Feast of Charles Simeon, Henry Martyn, and Abdul Masih (March 4)   Leave a comment

church-missionary-society-logo

Above:  Logo of the Church Missionary Society

Image in the Public Domain

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CHARLES SIMEON (SEPTEMBER 24, 1759-NOVEMBER 13, 1836)

Anglican Priest and Promoter of Missions

His feast transferred from November 12

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HENRY MARTYN (FEBRUARY 18, 1781-OCTOBER 16, 1812)

Anglican Priest, Linguist, Translator, and Missionary

His feast transferred from October 19

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ABDUL MASIH (1776-MARCH 4, 1827)

Indian Convert and Missionary

His feast = March 4

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Among my purposes for the renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize influences and relationships.  Hence I transfer two saints from their established feast days (according to The Episcopal Church) to the designated feast day of Abdul Masih (according to The Church of North India), who might not have become a Christian without their efforts.

charles-simeon

Above:  Charles Simeon

Image in the Public Domain

Charles Simeon entered the world at Reading, England, on September 24, 1759.  He grew up in a prominent family and in The Church of England.  Our saint, educated at Eton and at King’s College, Cambridge, had a conversion experience while a student at Cambridge.  He had previously thought of taking the Holy Communion in negative terms, for he had thought of worthiness to partake in the sacrament as a matter of obedience to divine commandments.  After his conversion experience, however, Simeon realized the merits of Christ made one worthy to partake of the Holy Eucharist.  In 1782 our saint graduated from King’s College, became a fellow thereof, and became the Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge.  At first he had to contend with much opposition, due to his membership in the evangelical wing of The Church of England.  Nevertheless, he won widespread acceptance over time.

henry-martyn

Above:  Henry Martyn

Image in the Public Domain

Henry Martyn was among the people whom Simeon influenced.  Martyn entered the world at Truro, Cornwall, England, on February 18, 1781.  He, educated at Truro then at St. John’s College, Cambridge, from 1797 to 1801, intended originally to pursue a career in the law.  Simeon, however, persuaded him to follow a different path.  Martyn, who became a fellow at St. John’s College in 1802, became a deacon in 1803 before joining the ranks of priests.  After a brief tenure as the Curate of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, under Simeon, Martyn became a missionary.

Simeon had helped to found the Church Missionary Society (originally the Society for Missions to Africa and East and currently the Church Mission Society) in 1799.  He also advised the East India Company on the selection of chaplains.  In 1806 Martyn arrived in Calcutta as a chaplain of the East India Company.  He spent five years in India.  During that time he founded schools and churches, translated the New Testament and The Book of Common Prayer into Hindi, studied Farsi, and translated the New Testament into that language.

abdul-masih

Above:  Abdul Masih

Image in the Public Domain

Among the people Martyn brought to Christian faith was Sheikh Salih, a Muslim scholar aged 38 years. Salih, born at Delhi in 1776, learned Arabic and Persian at an early age.  He became a scholar and a teacher at Lucknow.  Salih met and befriended Martyn, the chaplain at Cawnpore.  On Pentecost Sunday 1811 Salih, due to Martyn’s influence, became not only a Christian but Abdul Masih, literally “Servant of the Messiah.”

Masih was a Christian for about twelve years—the rest of his life.  For eight years he was a catechist for the Church Missionary Society.  Then he spent a time as a Lutheran minister before returning to The Church of England in 1825.  That year Reginald Heber (1783-1826), the Bishop of Calcutta from 1823 to 1826, ordained him.  Masih, a medical missionary (because he operated a dispensary), pursued a respectful strategy of converting Muslims.  He, being the intellectual he was, engaged them in scholarly conversations.  He converted and baptized Muslims for the rest of his life.  Masih died of natural causes at Lucknow on March 4, 1827.  He was either 50 or 51 years old.

Martyn left India for Persia in 1811.  There he became the first English clergyman in the city of Shirmas.  Martyn also engaged Muslim scholars in theological discussions and corrected his earlier translations into Farsi.  While in Persia Martyn developed the desire to visit Arabia and to translate the New Testament into Arabic.  In 1812, while en route to Constantinople, Martyn stopped at the Armenian city of Tokat in the Ottoman Empire.  There he died, aged 31 years.  Local Armenian Christians buried him with the honors they usually reserved for a bishop.

Martyn was among the founders of modern Christianity in Iran and India.

One wonders what else Martyn would have done had he lived longer.

Simeon, who served as the Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, for 54 years, published many sermons and became one of the leading members of the evangelical wing of The Church of England.  He died at Cambridge on November 13, 1836.  He was 77 years old.

The influences of all three men have survived them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 5, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA

THE FEAST OF ANTONIO LOTTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GENOVEVA TORRES MORALES, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS AND THE HOLY ANGELS

THE FEAST OF MARGARET MACKAY, SCOTTISH HYMN WRITER

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Lord God, you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servants

Charles Simeon, Henry Martyn, and Addul Masih,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and,

at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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