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for we never met with one of them who viewed the business in this light, and we suspect they will be somewhat surprised at the difference between oratorical amplification, and written accuracy and precision. The only success worth mentioning which the missionaries have obtained, or which is claimed by Mr. Hough and Mr. Townley, is the extensive establishment of native schools, and the employment of a few indifferently qualified native teachers. If these advantages are duly improved, they may lead to important results; but those results will not be secured, unless the education of the native teachers is conducted upon sound principles. Mr. Townley deplores the loss of a Brahmin, who had a goodly
gift in prayer;" and Mr. Hough commends the reports of Abdool Messeh, for which it is generally understood that we are indebted to Archdeacon Corry. But whether this be or be not the fact, the judicious, and orthodox, and adequate instruction of such natives as aspire to the rank of teachers, is the point upon which most of what is about to be done must hinge; and what plan that deserves the name has been suggested for such instruction, except that chalked out by the projector and first visitor of Bishop's College?
This question will be put with still more effect when we have attended to the "Persian Controversies." They consist of the tracts on Christianity and Mahometanism, which were composed by the late Mr. Martyn, and his opponents; and we heartily concur with Professor Lee, in his estimate of their importance. It is rumoured, that the highest authorities in British India intend to abstain from all interference with Mahometans. We will not credit so strange a tale; but among many other reasons why it cannot be true, we may notice the progress which has been already made, and the great danger of arresting it. The Mahometans have been attacked with vehemence; and not contented with remaining on the defensive, they have attacked Christianity in return; impeached the authenticity and truth of the Bible, and entered upon an immense field of critical, historical, metaphysical, and sceptical inquiry. To decline the contest therefore, if it were possible, would be in the highest degree impolitic. It would be supposed, and not unreasonably, that Christians were no match for the learned defenders of Islam. It would be said, that we are eager to encounter an ignorant idolatrous Hindoo; but retire, in alarm and disgrace, before the followers of the true prophet. Professor Lee very sensibly observes, that every missionary should be prepared to cope with Mahometan errors; and he gives a gentle hint that it is not commonly the case.
"As the following pages may perhaps be found useful to missionaries and others, who wish to make themselves acquainted with this question, I have thought it might not be amiss to give some notices and extracts from the controversy as it existed prior to the times of Mr. Martyn; especially as that controversy was prosecuted to a much greater length than his, and contains much valuable matter on the subject. It may also be desirable to know where books treating on this question are to be found; because we hear it sometimes affirmed, that a missionary has not the means, in this country, of acquiring a deep and accurate insight into the opinions of the Mohammedans :-that Grotius, Sale, and others, have left us in the dark, as to their metaphysics, mysticism, &c. and therefore, that it is necessary, not only to learn their language in the East, but also their opinions. As far, however, as my knowledge of this subject goes, I must be allowed to express a different opinion, having no doubt, that both the languages and opinions of the Orientals can be learned in this country at as little expense, and in as little time, as they can in the East, and at a much less risk. Our public libraries contain the very best books on every subject connected with grammar, history, ethics, theology, geography, and every other science; and to which, even in the East itself, access is seldom to be had. Valuable as the labours of Mr. Martyn certainly were, yet I have no doubt, that if he had passed a short time in this country in a preparatory course of Oriental reading, he would not only have done more than he has, but he would have done it better, and with far greater comfort to himself." P. i.
The account thus promised is contained in the professor's preface, and is well worth reading; but Mr. Martyn, and his antagonists, have a more immediate claim upon our attention. The professor's account of them is contained in the following passages:
"It appears from his Memoirs, that he left the Bay of Bengal in January 1811, and arrived at Shiráz in the June following. After disputing several times with the literati of that place, he was informed on July 3, that Mirza Ibrahim, the preceptor of all the Moolas, was then writing a book in defence of Mohammedanism; which appeared accordingly on the 26th of the same month. 'A considerable time had been spent,' it is said, in its preparation; and, on its seeing the light, it obtained the credit of surpassing all former treatises upon Islam.' The epigraphe to this tract, given in Mr. Martyn's Memoirs, does not occur in the manuscript which has come to my hands; it is this: This was finished by Ibraheem ben al Hosyn, after the evening of the second day of the week, the 23d of the month Jemadi the second, in the year 1223 of the Hegira of the prophet. On him who fled be a thousand salutations!" P. cxv.
