Discovered: A Letter to Believers in India 200 Years Ago!

The following is a message delivered to Christians in India in the year 1833. These words from almost 200 years ago still carry an urgent resonance that transcends time and demands our reflection. The spirit of this letter still carries the same relevance today as it did so many years ago.



To the Editors of the Oriental Christian Spectator.

What Christian hesitates to allow the inappreciable value of an immortal soul? Who feels not , as he daily offers, at the mercy seat, supplications for himself and a world of sinners, that a single undying spirit outweighs, immeasurably, suns and systems, and the universe of matter?

Oh ye, who once were dead in sins, but now are quickened together with Christ, who sometime were afar off, but now are made nigh by the blood of Jesus, revert solemnly to that period, when the Spirit of truth first convinced you of sin. When the Spirit’s light first beamed into your heart, saw you not by that light, a picture of your moral foulness, which made you tremble, and well nigh drove you to despair? When you beheld the apparently inseparable barrier which sin had placed between your God and you, and, almost hopeless of heaven, had your eyes fully opened to a view of hell, where is the language that can express the value you then ascribed to your immortal soul? How can the feelings be described, which racked you, as you thought of the favor of God to you was forever lost, and dwelt with shuddering anticipation on the horrors of eternal woe?

They only, whose bosoms have been torn with emotions such as these, who have wrestled with God in deep, burning, agonizing prayer, can rightly estimate the value of the soul. Oh, compared with one glance of God’s reconciled countenance through the peace-speaking blood of the cross of Jesus, how worthless did everything appear! Thus, this was the torturingly engrossing theme, how God might be appeased and the soul be saved. Happy ye who have been in such a case; for then ye were in the place of hope, and to you the covenant of grace was holding out its rich offers of redeeming love. And happy do ye oft in the ardor of holy gratitude confess yourselves to be, while ye adore the gracious Being who in sovereign mercy taught you your soul’s value.

But now that, leaning on the arm of the precious Immanuel, you are hastening to the home which He has purchased for you, oh, for the sake of Him “whom not having seen ye love, but in whom believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory,” let your every affection be urged, your every faculty employed, to lead those who still are, as you once were, strangers to the covenant of promise, without hope, and without God in the world, into that sweet fellowship you now enjoy, and into a participation of that glorious hope, which, by faith supported, enables you to anticipate the joys of your heavenly inheritance.

Have you, then, you who are followers of Christ, felt the value of your souls, and, knowing that every human soul is equally estimable with your own, will you not strive to lead others to the knowledge of their awful state by nature, and then to the remedy which you have found? Have you, when God’s countenance seemed set in an eternal frown upon you, agonized in a paroxysm of despair, and nearly realized the hell you dreaded? And will you not pity your fellow creatures, who are yet unawakened from spiritual death, and who, if they thus continue until this rapidly wasting existence be consumed, must become through eternity a prey to that anguish of which the bare contemplation filled you with agony, though your imagination could conceive but a faint picture of its horrors? Did you feel your individual soul so precious, that, compared with it, all creation was but as dross and vanity, and will you not make every effort for the sake of five hundred millions of your fellow beings, whose souls, each precious as your own, are verging, yea, daily falling, into the dread ruin you through rich mercy have escaped?

Did the bare thought of being forever cast out of Jehovah’s presence, and having your portion assigned in that place where hope cometh not, make your soul die within you, and fill you with unutterable terror? And will you not still cherish a portion of those feelings, as you consider the state of the unhappy heathen, of whom thousands are daily sinking into that place where the worm of remorse can never die, and where the fire of the wrath of Almighty God, burneth for evermore? And will you not let those feelings influence your conduct to do all that thought can devise and zeal execute for wresting the perishing family of man from the dominion of sin and Satan? Oh ye with whose joy a stranger intermeddleth not, who have felt the indescribable rapture which the assurance of an interest in Jesus gives, who know what it is to possess a well of water springing up into everlasting life, on you, your Savior calls to exert your energies yet more and more for the conversion of the world.  To you much has been given; and from you much is expected. Do you profess to love the Lord Jesus, and yet do you remain careless, while his glorious name is denied, his love despised, and His honor trampled in the dust ? Do you profess to desire earnestly the propagation of His Gospel, and the coming of His Kingdom, and yet do you confine yourselves to prayer for this end, unmindful of the commands, Go forth; Labour; Preach the word; Be instant in season and out of season; and of the exhortations which admonish us to be imitators of Christ , who ever went about doing good ?

