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Title: Oriental Religions and Christianity - A Course of Lectures Delivered on the Ely Foundation Before the - Students of Union Theological Seminary, New York, 1891
Author: Ellinwood, Frank F.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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NEW YORK, 1891




The following lectures, prepared amid many cares and duties, have aimed
to deal only with practical questions which are demanding attention in
our time. They do not claim to constitute a treatise with close
connections and a logical order. Each presents a distinct topic, or a
particular phase of the present conflict of Christian truth with the
errors of the non-Christian religions. This independent treatment must
constitute my apology for an occasional repetition of important facts or
opinions which have a common bearing on different discussions. No claim
is made to scholarship in the Oriental languages. The ability to compare
original sources and determine dates and intricate meanings of terms, or
settle points in dispute by a wide research in Sanscrit or Pali
literatures, can only be obtained by those who spend years in study
along these special lines. But so many specialists have now made known
the results of their prolonged linguistic studies in the form of
approved English translations, that, as Professor Max Müller has well
said in his introduction to "The Sacred Books of the East," "there is
no longer any excuse for ignorance of the rich treasures of Oriental

Two considerations lend special importance to the topics here discussed.
First, that the false systems in question belong not merely to the past,
but to our own time. And second, that the increased intercommunication
of this age brings us into closer contact with them. They are no longer
afar off and unheard of, nor are they any longer lying in passive
slumber. Having received quickening influences from our Western
civilization, and various degrees of sympathy from certain types of
Western thought, they have become aggressive and are at our doors.

On controverted points I have made frequent quotations, for the reason
that the testimonies or opinions of writers of acknowledged competency
are best given in their own words.

I have labored under a profound conviction that, whatever may be the
merit and success of these modest efforts, the general class of subjects
treated is destined to receive increased attention in the near future;
that the Christian Church will not long be content to miscalculate the
great conquest which she is attempting against the heathen systems of
the East and their many alliances with the infidelity of the West. And I
am cheered with a belief that, in proportion to the intelligent
discrimination which shall be exercised in judging of the non-Christian
religions, and the skill which shall be shown in presenting the
immensely superior truths of the Christian faith, will the success of
the great work of Missions be increased.

It scarcely needs to be said that I have not even attempted to give
anything like a complete view of the various systems of which I have
spoken. Only a few salient points have been touched upon, as some
practical end has required. But if the mere outline here given shall
lead any to a fuller investigation of the subjects discussed, I shall be
content. I am satisfied that the more thoroughly the Gospel of
Redemption is compared with the futile systems of self-righteousness
which man has devised, the more wonderful it will appear.


NEW YORK, January 20, 1892.


The lectures contained in this volume were delivered to the students of
Union Theological Seminary in the year 1891, as one of the courses
established in the Seminary by Mr. Zebulon Stiles Ely, in the following

     "The undersigned gives the sum of ten thousand dollars to the Union
     Theological Seminary of the city of New York, to found a
     lectureship in the same, the title of which shall be 'The Elias P.
     Ely Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity.'

     "The course of lectures given on this foundation is to comprise any
     topics that serve to establish the proposition that Christianity is
     a religion from God, or that it is the perfect and final form of
     religion for man.

     "Among the subjects discussed may be:

     "The Nature and Need of a Revelation;

     "The Character and Influence of Christ and his Apostles;

     "The Authenticity and Credibility of the Scriptures, Miracles, and

     "The Diffusion and Benefits of Christianity; and

     "The Philosophy of Religion in its Relation to the Christian

     "Upon one or more of such subjects a course of ten public lectures
     shall be given, at least once in two or three years. The
     appointment of the lecturer is to be by the concurrent action of
     the directors and faculty of said Seminary and the undersigned; and
     it shall ordinarily be made two years in advance."




     The New "Science of Religion" to be Viewed with Discrimination--The
     Study of the Oriental Systems too Long a Monopoly of Anti-Christian
     Scholars--The Changed Aspects of the Missionary Work--The
     Significant Experience of Ziegenbalz--Fears Entertained in
     Reference to this Subject by Timid Believers--The Different View
     taken of the Old Heathen Systems of Greece and Rome--The Subject
     Considered from the Standpoint of Missionary Candidates--The
     Testimony of Intelligent and Experienced Missionaries--Reasons for
     Studying Oriental Systems Found in the Increased Intercourse of the
     Nations; in the Intellectual Quickening of Oriental Minds by
     Education; in the Resistance and even Aggressiveness of Heathen
     Systems; in the Diversities of the Buddhist Faith in Different
     Lands--False Systems to be Studied with a Candid Spirit--The
     Distinction to be Drawn between Religion and Ethics--Reasons why a
     Missionary should Pursue these Studies before Arriving on his
     Field--Reasons why the Ministry at Home Should Acquaint Themselves
     with Heathen Systems--Their Active Alliance with Various Forms of
     Western Infidelity--Intellectual Advantages to be Derived from such
     Studies--A Broader and Warmer Sympathy with Universal Humanity to
     be Gained--A Better Understanding of the Unique Supremacy of the
     Gospel as the Only Hope of the World--Pastors at Home are also
     Missionaries to the Heathen--They are Sharers in the Conflict
     through the Press.



     The Coincidences of the Present Struggle with that of the First
     Christian Centuries--The Mediæval Missionary Work of a Simple
     Character--That of India, Japan, China, and the Turkish Empire a
     Severe Intellectual Struggle as well as a Spiritual
     Conquest--Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islam, present
     Obstacles and Resistances Similar to those of Ancient Greece and
     Rome--How far Contrasts Appear between the Early and the Present
     Conquests--The Methods of Paul--His Tact in Recognizing Truth
     wherever Found, and Using it for his Purpose--The Attitude of the
     Early Christian Fathers toward the Heathen--Augustine's
     Acknowledgment of the Good which he Received from Cicero and
     Plato--The Important Elements which Platonism Lacked, and which
     were Found Only in the Gospel of Christ--The Great Secret of Power
     in the Early Church Found in its Moral Earnestness, as Shown by
     Simplicity of Life, and especially by Constancy even Unto a
     Martyr's Death--The Contrast between the Frugality of the Early
     Church and the Luxury and Vice of Roman Society--The Great Need of
     this Element of Success at the Present Time--The Observance of a
     Wise Discrimination in the Estimate of Heathen Philosophy by the
     Great Leaders of the Early Church--The Generality with which
     Classical Studies were Pursued by the Sons of the more Enlightened
     Christian Fathers--Method Among the Leaders--The Necessity for a
     thorough Knowledge of the Systems to be Met, as it was then
     Recognized--The thorough Preparation of Augustine, Ambrose,
     Iræneus, and Others for their Work--Origen's Masterly and
     Successful Reply to Celsus--The Use Made by the Early Fathers and
     by the Churches of a Later Day, of the Philosophy of Plato and
     Aristotle--Heathenism thus Conquered with its Own Weapons.



     The Great Variety in India's Religious Systems--The Early
     Monotheistic Nature Worship and its Gradual Lapse Into
     Polytheism--The Influence of Environment on the Development of
     Systems--The Distinction between Aryanism and Brahmanism, and the
     Abuses of the Latter in its Doctrines of Sacrifice and Caste--The
     Causes which Led to the Overthrow of this System of
     Sacerdotalism--The Upanishads and the Beginnings of Philosophy--The
     Rise of Buddhism and the Six Schools of Philosophy--Points in
     Common between them--The Code of Manu and its Countercheck to
     Rationalism--Its Development and its Scope, its Merits and
     Demerits--The Meaning of the Word Hinduism as here Used and the
     Means by which it Gained Ascendency--The Place and Influence of the
     Two Great Hindu Epics, their Origin, the Compromise which they
     Wrought, and the New and Important Doctrines which They
     Developed--The Trimurti and the Incarnations of Vishnu--The
     Deterioration of the Literature and the Faith of India--The Puranas
     and the Tantras--The Parallels between Hinduism and Christianity.



     The Great Interest Felt in this Poem by a Certain Class of
     Readers--Its Alleged Parallels to the Scriptures--The Plausibility
     of the Recent Translation by Mr. Mohini M. Chatterji--Its
     Patronizing Catholicity--The Same Claim to Broad Charity by Chunder
     Sen and Others--Pantheism Sacrifices nothing to Charity, because
     God is in All Things--All Moral Responsibility Ceases since God
     Acts in Us--Mr. Chatterji's Broad Knowledge of Our Scriptures, and
     his Skill in Selecting Passages for His Purpose--His Pleasing
     Style--The Story of Krishna and Arjuna Told in the Interest of
     Caste and Pantheism--The Growth of the Krishna Cult from Popular
     Legends--The Origin of the Bhagavad Gita and its Place in the
     Mahabharata--Its Use of the Six Philosophies--Krishna's
     Exhortation--The Issue of the Battle in which Arjuna is Urged to
     Engage--The "Resemblances" Explained by their Pantheistic
     Interpretation--Fancied Resemblances which are only in the Sound of
     Words--Coincidences Springing from Similar Causes--The Totally
     Different Meaning which Pantheism gives them--Difference between
     Union with Christ and the Pantheistic Pervasion of the
     Infinite--The Differentials of Christianity.



     New Interest in Old Controversies Concerning Buddhism--Max Müller's
     Reply to the Alleged Influence of the System on Christianity--The
     Distinction to be made between the Credible History of Gautama and
     Later Legends--The Legends of the Pre-existent States and the
     Wonders Attending the Earthly Life--The Northern and the Southern
     Buddhism--The Sources of the Principal Legends--The Four Principal
     Doctrines of Buddhism, Skandas, Trishna, Kharma, and
     Nirvana--Difficulties in the Doctrines of Kharma and
     Nirvana--Various Opinions of Scholars in Regard to the Nature of
     Nirvana--Buddha's Final Reticence on the Subject--The Real Goal at
     which the Average Buddhist Aims--The Need of a Careful Estimate of
     the Merits and Demerits of Buddhism, and of the Hold which it is
     likely to have on Western Minds--Its Points of Contact with Western
     Errors--The Fact that Modern Buddhism, like many other False
     Systems, Claims Christ as a Believer in its Principles--The Theory
     that the Life of Christ is Modelled after that of the Buddha--The
     Superior Authenticity of the Life of Christ--The Unreliable
     Character of Buddhist Legends--The Intrinsic Improbability that a
     Religion claiming a Distinct Derivation from Jewish Sources would
     Borrow from a far-off Heathen System--The Contrast of Christ's
     Loving Recognition of the Father in Heaven with the Avowed Atheism
     of Buddhism--The General Spirit of the System Forbids all Thought
     of Borrowing from it--Points of Contrast.



     Posthumous Legends of Mohammed; how they were Produced--Ancient
     Arabia and its Religious Systems--The Vale of Mecca and its Former
     Uses--The Birth of Mohammed, and his Religious Associations--His
     Temperament and Character--The Beginnings of his Prophetic
     Mission--Jews and Christians in Arabia and their Influence on
     Mohammedanism--Their Errors and Shortcomings a Help to the
     Reformer--Strange Doctrines of the Christian Church in Arabia--The
     Lost Opportunity of the Early Christian Sects and the Fatal Neglect
     of the Surrounding Nations--The Nomads of Arabia specially Prepared
     for Conquest by their Manner of Life and their Enlistment as
     Mercenary Soldiers--The Question of Mohammed's Real Character--The
     Growth of his Ambition and his Increasing Sensuality and
     Cruelty--Blasphemous Revelations in Behalf of the Prophet's Own
     Lust--Discriminating Judgment Required on his Career as a
     Whole--Mohammedan Schools--Noble Characters the Exception--General
     Corrupting Influence of the System--Its Conquests in Northern
     Africa and in the Soudan--The Early Races of Northern Africa, and
     the General Deterioration of the Country--The Piracies of the
     Barbary States--Civilization in Modern Egypt Due to Foreigners--The
     Bloody Ravages of El Mahdi in the East and the Fanatic Samadu in
     the West--The Testimony of a Secular Newspaper
     Correspondent--Professor Drummond and Henry M. Stanley on the Slave
     Traffic and Mohammedan Civilization--The Alleged Missionary
     Operations of Mohammedans in West Soudan--The Account Given of Them
     by Bishop Crowther, Schweinfurth, and Others--Canon Taylor and the
     Egyptian Pashas--The Effects of European Education--Palgrave on
     Mohammedan Intolerance of To-day--Mohammedanism and Temperance;
     Exaggerated Accounts of it; Proofs to the Contrary--R. Bosworth
     Smith's Protest against Canon Taylor's Extravagant Glorification of
     Islam--His Plea for Missions.



     Two Conflicting Theories on the History of Religion--That of the
     Old and New Testaments--That of Modern Evolution--The Importance of
     this Question--Professor Henry B. Smith's Estimate of Ebrard's
     Discussion of it--Ebrard's Summing-up of the Argument--Professor
     Naville's View of the Subject--Conclusions of Rev. W.A.P. Martin,
     D.D., and Max Müller--How far May we Attempt to Establish the Fact
     of an Early Monotheism from Heathen Traditions?--Conceptions
     Differing in Different Nations--Evidences of Monotheism in the
     Vedas--Professor Banergea's Testimony--The Views Held by the Modern
     Somajes--Monotheism in China--Monotheistic Worship in the Days of
     Yao and Shun, 2300 B.C.--The Prayer of an Emperor of the Ming
     Dynasty Quoted by Professor Legge--Remarkable Monument of
     Monotheism in the Temple of Heaven--A Taouist Prayer--Zoroaster a
     Monotheistic Reformer--The Inscription at Behistun--Testimony of
     the Modern Parsee Catechism--No Nation without some Notion of a God
     Supreme over All--Buddhists in Thibet--Egyptian Monotheism--The
     Greek Poets--Old Monotheism in Mexico and Peru--Evidences of
     Ramification and Decline in Polytheism--Egypt and India Give
     Abundant Proofs--Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taouism all Show
     Degeneration--Mohammedan Corruption since the Days of the Early
     Caliphs--The Religions of Greece and Rome Became Effete--Even
     Israel, in Spite of Instruction and Reproof, Lapsed into Idolatry
     again and again--Even the Christian Church has Shown Similar


     OF THE BIBLE 266

     The Universality and Similarity of Race Traditions--Their General
     Support of the Old Testament History--Traditions of the Creation
     Found in India, China, among the Northern Turanians and some
     African Tribes--The Fall of Man as Traced in Assyria and among the
     Hindus--The Buddhists of Ceylon, Mongolians, Africans and Tahitans
     had Similar Traditions--The Flood--Traditions of the Chinese, the
     Iranians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Peruvians--The
     Prevalence of Piacular Sacrifice and Tokens of a Sense of
     Guilt--Traditions or Traces of Substitution Found in the
     Vedas--Faint Traces in the Religion of the Egyptians--Traditions of
     the Iroquois--Prophecies Looking to Divine Deliverers--The Tenth
     Avatar of Vishnu yet to Come as a Restorer of Righteousness--The
     Influence of the Tradition as Utilized by a Missionary--A Norse
     Deliverer and Millennium--The Prediction of the Cumæan Sibyl Forty
     Years before the Birth of Christ--Prevailing Conceptions of some
     Mediator between God and Man--The Hindu Krishna as an
     Example--Changes in Buddhism from the Old Atheism to Theism, and
     even to a Doctrine of Salvation by Faith--A Trinity and at last a
     Saviour--All the False Systems Claiming the Teachings and the
     Character of Christ.



     The Prevalence of Speculation in all Ages in Regard to the Great
     Questions of Man's Origin and Destiny, and His Relations to
     God--The Various Schemes which have Seemingly Dispensed with the
     Necessity for a Creator in Accounting for the Existence of the
     Visible World--The Ancient Atomic Theories and Modern
     Evolution--Kanada, Lucretius, Herbert Spencer--Darwin's Theory of
     the Development of Species--Similar Theories Ascribed to the
     Chinese--The Ethical Difficulties Attending Many Philosophic
     Speculations, Ancient and Modern--Hindu Pantheism and Moral
     Responsibility--In the Advance from Instinct to Conscience and
     Religion, where does Moral Sentiment Begin?--If It was Right for
     Primeval Man to Maraud, why Might not Robbery again Become His Duty
     in Case of Extreme Deterioration?--Mr. Spencer's Theory of the
     Origin of Moral Intuition--The Nobler Origin which the Scriptures
     Assign to Man's Moral Nature--The Demonstrated Possibility of the
     Most Radical and Sudden Moral Changes Produced by the Christian
     Faith--Tendency of Ancient and Modern Theories to Lower the General
     Estimate of Man--The Dignity with which the New Testament Invests
     Him--The Ethical Tendency of the Doctrine of Evolution--The Opinion
     Expressed on the Subject by Goldwin Smith--Peschel's Frank
     Admission--The Pessimistic Tendency of all Anti-Biblical Theories
     of Man's Origin, Life, and Destiny--Buddha, Schopenhauer, and the
     Agnostics--The more Hopeful Influence of the Bible--The Tendency of
     all Heathen Religions and all Anti-Christian Philosophies toward
     Fatalism--Pantheism and the Philosophy of Spinoza Agreeing in this
     Respect with the Hindu Vedantism--The Late Samuel Johnson's "Piety
     of Pantheism," and His Definition of Fatalism--What Saves the
     Scriptural Doctrine of Fore-ordination from Fatalism--The Province
     of Faith and of Trust.



     The Claim that Christianity is the only True Religion--The Peculiar
     Tendencies of Modern Times to Deny this Supremacy and Monopoly--It
     is not Enough in Such Times to Simply Ignore the Challenge--The
     Unique Claim must be Defended--First: Christianity is
     Differentiated from all Other Religions by the Fact of a Divine
     Sacrifice for Sin--Mohammedanism, though Founded on a Belief in the
     True God and Partly on the Old Testament Teachings, Offers no
     Saviour--No Idea of Fatherhood is Found in any Non-Christian
     Faith--The Gloom of Buddhism and the Terror of Savage
     Tribes--Hinduism a System of Self-Help Merely--The Recognized
     Grandeur of the Principle of Self-Sacrifice as Reflected from
     Christ--Augustine Found a Way of Life only in His Divine
     Sacrifice--Second: No Other Faith than Christianity is Made
     Effectual by the Power of a Divine and Omnipotent Spirit--The
     Well-Attested Fact of Radical Transformations of Character--Other
     Systems have Made Converts only by Warlike Conquest or by Such
     Motives as might Appeal to the Natural Heart--Christianity Rises
     above all Other Systems in the Divine Personality of Christ--The
     Contrast in this Respect between Him and the Authors of the
     Non-Christian Systems--His Attractions and His Power Acknowledged
     by all Classes of Men--The Inferiority of Socrates as Compared with
     Christ--Bushnell's Tribute to the Perfection of this Divine
     Personality--Its Power Attested in the Life of Paul--The Adaptation
     of Christianity to all the Circumstances and Conditions of
     Life--Abraham and the Vedic Patriarchs, Moses and Manu, David's Joy
     and Gratitude, and the Gloom of Hindu or Buddhist Philosophy--Only
     Christianity Brings Man to True Penitence and Humility--The
     Recognized Beauty and the Convincing Lesson of the Prodigal
     Son--The Contrast between Mohammed's Blasphemous Suras, which
     Justify his Lust, and the Deep Contrition of David in the
     Fifty-first Psalm--The Moral Purity of the Old and New Testaments
     as Contrasted with all Other Sacred Books--The Scriptures Pure
     though Written in Ages of Corruption and Surrounded by Immoral
     Influences--Christ Belongs to no Land or Age--The Gospel Alone is
     Adapted to all Races and all Time as the Universal Religion of
     Mankind--Only Christianity Recognizes the True Relation between
     Divine Help and Human Effort--It Encourages by Omnipotent
     Co-operation--The All-Comprehensive Presentation of the Gospel.





It is said that the very latest among the sciences is the Science of
Religion. Without pausing to inquire how far it admits of scientific
treatment, certain reasons which may be urged for the study of the
existing religions of the world will be considered in this lecture. It
must be admitted in the outset that those who have been the pioneers in
this field of research have not, as a rule, been advocates of the
Christian faith. The anti-Christian theory that all religions may be
traced to common causes, that common wants and aspirations of mankind
have led to the development of various systems according to environment,
has until recently been the chief spur to this class of studies.
Accordingly, the religions of the world have been submitted to some
preconceived philosophy of language, or ethnology, or evolution, with
the emphasis placed upon such facts as seemed to comport with this
theory. Meanwhile there has been an air of broad-minded charity in the
manner in which the apologists of Oriental systems have treated the
subject. They have included Christ in the same category with Plato and
Confucius, and have generally placed Him at the head; and this supposed
breadth of sentiment has given them a degree of influence with dubious
and wavering Christians, as well as with multitudes who are without
faith of any kind.

In this country the study of comparative religion has been almost
entirely in the hands of non-evangelical writers. We have had "The Ten
Great Religions," from the pen of Rev. James Freeman Clarke; "The
Oriental Religions," written with great labor by the late Samuel
Johnson; and Mr. Moncure D. Conway's "Anthology," with its flowers,
gathered from the sacred books of all systems, and so chosen as to carry
the implication that they all are equally inspired. Many other works
designed to show that Christianity was developed from ancient sun myths,
or was only a plagiarism upon the old mythologies of India, have been
current among us. But strangely enough, the Christian Church has seemed
to regard this subject as scarcely worthy of serious consideration. With
the exception of a very able work on Buddhism,[1] and several review
articles on Hinduism, written by Professor S.H. Kellogg, very little has
been published from the Christian standpoint.[2] The term "heathenism"
has been used as an expression of contempt, and has been applied with
too little discrimination.

There is a reason, perhaps, why these systems have been underestimated.
It so happened that the races among whom the modern missionary
enterprise has carried on its earlier work were mostly simple types of
pagans, found in the wilds of America, in Greenland and Labrador, in the
West Indies, on the African coast, or in the islands of the Pacific; and
these worshippers of nature or of spirits gave a very different
impression from that which the Apostles and the Early Church gained from
their intercourse with the conquering Romans or the polished and
philosophic Greeks. Our missionary work has been symbolized, as Sir
William W. Hunter puts it, by a band of half-naked savages listening to
a missionary seated under a palm-tree, and receiving his message with
child-like and unquestioning faith.

But in the opening of free access to the great Asiatic nations, higher
grades of men have been found, and with these we now have chiefly to do.
The pioneer of India's missions, the devoted Ziegenbalg, had not been
long in his field before he learned the mistake which the churches in
Europe had made in regard to the religion and philosophy of the Hindus.
He laid aside all his old notions when he came to encounter the
metaphysical subtleties of Hindu thought, when he learned something of
the immense Hindu literature, the voluminous ethics, the mystical and
weird mythologies, the tremendous power of tradition and social
customs--when, in short, he found his way hedged up by habits of thought
wholly different from his own; and he resolved to know something of the
religion which the people of India already possessed.

For the benefit of others who might follow him he wrote a book on
Hinduism and its relations to Christianity, and sent it to Europe for
publication. But so strong were the preconceived notions which prevailed
among his brethren at home, that his manuscript, instead of being
published, was suppressed. "You were not sent to India to study
Hinduism," wrote Franke, "but to preach the Gospel." But Ziegenbalg
certainly was not wanting in his estimate of the chief end in view, and
his success was undoubtedly far greater for the intelligent plan upon
which he labored. The time came when a change had passed over the
society which had sent him forth. Others, less friendly than he to the
Gospel of Christ, had studied Hinduism, and had paraded it as a rival of
Christianity; and in self-defence against this flank movement, the
long-neglected work of Ziegenbalg was brought forth from obscurity and

It is partly in self-defence against similar influences, that the
Christian Church everywhere is now turning increased attention to the
study of Comparative Religion. In Great Britain a wider interest has
been felt in the subject than in this country. And yet, even there the
Church has been far behind the enemies of evangelical truth in
comparing Christianity with false systems. Dr. James Stalker, of
Glasgow, said a few months since that, whereas it might be expected that
the advocates of the true faith would be the first to compare and
contrast it with the false systems of the world, the work had been left
rather to those who were chiefly interested in disparaging the truth and
exalting error. Yet something has been done. Such men as Sir Monier
Williams, Sir William Muir, Professors Rawlinson, Fairbairn, and Legge,
Bishop Carpenter, Canon Hardwick, Doctors Caird, Dodds, Mitchell, and
others, have given the false systems of the East a thorough and candid
treatment from the Christian standpoint. The Church Missionary Society
holds a lectureship devoted to the study of the non-Christian religions
as a preparation for missionary work. And the representatives of that
Society in the Punjab have instituted a course of study on these lines
for missionaries recently arrived, and have offered prizes for the best
attainments therein. Though we are later in this field of investigation,
yet here also there is springing up a new interest, and it is safe to
predict that within another decade the real character of the false
religions will be more generally understood.

The prejudice which has existed in regard to this subject has taken two
different forms: First, there has been the broad assumption upon which
Franke wrote to Ziegenbalg, that all knowledge of heathenism is worse
than useless. Good men are asking, "Is not such a study a waste of
energy, when we are charged with proclaiming the only saving truth? Is
not downright earnestness better than any possible knowledge of
philosophies and superstitions?" And we answer, "Yes: by all means, if
only the one is possible." Another view of the subject is more serious.
May there not, after all, be danger in the study of false systems? Will
there not be found perplexing parallels which will shake our trust in
the positive and exclusive supremacy of the Christian faith?

Now, even if there were at first some risks to a simple, child-like
confidence, yet a timid attitude involves far greater risks: it amounts
to a half surrender, and it is wholly out of place in this age of
fearless and aggressive discussion, when all truth is challenged, and
every form of error must be met. Moreover, in a thorough study there is
no danger. Sir Monier Williams tells us that at first he was surprised
and a little troubled, but in the end he was more than ever impressed
with the transcendent truths of the Christian faith. Professor S.H.
Kellogg assures us that the result of his careful researches in the
Oriental systems is a profounder conviction of the great truths of the
Gospel as divine. And even Max Müller testifies that, while making every
allowance for whatever is good in the ethnic faiths, he has been the
more fully convinced of the great superiority of Christianity. Really,
those are in danger who receive only the superficial and misleading
representations of heathenism which one is sure to meet in our magazine
literature, or in works like "Robert Elsmere" and "The Light of Asia."

One cannot fail to mark the different light in which we view the
mythologies of the Greeks and Romans. If their religious beliefs and
speculations had remained a secret until our time, if the high ethical
precepts of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius had only now been proclaimed, and
Socrates had just been celebrated in glowing verse as the "Light of
Greece," there would be no little commotion in the religious world, and
thousands with only weak and troubled faith might be disturbed. But
simply because we thoroughly understand the mythology of Greece and
Rome, we have no fear. We welcome all that it can teach us. We cordially
acknowledge the virtues of Socrates and assign him his true place. We
enrich the fancy and awaken the intellectual energies of our youth by
classical studies, and Christianity shines forth with new lustre by
contrast with the heathen systems which it encountered in the Roman
Empire ages ago.

