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THE MAGI FROM THE EASTA

A SERMON

PREACHED ON THE OCCASION OF THE BAPTISM OF A PARSI

YOUTH, AUGUST 31, 1856,

WITH SUPPLEMENTAL DOCUMENTS,

BY JOHN WILSON, D.D., F.R.S.,

HONORARY PRESIDENT OF THE BOMBAY BRANCH ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY,

AND MISSIONARY OF THE FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.

SECOND EDITION,

EDINBURGH:
WILLIAM WHYTE AND CO.
LONDON : LONGMAN AND CO.; SMITH, ELDER, AND CO.

BOMBAY : SMITH, TAYLOR, AND CO.

MDCCCLVII.

100.3.472 .

EDIXDI:

I., Ph.d. TO HER MAJESTY,

INTRODUCTION.

This little volume is designed at once to elucidate and to assist an important movement towards Christianity on the part of a number of educated youths in Bombay, connected with the Pársí, Muhammadan, and Hindu portions of the community. To the native students at present, or lately, attending the Government, Missionary, or Private Educational Seminaries, it is specially inscribed. The appearance

of a number of candidates for admission into the Christian Church from the Government Educational Institutions is a novelty in Bombay, though not in some other parts of India. In the fact, however, there is nothing peculiarly wonderful. The impartial study of English literature, as such, has an enlightening and salutary tendency. Some of the missionaries of the locality have, for many years, by lectures, discussions, conferences, private classes, public preaching, and the dissemination of the Bible, and other Christian publications, expository both of Christian truth and Gentile error, done much to supplement and qualify this study. In this good work, they have been aided by Christian

converts of character and intelligence. Libraries, containing useful and instructive works, have been founded in many districts of the city; and to them serious and inquisitive youth have had easy access. The desires of many members of European society for the best interests of the natives have not been unnoticed and unimproved. Considerable inquiry and research have from time to time appeared in the native community.

Of the young men who have lately attracted public notice, it is frankly admitted that they had but little direct intercourse with missionaries,—though they were in frequent communication with those who had enjoyed such intercourse before they declared that their convictions were in favour of the religion of the Bible. Their case is viewed as not the less interesting and encouraging on this account. The Bible is both self-explanatory and self-defensive; and its glorious truths are at work both in the world and in the Church, enlightening and impressing the world, and strengthening and enlarging the Church by accessions from the world. Both the providence and Spirit of God are on the side of His Word, and render it instrumental in effecting these results.

The actual intercourse of the students, to whom reference is here made, with the missionaries of the Free Church of Scotland, was, in the first instance, what is intimated in the following brief statement, signed by the Rev. Dr. Wilson, and the Rev. Adam White, and published on the 24th of June last :-

On the 14th June 1856, the following letter was put into the hands of “the Rev. Dr. Wilson and the Rev. Adam White,” to whom it was addressed, by the parties whose names it bears :

BOMBAY, 13th June 1856. REVEREND SIRS,—We the undersigned, young men attending the Elphinstone Institution, take (the) liberty to express to you our sentiments relating (to) the ParsI RELIGION and CHRISTIANITY.

We are fully convinced, by the grace of God, that Parsiism is a false religion ; and it consists of vague and EXTRAVAGANT principles. It is the INVENTION ofman; not the REVELATION of God. We have found out, after inquiring nearly two or three years after the TRUE RELIGION, that every comfort, joy, hope, success, and every good thing in this world, as well as in the world to come, are concentrated in the Lord Jesus. We have now the greatest pleasure to inform you, that as we are fully convinced of the TRUTH of CHRISTIANITY, we wish to be baptized, and to be admitted into the visible Church of Christ. It gives us the greatest pleasure, by the grace of God, to say that we have resolved to come out in the light, which enlightens the heart and comforts the soul. We are now in a position where SALVATION is at hand and very near to us. We have resolved to come in(to) a religion which is revealed to us by the only-begotten Son of God. Up to this time, Dear Sirs, we were so blind, that although we had eyes to see, we did not know the way of Righteousness and Truth. We are prepared, by God's help, to suffer the hardship and trials that await us for the sake of our Lord. Whatever sufferings we may have to undergo—whether the want of our daily food and clothing, or the separation from our dear relatives and friends, or shame and persecution, whatsoever,—we, trusting in God, and having him on our right hand, shall, we pray and hope, be able " to follow the Lord fully.” We are much moved by the sorrows and sufferings which shall befall our parents this public step of ours; but what we do?

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