Although the efforts of man are, in themselves, wholly inefficient for the renovation of a race of sinners, yet, since the immutable Jehovah has determined that human agency shall hold a distinguished part in the conversion of the world, it is evident that without that agency the world cannot be converted. And to the negligence of man, is doubtless to be attributed the amazing fact, that though God in human nature was manifested to take away sin, and thus has evidenced the truth of his declaration, “As I live I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner ,” yet have eighteen centuries elapsed since Christ’s ascension, and Satan still reigns triumphant in a world, which the Lord from heaven died to save .

Is Christ then literally waiting for us, until we be willing to cooperate in bringing about the salvation of this wretched world? Is this the case, and are we still carnal? Is this the case, and are we still living to ourselves-frittering away invaluable time, and wasting in needless luxuries scarce less valuable wealth? Christians of India, arouse yourselves!  Awake more fully to the high duties devolving on you. Deem ye yourselves fellow laborers with Him who ever went about preaching the glad tidings of salvation, and do ye rest contented with the labors ye perform? It may be that ye do many things for Christ: circumscribe not, however, your labors for the coming of His Kingdom, to any given limit. We must, in the literal sense of the words, spend and be spent for Jesus; else, where is our love, where our zeal, where our jealousy for the honor of our Lord, where our pity to perishing immortals? Do any of us sufficiently consider the mind of the Holy Spirit as speaking through the Apostle to the Gentiles? “Whosoever calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved. But how shall they call on him on whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? “How evidently this implies, that the world cannot be converted and Christ’s Kingdom come, without the fervent cooperation of man with the Holy Spirit, who is promised from on high! How evidently it seems to tell us, that the Holy Spirit’s influence is denied us, because we act not up to the precepts He has given us in his word!

The Lord Jesus Christ himself has told us, that God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life. Is it then true that God so loved our guilty world as to give up his well-beloved Son for its salvation? And is it indeed a fact that the Eternal Son, who created all things, the mighty God himself, did verily assume our nature, tabernacle in our vile earth, become wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities – bring in for our sakes everlasting righteousness – overcome the sting of death – the victory of the grave? And did he so infinitely exalt our nature as to take it into mysterious and eternal union with the Godhead, adorn it with every excellence, and ascend with it to heaven, there, upon the Father’s throne, to wear that nature while he pleads our cause? Has this overwhelmingly mysterious, glorious, and enrapturing plan of love and mercy been carried into effect for the express purpose of saving our sinful race; and do we not groan at the shocking fact, that after a lapse of eighteen centuries, not a twelfth portion of this wretched world has been taught to know that glorious plan of saving mercy, which none but an infinite mind could have devised, and naught but the omnipotent energy of love have carried to completion?

Since then, God, in manifesting the infinity of his love in Christ Jesus, has done that which in the most convincing manner proves his readiness to save, and since, from the time that our Substitute and Media tor ascended up on high, leading captivity captive, the Holy Spirit in a more especial manner has been striving with the wickedness of our desperately wicked race, shall we say that the long delay of the coming of Christ’s kingdom is attributable to God, and that he takes delight in, or is indifferent to, the spiritual death of thousands of souls daily? No – on man rests all the blame. Had man, in obedience to the parting injunction of the ascending Savior, gone forth, and with unrelaxing zeal proclaimed the glad tidings of salvation to the uttermost ends of the earth, doubtless, long ere now, sin would have ceased to defile the moral universe, and drag down its daily victims to the mansions of eternal woe. If then to man’s guilty negligence may be attributed the delay of the coming of that kingdom of which the Apostles and early Christians expected the so rapid appearance, how awful is the view presented of the horrid depravity of our nature, how atrocious the conduct of Christian lands in thus long withholding from perishing millions the message of salvation!