And yet that was no easy conquest. The early church, when brought face
to face with the culture of Greece and the self-assertion of Roman
power, when confronted with profound philosophies like those of Plato
and Aristotle, with the subtleties of the Stoics, and with countless
admixtures of Persian mysticism, had, humanly speaking, quite as
formidable a task as those that are presented in the heathen systems of
to-day. Very few of the champions of modern heathenism can compare with
Celsus, and there are no more subtle philosophies than those of ancient
Greece. Evidently, the one thing needed to disenchant the false systems
of our time is a clear and accurate knowledge of their merits and
demerits, and of their true relation to Christianity.

It will be of advantage, for one thing, if we learn to give credit to
the non-Christian religions for the good which they may fairly claim.
There has existed a feeling that they had no rights which Christian men
were bound to respect. They have been looked upon as systems of unmixed
evil, whose enormities it were impossible to exaggerate. And all such
misconceptions and exaggerations have only led to serious reactions.
Anti-Christian writers have made great capital of the alleged
misrepresentations which zealous friends of missions have put upon
heathenism; and there is always great force in any appeal for fair play,
on whichever side the truth may lie. Where the popular Christian idea
has presented a low view of some system, scarcely rising above the grade
of fetichism, the apologists have triumphantly displayed a profound
philosophy. Where the masses of Christian people have credited whole
nations with no higher notions of worship than a supreme trust in
senseless stocks and stones, some skilful defender has claimed that the
idols were only the outward symbols of an indwelling conception of
deity, and has proceeded with keen relish to point out a similar use of
symbols in the pictures and images of the Christian Church.

From one extreme many people have passed to another, and in the end have
credited heathen systems with greater merit than they possess. A marked
illustration of this fact is found in the influence which was produced
by Sir Edwin Arnold's "Light of Asia." Sentimental readers, passing
from surprise to credulity, were ready to invest the "gentle Indian
Saint" with Christian conceptions which no real Buddhist ever thought
of. Mr. Arnold himself is said to have expressed surprise that people
should have given to his poem so serious an interpretation, or should
have imagined for a moment that he intended to compare Buddhism with the
higher and purer teachings of the New Testament.

In considering some of the reasons which may be urged for the study of
false systems, we will first proceed from the standpoint of the
candidate for the work of missions. And here there is a broad and
general reason which seems too obvious to require much argument. The
skilful general or the civil engineer is supposed, of course, to survey
the field of contemplated operations ere he enters upon his work. The
late Dr. Duff, in urging the importance of a thorough understanding of
the systems which a missionary expects to encounter, illustrated his
point by a reference to the great Akbar, who before entering upon the
conquest of India, twice visited the country in disguise, that he might
gain a complete knowledge of its topography, its strongholds, and its
points of weakness, and the best methods of attack.

While all religious teachers must understand their tasks, the need of
special preparation is particularly urgent in the foreign missionary,
owing to his change of environment. Many ideas and methods to which he
has been trained, and which would serve him well among a people of his
own race, might be wholly out of place in India or China, Ram Chandra
Bose, M.A.--himself a converted Brahman--has treated with great
discrimination the argument frequently used, that the missionary "need
only to proclaim the Glad Tidings." He says: "That the simple story of
Christ and him crucified is, after all, the truth on which the
regeneration of the Christian and the non-Christian lands must hang, no
one will deny. This story, ever fresh, is inherently fitted to touch the
dead heart into life, and to infuse vitality into effete nationalities
and dead civilizations. But a great deal of rubbish has to be removed in
heathen lands, ere its legitimate consequences can be realized. And a
patient, persistent study of the false religions, and the complicated
systems of philosophy associated with them, enables the missionary to
throw out of the way those heaps of prejudices and errors which make it
impossible for the story of the cross to reach and influence the
heart."[3] It has been very wisely said that "any fragment of truth
which lies in a heathen mind unacknowledged is an insuperable barrier
against conviction: recognized and used, it might prove a help;
neglected and ignored, it is insurmountable."[4]

The late Dr. Mullens learned by careful observation, that the
intellectual power of the Hindus had been so warped by false reasoning,
that "they could scarcely understand how, when two principles are
contradictory, one must be given up as false. They are prepared to
receive both sides of a contradiction as true, and they feel at liberty
to adopt that which seems the most comfortable. And nothing but a full
exposure of evil, with a clear statement of the antagonistic truth,
will suffice to awaken so perverted an intellect."[5]

The missionary has often been surprised to find that the idea which he
supposed was clearly understood, was wholly warped by the medium of
Hindu thought, as a rod is apparently warped when plunged into a stream,
or as a beautiful countenance is distorted by the waves and
irregularities of an imperfect mirror. To the preacher, sin, for
example, is an enormity in the sight of God; but to his Hindu listener
it may be only a breach of custom, or a ceremonial uncleanness. The
indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as it is set forth in Paul's Epistles, is
to the missionary a union in which his personality is still maintained
in blest fellowship with God, while to his audience it may be only that
out and out pantheism in which the deity within us supplants all
individual personality, and not only excludes all joy, but all

Professor W.G.T. Shedd has clearly pointed out the fact that the modern
missionary has a harder task in dealing with the perversions of the
heathen mind than that to which the Apostles of the Early Church were
called, owing to the prevalence in India and elsewhere of that pantheism
which destroys the sense of moral responsibility. He says: "The Greek
and Roman theism left the human will free and responsible, and thus the
doctrine of sin could be taught. But the pantheistic systems of the East
destroy free will, by identifying God and man; and hence it is
impossible to construct the doctrine of sin and atonement except by
first refuting the pantheistic ethics. The missionary can get no help
from _conscience_ in his preaching, when this theory of God and the
world has the ground. But St. Paul appealed confidently 'to every man's
conscience in the sight of God,' and called upon the ethics and theology
of the Greek and Roman philosophers for a corroboration. The early
Apologists, Tertullian and others, did the same thing."

The testimonies which have been given within the last few years, by the
most intelligent and observing missionaries in Eastern lands, are of
such peculiar significance and force, that I shall be justified in
quoting a few at some length. Rev. George William Knox, D.D., of Tokio,
Japan, in accepting an election to an honorary membership of the
American Society of Comparative Religion, wrote, December 17, 1890: "I
am deeply in sympathy with the objects of the Society, as indeed every
missionary must be. We have practical demonstrations of the value of
research into the ethnic religions. Even at home the value of such
research has already been great, but in these non-Christian lands it is
indispensable. It is true that non-Christian systems, as found among the
people, rarely exhibit the forms or the doctrines which we learn from
books, but I presume the same would be said by an intelligent Asiatic,
were he to study our sacred books and then compare results with much of
the religion which calls itself Christian in the West. And yet for the
study even of the most debased forms of Christianity in South America or
Mexico, let us say, we must needs begin with our sacred books. And so
it is with debased Buddhism in Japan. The Buddhism of Ceylon and of the
books is unknown to this people, and when it is used as the basis of
argument or exposition we do not hit the mark. Yet, after all, our debt
is immeasurable to the societies and scholars that have made accessible
the sources that have yielded at last such systems as are dominant here.

"The study of non-Christian systems is essential to the missionary, even
though he does not refer to them in his preaching, but contents himself
with delivering the Gospel message. And that is the rule with
missionaries, so far as I know. But a knowledge of the native systems is
imperative, that we may properly present our own. Otherwise we waste
time in teaching over again that which is already fully known, or we so
speak that our truth takes on the form of error, or we so underestimate
the thought of those whom we address, that the preaching of the wisdom
of God sounds in their ears the preaching of foolishness. The adaptation
of preaching to the hearers of Asiatic lands is a task that may well
make us thankful for every help that may be furnished us.... The
missionary is far too apt to come from the West with exalted notions of
his own superiority, and with a feeling of condescending pity for men
who, perhaps, have pondered the deep things of the universe far more
than he. Let him really master a philosophy like the Confucian, and he
will better illustrate the Christian grace of humility, and be so much
the better prepared for his work. His study will show him how
astonishing is the light that has shone upon those men whom he has
thought of as wholly in darkness. It will thus show him the true way of
approach, and enable him to follow the lines of least resistance. It
will also reveal to him what is the essential character of the divine
message which he himself bears. He will separate that peculiar and
spiritual truth which is the Word of Life, and will bring it as glad
tidings of great joy. Surely no man can study these ethnic faiths, no
matter with what appreciation of their measure of truth, and rejoicing
in it, without a constantly growing conviction that the one power that
converts men and establishes God's kingdom on earth is the Word that is
eternal, the Son of God. He gathers in Himself all the truth of all the
religions, and He adds that divine Salvation and Life for which all the
nations have waited, and without which the highest and deepest thought
remains unable to bring men into living communion with the God and
Father of us all."

Rev. Martyn Clark, D.D., Missionary of the Church Missionary Society at
Umritsur, India, has given thorough study to the Sanscrit, and has
thereby been enabled to expose the fallacies and misrepresentations
which the Arya Somaj, in its bitter controversy with the Gospel, has put
forth as to the real character of the Vedic literature. No man is better
able to judge of the importance of a correct understanding of the errors
of the non-Christian systems than he. In a letter accepting an honorary
membership of the above-named Society he says: "The object of the
Society is one in which I am deeply interested, and I shall at all
times do what I can to further its aims. I am convinced that there is
much that is helpful to the cause of Christ to be learned in this field
of research."

Rev. H. Blodgett, D.D., veteran Missionary of the American Board in
Peking, in accepting a similar honor, says: "My interest in these
studies has been deep and growing. It is high time that such a society
as you represent should be formed. The study of Comparative Religion has
long enough been in the hands of those who hold all religions to be the
outcome of the natural powers of the human mind, unaided by a revelation
from God. It is time that those who believe in the revelation from God
in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament founded upon the Old,
should study the great ethnic religions in the light derived from the

Rev. James S. Dennis, D.D., long a Missionary of the Presbyterian
Mission in Beyrout, Syria, says in the same connection: "The great
missionary movement of our age has brought us face to face with problems
and conflicts which are far more deep and serious than those which
confront evangelistic efforts in our own land, and it is of the highest
importance that the Church at home should know as fully as possible the
peculiar and profound difficulties of work in foreign fields. These
ancient religions of the East are behind intrenchments, and they are
prepared to make a desperate resistance. Those who have never come into
close contact with their adherents, and discovered by experience the
difficulty of dislodging them and convincing them of the truth of the
Gospel, may very properly misunderstand the work of the foreign
missionary and wonder at his apparent failure, or at least his slow
progress. But I wonder at the success attained in the foreign field, and
consider it far more glorious and remarkable than it is generally
accounted to be. A fuller acquaintance with the strength, and resources,
and local éclat, and worldly advantages of these false religions, will
give the Church at home greater patience and faith in the great work of
evangelizing the nations."[6]

A specific reason for the study of the non-Christian religions is found
in the changes which our intercourse with Eastern nations has already
wrought. With our present means of intercommunication we are brought
face to face with them, and the contact of our higher vitality has
aroused them from the comparative slumber of ages. Even our missionary
efforts have given new vigor to the resistance which must be
encountered. We have trained up a generation of men to a higher
intellectual activity, and to a more earnest spirit of inquiry, and they
are by no means all won over to the Christian faith. And there are
thousands in India whom a Government education has left with no real
faith of any kind, but whose pride of race and venerable customs is
raised to a higher degree than ever. They have learned something of
Christianity; they have also studied their own national systems; they
have become especially familiar with all that our own sceptics have
written against Christianity; still further, they have added to their
intellectual equipment all that Western apologists have said of the
superiority of the Oriental faiths. They are thus armed at every point,
and they are using our own English tongue and all our facilities for
publication. How is the young missionary, who knows nothing of their
systems or the real points of comparison, to deal with such men? It is
very true that not all ranks of Hindus are educated; there are millions
who know nothing of any religion beyond the lowest forms of
superstition, and to these we owe the duty of a simple and plain
presentation of Christ and Him crucified; but in every community where
the missionary is likely to live there are men of the higher class just
named; and besides, professional critics and opposers are now employed
to harass the bazaar preacher with perplexing questions, which are soon
heard from the lips of the common people. A young missionary recently
wrote of the surprise which he felt when a low caste man, almost without
clothing, met him with arguments from Professor Huxley.

Missionary Boards have sometimes sent out a specialist, and in some
sense a champion, who should deal with the more intelligent classes of
the heathen. But such a plan is fraught with disadvantages. What is
needed is a thorough preparation in all missionaries, and that involves
an indispensable knowledge of the forces to be met. The power of the
press is no longer a monopoly of Christian lands. The Arya Somaj, of
India, is now using it, both in the vernacular and in the English, in
its bitter and often scurrilous attacks. One of its tracts recently sent
to me contained an English epitome of the arguments of Thomas Paine. The
secular papers of Japan present in almost every issue some discussion on
the comparative merits of Christianity, Buddhism, Evolution, and
Theosophy, and many of the young native ministry who at first received
the truth unquestioningly as a child receives it from his mother, are
now calling for men whom they can follow as leaders in their struggle
with manifold error.[7]

Even Mohammedans are at last employing the press instead of the sword.
Newspapers in Constantinople are exhorting the faithful to send forth
missionaries to "fortify Africa against the whiskey and gunpowder of
Christian commerce, by proclaiming the higher ethical principles of the
Koran." Great institutions of learning are also maintained as the
special propaganda of the Oriental religions. El Azar, established at
Cairo centuries ago, now numbers ten thousand students, and these when
trained go forth to all Arabic speaking countries.[8] The Sanskrit
colleges and monasteries of Benares number scarcely less than four
thousand students,[9] who are being trained in the Sankhyan or the
Vedanta philosophy, that they may go back to their different provinces
and maintain with new vigor the old faiths against the aggressions of
Christianity. And in Kioto, the great religious centre of Japan, we find
over against the Christian college of the American Board of Missions, a
Buddhist university with a Japanese graduate of Oxford as its president.
In a great school at Tokio, also, Buddhist teachers, aided by New
England Unitarians, are maintaining the superiority of Buddhism over
Western Christianity as a religion for Japan.[10]

Another reason why the missionary should study the false systems is
found in the greatly diversified forms which these systems present in
different lands and different ages. And just here it will be seen that a
partial knowledge will not meet the demand. It might be even misleading.
Buddhism, for example, has assumed an endless variety of forms--now
appearing as a system of the baldest atheism, and now presenting an
approximate theism. Gautama was certainly atheistic, and he virtually
denied the existence of the human soul. But in the northern development
of his system, theistic conceptions sprang up. A sort of trinity had
appeared by the seventh century A.D., and by the tenth century a supreme
and celestial Buddha had been discovered, from whom all other Buddhas
were emanations. To-day there are at least twelve Buddhist sects in
Japan, of which some are mystical, others pantheistic, while two hold a
veritable doctrine of salvation by faith.[11]

China has several types of Buddhism, and Mongolia, Thibet, Nepaul,
Ceylon, Burmah, and Siam present each some special features of the
system. How important that one should understand these differences in
order to avoid blundering, and to wisely adapt his efforts! In India,
under the common generic name of Hinduism, there are also many sects:
worshippers of Vishnu, worshippers of Siva, worshippers of Krishna.
There are Sikhs, and Jains, and devil worshippers; among the Dravidian
and other pre-Aryan tribes there are victims of every conceivable

Now, a missionary must know something of these faiths if he would fight
with "weapons of precision." Paul, in becoming all things to all men,
knew at least the differences between them. He preached the gospel with
a studied adaptation. He tells us that he so strove as to win, and "not
as those who beat the air." How alert were the combatants in the arena
from which his simile is borrowed! How closely each athlete scanned his
man, watched his every motion, knew if possible his every thought and
impulse! Much more, in winning the souls of darkened and misguided men,
should we learn the inmost workings of their minds, their habits of
thought, and the nature of the errors which are to be dislodged.

But how shall the false systems of religions be studied? First, there
should be a spirit of entire candor. Truth is to be sought always, and
at any cost; but in this case there is everything to be gained and
nothing to be lost by the Christian teacher, and he can well afford to
be just. Our divine Exemplar never hesitated to acknowledge that which
was good in men of whatever nationality or creed. He could appreciate
the faith of Roman or Syro-Phoenician. He could see merit in a Samaritan
as well as in a Jew, and could raise even a penitent publican to the
place of honor. It was only the Pharisees who hesitated to admit the
truth, until they could calculate the probable effect of their

The very best experience of missionaries has been found in the line of
Christ's example. "The surest way to bring a man to acknowledge his
errors," says Bishop Bloomfield, "is to give him full credit for
whatever he had learned of the truth."[12] "What should we think," says
a keen observer of the work of missions--"what should we think of an
engineer who, in attempting to rear a light-house on a sandbar, should
fail to acknowledge as a godsend any chance outcropping of solid rock to
which he might fasten his stays?"[13]

But in urging the duty of candor, I assume that an absolute freedom from
bias is impossible on either side. It is sometimes amusing to witness
the assurance with which professed agnostics assume that they, and they
alone, look upon questions of comparative religion with an unbiased and
judicial mind. They have no belief, they say, in any religion, and are
therefore entirely without prejudice. But are they? Has the man who has
forsaken the faith of his fathers and is deeply sensible of an
antagonism between him and the great majority of those about him--has he
no interest in trying to substantiate his position, and justify his
hostility to the popular faith? Of all men he is generally the most
prejudiced and the most bitter. We freely admit that we set out with a
decided preference for one religious system above all others, but we
insist that candor is possible, though an absolutely indifferent
judgment is out of the question. Paul, who quoted to the Athenians their
own poet, was fair-minded, and yet no man ever arraigned heathenism so
terribly as he, and none was so intensely interested in the faith which
he preached.

Archbishop Trench, in discussing the exaggerations from which a careful
study of the Oriental religions would doubtless save us, says, "There is
one against which we are almost unwilling to say a word. I mean the
exaggeration of those who, in a deep devotion to the truth as it is in
Christ Jesus, count themselves bound, by their allegiance to Him, to
take up a hostile attitude to everything not distinctly and avowedly
Christian, as though any other position were a treachery to his cause,
and a surrender of his exclusive right to the authorship of all the good
which is in the world. In this temper we may dwell only on the guilt and
misery and defilements, the wounds and bruises and putrefying sores of
the heathen world; or if aught better is brought under our eye, we may
look askant and suspiciously upon it, as though all recognition of it
were a disparagement of something better. And so we may come to regard
the fairest deeds of unbaptized men as only more splendid sins. We may
have a short but decisive formula by which to try and by which to
condemn them. These deeds, we may say, were not of faith, and therefore
they could not please God; the men that wrought them knew not Christ,
and therefore their work was worthless--hay, straw, and stubble, to be
utterly burned up in the day of the trial of every man's work.

"Yet there is indeed a certain narrowness of view, out of which alone
the language of so sweeping a condemnation could proceed. Our allegiance
to Christ, as the one fountain of light and life for the world, demands
that we affirm none to be good but Him, allow no goodness save that
which has proceeded from Him; but it does not demand that we deny
goodness, because of the place where we find it, because we meet it, a
garden tree, in the wilderness. It only requires that we claim this for
Him who planted, and was willing that it should grow there; whom it
would itself have gladly owned as its author, if, belonging to a happier
time, it could have known Him by his name, whom in part it knew by his

"We do not make much of a light of nature when we admit a righteousness
in those to whom in the days of their flesh the Gospel had not come. We
only affirm that the Word, though not as yet dwelling among us, yet
being the 'light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,'
had also lighted them. Some glimpses of his beams gilded their
countenances, and gave to these whatever brightness they wore; and in
recognizing this brightness we are ascribing honor to Him, and not to
them; glorifying the grace of God, and not the virtues of man."[14]

In marked contrast with this, and tending to an extreme, is the
following, from the pen of Bishop Beveridge. It is quoted by Max Müller,
in the opening volume of "The Sacred Books of the East," as a model of

"The general inclinations which are naturally implanted in my soul to
some religion, it is impossible for me to shift off; but there being
such a multiplicity of religions in the world, I desire now seriously to
consider with myself which of them all to restrain these my general
inclinations to. And the reason of this my inquiry is not, that I am in
the least dissatisfied with that religion I have already embraced; but
because 'tis natural for all men to have an overbearing opinion and
esteem for that particular religion they are born and bred-up in. That,
therefore, I may not seem biased by the prejudice of education, I am
resolved to prove and examine them all; that I may see and hold fast to
that which is best.... Indeed, there was never any religion so barbarous
and diabolical, but it was preferred above all other religions
whatsoever by them that did profess it; otherwise they would not have
professed it.... And why, say they, may you not be mistaken as well as
we? Especially when there are, at least, six to one against your
Christian religion; all of which think they serve God aright; and expect
happiness thereby as well as you.... And hence it is that in my looking
out for the truest religion, being conscious to myself how great an
ascendancy Christianity holds over me beyond the rest, as being that
religion whereunto I was born and baptized; that the supreme authority
has enjoined and my parents educated me in; that which everyone I meet
withal highly approves of, and which I myself have, by a long-continued
profession, made almost natural to me; I am resolved to be more jealous
and suspicious of this religion than of the rest, and be sure not to
entertain it any longer without being convinced by solid and substantial
arguments of the truth and certainty of it. That, therefore, I may make
diligent and impartial inquiry into all religions and so be sure to find
out the best, I shall for a time look upon myself as one not at all
interested in any particular religion whatsoever, much less in the
Christian religion; but only as one who desires, in general, to serve
and obey Him that made me in a right manner, and thereby to be made
partaker of that happiness my nature is capable of."[15]

Second, in studying the false systems it is important to distinguish
between religion and ethics. In the sphere of ethics the different
faiths of men may find much common ground, while in their religious
elements they may be entirely true or utterly false. The teachings of
Confucius, though agnostic, presented a moral code which places the
relations of the family and state on a very firm basis. And the very
highest precepts of Buddhism belong to the period in which it was
virtually atheistic. Many great and noble truths have been revealed to
mankind through the conscience and the understanding, and these truths
have found expression in the proverbs or ethical maxims of all races. To
this extent God has nowhere left himself without witness. But all this
is quite apart from a divinely revealed religion which may be cherished
or be wholly lost. The golden rule is found not only in the New
Testament, but negatively at least in the Confucian classics;[16] and
the Shastras of the Hindus present it in both the positive and the
negative form. And the still higher grace of doing good to those who
injure us, was proclaimed by Laotze, five hundred years before Christ
preached the Sermon on the Mount.

The immense superiority of the ethical standard in Christianity, lies in
its harmony and completeness. Confucius taught the active virtues of
life, Laotze those of a passive kind; Christianity inculcates both. In
heathenism ethical truths exist in fragments--mere half truths, like the
broken and scattered remains of a temple once beautiful but now
destroyed. They hold no relation to any high religious purpose, because
they have no intelligent relation to God. Christian ethics begin with
our relations to God as supreme, and they embrace the present life and
the world to come. The symmetry of the divine precept, "Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself," finds
no counterpart in the false religions of the world. Nowhere else, not
even in Buddhism, is found the perfect law of love. The great secret of
power in Christianity is God's unspeakable love to men in Christ; and
the reflex of that love is the highest and purest ever realized in human

Thirdly, the false systems should be studied by the Christian
missionary, not for their own sakes so much as for an ulterior purpose,
and they should be studied in constant comparison with the religion
which it is his business to proclaim. His aim is not that of a savant.
Let us not disguise it: he is mainly endeavoring to gain a more thorough
preparation for his own great work. The professional scholar at Oxford
or Leipsic might condemn this acknowledged bias--this pursuit of truth
as a means and not as an end--but if he would be entirely frank, he
would often find himself working in the interest of a linguistic
theory, or a pet hypothesis of social science. It was in this spirit
that Spencer and Darwin have searched the world for facts to support
their systems.[17]

I repeat, it is enough for the missionary that he shall be thoroughly
candid. He may exercise the burning zeal of Paul for the Gospel which he
proclaims, if he will also exercise his clear discrimination, his
scrupulous fairness, his courtesy, and his tact. Let him not forget that
he is studying religions comparatively; he should proceed with the Bible
in one hand, and should examine the true and the false together.
Contrasts will appear step by step as he advances, and the great truths
of Christianity will stand out in brighter radiance, for the shadows of
the background. If the question be asked, when and where shall the
missionary candidate study the false systems, I answer at once; before
he leaves his native land; and I assign three principal reasons. First:
The study of a new and difficult language should engross his attention
when he reaches his field. This will prove one of the most formidable
tasks of his life, and it will demand resolute, concentrated, and
prolonged effort. Second: In gaining access to the people, studying
their ways and winning their confidence, the missionary will find great
advantage in having gained some previous knowledge of their habits of
thought and the intricacies of their beliefs. Third: The means and
appliances of study are far greater here at home than on the mission
fields. A very serious difficulty with most missionaries is the want of
books on special topics; they have no access to libraries, and if one
has imagined that he can best understand the faiths of the people by
personal contact with them, he will soon learn with surprise how little
he can gain from them, and how little they themselves know of their own
systems. Those who do know have learned for the purpose of baffling the
missionary instead of helping him. The accumulation and the arrangement
of anything like a systematic knowledge of heathen systems has cost the
combined effort of many missionaries and many Oriental scholars; and
now, after three generations have pursued these studies, it is still
felt that very much is to be learned from literatures yet to be
translated. Such as there are, are best found in the home libraries.

Let us for a few moments consider the question how far those who are not
to become missionaries may be profited by a study of false systems. To a
large extent, the considerations already urged will apply to them also,
but there are still others which are specially important to public
teachers here at home. Dean Murray, in an able article published in the
"Homiletic Review" of September, 1890, recommended to active and
careworn pastors a continued study of the Greek classics, as calculated
to refresh and invigorate the mind, and increase its capacity for the
duties of whatever sphere. All that he said of the Greek may also be
said of the Hindu classics, with the added consideration that in the
latter we are dealing with the living issues of the day. Sir Monier
Williams, in comparing the two great Epics of the Hindus with those of
Homer, names many points of superiority in the former.[18] It is safe to
say that no poems of any other land have ever exercised so great a spell
over so many millions of mankind as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, of
India, and no other production is listened to with such delight as the
story of Rama as it is still publicly read at the Hindu festivals.

Of philosophies, no system of India has approached so near to veritable
divine revelation as that of Plato, but in variety and subtlety, and in
their far-reaching influence upon human life, the Indian schools,
especially the Vedanta, are scarcely excelled to this day. And they are
_applied_ philosophies; they constitute the religion of the people. Max
Müller has said truly that no other line of investigation is so
fascinating as that which deals with the long and universal struggle of
mankind to find out God, and to solve the mystery of their relations to
him. Unfortunately, human history has dealt mainly with wars and
intrigues, and the rise and fall of dynasties; but compared with these
coarse and superficial elements, how much more interesting and
instructive to trace in all races of men the common and ceaseless
yearnings after some solution of life's mysteries! One is stirred with
a deeper, broader sympathy for mankind when he witnesses this universal
sense of dependence, this fear and trembling before the powers of an
unseen world, this pitiful procession of unblest millions ever trooping
on toward the goal of death and oblivion. And from this standpoint, as
from no other, may one measure the greatness and glory of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ.

