« НазадПродовжити »
vexatious cares, weariness of God's service, and all the fiery darts of the wicked one; especially that worst temptation of Satan,-the temptation to unbelief. All these, when not resisted, do not only assault, but grievously hurt the soul : they war against it. Nor shall we ever come out of this warfare safe, unless we arm ourselves with the helmet of hope, with the sword of the Spirit, and the shield of faith; yea, with the whole armour of God; always, and above all, praying that Christ, the captain of our salvation, would keep us by his almighty grace. · Without Christ we can do nothing. He says to us, as he did to his people of old, “ () Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.” Therefore let us pray without ceasing in his name, “ Lord, uphold me, that I fall not; guide me, that I wander not; teach me, that I may be wise ; prepare me for my spiritual battles; succour me, strengthen me ; keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings. Preserve me faithful unto death; and then give me the crown of life, for thine infinite mercy's sake, in Christ our Lord. Amen."
THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT.
· As long as we are in the world, we are in an enemy's country. Sin and Satan are leagued together to destroy us. To have this alarming truth always before our minds, is one means of securing our safety. When we are convinced that we are in danger, our main duty then is, to make the subject a matter of prayer to God.
This we do in the Collect for the day: and it will be useful to observe the characteristics of genuine prayer, which are here with great simplicity set forth.
1. First, our prayers should be humble. We call ourselves, “ thy humble servants.” Humility becomes us, because we are both dependent and unworthy. The very act of asking, implies that we are destitute, poor, and dependent. A man does not ask for what he already possesses : his entreaties shew that he is in need. We go to the fountain, carrying an empty vessel, not a full one.
As humble servants of our God and Saviour, we also bear in mind our guilt and unworthiness. " The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Our disease is sin. And should not this thought make us humble ? Ought we not to blush and be ashamed to lift up our face unto heaven, when we think on our many and great transgressions? Can we help taking the lowest place ? Truly the language of the returning prodigal is the most suitable for our lips: “ Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son : make me as one of thy hired servants.”
2. Our prayers should also be earnest. They are here called * hearty desires." Prayer which does not come from the heart, is a mockery of God: and this is what he complained of, concerning Israel of old; “ This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” In the book of Psalıns we have innumerable instances, shewing us what
earnest prayer is. It is thus spoken of: “Ye people, pour out your bearts before him.” “I cried with my whole heart.” “ My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” “My soul followeth bard after thee.” “ As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Such were the feelings with which the people of Judah entered into covenant with God, as related in 2 Chron. xv. 15; “ they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire.”
3. But further, what we offer up, should be believing prayers. This is not expressly mentioned in the Collect; but it is implied throughout. When we close with the customary words, " through Jesus Christ our Lord,” what does it mean, but that we are assured of the willinguess of God to answer all prayers offered in the name of his own dear Son ? " This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, he heareth us; and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him." Faith is a necessary quality of all acceptable prayer. Neither indeed will our petitions ever be hearty or earnest, without faith. A man who has not the heart to trust God, will not have the boldness to ask anything of Him fervently. There will be a manifest coldness and deadness in his prayers. Therefore St. James exhorts and also warns every one who brings any petition to God; “ but let bim ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth, is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”
Prayers offered up with bumility, earnestness and faith, are more powerful than the most mighty armies of the earth. In this Collect we pray, that God, having looked upon our bearty desires, would “ stretch forth the right hand of his Majesty to be our defence against all our enemies.” This he assuredly will do on our behalf, as he did of old for his servants, whose history we have in the Bible. Take the single instance of King Hezekiah, whom Sennacherib threatened with an army amounting to hundreds of thousands. (Isaiah xxxvii.) Sennacherib having sent messengers, with a blasphemous letter, it is related that “ Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it ; and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.” Then he prayed. Here was humility ; for he felt that be was too weak to resist Sennacherib by himself. Here was hearty desire to be delivered from danger. Here too was faith in God's readiness to answer prayer. And God did deliver bim. He gave Hezekiah the following assurance ; “I will defend this city to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
Many similar instances might be given from Scripture ; but this for the present shall suffice. Let us close with that noble question asked by the Apostle Paul, “ If God be for us, who can be against us?”
