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Cottager's Monthly Visitor.
ON THE EPISTLE FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN
Gal. iv. 21. The Galatians having been falsely taught to believe that it was needful for them to keep the ceremonial law of Moses after they became Christians, St. Paul wrote his Epistle to point out to them the error of this doctrine ; and we must always bear this in mind, whilst reading the Epistle to the Galatians. The Galatians who 6 desired to be under the law," that is, who had been persuaded by their Jewish teachers that they must still observe the ceremonies of the law, are here instructed to remark the wide difference which God had made between the two covenants into which he had been pleased to enter with men. The one was a covenant of bondage, because it required obedience to many severe and burdensome laws, on pain of death; but how different was the other ! all love and mercy to the penitent believer, through the love of his Redeemer. St. Paul, after his Lord's example, makes use of a parable or figure to explain his meaning more fully. The two sons of Abrahamı were born under very different circumstances ; Ishmael was Abraham's son by nature, and born of a bondwoman. Isaac was the son of a free woman, that child of promise, born contrary to all human expectation. Ishmael having been favoured with inany great
No. 7.-VOL. XI.
promises of power and prosperity, because he was the son of faithful Abraham, presumed to mock and persecute his younger brother. See Gen. xxi. “ He that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the spirit.” In like manner the Jews, proud of their privileges, despised and oppressed the Gentiles, considered them as unworthy the regard of their Almighty Creator, and as shut out for ever from his love and favour. Yet mark the goodness of him who “ hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” These despised and neglected heathens were advanced to the enjoyment of the blessings which the Jews forfeited by their unbelief and hardness of heart. “ The people that walked in darkness saw great light.” “ The barren woman was made a joyful mother of children.” The Jews were by nature the children of Abraham, as was Ishmael : there was therefore nothing surprising in the favour shewn to them by God, because he had promised to that faithful man, that “ his seed should be mighty upon earth ;" but Isaac was the child of promise, born in a wonderful manner, to foreshew, by this display of God's Almighty power, the still more wonderful birth of many nations, not merely to enjoy a short life on earth, not merely to partake of the joys of a land flowing with milk and honey, but to share the never-ending pleasures prepared for the faithful in that far better country, of which the Canaan promised to the Jews was but the faint and imperfect shadow, in those many mansions which our blessed Lord hath assured us are reserved in His father's house, for those who diligently seek him : for, now the wall of partition is broken down, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither bond nor free, “but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him." Acts x. 34, 35.
Though it is not likely that Christians, in these days, should believe it needful to observe the law of Moses, yet there may be many who imagine that a mere attention to the outward ceremonies of religion 291
Conversion of a Hindoo Soldier. without the worship of the heart is sufficient to procure their salvation. And others who, proud of their own performances, seem to think that they can earn their salvation by their own righteousness, and, in this sense, put themselves under the covenant of the law, and in effect reject the method of salvation provided in the Gospel. God grant us grace to accept the Gospel offers, and whilst, looking at the requirements of God's holy law, we humbly acknowledge, that we have broken its perfect rule, and that we for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, let us praise him for the comfort of his grace, which is promised to all who truly seek it, by which we are enabled to do his will on earth, and finally admitted to his kingdom in heaven, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
CONVERSION OF A HINDOO SOLDIER.
The following interesting account of the conversion of a native Hindoo soldier to Christianity, is given in a letter to Dr. Middleton, (the first English bishop in India) by the Rev. Henry Fisher, chaplain of Meerut, a large military station in that country.
Meerut, December 14, 1819. My LORD, Having had the honour to receive your lordship's communications respecting the conversion and subsequent baptism of Matthew Probhoodeen, of the 25th Bengal native infantry, I beg leave, in cheerful compliance with your lordship's request for full information upon the subject, to state the following particulars.
I believe your lordship is already fully aware that, since my residence at Meerut, I have had abundant occasion to observe a strong spirit of enquiry prevalent amongst many of the natives as to the nature of the Christian religion. Unsolicited and unsought wholly on my part, numbers, both of Mahometans and Hindoos, frequently visit my house for the purpose of begging (if unable to purchase) our Scriptures in the native languages, or to enquire into the meaning of different passages which awaken their curiosity, or excite their feelings. The interesting result has been a certain degree of intimacy between us, and, in some few instances, the ultimate conversion, baptism, and consistent Christian deportment, of those who have joined themselves to our church. One of these men (whose uprightness and competent abilities qualify him for the office) is employed by me to conduct this little church under my eyes and direction, which he does with considerable zeal and talent. In his absence, in occasional missionary labour amongst the Saadhs (to whom he is particularly acceptable) my moonshee (interpreter) Moonlef, a very exemplary Christian, takes his place. Part of the daily occupations of this little party of native converts is to read the Scriptures in their own apartment, an old convenient room over one of the gateways of the city of Meerut. Of course this is free of access to every voluntary visitor. Their congregation of hearers varies much in number. Sometimes they have six or seven, sometimes twice as many. Among the occasional visitors at this place, the soldier in question frequently made his appearance, and ultimately requested to be introduced to me. His visits were frequent; and the decided change of his opinions,-and, I trust, of his heart, was marked, and satisfactory. I found he had been labouring under a deep conviction of the worthlessness and wickedness of his heathen ignorance and idolatry for nine years ; that, when he went with his regiment to the Isle of France, he used to watch for opportunities to steal into the Christian church, and strive to worship the Christian God in spirit, though ignorant of the meaning of their language, or of their forms, and could only comfort himself with the conscious reConversion of a Hindoo Soldier. 293 flection that God knew his heart. He longed to meet with some one who should be competent to teach him ; although many fears of consequences both of a temporal and spiritual nature frequently distressed him. He, at last, determined to speak to a Christian clergyman, to unfold the state of his soul. The opportunity, as he thought, had not occurred till he came to Meerut; and he considered it in answer to his imperfect prayers, that the providence of God had brought him here. • As soon as the Brahmins * of his corps were apprised of his intentions to become a Christian, they manifested extreme sorrow for what they conceived to be his folly, by kind remonstrances. They pointed out to him the perilous consequences, the loss of his high and honourable caste, the consequent rejection of all his friends, the certain displeasure of government, who would, as they told him, certainly turn him out of his situation for becoming a Christian; so that he would leave every thing dear to him in life, and even his bread. He replied, that he believed that Jesus Christ would be the friend of all who trusted in him; that Christian caste was more honourable than all others, because they were the people of the true God; that his being a Christian could not make him a bad soldier; and that he did not think government would cast him off any more than they would other noncommissioned officers, such as the serjeant-major, and the quarter-master serjeant, who were Christians; and the drummers were Christians; and why should he be punished unless he did something wrong? The Brahmins then proffered to bribe him, by settling upon him for life a monthly pension of twenty rupees, which he instantly rejected, saying, that he believed