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fore is agreed among the Arabs, that the Koran possesses the highest degree of elegance, every thing, not perfectly accordant with it, will of course be deemed inelegant.
"If it be said that at the time of Mohammed there were many professors of eloquence, who, notwithstanding their endeavours to produce an equal to the Koran, found it impossible to do so, and that this is proof sufficient for them. We reply; we are not quite satisfied that the professors of eloquence were at all numerous in those times; for it appears from several passages both of the Koran and the traditions, that Mahommed was raised up from among an illiterate nation. And, again, both the commentators and historians call the Arabs an illiterate people in consequence of their ignorance of writing and want of wealth, in those times. And as the learned affirm, that to be illliterate does not necessarily preclude the possility of being eloquent, (it being possible that some one may at the same time be both illiterate and eloquent), upon what principle is it, that they also affirm, that Mohammed's being illiterate constitutes one of the miracles of the Koran, unless they could have first shewn, that to be illiterate necessarily precludes the possibility of being eloquent? And, as to the existence of one or two poets in those times, we affirm, that circumstance can avail but little; according to the adage: "What is rare, is as nothing." Besides, if we even allow that there were many, still we are not prepared also to allow that they did not produce an equal to the Koran; because this wants proof. And again, should we allow that they did not produce an equal, still we do not therefore also allow, that if they had made the attempt they could not have succeeded. Because, as long as Mohammed remains in Mecca, and it was not known how this affair would end, people would not be very anxious on this subject; and particularly the more sober, who saw that his object was to call the Arabs from the worship of idols to that of the true God: and if a few idolaters had really been unable, during so short a period of time, to produce an equal, no very great stress can be laid on that. But after Mohammed got to Medina, and from that day to this, no one among the Arabs had dared to say that he could prove the Koran not to be a miracle, or that Mohammed was not a prophet; or that he could produce, or had produced, an equal to his book. But further, should we allow that the attempt had been made, and failed, still it would not follow that the Koran is miraculous. For, it is well known that ancient books are to be found in some languages, to which no one can now produce equals. Such, for example, as the writings of Homer in the Greek, or those of Virgil in the Latin; or some others in other languages, which might here be mentioned. The same may be said too of many productions of art, which have come down from former times; to which, notwithstanding the efforts of the moderns, no equal has yet been produced: contrary to the case of the Koran, to which, on account either of superstition or fear, few have thought of opposing their skill in composition. Hence it will appear how the repeated challenges in the Koran to produce its equal are to be un
derstood and also, that the Koran itself, although no one might have been able to produce its equal, is no miracle.' P. 88.
This is better said than any thing else in the volume; and is a proof that much might have been done by Martyn, had his life been spared, and his exertions judiciously directed But it refutes a particular treatise, rather than a general system; and the most that can be expected of it, is to put Mirza Ibrahim to silence. Mr. Martyn's defence of Christianity is liable to many objections. The ground-work of it is the à priori necessity of an atonement, a truth which infidels may reasonably dispute. They will contend, that God might have appointed some other method for the pardon and salvation of man; and until they are driven from this post, Mr. Martyn's argument will have no effect. The remainder of it is inferior to many well known tracts upon the evidences; and on the whole, we should rather say, that he wrote a clever pamphlet, than that he gave Mahometanism a heavy blow.
The reply which he called forth, is in one sense heavy enough. It occupies a large portion of the professor's volume, and is written not by the original advocate of Islamism, but by a third person named Mahommed Ruza, who has re-asserted Mirza Ibrahim's principles, and contended, that Mahomet was predicted in the Jewish scriptures, if not in the corrupted copies of them, which are current in Christendom. We cannot now follow the writer through this treatise, but must content ourselves with extracting professor Lee's summary of it, which forms the introduction to his remarks upon the controversy.
"In resuming the question discussed in the preceding tracts, it has not been thought advisable to follow the line of argument adopted either by Mr. Martyn or his opponents; because, however the particular topics discussed by them might be vindicated or refuted, the general question at issue may nevertheless not be advanced by such a method; and the reader, reduced perhaps to the mortifying consideration, that time and pains had been thrown away, may at last ask, To what purpose has been this waste? It is our intention, therefore, to take a different line of argument; and to endeavour to arrive at a conclusion, which will tend to place the subject before us in a profitable point of view, adverting occasionally to the arguments which have been given in the foregoing pages, as the nature of our subject may require.
"Situated as Mr. Martyn was in Persia, with a short Tract on the Mohommedan religion before him, and his health precarious, the course. he has taken was perhaps the only one practicable: but, as an elaborate reply to him has now appeared, in which the principal arguments
generally urged in favour of Islamism are to be found,' it becomes a duty to examine them at some length, not merely to refute them, but to enable ourselves to propose a more rational and profitable creed, with the greater probability of success.
"It must have appeared from what has already been detailed, that the arguments of a Mohammedan are not quite so easily to be met as it has sometimes been supposed. In addition to the opinion that our copies of the Scriptures have been corrupted, and, therefore, unworthy of credit, the professor of Islamism has fortified his system by metaphysical disquisitions, difficult to be understood, and more difficult to be refuted; not because they are true, but because a system of erroneous reasoning is also to be set aside, and documents, now believed to be authentic, to be proved unworthy of credit. In addition to this, we have to assail a system of mysticism, of almost too indefinite a nature to be made the subject of analogical enquiry.