"His answer,' says Mr. Martyn's biographer, (p. 403), was divided into two parts: the first was devoted principally to an attack upon Mahometanism: the second was intended to display the evi
dences and establish the authority of the Christian faith. It was written in Persian, and from a translation of the first part, which has been found, we perceive that Mr. Martyn, having such hope,' used great plainness of speech, whilst, at the same time, he treated his opponent with meekness and courtesy,' &c.
"This is not quite correct. Mr. Martyn's replies consisted not of two, but of three parts, as the reader will perceive from the following translations. Nor do they treat of the evidences of Christianity, at least in the sense in which that word is usually received. Towards the end of the third tract, indeed, some of the evidences in favour of Christianity are proposed: but with this Mr. Martyn's biographer seems not to have been acquainted." P. cxvi.
The tract of Mirza Ibrahim sets out with asserting the necessity of a miracle to establish the reality of a prophetic mission, and defines a miracle to be," an effect exceeding common experience, corresponding to a claim of prophecy made, and accompanied by a challenge to produce the like." We are therefore told, that to judge whether an event be miraculous, the person judging must be of the sect or calling to which the miracle naturally attaches itself; as for example, that he be a magician as it respects the miracles of Moses, or a physician with respect to the greater part of the miracles of Jesus. That it is not usual with God to permit the performance of miracles to absolute sufficiency, that is to say, in such numbers as to satisfy every scientific person by a reference to his own particular science, but that one set of men are immediately convinced, and others may be satisfied through their intervention.
"These things then being premised, we now affirm that there appeared an Arab among us, who, making a claim to prophecy, proposed as his miracle the production of a certain written composition, and then asserted that mankind were unable to produce the like, by any effort of rhetoric, or any thing else. And since we have shewn, that a miracle is not necessarily confined to any one science, to the exclusion of another, provided it be such as comport with the dignity of a prophet, there can be no impropriety in his making this the miracle, upon which he would establish his prophetic mission. And since we have also shewn, that an assurance of the reality of the miracle is to be obtained either from a knowledge of the science, &c. to which the alleged miracle is referrible; or, by the attestation of those skilled in such science, that it is impossible to produce the like. And as we have also shewn that an absolute sufficiency in the assurance of inability is not to be expected, as laid down in the first place; we now affirm, that the mission of Mohammed has been established with the Arabs, Persians, Turks, and the inhabitants of Dailam. With the Arabs, on account of their knowledge of the Arabic language, and of the science of eloquence. Had therefore his production originated in this science, they could have produced,
its equal. But they have not, notwithstanding the great numbers of their orators and preachers, and the prevalence of these professions, at that time to which may be added, the extreme enmity they would exercise towards him, as is always the case, when such claims are advanced. His mission too is established with others, by the confession of the learned among the Arabs (numerous as they were, and extensive as were their territories) of their utter inability to produce the like. So that, in fact, no one of them, during the space of twelve hundred years, has yet produced the like, notwithstanding the continued allegations of the preachers of Islamism, that the Koran holds out a challenge to all. Now, in the matter of a prophetic mission, nothing less than assurance can be admitted as of any weight and therefore, assurance is of the first importance. But assurance has here been obtained in the most satisfactory manner: namely, from the inability of men to produce the like; just as the claim had been made by Mohammed; his mission has therefore been thus established with those also, who were not Arabs." P. 9.
