History of the *Bijnor* Rebellion (1858)
APPENDIX -- Rev. E. Edmond's Letter
The time appears to have come when earnest consideration should be given to the subject, whether or not all men should embrace the same system of religion. Railways, steam vessels and the electric telegraph are rapidly uniting all the nations of the earth: the more they are brought together, the more certain does the conclusion become that all have the same wants, the same anxieties, the same hopes, the same fears, and therefore, the same nature and the same origin. It is also very certain that death universally closes the scene.
Is there then, no means by which the sorrows and anxieties of life can be alleviated and by which comfort can be given to men in the hour of death? Is it rational to suppose that each nation is to find out a way for itself, by mere guess? Or has the one God, who made all, appointed different methods of obtaining present and future happiness to different portions of His family? Surely, this cannot be.
Now Christianity is a system which professes to have come by direct revelation from God Himself, as the only system by which happiness can be secured in this world, or in that other world which it reveals. It has this peculiarity to distinguish it from every other system of religion in the world, that it appeals to the reason as well as to the heart of man, and it is the only system in the world which has spread by the mere force of argument. The nations which believe in it are the most thoughtful and the most civilized in the earth, so that it has, at all events, a claim to be heard on its own behalf.
Having received the greatest blessings from it ourselves, we are anxious that others should be induced to receive them, and therefore, this solemn and earnest appeal is made to you to examine this important subject for yourself. The arguments in its favour are very numerous; this paper will dwell only upon one of them, but that one will be quite sufficient to establish the point.
A man called Jesus was born in a place called Bethlehem in the land of Judea, about 1159 years ago. He was a man of low birth, and in poor circumstances, but he professed to be a teacher sent by God to point out the only way which would lead unto God. After going about the country for three years preaching, he was put to death by the Roman Government at the solicitation of the Jewish Priests. So far all is admitted universally: the death of Jesus is a FACT, as the death of Julius Ceasar is a fact, and no person thinks of doubting the one fact more than the other. The Jews, the greatest enemies of Jesus and his doctrine, glory in it, and they are the best witnesses we could desire.
His followers say that he rose again from the dead. This is the ONE GREAT FACT upon which the WHOLE system of Christianity depends; if it is true, the Gospel is true -- for no person could rise from the dead except by the power of God, and God would not raise from the dead any person whose life and doctrine was not pleasing unto HIM; if it is false, the Gospel is false.
We would respectfully and earnestly urge you to direct your whole attention to this ONE point. Did Jesus rise from the dead, or did he not? We must bring witnesses of the fact; here they are: Peter, James, John, Matthew, Matthias, Thomas, Jude, Mary Magdalene, Cheophas and 500 others, whose names are not now known. Many of these persons were the chosen friends, who had been constantly with Jesus for three years before his death; they could not therefore have been mistaken as to his person; they came forward within 50 days of his death and declared that he had risen again in the very place where, and among the very people by whom, he had been crucified.
They had nothing to gain by this declaration, but everything to lose, not improbably their own lives; and yet they persuaded some thousands of persons that what they said was true -- so much so that the name of this despised and hated man was now, by those who had rejected Him, worshipped and revered; they continued telling the same fact as long as they lived, not only in Judea, but over all the Roman Empire: many of them showed their sincerity by allowing themselves to be put to torture and death for saying so, when they might have escaped, had they only said it was false: though ignorant and unlettered men, they persuaded thousands, all over the Empire, to believe them, to forsake their own religion, and to embrace the one they taught, notwithstanding scorn and death: they held out no promises of earthly comfort and honor to induce men to believe them, but rather the contrary: they were not satisfied with a formal adhesion to their views; but they required self-denial and holiness of life, which all men naturally dislike; they said that even the new religion would not save any man; and yet though they thus gained nothing themselves, and told others that they must not expect to gain anything either, they satisfied men that Jesus did rise again! and this so effectively that from the most obscure corner of the Roman Empire, the doctrine preached by uneducated fishermen, about a poor carpenter's son, spread over the whole Empire even after their death, and overthrew every other system of religion though sanctioned by the consent of ages!
We have likewise the evidence of persons who did not become preachers of the New Doctrine, to prove the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ; the soldiers who were placed as a guard at the grave saw it, and told the priests of it, and they found it necessary to invent an absurd story to account for the admitted disappearance of the body!
The only evidence which any person could desire, which we do not possess, is that of the public; it may be said, why did He not show himself publicly to all, especially to those persons who put Him to death? Various reasons may be assigned for this, derived from the nature of the doctrine which He taught; into these it is impossible at present to enter; but it must be observed, that the want of this evidence in no way affects the truth of that which we do possess: if a number of persons who knew Him intimately, saw Him and spoke to Him, and ate with him upon several occasions, it certainly does not tend to shake their evidence to ask, why did not others see Him also? Whenever He appeared, all who were present at that place at that time saw Him upon one occasion to the number of 500! So that it was not an apparition, but a reality. One person, by name Thomas, said that he would not believe that it was really his old friend, till he had put his hand into the holes caused by the nails in His hands, and into that caused by the spear in His side; but even he was satisfied!
We earnestly entreat you to consider these facts; if there is any flaw in the evidence, point it out; but if not, then admit that it is true, that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead -- embrace the Gospel.
This resurrection of Jesus Christ is an assurance unto all men that God hath appointed a day in which He will judge all the world in righteousness; you will then stand before Him; you will be called upon to answer for the evil thoughts, the evil words, and the evil actions of which you have been guilty. Are you prepared to do so? There is no man living who is. But all guilt is pardoned in the case of everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ as his Saviour, for holiness is conferred upon him likewise, so that he will be prepared even for that dreadful day.
We urge you, therefore, as you value your own happiness for ever, to examine this great subject, and to ask God himself to enable you, by His Holy Spirit's teaching to do so aright. Think over it and examine it in private; do so with others also to whom as well as to yourself, this letter is addressed; confine your attention to the one point, whether or not those persons are to be believed who said they saw Jesus Christ after He had risen from the dead: if you do so, you will be convinced by all the rules of evidence, that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, and that therefore the Gospel is a true and the only revelation from God.
Then be courageous and embrace it publicly: for He said Himself "whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He cometh in the Glory of His Father with the Holy Angels." We long to see churches thronged with the natives of this land, in which the glad tidings of the Gospel shall regularly be proclaimed by your own countrymen and not by strangers only; in which women, as well as men, shall be urged to repent of their sins, and to prepare to meet their God; in which children shall be taught lessons of morality and truth, to guide their conduct in this world, and lessons of holiness and peace to fit them for the next, and in which death shall be spoken of as an enemy no longer to be feared, for his sting has been taken away by "Our Saviour Jesus Christ who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." That this will yet be the case we are assured by God himself: we long for the time when it shall be fully realized. Why not in this generation? Would it not be an infinite improvement upon the foolish, degrading and wicked idolatry, which now defiles the land? "We speak as to wise men, judge ye what we say."
Any answers that may be sent to this letter, will be received and acknowledged, D.V. [[God willing]], if addressed to the care of E. Edmond, Esq., Calcutta, prepaid.