Page images

ing; diligence to the flothful; patience to those who are in pain; and thy celestial aid to those who are in danger : Comfort the afflicted; relieve the distressed; supply the hungry with salutary food, and the thirsty with a plentiful stream. Impute not our doubts to indifference, nor our howness of belief to hardness of heart; but be indulgent to our imperfe&t nature, and supply our imperfections by thy heavenly favour.

“ Suffer not, we anxiously pray,

suffer not oppresion to pre“ vail over innocence, nor the might of the " avenger over the weakness of the

juft.Whenever we address thee in our retirement from the vanities of the world, if our prayers are foolish, pity us; if presumptuous, pardon us; if acceptable to thee, grant them, all-powerful GOD, grant them: And, as with our living yoice, and with our dying lips, we will express our submission to thy decrees, adore thy providence, and bless thy dispensations ; so in all future states, to which we reverently hope thy goodness will raise us, grant that we may continue praising, admiring, venerating, wor

Shipping thee more and more, through worlds without number, and ages without end!

Jan. 1, 1782. I do not adduce this prayer as evidence of the belief of Sir William Jones in the doctrines of Jesus Christ; although I think that such a composition could hardly have been framed byan unbeliever in the Gospel, or, if this be deemed poflīble, that a mind capable of feeling the sentiments which it expresses, could song have witholden its aflent to the truths of Revelation. It is evidently the effusion of a pious mind, deeply impressed with an awful sense of the infinite wisdom, power, and benevolence of his Creator, and of the ignorance, weakness, and depravity of human nature ; sentiments which reason and experience strongly suggest, and which Revelation expressly teaches. Let it be remembered, that long before this prayer was written, Sir William Jones had demonstrated* to his own fatisfaction, that Jesus was the Messiah, predicted by the Prophets; that amongst his


* Memoirs, p. 115, vol. i.

[ocr errors]

jected occupations in India, one* was to translate the Psalms into Persic, and the Gospel of Luke into Arabic,-a design which could only have originated in his conviction of the importance and inspiration of these divine books; that in the year after the date of the

prayer, we have a direct and public avowal of his belief in the divinity of our Saviourt; and again in the next, another prayer by him expressing his exclusive reliance on the merits of his Redeemer for his acceptance with Godi.

Amongst the publications of Sir William Jones, in which his religious sentiments are expressed, I shall first notice, A Dissertation on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and Rome, written in 1784, but revised and printed in 1786, in which the following passage occurs : “ Dif

quisitions concerning the manners and con“ duct of our species, in early times, or indeed

at any time, are always curious at least, and “ amusing; but they are highly interesting " to such as can fay of themselves, with

+ Ibid. p. 9. vol. ii.

* Memoirs, p. 4. vol. ii.
# Ibid. p. 41, vol. ii.

“ CHREMEs in the play, We are men, and 66 take an interest in all that relates to man" • kind.' They may even be of solid import"ance in an age, when some intelligent and 'virtuous persons are inclined to doubtthe au" thenticity of accounts delivered by Moses,

concerning the primitive world; since no modes or fources of reasoning can be unimpor

tant, which have a tendency to remove such doubts. Either the first eleven chapters of Genefis, (all due allowances being made for a “ figurative Eastern style,) are true, or the « whole fabric of our national religion is false;

a conclufion, which none of us I trust would “ wish to be drawn. I, who cannot help believing the divinity of the Messiah, from " the undisputed antiquity, and manifest com

pletion of many prophecies, especially those “ of Isaiah, in the only person recorded by

history, to whom they are applicable, am obliged of course to believe the sanctity of " the venerable books, to which that sacred

person refers as genuine: but it is not the “ truth of our national religion, as such, that

« I have at heart; it is TRUTH itself: and if

any cool, unbiaffed reader will clearly con“ vince me, that Mofes drew his narrative, “ through Egyptian conduits, from the pri« meval fountains of Indian literature, I shall “ esteem him as a friend, for having weeded my

mind from a capital error, and promise " to stand among the foremost in affisting to 66 circulate the truth which he has ascertained. “ After such a declaration, I cannot but

per“ suade myself, that no candid man will “ be displeased, if, in the course of “ I make as free with any arguments, that he

may have advanced, as I should really desire “ him to do with any of mine, that he may be disposed to controvert.

Let not the candour of the declaration, contained in the preceding quotation, alarm the ferious Christian; the fair inference to be drawn from it is this, that Sir William Jones was incapable of affirming what he did not fully believe; and the avowal of his faith in the divinity of our Saviour, is therefore to be received as decisive evidence of the fincerity of

my work,

« PreviousContinue »