J.A. Buchon Jean Froissart.

The Christian disciple and theological review, Volume 5 online

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they call Jesus Christ, who is possessed of the human form, and also
the Holy Ghost, who is possessed of the dove shape, the very Godf
and whether they do not consider that Jesus Christ, the very God^
receired-impressions by the external oiipans, eyes, &c. and operated
by means of the active organs, hands, &c. And virhether or not
they consider him as subject to all the human passions ? Was he an-
gry or not?- Was his mind afflicted or not? Did he experience ^any
suffering or pain? And did he not eat and drink? Did he not live a
long time with his own mother, brothers and relations ? Was he not
bom and did he not die ? And did not the Holy Ghost, who is very
God, in the form of a dove remove from one place to another? If
they acknowledge all this, then they cannot find fault with the Poo-
rans, alleging that in them the names and the forms of God are es-
tablished, and that according to them God must be considered as
subject to the senses, and as possessing senses and organs, and that
God must be considered as having a wife and child, and as not po6»
sessed of omnipresence on account of his havinj^ a form. Because
ail these errors, viz. the piuraUty of Gods, their sensual indulgence^
and their locality, are applicable to themselves in a complete degree*
To say that every thing, however contrary to the laws of nature is
possiUe with God, will equally afford a pretence to Missionaries and
Hindoos in support of their respective incarnations. The aged Vyaa
has spoken truth in the Muhabharut. ^^ O ! king, a person sees the
faults of another although they are like the grains of mustard seed,
but although his own faults are as big as the Bel fruit, seeing them
he cannot see them." Moreover the Poorans say, that the names,
forms and sensual indulgence of God, which we have mentioned, ar^
fictitious, and we have so spoken with a view to engage the mhids
of persons oi weak understanding, but the missionary gentlemen say
that the account which is given in the Bible of the names, forms
and sensual indulgence of God is real. Therefore the plaratity of


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Writings of Rammohun Rajf. 379

Gods, their locality and sal^ction to sensual indolgeDce arQ.fauUa
to be found in a real sense only in the system, of the missionary gen^
tlemen.^ I , ,

The number closes with an inquiry, how certain apparent coQ"
tradictions involved in the doctrine of the Trinity are capable of
being reconciled. In reply, it seems, the common attempts at
explanation were made on the part of the missionaries, and in
his third number Rammohun Roy pursues at considerable length
the argument upon the absurdity and incredibility of that doc-
trine. ^ Even idolaters,' says he, ^ among Hindoos, have moiie
plausible excuses for their polytheism. I shall be obliged, if the
Editor can shew that the poljtheistical doctrines, maintained by
Hindoos, are in any degree, more unreasonable than his own ,
If not, he will not, I trust, endeavour in future to introduce among
them one set of polytheistical sentiments as a substitute foe
another set : hoik of them being equally and soklif protected by.
the shield of mystery M^ . i

We do not know that the Brahminical Magazine has been
continued. The republication from ' The Friend of India>' of
Remarks on a second Appeal to the Christian public, a pamphlet
of 128 closely printed octavo pages, led to Rammohun Roy^s
Unal Appeal, the preface to which is dated in January last.
In an edition of the former woi^ which has been printed in
England, it is ascribed on the title page to Dr. Marshman.
It consists of two chapters, in which is exhibited the supposed
scriptural evidence; 1st, for the Vicarious sacrifice ; and, Sdly,
for the deity of Jesus Christ. The proofs of these doctrines
are chielSy selected from the Pentateuch, the Psalms, and the
Prophets. We have no wish to speak otherwise than respect^
fully of Dr. Marshman ; but it would be only affectation, not ta
tay that it is a mere problem to us, that a man of the most
moderate understanding should be willing to publish such a
Work, or that even under the strongest conceivable sectarian bms,
his friends can tolerate the rendering of such reasons. He finds
the doctrine of the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus in the promise la
Abrahani ; ' in thee, shall all the families of the earth be blessed ;^ •
in David's wordb ; * Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither
wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption ;' in the text of
Ezekiel ; ^ I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall
feed them, even my servant David, and he shall be their shep-
herd ;' and of Habakkuk, ' the just shall live by faith.' The
deity of Christ he demonstrates thus : * They are termed ble^Ned
who trust in him.' Jeremiah however declares, ' Thus saith
Jehovah, Cursed be he that trusteth in man,' &c« If then it be
cursed to trust in man, but blessed to trust in the Son, be is God