*** The Collects in this month have extended to a larger number, in consequence of the whole series for the Sundays after the Epiphany having been taken up. Through inadvertance, those for Septuagesima and Sexagesima Sundays were not given last month, but they are given in this. The series is now carried to the end of February..
RECOLLECTIONS OF A CONVERTED HINDU.
FROM “ THE ORIENTAL CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR.”
BHAICHAND was born in Surat, of Hindu parents, belonging to the Kunbi, or cultivator's caste, and spent about thirty-seven years of his life in walking according to the course of this world, and in the practice of the various religious rites of his forefathers. When a mere youth, his father died; and by this dispensation he and the other members of the family were left in circumstances of comparative poverty. By prudence, economy, and perseverance, in that line of business to which he had been brought up, he, however, in the course of time became possessed of something more than a mere competence, and when our acquaintance commenced, he had maintained a considerable establishment for embroidery; was the owner of several houses, wbich had come into his hands either by purchase or mortgage; and, being naturally of a shrewd and active turn of mind, was frequently employed, in cases of difficulty, as an arbitrator among his country. men. The first tine I recollect to have seen bim, was at a public religious service, on the afternoon of a week-day, in one of our schoolrooms, about the latter end of the year 1831. The subject chiefly discussed was, “ The state of man after leaving this world.” A friend introduced him to my notice after service, On asking him what he thought of the truths he had heard, he plainly told me that all might be correct, but that he entertained very strong doubts in regard to the soundness of the whole. I requested him to call at the mission. house, when convenient, and we would talk over the subject at some length. To this he consented, and some days after, he and a few of his acquaintances called. Several subjects were discussed, and objections answered. On his departure, some tracts were given to him for perusal, and he was particularly invited to attend regularly on Sabbath in the mission chapel, to bear the gospel. From that period he occasionally called on week-days, and sometimes attended on the Sabbaths; but his manner of disputing in favour of heathenism and against Christianity, often manifested great obstinacy of mind, and a settled determination not to be convinced of the truth of the latter, or of the falsehood of the former, but on the fullest evidence, and after the most careful examination. Light, however, appeared to break in gradually on his mind, so that by the latter end of September 1832, he had become a regular bearer of the gospel on Sabbath, and of his own accord declared before the congregation, that he would not in future allow work to be performed on his premises on that boly day. There is not, however, sufficient reason to conclude that he had obtained at this period correct scriptural views of the character and government of the true God, nor of his own state before bim as a sinner, nor of the way of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. He seemed, however, to have become very uneasy in his mind, and to doubt the correctness of many of the sentiments he had formerly held, and even to say that Christianity had many strong evidences in its favour, and Hinduism very few, and those of a doubtful kind. The moral character of the Hindu gods, as developed in their
own Shasters, seemed particularly to stagger bis belief in the whole system ; but the pride of caste, the supposed wisdom of ancestors, the connection of the British government with the Hindu religion, and his natural obstinacy of mind and love of disputation, appeared to present great obstacles to his embracing the humbling truths of the gospel.