But whether the above argument be admitted or not, it is certain, that the Holy Spirit has said, that men cannot believe on Him, of whom they have not heard. “Go ye and preach the Gospel” is, therefore, a command deeply and imperiously affecting every Christian; and since “the foolishness of preaching” is the method which infinite wisdom has adopted for converting sinners, woe to us if we preach not the Gospel of Christ. Let us then with hand and heart unite ourselves in the glorious privilege of being fellow-laborers with Jesus. High time is it to awake out of sleep. “The night is now far spent , the day is at hand; let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”  Let us more closely press round the standard of the Captain of our salvation, and more vigorously war against the kingdom of Satan.

Many Christians, it is to be feared, content themselves with mere wishes for the glorious reign of Christ, without applying their own shoulders to the wheels of the chariot of his everlasting Gospel. But of what avail is it to sigh in our closets at the dreadful prevalence of wickedness in our wretched globe, or to pray to God for the fulfillment of his promises, unless we make our prayers the precursors of our own strenuous efforts to further the progress of His converting word. Were all Christians to occupy themselves about their own salvation only, and each, unaware of his brother Christian’s similar mode of acting, were to devolve on others the work of preaching to the heathen, the unsearchable riches of Christ, while he contented himself with merely praying for this end, would not Christianity soon be utterly extinct? Christians of India!  Arouse, then, yourselves to the great work before you of evangelizing this heathen land. Bethink ye of the period when ye yourselves were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise: and remembering that without a knowledge of the word of life, ye never had seen life, Oh, let your souls be stirred up to communicate more freely that precious word, which alone can teach the way of salvation. Much, much depends on Indian Christians for the conversion of heathen India.

Unfaithful England, and scarce less unfaithful Scotland, though basking in the effulgence of Gospel light, content themselves, and think, forsooth, they do much in sending out among five hundred millions of heathens about as many hundred preachers. How, how then is the Sun of Righteousness to arise on this dark land of idolatry and wretchedness, if on Britain only we depend for heralds to announce his coming ? Shame on her heartless inhabitants, who while rolling in affluence and ease, give, as a kind of salvo to their consciences, their paltry annual guinea, for the conversion of a world! Let us not be like them , but considering that all we have and are is the Lord’s, let us rejoice to give up ourselves wholly to His sacred cause. And let us not seek our own selfish ends, but honor the Lord with our substance, and with the first fruits of all our increase. Let us not be as the wealthy Pharisees, who, out of their abundance, cast into the treasury; but let us be as the poor widow, who cast in even all she had. Oh , let us never forget, that in the present state of things, wealth is a means, without which neither preachers can be sent to the heathen, nor the Bible distributed among them.

Viewed in this light, how precious should our substance appear, since by means of it we can be instrumental in saving immortal souls? Shall, then, any of us spend in articles of dress, or in luxuries for the palate, that which might contribute to the saving of a soul? Shall any of us be more lavish in his establishment than absolute necessity requires , when so many millions of our fellow – creatures are loudly calling on us for the bread of life! Sacrifices must be made on our part: (if indeed that can be deemed a sacrifice which promotes the knowledge of the Savior’s name.) We must not only give, but give to our utmost: we must not only labor , but labor to the extent of our power.  Nor must we content ourselves with employing our wealth, in order that others may preach, but we ourselves must become preachers of righteousness.  Lives there a Christian in this heathen land, who can avail himself of the services of his fellow – creatures, and yet forbear to learn their language, in order to make known to them the glorious tidings on which he rests his own hopes for eternity?

