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My Dear Friends, - Having heard in your own country, though indistinctly, of that supreme God who is the sole object of the Christian's worship; and of that Christ through and by whom he dispenses salvation to the human race; you took a long and painful journey from your native island to visit that favored nation where this God is more especially known and adored, that you might learn among his genuine followers to know his nature and the nature of that worship which himself has prescribed.
In the course of his unsearchable but gracious providence you were placed under my care; and it has been my earnest and anxious study to lead you to this God, through the Son of his love, who died for the offenses of a sinful world, and rose gain for the justification of men; and has commanded repentance and remission of sins to be preached in his name among all nations. And it is with great satisfaction and gratitude to God that I hope I can say neither your application nor my endeavors have been in vain.
You have learned to know that God who is the Father of the spirits of all flesh; and who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. You have sought his favor through the Lord Jesus Christ, and he has often afforded you the drawings of his Spirit. These he has granted you only as a specimen of what he will communicate if you follow on to know the Lord; that is, if you search the Scriptures diligently, and pray much to God, placing your whole confidence for salvation in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. In short, he will give you to know and to feel that you are not only turned from idols to the living God; from vain hope and superstitious fears, to that hope which maketh not ashamed, and that fear which is the beginning of wisdom; but he will also give you to know and feel that you are adopted into the family of heaven, and become the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
After long and carefully studying our holy religion, and finding that our blessed Lord commands his disciples to baptize all converts to Christianity with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, you have applied to me for that baptism; and after having been well instructed in its nature, importance, and design, you received it in a most solemn manner in the public congregation, where prayers from more than a thousand hearts were offered up to God for your present and eternal happiness; and you there felt that, in answer to those prayers, and your fervent supplications, God did pour out his gracious Spirit upon you, so that you found such peace of conscience, such joy in God, as your tongues were incapable of expressing. Thus, then, by this public profession you have put on Christ: you have assumed the Christian name; you have promised to be his faithful, loving, obedient servants to the end of your days: in a word, "to renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful desires of the flesh; and to keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of your life." Thus you have taken the true God to be your God; and he has taken you to be his children. You have promised to be obedient to him; and he has engaged to furnish you with that grace and strength without which no good act ever was or ever can be done. For this heavenly help you must continue to pray, humbly offering all your desires, prayers, and obedience unto God, through Jesus Christ your Savior, who alone can make them acceptable in his sight who is the Fountain of infinite purity and justice. You have also promised to take up the cross of Christ; "not to be ashamed of Christ crucified, but boldly confess him, and fight manfully under his banner against the world, the flesh, and the devil." Be steady: God's grace will ever be sufficient for you; and; after having guided you by his counsel through life, he will, if you continue steadfast in the faith, at last receive you into his eternal glory, by Christ Jesus. Amen.
As your stay with me has been too short to acquire both the English language and a general knowledge of the sacred writings, and the doctrines they contain, and you may possibly soon return to your native land, I have drawn up the following short but comprehensive view of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and the principles of religion derived from them; to which I have added a few directions, by attending to which you will never read this divine word without gaining an increase of heavenly knowledge and an increase of religious experience. I wish you to have always at hand those principles which have often been the subject of my teaching and of your learning; that, understanding them and the reasons on which they are founded, you need not be afraid of your most cunning adversaries; but be always able to give them that ask you a reason of the hope that is in you; and which I trust you will ever feel it your duty and interest to recommend to the notice and consciences of your heathen countrymen, who are still lying in that darkness out of which, by the mercy of the true God, you have now risen. I know that it is your present purpose to announce to the heathen in your own country, and in continental India, the gospel of the grace of God. In reference to this, should God call you to such a work, I wish to give you a few particular directions.
1. If you go forward in the spirit of the original apostles and followers of Jesus Christ, trusting not in man but in the living God, he will enable you to pull down the strong holds of sin and Satan, and that work by which he is pleased will prosper in your hands.
2. Remember that, as the souls of sinners are saved by the mere mercy and power of God, by the same principles is the world to be converted; Human might, authority, or influence, can do little here: "it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts," that this great work is to be performed. Zech. iv, 6.