To my mind there is nothing more pathetic than the spectacle of
world-wide fetichism. It is not to be contemplated with derision, but
with profoundest sympathy. We all remember the pathos of Scott's picture
of his Highland heroine, with brain disordered by unspeakable grief,
beguiling her woes with childish ornaments of "gaudy broom" and plumes
from the eagle's wing. But sadder far is the spectacle of millions of
men made for fellowship with God, building their hopes on the divinity
dwelling in an amulet of tiger's teeth or serpent's fangs or curious
shells. And it ought to enlarge our natures with a Christ-like sympathy
when we contemplate those dark and desperate faiths which are but
nightmares of the soul, which see in all the universe only malevolent
spirits to be appeased, which, looking heavenward for a father's face,
see, as Richter expressed it, "only a death's head with bottomless,
empty sockets" instead of a loving smile.[19]

And what a field do the greater but equally false systems present for
the study of the human mind and heart! How was it that the simple nature
worship of the Indo-Aryans grew into the vast deposit of modern
Hinduism, and developed those social customs which have become walls of
adamant? How could Buddhism grow out of such a soil and finally cast its
spell over so many peoples? What were the elements of power which
enabled the great sage of China to rear a social and political fabric
which has survived for so many centuries? How was it that Islam gained
its conquests, and what is the secret of that dominion which it still
holds? These surely are questions worthy of those who are called to deal
with human thought and human destiny. And when by comparison we find the
grand differentials which raise Christianity infinitely above them all,
we shall have gained the power of presenting its truths more clearly and
more convincingly to the minds and hearts of men.

There are some specific advantages flowing from the study of other
religions of which I will give little more than an enumeration.

1. It impresses us with the universality of some more or less distinct
conception of God. I am aware that from time to time explorers imagine
that they have found a race of men who have no notion of God, but in
almost every instance subsequent investigation has found a religious
belief. Such mistakes were made concerning the aborigines of Australia,
the Dyaks of Borneo, the Papuans, the Patagonians, and even the American
Indians. The unity of the race finds a new and striking proof in the
universality of religion.

2. The study of false systems brings to light an almost unanimous
testimony for the existence of a vague primeval monotheism, and thus
affords a strong presumptive corroboration of the Scriptural doctrine of
man's apostasy from the worship of the true God.

3. The clearest vindication of the severities of the Old Testament
Theocracy, in its wars of extermination against the Canaanites and
Phoenicians, is to be found in a careful study of the foul and cruel
types of heathenism which those nations carried with them wherever their
colonies extended. A religion which enjoined universal prostitution, and
led thus to sodomy and the burning of young children in the fires of
Moloch, far exceeded the worst heathenism of Africa or the islands of
the Pacific. The Phoenician settlements on the Mediterranean have not
even yet recovered from the moral blight of that religion; and had such
a cultus been allowed to spread over all Europe and the world, not even
a second Deluge could have cleansed the earth of its defilement. The
extermination of the Canaanites, when considered as a part of one great
scheme for establishing in that same Palestine a purer and nobler faith,
and sending forth thence, not Phoenician corruption, but the Gospel of
Peace to all lands, becomes a work of mercy to the human race.

4. The ethics of the heathen will be found to vindicate the doctrines of
the Bible. This is a point which should be more thoroughly understood.
It has been common to parade the high moral maxims of heathen systems as
proofs against the exclusive claims of Christianity. But when carefully
considered, the lofty ethical truths found in all sacred books and
traditions, corroborate the doctrines of the Scriptures. They condemn
the nations "who hold the truth in unrighteousness." They enforce the
great doctrine that by their own consciences all mankind are convicted
of sin, and are in need of a vicarious righteousness,--a full and free
salvation by a divine power. My own experience has been, and it is
corroborated by that of many others, that very many truths of the
Gospel, when seen from the stand-point of heathenism, stand out with a
clearness never seen before.

Many prudential reasons like those which we have given for the study of
false systems by missionaries, pertain also to those who remain at home.
Both are concerned in the same cause, and both encounter the same
assailments of our common faith. We are all missionaries in an important
sense: we watch the conflict from afar, but we are concerned in all its
issues. The bulletins of its battle-fields are no longer confined to
missionary literature; they are found in the daily secular press, and
they are discussed with favorable or unfavorable comments in the monthly
magazines. The missionary enterprise has come to attract great
attention: it has many friends, and also many foes, here at home; it is
misrepresented by scoffers at our doors. The high merits of heathen
systems, set forth with every degree of exaggeration, pass into the
hands of Christian families, in books and magazines and secular papers.
Apostles of infidelity are sent out to heathen countries to gather
weapons against the truth. Natives of various Oriental lands, once
taught in our mission schools perhaps, but still heathen, are paraded on
our lecture platforms, where they entertain us with English and American
arguments in support of their heathen systems and against Christianity.
Young pastors, in the literary clubs of their various communities, are
surprised by being called to discuss plausible papers on Buddhism, which
some fellow-member has contributed, and they are expected to defend the
truth. Or some young parishioner has been fascinated by a plausible
Theosophist, or has learned from Robert Elsmere that there are other
religions quite as pure and sacred as our own. Or some chance lecturer
has disturbed the community with a discourse on the history of religious
myths. And when some anxious member of a church learns that his
religious instructor has no help for him on such subjects, that they lie
wholly outside of his range, there is apt to be something more than
disappointment: there is a loss of confidence.

It is an unfortunate element in the case that error is more welcome in
some of our professedly neutral papers than the truth: an article
designed to show that Christianity was borrowed from Buddhism or was
developed from fetichism will sometimes be welcomed as new sensation,
while a reply of half the length may be rejected.

There is something ominous in these facts. Whether the secular press
(not all papers are thus unfair) are influenced by partisan hatred of
the truth or simply by a reckless regard for whatever is most popular,
the facts are equally portentous. And if it be true that such
publications are what the people most desire, the outlook for our
country is dark indeed. The saddest consideration is that the power of
the secular press is so vast and far reaching. When Celsus wrote, books
were few. When Voltaire, Hume, and Thomas Paine made their assailments
on the Christian faith, the means of spreading the blight of error were
comparatively few. But now the accumulated arguments of German infidels
for the last half-century may be thrown into a five-cent Sunday paper,
whose issue will reach a quarter of a million of copies, which perhaps a
million of men and women may read. These articles are copied into a
hundred other papers, and they are read in the villages and hamlets;
they are read on the ranches and in the mining camps where no sermon is
ever heard.

It is perfectly evident that in an age like this we cannot propagate
Christianity under glass. It must grow in the open field where the free
winds of heaven shall smite and dissipate every cloud of error that may
pass over it, and where its roots shall only strike the deeper for the
questionings and conflicts that may often befall it. Error cannot be
overcome either by ignoring it or by the cheap but imbecile scolding of
an ignorant pulpit.

I cannot express the truth on this point more forcibly than by quoting
the trenchant words of Professor Ernest Naville, in his lectures on
"Modern Atheism." After having admitted that one, who can keep himself
far from the strifes and struggles of modern thought, will find
solitude, prayer, and calm activity, pursued under the guidance of
conscience, most conducive to unquestioning faith and religious peace,
he says: "But we are not masters of our own ways, and the circumstances
of the present times impose on us special duties. The barriers which
separate the school and the world are everywhere thrown down; everywhere
shreds of philosophy, and very often of very bad philosophy, scattered
fragments of theological science, and very often of a deplorable
theological science, are insinuating themselves into the current
literature. There is not a literary review, there is scarcely a
political journal, which does not speak on occasion, or without
occasion, of the problems relating to our eternal interests. The most
sacred beliefs are attacked every day in the organs of public opinion.
At such a juncture can men, who preserve faith in their own souls,
remain like dumb dogs, or keep themselves shut up in the narrow limits
of the schools? Assuredly not. We must descend to the common ground and
fight with equal weapons the great battles of thought. For this purpose
it is necessary to state questions which run the risk of startling
sincerely religious persons. But there is no help for it if we are to
combat the adversaries on their own ground; and because it is thus only
that we can prove to all that the torrent of negations is but a passing
rush of waters, which, fret as they may in their channels, shall be
found to have left not so much as a trace of their passage upon the Rock
of Ages." The fact that Professor Naville's lectures were delivered in
Geneva and Lausanne, to audiences which together numbered over two
thousand five hundred people, affords abundant proof that the people are
prepared to welcome the relief afforded by a clear and really able
discussion of these burning questions. In the ordinary teaching of the
pulpit they would be out of place, but every public teacher should be
able to deal with them on suitable occasions.

In a single concluding word, the struggle of truth and error has become
world-wide. There are no ethnic religions now. There is Christianity in
Calcutta, and there is Buddhism in Boston. The line of battle is the
parallel that belts the globe. It is not a time for slumber or for mere
pious denunciation. There must be no blundering: the warfare must be
waged with weapons of precision, and then victory is sure. It is well if
our missionary effort of a century has drawn the fire of the enemy; it
is well if the time has come to hold up the truth face to face with
error, and to fight out and over again the conflict of Elijah and the
Priests of Baal.


[Footnote 1: _The Light of Asia and the Light of the World_. Macmillan &

[Footnote 2: The late Professor Moffat, of Princeton Theological
Seminary, published a _Comparative History of Religions_, but its field
was too broad for a thorough treatment.]

[Footnote 3: _Methodist Quarterly_.]

[Footnote 4: Quoted in _Manual of India Missions_.]

[Footnote 5: _Manual of India Missions._]

[Footnote 6: Similar views, though in briefer terms, have been presented
by Rev. William A.P. Martin, D.D., of Peking; Rev. John L. Nevins, D.D.,
of Chefou; Rev. A.P. Happer, D.D., and Rev. B.C. Henry, D.D., of Canton;
Professor John Wortabet, M.D., of Beyrout; Rev. Jacob Chamberlain, D.D.,
Missionary of the Reformed Church in Madras; Rev. Z.J. Jones, D.D.,
Missionary of the American M.E. Church at Bareilly, India; Rev. K.C.
Chattergee and Ram Chandra Bose, both converts from high caste Hinduism
and both eminent ministers of the Gospel in India; and Rev. E.W. Blyden,
D.D., the accomplished African scholar of Liberia.]

[Footnote 7: The _Japan Mail_ of September 30, 1891, in reviewing the
progress of religious and philosophic discussion as carried on by the
native press of the Empire, says: "The Buddhist literature of the season
shows plainly the extent to which the educated members of the (Buddhist)
priesthood are seeking to enlarge their grasp by contact with Western
philosophy and religious thought. We happen to know that a prominent
priest of the Shinsu sect is deeply immersed in Comte's humanitarianism.
In _Kyogaku-roushu_ (a native paper) are published instalments of
Spencer's philosophy. Another paper, the _Hauseikwai_, has an article
urging the desirability of a general union of all the (Buddhist) sects,
such as Colonel Olcott brought about in India between the northern and
the southern Buddhists."]

[Footnote 8: _Leaves from an Egyptian Note-book._]

[Footnote 9: Papers of Rev. Mr. Hewlett in the _Indian Evangelical

[Footnote 10: In an address given in Tokio, by Rev. Mr. Knapp, of
Boston, Buddhists in Japan were advised to build their religion of the
future upon their own foundations, and not upon the teachings of Western

[Footnote 11: _The Twelve Buddhist Sects of Japan_, by Bunyiu Nanjio,

[Footnote 12: Quoted in _Manual of India Missions_.]

[Footnote 13: Quoted in _Manual of India Missions_.]

[Footnote 14: _Hulsean Lectures_, 1846.]

[Footnote 15: Private Thoughts on Religion, Part I., Article 2.]

[Footnote 16: Confucius not only taught that men should not do to others
what they would not have done to them, but when one of his disciples
asked him to name one word which should represent the whole duty of man,
he replied "Reciprocity."]

[Footnote 17: Whoever will read the Preface of Mr. Spencer's work on
Sociology will be surprised at the means which have been used in
collecting and verifying supposed facts; a careful perusal of the book
will show that all classes of testimony have been accepted, so far as
they were favorable. Adventurers, reporters, sailors, and that upon the
briefest and most casual observation, have been deemed capable of
interpreting the religious beliefs of men. Even Peschel doubts many of
their conclusions.]

[Footnote 18: See _Indian Wisdom_.]

[Footnote 19: Archbishop Trench, after speaking in his Hulsean lectures
of the advantages which we may gain from an earnest study of the
struggles of thoughtful men, who amid heathen darkness have groped after
a knowledge of the true God, and of the gratitude which we ought to feel
who have received a more sure word of prophecy, adds in words of rare
beauty: "And perhaps it shall seem to us as if that star in the natural
heavens which guided those Eastern sages from their distant home, was
but the symbol of many a star which, in the world's mystical night, such
as, being faithfully followed, availed to lead humble and devout hearts
from far-off regions of superstition and error, till they knelt beside
the cradle of the Babe of Bethlehem, and saw all their weary wanderings
repaid in a moment, and all their desires finding a perfect fulfilment
in Him."]



The coincidences of our present conquest of the non-Christian races with
that to which the Apostolic Church was called are numerous and striking.
Not even one hundred years ago was the struggle with heathen error so
similar to that of the early Church.

To a great extent the missionary efforts of the mediæval centuries
encountered only crude systems, which it was comparatively easy to
overcome. The rude tribes of Northern Europe were converted by the
Christianity of the later Roman Empire, even though they were
conquerors. Their gods of war and brute force did not meet all the
demands of life. As a source of hope and comfort, their religion had
little to be compared with the Christian faith, and as to philosophy
they had none. They had inherited the simple nature worship which was
common to all branches of the Aryan race, and they had expanded it into
various ramifications of polytheism; but they had not fortified it with
subtle speculations like those of the Indo-Aryans, nor had their
mythologies become intrenched in inveterate custom, and the national
pride which attends an advanced civilization.

At a later day Christian missionaries in Britain found the Norse
religion of the Saxons, Jutes, and Angles, scarcely holding the
confidence of either rulers or subjects. They had valued their gods
chiefly for the purposes of war, and they had not always proved
reliable. The king of Northumbria, like Clovis of France, had vowed to
exchange his deities for the God of the Christians if victory should be
given him on a certain battle-field; and when he had assembled his
thanes to listen to a discussion between the missionary Paulinus and the
priests of Woden on the comparative merits of their respective faiths,
the high priest frankly admitted his dissatisfaction with a religion
which he had found utterly disappointing and useless; and when other
chief counsellors had given the same testimony, and a unanimous vote had
been taken to adopt the Christian faith, he was the first to commence
the destruction of the idols.[20]

The still earlier missionaries among the Druid Celts of Britain and
France, though they found in Druidism a more elaborate faith than that
of the Norsemen, encountered no such resistance as we find in the great
religious systems of our day. Where can we point to so easy a conquest
as that of Patrick in Ireland, or that of the Monks of Iona among the
Picts and Scots?

The Druids claimed that they already had many things in common with the
Christian doctrines,[21] and what was a still stronger element in the
case, they made common cause with the Christians against the wrongs
inflicted on both by pagan Rome. The Roman emperors were not more
determined to extirpate the hated and, as they thought, dangerous
influences of Christianity, than they were to destroy every vestige of
Druidism as their only hope of conquering the invincible armies of
Boadicea. And thus the mutual experience of common sufferings opened a
wide door for the advancement of Christian truth.

The conquests of Welsh and Irish missionaries in Burgundy, Switzerland,
and _Germany_, encountered no elaborate book religions, and no profound
philosophies. They had to deal with races of men who were formidable
only with weapons of warfare, and who, intent chiefly on conquest and
migration, had few institutions and no written historic records. The
peaceful sceptre of the truth was a new force in their experience, and
the sympathetic and self-denying labors of a few missionaries tamed the
fierce Vikings to whom Britain had become a prey, and whose incursions
even the armies of Charlemagne could not resist.

How different is our struggle with the races now under the sceptre of
Islam, for example--inflated as they are with the pride of wide
conquest, and looking contemptuously upon that Christian faith which it
was their early mission to sweep away as a form of idolatry! How
different is our task in India, which boasts the antiquity of the noble
Sanskrit and its sacred literature, and claims, as the true
representative of the Aryan race, to have given to western nations their
philosophy, their religion, and their civilization! How much more
difficult is our encounter with Confucianism, which claims to have laid
the foundations of the most stable structure of social and political
institutions that the world has ever known, and which to-day, after
twenty-five centuries of trial, appeals to the intellectual pride of all
intelligent classes in a great empire of four hundred millions! And
finally, how different is our task with Buddhism, so mystical and
abstruse, so lofty in many of its precepts, and yet so cold and thin, so
flexible and easily adapted, and therefore so varied and many sided! The
religious systems with which we are now confronted find their
counterparts only in the heathenism with which the early Church had to
deal many centuries ago; and for this reason the history of those early
struggles is full of practical instruction for us now. How did the early
Church succeed in its great conquest? What methods were adopted, and
with what measures of success?

In one respect there is a wide difference in the two cases. The Apostles
were attempting to convert their conquerors. They belonged to the
vanquished race; they were of a despised nationality. The early fathers
also were subjects of Pagan powers. Insomuch as the Roman emperors
claimed divine honors, there was an element of treason in their
propagandism. The terrible persecutions which so long devastated the
early Church found their supposed justification in the plea of
self-defence against a system which threatened to subvert cherished and
time-honored institutions. Candid writers, like Archdeacon Farrar, admit
that Christianity did hasten the overthrow of the Roman Empire.

But we find no conquering powers in our pathway. Christianity and
Christian civilization have become dominant in the earth. The weakness
of the Christian Church in its conquests now is not in being baffled and
crippled by tyranny and persecution, but rather in the temptation to
arrogance and the abuse of superior power, in the overbearing spirit
shown in the diplomacy of Christian nations and the unscrupulous
aggressions of their commerce. There is also a further contrast in the
fact that in the early days the advantages of frugality and simple
habits of life were on the side of the missionaries. Roman society
especially was beginning to suffer that decay which is the inevitable
consequence of long-continued luxury, while the Church observed
temperance in all things and excelled in the virtues which always tend
to moral and social victory.[22]

On the other hand, we who are the ambassadors to the heathen of to-day,
are ourselves exposed to the dangers which result from wealth and
excessive luxury. Our grade of life, our scale of expenditure, even the
style in which our missionaries live, excites the amazement of the
frugal heathen to whom they preach. And as for the Church at home, it is
hardly safe for a Persian or a Chinaman to see it. Everyone who visits
this wonderful eldorado carries back such romantic impressions as excite
in others, not so much the love of the Gospel as the love of mammon.
When the Church went forth in comparative poverty, and with an intense
moral earnestness, to preach righteousness, temperance, and the judgment
to come; when those who were wealthy gave all to the poor--like Anthony
of Egypt, Jerome, Ambrose, and Francis of Assisi--and in simple garments
bore the Gospel to those who were surfeited with luxuries and pleasures,
and were sick of a life of mere indulgence, then the truth of the Gospel
conquered heathenism with all that the world could give. But whether a
Church in the advanced civilization of our land and time, possessed of
enormous wealth, enjoying every luxury, and ever anxious to gain more
and more of this present world, can convert heathen races who deem
themselves more frugal, more temperate, and less worldly than we, is a
problem which remains to be solved. We have rare facilities, but we have
great drawbacks. God's grace can overcome even our defects, and He has
promised success.

But in the proud intellectual character of the systems encountered
respectively by the ancient and by the modern Church, there are
remarkable parallels. The supercilious pride of Brahminism, or the lofty
scorn of Mohammedanism, is quite equal to that self-sufficient Greek
philosophy in whose eyes the Gospel was the merest foolishness. And the
immovable self-righteousness of the Stoics has its counterpart in the
Confucianism of the Chinese literati. A careful comparison of the six
schools of Hindu philosophy with the various systems of Greece and
Rome, will fill the mind with surprise at the numerous
correspondences--one might almost say identities. And that surprise is
the greater from the fact that no proof exists that either has been
borrowed from the other.

The atomic theory of creation advanced by Lucretius is found also in the
Nyaya philosophy of the Hindus. The pessimism of Pliny and Marcus
Aurelius was much more elaborately worked out by Gautama. The Hindus had
their categories and their syllogisms as well as Aristotle. The
conception of a dual principle in deity which the early Church traced in
all the religious systems of Egypt, Phoenicia, and Assyria, and whose
influence poisoned the life of the Phoenician colonies, and was so
corrupting to the morals of Greece and Rome, was also elaborated by the
Sankhya philosophy of Kapila, and it has plunged Hindu society into as
deep a degradation as could be found in Pompeii or Herculaneum.[23] The
Indian philosophy partook far more of the pantheistic element than that
of Greece. Plato and Aristotle had clearer conceptions of the
personality of the deity and of the distinct and responsible character
of the human soul than any school of Hindu philosophers--certainly
clearer than the Vedantists, and their ethics involved a stronger sense
of sin.

German philosophy has borrowed its pantheism from India rather than from
Greece, and in its most shadowy developments it has never transcended
the ancient Vedantism of Vyasa.

As in the early centuries, so in our time, different systems of religion
have been commingled and interwoven into protean forms of error more
difficult to understand and dislodge than any one of the faiths and
philosophies of which they were combined. As the Alexandrian Jews
intertwined the teachings of Judaism and Platonism; as Manichæans and
Gnostics corrupted the truths of the Old and New Testaments with ideas
borrowed from Persian mysticism; as various eclectic systems gathered up
all types of thought which the wide conquests of the Roman Empire
brought together, and mingled them with Christian teachings; so now the
increased intercommunication, and the quickened intellectual activity
of our age have led to the fusion of different systems, ancient and
modern, in a negative and nerveless religion of humanity. We now have in
the East not only Indian, but Anglo-Indian, speculations. The
unbelieving Calcutta graduate has Hegel and Spinoza interwoven with his
Vedantism, and the eclectic leader of the Brahmo Somaj, while placing
Christ at the head of the prophets and recognizing the authority of all
sacred bibles of the races, called on Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and
Mohammedans to unite in one theistic church of the New Dispensation in
India. Not even the old Gnostics could present so striking an admixture
as that of the Arya Somaj. It has appropriated many of those Christian
ethics which have been learned from a century of contact with
missionaries and other Christian residents. It has approved the more
humane customs and reforms of Christendom, denouncing caste, and the
degradation of woman. It has repudiated the corrupt rites and the
degrading superstitions of Hinduism. At the same time its hatred of the
Christian faith is most bitter and intense.

And there are other alliances, not a few, between the East and the West.
In India and Japan the old Buddhism is compounded with American
Spiritualism and with modern Evolution, under a new application of the
ancient name of Theosophy. In Japan representatives of advanced
Unitarianism are exhorting the Japanese Buddhists to build the religion
of the future on their old foundations, and to avoid the propagandists
of western Christianity.

The bland and easy-going catholicity which professes so much in our day,
which embraces all faiths and unfaiths in one sweet emulsion of
meaningless negations, which patronizes the Christ and His doctrines,
and applies the nomenclature of Christianity to doctrines the very
opposite of its teachings, finds a counterpart in the smooth and vapid
compromises of the old Gnostics. "Gnosticism," says Uhlhorn, "combined
Greek philosophies, Jewish theology, and ancient Oriental theosophy,
thus forming great systems of speculative thought, all with the object
of displaying the world's development. From a pantheistic First Cause,
Gnosticism traced the emanation of a series of æons--beings of Light.
The source of evil was supposed to be matter, which in this material
world holds light in captivity. To liberate the light and thus redeem
the world, Christ came, and thus Christianity was added as the crowning
and victorious element in this many-sided system of speculation. But
Christ was regarded not so much as a Saviour of individual souls as an
emancipator of a disordered kosmos, and the system which seemed to
accord great honor to Christianity threatened to destroy its life and
power." So, according to some of our Modern Systems, men are to find
their future salvation in the grander future of the race.[24]

Not only do we encounter mixtures of truth and error, but we witness
similar attempts to prove that whatever is best in Christianity was
borrowed from heathenism. Porphyry and others maintained that Pythagoras
and Theosebius had anticipated many of the attributes and deeds of
Christ, and Philostratus was prompted by the wife of Severus to write a
history of Appolonius of Tyana which should match the life of Christ.
And in precisely the same way it has been variously claimed in our time
that the story of Christ's birth, childhood, and ministry were borrowed
from Buddha and from Krishna, and that the whole conception of his
vicarious suffering for the good of men is a clever imitation of
Prometheus Bound. Now, in the earlier conflict it was important to know
the facts on both sides in order to meet these allegations of Porphyry,
Marinus, and others, and it is equally important to understand the
precise ground on which similar charges are made with equal assurance
now.[25] The very same old battles are to be fought over again, both
with philosophy and with legend.

And it is very evident that, with so many points of similarity between
the early struggle of Christianity with heathenism and that of our own
time, it is quite worth our labor to inquire what were the general
methods then pursued. Then victory crowned the efforts of the Church.
That which humanly speaking seemed impossible, was actually
accomplished. From our finite standpoint, no more preposterous command
was ever given than that which Christ gave to his little company of
disciples gathered in the mountains of Galilee, or that last word before
his ascension on Mt. Olivet, in which He placed under their responsible
stewardship, not only Jerusalem, but all Judea and Samaria, and the
"uttermost parts of the earth." The disciples were without learning or
social influence, or political power. They had no wealth and few
facilities, and so far as they knew there were no open doors. They were
hated by their Jewish countrymen, ridiculed by the ubiquitous and
cultured Greeks, and frowned upon by the conquering powers of Rome. How
then did they succeed? How was it that in three or four centuries they
had virtually emptied the Roman Pantheon of its heathen deities, and
had gained the sceptre of the empire and the world?

It is easy to misapprehend the forces which won the victory. The
disciples first chosen to found the Church were fishermen, but that
affords no warrant for the belief that only untutored men were employed
in the early Church, or for the inference that the Salvation Army are to
gain the conquest now. They were inspired; these are not; and a few only
were chosen, with the very aim of setting at naught the intolerant
wisdom of the Pharisees. But when the Gospel was to be borne to heathen
races, to the great nations whose arrogance was proportionate to their
learning and their power, a very different man was selected. Saul of
Tarsus had almost every needed qualification seen from a human point of
view. Standing, as he must, between the stiff bigotry of Judaism and the
subtleties of Greek philosophy, he was fortunately familiar with both.
He was a man of rare courtesy, and yet of matchless courage. Whether
addressing a Jewish governor or the assembled philosophers and
counsellors of Athens, he evinced an unfailing tact. He knew how to
conciliate even a common mob of heathen idolators and when to defy a
high priest, or plead the immunities of his Roman citizenship before a
Roman proconsul.