Oh, let us all look to it, as we hope for our Lord’s commendation on the great day, that all the talents He has entrusted to us be faithfully improved. Let us, each scrutinizingly examining his own heart, take an accurate estimate of the talents committed to our care; and if, on seeing them all well employed in our Master’s service, our hearts condemn us not, then shall we have confidence before God: but if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things.

Let us not, therefore, be slothful in the great business before us; but be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer. Let us not be lukewarm, or apathetical, but seek for that spirit of zeal which consumed our blessed Savior. Let us cause our light to shine before men. Let us glorify God with our bodies and our spirits, which are His, and adorn the doctrine of Christ our Redeemer in all things. True it is that we have need of faith and patience, that after having done the will of God, we may inherit the promises; nevertheless, He is faithful who promised, and if we labour according to his will, He will cause his face to shine upon us, and bless us in all our doings. Let us all, then, however low in grace, however humble in talents, urge ourselves to employ what we have, in the grand work of evangelizing India: for the Lord looketh not to the amount of our labour, but to the spirit with which it is performed, which, if sincere, will be acceptable in His sight, and will draw down to itself more capacity from on high. Besides, so that the word be preached faithfully and in love, the Lord will bless it, though it be done in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

Since, then, considering the value of the soul, the numbers that are unconverted, and the numbers that are dying daily without hope, it is so incumbent on every private Christian to spread to the extent of his ability the knowledge of his Lord, what must be the imperativeness of that duty which devolves upon Christian MINISTERS to preach the Word, to be instant in season, and out of season, to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long – suffering and doctrine!

Ministers of the Church of the living God! Ambassadors for Christ! Heralds of Jehovah! Consider, oh consider deeply the sacred nature, and the awful responsibility of your high and holy calling. The Lord from heaven addresses you each, and says, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word of my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, “Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand.” Can the true and faithful, the zealous and hard – laboring Minister of the Gospel – can even he read this solemn passage without fear and trembling, lest remissness be laid to his charge, and the blood of souls testify against him at the great day? Surely if the soul of man be so precious that naught but the righteousness and atonement of incarnate Deity could suffice to redeem it from horrid perdition – if the glory of God be so interwoven with the salvation of the human race, that for this end He bears with the loathsomeness of sin, and the terrible rebellion of our apostate race so long – and if, as a chief means of effecting that glorious end, even the conversion of this wretched world, Christ has delegated men, who are styled HIS AMBASSADORS, to preach His Word, proclaiming to every creature the glad tidings of Salvation – then is the Office of a Minister the most holy, the most solemn, the most awfully important, the most exalted, that mortal man can hold.

How then are they to be viewed, who have assumed the garb of Ministers of Christ only for the sake of unrighteous Mammon – Ambassadors of Jesus , who dishonor their king – Heralds of salvation, who either withhold their message or proclaim a lie – Representatives of HIM whose meat and drink it was to do the will of his heavenly Father, who evidence by their fruits that they have a different father – Followers of Him who says that his people are not of the world even as He is not of the world, who, nevertheless, love the world and the things of the world, and greedily pursue the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life!

And how are they, too, to be viewed who, though more decent in their conduct, yet to the sweeping torrent of human iniquity oppose only the wretched barrier of a weekly sermon – or who, while receiving princely salaries for their pains , can content themselves with a round of duties as contracted as decency will tolerate!

Or again, what are we to think of those Ministers, who, though they may be possessed of some little zeal, can yet stop short in their labors for the good of souls, and confine their spiritual regard for their flock to the weekly admonition they deliver from the pulpit? Was it thus that Paul, and Peter, and John, and the other Apostles and Evangelists labored? O ye Ministers of Christ! Compare your lives with those of the Apostles. Imagine them in your places, and ask yourselves, whether they would act as you are acting.