3. The primitive disciples of Jesus Christ, when they went to the heathen, as you are now going, had nothing to recommend them but the simplicity and holiness of their lives, and the excellence of the doctrine which they preached; and they had no support but that which they received from their Lord. But this was sufficient to pull down the strong holds of sin and the devil. The weapons of their warfare were not carnal, such as worldly men use; but they were spiritual, such as God furnishes: and they were, therefore, mighty through God. They had Christ in their hearts; they had a powerful love for the perishing souls of men; and they went forth in his strength, proclaiming to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
4. The same work is still to be done; and the same grace and simplicity of heart are equally requisite now as formerly. Do not suppose that human strength and human learning, howsoever useful, will accomplish now what it required the arm of the Almighty to perform in those primitive times. The hearts of sinners are as dark and as hard now as formerly; and nothing but the light of God can illuminate them, and nothing but the power of God can make them soft. Trust, therefore, in him, both in behalf of your own souls, and in behalf of those to whom you may minister: and point them, and ever go yourselves, to that "Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world," John i, 29.
5. There is one thing more, of which it may be requisite to apprise you. As preachers of the gospel of Jesus, do not expect worldly honors: these Jesus Christ neither took to himself, nor gave to his disciples. If you be faithful, you will gave that honor that comes from God: his Spirit will say in your hearts, "Well done, good and faithful servants." Instead of receiving the honor that comes from men, you may possibly be despised, defamed, and persecuted. For the laws of Christ condemn a vicious world, and gall it to revenge; and as the religion of Christ gives no quarter to vice, so the vicious will give no quarter to that religion. Do not wonder, therefore, if you should be mocked, insulted, and abused: "if they have persecuted me," said Jesus, they will also persecute you." This the primitive disciples found: but they tell us that, far from being discouraged on this account, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name's sake," Acts v, 41. His true ministers have ever found the same spirit in the unconverted. You have read of the persecutions of the primitive Christians; and you have also read of the many holy men, bishops, ministers, and others, who have lost their lives in this country, when lawless power, false religion, blind zeal, and brutish bigotry prevailed: but these blessed martyrs all died in triumph -- they glorified God in the fires; and, when consuming at the stake in the raging flames, they possessed the highest comfort of God, and rejoiced that ever they were born! Should you be ever called to bear the same testimony, you will doubtless find the same grace and support.
I mention these things because their occurrence is possible -- yet it is not very likely that you will be called to suffer personal abuse. Wherever you go, whether in India or Ceylon, you will be under the protection of the mild, excellent, and powerful laws of the British king. These laws you know are vastly superior to all those of which you have heard or read. Of this king (under whose government you have received the light of life; and in whose paternal kingdom you have found, though strangers and foreigners, a place of refuge; and among whose subjects you have found so many friends and brothers) you can not but speak well. I know you love him and his administration; and I know that you will declare to your countrymen what blessings they enjoy who live among the Christian subjects of a Christian king. And I am sure I need not add that you will ever feel love, attachment, and gratitude to that religious society (the Wesleyan Methodists) who cheerfully took you by the hand on your first landing in this country, and placed you under my care; with the wish that you should have every thing necessary for your bodies and your souls. How this wish has been accomplished, while under my roof, yourselves know best. If I have been faithful, my work is with the Lord: and for my cares and anxieties I ask only an interest in your prayers.
To what I have said in the foregoing pages, I need scarcely add any thing farther. -- The Holy Scriptures tell you that "your adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour," 1 Peter v, 8, therefore watch, pray, believe, love, and obey.
WATCH against his temptations; watch against your own spirits.
BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus, as having died for you. Believe on him as your Intercessor at the throne of God.
OBEY him affectionately in all things: obey him as your Master, your King, and your God; and continue in his truth until death.
PERSEVERE in doing his will; i. e., whatever he commands. Persevere in suffering his will, cheerfully bearing whatever affliction or trial he may permit to come upon you. "I now commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them who are sanctified."
I am, my dear friends, your affectionate teacher and servant in Christ Jesus,