divine law to guide mankind by his preaching and example”, that he received from the Supreme Being “a commission to come into the world for the salvation of mankind”, and that he was, by him, “empowered to perform wonderful works". This belief, however, he rested, as we have learned from himself, less on those wonderful works, than on the internal proofs derived from the excellence of our Saviour's instructions respecting the character of God and the duty and welfare of man, and from the circumstances attending the first promulgation of the Gospel ; and he laid little stress upon miracles as a means of converting his countrymen, from their being so much accustomed to miraculous relations in reference to those deities whom they were called upon to renounce.

But though the elements of his faith, or the grounds on which he held it, might not agree with those of Christians in general, I am in the recollection of several residents in this city or its neighbourhood, of the first respectability for character and intellectual attainments, and of various religious persuasions, when I say, that, less than a week before his last illness began, he expressed his belief in the divine origin of our Lord's instructions, in his miracles, and in his resurrection from the dead. On this great fact, indeed, he declared that his own expectation of a resurrection rested. “If I did not believe in the resurrection of Christ", were his emphatic words, “ I should not believe in my own”. Believing as he certainly did in this essential fundamental fact of Christianity, you may term him what you please—I have no hesitation in saying that he was a Christian. *

10. vi. 9. Mark xii. 29–33. John iv. 23. xvii. 3. Acts ij. 22, 32. x. 38, 40. 1 Cor. viii. 6. Eph. iv. 6. v. 20. Phil. iv. 6. 1 Tim. ii. 5. vi. 15, 16 James i. 17. Rev. xv. 3.

The motives of the revered Brahmin in the search after truth, and in the promotion of what he believed to be such, were those which the Christian cannot but approve. They are beautifully delineated by himself at the close of the preface to his translation of one of the Veds; and I will lay the whole connected passage

before you.

"This work (he says) not only treats polytheism with contempt and disdain, but inculcates invariably the unity of God as the intellectual principle, the sole origin of individual intellect, entirely distinct from matter and its affections; and teaches also the mode of directing the mind to him.

A great body of my countrymen, possessed of good understandings, and not much fettered with prejudices, being perfectly satisfied with the truth of the doctrines contained in this and in other works, already laid by me before them, and of the gross errors of the puerile system of idol worship which they were led to follow, have altered their religious conduct in a manner becoming the dignity of human beings ; while the advocates of idolatry and their misguided followers, over whose opinions prejudice and obstinacy prevail more than

See Appendix (F).- The Apostles represent the resurrection of Christ as the declaration of his divine authority, and the basis of our hope of a resurrection, and of our faith as Christians : see Rom. i. 4. 1 Pet. i. 4. 1 Thess. iv. 14, 1 Cor. xv. 17. And St. Paul authorizes us to say tbat he who believes in this great fact, with the faith of the. heart, shall be saved : see Rom. x. 9. Every one who believes in the resurrection of Christ, has a right to the appellation CHRISTIAN.

good sense or judgment, prefer custom and fashion to the authorities of their scriptures, and therefore continue, under the form of religious devotion, to practise a system which destroys, to the utmost degree, the natural texture of society, and prescribes crimes of the most heinous nature which even the most savage nations would blush to commit, unless compelled by the most urgent necessity. I am, however, not without a sanguine hope that, through Divine Providence and human exertions, they will sooner or later avail themselves of that true system of religion which leads its observers to a knowledge and love of God, and to a friendly inclination towards their fellow-creatures, impressing their hearts at the same time with humility and charity, accompanied by independence of mind and pure sincerity. Contrary to the code of idolatry, this system defines sins as evil thoughts proceeding from the heart, quite unconnected with observances as to diet and other matters of form. At any rate, it seems to me that I cannot better employ my time than in an endeavour to illustrate and maintain truth, and to render service to my fellow-labourers, confiding in the mercy of that Being to whom the motives of our actions and secrets of our hearts are well known.”—Veds, pp. 57, 58.

This declaration he made not long before he published his selections from the Evangelists, entitled The Precepts of Jesus the Guide to Peace and Happiness. The same spirit was constantly manifested by him; and one of those whose privilege it was to see him since his arrival here, and whose views of christian doctrine greatly differ from my own, has justly said that it was impossible to be much in his company without feeling assured that he had not only received religion into his head, but that it pervaded his heart. Love to God and man, and to truth and righteousness, was the ruling disposition of his heart, and the law of his life.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »