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this good man, I say, differed in opinion with some, who have lately ventured to give a judgment in this matter: he affirmed that it was England's duty to make known the revelation of the true God to her Indian subjects.
In the mean time, while men hold different opinions on the subject here, the great work goes on in the east.
The Christians there will probably never hear of our dissensions; nor, if they should hear of them, would they be much interested about them.And on this point I judge it right to notice a very. singular mistake, which appears to have existed on both sides of the question. It seems to have been , understood that we have in our power to prevent the progress of christianity in India, if we wish to do so; if such a measure should be recommended by what is called “a wise policy.” But we have no pow.. er to prevent the extension of the Christian religion in India. We have it in our power, indeed, greatly to promote it, but we have no power to destroy it. It would be as easy to extinguish christianity in Great-Britain as in India. There are thousands of Christians in India---hundreds of thousands of Christians. And while we are contending here, whether it be a proper thing to convert the Hindoos, they will go on extending the bounds of their church es, keeping their jubilees, and enjoying the blessings of the gospel, regardless of our opinion or authority.
The English also have pronounced a noble and affecting enconium on the character of this estimable missionary.
The honourable the East-India Company have sent out to Madras á monoment of marble to be erected in the church of St. Mary, at that place, to the memory of the Rev. Mr. Swartz, inscribed with a suitable epitaph; and they announced it, in their general letter, dated 29th of October, 1806, “As a testimony of the deep sense they entertained of his transcendant merit, of bis unweatied labours in the cause of religion and piety, and of his public services at Tanrjore, where the influence of his name and character was, for a long course of years, productive ofimportant benefits to the company.” The honourable court further adds, "On no subject has the court of directors been more unanimous . than in their anxious desire to perpetuate the memory of this eminent person, and to excite in others an emulation of his great example." They direet finally, "that translations shall be made of the epitaph into the country languages, and published at Madras, and that the uative inhabitants shall be encouraged to view the monument."
The dispute in this country, relative to the efficiency of preaching the faith of Christ to the heathen world, is not unlike the dispute of the Jewish doctors in the gospel, concerning our Saviour's power “to forgive sins." We read that our Lord had healed a woman, who was a sinner. And he said unto her, “Daughter, thy sins are forgiven; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” Then began the Pharisees tą say within themselves, “Who is this that forgiveth sins also?” But she felt in herself that she was healed, and leaving the doctors to disputé whether "her faith could save her or not,” she de. parted in peace and joy.
So, while we are disputing here, whether the faith of Christ can save the heathens, the gospel hath gone forth “for the healing of the nations." A congregation of Hindoos will assemble on the morning of the Sabbath, under the shade of a Banian tree, not one of whom perhaps, ever heard of Great Britain by name. There the Holy Bible is opened; the. word of Christ is preached with eloquence and zeal; the affections are excited; the voice of prayer and praise is lifted up; and He who hath promised his presence "when two or three are gathered together in his name, is there in the midst of them to bless. them, according to his word." These scenes I myself have witnessed; and it is in this sense in particular I can say, "We have seen his Star in the East, and are come to worship him.”
Thus far we have spoken of the success of the gospel in Asia, by, means of European preachers. But we shall now exhibit to you evidence from another source, from a new and unexpected quarter, We are now to declare what has been done, independently of our exertions, and in regions where wehave no laborers, and no access. And this I do to shew you that whether we assist in the work or not, it is God's will that it should begin. You have hitherto been contemplating the Light in India. We.
are now to announce to you, that a Light hath appeared in Arabia, and dawned as it were, on the temples of Mecca itself.
Two Mahometans of Arabia, persons of consideration in their own country, have been lately converted to the Christian faith. One of them has al: ready suffered martyrdom, and the other is now engaged in translating the scriptures, and in concerting plans for the conversion of his countrymen. The name of the martyr was Abdallah; and the name of the other, who is now translating the scriptures, is Sabat; or, as he is called since his Christian baptism, Nathaniel Sabat. Sabat resided in my house some time before I left India, and I had from his own mouth the chief part of the account which I now give to you. Some particulars I had from others. His conversion took place after the martyrdom of Abdallah, “to whose death he was consenting;” and he related the circumstances to me with many tears.
Abdallah and Sabat were intimate friends and being young men of family in Arabia, they agreed to travel together, and to visit foreign countries. They were both zealous Mahometans. Sabat is son of Ibrahim Sabat, a noble family of the line of BeniSabat, who trace their pedigree to Mahomet. The two friends left Arabia, after paving their adorations at the tomb of their prophet at Mecca, and travelled through Persia, and thence to Cabul. Abdallah was appointed to an office of state under Zemaun Shah, king of Cabul; and Sabat left him there, and proceeded on a tour through Tartary.
While Abdallah remained at Cabul, he was converted to the Christian faith by the perusal of a Bible, (as it was supposed,) belonging to a Christian from Armenia, then residing at Cabul.* In the Mahometan states, it is death for a man of rank to became a Christian. Abdallah endeavoured for a
The Armenian Christians in Persia have among them a few copies of the Arabic Bible,
time to conceal his conversion, but finding it no longer possible, he determined to flee to some of the Christian churches near the Caspian Sea. He accordingly left Cabul in disguise, and had gained the great city of Bochara, in Tartary, when he was met in the streets of that city by his friend Sabat, who immediately recognised him. Sabat had heard of his conversion and flight, and was filled with indignation at his conduct. Abdallah knew his danger, and threw himself at the feet of Sabat. He confessed that he was a Christian, and implored him, by the sacred tie of their former friendship, to let him escape with his life. “But, sir,” said Sabat, when relating the story himself, “I had no pity. I caused my servants to seize him, and I delivered him up to Morad Shah, king of Bochara. He was sentenced to die, and a herald went through the city of Bohara, announcing the time of his execution. An immense multitude attended, and the chief men of the city. I also went and stood near to Abdallah, He was offered his life, if he would abjure Christ; the executioner standing by him with his sword in his hand. "No,' said he, (as if the proposition was impossible to be complied with) 'I cannot abjure Christ.' Then one of his hands was cut of at the wrist. He stood firm, his arm hanging by his side with but little motion. A physician, by desire of the king, offered to heal the wound, if he would recant. Hemade no answer, but looked up stedfastly towards heaven, like Stephen, the first martyr, his. eyes streaming with tears. He did not look with anger towards me. He looked at me, but it was benignly, and with the countenance of forgiveness. His other hand was then cut off. “But, sir,” said Sabat, in his imperfect English, "he never changed, he never changed. And when he bowed his head to receive the blow of death, all Bochára seemed to say, 'what new thing is this?
Sabat had indulged the hope that Abdallah would have recanted when he was offered his life; but when he saw that his friend was dead, he resigned himself to grief and remorse. He travelled from place to place, seeking rest, and finding none. At last he thought that he would visit India. He accordingly came to Madras about five years ago. Soon after his arrival, he was appointed by the English govo ernment a Mufti, or expounder of Mahometan law; his great learning, and respectable station in his own country, rendering him eminently qualified for that office. And now the period of his own conversion drew near.
While he was at Visagapatam, in the northern Circars, exercising his professional duties, Providence brought in his way a New Testament in Arabic. * He read it with deep thought, the Koran lying before him. He compared them together, and at length the truth of the word of God fell on his mind, as he expressed it, like a flood of light. Soon afterwards he proceeded to Madras, a journey of 300 miles, to seek Christian baptism; and having made a public confession of his faith, he was baptized by the rev. Dr. Kerr, in the English church at that place, by the name of Nathaniel, in the twentyseventh year of his age.
Being now desirous to devote his future life to the glory of God, he resigned his secular employ, and came by invitation to Bengal, where he is now engaged in translating the scriptures into the Persian language. This work hath not hitherto been executed, for want of a translator of sufficient ability. The Persian is an important language in the east, being the general language of western Asia, particularly among the higher classes, and is understood from Calcutta to Damascus. But the great work which occupies the attention of this noble Arabian, is the promulgation of the Gospel among his own country
One of those copies was sent to India by the "Society for promoting Christian knowledge.”