In tracing the methods of the early Church in dealing with heathenism,
we begin, therefore, with Paul; for although he was differentiated from
all modern parallels by the fact that he was inspired and endowed with
miraculous power, yet that does not invalidate the force of those
general principles of action which he illustrated. He was the first and
greatest of all missionaries, and through all time it will be safe and
profitable to study his characteristics and his methods. He showed the
value of thorough training in his own faith, and of a full understanding
of all the errors he was to contend with. He could reason with Jews out
of their own Scriptures, or substantiate his position with Greeks by
citing their own poets. He was certainly uncompromising in maintaining
the sovereignty of the one God, Jehovah, but he was not afraid to admit
that in their blind way the heathen were also groping after the same
supreme Father of all. The unknown God at Athens he accepted as an
adumbration of Him whom he proclaimed, and every candid reader must
admit that in quoting the words of Aratus, which represent Zeus as the
supreme creator whose offspring we are, he conveys the impression of a
real resemblance, if not a partial and obscured identity.

The essential principle here is that Paul frankly acknowledged whatever
glimpses of truth he found in heathen systems, and made free use of them
in presenting the fuller and clearer knowledge revealed in the Gospel.
No man ever presented a more terrible arraignment of heathenism than
that which he makes in the first chapter of his epistle to the Romans,
and yet, with marvellous discrimination he proceeds, in the second
chapter, to show how much of truth God has imparted to the
understandings and the consciences of all men. And he seems to imply
the Holy Spirit's regenerative work through Christ's atonement, when he
maintains that whoever shall, "by patient continuance in well doing,
seek glory and immortality," to him shall "eternal life" be given; but
"tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, to the
Jew first, and also to the Gentile." Peter was not prepared to be a
missionary till he had been divested of his Jewish narrowness by
witnessing the power of grace in the Roman centurion at Cesarea. That
widened out his horizon immensely. He saw that God in his ultimate plan
was no respecter of persons or of races.

There has been great difference of opinion as to whether the annual
worship of the supreme God of Heaven in the great imperial temple at
Peking is in any degree a relic of the worship of the true God once
revealed to mankind. Such Chinese scholars as Martin and Legge and
Douglass think that it is; others deny it. Some men raise a question
whether the Allah of the Mohammedan faith is identical with the Jehovah
of the Old Testament. Sales, the profoundest expositor of Islam,
considers him the same. Moslems themselves have no doubt of it: the
intent of the Koran is that and nothing else; Old Testament teachings
are interwoven with almost every sura of its pages. I think that Paul
would have conceded this point at once, and would the more successfully
have urged the claims of Jesus, whom the Koran presents as the only
sinless prophet. Of course Mohammedans do not recognize the Triune God
as we now apprehend Him, from the New Testament standpoint; neither did
ancient believers of Israel fully conceive of God as He has since been
more fully revealed in the person and the sacrifice of his Son--Jesus

Both the teachings and the example of Paul seem to recognize the fact
that conceptions of God, sometimes clear and sometimes dim, may exist
among heathen nations; and many of the great Christian fathers evidently
took the same view. They admitted that Plato's noble teachings were
calculated to draw the soul toward God, though they revealed no real
access to Him such as is found in Christ. Archbishop Trench, in his
Hulsean lectures on "Christ the Desire of the Nations," dwells
approvingly upon Augustine's well-known statement, that he had been
turned from vice to an inspiring conception of God by reading the
"Hortensius" of Cicero. Augustine's own reference to the fact is found
in the fourth book of his "Confessions," where he says: "In the ordinary
course of study I fell upon a certain book of Cicero whose speech almost
all admire--not so his heart. This book contains an exhortation to
philosophy, and is called 'Hortensius.' But this book altered my
affections and turned my prayers to Thyself, O Lord, and made me have
other purposes and desires. Every vain hope at once became worthless to
me, and I longed with an incredible burning desire for an immortality of
wisdom, and began now to arise that I might return to Thee. For not to
sharpen my tongue did I employ that book: nor did it infuse into me its
style, but its matter."

The "Hortensius" of Cicero has not survived till our time, and we know
not what it contained; but we cannot fail to notice this testimony of a
mature and eminent saint to the spiritual benefit which he had received
at the age of thirty-one, from reading the works of a heathen
philosopher. And a most interesting proof is here furnished for the
freedom with which the Spirit of God works upon the hearts of men, and
the great variety of means and agencies which He employs,--and that
beyond the pale of the Christian Church, and even beyond the actual
knowledge of the historic Christ. It would be interesting to know
whether the regeneration of Augustine occurred just then, when he says
in such strong language, that this book altered his affections and
turned his prayers unto God, and made him "long with an indescribable
burning desire for an immortality of wisdom." All men are saved, if at
all, by the blood of Christ through the renewing of the Holy Ghost; but
what was the position of such men as Augustine and Cornelius of Cesarea
before they fully and clearly saw Jesus as the actual Messiah, and as
the personal representative of that Grace of God in which they had
already reposed a general faith, is at least an interesting question.

Not less positive is the acknowledgment which Augustine makes of the
benefits which he had received from Plato. And he mentions many others,
as Virgininus, Lactantius, Hilary, and Cyprian, who, like himself,
having once been heathen and students of heathen philosophy, had, as he
expresses it, "spoiled the Egyptians, bringing away with them rich
treasures from the land of bondage, that they might adorn therewith the
true tabernacle of the Christian faith." Augustine seems to have been
fond of repeating both this argument and this his favorite illustration.
In his "Doctrine of Christ" he expands it more fully than in his
"Confessions." He says: "Whatever those called philosophers, and
especially the Platonists, may have said conformable to our faith, is
not only not to be dreaded, but is to be claimed from them as unlawful
possessors, to our use. For, as the Egyptians not only had idols and
heavy burdens which the people of Israel were to abhor and avoid, but
also vessels and ornaments of gold and silver and apparel which that
people at its departure from Egypt privily assumed for a better use, not
on its own authority but at the command of God, the very Egyptians
unwittingly furnishing the things which themselves used not well; so all
the teaching of the Gentiles not only hath feigned and superstitious
devices, and heavy burdens of a useless toil, which we severally, as
under the leading of Christ we go forth out of the fellowship of the
Gentiles, ought to abhor and avoid, but it also containeth liberal arts,
fitter for the service of truth, and some most useful moral precepts; as
also there are found among them some truths concerning the worship of
the One God Himself, as it were their gold and silver which they did not
themselves form, but drew from certain veins of Divine Providence
running throughout, and which they perversely and wrongfully abuse to
the service of demons. These, the Christian, when he severs himself from
their wretched fellowship, ought to take from them for the right use of
preaching of the Gospel. For what else have many excellent members of
our faith done? See we not how richly laden with gold and silver and
apparel that most persuasive teacher and most blessed martyr, Cyprian,
departed out of Egypt? Or Lactantius, or Victorinus, Optatus, Hilary,
not to speak of the living, and Greeks innumerable? And this, Moses
himself, that most faithful servant of God, first did, of whom it is
written, that 'he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.'"

Let us for a moment pause and see of what these treasures of Egypt
consisted, and especially what Plato taught concerning God. Like
Socrates, he ridiculed the absurd but popular notion that the gods could
be full of human imperfections, could make war upon each other, could
engage in intrigues, and be guilty of base passions. And he earnestly
maintained that it was demoralizing to children and youth to hold up
such beings as objects of worship. Such was his condemnation of what he
considered false gods. He was equally opposed to the idea that there is
no God. "All things," he says, "are from God, and not from some
spontaneous and unintelligent cause." "Now, that which is created," he
adds, "must of necessity be created by some cause--but how can we find
out the Father and maker of all this universe? If the world indeed be
fair, and the artificer good, then He must have looked to that which is
external--for the world is the fairest of creatures, as He is the best
of causes."

Plato's representation of the mercy of God, of his providential care, of
his unmixed goodness, of his eternal beauty and holiness--are well-nigh
up to the New Testament standard. So is also his doctrine of the
immortality of the soul. The fatal deficiency is that he does not
_know_. He has received no divine revelation. "We will wait," he said in
another passage, "for one, be it a god or a god-inspired man, to teach
us our religious duties, and as Athene in Homer says to Diomede, to take
away the darkness from our eyes." And in still another place he adds:
"We must lay hold of the best human opinion in order that, borne by it
as on a raft, we may sail over the dangerous sea of life, unless we can
find a stronger boat, _or some word of God which will more surely and
safely carry us_."[26]

There is a deep pathos in the question which I have just quoted, "How
can we find out the Father and maker of all this universe?" And in the
last sentence quoted, Plato seems to have felt his way to the very
threshold of the revelation of Christ.[27]

Augustine shows a discrimination on this subject too important to be
overlooked, when he declares that while the noble philosophy of the
Platonists turned his thoughts away from his low gratifications to the
contemplation of an infinite God, it left him helpless. He was profited
both by what philosophy taught him and by what it could not teach: it
created wants which it could not satisfy. In short, he was prepared by
its very deficiencies to see in stronger contrast the all-satisfying
fulness of the Gospel of Eternal Life. Plato could tell him nothing of
any real plan of redemption, and he confesses with tender pathos that
he found no Revealer, no divine sacrifice for sin, no uplifted Cross, no
gift of the transforming Spirit, no invitation to the weary, no light of
the Resurrection.[28] Now, just here is the exact truth; and Augustine
has conferred a lasting benefit upon the Christian Church by this grand
lesson of just discrimination. He and other Christian fathers knew where
to draw the lines carefully and wisely with respect to heathen errors.

We often have occasion to complain of the sharpness of the controversies
of the early Church, but it could scarcely be otherwise in an age like
that. It was a period of transitions and of rude convulsions. The
foundations of the great deep of human error were being broken up. It
was no time for flabby, jelly-fish convictions. The training which the
great leaders had received in philosophy and rhetoric had made them keen
dialectics. They had something of Paul's abhorrence of heathen
abominations, for they saw them on every hand. They saw also the
specious admixtures of Gnosticism, and they met them squarely.
Tertullian's controversy with Marcion, Augustine's sharp issue with
Pelasgius, Ambrose's bold and uncompromising resistance to Arianism,
Origen's able reply to Celsus, all show that the great leaders of the
Church were not men of weak opinions. The discriminating concessions
which they made, therefore, were not born of an easy-going
indifferentism and the soft and nerveless charity that regards all
religions alike. They found a medium between this pretentious extreme
and the opposite evil of ignorant and narrow prejudgment; and nothing is
more needed in the missionary work of our day than that intelligent and
well-poised wisdom which considers all the facts and then draws just
distinctions; which will not compensate for conscious ignorance with
cheap misrepresentation or wholesale denunciation.

1. Now, first of all, in considering the methods of the early Church and
its secret of power in overcoming the errors of heathenism, it must be
borne in mind that the victory was mainly due to the _moral earnestness_
which characterized that period. In this category we must place the
influence which sprang from the martyrdom of thousands who surrendered
life rather than relinquish their faith. That this martyr spirit did not
always produce a true symmetry of Christian character cannot be denied.
The tide of fanaticism swept in, sometimes, with the current of true
religious zeal, and inconsistencies and blemishes marred even the
saintliest self-sacrifice; but there was no resisting the mighty logic
of the spirit of martyrdom as a whole. The high and the low, the wise
and the unlettered, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, strong
men and delicate women, surrendered themselves to the most cruel
tortures for the love of Christ. This spectacle, while it may have
served only to enrage a Nero and urge him on to even more Satanic
cruelty, could not be wholly lost upon the more thoughtful Marcus
Aurelius and others like him. It was impossible to resist the moral
force of so calm and resolute a surrender unto torture and death.
Moreover, an age which produced such relinquishment of earthly
possessions as was shown by men like Anthony and Ambrose, who were ready
to lay down the emoluments of high political position and distribute
their large fortunes for the relief of the poor; and such women as Paula
and others of high position, who were ready to sacrifice all for Christ
and retire into seclusion and voluntary poverty--an age which could
produce such characters and could show their steady perseverance unto
the end, could not fail to be an age of resistless moral power; and it
would be safe to say that no heathen system could long stand against the
sustained and persistent force of such influences. Were the Christian
Church of to-day moved by even a tithe of that high self-renunciation,
to say nothing of braving the fires of martyrdom, if it possessed in
even partial degree the same sacrifice of luxury and ease, and the same
consecration of effort and of influence, the conquest of benighted
nations would be easy and rapid.

The frugality of the early Christians, the simplicity of life which the
great body of the Church observed, and to which even wealthy converts
more or less conformed, was also, doubtless, a strong factor in the
great problem of winning the heathen to Christ. Probably in no age could
Christian simplicity find stronger contrasts than were presented by the
luxury and extravagance, the unbridled indulgence and profligacy, which
characterized the later periods of the Roman Empire. Universal conquest
of surrounding nations had brought untold wealth. The Government had
hastened the process of decay by lavish distribution to the people of
those resources which obviated the necessity of unremitting toil. It had
devoted large expenditures to popular amusements, and demagogues had
squandered the public funds for the purpose of securing their own
preferment. Over against the moral earnestness of the persecuted
Christian Church, there was in the nation itself and the heathenism
which belonged to it, an utter want of character or conviction. These
conditions of the conquest, as I have already indicated, do not find an
exact counterpart with us now. There is more of refined Christian
culture than existed in the early Church; probably there is also more of
organized Christian effort. In many points the comparison is in our
favor, but earnestness, and the spiritual power which attends it, are on
a lower grade. There is no escape from the conviction that just here
lies the reason why the Christian Church, with all her numbers, her vast
material resources, and her unlimited opportunities, cannot achieve a
greater success.

2. But, on the intellectual side, and as relating to the methods of
direct effort, there are many points in which imitation of the early
example is entirely practicable. And first, the wise discrimination
which was exercised by Augustine and other Christian leaders is entirely
practicable now. There has prevailed in our time an indiscriminate
carelessness in the use of terms in dealing with this subject. The
strong language which the Old Testament employed against the
abominations of Baalism, we have seemed to regard as having equal force
against the ethics of Confucius or Gautama. "Heathenism" is the one
brand which we have put upon all the non-Christian religions. I wish it
were possible to exchange the term for a better.[29] Baalism was
undoubtedly the most besotted, cruel, and diabolical religion that has
ever existed on the earth. When we carefully study it we are not
surprised at the strong language of denunciation which the Old Testament
employs. But as I have already shown, we find in the New Testament a
different spirit exercised toward the types of error which our Saviour
and his disciples were called to meet. There is only gentleness in our
Lord's dealings with those who were without the Jewish Church. His
strongest denunciations were reserved for hypocrites who knew the truth
and obeyed it not. He declared that the men of Nineveh would rise up in
judgment against those who rejected the clear message of God's own Son.
The man who goes forth to the great mission fields with the feeling that
it is his province to assail as strongly as possible the deeply-rooted
convictions of men, instead of winning them to a more excellent way, is
worse than one who beats the air; he is doing positive harm; he is
trifling with precious souls. He does not illustrate the spirit of

The wisest of the early Fathers sometimes differed widely from each
other in their methods; some were denunciatory, others were even too
ready to excuse. The great African controversialist, Tertullian, was
unsparing in his anathemas, not only against heathen customs, which were
vile indeed, but against the teachings of the noblest philosophy. He had
witnessed the former; he had not candidly studied the latter. With a
blind zeal, which has too often been witnessed in the history of good
causes, he denounced Plato, Aristotle, and even Socrates with a violence
which marred the character of so great a man. On the other hand, Justin
Martyr and Clement of Alexandria were perhaps excessively broad. Of two
noted Alexandrines, Archdeacon Farrar says: "They were philosophers in
spirit; they could enforce respect by their learning and their large,
rounded sympathy, where rhetorical denunciation and ecclesiastical
anathemas would only have been listened to with a frown of anger, or a
look of disdain. Pagan youths would have listened to Clement when he
spoke of Plato as 'the truly noble and half-inspired,' while they would
have looked on Tertullian as an ignorant railer, who could say nothing
better of Socrates than to call him the 'Attic buffoon,' and of
Aristotle than to characterize him as the 'miserable Aristotle.'"

Tatian and Hermes also looked upon Greek philosophy as an invention of
the devil. Irenæus was more discriminating. He opposed the broad and lax
charity of the Alexandrines, but he read the Greek philosophy, and when
called to the bishopric of Lyons, he set himself to the study of the
Gallic Druidism, believing that a special adaptation would be called for
in that remote mission field.[30] Basil was an earnest advocate of the
Greek philosophy as giving a broader character to Christian education.

There were among the Fathers many different types of men, some
philosophically inclined, others better able to use practical arguments.
Some were more successful in appealing to the signs of the times, the
clear evidences of that corruption and decay to which heathenism had
led. They pointed to the degradation of women, the prevalence of vice,
the inordinate indulgence in pleasures, the love of excitement, the
cruel frenzy of the gladiatorial shows, the unrest and pessimism and
despair of all society. One of the most remarkable appeals of this kind
is found in a letter of Cyprian to his friend Donatus. "He bids him seat
himself in fancy on some mountain top and gaze down upon what he has
abandoned (for he is a Christian), on the roads blocked by brigands, the
sea beset by pirates, the camps desolated by the horrors of many wars,
on the world reeking with bloodshed, and the guilt which, in proportion
to its magnitude, was extolled as a glory. Then, if he would turn his
gaze to the cities, he would behold a sight more gloomy than all
solitudes. In the gladiatorial games men were fattened for mutual
slaughter, and publicly murdered to delight the mob. Even innocent men
were urged to fight in public with wild beasts, while their mothers and
sisters paid large sums to witness the spectacle. In the theatres
parricide and infanticide were dealt with before mixed audiences, and
all pollution and crimes were made to claim reverence because presented
under the guise of religious mythology. In the homes was equal
corruption; in the forum bribery and intrigue ran rife; justice was
subverted, and innocence was condemned to prison, torture, and death.
Luxury destroyed character, and wealth became an idol and a curse."[31]
Arguments of this kind were ready enough to hand whenever Christian
teachers were disposed to use them, and their descriptions found a real
corroboration in society as it actually appeared on every hand. None
could question the counts in the indictment.

3. While the Christian Fathers and the missionaries differed in their
estimates of heathenism, and in their methods of dealing with it, one
thing was recognized by all whom we designate as the great leaders,
namely, the imperative necessity of a thorough knowledge of it. They
understood both the low superstition of the masses and the loftier
teaching of the philosophers. On the other hand, they had the same
estimate of the incomparable Gospel of Christ that we have; they
realized that it was the wisdom of God and the power of God unto
salvation as clearly as the best of us, but they did not claim that it
was to be preached blindly and without adaptation. The verities of the
New Testament teachings, the transforming power of the Holy Ghost, the
necessity for a new birth and for the preternatural influence of grace,
both in regeneration and in sanctification, were as strongly maintained
as they have ever been in any age of the Church; but the Fathers were
careful to know whether they were casting the good seed upon stony
places, or into good ground where it would spring up and bear fruit. The
liberal education of that day was, in fact, an education along the old
lines of heathen philosophy, poetry, history, and rhetoric; and a broad
training was valued as highly as it has been in any subsequent period.
It was thoroughly understood that disciplined intellect, other things
being equal, may expect a degree of influence which can never fall to
the lot of ignorance, however sanctified its spirit. There has never
been a stronger type of men than the Christian Fathers. They were
learned men, for the age in which they lived, and their learning had
special adaptations to the work assigned them. Many of them, like
Cyprian, Clement, Hilary, Martin of Tours, had been born and educated in
heathenism; while others, like Basil, Gregory, Origen, Athanasius,
Jerome, and Augustine, though born under Gospel influences, studied
heathen philosophy and poetry at the instance of their Christian

4. Some of the leaders familiarized themselves with the speculations of
the day, not merely for the sake of a wider range of knowledge, but that
they might the more successfully refute the assailants of the faith,
many of whom were men of great power. They were fully aware that it
behooved them to know their ground, for their opponents studied the
points of comparison carefully. The infidel Celsus studied Christianity
and its relation to the Old Testament histories and prophecies, and he
armed himself with equal assiduity with all the choicest weapons drawn
from Greek philosophy. How was such a man to be met? His able attack on
Christianity remained fifty years unanswered. To reply adequately was
not an easy task. Doubtless there were many, then as now, who thought
that the most comfortable way of dealing with such things was to let
them alone. But a wiser policy prevailed. Origen was requested to
prepare an answer, and, although such work was not congenial to him, he
did so because he felt that the cause of the truth demanded it. His
reply outlived the attack which it was designed to meet, and in all
subsequent ages it has been a bulwark of defence.[32]

Origen was not of a pugnacious spirit--it was well that he was not--but
with wide and thorough preparation he summoned all his energies to meet
the foe. Archdeacon Farrar says of him, that he had been trained in the
whole circle of science. He could argue with the pupils of Plato, or
those of Zeno, on equal terms, and he deems it fortunate that one who
was called, as he was, to be a teacher at Alexandria, where men of all
nations and all creeds met, had a cosmopolitan training and a
cosmopolitan spirit.

No less resolute was the effort of Ambrose in resisting the errors of
Arianism, and he also adapted himself to the work in hand. He had not
been afraid of Platonism. On the other hand, we are told that Plato,
next to his Bible, constituted a part of his daily reading, and that,
too, in the period of his ripest Christian experience, and when he
carried his studies and his prayers far into the hours of the night. But
in dealing with Arianism he needed a special understanding of all its
intricacies, and when among its advocates and supporters he encountered
a powerful empress as well as her ablest advocates, he had need of all
the powers within him--that power of moral earnestness which had led him
to give all his property to the poor--that power of strong faith, which
prepared him, if need be, to lay down his life--the power of a
disciplined intellect, and a thorough knowledge of the whole issue.

5. The early Fathers not only studied the heathen philosophies of Plato
and Aristotle, but they learned to employ them, and their successors
continued to employ them, even to the Middle Ages, and the period of the
Reformation. As an intellectual framework, under which truth should be
presented in logical order, it became a strong resource of the early
Christian teachers. Let me refer you on this point to the clear
statements of Professor Shedd.[33] He has well said that "when
Christianity was revealed in its last and beautiful form by the
incarnation of the Eternal World, it found the human mind already
occupied by human philosophy. Educated men were Platonists, or Stoics,
or Epicureans. During the age of Apologetics, which extended from the
end of the apostolic age to the death of Origen, the Church was called
to grapple with these systems, to know as far as possible what they
contained, and to discriminately treat their contents, rejecting some
things, utilizing others." "We shall see," he continues, "that Plato,
Aristotle, and Cicero exerted more influence than all other philosophic
minds united upon the greatest of Christian Fathers, upon the greatest
of the School men, and upon the greatest of the theologians of the
Reformation, Calvin and Melancthon; and if we look at European philosophy,
as it has been unfolded in England, Germany, and France, we can perceive
that all the modern philosophic schools have discussed the principles
of human reason in very much the same manner in which Plato and
Aristotle discussed them twenty-two centuries ago."

I need hardly say, in closing, that it is not necessary to borrow from
the heathen systems of to-day as extensively as the Fathers did from the
systems of Greece and Rome, and it would be discordant with good taste
to illustrate our sermons with quotations from the Hindu poets as
lavishly as good Jeremy Taylor graced his discourses with gems from the
poets of Greece. But I think that we may so far heed the wise examples
furnished by Church history as to face the false systems of our time
with a candid and discriminating spirit, and by a more adequate
knowledge to disenchant the bugbears with which their apologists would
alarm the Church.

We are entering upon the broadest and most momentous struggle with
heathen error that the world has ever witnessed. Again, in this later
age, philosophy and multiform speculation are becoming the handmaids of
Hindu pantheism and Buddhist occultism, as well as of Christian truth.
The resources of the East and the West are combined and subsidized by
the enemy as well as by the Church. As in old Rome and Alexandria, so
now in London and Calcutta all currents of human thought flow together,
and truth is in full grapple with error. It is no time to be idle or to
take refuge in pious ignorance, much less to fear heathen systems as so
many haunted houses which superstitious people dare not enter--as if the
Gospel were not as potent a talisman now as it was ages ago. Let us
fearlessly enter these abodes of darkness, throw open the shutters, and
let in the light of day, and the hobgoblins will flee. Let us explore
every dark recess, winnow out the miasma and the mildew with the pure
air of heaven, and the Sun of Righteousness shall fill the world.


[Footnote 20: _The Norsemen_, Maclear.]

[Footnote 21: The Druid bard Taliesen says: "Christ, the Word from the
beginning, was from the beginning our teacher, and we never lost His
teaching. Christianity was a new thing in Asia, but there never was a
time when the Druids of Britain held not its doctrines."--_St. Paul in
Britain_, p. 86.]

[Footnote 22: Uhlhorn's _Conflict of Christianity with Heathenism_.]

[Footnote 23: The same dualism of the male and the female principle is
found in the Shinto of Japan. See Chamberlain's translation of the

[Footnote 24: The late George Eliot has given expression to this grim
solace, and Mr. John Fiske, in his _Destiny of Man_, claims that the
goal of all life, from the first development of the primordial cell, is
the perfected future man.]

[Footnote 25: Voltaire found great delight in the so-called _Ezour
Veda_, a work which claimed to be an ancient Veda containing the
essential truths of the Bible. The distinguished French infidel was
humbled, however, when it turned out that the book was the pious fraud
of a Jesuit missionary who has hoped thus to win the Hindus to

[Footnote 26: Quoted by Uhlhorn in _The Conflict of Christianity with
Heathenism_, p. 70. He also quotes Seneca as saying: "Oh, if one only
might have a guide to truth!"]

[Footnote 27: Plato showed by his writings and his whole life that he
was a true seeker after the knowledge of God, whom he identified with
the highest good. Though he believed in an efficient creatorship, he
held that matter is eternal. Ideas are also eternal, but the world is
generated. He was not a Pantheist, as he clearly placed God outside of,
or above, the universe. He regarded the soul of man as possessed of
reason, moral sensibility, and appetite.

On the doctrine of future immortality Plato was most emphatic.

He also believed that the soul in a previous state had been pure and
sinless, but had fallen. He taught that recovery from this fallen
condition is to be accomplished by the pursuit of philosophy and the
practice of virtue (not as merit but as discipline), by contemplating
the highest ideal which is the character of God, and by thinking of
eternity. Plato regarded suffering as disciplinary when properly
improved. True philosophy may raise the soul above the fear of death.
This was proved by Socrates. Both Socrates and Plato seemed to believe
in a good demon (spirit) whose voice was a salutary and beneficent
guide. As to eschatology, Plato looked forward to a heaven where the
virtuous soul shall dwell in the presence of God, and in the enjoyment
of pure delights.

Aristotle's idea of God was scarcely less exalted than that of Plato. He
expressed it thus: "The principle of life is in God; for energy of mind
constitutes life, and God is this energy. He, the first mover, imparts
motion and pursues the work of creation as something that is loved. His
course of life must be similar to what is most excellent in our own
short career. But he exists forever in this excellence, whereas this is
impossible for us. His pleasure consists in the exercise of his
essential energy, and on this account vigilance, wakefulness, and
perception are most agreeable to him. Again, the more we examine God's
nature the more wonderful does it appear to us. He is an eternal and
most excellent being. He is indivisible, devoid of parts, and having no
magnitude, for God imparts motion through infinite time, and nothing
finite, as magnitude is, can have an infinite capacity. He is a being
devoid of passions and unalterable."--Quoted in _Indian Wisdom_, p.

