Page images

derived any great advantage, as to the extension of their system, from the discredit into which the popular religion had fallen with many

of their heathen neighbours.

We have particularly directed our observations to the state and progress of Christianity amongst the inhabitants of India ; but the history of the Christian miffion in other countries, where the efficacy of the mission is left folely to the conviction wrought by the preaching of strangers, presents the same idea, as the Indian mission does, of the fee. bleness and inadequacy of human means. About twenty-five years ago, was published in England, a translation from the Dutch of a history of Greenland, and a relation of the mission, for above thirty years carried on in that country by the Unitas Fratrum, -or Moravians. Every part of that relation confirms the opinion we have stated. Nothing could surpass, or hardly equal, the zeal and patience of the missionaries. Yet their historian, in the conclusion of his narrative, could find place for no reflections more encouraging than the following:-"A person that had known the heathen, that had seen the little benefit from the great pains hitherto taken with them, and consi. dered that one after another had abandoned all hopes of the conversion of those infidels (and some thought they would never be converted, till they saw miracles wrought as in the apostles' days, and this the Greenlanders expected and demanded of their instructors): one that considered this, I say, would not so much wonder at the past unfruitfulness of these young beginners, as at their steadfast perseverance in the midst of nothing but distress, difficulties and impediments, internally and externally ; and that they never desponded of the conversion of those poor creatures amidst all seeming impossibilities *."


From the widely disproportionate effects; which attend the preaching of modern missionaries of Christianity, compared with what followed the ministry of Christ and

* Hift. of Greenland, vol. ii. p. 376.

[ocr errors]

his apostles, under circumstances either alike, or not so unlike as to account for the difference, a conclusion is fairly drawn, in support of what our histories deliver concern- 1 ing them, viz. that they possessed means of conviction, which we have not; that they had proofs to appeal to, which we want.



Of the Religion of Mahomet.

THE only event in the history of the human species, which admits of comparison with the propagation of Christianity, is the fuccess of Mahometanism. The Mahometan institution was rapid in its progress, was recent in its history, and was founded upon a supernatural or prophetic character alsumed by its author. In these articles the resemblance with Christianity is confessed. But there are points of difference, which separate, we apprehend, the two cases entirely.

1. Mahomet did not found his pretensions upon miracles, properly so called ; that is, upon proofs of supernatural agency, capable of being known and attested by others. Christians are warranted in this affertion by the evidence of the Koran, in which Ma


S 3

[ocr errors]

homet not only does not affect the power of working miracles, but expressly disclaims it. The following passages of that book furnish direct proofs of the truth of what we alledge :- “ The infidels say, Unless a sign be sent down unto him from his lord, we will not believe; thou art a preacher only*.” Again, “ Nothing hindered us from sending thee with miracles, except that the former nations have charged them with imposturet.” And lastly, “ They say, Unless a sign be fent down unto him from his lord, we will not believe; answer, Signs are in the power of God alone, and I am no more than a public preacher. Is it not sufficient for them, that we have sent down unto them the book of the Koran to be read unto them ?" Beside these acknowledgements, I have observed thirteen distinct places, in which Mahomet puts the objection (unless a sign, &c.) into the mouth of the unbeliever, in not one of which does he alledge

* Sale's Koran, c. xiii. p. 201, ed. quarto. tc. xvii. p. 232

I c. xxix, p. 328.

a miracle

« PreviousContinue »