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3$0 Writings rf Sammpkm Rojf,

dter all^ Uegsed for ever more.' Tbe tadne doctrine be findu io
the words of the 95th Psalm ; ' O come, let us worship and boss
down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker;' of Jeremiah;
« Pear ye not me ? satth Jehovah ; Will ye not tremble at mj
Jiresence, who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea bjr
a perpetual decree that it cannot pass it V and of Hosea ; < after*
wards shall Israel return and seek Jehovah their God, and
David tbdr king.' To a question of his opponent, * on what
principle any stress can be laid in defence of Christ's Deity on
tiie piiopbetic expression quoted Heb. i. from the Psalms,' he
replies, ^ merely on this principle, that it is spoken by God wao
C.ANifOT LIB*' He argues the eternal existence of our Saviour,
from the eighth verse of this chapter, and when called on to
prove that the words there found denote eternal existence, be
aigues that they can mean no less, since they are addressed to
our Lord, who is an eternal Being. He seems to suppose that
be is proving the doctrine of satisfaction, by adducing texts
which ^ describe Christ's kingdom' and *' foretell tbe commg of
tbe Redeemer.' RamBoohuo Roy bad argued against thia doe^
trine en tlie ground of its inconsistency with the divine iustice«
Dr. Marsbman meets his argument by quoting the text of lsaiab«
in which it is declared that the Saviour foretold, shall be OMde
^:of qmck understanding in the fear of the Lord ;' and inquiring,
^ does the fear of the LK>rd lead to acts of palpable iniquity, of
m tbe spirit of the Lord fail to do his office ?' He infers the
Deity of the Messiah from his being called, ^ Jehovah odr Right*
eousness,' in the 23d chapter of Jeremiah ; and, when reminded
ttiat Jerusalem is called by the same name, in another chapter ef
tbe same prophet, he replies ' it is the church of Christy the
holy Jerusalem, who bears this name to the honour of her glorieoa
bead and husband.' Vlf the church be really Christ's spouse, it ia
not strange that her Lord should permit her to bear bis name.'

How lively must be the imaginations ot these who can expect
tbat any thing wHl be done, by way of converting a aeesibto
people, by force of socb reasoning as this! Hoi^ are we to
wonder that the Baptists are spending tbeir thoasands for noi^ht,
when iherp is not a Brahmin boy in his elements, but has logic
eodogh to see through the immense chasm between Dr. M arsb*
isail's premises and conclusions ? We blush for the discredit
kite which our glorious faith is brought, when we picture to our*
pelves a well informed Hindoo turning over the pages of,Dr«
Marshman's work, under the idea that they present a just exitf*
bition of the christian system, and of the manner in which its
advocates maintain it ; and we reflect, with deep concern, upoft
fbe probability that tbe introdufrtion of Christianity into; Intfo


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WrUit^s of Rammohun Roy. Ml

wiQ provie to be greatly obstructed and delayed, by the prera*
leace of that contempt for it, which caouot fail to have been
thus produced.

But it has pleased God, by an agency little to have been
expected, to vindicate his cause from the disgrace it was encoun-
tering in the house of its friends. The final Appeal of Ram-
mohun Roy was what was wanted in the exigency. It is not i^
treatise on the christian system at large, nor even a refutation
of the Trinity and its kindred errors by arguments drawn from
the various sources, but it is a lucid and learned vindication of
the Christian scriptures from the charge of containing such doc-
trines. Whether we are to ascribe it to unparalleled critical
sagacity on the part of the author, or to an industry scarcely less
wonderful, which has made him familiar in so short a time with
the beat European expositors, this work is evidence of a most
extensive acquaintance with the true illustration and sense of
difficult passages of scripture. It cootiprises a very valuable
cotamentsry on nearly four hundred texts. After the copious
extracts which we have given from his other works, we will
content ourselves here with two ; one of which will be a speci-
men of the clearness and simplicity of his critical remarks, and
the other of the vigour and point of his general reasoning.