[Footnote 28: "Those pages present not the image of this piety, the
tears of confession, Thy sacrifice, a troubled spirit, a broken and a
contrite heart, the salvation of the people, the Bridal city, the
earnest of the Holy Ghost, the cup of our redemption. No man sings
there, 'Shall not my soul be submitted unto God? for of Him cometh my
salvation, for He is my God and my salvation, my guardian, I shall no
more be grieved.' No one there hears Him call 'Come unto me all ye that
labor.'"--_Confessions_, Bk. vii., xxi. "But having then read those
books of the Platonists, and thence being taught to search for
incorporeal truth, I saw Thy invisible things, understood by the things
which are made; and though cast back, I perceived what that was which,
through the darkness of my mind, I was hindered from contemplating,
being assured 'that Thou wert and wert infinite, and yet not diffused in
space, finite or infinite, and that Thou truly art who art the same
ever, in no part nor motion varying; and that all other things are from
Thee.... Of these things I was assured, yet too insecure to enjoy Thee.
I prated as one skilled, but I had not sought Thy way in Christ our
Saviour; I had proved to be not skilled but killed."--_Confessions_, Bk.
vii., xx.]

[Footnote 29: We may judge of the bearing of the common term heathen as
applied to non-Christian nations, when we consider that the Greeks and
Romans characterized all foreigners as "barbarians," that Mohammedans
call all Christians "infidels," and the Chinese greet them as "foreign
devils." The missionary enterprise as a work of conciliation should
illustrate a broader spirit.]

[Footnote 30: _The Celts_, Maclear.]

[Footnote 31: _Lives of the Fathers_, Farrar.]

[Footnote 32: "Christianity," says Max Müller, "enjoyed no privileges
and claimed no immunities when it boldly confronted and confounded the
most ancient and the most powerful religions of the world. Even at
present it craves no mercy and it receives no mercy from those whom our
missionaries have to meet face to face in every part of the world; and
unless our religion has ceased to be what it was, its defenders should
not shrink from this new trial of its strength, but should encourage
rather than depreciate the study of comparative theology."--_Science of
Religion_, p. 22.]

[Footnote 33: _History of Christian Theology_, Vol. I., p. 52.]



The religious systems of India, like its flora, display luxuriant
variety and confusion. Hinduism is only another banyan-tree whose
branches have become trunks, and whose trunks have produced new
branches, until the whole has become an intellectual and moral jungle of
vast extent. The original stock was a monotheistic nature worship, which
the Hindu ancestors held in common with other branches of the Aryan
family when dwelling together on the high table-lands of Central Asia,
or, as some are now claiming, in Eastern Russia. Wherever may have been
that historic "cradle" in which the infancy of our race was passed, it
seems certain from similarities of language, that this Aryan family once
dwelt together, and had a common worship, and called the supreme deity
by a common name. It was a worship of the sky, and at length of various
powers of nature, _Surya_, the sun: _Agni_, fire: _Indra_, rain, etc. It
is maintained by many authors, in India as well as in Europe, that these
designations were only applied as names of one and the same potential
deity. This is the ground held by the various branches of the modern
Somaj of India. Yet we must not suppose that the monotheism of the
early Aryans was all that we understand by that term; it is enough that
the power addressed was _one_ and personal. Even henotheism, the last
name which Professor Max Müller applies to the early Aryan faith,
denotes oneness in this sense. The process of differentiation and
corruption advanced more rapidly among the Indo-Aryans than in the
Iranian branch of the same race, and in all lands changes were wrought
to some extent by differences of climate and by environment.[34] The
Norsemen, for example, struggling with the wilder and sterner forces of
storm and wintry tempest, would naturally differ in custom, and finally
in faith, from the gentle Hindu under his Indian sky; yet there were
common elements traceable in the earliest traditions of these races, and
the fact that religions are not wholly dependent upon local conditions
is shown by both Christianity and Buddhism, which have flourished most
conspicuously and permanently in lands where they were not indigenous.

"In the Vedas," says Sir Monier Williams, "unity in the conception of
deity soon diverged into various ramifications. Only a few of the hymns
appear to contain the simple conception of one divine, self-existent,
omnipresent Being, and even in these, the idea of one God, present in
all nature, is somewhat nebulous and undefined." One of the earliest
deifications that we can trace was that of _Varuna_, who represented the
overhanging sky. The hymns addressed to Varuna are not only the
earliest, but they are the loftiest and most spiritual in their
aspirations. They find in him an element of holiness before which sin is
an offence; and in some vague sense he is the father of all things, like
the Zeus whom Paul recognized in the poetry of Greece.

But, as already stated, this vague conception of God as one, was already
in a transition toward separate impressions of the different powers of
nature. If the idea of God was without any very clear personality and
more or less obscure, it is not strange that it should come to be thus
specialized as men thought of objects having a manifestly benign
influence--as the life-quickening sun or the reviving rain. It is not
strange that, without a knowledge of the true God, they should have been
filled with awe when gazing upon the dark vault of night, and should
have rendered adoration to the moon and her countless retinue of stars.
If there must be idolatry, let it be that sublime nature worship of the
early Aryans, though even that was sure to degenerate into baser forms.
One might suppose that the worship of the heavenly bodies would remain
the purest and noblest; and yet the sun-worship of the Assyrians and the
Phoenicians became unspeakably vile in its sensuousness, and finally the
most wicked and abominable of all heathen systems. India in her darkest
days never sank so low, and when her degradation came it was through
other conceptions than those of nature worship.

In the early Vedic hymns are to be found many sublime passages which
seem to suggest traces of those common traditions concerning the
creation--the Fall of man and the Deluge, which we believe to have been
the earliest religious heritage of mankind. They contrast strongly with
the later and degrading cosmogonies of degenerate heathen systems, and
especially with the grotesque fancies of the subsequent Hindu mythology.
In the Xth Mandala of the Rig Veda we find the following account of
primeval chaos, which reminds one of the Mosaic Genesis:

   "In the beginning there was neither aught nor naught,
    There was neither sky nor atmosphere above.
    What then enshrouded all the teeming universe?
    In the receptacle of what was it contained?
    Was it enveloped in the gulph profound of water?
    There was then neither death nor immortality.
    There was then neither day nor night, nor light nor darkness.
    Only the _Existing One_ breathed calmly self-contained,
    Naught else but him there was, naught else above, beyond;
    Then first came darkness hid in darkness, gloom in gloom,
    Next all was water, chaos indiscreet
    In which the _One_ lay void, shrouded in nothingness,
    Then turning inward by self-developed force
    Of inner fervor and intense abstraction grew."

In the early Vedic period many of the corruptions of later times were
unknown. There was no distinct doctrine of caste, no transmigration, no
mist of pantheism, no idol-worship, no widow-burning, and no authorized
infanticide. The abominable tyranny which was subsequently imposed upon
woman was unknown; the low superstitions of the aboriginal tribes had
not been adopted; nor, on the other hand, had philosophy and
speculation taken possession of the Hindu mind. The doctrine of the
Trimurti and the incarnations had not appeared.[35]

The faith of the Hindus in that early period may be called _Aryanism_,
or _Vedism_. It bore sway from the Aryan migration, somewhere about one
thousand five hundred, or two thousand, years before Christ, to about
eight hundred years before Christ.[36] By that time the priestly class
had gained great power over all other ranks. They had begun to work over
the Vedas to suit their own purposes, selecting from them such portions
as could be framed into an elaborate ritual--known as the Brahmanas. The
period during which they continued this ritualistic development is known
as the Brahmana period. This extended from about eight hundred to five
hundred B.C.[37] These, however, are only the approximate estimates of
modern scholarship: such a thing as ancient history is unknown to the
Hindu race. This Brahmana period was marked by the intense and
overbearing sacerdotalism of the Brahmans, and by an extreme development
of the doctrine of caste. Never was priestly tyranny carried to greater
length than by these lordly Brahmans of India. One of the chief abuses
of their system was their depravation of sacrifice.

The earliest conception of sacrifice represented in the Vedas is that of
a vicarious offering of Parusha, a Divine being. Very obscure
references to this are found in the oldest of the four Vedas, dating
probably not later than 1200 B.C. It is brought out still more clearly
in a Brahmana which was probably composed in the seventh century B.C. It
is there said that the "Lord of creatures offered himself a sacrifice
for the Gods." Principal Fairbairn finds Vedic authority for the idea
that the creation of the world was accomplished by the self-sacrifice of
deity; and Manu ascribes the creation of mankind to the austerities of
the gods. Sir Monier Williams, the late Professor Banergea, and many
others, have regarded these references to a Divine sacrifice for the
benefit of gods and men as dim traces of a revelation once made to
mankind of a promised atonement for the sins of the world.[38]

But so far as the actual observances of the early Hindus were concerned,
they seem to have made their offerings rather in the spirit of Cain than
in the faith of Abel. They simply fed the gods with their gifts, and
regaled them with soma juice, poured forth in libations; the savor of
melted butter also was supposed to be specially grateful. Still there is
reason to believe that the piacular idea of sacrifice was never wholly
lost, but that the Hindus, in common with all other races, found
occasion--especially when great calamities befell them--to appease the
gods with the blood of sacrifice. In the early days human sacrifices
were offered, and occasionally at least down to a late period.[39] It
was a convenient policy of the priesthood, however, to hypothecate the
claim for a human victim by accepting the substitution of a goodly
number of horses or cows. A famous tradition is given, in the Aitareya
Brahmana, of a prince[40] who had been doomed to sacrifice by a vow of
his father, but who bought as a substitute the son of a holy
Brahman--paying the price of a hundred cows. When none could be found to
bind the lad on the altar, the pious father offered to perform the task
for another hundred cows. Then there was no one found to slay the
victim, and the father offered for still another hundred to do even
that. As the victim was of high caste the gods interposed, and the
Brahman was still the possessor of a son plus the cattle. The incident
will illustrate the greed of the priesthood and the depravation of
sacrifice. It had become a system of bargaining and extortion. The
sacrifices fed the priesthood more substantially than the gods. There
was great advantage in starting with the human victim as the unit of
value, and it is easy to see how substitution of animals became
immensely profitable. The people were taught that it was possible, if
one were rich enough in victims, even to bankrupt heaven. Even demons by
the value of their offerings might demand the sceptre of Indra.[41]

Hand in hand with this growth of the sacrificial system was the
development of caste; the former was done away by the subsequent
protest of Buddhism and the philosophic schools; but the latter has
remained through all the stages of Hindu history.[42] Such was
_Brahmanism_. Its thraldom has never been equalled. The land was deluged
with the blood of slain beasts. All industries were paralyzed with
discouragement. Social aspiration was blighted, patriotism and national
spirit were weakened, and India was prepared for those disastrous
invasions which made her the prey of all northern races.

It was in protest against these evils that Gautama and many able
philosophers arose about 500 B.C. Already the intellectual classes had
matched the Brahmans by drawing upon Vedic authority for their
philosophy. As the Brahmans had produced a ritual from the Vedas, so
the philosophers framed a sort of philosophic Veda in the _Upanishads_.
Men had begun to ask themselves the great questions of human life and
destiny, "Whence am I? What is this mysterious being of which I am
conscious?" They had begun to reason about nature, the origin of matter,
the relation of mortals to the Infinite. The school of the Upanishads
regarded themselves as an aristocracy of intellect, and held philosophy
as their esoteric and peculiar prerogative. It was maintained that two
distinct kinds of revelation had been made to men. First, that simple
kind which was designed for priests and the common masses, for all those
who regarded only effects and were satisfied with sacerdotal assumption
and merit-making. But, secondly, there was a higher knowledge which
concerned itself with the origin of the world and the hidden causes of
things. Even to this day the Upanishads are the Vedas of the thinking
classes of India.[43]

As the Brahmanas gave first expression to the doctrine of caste, so in
the Upanishads we find the first development of pantheism and the
doctrine of transmigration. The conclusion had already been reached that
"There is only one Being who exists: He is within this universe and yet
outside this universe: whoe'er beholds all living creatures as in Him,
and Him the universal spirit, as in all, thenceforth regards no creature
with contempt."

The language of Hindu speculation exhausts its resources in similes by
which to represent personal annihilation. Man's origin and relations
are accounted for very tersely by such illustrations as these: "As the
web issues from the spider, as little sparks proceed from fire, so from
the One Soul proceed all breathing animals, all worlds, all the gods,
all beings." Then as to destiny: "These rivers proceed from the east
toward the west, thence from the ocean they rise in the form of vapor,
and dropping again, they flow toward the south and merge into the ocean.
And as the flowing rivers are merged into the sea, losing their names
and forms, so the wise, freed from name and form, pass into the Divine
spirit, which is greater than the great."[44] Another favorite
illustration is that of the moon's reflection in the water-jar, which
disappears the moment the moon itself is hidden. "If the image in the
water has no existence separate from that of the moon," says the Hindu,
"how can it be shown that the human soul exists apart from God?"

The Mundaka Upanishad, based upon the Atharva Veda (one of the
latest,--the Upanishad being later still), contains this account of the
universe: "As the spider spins and gathers back (its thread); as plants
sprout on the earth; as hairs grow on a living person; so is this
universe here produced from the imperishable nature. By contemplation
the vast one germinates; from him food (or body) is produced; and thence
successively, breath, mind, real (elements) worlds, and immortality
resulting from (good) deeds.

"The Omniscient is profound contemplation consisting in the knowledge
of him who knows all; and from that, the (manifested) vast one, as well
as names, forms, and food proceed; and this is truth."[45]

It is a great blemish upon the Upanishads, that while there are subtle,
and in some respects sublime, utterances to be found here and there, the
great mass is fanciful and often puerile, and in many instances too low
and prurient to bear translation into the English language. This is
clearly alleged by Mr. Bose, and frankly admitted by Max Müller.[46]

In the common protest which finally broke down the system of Brahmanical
sacrifice, and for a time relaxed the rigors of caste tyranny, Buddhism
then just appearing (say 500 B.C.), joined hand in hand with the
philosophies. Men were tired of priestcraft, and by a natural reaction
they went to an opposite extreme; they were tired of religion itself.
Buddha became an undoubted atheist or agnostic, and six distinct schools
of philosophy arose on the basis of the Upanishads--some of which were
purely rationalistic, some were conservative, others radical. Some
resembled the Greek "Atomists" in their theory,[47] and others fought
for the authority, and even the supreme divinity, of the Vedas.[48] All
believed in the eternity of matter, and the past eternity of the soul;
all accepted the doctrine of transmigration, and maintained that the
spiritual nature can only act through a material body. All were
pessimistic, and looked for relief only in absorption.

But the progress of Hindu thought was marked by checks and
counter-checks. As the tyranny of the priesthood had led to the protest
of philosophy, so the extreme and conflicting speculations of
philosophic rationalism probably gave rise to the conservatism of the
Code of Manu. No adequate idea of the drift of Hindu thought can be
gained without assigning due influence to this all-important body of
laws. They accomplished more in holding fast the power of the Brahmans,
and enabling them to stem the tide of intellectual rebellion, and
finally to regain the sceptre from the hand of Buddhism, than all other
literatures combined. Their date cannot be definitely known. They were
composed by different men and at different times. They probably followed
the Upanishads, but antedated the full development of the philosophic

Many of the principles of Manu's Code had probably been uttered as early
as the seventh century B.C.[49] The ferment of rationalistic thought was
even then active, and demanded restraint. The one phrase which expresses
the whole spirit of the laws of Manu is intense conservatism. They stand
for the definite authority of dogma; they re-assert in strong terms the
authority of the Vedas; they establish and fortify by all possible
influences, the institution of caste. They enclose as in an iron
framework, all domestic, social, civil, and religious institutions.
They embrace not only the destiny of men upon the earth, but also the
rewards and punishments of the future life. Whatever they touched was
petrified. Abuses which had crept in through the natural development of
human depravity--for example, the oppression of woman--the laws of Manu
stamped with inflexible and irreversible authority. The evils which grow
up in savage tribes are bad enough, the tyranny of mere brute force is
to be deplored, but worst of all is that which is sanctioned by statute,
and made the very corner-stone of a great civilization. Probably no
other system of laws ever did so much to rivet the chains of domestic

The Code of Manu has been classified as, 1st, sacred knowledge and
religion; 2d, philosophy; 3d, social rules and caste organization; 4th,
criminal and civil laws; 5th, systems of penance; 6th, eschatology, or
the doctrine of future rewards. No uninspired or non-Vedic production
has equal authority in India. We can only judge of its date by its
relative place among other books. It applies Vedic names to the gods,
though it mentions Brahma and Vishnu, but it makes no reference to the
Trimurti. Pantheism was evidently in existence and was made prominent in
the code. The influence of Manu over the jurisprudence of India was a
matter of growth. At first the code appears to have been a guide in
customs and observances, but as it gained currency it acquired the force
of law, and extended its sway over all the tribes of India. It was not,
however, maintained as a uniform code throughout the land, but its
principles were found underlying the laws of all the provinces. Its very
merits were finally fruitful of evil. Human weal was sacrificed to the
over-shadowing power of a system of customs cunningly wrought and
established by Brahmanical influence. The author was evidently a
Brahman, and the whole work was prepared and promulgated in the
interests of Brahmanism as against all freedom of thought. Its support
of the Vedas was fanatical. Thus: "A Brahman by retaining the Rig Veda
in his memory incurs no guilt, though he should destroy the three
worlds." Again: "When there is contradiction of two precepts in the
Veda, both are declared to be law; both have been justly promulgated by
known sages as valid law."

The laws of Manu make no mention of the doctrine of _Bakti_ or faith,
and there is no reference to the worship of the _Sakti_; both of these
were of later date. The doctrine of transmigration, however, is fully
stated, and as a consequence of this the hells described in the code,
though places of torture, resolve themselves into merely temporary
purgatories, while the heavens become only the steps on the road to a
union with deity. There is reason to believe that the practice of
employing idols to represent deity was unknown at the time the code was
compiled. There is no allusion to public services or to teaching in the
temples, the chief rites of religion were of a domestic kind, and the
priests of that age were nothing more than domestic chaplains.

Manu's theory of creation was this: "The Self-Existent, having willed to
produce various beings from his own substance, first with a thought
created the waters and placed on them a productive seed or egg. Then he
himself was born in that egg in the form of Brahma. Next he caused the
egg to divide itself, and out of its two divisions there came the heaven
above and the earth beneath. Afterward, having divided his own substance
he became half male, half female. From that female was produced Viraj,
from whom was created the secondary progenitor of all beings. Then from
the Supreme Soul he drew forth Manu's intellect." This mixed cosmogony
is supposed to indicate a diversity of authorship.

It will be seen that this is much less philosophical than the theory of
creation quoted above from the Mundaka Upanishad.[51] If we compare
Manu's account with the description of the "Beginning" found in one of
the hymns of the Rig Veda,[52] we shall see that there has been a
downward trend of Hinduism from the simple and sublime conceptions of
the early poets to that which is grotesque, and which has probably been
worked over to suit the purposes of the Brahmans. No mythological legend
was too absurd if it promoted the notion of the divine origin of the
Manus (sages) and the Brahmans.

Manu makes much of the Vedic passage which refers to the origin of
caste.[53] He maintained that this distinction of caste was as much a
law of nature and divine appointment as the separation of different
classes of animals. The prominence accorded to the Brahmans was nothing
short of divine. "Even when Brahmans employ themselves in all sorts of
inferior occupations (as poverty often compels them to do) they must
under all circumstances be honored, for they are to be regarded as
supreme divinities." "A Brahman's own power is stronger than the power
of the king, therefore by his own might he may chastise his foes." "He
who merely assails a Brahman with intent to kill him, will continue in
hell for a hundred years, and he who actually strikes him must endure a
thousand years."

It is always the truth that is mingled with the errors of any system
which constitutes its life and gives it perpetuity, and there is much in
the Code of Manu to be admired. Like the Confucian ethics, it laid its
foundations in the respect due from childhood to parents, and in
guarding the sanctities of the home. It aimed at fairness between ruler
and subject, in an age when over most of the Asiatic continent the
wildest caprice of rulers was the law of their respective realms. Manu
taught the duty of kings toward their subjects in most emphatic terms.
They were to regard themselves as servants, or rather as fathers, of the
people; and rules were prescribed for their entire conduct. They were
the representatives of deity in administering the affairs of mortals,
and must realize their solemn responsibility.[54] It must ever be
acknowledged that the Hindu laws respecting property were characterized
by wisdom and equity. Taxation was not subject to caprice or injustice;
where discriminations occurred they were in favor of the poor, and the
heaviest burdens were laid where they should be laid, upon the rich.
There were wise adaptations, calculated to develop the industry and
self-help of the weakest classes, and care was taken that they never
should become oppressive. No political or civic tyranny could be
allowed; but that of the priesthood in its relations to all ranks, and
that of the householder toward his wife and toward all women, were quite
sufficient. In this last regard we scarcely know which was the
greater--the heartless wickedness of the Code, or its blind and bigoted
folly. How it was that laws could be framed which indicated such rare
sagacity, which in many other respects were calculated to build up the
very highest civilization, and which, at the same time, failed to
foresee that this oppression of woman must result in the inevitable
degeneracy of succeeding generations of men, must ever remain a

We have glanced at the purer and simpler Aryanism of the early period,
at the bigoted, tyrannical Brahmanism, with its ritual, its sacrifices,
its caste. We have merely alluded to the rationalistic reaction of the
philosophers and the Buddhists. We shall now see that the Brahman power
is not broken, but that it will regain all and more than it has lost,
that it will prove elastic enough to embrace all that has gone before;
that while Buddhism will be banished, many of its elements will be
retained, and the whole woven into one marvellous texture which we will
call _Hinduism_.[56] Even during the period of Buddhism's greatest
triumphs, say, two or three centuries before Christ, changes of great
moment were going on in the Brahmanical faith. The old sacrificial
system had lost its power, but the flexible and inexhaustible resources
of Brahmanical cunning were by no means dormant. In the border wars of
the Aryans, with rival invaders on the one hand, and with the conquered
but ever restless aborigines on the other, great and popular heroes had
sprung up. The exploits of these heroes had been celebrated in two great
epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and the popularity of these
poems was immense. The heroes were of the soldier caste, and gave to
that caste a prestige which seemed to the Brahmans formidable and
dangerous.[57] The divine prerogatives of their order were all in

The remedy chosen by the Brahmans was a bold and desperate one. These
heroes must be raised out of the soldier caste by making them divine. As
such they would hold a nearer relation to the divine Brahmans than to
the soldiers. The legends were therefore worked over--Brahmanized--so to
speak.[58] Rama, who had overcome certain chieftains of Ceylon, and
Krishna, who had won great battles in Rajputana, were raised to the rank
of gods and demi-gods. By an equal exaggeration the hostile chiefs of
rival invaders were transformed to demons, and the black, repulsive hill
tribes, who were involved as allies in these conflicts, were represented
as apes. As a part of this same Brahmanizing process, the doctrine of
the Trimurti was developed, and also the doctrine of incarnation. Most
conspicuous were the incarnations of Vishnu; Rama and Krishna were
finally placed among the ten incarnations of that deity. This was a
skilful stroke of policy, for it was now no longer the heroes of the
soldier caste who had won victory for the Aryans; it was Vishnu, the
preserver, the care-taker, and sympathizer with all the interests of
mankind. The development of the doctrines of the Trimurti and of
incarnation undoubtedly followed both the rise of Buddhism and the
promulgation of the Laws of Manu.

Meanwhile the Brahmans were shrewd enough to adapt themselves to certain
other necessities. The influence of Buddhism was still a force which
was not to be disregarded. It had demonstrated one thing which had never
been recognized before, and that was the need of a more human and
sympathetic element in the divine objects of worship. Men were weary of
worshipping gods who had no kindly interest in humanity. They were weary
of a religion which had no other element than that of fear or of
bargaining with costly sacrifices. They longed for something which had
the quality of mercy. Buddha had demonstrated the value of this element,
and by an adroit stroke of policy the Brahmans adopted Gautama as the
ninth avatar of Vishnu. Meanwhile they adopted the heroic Krishna as the
god of sympathy--the favorite of the lower masses who were not too
critical toward his vices.

We have now reached the fully developed form of _Hinduism_.[59] The
Brahmans had embraced every element that could give strength to their
broad, eclectic, and all-embracing system.[60] The doctrine of the
Trimurti had become a strong factor, as it furnished a sort of
framework, and gave stability. As compared with the early Aryanism, it
removed the idea of deity from merely natural forces to that of abstract
thoughts, principles, and emotions, as active and potent in the world.
At the same time it retained the old Vedic deities under new names and
with new functions, and it did not abate its professed regard for Vedic
authority. The Brahmans had rendered their system popular in a sense
with the intellectual classes by adopting all the philosophies. They had
stopped the mouth of Buddhist protest by embracing the Buddha among
their incarnations. They had shown an advance in the succession of
incarnations from the early embodiments of brute force, the fish, the
tortoise, the boar, up to heroes, and from these to the ninth avatar,
the Buddha, as a moralist and philosopher.[61] They left on record the
prediction that a tenth should come--and he is yet to come--who, in a
still higher range of moral and spiritual power, should redeem and
renovate the earth, and establish a kingdom of righteousness.

Meanwhile, in this renaissance of the Hindu faith, this wide, politic,
self-adapting system, we find not only Buddhism, Philosophy, the early
Aryanism, and the stiff cultus of Brahmanism, but there is also a large
infusion of the original superstitions of the Dravidians, Kohls,
Santals, and other nature worshippers of the hill tribes. Much of the
polytheism of the modern Hindus--the worship of hills, trees, apes,
cattle, the sun, the moon, unseen spirits, serpents, etc.--has been
adopted from these simple tribes, so that the present system embraces
all that has ever appeared on the soil of India--even Mohammedanism to
some extent; and as some contend, very much also has been incorporated
from the early teachings of the so-called St. Thomas Christians of
Malabar. Such is the immense composite which is called Hinduism. It
continued its development through the early centuries of the Christian
era, and down even to the Middle Ages. Since then there has been
disintegration instead of growth. The Brahmans have not only retained
the Aryan deities, and extended Vishnu's incarnate nature over the epic
heroes, but in the Puranas they have woven into the alleged lives of the
incarnate gods the most grotesque mythologies and many revolting vices.

