« AnteriorContinuar »
questions relative to the present doctrines, discipline, and ceremonial of his church; and after thanking us for the interest which had been manifested in its re-invigoration arid prosperity, the Patriarch rose up and solemnly pronounced his benediction,—subjoining, with tearful eyes and quivering lips which betrayed deep emotion, the simple but devout aspiration,—" If we should never meet again in time, my prayer is, that we may meet in heaven, before the throne of our common Lord and Saviour."
Whatever may be the practical result of this long and interesting interview, we shall ever feel grateful to God for the precious opportunity thereby afforded, of expatiating on the causes of a church's decline and fall, and on the only real sources of a church's restoration, in the presence of one who is revered by the remnant of Egyptian Christians as the successor and representative of the Evangelist Mark. Over the portals of a church, once the most celebrated in the world, may now be inscribed in largest characters :—
"Fallen, fallen, fallen,
Still, in its unbounded admiration of many of the soundest of the ancient fathers; in its heart-stirring remembrances of bygone ages of persecution and martyrdom; and above all, in its profound reverence for the authority and majesty of the word of God—that mightiest of renovating instruments when wielded by an omnipotent spirit of grace—we cannot but discern rallying points of a revival, the possession of which, in the same proportionate degree, can scarcely be claimed by any other of the fallen churches of primitive times. Degenerated it has, into what is little better than an effete machine of external observances, evacuated of all spirit and of all life; but it has never formally or wholly apostatized from the faith. Even its monophysite error has long been a naked scholastic dogma rather than an operative principle of evil; and at no time did it lead the church, as such, to reject from its creed the divinity of the Saviour, or the all-sufficiency of his atonement as the sole ground of the sinner's justification. To it, perhaps, the apocalyptic description is still applicable, "Thou hast a little strength and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." Oh that that word may speedily be armed with more than its wonted sharpness in piercing the hearts of sinners; and that name fraught with more than its wonted preciousness; and that "little strength," restored to more than its wonted plenitude!
Meanwhile, it is our duty to proclaim the fact that the church is steeped in the very depths of poverty. Neither tracts, nor books, nor Bibles, nor seminaries of improved education, can it, by its own unaided resources, possibly secure. For all of these instrumentalities of recuperative power, it must depend wholly on the benevolence of others that have been more amply replenished with the riches of time, as well as the treasures of eternity. These are the British and American churches. Why might they not send fraternal epistles, faithful in remonstrance and expostulation—surcharged with sympathy and good-will—and lightened all over with divine love? The present Missionaries would form the most effective media of communication ; since men, in judgment more sound, in sentiment more enlightened, in disposition more conciliatory, it would not be easy to find. Why not accredit and substantiate every profession of loving-kindness by the spontaneous largesses of a wide expanding charity ? And why not, by means of these and other heaven-appointed agencies, confederate in originating the principles, and in propelling the cause, of a real Egyptian “regeneration ?” True believers—the disciples of the Lord Jesus—members of his mystical body— called, quickened, and sanctified—are “the salt of the earth— the light of the world.” Let the fallen church of Egypt
be made to rise in renovated life and purity, beauty and
strength :—let the salt of her reviving doctrines display its sanative efficacy:-let the light of her rekindled holiness stream out in its diffusive energy:—and then will the portentous shadow, which at present enshrouds the destinies of Egypt with a gloom as impenetable as the darkness of the plague, be disenchanted of all its mystery. The redoubted Pasha of so many subjugated provinces will then be proved to have been, all the while, but a rod in the hands of Him, who is King and Governor among the nations, for the furtherance of designs which it had never entered into his imagination to conceive, and the accomplishment of purposes which it would have been his policy to have covered with irretrievable defeat. The violence of a tyrannous usurpation, the desolating tide of a lawless conquest, the sudden fall of old dynasties, the spread and consolidation of new empire over the hitherto dissevered realms of barbarism ;—all, all will then be found to have been subordinated by an overruling Providence, to facilitate the progress of gospel Truth, in its march to the throne of Universal Dominion. A. D.
IV.—Absurdities of Hinduism.
To the Editors of the Calcutta Christian Observer. Dear Sirs,
If you think the following relation of absurdities, the circumstances of which were narrated to me, some time since, by brahnaans of the places in which they are reputed to have occurred, will serve to illustrate the sad state of Hindu mind and heart, and will contribute to excite the readers of your periodical to more vigorous endeavour and more earnest prayer, for the elevation of this deluded people, to the spirit and power of the gospel, you are at liberty to insert the same in the Calcutta Christian Observer.
Your helper in Christ,
S. B. MANGER. Jdlnd, Sept. 12, 1840.
At the distance of about twenty miles from Jalna, on the road leading to Paitan, and near the village of Jam Kei, is the temple of Jambuwat. This temple, if such it may be called, is situated in the side of a hill. It is simply a cave, and more resembles a haunt of the class of beiugs to which Jambuwat claims affinity, than a place to which resort is made for the purpose of religious worship. It is this very circumstance, probably, which has caused it to be selected for the purpose to which it is devoted. At the extreme part of the cave is a projection of the rock which forms the roof and walls of this natural temple, and this is in the place of a likeness of him whom they here adore. Sure am I that none but Hindus can perceive a resemblance in this pointed stone, to the hero of the following story.
Jambuwat is a fabulous bear and the reputed father-in-law of Krishna. The cave, of which I have spoken, is believed to have been the place of his habitation. A certain king obtained, as a recompense for certain austerities, the inestimable gem, called Shrimantak Aditya. The raja's son purloined the gem, and was subsequently slain in a hunting excursion, by the great bear, Jambuwat, who seized the brilliant booty, and carried it off to his den. Krishna, in the meantime, accompanied by his friend Narad, was wandering over the earth in quest of this precious stone. In the course of these wanderings, he one day chanced to come to the residence of Jambuwat, and finding the entrance unprotected, he very unceremoniously entered this splendid mansion. On casting his eyes around the apartments, what was his surprise and joy, when he saw the long sought gem, fixed in Jambuwat's bed curtains. However, before he was able to possess himself of the prize, he was perceived by the lord of the mansion, who at once began to upbraid him for entering, unbidden, into his dwelling. Krishna took this remonstrance in high dudgeon, and fearing he might be tricked out of the object of his search, he became filled with rage, and laid hold of the uncouth stranger. Jambuwat, nothing daunted, grappled with the impertinent intruder. Long and doubtful was the struggle for mastery; at length the conflict turned in favor of Krishna, who, while his
antagonist was laying upon his back, seated himself, upon his breast, and thus prevented him from regaining an erect posture. Jámbuwat finding himself worsted, cried out, “I am vanquished,” and suing for terms of amity, asked Krishna what he would have. Krishna replied, “Grant me that splendid gem, which I saw in your bed curtains.” “That,” said Jámbuwat, “is to be given in dowry to him who shall marry my daughter.” Krishna instantly replied, “If it be so, then it is mine; for I will marry the fair damsel.” The preliminaries of the marriage were soon settled, according to the customs of the country. Numerous guests were invited to attend the nuptials of this beautiful daughter of Jámbuwat. The wished-for day came, and guests, a vast concouse of the bride's kindred and friends, were in attendance. Music, which is indispensable alike to the festivities of gods and men, was not wanting on this occasion—for Nárad had accompanied his patron, Krishna, to this place, and had bronght with him the melodious Víná. Krishna called upon him to entertain, with its sweet strains, his loved spouse, her honorable father, and their numerous and respected friends. Nárad with some of that pride of talent which is common to all distinguished musicians, declined this proposal, on the ground that persons of the character of those who constituted that assembly could not appreciate his skill. Krishna's choler was not a little moved, by this insinuation of a want of musical taste on the part of the people with whom he was forming affinity; but, finding it impossible, either by threats or entreaties, to prevail upon his friend to comply with his wishes, he desired him to give the instrument into the hands of one of his rough visaged neighbours. This he absolutely refused to do, under a very natural conviction of the certainty of seeing his favorite Víná, upon which he