Being necessitated, on account of the health of myself and family, to take a voyage to England, I left him in this state of mind in October 1832 ; and my brother having returned to Surat from his temporary stay at Kaira, the deceased and others came under his particular instruction and advice. A little before my departure, I translated into Gujarathi - The Exposure of the Hindu Religion ; in Reply to Mora Bhatt Dandekara, by the Rev. J. Wilson,'- and my brother, judging that the reading of it might be of great advantage, gave him a manuscript copy for perusal. He read it attentively several times, and soon became convinced that it was unanswerable. In the course of time he began to take it with him to melas, &c. to read it in large companies, to comment on its statements, and to hold up Christianity as God's best gift to mankind. As he continued regularly to attend the public means of grace, and to read the Scriptures and Tracts with attention, my brother says his progress in Christian knowledge soon became considerable, but his anxiety to make Hinduism and Christianity agree with each other, the terror of losing caste, and the opposition of his family and relatives, together with a desire, wbich on certain occasions manifested itself, of becoming the head of a sect, bearing indeed the name of Christianity, but in its peculiar principles and precepts rank Hinduism, with a few of its excrescences lopped off, kept him for about eighteen months in an undecided state, and plainly showed that nothing but the omnipotence of divine grace could transform such a haughty and obstinate indivi. dual, into a meek and teachable disciple of Jesus Christ. The work. ing of conflicting sentiments in his mind during this period, seems to have been of the same nature-making allowance for his small degree of knowledge, and the untutored state of his mind, as what is recorded in that interesting publication by the late Rev. T. Scott, entitled "The Force of Truth.' Mr. Scott, however, always appeared anxious, in all his mental struggles, to adopt just premises, and to draw correct inferences from them, and to follow truth to its legitimate consequences, whatever sacrifices he might be called to make. Bhaichand, on the other hand, wished to mix error with truth, so as to neutralize the influence of the latter, and make Christianity assimilate with his own preconceived opinions, and that of his fellow-creatures. On this account, the premises he adopted in argument, were often grossly incorrect. Sometimes his inferences were false, and more frequently both his premises and inferences were alike erroneous; and when he found his arguments overcome, and his schemes blasted, he often appeared much annoyed, and even chagrined. One stronghold after another was however demolished, by the force of Scripture truth and the agency of the Holy Spirit; and about July 1834, he mentioned to my brother his full conviction of the truth of Christianity, bis hope that, as a guilty and hell-deserving creature, he had received Christ by faith ; his earnest wish to be bap
tized in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ; and his determination, in the strength of divine grace, to walk henceforth as a disciple of Jesus, whatever be might have to endure from the world. The reading of a manuscript copy of my brother's translation into Gujarathi of · The Brahmin's Clains, by the Rev. R. Nesbit,' appears to have aided considerably in bringing him into that state of mind and feeling ; as I have heard him frequently express his gratitude to God for the perusal of that work, and de:lare, that it particularly convinced him that the Hindu religion was never intended to promote the spiritual good of any of its votaries, but to increase the pride and fill the hands of the privileged few - the Brahmins. After being more fully instructed respecting the duties which devolve on those who have thus devoted themselves to God, he was baptized in his own house, before many witnesses, by my brother, on the 4th November 1834, and immediately after, he devoted his two children to the Saviour in the same ordinance; but no arguments could persuade bis wife to follow his example, and to the present day she continues to persist in her attachment to the superstition of her ancestors and associates. As he had been in the habit for some considerable time of conducting Christian worship morning and evening with his family and domestics, and of not allowing any part of the Lord's day to be devoted to worldly business, but of spending all its sacred hours in the service of God, he had to encounter no new opposition, after his baptism, on these points; but he soon found that all who live godly in Christ Jesus, must in some way or other suffer persecution. If he fell into a difficulty, or a slight affliction came on any member of the family, bis wife and other near relatives would advert to his apostacy from his former faith as the procuring cause of all their trials; and his workmen in various ways endeavoured to annoy him; while the finger of scorn was frequently pointed at him by his former caste, and by the people generally. Amidst many failings, some of which arose from ignorance and previous associations, and others into which he plunged himself from the remaining obstinacy and ruggedness of his mind, he was enabled to go forward in the path of Christian duty, notwithstanding all opposition, and in many instances to “ overcome evil with good.” On my return from England in the latter end of 1835, he was, generally speaking, esteemed by many for his upright conduct, and particularly admired by the really poor and needy for his kindness to them ; though some of his former associates and acquaintances still continued to load him with opprobrious names, and the Brahmins and other religious beggars, who had in his state of heathenism fed on his bounty, but were now refused their former allowance of good fare, ceased not to imprecate the vengeance of heaven on him and his family. He continued, however, to seek the present and eternal good of his countrymen of every class, and his influence was at all times especially exercised in favour of the Christian instruction of his family, and the people in his immediate employment. Public worship was regularly performed by us every Sabbath afternoon in one of the rooms of his house, which he particularly devoted to that purpose. In the latter end of 1836, both be and his family were much afflicted, but the spirit he manifested under that trial, was of the most scriptural and edifying nature. His liberality