It may be interesting to trace for a moment the influence of the
different lines of Hindu literature upon the general development of
national character. Of course, the early Vedic literature has never lost
its influence as the holy and inspired source of all knowledge to the
Hindu race; but we have seen how much more potential were the Brahmanas
and the Upanishad philosophy drawn from the Vedas, than were those
sacred oracles themselves; how the Brahmanas riveted the chains of
priestcraft and caste, and how the philosophies invigorated the
intellect of the people at a time when they were most in danger of
sinking into the torpor of ignorance and base subserviency to ritual and
sacrifice; how it gave to the better classes the courage to rise up in
rebellion and throw off every yoke, and think for themselves. We have
seen how Buddhism by its protest against sacerdotalism crippled for a
time the power of the Brahmans and raised a representative of the
soldier caste to the chief place as a teacher of men; how its
inculcation of pity to man and beast banished the slaughter and cruelty
of wholesale and meaningless sacrifice, and how its example of sympathy
changed Hinduism itself, and brought it into nearer relations with
humanity. Driven from India, though it was, it left an immense deposit
of influence and of power. We have seen how, as a counter-check to
philosophy and Buddhism, the Code of Manu reasserted the authority of
the Vedas, and riveted anew the chains of caste, and how it compensated
for its oppressiveness by many wholesome and benign
regulations--accomplishing more, perhaps, than all other literatures
combined to maintain the stability of Hinduism, through its many
vicissitudes, and in spite of the heterogeneous elements which it
received and incorporated.

Scarcely less important was the influence of the great epics--the
Ramayana and the Mahabharata--with their doctrine of Trimurti and the
incarnations of Vishnu in the national heroes. This conciliated the
soldier caste, subsidized the most popular characters in Hindu
tradition, at the same time that it made them tenfold more glorious than
before. The Epics widened out the field of Hindu mythology immensely.
Never before had there been such a boundless range for the imagination.
The early Brahmans had cramped all intellectual growth, and held mankind
by the leash of priestly ritual. The philosophies had been too strait
and lofty for any but the higher class; Manu's laws had been a stern
school-master to keep the people under curbs and restraints; even the
Brahmans themselves were the slaves of their own ritual. But all the
people could understand and admire Rama's wonderful victories over the
demon Ravana. All could appreciate the devotion of the lovely Sita, and
weep when she was kidnapped and borne away, like Grecian Helen, to the
demon court in Ceylon; and they could be thrilled with unbounded joy
when she was restored--the truest and loveliest of wives--to be the
sharer of a throne.

The Epics took such hold of the popular heart that any fact, any theory,
any myth that could be attached to them found ready credence. The
Mahabharata especially became a general texture upon which any
philosophy, or all the philosophies, might be woven at will. And for a
long period, extending from three or four centuries B.C. onward far into
the Christian era, it was ever ready to receive modifications from the
fertile brain and skilful hand of any devout Brahman. A striking example
of this was the introduction of the Bhagavad Gita. When this was
composed, somewhere about the second or third century of our era, there
was no little conflict between the different schools of philosophy; and
its unknown author attempted to unite them all in a poem which should
harmonize their contradictions and exalt the virtues of each, and at the
same time reiterate all the best maxims of Hinduism. Some centuries
later, the pronounced Vedantist Sancarakarya revamped the poem and gave
its philosophy a more pantheistic character; later still the demigod
Krishna was raised to full rank as the supreme Vishnu--the Creator and
Upholder of all things.[62]

It is important to notice that in the trend of Hindu literature through
so many ages there has been no upward movement, but rather a decline.
Nowhere do we find hymns of so pure and lofty a tone as in the early
Vedas. No philosophy of the later times has equalled that of the
Upanishads and the six Darsanas. No law-giver like Manu has appeared for
twenty-four centuries. No Sanskrit scholarship has equalled that of the
great grammarian Panini, who lived in the fourth century B.C. And
although no end of poetry has succeeded the great Epics, it has shown
deterioration. The Puranas, written at a later day, reveal only a
reckless zeal to exalt the incarnate deities. They may properly be
called histories of the incarnations of Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, and
glorifications of Krishna. And the very nature of the subjects with
which they deal gives free scope to an unbridled imagination and to the
most reckless exaggeration.

If anything more were wanting to insure their extravagance, it may be
found in the fact that they were inspired by the rivalry of the
respective worshippers of different gods. The Puranas mark the
development of separate sects, each of which regarded its particular
deity as the supreme and only god. The worshippers of Vishnu and the
worshippers of Siva were in sharp rivalry, and they have continued
their separation to this day.[63] Those who came to worship Vishnu as
incarnate in Krishna, gained an advantage in the popular element
associated with a favorite hero. Yet this was matched by the influence
of the Sankhya philosophy, which assigned to Siva a male and female
dualism, a doctrine which finally plunged Hinduism into deepest
degradation. It brought about a new development known as Saktism, and
the still later and grosser literature of the Tantras. In these,
Hinduism reached its lowest depths. The modern "Aryas" discard both the
Tantras and the Puranas, and assert that the popular incarnations of
Vishnu were only good men. They take refuge from the corruptions of
modern Hinduism in the purer teachings of the early Vedas.

_The Contrasts of Hinduism and Christianity._

Hinduism has some elements in common with Christianity which it is well
to recognize. It is theistic; it is a religion, as distinguished from
the agnostic and ethical systems of India and China.[64] Hinduism always
recognized a direct divine revelation which it regards with profound
reverence; and through all its variations and corruptions it has
inculcated in the minds of the Indian races a deeply religious feeling.
It has been claimed that it has made the Hindus the most devotional
people in the world. Like Christianity, Hinduism appeals to man's
intellectual nature, and it is inwrought with profound philosophy. It
does not, however, like some modern systems, teach that divine truth has
been revealed to man by natural processes; rather it regards the early
revelation as having suffered obscuration.[65] It also has its trinity,
its incarnations, and its predictions of a Messiah who shall restore the
truth and establish righteousness. The Hindu traditions maintain that
mankind descended from a single pair;[66] that the first estate of the
race was one of innocence; that man was one of the last products of
creation; that in the first ages he was upright, and consequently happy.
"The beings who were thus created by Brahma are said to have been
endowed with righteousness and perfect faith; they abode wherever they
pleased, unchecked by any impediment; their hearts were free from guile;
they were pure, made exempt from toil by observance of sacred
institutes. In their sanctified minds Hari dwelt; they were filled with
perfect wisdom by which they contemplated the glory of Vishnu." Hartwell
has pointed out the fact that the early Hindu traditions here unite with
the Scriptural account in virtually denying all those theories of
evolution which trace the development of man from lower animals.[67]

But compared with Christianity, its contrasts are far greater than its
resemblances. First, as to the nature of God, there is an infinite
difference between the cold and unconscious Brahman, slumbering for ages
without thought or emotion or any moral attribute, and the God of
Israel, whose power and wisdom and goodness, whose mercy and truth and
tender compassion, are so constantly set forth in the Bible. The latter
compares Himself to a Father who cares for his children, and who has
redeemed the world by an infinite sacrifice. Even in the most popular
emanation of Brahman--even in Vishnu--there is nothing of a fatherly
spirit, no appeal as to children, no kindly remonstrance against sin, no
moral instruction, or effort to encourage and establish character, no
promise of reward, no enkindling of immortal hope.

Second, there is a striking contrast in the comparative estimates which
Hinduism and Christianity place upon the human soul. Unlike Buddhism,
Hinduism does recognize the existence of a soul, but it is only a
temporary emanation, like the moon's reflection in the water. It
resembles its source as does the moon's image, but coldly and in a most
unsatisfactory sense; there is no capacity for fellowship, and the end
is absorption.[68] On the other hand, Christianity teaches us that we
are created in God's image, but not that we _are_ his image. We are
separate, though dependent, and if reunited to him through Christ we
shall dwell in his presence forever.

Third, the two systems are in strong contrast in the comparative hopes
which they hold out for the future. The doctrine of transmigration casts
a gloom over all conscious being; it presents an outlook so depressing
as to make life a burden, and the acme of all possible attainment is
individual extinction, or what amounts to the same thing, absorption
into deity. The logic of it is that it would be better still not to have
been born at all. Christianity promises an immediate transfer to a life
of unalloyed blessedness, and an endless growth of all our powers and
capacities; but why should Hinduism urge the cultivation of that whose
real destiny is "effacement?" Hinduism finds the explanation of life's
mysteries and inscrutable trials in the theory of sins committed in a
previous existence. Christianity, while recognizing the same trials,
relieves them with the hope of solutions in a future life of
compensating joy. The one turns to that which is past, unchangeable and
hopeless, and finds only sullen despair; the other anticipates an
inheritance richer than eye hath seen, or ear heard, or heart conceived.

Fourth, Hinduism has no Saviour and no salvation. It is not a religion
in the highest sense of _rescue_ and reconciliation. It avails us of no
saving power higher than our own unaided effort. It implies the ruin of
sin, but provides no remedy. It presents no omnipotent arm stretched
forth to save.

Its fatalism places man under endless disabilities, and then bids him to
escape from the nexus if he can; but it reveals no divine helper, no
sacrifice, no mediator, no regenerating Spirit. It has no glad tidings
to proclaim, no comfort in sorrow, no victory over the sting of death,
no resurrection unto Life. Though at a period subsequent to the
preaching of the Gospel in India--perhaps the seventh or eighth century
A.D.--a doctrine of faith (_Bakti_) was engrafted upon Hinduism, yet it
had no hint of a Saviour from sin and death.[69]

Fifth, in Hinduism there is no liberty for the free action of the human
spirit. Though the life of a Brahman is intensely religious, yet it is
cramped with exactions which are not only abortive but positively
belittling. The code of Brahmanism never deals with general principles
in the regulation of conduct, but fills the whole course of life with
punctilious minutiæ of observances. Instead of prescribing, as Christ
did, an all-comprehensive law of supreme love to God and love to our
neighbor as ourselves, it loads the mind with petty exactions, puerile
precepts, inane prohibitions. "Unlike Christianity, which is all spirit
and life," says Dr. Duff, "Hinduism is all letter and death." Repression
takes the place of inspiration and the encouragement of hope.

There are a thousand subtle principles in Hinduism whose influence is
felt in society and in the state, and to which the faith and power of
the Gospel present the very strongest contrasts. For example, while
Christianity has raised woman to a position of respect and honor, and
made her influence felt as something sacred and potential in the family
and in all society, Hinduism has brought her down even from the place
which she occupied among the primitive Aryans, to an ever-deepening
degradation. It has made her life a burden and a curse. Pundita Ramabai,
in her plea for high-caste Hindu women, quotes a prayer of a child widow
in which she asks, "O Father of the world, hast Thou not created us? or
has perchance some other God made us? Dost Thou only care for men? O
Almighty One, hast Thou not power to make us other than we are, that we
too may have some part in the blessings of life?" Even in this last
decade of the nineteenth century the priesthood of Bengal are defending
against all humane legislation those old customs which render the
girlhood of Hindu women a living death.[70]

In its broad influence Christianity has raised the once savage tribes
of Europe to the highest degree of culture, and made them leaders and
rulers of the world; but Hinduism has so weakened and humbled the once
conquering Aryans that they have long been an easy prey to every
invading race. Christianity shows in its sacred Book a manifest progress
from lower to higher moral standards--from the letter to the spirit,
from the former sins that were winked at to the perfect example of
Christ, from the narrow exclusiveness of Judaism to the broad and
all-embracing spirit of the Gospel, from prophecy to fulfilment, from
types and shadows to the full light of Redemption; the sacred books of
Hinduism have degenerated from the lofty aspirations of the Vedic
nature-worship to the vileness of Saktism, from the noble praises of
Varuna to the low sensuality of the Tantras, from Vedic conceptions of
the creation, sublime as the opening of St. John's Gospel, to the myths
of the divine turtle or the boar, or the escapades of the supreme and
"adorable Krishna."[71]

Christianity breaks down all barriers which divide and alienate mankind,
and establishes a universal brotherhood in Christ; Hinduism has raised
the most insurmountable barriers and developed the most inexorable
social tyranny ever inflicted on the human race. The Hebrew economy also
recognized a priestly class, but they were chosen from among their
brethren and were only a distinct family; they made no claim to divine
lineage, and they were guiltless of social tyranny.

Christianity enjoins a higher and purer ethic than it has ever found in
the natural moral standards of any people; it aims at perfection; it
treats the least infraction as a violation of the whole law; it regards
even corrupt thoughts as sins; it bids us be holy even as He is holy in
whose sight the heavens are unclean. Hinduism, on the other hand, is
below the ethical standard of respectable Hindu society. The better
classes are compelled to apologize for it by asserting that that which
is debasing in men may be sinless in the gods. The offences of Krishna
and Arjuna would not be condoned in mortals; the vile orgies of the
"left-handed worshippers" of Siva would not be tolerated but for their
religious character. The murders committed by the Thugs in honor of Kali
were winked at only because a goddess demanded them. The naked
processions of Chaitanya's followers would be dispersed by the police
anywhere but in India.

It is the peculiar distinction of India that it has been the theatre of
nearly all the great religions. Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Mohammedanism
have all made trial of their social and political power and have failed.
Last of all came Christianity. The systems which preceded it had had
centuries of opportunity; and yet Christianity has done more for the
elevation of Hindu society in the last fifty years than they had
accomplished in all the ages of their dominion. Neither Buddhism nor
Mohammedanism had made any serious impression on caste; neither had
been able to mitigate the wrongs which Brahmanism had heaped upon
woman--Mohammedanism had rather increased them. The horrors of the satti
and the murder of female infants--those bitterest fruits of priestly
tyranny--were left unchecked until the British Government, inspired by
missionary influence and a general Christian sentiment, branded them as
infamous and made them crimes. But now even the native sentiment of the
better classes in India is greatly changed by these higher influences,
and the conventional morality is rising above the teachings of the
national religion. Widow-burning and infanticide belong almost wholly to
the past. Child-marriage is coming into disrepute, and caste, though not
destroyed, is crippled, and its preposterous assumptions are falling
before the march of social progress.

Perhaps the very highest tribute which Hinduism has paid to Christianity
is seen in the fact that the modern Arya Somaj has borrowed its ethics
and some of its religious doctrines, and is promulgating them under
Vedic labels and upon Vedic authority.[72] It has renounced those
corruptions of Hinduism which can no longer bear the light--such as
enforced widowhood and the general oppression of woman. It denounces the
incarnations of Vishnu as mere inventions, and therefore cuts up by the
roots the whole Krishna cult and dissipates the glory of the Bhagavad
Gita. It abhors polytheism, and not only proclaims the supremacy of one
only true God, self-existent, the creator and upholder of all things,
but it maintains that such was the teaching of the Vedas. But although
this modern eclectic system adopts the whole ethical outcome of
Christian civilization in India for its own purposes, it shows a most
uncompromising hostility to Christianity. Though it claims to be
positively theistic, it seems ready to enter into alliance with any form
of atheism or agnosticism, Eastern or Western, against the spread of
Christian influence in India.

In speaking of the movement of revived Aryanism I assume that with the
more intelligent and progressive classes of India the old Hinduism is
dead. Of course, millions of men still adhere to the old corruptions.
Millions in the remoter districts would retain the festival of
Juggernaut, the hook-swinging, even infanticide and widow-burning, if
they dared. The revolting orgies of Kali and Doorga, and the vilest
forms of Siva worship, even the murderous rites of the Thugs, might be
revived by the fanatical, if foreign influence were withdrawn; but,
taking India as a whole, these things are coming to be discarded. The
people are ashamed of them; they dare not undertake to defend them in
the open day of the present civilization. All intelligent Hindus are
persuaded to accept the situation, and look to the future instead of the
past. The country is full of new influences which must be counted as
factors. British rule is there, and is there to stay. Education has
come--good, bad, and indifferent. English University training is
bringing forward a host of acute thinkers of native blood. But the
forces of Western infidelity are also there, grappling with Western
Christianity on Indian soil, and before the eyes of the conquered and
still sullen people. The vilest of English books and the worst of French
novels in English translations are in the markets. All the worst phases
of European commerce are exhibited. The opium monopoly, the liquor
traffic, and all the means and methods of unscrupulous money-getting,
with the wide-spread example of drinking habits, and unbounded luxury
and extravagance.

And, in opinions, the war of aggression is no longer on one side only.
While the foreigner speaks and writes of superstition, of heathenism, of
abominable rites now passing away, the native Hindu press is equally
emphatic in its condemnation of what it calls the swinish indulgence of
the Anglo-Saxon, his beer-drinking and his gluttony, his craze for money
and material power, his disgust at philosophy and all intellectual
aspiration, his half-savage love for the chase and the destruction of
animal life. Educated Hindus throw back against the charge of idolatry
our idolatry of pelf, which, as they claim, eclipses every other thought
and aspiration, leads to dishonesty, over-reaching, and manifold crime,
and sinks noble ethics to the low level of expediency or self-interest;
the conquest is not yet won.

A hundred varieties of creed have sprung up beneath this banyan-tree
which I have called Hinduism. There are worshippers of Vishnu, of Siva,
of Kali, of Krishna as Bacchus, and of Krishna as the supreme and
adorable God. There are Sikhs, and Jains, and Buddhists; Theosophists,
Vedantic Philosophers, Mohammedans, Brahmos, Parsees, Evolutionists, and
Agnostics; Devil-worshippers, and worshippers of ghosts and serpents;
but in considering these as forces to be met by Christian influence, we
must regard them all as in virtual alliance with each other. They are
all one in pride of race and of venerable custom. They are all one in
their hatred of foreign dominion, and of the arrogance and overbearing
assumption of the European.[73]

The Hindu religions, therefore, however divided, and however weak and
moribund they may be taken singly, find a real vitality in the union of
common interests, in the sentiments of patriotism, in the pride of their
philosophy, in the glory of their ancient history as the true and
original Aryans, compared with whom Western nations are mere offshoots.

Their religious faith is mixed and involved with patriotism, politics,
and race prejudice, and on the other hand Christianity in India is
handicapped by political and commercial interest and a hated domination.
On both sides these combined influences must be considered in estimating
the future issues of the great conflict. The question is not how
Christianity and Hinduism would fare in a conflict pure and simple,
unembarrassed by complications, but how Christianity with its drawbacks
is likely to succeed against Hinduism with its manifold intrenchments.

But, while weighing well the obstacles, how great are the
encouragements! What an auspicious fact that even a hostile organization
has appropriated the Christian cultus bodily, and can find no better
weapons than its blessed truths. Christianity is felt as a silent power,
even though under other names. It is, after all, the leaven that is
working all-powerfully in India to-day.

There was a period in the process of creation when light beamed dimly
upon the earth, though the sun, its source, had not yet appeared. So
through the present Hinduism there is a haze of Christian truth, though
the Sun of Righteousness is not yet acknowledged as its source.

But the Spirit of God broods over the waters, and the true Light of the
world will break on India.


[Footnote 34: The fact that environment has to a certain extent affected
the religions of mankind is entirely overworked, when men like Buckle
make it formative and controlling.]

[Footnote 35: Instead of the later and universal pessimism, there was in
the Vedic religion a simple but joyous sense of life.]

[Footnote 36: _Hinduism_, p. 31.]

[Footnote 37: _Chips from a German Workshop_, vol. i., p. 15.]

[Footnote 38: _Aryan Witness_, p. 204; also _Hinduism_, p. 36.]

[Footnote 39: Ibid., p. 37.]

[Footnote 40: A son of Hariscandra. _Hinduism_, p. 37.]

[Footnote 41: This is in strong contrast with the Old Testament
precepts, which everywhere had greater respect to the heart of the
offerer than to the gifts.]

[Footnote 42: The Brahmans had found certain grades of population marked
by color lines, shaded off from the negroid aborigines to the
Dravidians, and from them to the more recent and nobler Aryans, and they
were prompt also to seize upon a mere poetic and fanciful expression
found in the Rig Veda, which seemed to give countenance to their
fourfold caste distinction by representing one class as having sprung
from the head of Brahma, another from the shoulders, the third from his
thighs, and a fourth from his feet. Altogether they founded a social
system which has been the wonder of the ages, and which has given to the
_Brahmans_ the prestige of celestial descent. The _Kshatreych_ or
soldier caste stands next, and as it has furnished many military leaders
and monarchs who disputed the arrogant claims of the Brahmans, conflicts
of the upper castes have not been infrequent.

The _Vaishya_, or farmer caste, has furnished the principal groundwork
of many admixtures and subdivisions, until at the present time there are
endless subcastes, to each of which a particular kind of employment is
assigned. The _Sudras_ are still the menials, but there are different
grades of degradation even among them.]

[Footnote 43: _Hindu Philosophy_, Bose, p. 47.]

[Footnote 44: _Indian Wisdom_ on the Brahmanas and Upanishads. Also
_Hindu Philosophy_, Bose.]

[Footnote 45: _Colebrook's Essays_, foot-note, p. 85.]

[Footnote 46: See _Introduction to the Sacred Books of the East_, vol. i.]

[Footnote 47: Vaiseshika Philosophy, in _Indian Wisdom_.]

[Footnote 48: Mimansa Philosophy. Ibid.]

[Footnote 49: Sir Monier Williams assigns the Code of Manu _in its
present form_ to the sixth century B.C. _Indian Wisdom_, p. 215. Other
Oriental scholars consider it older.]

[Footnote 50: These tendencies were more intensely emphasized in some of
the later codes, which, however, were only variations of the greater one
of Manu.]

[Footnote 51: See p. 82.]

[Footnote 52: Quoted on p. 76.]

[Footnote 53: See note, p. 80.]

[Footnote 54: Sir Monier Williams declares that some of Mann's precepts
are worthy of Christianity. _Indian Wisdom_, p. 212.]

[Footnote 55: It should be set down to the credit of the Code of Manu
that with all its relentless cruelty toward woman it nowhere gives
countenance to the atrocious custom of widow-burning which soon
afterward became an important factor in the Hindu system and desolated
the homes of India for more than two thousand years.

There would seem to be some dispute as to whether or not widow-burning
is sanctioned in the Rig Veda. Colebrooke, in his _Essays_ (Vol. I., p,
135), quotes one or two passages which authorize the rite, but Sir
Monier Williams (_Indian Wisdom_, p. 259, note) has shown that changes
were made in this text at a much later day for the purpose of gaining
Vedic authority for a cruel system, of which even so late a work as the
Code of Manu makes no mention, and (page 205 Ibid.) he quotes another
passage from the Rig Veda which directs a widow to ascend the pyre of
her husband as a token of attachment, but to leave it before the burning
is begun.]

[Footnote 56: As the spread of Buddhism had owed much to the political
triumph of King Ashoka, so the revival of Hinduism was greatly indebted
to the influence of a new dynasty about a century B.C.]

[Footnote 57: _Indian Wisdom_, p. 314.]

[Footnote 58: Ibid., p. 317.]

[Footnote 59: Brahmanism and Hinduism are often used interchangeably,
but all confusion will be avoided by confining the former to that
intense sacerdotalism which prevailed during the Brahmana period, while
the latter is used more comprehensively, or is referred particularly to
the later and fully developed system.]

[Footnote 60: _Hinduism_, pp. 12, 13.]

[Footnote 61: The Brahmans were careful, however, to brand the Buddha,
while admitting him as an avatar. Their theory was that Vishnu appeared
in Gautama for the purpose of deluding certain demons into despising the
worship of the gods, and thus securing their destruction. This affords
an incidental proof that Gautama was regarded as an atheist.--See
_Indian Wisdom_, p. 335.]

[Footnote 62: See _Aryan Witness_, closing chapter; also _Christ and
Other Masters_, p. 198, notes 1, 2, and 3.]

[Footnote 63: See _Brahmanism and Hinduism_, Monier Williams.]

[Footnote 64: Hardwick traces similarities between Hindu traditions and
Christianity in such points as these: 1, The primitive state of man; 2,
his fall by transgression; 3, his punishment in the Deluge; 4, the rite
of sacrifice; 5, the primitive hope of restoration.--_Christ and Other
Masters_, p. 209.]

[Footnote 65: The Hindus hold that "truth was originally deposited with
men, but gradually slumbered and was forgotten; the knowledge of it
returns like a recollection."--_Humboldt's Kosmos_, ii., p. 112.]

[Footnote 66: _Professor Wilson's Lectures_, p. 52.]

[Footnote 67: _Vishnu Puranas_, p. 45, note 4.]

[Footnote 68: Buddhism is still more disheartening, since it denies the
separate conscious existence of the ego. There cannot be divine
fellowship, therefore, but only the current of thoughts and emotions
like the continuous flame of a burning candle. Not our souls will
survive, but our Karma.]

[Footnote 69: _Christ and Other Masters_, p. 182.]

[Footnote 70: Yet in spite of Manu and the inveteracy of old custom,
there gleams here and there in Hindu literature and history a bright
ideal of woman's character and rank; while the _Ramayana_ has its model
Sita, the _Mahabharata_, i., 3028, has this peerless sketch:

   "A wife is half the man, his truest friend;
    A loving wife is a perpetual spring
    Of virtue, pleasure, wealth; a faithful wife
    Is his best aid in seeking heavenly bliss;
    A sweetly-speaking wife is a companion
    In solitude; a father in advice;
    A mother in all seasons of distress;
    A rest in passing through life's wilderness."

This, however, is a pathetic outburst: the tyranny of the ages remains.]

[Footnote 71: Even in the later development of the doctrine of faith
(Bakti) Hinduism fails to connect with it any moral purification or
elevation. See quotations from Elphinstone and Wilson in _Christ and
Other Masters_, p. 234.]

[Footnote 72: See a recent _Catechism_ published by the Arya Somaj.]

[Footnote 73: The following hymn, quoted from the Arya _Catechism_,
reveals the proud spirit of revived Aryanism:

   "We are the sons of brave Aryas of yore,
    Those sages in learning, those heroes in war.
    They were the lights of great nations before,
    And shone in that darkness like morning's bright star,
    A beacon of warning, a herald from far.
    Have we forgotten our Rama and Arjun,
    Yudistar or Bishma or Drona the Wise?
    Are not we sons of the mighty Duryodani?
    Where did Shankar and great Dayananda arise?
    'In India, in India!' the echo replies.
    Ours the glory of giving the world
    Its science, religion, its poetry and art.
    We were the first of the men who unfurled
    The banner of freedom on earth's every part,
    Brought tidings of peace and of love to each heart."]



No other portion of Hindu literature has made so great an impression on
Western minds as the Bhagavad Gita, "The Lord's Lay," or the "Song of
the Adorable." It has derived its special importance from its supposed
resemblance to the New Testament. And as it claims to be much older than
the oldest of the Gospels or the Epistles, it carries the inference that
the latter may have borrowed something from it.