^ As the Editor and many orthodox Christians, lay much stress on
the application of the term Immanuel to Jesus, I offer the follow-
ii^ observations. The sum total of their argument is derived from
the following verse, Matthew i. 23, ^' And they shall call his name
Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.'' This name
is composed of three Hebrew words ^^ Emma" py with ; ^^ noo" 1)
va ; ^^ el" tK God ; that is, with us God ; hence the advocates for the
trinity conclude that Jesus is here called God, and that he must
Hierefore be God. But let us ascertain whether other beings are
not in common with Jesus called by designations compounded with
d or God in the sacred writings, or whether the term el ia exclu-^
dvely applied to Jehovah and Jesus, and then direct our attentlen
to the above stated conclusion : Genesis XXXII. 24. ^ And Jacob
was left alone and there wrestled a man with him until the lu'eakiBi^
of the day, (30) And he (Jacob) called the name of the place bi^^X
Penie^ for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.'*
Here the place is called the face of el (God,) and the angel who
wrestled with and blessed Jacob, and whom he saw there, is styled
el f God.) (verse 28.) '' And he (the angel) said thy name shall be
called no more Jacob, but Israe/, for as a prince hast thou power
with God and with men, and hast prenailedy As Jacob, in wrestlin|^
with the angel, shewed him his power and prevailed, he was called
hrael^ the prince of God, or properly speaking, the prince of the


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382 WritingB of Rammohun Roy*

ange], for it would be the grossest blasphemy to say that Jacob
wrestled with the almighty God, and prevailed over him. So we
find in Genesis XLVI. 17. "Malchici," that is, "my kmg God."
Daniel VIII. 16. "Gabric/," ("mighty God,") 1 Chron. XV. 18.
Jaazic/, " strong God." 20. Jehic/, " living God." 1 Samuel
Vlll. 2. " The name of his first born was Joel" that is, Jehovah

' The Editor in common with other trinitarians, conceives ^that
God the Son, equally with God the Father, (according to their mode
of expression,) is possessed of the attributes of perfection, such as
mercy, justice, righteousness, truth, &c. ; yet he represents them so
differently as to ascribe to the Father strict justice, or rather ven-
geance, and to the Son, unlimited mercy and forgiveness ; that is, the
Father, the first person of the Godhead, having been in wrath at
the sinful conduct of his offending creatures, found his mercy so
resisted by justice that he could not forgive them lat all, through
inercy, unless he satisfied his justice by inflicting pUbishment upon
these guilty men ; but the Son, the second person of the Godhead,
though displeased at the sins of his offending creaiuresj suffered Ms
mercy to overcome justice, and by offering his own blood as aa
atonement for their sins, he has pbtained for them pardon, without
punishment ; and by means of vicarious sacrifice, reconciled them
to the Father and satisfied his justice and vengeance. If the justice
of the Father did not permit his pardoning sinful creatures, and
reconciling them to himself in compliance with his mercy, unless a
vicarious sacrifice was made to hini for their sins ; how was the
justice of the Son prevailed upon by his mercy to admit their. par-
don, and their reconciliation to himself, without any sacrifice, offet-^
ed to him as an atonement for their sins ? It is then evident that
according to the system of Trinitarians, the Son had a greater
portion of mercy than the Father to oppose to his justice, in having
his sinful creatures pardoned, without suffering them to experience
individual punishment. Are these the doctrines, on which genujLoe
Christianity is founded ? God forbid i

^ If the first person be acknowledged to be possessed of mercy
equally with the second, and that he, through his infinite mercy
towards his creatures, sent the second to offer his blood as an atpne-
ment for their sins, we must th^n confess that the mode of the ope-
ration and manifestation of mercy by the first is strange and directly
opposite to that adopted by the second, who manifested his mercy
evep by the sacrifice of life, while the first person displayed his
lEiercy only at the death of the second, without subjectuig oimself
to apy humiliation or pain.'

Our readers will allow that we have beeo giving them an
account of a very extraordinary man. A radical change of the
religious belief in which one has been ducated, is not, und«r
the best advantages, a very common occurrence. It is rendered


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Writings of Rammohm Roy* 383

