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came to Gosport at the same time, and they left the seminary together. His deportment while there was in all respects agreeable to the character of a missionary student. His abilities were good, his mind active and discriminating; he had a cheerfulness and vivacity which were extremely pleasing, and his heart was wholly in his work. He and Mr. Cran, between them had all the qualifications of a good missionary of Christ; and the two together formed a beautiful and an eminently useful whole. Their affection too for each other was peculiarly tender, like that of David and Jonathan of old. With the exception of some months, when Mr. Desgranges was obliged to leave Vizigapatam on account of ill health, they labored together there till Mr. Cran's decease, when the whole concerns of the mission devolved on him till the arrival of Mr. Lee and Mr. Gordon.
The translation of the Gospels, which had been begun during the life of Mr. Cran, he carried on with the assistance of Anandarayer, a converted bramin, whom God appears to have raised up for this purpose before his decease, and he had completed the three first gospels. It is recorded of the venerable Bede, that he was employed in translating the gospel by John, when he was seized with the illness which terminated in his death. Notwithstanding his infirmities he continued the work. At last feeling his departure drawing nigh, he called to his amanuensis to make haste, and when he had just dictated the last verse, he gave up the ghost. Mr. Desgranges was earnestly desirous to finish the translation of Luke's Gospel, and labored with extraordinary diligence that it might be in readiness to be conveyed by a friend, to Calcutta, for the press,
On the fourth of July, 1810, he was seized with a bilious fever, which was extremely violent, and occasioned the most excruciating pains. Medical aid was used, but used in vain. Though unable to speak much, his mind was calm and serene from first to last. When asked what he was most concerned about, he replied, "the affairs of the mission, and especially the translation of the Scriptures; but (said he) God can carry it on without my means, so that my life is not necessary on that account.” A number of persons standing round his bed, on being asked whether he wished to meet them in heaven, he answered, “O yes! and if I could, I would now tell them how good the Lord has been to me.” Inquiry being made whether he was happy in the prospect of death and eternity, he immediately lifted up his right hand for he was unable to speak: indeed he rejoiced much in the hope of being with Christ, and of meeting in
heaven his much beloved brother, Cran. He departed this life on the twelfth of July, 1810, aged thirty years, leaving behind him an afflicted widow and two children. Those who knew him amidst his missionary labors, bear testimony that he was a truly devoted servant of Christ; in disposition mild and gentle; in conduct modest and upright; affectionate in every relation, a friend of peace, a man of prayer, much acquainted with his own heart, that he depended wholly on the influences of the Holy Spirit, and his soul longed for the conversion of the heathen.
George Cran and Augustus Desgranges were lovely in their lives, and in their deaths they were not far divided.
Jonathan Brain was born in the neighborhood of Bristol. From his childhood he had many serious thoughts about the salvation of his soul; but those impressions of Divine truth which were the means of changing his heart, he conceived to have been made by the ministry of Mr. Jay. In 1806, he was sent to the missionary seminary where his improvements were very considerable.
He possessed excellent talents, an acute and penetrating mind, assiduous and persevering application; and his heart was wholly devoted to the missionary work. In May, 1809, he sailed for India, and after residing some months at the Cape of Good Hope, where his public services to the troops were peculiarly useful, he arrived at Madras in February, 1810. After continuing there a few weeks, in the course of which he assisted in the ordination of Mr. Loveless, Mr. Pritchett his fellow laborer and he sailed for Rangoon, at which they arrived in the following month.
He immediately began to apply to the study of the Birman tongue, and was making a pleasing progress, when on the twenty-sixth of June he was seized with a dysentery, and after an illness of seven days, on the second of July he departed this life, aged twenty-four years. Such was the severity of his illness that he. could speak little, but what he did say was the language
of a true disciple of Christ. While death was before his eyes, he said, “I can look forward to an eternity of blessedness through the merits of my Redeemer.” At another time, the sixtieth hymn of the second book of Dr. Watts being read to him at his request, he spoke of the support which he experienced from the important truths which it contained. On the first of July, which was the Lord's day; he conversed in a manner which displayed the consolations of his soul, and he said,
“I think I have begun a Sabbath which will never end." He died on the following day.
We were pleasing ourselves with the hopes of their continuing to labor for many years in the neglected fields of heathen idolatry and mahomedan delusion. That their humble and zealous efforts would be crowned with success; and that they would be spared to taste the unspeakable delight of seeing hundreds of perishing sinners converted to the faith of Christ, was our fond desire and expectation; but the supreme Ruler of the universe had otherwise determined, and we are called to bewail their death. In such painful circumstances multitudes of pious people cry out, “God is against us, he frowns on our designs, he takes away our missionaries; his time is not come, or we are not the persons whom he designs to honor with success; it is an intimation to us to desist." If others do not go so far, yet they are greatly discouraged; and if they persevere, it is with languor and despondency; faith and hope are scarcely able to lift up their heads, prayer grows faint, and exertions lose all their energy.
