Johann A Schürmann ~ Correspondence
Isai das, Native Evangelist at Benares
CHARACTER AND LABOURS OF ISAIDAS, ROBERT VAUGHAIPS NATIVE EVANGELIST AT BENARES.
The following interesting particulars respecting the native teacher supported by the church and congregation of our esteemed brother, Dr. Vaughan, of Kensington, has been communicated by the Rev. W. Buyers:-
His former condition.
I do not recollect having heard from lsaidas any particulars of his early life, which seems to have been passed much in the same way as is usual among the heathen. For a number of years, I think about six, before he ﬁrst came to us, he had abandoned his native place and had become a Gosain. The Gosains are a fraternity of religious monks or devotees, holding some very peculiar tenets with respect to the Divine nature, by which they are distinguished from other similar orders, such as the Bairagies, Fagies, &c. In this profession of a religious devotee or fakeer, he travelled for years over various provinces of northern India, visiting many of the most celebrated sacred places of the Hindoos, such as Gays, Chitarkote, Dwarika, Juggernath, and Benares; at the last of which he heard the Gospel of Christ.
First religious impression.
Isaidas had spent some tiıme in visiting the most celebrated temples of that great city, and was setting out on his journey, when pasıing along the road, not far from our Mission-house, he saw a crowd in a bazaar by the way side. He went into the crowd, and found that the people were listening to our worthy brother Narapot, who was proclaiming the way of life to the heathen. He had never known this doctrine before, but hearing it distinctly explained and eloquently enforced by one who had once been a Brahmin, but was now boldly denouncing the religion of his countrymen as false, and calling on them to seek salvation through the Son of God, he was exceedingly stuck with all he heard, and resolved te speak with the preacher.
Inquiries after the truth.
When Narapot had concluded, Iaaidas addressed him, expressing a wish to receive some more information about this "new doctrine." Narapot, seeing he really wished to inquire, invited him to his house, and after some conversation, being pleased with him, brought him to me. After explaining to him the first principles of the Gospel, we advised him to stay and receive instruction, to which he agreed. I had him with me daily for several weeks, and although at first there seemed several things about him that led me to form a low opinion of his intellectual powers, the sincerity of his faith in Christ appeared so manifest that I thought it my duty, at his earnest request, to baptize him.
First Christian labours.
As soon as he was received into the church he began to do all he could to make known the Gospel; and the courage he displayed, in facing the opposition of the Brahmins, was very striking. They sometimes heaped on him the greatest abuse, but I never saw him once lose his temper. The simplicity and sincerity of his character made him a general favourite, both with the native Christians and the heathen, and what most of all surprised us, was the discovery of talents for usefulness, which we never imagined he possessed. The Gospel seems to have given him not only a new hart, but new intellectual powers.
His zeal as an Evangelist.
So long as I continued in India, he remained with me as an assistant, and daily improved in usefulness. During the extremity of the hot season, in consequence of ill health, my medical adviser sent the country. l took lsaidas with me to distribute tracts in the neighbouring villages. I was too ill to preach, but it gave me great delight to see his zeal and diligence in the work. He went every day to some of the villages around and preached, or rather talked, to the people. The city of Jerampore, about four miles distant, where the Gospel was scarcely ever preached, he often visited, and though he met with much opposition, he boldly made known the truth. At that season of extreme heat, the people travel generally by moonlight, and as our house was on the road from Benares to Jerampore, sometimes thousands passed in one night. When l had to pass restless nights from sickness and the excessive heat, Isaidas set almost every night in the veranda, and made known the Gospel to the passers by, many of whom would sit down to rest by him. I often heard his voice at two or three in the morning, telling his perishing countrymen of the love of Christ; and while I was too ill to preach, it was truly delightful to hear one to whom I had been privileged to teach the doctrines of salvation, faithfully and zealous transmitting them to others.
The last letters I had from Benares, speak of him as still giving the highest satisfaction. A youth, who was under my instruction, but with respect to whose conversion I had little hope. has just been baptised; and the brethren, Shurman and Kennedy, both speak of lsaidas as having been the means of good to his soul. I trust he may long be blessed as an evangelist among the poor heathen.
The subjoined testimony to the character and labours of Isaidas, has also been received from Rev. J. Kennedy, of the Benares Mission:
His attachment to the Scriptures, character as a preacher, &c.
lsaidas, who was baptised by Mr. Buyers two or three months after my arrival at Benares, has been for some time engaged as a catechist, and has given us unmingled satisfaction. He truly appears to be one whose heart the Lord has touched. The grace of God appears to work in him powerfully. He is so blameless in his conduct, that we never hear a word said against him, and he is at the same time very zealous in his efforts to advance the cause of Christ. He has a talent for speaking to the people which we had no idea he possessed. He has committed to memory some of the best tracts, and repeats them with great effect in the bazaar. He is a most diligent reader of the sacred volume. When I gave him a copy of the New Testament in Hindoo, he looked at it with great delight; the tear came to his eye; and he put it with both his hands to his breast, repeating, "I have now got the complete Gospel." Day after day, from the window of my house, I have seen him sitting, under the shade of a large tree, reading the Scriptures for hours together, and then, putting on his girdle, going away to the bazaar to read and converse with the people.
When looking at him, and seeing the intensity with which he studies the word of God, though he has no small difficulty in reading it, I have felt myself humbled, and wished British Christians could see this poor man, a very few years ago sunk in idolatry, now an humble and devoted follower of Jesus. When looking on him, I have often thought of the man from whom so many devils were cast out, who came and sat at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. He is very anxious to obtain Christian knowledge. He often comes to me to tell me what the people say to him, and what he says to them in reply, to see whether or not he has answered rightly. His replies are generally very pointed, though of course, as might be expected, he sometimes commits mistakes. The great leading doctrines of Christianity he knows well, and he is accurate in his statements of them.
Exemplary spirit under persecution.
On some occasions Isaidas meets with all sorts of abuse, and persons have even threatened to murder him, but he bears all most patiently. When they are unmoved by what he says, he tells them he can do no more, but that he will pray to God to give them softer hearts. On other occasions, his marked sincerity and earnestness make a favourable impression on his hearers. Having been forgiven much, he loves much. Our daily prayer is, that he may be kept from falling, and made an instrument of extensive good. Often before, God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. Isaidas was married a few months ago to a native Christian woman, a member of the Baptist church here, who is also an humble, consistent Christian, and gives us great satisfaction.
The Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle, Band 20, for April 1842 Page(s): 198-199.
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(Created: 09.02.2015. Last updated: 19.02.2015.)
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