entirely depended for the means of subsistence, utterly ruined in the hands of so unskilful a performer. But upon Krishna's promising to remunerate him for all the injury which might be done to the instrument, he finally consented. The black gentleman took the Víná, and began to run his delicate fingers over the strings for the purpose of tuning it; meanwhile, Närad was quaking with fear for the fate of his Víná. This done, he began to play the instrument, accompanying its soft melodious strains, with his deep, thundering vocal bass. Never was there such a display of musical skill. Every soul of that vast assembly was completely enchanted, and all inanimate nature was moved by the melody. Such was the power of this music that the very stones were liquified. After a time, the music ceased, and the performer laid the instrument down by his side, and Närad seized it, in an extacy of joy at the idea of its having escaped the destruction which he had anticipated. But, what was his dismay, when attempting to lift it up, he found it inseparably attached to the place in which it had been laid. When the music ceased, the liquified stones resumed their original state, and thus the Víná become immoveably fixed to a rock. To appease the grief of Nárad for the supposed loss of his Víuá, and to convince him that these results of the music were not to be attributed to the peculiar excellence of the instrument, as he would be apt to imagine, Krishna called upon another brother Bruin, who came
forward, and began to sing, beating the time by clapping his bands. And now strains of music were heard not less rapturous than those which burst from the cords of the Vina, and the stones were again reduced to a liquid state, and Narad received his instrument uninjured.
It is scarcely necessary to add that Jambuwat is regarded as aa incarnation of Deity. The people in the neighbourhood resort to his temple in all times of calamity and peril, and seek deliverance of him from present and anticipated evils. They relate, as a proof of his guardian care, that many years ago, a large body of armed men, mounted upon fleet horses, came here for the purpose of plunder; upon which Jambuwat laid aside his bear form and assumed a human form of large stature, and mounted upon a white horse, came among those plunderers, and inspired them with such fear as to cause them to decamp, without committing any depredations. Such are the fables with which the Hindu's mind is stored, and such are the gods whom he adores. What then but the mighty power of God can bring him into obedience to the simplicity of the truth of the gospel. O Spirit of God, dispel the darkness of his mind, and lead him to Him who is the way, the truth and the life.
Rakshas Bhawani is situated upon the God&vari river, twenty miles below Paitan. The place derives its name from the following circumstances. Some 500 or 1,000 years ago, there were living at this place three distinguished Rakshas of the names of A'tapi, Watapi, and llwal. In a village on the opposite side of the river lived Agasti, a celebrated Ilishi. Agasti had 60,000 disciples, whom he was educating for the service of the gods. The Rakshas, being impelled by the depravity of their nature to molest all those who worshipped the gods, and incited by a deadly hate of all brahmans, soon began to concert measures by which they might ease the earth of these worshippers of the gods. At length they conceived the plan of making them their own destroyers, while they should secure to themselves their good esteem. They rightly conceived that nothing would be more grateful to the feelings of the Rishi's disciples, than a taste of the delicious dainties which they were denied in the hermitage. They accordingly prepared a sumptuous feast, and invited some five of the most distinguished of Agasti's pupils to partake of it. Not deeming it prudent to decline the invitation of their potent neighbours, they with the consent of their roaster signified their acceptance of it. Arrived at the mansion of the Rakshas, they were not a little surprised at finding only one of them at home. Ilwal, however, soon relieved them of the anxiety which this circumstance had occasioned, by assuring them that his brothers had been unexpectedly called away on business of importance. At his request they sat down, and ate unsparingly of the rich dainties which were served out to them. In a little time they began to feel most intense gripes and pains. They attributed their distress to their excess in eating, and resorted to a variety of expedients for relief. But nothing availed. They every moment grew worse. Their bodies enlarged, and soon became so distended as to be perfectly hideous. At length death came to their relief. This distension of the body, which terminat