more improbable^ when the duties of that religion are so blended
with all the occupations of life, as to ally in the strongest league
the immense powers of habit and prejudice. When an indivi- ,
dual owes his consequenqe to the institutions of the faith in which
he; has been bred, still less likely will he be to renounce it ; an4
the only remaining chance of converting him, seems to be
removed, if the practice of those who profess the belief, which
be is invited to embrace, is not such as to give a decidedly favour-
able impression, of its pow^r. ' Why should I become a chris-
tian,' said a well-informed Brahmin to a friend of ours ? ' I make
conscience of my religion^ but most of the christians, whom I
see, have so little respect for their sacred day as to employ it in
all sorts of vice.' To reach the truth, through obstacles like
these, is the fortune of no common mind ; but to overcome these
was the least of the triumphs of the subject of these remarks.
He has accomplished the further task of discovering what the
cbriistian theology is* He has not been misled as to its nature,
as any mind but the' most sagacious and independent might be
expected to have been, by the misrepresentations of those who
pretended to teach it'; but has searched for it in its authentic
records ; and the law and the testimony, to which he has appeal-
ed from the erroneous exposition, have given him ^ more under-
Btanding, than all his teachers.' That not merely a christian con-
vert, but a christian controversialist, fit to be compared with Eu-
ropeans of the highest name, for learning, penetration, and judg-
ment, should appear in a Hindoo Brahmin, is an event, not only
without a parallel, but of a truly surprizing and memorable
character. It is an equal attestation to the force of truth, and to
the discernment and honesty of the mind which could thus dis-
cover and embrace it.

But, remarkable man as we conceive Rammobun Roy to be,
we do not regard him as a monster. However eminent above
bis cotemporaries, no man's habits of thought are formed ra-
dependently of all surrounding influences, or are radically dif-
ferent from those of his associates. When the leading under-
stiai^dings of aaage have carried their light the furthest forward
into the recesses of wisdom, there have never been wanting
others following close enough behind to apprehend the truths
which they have discovered. Nay, the praise of distinguished
men is for the most part, that they actually perform that of which
others, under similar influences, still fall a little short. Even in
the most remarkable discoveries and inventions it is reasonal^le
to allow, that tendencies towards them were in operation at once
on many minds, and that if the place of the most active that press-
ed forward before the rest had been vacant, the object they


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384 fFritings of Rammohun Sojf^

•ceomplished would not have been long delayed. Singular as
Rammohuu Roy may be, therefore, in the natural endowments of
his mind, we do not doubt that his writings are to some extent a
specimen of the intellectual culture, which is to be found among
other Hindoos of his own rank and similar opportunities of edu-
cation* Others may not have read so much, or reasoned so
well ; still others read and reason. And from this persuasion we
derive great encouragement. Rammohun Roy explicitly states^
what in our last number we had occasion to suggest, that it is of
no avail to argue with Hindoos on the absurdity of their poly tl^*
ism, while the Trinity is at the same time represented as a doc*
trine of the Christian faith, and attempted to be recopciled with
tiie unity of the Godhead on the selfsame grounds.

* The Editor denies positively the charge of admitting three Gods,
though he is in the practice of worshipping God the Father, God
the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. 1 could wish to know what he
would say when a Hindoo also would deny polytheism on the same
principle. If three separate persons be admitted to make om
€kkl, and those that adore them be esteemed as worshippers of oae
God, what objection could be advanced justly to the oneness of three
hundred and thirty-three million of persons in the beity, and to
their worship in different emblems ; for, oneness of three or of
thirty millions of separate persoas is equally impossible according
to human experience, and equally supportable by mystery alone.'

' The Editor expresses his despite of Hindoo polytheism, tri-
umphing in his own pure profession. 1 wonder how it could escape
the notice of the Editor, that the doctrine of plurality in unity maiil^
tained by him, and that professed by Hindoos, stand on the same foot-
ing ; since the Editor, as well as the Hindoos, firmly declares the
unity of God, while at the same time both acknowledge the pluraUiif
of persons under the same Godhead, although they differ from ^ach
other in the exact number.'

Prepossessed by the unanimous testimony of all who had press-
ed the Christian taith upon them, with the idea that its theelogjr
was similar to their own, it is not strange that they should sup-
pose it to stand on no diJQTerent authority, and see no reason for
Considering it. They are now told by one of tbemselvei, that
this evasion is founded on a faulty exhibition of Christianity, and
that this fact is so certain ^ that no one, possessed of merely
common sense will fail to find its unscripturality [i. e. the tin-
scripturality of the Trinitarian scheme] after a methodical study
of the Old and New Testaments, unless previously 'impressed in
the early part of his life with creeds and forms of speech prepar*
ing the way to that doctrine.' This is a representation not likeljr
to be wholly overlooked ; for it is made to learned men by a mftn
admired for bis learning, an accomplished critic, and especially