They labored for the glory of Christ, and the salvation of souls. Ye labor for your own aggrandizement, and for the well – providing of your perishing bodies. Vain is it to say, that you feel an interest for souls, while your actions manifest not this interest. “By their fruits ye shall know them ,” is the test which Christ has given, and by this test ye must submit to be judged. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”  Peculiarly incumbent is it, then, on you, as standing on earth in “Christ’s stead,” to possess the Spirit of Christ. Are ye, then, like Him, ever going about doing good? Do ye, like Him, find it your meat and drink to do the will of God? Do ye, like Him, weep over perishing souls, and struggle by every means in your power to bring them unto God? He, the blessed Jesus, suffered a life of humiliation, shame, reproach, of deep affliction, and incessant toil, and died an agonizing death for sinners’ sakes. Ye-what do ye? -Ye preach a sermon once a week. He, the Lord of glory, veiled in human nature, went about continually preaching the glad tidings of salvation, and in days of weariness, and nights of prayer, gave his whole body and soul to the mighty work for which he came on Earth. Ye – His professed Representatives, regardless of the perishing state of millions around you, nay, regardless of the perishing state of those even who compose your household, neglect to address them, and refuse to learn their language. Ministers of the Lord! Rouse ye – study under the blessing of the Supreme Lover of souls the languages of these wretched idolators. Rest not, pause not, till ye can go, and stand up in the midst of thousands, and declare to them the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Alas, could the heroic, much enduring Apostle of the Gentiles, (of whose labors, privations, sufferings, and perils the 2 Cor. xi. 23-33 gives us some notion,) could he appear among us in India, what would be his feelings?! Could his benevolent eye survey this wide expanse lying in darkness and the shadow of death, how would his generous spirit give vent to its emotions of strong indignation and intense amazement, whilst beholding Ministers of that Lord whom he so loved, and to win whom he esteemed all things but dross, calmly sitting down amid the soft luxuries of life, and wasting their time and talents in drowsy indolence, notwithstanding the awful spectacle of immortal beings sunk in idolatry and spiritual ruin continually forcing itself upon their sight! Yes, could he, on whom, in addition to his numerous avocations, the care of all the churches came daily, appear among us, what would he think of the state of our churches in India?!  – Where discipline is almost unknown – where many a Minister is as regardless of his flock, as the flock is of the Minister – where large stipends are given for the performance of the Pastor’s office, and where those Pastors perform their office only for the sake of the stipend.

India – where, with a few exceptions, naught but the form of godliness prevails, and that only among a small number; while the rest of the community, infidels at heart, and libertines in conduct, daringly transgress every command of God, and franticly rush on the thick bosses of the Almighty’s buckler. India – where idolatry is fostered, its priests pampered, and its temples supported – where those called by the name of Christ, virtually deny his name, and by their pernicious influence cause it to be blasphemed among the heathen – where Europeans – Christians — instead of spreading on all sides the blessings of the Gospel, and converting this barren land into a garden of the Lord, shed, on the contrary, the baleful breath of a moral pestilence around, and by their example, teach the children of the soil to blaspheme in English accents the holy name of God, to hold midnight orgies of intemperance and riot, and to propagate in their turn the lessons they have learned!

To check horrors such as these, to lead the sinner into the path of holiness, to watch with intensest interest over the spiritual welfare of men, and by all the measures, which wisdom can devise, and zeal perform, to labour to turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, -for ends like these has Christ appointed Ministers: and if there be any one whom other motives than love of Christ, and zeal for his glory, have prompted to intrude himself into the solemn office of the Ministry, oh, let him bethink himself of the day of the Lord’s coming, and of the fulfillment of the terrible denunciations against unfaithful watchmen. Oh, let him deeply reflect, as he contemplates the large flock committed to his charge, how, unless he act the part of a true and faithful shepherd to them, he will be able to abide the jealous anger of the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Oh, let him, as he values his own precious soul, “Take heed unto himself, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made him overseer, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with his own blood.”

1 thought on “Discovered: A Letter to Believers in India 200 Years Ago!”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top