A plausible translation has been published in Boston by Mr. Mohini M.
Chatterji, who devoutly believes this to be the revealed word of the
Supreme Creator and Upholder of the universe.[74] He admits that at a
later day "the same God, worshipped alike by Hindus and Christians,
appeared again in the person of Jesus Christ," and that "in the Bible He
revealed Himself to Western nations, as the Bhagavad Gita had proclaimed
Him to the people of the East." And he draws the inference that "If the
Scriptures of the Brahmans and the Scriptures of the Jews and
Christians, widely separated as they are by age and nationality, are but
different names for one and the same truth, who can then say that the
Scriptures contradict each other? A careful and reverent collation of
the two sets of Scriptures will show forth the conscious and intelligent
design of revelation." The fact that the Bhagavad Gita is thoroughly
pantheistic, while the Bible emphasizes the personality of God in
fellowship with the distinct personality of human souls, seems to
interpose no serious difficulty in Mr. Chatterji's view, since he says
"'The Lord's Lay' is for philosophic minds, and therefore deals more at
length with the mysteries of the being of God." "In the Bhagavad Gita,"
he says, "consisting of seven hundred and seventy verses, the principal
topic is the being of God, while scarcely the same amount of exposition
is given to it in the whole Bible;" and he adds, "The explanation of
this remarkable fact is found in the difference between the genius of
the Hebrew and the Brahman race, and also in the fact that the teachings
of Jesus Christ were addressed to 'the common people.'"[75]

The air of intellectual superiority which is couched in these words is
conspicuous. Mr. Chatterji also finds an inner satisfaction in what he
considers the broad charity of the Brahmanical Scriptures. He quotes a
passage from the Narada Pancharata which speaks of the Buddha as "the
preserver of revelation for those outside of the Vedic authority." And
he concludes that when one such revealer is admitted there can be no
reason for excluding others; therefore Christianity also should be
allowed a place. He declares on Vedic authority that whosoever receives
the true knowledge of God, however revealed, attains eternal life. And
for a parallel to this he quotes the saying of Christ, that "this is
eternal life that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ whom Thou hast sent." "The Brahmanical Scriptures," he says, "are
of one accord in teaching that when the heart is purified God is seen;
so also Jesus Christ declares that the pure in heart are blessed, for
they shall see God."

Our translator discards the often-repeated theory that the Christian
Scriptures have copied the wise sayings of Krishna; and it is very
significant that an argument to which superficial apologists constantly
resort is discarded by this real Hindu, as he supports the theory that
as both were direct revelations from Vishnu, there was in his view no
need of borrowing. His contention is that God, who "at sundry times and
in divers manners" has spoken to men in different ages, made known his
truth, and essentially the same truth, both on the plains of India and
in Judea. And he reminds Hindus and Christians alike, that this
knowledge of truth carries with itself an increased responsibility. He
says: "The man who sees the wonderful workings of the Spirit among the
nations of the earth, bringing each people to God by ways unknown to
others, is thereby charged with a duty. To him with terrible precision
applies the warning given by Gamaliel to the Pharisees, 'Take heed to
yourselves what ye intend to do ... lest ye be found to fight even
against God.' If one be a Brahman, let him reflect when opposing the
religion of Jesus what it is that he fights. The truths of Christianity
are the same as those on which his own salvation depends. How can he be
a lover of truth, which is God, if he knows not his beloved under such a
disguise? And if he penetrates behind the veil, which should tend only
to increase the ardor of his love, he cannot hate those who in obedience
to the same truth are preaching the Gospel of Christ to all nations.
Indeed he ought to rejoice at his brothers' devotion to the self-same
God, and to see that he is rendering service to Him by helping others to
carry out the behests given to them by the Divine Master. If, on the
other hand, he be a Christian, let him remember that while he is
commanded to preach repentance and remission of sins in the Saviour
Jesus, he is also warned against 'teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men.'" All this seems like charity, but really it is

And here is the very essence of Hinduism. Its chief characteristic, that
which renders it so hard to combat, is its easy indifference to all
distinctions. To reason with it is like grasping a jelly-fish. Its
pantheism, which embraces all things, covers all sides of all questions.
It sees no difficulties even between things which are morally opposites.
Contradictions are not obstacles, and both sides of a dilemma may be
harmonized. And to a great extent this same vagueness of conviction
characterizes all the heathen systems of the East. The Buddhists and
the Shintoists in Japan justify their easy-going partnership by the
favorite maxim that, while "there are many paths by which men climb the
sides of Fusyama, yet upon reaching the summit they all behold the same
glorious moon." The question whether all do in fact reach the summit is
one which does not occur to an Oriental to ask.

This same pantheistic charity is seen in the well-known appeal of the
late Chunder Sen, which as an illustration is worth repeating here:
"Cheshub Chunder Sen, servant of God, called to be an apostle of the
Church of the New Dispensation, which is in the holy city of Calcutta;
to all the great nations of the world and to the chief religious sects
in the East and West, to the followers of Moses and of Jesus, of Buddha,
Confucius, Zoroaster, Mohammed, Nanak, and of the various Hindu sects;
grace be to you and peace everlasting. Whereas sects, discords, and
strange schisms prevail in our father's family; and whereas this setting
of brother against brother has proved the prolific source of evil, it
has pleased God to send into the world a message of peace and
reconciliation. This New Dispensation He has vouchsafed to us in the
East, and we have been commanded to bear witness to the nations of the
earth ... Thus saith the Lord: 'I abominate sects and desire love and
concord ... I have at sundry times spoken through my prophets and my
many dispensations. There is unity. There is one music but many
instruments, one body but many members, one spirit but many gifts, one
blood but many nations, one Church but many churches. Let Asia and
Europe and America and all nations prove this New Dispensation and the
true fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men.'"

This remarkable production--so Pauline in style and so far from Paul in
doctrine--seems to possess everything except definite and robust
conviction. And its limp philosophy was not sufficient to withhold even
Chunder Sen himself from the abandonment of his principles not long
afterward. This sweet perfume of false charity, with which he thus
gently sprayed the sects and nations of mankind, lost its flavor ere the
ink of his message was fairly dry; while he who in similar language
announced his call to an Apostleship eighteen centuries ago, is still
turning the world upside down.

"Charity" is the watchword of indifferentism in the West as well as in
the East; and the East and the West are joining hands in their effort to
soothe the world into slumber with all its sins and woes unhealed. Some
months ago an advanced Unitarian from Boston delivered a farewell
address to the Buddhists of Japan, in which he presented three great
Unitarians of New England--Channing, Emerson, and Parker--in a sort of
transfiguration of gentleness and charity. He maintained that the lives
of these men had been an unconscious prophecy of that mild and gentle
Buddhism which he had found in Japan, but of which they had died without
the sight.[76]

Thus the transcendentalism of New England joins hands with the Buddhism
and the Shintoism of Japan, and the Brahmanism of Calcutta, and all are
in accord with Mr. Chatterji and the Bhagavad Gita. Even the
Theosophists profess their sympathy with the Sermon on the Mount, and
claim Christ as an earlier prophet. The one refrain of all is "Charity."
All great teachers are avatars of Vishnu. The globe is belted with this
multiform indifferentism, and I am sorry to say that it is largely the
gospel of the current literature and of the daily press. In it all there
is no Saviour and no salvation. Religions are all ethnic and local,
while the _ignis fatuus_ of a mystic pantheism pervades the world.

Mr. Chatterji's preface closes with a prayer to the "merciful Father of
humanity to remove from all races of men every unbrotherly feeling in
the sacred name of religion, which is but one." The prayer were touching
and beautiful on the assumption that there were no differences between
truth and error. And there are thousands, even among us, who are asking,
"Why may not Christians respond to this broad charity, and admit this
Hindu eclectic poem to an equal place with the New Testament?" More or
less indifferent to all religions, and failing to understand the real
principles on which they severally rest, they are ready to applaud a
challenge like that which we are considering, and to contrast it with
the alleged narrowness and intolerance of Christian Theism.

I have dwelt thus at length upon Mr. Chatterji's introduction, and have
illustrated it by references to similar specious claims of other faiths,
in order that I might bring into clearer view the main issue which this
book now presents to the American public. It is the softest, sweetest
voice yet given to that gospel of false charity which is the fashion of
our times. Emerson and others caught it from afar and discoursed to a
generation now mostly gone of the gentle maxims of Confucius, Krishna,
and Gautama. But now Krishna is among us in the person of his most
devout apostle, and a strange hand of fellowship is stretched out toward
us from the land of the Vedas.

It behooves us to inquire, first, into the pantheistic philosophy which
underlies these sayings, and to ask for their meaning as applied in real
life; and second, we shall need to know something of Krishna, and
whether he speaks as one having authority. It should be borne in mind
that pantheism sacrifices nothing whatever by embracing all religions,
since even false religions are a worship of Vishnu in their way, while
Christianity by its very nature would sacrifice everything. According to
pantheism all things that exist, and all events that transpire, are
expressions of the Divine will. The one only existent Being embraces all
causes and all effects, all truth and all falsehood. He is no more the
source of good than of evil. "I am immortality," says Krishna. "I am
also death." Man with all his thoughts and acts is but the shadow of
God, and moves as he is moved upon. Arjuna's divine counsellor says to
him: "The soul, existing from eternity, devoid of qualities,
imperishable, abiding in the body, yet supreme, acts not nor is by any
act polluted. He who perceives that actions are performed by Prakriti
alone, and that the soul is not an actor, sees the truth aright."

Now, if this reasoning be correct, it is not we that sin; not we that
worship; and in the last analysis all religions are alike; they are only
the varied expressions of the thought of God. As He manifests his power
in nature in a thousand forms, producing some objects that are beautiful
to the eye and others that are repulsive, so in his spiritual
manifestations He displays a like variety. The ignorance and degradation
of fetichism are His, as well as the highest revelations of spiritual
truth. A certain class of evolutionists tell us that God contrived the
serpent's poison-fang and the mother's tender instinct with "the same
creative indifference." And the broad pantheism which overrides the
distinctions of eternal right and wrong, and divests God of all moral
discriminations, puts Vedantism and Fetichism, Christianity and
Witchcraft, upon the same basis. The Bhagavad Gita and the Gospel both
enjoin the brotherhood of men, but what are the meanings which they give
to this term? What are their aims, respectively? One is endeavoring to
enforce the rigid and insurmountable barriers of caste; the other
commends a mission of love which shall regard neither Jew nor Greek,
Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free. It will become apparent, I think,
that there may be parallels or similarities which relate to mere phrases
while their meanings are wide apart.

Judging from Mr. Chatterji's own stand-point, his work has been well
done. He has shown a careful study not only of his own literatures and
philosophies, but also of the scriptures of the Old and New
Testament--in this respect setting us an example worthy to be followed
by Christian scholars. Such a man has in the outset an immense advantage
over those who know nothing of the enemies' positions, but regard them
only with disdain. Before the high court of public opinion, as
represented by our current literature, mere ex-parte assumption will go
to the wall, even though it has the better cause, while adroit error,
intelligently put and courteously commended, will win the day. This is a
lesson which the Christian Church greatly needs to learn. Mr.
Chatterji's work is the more formidable for its charming graces of
style. He has that same facility and elegance in the use of the English
language for which so many of his countrymen, Sheshadri, Bose, Banergea,
Chunder Sen, Mozoomdar, and others have been distinguished. He is a
model of courtesy, and he seems sincere.

But turning from the translator to the book itself, we shall now inquire
who was Krishna, Arjuna's friend, what was the origin of the "Lord's
Lay," and what are its real merits as compared with the New Testament?
Krishna and Arjuna--like Rama Chandra--were real human heroes who
distinguished themselves in the wars of the Indo-Aryans with rival
tribes who contested the dominion of Northern India. They did not live
three thousand years before Christ, as our translator declares, for they
belonged to the soldier caste, and according to the consensus of
Oriental scholarship the system of caste did not exist till about the
beginning of the Brahmanic period--say eight hundred years before
Christ. Krishna was born in the Punjab, near Merut, and it was near
there that his chief exploits were performed. The legends represent him
as a genial but a reckless forester, brave on the battle-field, but
leading a life of low indulgence. The secret of his power lay in his
sympathy. His worship, even as a heroic demi-god, brought a new and
welcome element into Hinduism as contrasted with the remorselessness of
Siva or the cold indifference of Brahma. It was the dawn of a doctrine
of faith, and in this character it was probably of later date than the
rise of Buddhism. Indeed, the Brahmans learned this lesson of the value
of Divine sympathy from the Buddha. The supernatural element ascribed to
Krishna, as well as to Rama, was a growth, and had its origin in the
jealousy of the Brahmans toward the warrior caste. His exaltation as the
Supreme was an after-thought of the inventive Brahmans. As stated in a
former lecture, these heroes had acquired great renown; and their
exploits were the glory and delight of the dazzled populace. In raising
them to the rank of deities, and as such appropriating them as kindred
to the divine Brahmans, the shrewd priesthood saved the prestige of
their caste and aggrandized their system by a fully developed doctrine
of incarnations. Thus, by a growth of centuries, the Krishna cult
finally crowned the Hindu system.

The Mahabharata, in which the Bhagavad Gita was incorporated by some
author whose name is unknown, is an immense literary mosaic of two
hundred and twenty thousand lines. It is heterogeneous, grotesque,
inconsistent, and often contradictory--qualities which are scarcely
considered blemishes in Hindu literature.

The Bhagavad Gita was incorporated as a part of this great epic probably
as late as the second or third century of our era, and by that time
Krishna had come to be regarded as divine, though his full and
extravagant deification as the "Adorable One" probably did not appear
till the author of "Narada Pancharata" of the eighth century had added
whatever he thought the original author should have said five centuries
before. As it now stands the poem very cleverly weaves into one fabric
many lofty aphorisms borrowed from the Upanishads and the later
philosophic schools, upon the groundwork of a popular story of which
Arjuna is the hero. Arjuna and his four brothers are about to engage in
a great battle with their cousins for the possession of an hereditary
throne. The divine Krishna, once himself a hero, becomes Arjuna's
charioteer, that in that capacity he may act as his counsellor. As the
battle array is formed, Arjuna is seized with misgivings at the thought
of slaughtering his kindred for the glory of a sceptre. "I cannot--will
not fight," he says; "I seek not victory, I seek no kingdom; what shall
we do with regal pomp and power? what with enjoyments, or with life
itself, when we have slaughtered all our kindred here?"

Krishna then enters upon a long discourse upon the duties of caste and
the indwelling of the Infinite, showing that the soul, which is a part
of deity, cannot be slain though the body may be hewn to pieces. "The
wise," he says, "grieve not for the departed nor for those who yet
survive. Never was the time when I was not, nor thou, nor yonder chiefs,
and never shall be the time when all of us shall not be. As the embodied
soul in this corporeal frame moves swiftly on through boyhood, youth,
and age, so will it pass through other forms hereafter; be not grieved
thereat.... As men abandon old and threadbare clothes to put on others
new, so casts the embodied soul its worn-out frame to enter other forms.
No dart can pierce it; flame cannot consume it, water wet it not, nor
scorching breezes dry it--indestructible, eternal, all-pervading,

It may seem absurd to Western minds that a long discourse, which
constitutes a volume of intricate pantheistic philosophy, should be
given to a great commander just at the moment when he is planning his
attack and is absorbed with the most momentous responsibilities; it
seems to us strangely inconsistent also to expatiate elaborately upon
the merits of the Yoga philosophy, with its asceticism and its holy
torpor, when the real aim is to arouse the soul to ardor for the hour of
battle. But these infelicities are no obstacle to the Hindu mind, and
the consistency of the plot is entirely secondary to the doctrine of
caste and of philosophy which the author makes Krishna proclaim. Gentle
as many of its precepts are, the Bhagavad Gita, or the "Lord's Lay," is
a battle-song uttered by the Supreme Being while the contending hosts
awaited the signal for fratricidal carnage.

The grotesqueness which characterizes all Hindu literature is not
wanting in this story of Krishna and Arjuna, as given in the great poem
of which the Bhagavad Gita forms a part. The five sons of Pandu are
representatives of the principle of righteousness, while the hundred
brothers of the rival branch are embodiments of evil. Yet, when the
victory had been gained and the sceptre was given to the sons of Pandu,
they despised it and courted death, though the "Adorable One" had urged
them on to strife.

Bishma, the leader of the hostile force, in a personal encounter with
Arjuna, had been filled so full of darts that he could neither stand nor
lie down. Every part of his body was bristling with arrows, and for
fifty-eight days he lingered, leaning on their sharp points. Meanwhile
the eldest of the victors, finding his throne only a "delusion and a
snare," and being filled with remorse, was urged by Krishna to visit his
unfortunate adversary and receive instruction and comfort. Bishma, lying
upon his bed of spikes, edified him with a series of long and tedious
discourses on pantheistic philosophy, after which he asked the
tender-hearted Krishna for permission to depart. He is no longer the
embodiment of evil: the cruel arrows with which the ideal of goodness
had pierced him fall away, the top of his head opens, and his spirit
soars to heaven shining like a meteor. How strange a reversal is here!
How strange that he who had been the representative of all evil should
have been transformed by his suffering, and should have been made to
instruct and comfort the man of success.

Mr. Chatterji falls into a fatal inconsistency when, in spite of his
assumption that this poem is the very word of Krishna spoken at a
particular time, in a particular place, he informs us that "all Indian
authorities agree in pronouncing it to be the essence of all sacred
writings. They call it an Upanishad--a term applied to the wisdom, as
distinguished from the ceremonial, part of the Vedas, and to no book
less sacred." More accurately he might have said that it is a compend of
all Hindu literatures, the traditional as well as the inspired, and with
a much larger share of the former than of the latter. Pantheism, which
is its quintessence, did not exist in the early Vedic times. Krishna was
not known as a god even in the period of the Buddha.[78] And the Epics,
which are so largely drawn upon, are later still. And it is upon the
basis of the Epics, and the still later Puranas, that the common people
of India still worship him as the god of good-fellowship and of lust.
The masses longed for a god of human sympathies, even though he were a

In the Bhagavad Gita as we now have it, with its many changes, Krishna
has become the supreme God, though according to Lassen his actual
worship as such was not rendered earlier than the sixth century; and
Professor Banergea claims that it "was not at its zenith till the
eighth century, and that it then borrowed much from Christian, or at
least Hebrew, sources." Webber and Lorinser have maintained a similar
view. Krishna as the Supreme and Adorable One has never found favor
except with the pantheists, and to this day the worship of the real
Krishna as a Bacchus is the most popular of all Hindu festivals, and
naturally it is the most demoralizing.

We are now prepared to assume that the pantheistic groundwork of the
poem on the one hand, and its borrowed Christian conceptions and
Christian nomenclature on the other, will explain its principal alleged
parallels with the New Testament. With his great familiarity with our
Bible, and his rare ability in adjusting shades of thought and
expression, Mr. Chatterji has presented no less than two hundred and
fourteen passages which he matches with texts from the Bible. Many of
these are so adroitly worded that one not familiar with the
peculiarities of Hindu philosophy might be stumbled by the comparisons.
Mr. R.C. Bose tells us that this poem has wrought much evil among the
foreign population of India; and in this country there are thousands of
even cultivated people with whom this new translation will have great
influence. Men with unsettled minds who have turned away with contempt
from the crudities of spiritualism, who are disgusted with the rough
assailments of Ingersoll, and who find only homesickness and desolation
on the bleak and wintry moor of agnostic science, may yet be attracted
by a book which is so elevated and often sublime in its philosophy, and
so chaste in its ethical precepts, and which, like Christianity, has
bridged the awful chasm between unapproachable deity and our human
conditions and wants by giving to the world a God-man.

If the original author and the various expositors of the Bhagavad Gita
have not borrowed from the Christian revelation, they have rendered an
undesigned tribute to the great Christian doctrine of a divine and human
mediator: they have given striking evidence of a felt want in all
humanity of a _God with men_. If it was a deeply conscious want of the
human heart which led the heathen of distant India to grope their way
from the cheerless service of remorseless deities to one who could be
touched with a feeling of their infirmities, and could walk these
earthly paths as a counsellor by their side, how striking is the analogy
to essential Christian truth!

Let us examine some of the alleged parallels. They may be divided into
three classes:

1. Those which are merely fanciful. Nine-tenths of the whole number are
of this class. They are such as would never occur to a Hindu on hearing
the gospel truth. Only one who had examined the two records in the keen
search for parallels, and whose wish had been the father of his thought,
would have seen any resemblance. I shall not occupy much time with

2. Those resemblances which are only accidental. It may be an accident
of similar circumstances or similar causes; it may be a chance
resemblance in the words employed, while there is no resemblance in the
thoughts expressed.

3. Those coincidences which spring from natural causes. For an example
of these, the closing chapter of the Apocalypse speaks of Christ as "the
Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End." It is a natural
expression to indicate his supreme power and glory as Creator and final
Judge of all things. In a similar manner Krishna is made to say, "I am
Beginning, Middle, End, Eternal Time, the Birth and the Death of all. I
am the symbol A among the characters. I have created all things out of
one portion of myself." There are two meanings in Krishna's words. He is
in all things pantheistically, and he is the first and best of all
things. In the tenth chapter he names with great particularity sixty-six
classes of things in which he is always the first: the first of
elephants, horses, trees, kings, heroes, etc. "Among letters I am the
vowel A." "Among seasons I am spring." "Of the deceitful I am the dice."

The late Dr. Mullens calls attention to the fact that the Orphic Hymns
declare "Zeus to be the first and Zeus the last. Zeus is the head and
Zeus the centre." In these three similar forms of description one common
principle of supremacy rules. The difference is that in the Christian
revelation and in the Orphic Hymns there is dignity, while in Krishna's
discourse there is frivolous and vulgar particularity. Let us notice a
few examples of the alleged parallels more particularly.

In Chapter IX. Krishna says: "Whatever thou doest, whatever thou
eatest, whatever thou offerest in sacrifice, etc., commit that to me."
This is compared with 1 Corinthians x. 31: "Whether therefore ye eat or
drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Also to
Colossians x. 17: "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name
of the Lord Jesus."

Even if there were no pantheistic differential at the foundation of
these utterances, it would not be at all strange if exhortations to an
all-embracing devotion should thus in each case be made to cover all the
daily acts of life. But aside from this there is a wide difference in
the fundamental ideas which these passages express. Paul's thought is
that of loving devotion to an infinite Friend and Saviour; it is such an
offering of loyalty and love as one conscious being can make to another
and a higher. But Krishna identifies the giver with the receiver, and
Arjuna is taught to regard the gift itself as an act of God. The phrase
"commit that to me" is equivalent to "ascribe that to me." In the
context we read: "Of those men, who thinking of me in identity (with
themselves), worship me, for them always resting in me, I bear the
burden of acquisition and preservation of possessions. Even those the
devotees of other gods, who worship in faith, they worship me in
ignorance." In other words, the worshipper is to make no difference
between himself and the Infinite. He is to refer all his daily acts to
the Infinite as the real actor, his own personal ego being ignored. This
is not Paul's idea; it is the very reverse of it. It could give comfort
only to the evil-doer who desired to shift his personal responsibility.

Let us consider another alleged resemblance. In the fifth chapter
Krishna declares that whoever knows him "attains rest." This is
presented as a parallel to the words in Christ's prayer: "This is life
eternal that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ
whom Thou hast sent."

In both passages the knowledge of God is made the chief blessing to be
sought, but in the one case knowledge means only a recognition of the
Infinite Ego as existing in one's personal ego: it is a mere acceptance
of that philosophic theory of life. Thus one of the Upanishads declares
that "whoever sees all things in God, and God in all things, sees the
truth aright;" his philosophy is correct. On the other hand, what Christ
meant was not the recognition of a pantheistic theory, but a real
heart-knowledge of the Father's character, a loving experience of his
divine mercy, his fatherly love, his ineffable glory. The one was cold
philosophy, the other was experience, fellowship, gratitude, filial

What pantheism taught was that God cannot be known practically--that He
is without limitations or conditions that we can distinguish Him from
our finiteness only by divesting our conception of Him of all that we
are wont to predicate of ourselves. He is subject to no such limitations
as good or evil. In Chapter IX., Krishna says: "As air existing in space
goes everywhere and is unlimited, so are all things in me.... I am the
Vedic rite, I am the sacrifice, I am food, I am sacred formula, I am
immortality, I am also death; also the latent cause and the manifest
effect." To know the God of the Bhagavad Gita is to know that he cannot
be known. "God is infinite in attributes," says Mr. Chatterji, "and yet
devoid of attributes. This is the God whom the Bhagavad Gita proclaims."

By a similar contradiction the more the devout worshipper knows of God
the less he knows, because the process of knowledge is a process of
"effacement;" the closer the gradual union becomes the fainter is the
self-personality, till at length it fades away entirely, and is merged
and lost as a drop in the illimitable sea. This is the so-called "rest"
which Krishna promises as the reward of knowing him. It is rest in the
sense of extinction; it is death; while that which Christ promises is
eternal Life with unending and rapturous activity, with ever-growing
powers of fellowship and of love.

Take another alleged parallel. Chapter VI. commends the man who has
reached such a measure of indifference that "his heart is _even_ in
regard to friends and to foes, to the righteous and to evil-doers;" and
this is held up as a parallel to the Sermon on the Mount, which commends
love to enemies that we may be children of the heavenly Father who
sendeth rain upon the just and upon the unjust. In the one case the
apathy of the ascetic, the extinction of susceptibility, the ignoring of
moral distinctions, the crippling and deadening of our noblest powers;
in the other the use of these powers in all ways of beneficence toward
those who injure us, even as God, though his heart is by no means "even"
as between the righteous and the wicked, stills shows kindness to both.
Now, in view of the great plausibility of the parallels which are thus
presented to the public--parallels whose subtle fallacy the mass of
readers are almost sure to overlook--one can hardly exaggerate the
importance of thoroughly sifting the philosophy that underlies them, and
especially on the part of those who are, or are to become, the defenders
of the truth.[79]

But turning from particular parallels to a broader comparison, there is
a general use of expressions in the New Testament in regard to which
every Christian teacher should aim at clear views and careful
discriminations; for example, when we are said to be "temples of the
Holy Ghost," or when Christ is said to be "formed in us the hope of
glory," or it is "no longer we that live, but Christ that liveth in us."
It cannot be denied that defenders of the Bhagavad Gita, and of the
whole Indo-pantheistic philosophy, might make out a somewhat plausible
case along these lines. I recall an instance in which an honored pastor
had made such extravagant use of these New Testament expressions that
some of his co-presbyters raised the question of a trial for pantheism.
But it is one thing to employ strong terms of devotional feeling, as is
often done, especially in prayer, and quite another to frame theories
and philosophies, and present them as accurate statements of truth. The
New Testament nowhere speaks of the indwelling Spirit in such a sense as
implies an obliteration or absorption of the conscious individual ego,
while "effacement" instead of fellowship is a favorite expression in the
Bhagavad Gita. Paul in his most ecstatic language never gives any hint
of extinction, but, on the contrary, he magnifies the conception of a
separate, conscious, ever-growing personality, living and rejoicing in
Divine fellowship for evermore.

In the New Testament the expressions of our union with Christ are often
reversed: instead of speaking of Christ as abiding in the hearts and
lives of his people, they are sometimes said to abide in Him, and that
not in the sense of absorption. Paul speaks of the "saints in Christ,"
of his own "bonds in Christ," of being "baptized in Christ," of becoming
"a new creature in Christ," of true Christians as being one body in
Christ, of their lives being "hid with Christ in God." Believers are
spoken of as being "buried with Christ," "dead with Christ." Every form
of expression is used to represent fellowship, intimacy, spiritual union
with Him, but always in a rational and practical sense, and with full
implication of our distinct and separate personality. The essential hope
of the Gospel is that those who believe in Christ shall never die, that
even their mortal bodies shall be raised in his image, and that they
shall be like Him and shall abide in his presence. On the other hand,
"The essence of this pantheistic system," says Mr. Chatterji, "is the
denial of real existence to the individual spirit, and the insistance
upon its true identity with God" (Chapter IV.).