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Writings of RammohiLn Roy^\ 3^

possessing tb^t skill in (be oiceties of oriental I^pguage, vf^I^.
cannot but entitle to soiu^ confidence an inti^preter of the wntt;
ings of Jews. It is made hy a^ severe reasoner to aclasatofmen^;
which we. will hazard a conjecture cannot ftrrni^h among .allilt,
Pundits so slovenly a logician as the misstona«y against whom .he
tfrgaes. It is made *io them bj a person, who had every motive*
for aversion to Christianity which could influence them; JiHug
once entertained prejudices against it as sti-ong as thrfr'owh;
and who closes his extensive search after truth by declating/thit
he' enjoys Mhe approbation of his conscience in publishifig ttfe
bretepts of this religion as Ithe source of peace and happirieiiS.^
We will add, that the,trujy Chlristian spirit of benevolence, siii-^
cerity and^gentleness, which appears in bis work, can scarcely
fail to excite a prejudice favourable to the faith in defence. of
tirhich he argues- • . ": .

not tb be iregar
common ihdivi
itisight into ev
there is in the r
tion a degree ol
the track iri wh
them.; he has o
been formed ur
ing towards the
that might havi
And it IS not n
ireading commi
the new view c
ascertained by

to these remarks. It fs a brief exhortation, in Betigalel'^tfiifl
English, to the different classes bf religionists to practice a ivf(r^
tual 'charity. The author is evidently no polytheist, and^fduddi
bis morality on the golden rule. The following is hisallusion'^S
Protestant and Catholic Trinitarians. '^^

' Amongst Europeans, those who believe Jesus Christ to be. God
himself, and conceive him to be possessed of a particular form,, and
maintain Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be one God, should nol he
treated in an unfriendly manner. On the contrary, we should act
towards them in the same manner as we act towards those of our
countrymen who, without forming any external image,, medila^e
upon Ram and other supposei incarnations, « and believe in their
unity. '

'Again, those amongst^ Europeans who believing Jesus Cl)risJt,to
be the Supreme Beings iinoreover construct various images, pf ja^fo,

J^eto Series — Vol. F/^ - " •• 49 •' • ' ^"i - 'i


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386 ffriiing* of Rammohm Roy.

rfxmM not be hated. On the contrary, it becomes ns to act towards
those Efiropeant m the same manner as we act towards such as be-
lieve Ram, lie. to be incarnations of God, and form external imai^
of them. For, the religions principles of the two last mentioned
sects, of foreigners ave ose and the same with Uiose of the two subi-
Inr sects among Hindoos, altheiigh they are clothed in a diffsrent

f ^hen any belonging to the second and third classes of Emro*
Mans endea?onr to make converts of ns, the believers in the only
uving and true Ood^ even then we should feel no resentment to-
wsLxSi them, but rather compassion, on account of their blindness
to the errors into which thev themselves have fallen. Since it is
almost impossible, as every day^'s expeifi^nce teaches ns, fOr men,
when possessed or wealth and power, to perceive their own defects.'

This is of course the production of a person who has read and
can write ; and whenever, in anv point of view, Christianity and
Christians come thus to be publicly discussed, we cannot but

Snk a hopeful b^inning is made. lit the course of such specn-
1008, the character and claims of our religion cannot fail to be
incufeotallv canvassed. They will, insensibly come to be better
^dlerstdoa, and make their impression. Their progress may be
circuitous, as well as impeded, but at least an entrance may be
fllus made for them into the minds of the most averse.

We may seenri sanguine on this subject, btit it certainly is not
£com any insensibility to the great ^imculties which obstruct the
mtroductioB of Christianity into India. We understand too well
flOfv &r the holy spirit of our religion is in advance of the moral
l^^^not only of the purest human society, but of the most ex-
cellent individual character, to suppose that it can harmonizoi
or that it OHist not have a long and stubborn contest, with the
" trance and vices of the partially civilized community of Hin-
9»stan* We remember too well how soon the Greek schoolmeii
^ biiliMophized, and the northern savages secularized it, not to be
^ware how it is menaced in such a community by rooted super-
stitions, and low and interested views.* Buts on the other hand»

* The ^fficultj of teaching one of the kmer class of Hindooa even t» speak like
a C^rifltiaii, and the danger there is that the Trinitarian missioMunes iiia7 come to
osnfifuad their vytholpffy with the heathen, are eiagularlj exemplified in a hYmn
which was written by &8hnu the most eminent of the Baptist converts, and in a
translation, supposed to be made by Mr. Ward, missionary to Bengal, was giyen

Online LibraryJ.A. Buchon Jean FroissartThe Christian disciple and theological review, Volume 5 → online text (page 43 of 54)