"In this, the Deity is not only considered as one, in opposition to polytheism, but as the only being in existence, from whom all that is seen, felt, or heard, is but the merely ideal emanation, which in a short time shall again be absorbed in his mysterious essence. Hence pain or pleasure, sin or holiness, action or rest, are looked upon as the mere modes of existence necessarily entailed on all the imaginary characters introduced to this theatre of temporary being; and a state of stupor, which a moderately taught Christian would consider as little short of real madness, is considered as the highest degree of mental perfection to which man can aspire, and from which he shall glide into that union with the Deity, of which he is most desirous. In this state, the devotee considers the voluptuous paradise of his prophet, as pointing out those spiritual provisions for the soul which await him in the higher stages of his progress: that Jesus and all the prophets have trodden this mysterious path:-that idolatry and faith are all but one thing,-all being God, and verging towards that state of union with him, at which, finally, they shall all arrive." P. 451.
It is evident from this passage, that the professor, like ourselves, is dissatisfied with Mr. Martyn's argument. We wish it were equally certain that he has furnished a better. That he has sketched a better we admit, and the reader shall be made acquainted with it directly. It will prove that the professor is not unacquainted with the direction in which Mahometanism may be best assailed.
"In order, therefore, to bring our subject fully before such readers, I have taken the following line of argument as the most suitable to our question; viz. To shew, in the first place, that the principles, by which evidence has been estimated in the preceding Mohammedan Tracts, is not calculated to ascertain the truth in questions relating to religion. And, in the second, to propose others upon which reliance may be placed.
"In the third place, since both parties allow, that a revelation has been made from above, and that the books of the Old and New Testament were originally so revealed, to shew that those books are now mainly the same as they originally were; that is, that no wilful corruption has ever taken place in them, either affecting any point of doctrine, or article of history; although we are disposed to allow, that some variety of reading is found to exist in the different copies.
Having determined this point, and agreeing with the author of the preceding tract, that all information relating to religion must necessarily be derived from revelation, we propose to enquire, in the fourth place, Whether revelation affords the criteria by which any one laying claim to a divine mission may be known. And, if so, Whether Mohammed's character answer the requirements of such criteria."
If this outline had been vigorously and distinctly filled up, one branch of the Persian controversy would have reached its proper termination. There still would have remained much to do; for the soofeism of the learned Mahometans is a gross, if not an Atheistic infidelity; and whenever they are compelled to relinquish the claims of the Koran, they will reject all revelation. They are unwilling to avow the extent of their scepticism, and will defend their prophet as long as they can. We fear that the professor's argument will not shorten that period; it is long, pointless and indistinct; it satisfies himself, and it satisfies us; but we shall be very much surprised if it satisfies an Arab or a Persian. It treats of matters familiar to every theologian, but neither advances new reasonings, nor improves materially upon the old. It shews the futility of Mahometan objections to the Bible, and defends its doctrines with more judgment than Mr. Martyn has done. But it is an instance of the great variety of men's natural talents, and proves, that a successful cultivator of languages may make an indifferent advocate. Thanks are due to professor Lee for the pains which he has bestowed upon these controversial tracts. In their present accessible shape, they will instruct every reader, and be highly useful to those who are engaged in Eastern missions; and they tend more especially to shew, that such missions should be superintended by men of extensive learning; that the exposure of Mahometanism is an arduous task; and that great diligence and great abilities may be devoted to it with indifferent success.
These, however, are points upon which difference of opinion may exist. The labours, both of Mr. Martyn, and of professor Lee, may be more highly esteemed by others than they are by us; and we have no desire no dispute the question with their friends or admirers. We turn to another subject which is calculated to produce more unanimity, and ask whether
it can be doubted, after a perusal of the preceding details, that subordination, superintendence, and system, are necessary for the effectual propagation of Christianity in the East? The selection, instruction and controul, of European missionaries, the education of native priests and catechists, the translation of the Scriptures into foreign tongues, and the conduct of learned and difficult controversies; can these be entrusted to any voluntary association? Unless we have entirely mistaken the effect of the investigation which has now been instituted, there can be no difficulty in returning a proper answer. The authority by which teachers are sent out, should either be that of the whole Church, or of the prelate who presides over a particular diocese. Their qualifications should be ascertained, and their respective posts assigned, not by Baptists or Church Missionary Societies, or even by Societies for promoting Christian Kuowledge; but what is required to be done at home should be done by the Supreme Head of the Church, with the concurrence of the Metropolitan; and what remains to be done abroad should be done by the Suffragan Bishops, who are appointed to each separate country. These are general principles, and apply in every case. But in India they are strengthened by local circumstances, and their abandonment will not only make our hopes fallacious, and our endeavours futile, but will expose the Gospel to the contempt of unbelievers. The political as well as the religious consequences of irregular and desultory enterprise, will manifest themselves ere long to the world; and the extinction, not merely of the British power, but of the British name, language, laws, civilizationand religion, will be the natural result of uncombined, indiscreet, unauthorized endeavours at conversion.
We are sanguine enough to hope, that the " Sermons and Charges" of Bishop Middleton may assist in convincing all parties of these important truths. The Memoir, as we have already stated, is worthy neither of its subject nor of its author. The great aim throughout its pages is to say nothing which may offend, and the whole is unsatisfactory and meagre. With the exception of the Bishop's two visitations, which are invested with some portion of interest, we learn no more from the Memoir of his Life than had already appeared in the magazines. Little or nothing is disclosed respecting the opposition which he encountered from the Court of Directors, or the feeble support which he received from the India Board. Little or nothing is stated respecting that inveterate presbyterian hostility which would have over