The evils arising from such sentiments are many and great, dishonorable to God, and injurious to the souls of men. Of what consequence is it that if possible they may be banished from the mind! Perhaps it may be found on inquiry that there is no reason to conclude that we are to regard the death of missionaries as an intimation of the Divine will that we should cease from our attempts for the conversion of the heathen; that while there is cause for lamentation there is none for despondency; and that by such dispensations of providence, God designs to convey to us instructions which will be beneficial to his cause in our continued efforts among the heathen.
What then may be the design of God in this afflictive dispensation of providence, and what lessons of instruction would he thereby convey to us? To prosecute this inquiry is the object which I have in view in this discourse; and to which we are earnestly called by the words of the text. “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressors shall fall therein." And O thou Spirit of wisdom and grace, descend for the help of the speaker, and accompany the word with thy powerful blessing.
FIRST. I beg your attention to some general considerations to guide our judgment concerning such events. And,
Secondly, I shall endeavor to point out those lessons of instruction which it is the design of God that they should
FIRST. Let me call your attention to some general consider ations which will serve to guide our judgment concerning such events.
1. Consider that there is nothing uncommon in the event which we deplore. No strange thing has happened to our missionaries. The sacred Scriptures furnish us with instances of a similar kind. Turn
your eyes to the first man whose ministry is recorded in the New Testament; listen to the character which is given of him by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the testimony borne to the success of his ministry. “But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea I say unto you, and more than a prophet. Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” "And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” But in the third year, it is supposed, of his ministry he was removed by the stroke of death; Herod's executioner perpetrated the deed. But whether it be a fever, a dysentery, or the sword which is the instrument of death, is of little moment; all instruments are in the hands of God and under his control, and are alike in this most important effect, that they produce a removal from the field of labor. But it may perhaps be supposed, that the apostles of Christ will enjoy the privilege of a long continuance in life, though it was not granted to his forerunner. Christ chose but twelve men to be his disciples and eye witnesses of his life and death and resurrection, with a view to their being afterwards his missionaries to all the world. One of them betrayed him, and afterwards went and hanged himself. Eleven remained faithful: will not they be preserved? If any difference be made among them, Peter and James and John who were the most favored disciples, who alone were present at the. raising of the daughter of Jairus, on the mount of transfiguration, and in the garden of Gethsemane; surely they will all be spared to tell these wondrous tales over the face of the earth. No, we reason wrong.
After some years of labor, Herod slew James the brother of John with tho sword, full fifty years before his brother John's decease. Stephen, one of the first deacons, but more eminent as a preacher for his superior zeal and his superior success, promised to be one of the most
glorious instruments in the propagation of the Gospel: he surely will be the peculiar care of divine Providence. Be silent O man, and adore, before he has completed one year's labor in the vineyard, the stroke of death removes him from all his exertions and all his success. But why multiply instances of the servants. Behold the Lord and Master himself. What ministry can be compared to his? What a blessing was it to the world. But in the fourth year of his ministry, death removes him from his labors. Keep your eyes, my brethren, fixed on these wonderful examples, and in silent submission bow to the inscrutable dispensations of Jehovah. I might descend through the different ages of the church, and present you with a long list of names, of Brainerds among missionaries, of Janeway, of Gray, of Tennent among ministers, who were little more than shown to the world as extraordinary men both for their spirit and their success; and then death was sent to call
from all their useful services in the church of God. Are you not constrained to acknowledge that it is not an uncommon though a painful affiction which has befallen you, and for which you mourn.
2. It is not to be considered as an evidence that God in his sovereignty does not design the salvation of the people in those countries where our missionaries died. From the false reasonings of men on subjects of this nature, very fatal consequences frequently ensue. In a town or village in England, a minister was preaching the Gospel with success, but he was called away by death. From that time no man cared for their souls; the people were left as sheep without a shepherd, and were scattered abroad; ignorance gained ground, and the garden of the Lord became a howling wilderness. Perhaps some one may say, was the will of God that that place should remain destitute of the Gospel.” It is no more the will of God, than that Cain should murder Abel; there is in both instances the Divine permission of the blackest crimes. Had neighboring ministers and congregations done their duty by lending their aid, and had proper exertions been made for finding a successor, the Gospel might have continued there to the present time. The same reasoning is applicable to a heathen country. One missionary who was laboring in it dies; a second is removed also by death, “God in his sovereignty has determined that that country should remain ignorant of the Gospel.” No: thou art speaking wickedly for God. If that country continues without the light of the Gospel,