"This assurance is then to be obtained from an acquaintance with the science of eloquence, which must be founded upon a knowledge of the elements of language, just as it is from the unanimous confession of the learned; viz. that it is a miracle, and not the effect of eloquence alone:-an assurance, in which there can remain no doubt; and no less convincing than that of the miracles of the other prophets. Nay, it is more so; for the impossibility of imitation is now just what it was at the first performance of the miracle, on account of its perpetuity, and its utter incapability of decay. And further, it will for ever remain just what it was at the first propaga tion of Islamism, contrary to the character of the miracles of other prophets, of which we have now nothing remaining but mere relations, as Moses or Jesus, for instance, did this or that; or it is thus preserved by tradition. But no relation can have the evidence of an eye-witness. The miracles of other prophets, moreover, in addition to their want of evidence, as already noticed, when compared with that of the Koran, will by length of time become less and less convincing; because in process of time any relation must become less impressive. But the miracle of the Koran, on the contrary, will, in process of time, become more so, because the learned who have confessed their inability to produce the like, will have been more numerous, though the miracle itself will remain exactly what it was at the first and the conviction of its being a miracle will thus become more powerful. Hence will the mystery be explained, why this prophet was, to the exclusion of all others, termed the seal of prophecy because, as the evidence of their miracles is daily becoming weaker, a time must at last arrive, when it will fail of affording assurance, that they were miracles at all; whence would arise the necessity of the mission of another prophet and other miracles, 'lest men should have an argument of excuse against God after the Apostles had been sent to them:' contrary to what is the fact, as it respects this prophet and his miracles; which will remain to the day of judgment, not only what it was at the first, but more convincing.
And hence there will be no necessity for another prophet, or for other miracles to all eternity." P. 12.
Such is the direct argument for Islamism with which Mirza Ibrahim encountered Mr. Martyn. The ingenuity of the reasoning is indisputable; and if we do not believe that men would embrace Mahometanism on these grounds, still less can we expect them to quit it, while such plausible defenses are unanswered. If Mr. Martyn or professor Lee have furnished a sufficient answer, sufficient not only for the European but for the Asiatic inquirer after truth, they have deserved well of the church of Christ; but with great respect for their talents, we think they have not accomplished this task. Both of them have shewn considerable skill in exposing Mirza Ibrahim's false logic. Mr. Martyn, more especially, meets him on the ground of miracles, and proves the insufficiency of the Mahometan argument.
"It has been said, (p. 10), that the Koran's being a miracle has been established with those who are not Arabs, by the Arabs confession of inability to produce its equal. We reply: that, waving what has already been said, the confession of the Arabs can have no weight with us; because, in this case, they are parties concerned : and no one is absurd enough to make the same party, both opponent and judge. If it be asked, how then can we satisfy ourselves whether the Koran is a miracle or not, if we are not to believe what the Arabs say on that point, ignorant as we are of the peculiarities of the language? We answer: in cases where no judge can be found, decision must necessarily be suspended.". P. 87.
"We answer, in the second place, that had not the Arabs a violent motive for what they say, it is probable they would give a different testimony. But the truth is, they have a violent motive, in which is implicated the necessity of changing their religion, of confessing the folly and error of their forefathers, and of denying the truth of what both they and their forefathers have hitherto advanced on the subject of religion. It is possible, therefore, that they may not be very scrupulous as to the truth in these matters. And, if they are conscious of the truth of what has been said, that may perhaps be an additional motive to silence. But supposing the utmost, viz. that some should from time to time have let out the truth; or have produced an equal to the Koran, who, in this case, should have been judge, or have determined that such production was equal to the Koran? If it be said, that this could have been determined by the rules of rhetoric, we answer, first: This would be contrary to the supposition that the Koran's being a miracle is determined from its exceeding the rules hitherto laid down in that science. And, secondly, that as all the rules of rhetoric are taken from the Koran, and every rule in that science is established by a citation from it, it must follow, that the rules of rhetoric are to be tried by the Koran, and not the Koran by the rules of rhetoric; as it there