It only remains to be said that, whatever may be the similarities of
expression between this Bible of pantheism and that of Christianity,
however they may agree in the utterance of worthy ethical maxims, that
which most broadly differentiates the Christian faith from Hindu
philosophy is the salient presentation of great fundamental truths which
are found in the Word of God alone.

1. The doctrine that God in Christ is "made sin" for the redemption of
sinful man--that He is "the end of the law for righteousness" for them
that believe; this is indeed Divine help: this is salvation. Divinity
does not here become the mere charioteer of human effort, for the
purpose of coaching it in the duties of caste and prompting it to fight
out its destiny by its own valor. Christ is our expiation, takes our
place, for our sakes becomes poor that we through his poverty may become
rich. What a boon to all fakirs and merit-makers of the world if they
could feel that that law of righteousness which they are striving to
work out by mortifications and self-tortures had been achieved for them
by the Son of God, and that salvation is a free gift! This is something
that can be apprehended alike by the philosopher and by the unlettered
masses of men.

2. Another great truth found in our Scriptures is that the pathway by
which the human soul returns to God is not the way of knowledge in the
sense of philosophy, but the way of intelligent confidence and loving
trust. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the
mouth confession is made." Man by wisdom has never known God. This has
been the vain effort of Hindu speculation for ages. The author of the
Nyaya philosophy assumed that all evil springs from misapprehension, and
that the remedy is to be found in correct methods of investigation,
guided by skilfully arranged syllogisms. This has been in all ages the
chief characteristic of speculative Hinduism. And the Bhagavad Gita
furnishes one of its very best illustrations. Of its eighteen chapters,
fifteen are devoted to "Eight Knowledge." And by knowledge is meant
abstract speculation. It is a reaching after oneness with the deity by
introspection and metaphysical analysis.

"Even if thou wert the greatest evil-doer among all the unrighteous,"
says Krishna, "thou shalt cross over all sins even by the ark of
knowledge." "Oh, Arjuna, as blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, so the
fire of knowledge turns all action into ashes." But in the first place a
knowledge of the infinite within us is unattainable, and in the second
place it could not avail us even if attainable. It is not practical
knowledge; it is not a belief unto righteousness. Faith is not an act of
the brain merely, but of the whole moral nature. The wisdom of self must
be laid aside, self-righteousness cast into the dust, the pride and
rebellion of the will surrendered, and the whole man become as a little
child. This is the way of knowledge that can be made experimental; this
is the knowledge that is unto eternal life.

3. Another great differential of the New Testament is found in its true
doctrine of divine co-operation with the human will. Our personality is
not destroyed that the absolute may take its place, but the two act
together. "For men of renunciation," says the Bhagavad Gita, "whose
hearts are at rest from desire and anger, and knowing the only self,
there is on both sides of death effacement (of the individual) in the
supreme spirit." In such a person, therefore, even on this side of
death, there is a cessation of the individual in the supreme. Over
against this the Gospel presents the doctrine of co-operative grace,
which instead of crippling our human energies arouses them to their
highest and best exertion. "Work out your own salvation with fear and
trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of
his good pleasure." The divine acts with and through the human, but does
not destroy it. It imparts the greatest encouragement, the truest

4. We notice but one more out of many points of contrast between the
doctrines of the Hindu and the Christian Bibles, viz., the difference
between ascetic inaction and the life of Christian activity as means of
religious growth. I am aware that in the earlier chapters of the
Bhagavad Gita, Krishna urges Arjuna to valiant activity on the
battle-field, but that is for a special purpose, viz., the establishment
of caste distinctions. It is wholly foreign to Hindu philosophy; it is
even contradictory. The author of the poem, who seems to be aware of the
inconsistency of arousing Arjuna to the mighty activities of the
battle-field, and at the same time indoctrinating him in the spirit of
a dead and nerveless asceticism, struggles hard with the awkward task of
bridging the illogical chasm with three chapters of mystification.

But we take the different chapters as they stand, and in their obvious
meaning. "The man of meditation is superior to the man of action," says
Chapter I., 46, "therefore, Arjuna, become a man of meditation." How the
man of meditation is to proceed is told in Chapter VI., 10-14. "Let him
who has attained to meditation always strive to reduce his heart to rest
in the Supreme, dwelling in a secret place alone, with body and mind
under control, devoid of expectation as well as of acceptance. Having
placed in a clean spot one's seat, firm, not very high nor very low,
formed of the skins of animals, placed upon cloth and cusa grass upon
that, sitting on that seat, strive for meditation, for the purification
of the heart, making the mind one-pointed, and reducing to rest the
action of the thinking principle as well as that of the senses and
organs. Holding the body, neck, and head straight and unmoved, perfectly
determined, and not working in any direction, but as if beholding the
end of his own nose, with his heart in supreme peace, devoid of fear,
with thought controlled and heart in me as the supreme goal, he

How different from all this is that prayer of Christ, "I pray not that
Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep
them from the evil." Or those various words spoken to his disciples:
"Let your light so shine before men that others seeing your good works
shall glorify your Father which is in heaven." "Work while the day
lasts, for the night cometh in which no man can work."

Who can imagine Paul spending all those years of opportunity in sitting
on a leopard skin, watching the end of his nose instead of turning the
world upside down! In that true sense in which Christ lived within him,
He filled every avenue of his being with the aggressive spirit of God's
own love for dying men. The same spirit which brought Christ from heaven
to earth sent Paul out over the earth. He was not even content to work
on old foundations, but regarding himself as under sentence of death he
longed to make the most of his votive life, to bear the torch of the
truth into all realms of darkness. He was none the less a philosopher
because he preferred the simple logic of God's love, nor did he hesitate
to confront the philosophy of Athens or the threatenings of Roman
tyrants. He was ready for chains and imprisonment, for perils of
tempests or shipwreck, or robbers, or infuriate mobs, or death itself.

No Hindu fakir was ever more conscious of the struggle with inward
corruption than he, and at times he could cry out, "Oh, wretched man
that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" but he did
not seek relief in idleness and inanity, but in what Dr. Chalmers called
"the expulsive power of new affections," in new measures of Christlike
devotion to the cause of truth and humanity. In a word, Christ and his
kingdom displaced the power of evil. He could do all things through
Christ who strengthened him.

Nor was the peace which he felt and which he commended to others the
peace of mere negative placidity and indifference. It was loving
confidence and trust. "Be careful for nothing"--we hear him saying to
his friends at Philippi--"be careful for nothing; but in all things by
prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make known your requests
unto God: and the peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep
your minds and hearts through Christ Jesus." And yet to show how this
consists with devout activity, he commends, in immediate connection with
it, the cultivation of every active virtue known to men. Thus,
"_Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever
things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are
lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if
there be any praise, think on these things._"


[Footnote 74: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1889.]

[Footnote 75: The author seems to overlook the fact that the chief
excellence of an evangel to lost men is that it appeals to the masses.]

[Footnote 76: Address published in the _Japan Mail_, 1890.]

[Footnote 77: There is scarcely another passage in all Hindu literature
which is so full of half-truths as this, or which turns the sublime
powers of the human soul to so unworthy a purpose.]

[Footnote 78: In an enumeration of Hindu gods made in Buddha's time
Krishna does not appear.]

[Footnote 79: Never before has there been so much danger as now that the
lines of truth will be washed out by the flood-tides of sentimental and
semi Christian substitutes and makeshifts. As with commodities, so with
religion, dilution and adulteration are the order of the day and a
little Christianity is made to flavor a thousand shams.]



New interest has recently been awakened in old controversies concerning
the relations of Christianity and Buddhism. The so-called Theosophists
and Esoteric Buddhists are reviving exploded arguments against
Christianity as means of supporting their crude theories. The charge of
German sceptics, that Christianity borrowed largely from Buddhism, is
made once more the special stock in trade of these new and fanatical
organizations. To this end books, tracts, and leaflets are scattered
broadcast, and especially in the United States and Great Britain.

Professor Max Müller says, in a recent article published in _Longman's
New Review_: "Who has not suffered lately from Theosophy and Esoteric
Buddhism? Journals are full of it, novels overflow with it, and one is
flooded with private and confidential letters to ask what it all really
means. Many people, no doubt, are much distressed in their minds when
they are told that Christianity is but a second edition of Buddhism. 'Is
it really true?' they ask. 'Why did you not tell us all this before?
Surely, you must have known it, and were only afraid to tell it.' Then
follow other questions: 'Does Buddhism really count more believers than
any other religion?' 'Is Buddhism really older than Christianity, and
does it really contain many things which are found in the Bible?'" And
the learned professor proceeds to show that there is no evidence that
Christianity has borrowed from Buddhism. In this country these same
ideas are perhaps more widely circulated than in England. They are
subsidizing the powerful agency of the secular press, particularly the
Sunday newspapers, and thousands of the people are confronting these
puzzling questions. There is occasion, therefore, for a careful and
candid review of Buddhism by all leaders of thought and defenders of

In the brief time allotted me, I can only call attention to a few
salient points of a general character. In the outset, a distinction
should be drawn between Buddhist history and Buddhist legend, for just
at this point the danger of misrepresentation lies. It is true that the
Buddha lived before the time of Christ, and therefore anything of the
nature of real biography must be of an earlier date than the teachings
of Jesus; but whether the _legends_ antedate His life and doctrines is
quite another question. The Buddhist apologists all assume that they do,
and it is upon the legends that most of the alleged parallelisms in the
two records are based. How, then, shall we draw the line between history
and legend? The concensus of the best scholarship accepts those
traditions in which the northern and southern Buddhist records agree,
which the Council of Patna, B.C. 242, adopted as canonical, and which
are in themselves credible and consistent with the teachings of Gautama
himself. According to this standard of authority Gautama was born about
the sixth century B.C., as the son and heir of a rajah of the Sakya
tribe of Aryans, living about eighty miles north by northwest of
Benares. His mother, the principal wife of Kajah Suddhodana, had lived
many years without offspring, and she died not long after the birth of
this her only son, Siddartha. In his youth he was married and surrounded
by all the allurements and pleasures of an Oriental court. He, too,
appears to have remained without an heir till he was twenty-nine years
of age, when, upon the birth of a son, certain morbid tendencies came to
a climax, and he left his palace secretly and sought true comfort in a
life of asceticism. For six years he tried diligently the resources of
Hindu self-mortification, but becoming exhausted by his austerities,
almost unto death, he abandoned that mode of life, having apparently
become atheistic. He renounced the idea of merit-making as a means of
spiritual attainment, and he was sorely tempted, no doubt, to return to
his former life of ease. But he withstood the temptation and resolved to
forego earthly pleasure, and teach mankind what he conceived to be the
way of life, through self-control. He had tried pleasure; next he had
tried extreme asceticism; he now struck out what he called "The Middle
Path," as between self-indulgence on the one hand, and extreme bodily
mortification as a thing of merit on the other. This middle ground still
demanded abstinence as favorable to the highest mental and moral
conditions, but it was not carried to such extremes as to weaken the
body or the mind, or impair the fullest operation of every faculty.[80]

There can be no doubt that Gautama's relinquishment of Hinduism marked a
great and most trying crisis. It involved the loss of all confidence in
him on the part of his disciples, for when he began again to take
necessary food they all forsook him as a failure. It was while sitting
under the shade of an Indian fig-tree (Boddhi-tree) that this struggle
occurred and his victory was gained. There his future course was
resolved upon; there was the real birth-place of Buddhism as a system.
He thenceforth began to preach the law, or what he regarded as the way
of self-emancipation, and therefore the way of life. He first sought his
five followers, who had abandoned him, and succeeded in winning them
back. He gathered at length a company of about sixty disciples, whom he
trained and sent forth as teachers of his new doctrines. Yet, still
influenced by the old Hindu notions of the religious life, he formed his
disciples into an order of mendicants, and in due time he established an
order of nuns.

It was when Gautama rose up from his meditation and his high resolve
under the Bo-tree, that he began his career as "The Enlightened." He was
now a Buddha, and claimed to have attained Nirvana. All that has been
written of his having left his palace with the purpose of becoming a
saviour of mankind, is the sheer assumption of the later legends and
their apologists. Buddhism was an after-thought, only reached after six
years of bootless asceticism. There is no evidence that when Siddartha
left his palace he had any thought of benefiting anybody but himself. He
entered upon the life of the recluse with the same motives and aims that
have influenced thousands of other monks and anchorets of all lands and
ages--some of them princes like himself. Nevertheless, for the noble
decision which was finally reached we give him high credit. It seems to
have been one of the noblest victories ever gained by man over lower
impulses and desires. The passions of youth were not yet dead within
him; worldly ambition may be supposed to have been still in force; but
he chose the part of a missionary to his fellow-men, and there is no
evidence that he ever swerved from his purpose. He had won a great
victory over himself, and that fact constituted a secret of great power.
Gautama was about thirty-five years of age when he became a Buddha, and
for forty-five years after that he lived to preach his doctrines and to
establish the monastic institution which has survived to our time. He
died a natural death from indigestion at the age of eighty--greatly
venerated by his disciples, and the centre of what had already become a
wide-spread system in a large district of India.

The legends of Buddhism are a very different thing from the brief sketch
which I have given, and which is based upon the earlier Buddhist
literature. These sprang up after Gautama's death, and their growth
extended through many centuries--many centuries even of the Christian
era. The legends divide the life of the Buddha into three periods: 1.
That of his pre-existent states. 2. That part of his life which extended
from his birth to his enlightenment under the Bo-tree. 3. The forty-five
years of his Buddhaship. The legends have no more difficulty in dealing
with the particular experiences of the pre-existent states than in
enriching and adorning the incidents of his earthly life; and both are
doubtless about equally authentic.

Gautama discarded the idea of a divine revelation; he rejected the
authority of the Vedas totally. He denied that he was divine, but
distinctly claimed to be a plain and earnest man. All that he knew, he
had discovered by insight and self-conquest. To assume that he was
pre-existently divine and omniscient subverts the whole theory of his
so-called "discovery," and is at variance with the idea of a personal
conquest. The chief emphasis and force of his teachings lay in the
assumption that he did simply what other men might do; for his mission
was that of a teacher and exempler merely. He was a saviour only in that
he taught men how to save themselves.

The pre-existent states are set forth in the "Jatakas," or Birth Stories
of Ceylon, which represent him as having been born five hundred and
thirty times after he became a Bodisat (a predestined Buddha). As a
specimen of his varied experience while becoming fitted for Buddaship,
we read that he was born eighty-three times as an ascetic, fifty-eight
as a monarch, forty-three as a deva, twenty-four as a Brahman, eighteen
as an ape; as a deer ten, an elephant six, a lion ten; at least once
each as a thief, a gambler, a frog, a hare, a snipe. He was also
embodied in a tree. But as a Bodisat he could not be born in hell, nor
as vermin, nor as a woman! Says Spence Hardy, with a touch of irony: "He
could descend no lower than a snipe."

Northern legends represent Buddha as having "incarnated" for the purpose
of bringing relief to a distressed world. He was miraculously
conceived--his mother's side in the form of a white elephant. All nature
manifested its joy on the occasion. The ocean bloomed with flowers; all
beings from many worlds showed their wonder and sympathy. Many miracles
were wrought even during his childhood, and every part of his career was
filled with marvels. At his temptation under the Bo-tree, Mara (Satan)
came to him mounted on an elephant sixteen miles high and surrounded by
an encircling army of demons eleven miles deep.[81] Finding him proof
against his blandishments, he hurled mountains of rocks against him, and
assailed him with fire and smoke and ashes and filth--all of which
became as zephyrs on his cheek or as presents of fragrant flowers. Last
of all, he sent his three daughters to seduce him. Their blandishments
are set forth at great length in the "Romantic Legend."

In the Northern Buddhist literature--embracing both the "Romantic
Legend"[82] and the "Lalita Vistara"--many incidents of Buddha's
childhood are given which show a seeming coincidence with the life of
Christ. It is claimed that his birth was heralded by angelic hosts, that
an aged sage received him into his arms and blessed him, that he was
taken to the temple for consecration, that a jealous ruler sought to
destroy him, that in his boyhood he astonished the doctors by his
wisdom, that he was baptized, or at least took a bath, that he was
tempted, transfigured, and finally received up into heaven. These will
be noticed farther on; it is only necessary to say here that the legends
giving these details are first at variance with the early canonical
history, and second, that they are of such later dates as to place most
of them probably within the Christian era.

_The Four Peculiar and Characteristic Doctrines of Buddhism._

1. Its peculiar conception of the soul. 2. Its doctrine of Trishna and
Upadana. 3. Its theory of Kharma. 4. Its doctrine of Nirvana.

1. The Skandas, five in number, constitute in their interaction what all
others than Buddhists regard as the soul. They consist of material
properties; the senses; abstract ideas; tendencies or propensities; and
the mental powers. The soul is the result of the combined action of
these, as the flame of a candle proceeds from the combustion of its
constituent elements. The flame is never the same for two consecutive
moments. It seems to have a perpetuated identity, but that is only an
illusion, and the same unreality pertains to the soul. It is only a
succession of thoughts, emotions, and conscious experiences. We are not
the same that we were an hour ago. In fact, there is no such thing as
being--there is only a constant _becoming_. We are ever passing from one
point to another throughout our life; and this is true of all beings and
all things in the universe. How it is that the succession of experiences
is treasured up in memory is not made clear. This is a most subtle
doctrine, and it has many points of contact with various speculations of
modern times. It has also a plausible side when viewed in the light of
experience, but its gaps and inconsistencies are fatal, as must be seen
when it is thoroughly examined.

2. The second of the cardinal doctrines is that of Trishna. Trishna is
that inborn element of desire whose tendency is to lead men into evil.
So far, it is a misfortune or a form of original sin. Whatever it may
have of the nature of guilt hangs upon the issues of a previous life.
Upadana is a further stage in the same development. It is Trishna
ripened into intense craving by our own choice and our own action. It
then becomes uncontrollable and is clearly a matter of guilt. Now, the
momentum of this Upadana is such that it cannot be arrested by death.
Like the demons of Gadara it must again become incarnate, even though it
should enter the body of a brute. And this transitional something, this
restless moral or immoral force which must work out its natural results
somehow and somewhere, and that in embodied form projects into future
being a residuum which is known as Kharma.

3. What, then, is Kharma? Literally it means "the doing." It is a man's
record, involving the consequences and liabilities of his acts. It is a
score which must be settled. A question naturally arises, how the record
of a soul can survive when the soul itself has been "blown out." The
illustration of the candle does not quite meet the case. If the flame
were something which when blown out immediately seized upon some other
substance in which the work of combustion proceeded, it would come
nearer to a parallel. One candle may light another before itself is
extinguished, but it does not do it by an inherent necessity. But this
flame of the soul, this Kharma, must enter some other body of god, or
man, or beast.

Again, the question arises, How can responsibility be transferred from
one to another? How can the heavy load of a man's sin be laid upon some
new-born infant, while the departing sinner has himself no further
concern in his evil Kharma, but sinks into non-existence the moment his
"conformations" are touched with dissolution? Buddhism acknowledges a
mystery here; no real explanation can be given, and none seems to have
been attempted by Buddhist writers. To be consistent, Gautama, in
denying the existence of God and of the soul as an entity, should have
taught the materialistic doctrine of annihilation. This, however, he
could not do in the face of that deep-rooted idea of transmigration
which had taken entire possession of the Hindu mind. Gautama was
compelled therefore to bridge a most illogical chasm as best he could.
Kharma without a soul to cling to is something in the air. It alights
like some winged seed upon a new-born set of Skandas with its luckless
boon of ill desert, and it involves the fatal inconsistency of investing
with permanent character that which is itself impermanent.

But the question may be asked, "Do we not admit a similar principle when
we speak of a man's influence as something that survives him?" We
answer, "No." Influence is a simple radiation of impressions. A man may
leave an influence which men are free to accept or not, but it is quite
a different thing if he leaves upon a successor the moral liabilities of
a bankrupt character. Gautama's own Kharma, for example, ceased to exist
upon his entering Nirvana; there was no re-birth; but his influence
lives forever, and has extended to millions of his fellow-men.

The injustice involved in the doctrine of Kharma is startling. The
new-born soul that inherits its unsettled score has no memory or
consciousness that connects it with himself; it is not heredity; it is
not his father's character that invests him. This Kharma may have
crossed the ocean from the death-bed of some unknown man of another
race. The doctrine is the more astonishing when we consider that no
Supreme Being is recognized as claiming this retribution. There is no
God; it is a vague law of eternal justice, a law without a law-giver or
a judge. There can therefore be no pardon, no commutation of sentence,
no such thing as divine pity or help. The only way in which one can
disentangle himself is by breaking forever the connection between spirit
and matter which binds him with the shackles of conscious being.

4. Nirvana. No doctrine of Buddhism has been so much in dispute as this.
It has been widely maintained that Nirvana means extinction. But T.W.
Rhys Davids and others have held that it is "the destruction of malice,
passion, and delusion," and that it may be attained in this life. The
definition is quoted from comparatively recent Pali translations.[83]
Gautama, therefore, reached Nirvana forty-five years before his death.
It is claimed, however, that insomuch as it cuts off Kharma, or
re-birth, it involves entire extinction of being upon the dissolution of
the body.[84] It is held by still others that Nirvana is a return to the
original and all-pervading Boddhi-essence. This theory, which is really
a concession to the Brahmanical doctrine of absorption into the infinite
Brahma, has a wide following among the modern Buddhists in China and
Japan. It is a form of Buddhist pantheism.

As to the teaching of Gautama on this subject, Professor Max Müller,
while admitting that the meta-physicians who followed the great teacher
plainly taught that the entire personal entity of an arhat (an
enlightened one) would become extinct upon the death of the body, yet
reasons, in his lecture on Buddhistic Nihilism, that the Buddha himself
could not have taught a doctrine so disheartening. At the same time he
quotes the learned and judicial Bishop Bigandet as declaring, after
years of study and observation in Burmah, that such is the doctrine
ascribed to the great teacher by his own disciples. Gautama is quoted as
closing one of his sermons in these words: "Mendicants, that which binds
the teacher to existence is cut off, but his body still remains. While
his body still remains he shall be seen by gods and men, but after the
termination of life, upon the dissolution of the body, neither gods nor
men shall see him." T.W. Rhys Davids expresses the doctrine of Nirvana
tersely and correctly when he says: "Utter death, with no new life to
follow, is, then, a result of, but it is not, Nirvana."[85] Professor
Oldenberg suggests, with much plausibility, that the Buddha was more
reticent in regard to the doctrine of final extinction in the later
periods of his life; that the depressing doctrine had been found a
stumbling-block, and that he came to assume an agnostic position on the
question. In his "Buddha,"[86] Professor Oldenberg, partly in answer to
the grounds taken by Professor Max Müller in his lecture on Buddhistic
Nihilism, has very fully discussed the question whether the ego survives
in Nirvana in any sense. He claims that certain new translations of Pali
texts have given important evidence on the subject, and he sums up with
the apparent conclusion that the Buddha, moved by the depressing
influence which the grim doctrine of Nirvana, in the sense of
extinction, was producing upon his disciples, assumed a position of
reticence as to whether the ego survives or not. The venerable Malukya
(see p. 275) is said to have plied the Master with questions. "Does the
perfect Buddha live on beyond death, or does he not? It pleases me not
that all this should remain unanswered, and I do not think it right. May
it please the Master to answer me if he can. But when anyone does not
understand a matter, then a straightforward man says, 'I do not know
that.'" The Buddha replies somewhat evasively that he has not undertaken
to decide such questions, because they are not for spiritual

The question, What is Nirvana? has been the object of more extensive
discussion than its importance demands. Practically, the millions of
Buddhists are not concerned with the question. They find no attraction
in either view. They desire neither extinction nor unconscious
absorption into the Boddhi essence (or Brahm). What they anticipate is
an improved transmigration, a better birth. The more devout may indulge
the hope that their next life will be spent in one of the Buddhist
heavens; others may aspire to be men of high position and influence. The
real heaven to which the average Buddhist looks forward is apt to be
something very much after his own heart, or at least something indicated
by the estimate which he himself places upon his own character and life.
There may be many transmigrations awaiting him, but he is chiefly
concerned for the next in order. The very last object to excite his
interest is that far-off shadow called Nirvana.

In estimating the conflict of Christianity with Buddhism we must not
take counsel merely of our own sense of the absurdity of Gautama's
teachings; we are to remember that in Christian lands society is made up
of all kinds of people; that outside of the Christian Church there are
thousands, and even millions, who, with respect to faith, are in utter
chaos and darkness. The Church therefore cannot view this subject from
its own stand-point merely. Let us glance at certain features of
Buddhism which render it welcome to various classes of men who dwell
among us in Western lands. First of all, the system commends itself to
many by its intense individualism. Paul's figure of the various parts of
the human frame as illustrating the body of Christ, mutual in the
interdependence of all its members, would be wholly out of place in
Buddhism. Even the Buddhist monks are so many units of introverted
self-righteousness. And individualism differently applied is the
characteristic of our age, and therefore a bond of sympathy is supplied.
"Every man for himself," appeals to modern society in many ways.

Again, Gautama magnified the human intellect and the power of the human
will. "O Ananda," he said, "be lamps unto yourselves; depend upon no
other." He claimed to have thought out, and thought through every
problem of existence, to have penetrated every secret of human nature in
the present, and in the life to come, and his example was commended to
all, that they might follow in their measure. So also our transcendental
philosophers have glorified the powers and possibilities of humanity,
and have made genius superior to saintliness.[87] There are tens of
thousands who in this respect believe in a religion of humanity, and who
worship, if they worship at all, the goddess of reason. All such have a
natural affinity for Buddhism.

Another point in common between this system and the spirit of our age is
its broad humanitarianism--beneficence to the lower grades of life. When
love transcends the bounds of the human family it does not rise up
toward God, it descends toward the lower orders of the animal world.
"Show pity toward everything that exists," is its motto, and the insect
and the worm hold a larger relative place in the Buddhist than in the
Christian view. The question "Are ye not of more value than many
sparrows?" might be doubtful in the Buddhist estimate, for the teacher
himself, in his pre-existent states, had often been incarnate in
inferior creatures. It is by no means conceded that Jesus, in asking his
disciples this question, had less pity for the sparrows than the Buddha,
or that his beneficence was less thoughtful of the meanest thing that
glides through the air or creeps upon the earth; but the spirit of
Christianity is more discriminating, and its love rises up to heaven,
where, beginning with God, it descends through every grade of being.

Yet it is quite in accordance with the spirit and aim of thousands to
magnify the charity that confines itself to bodily wants and
distresses, to sneer at the relief which religion may bring to the far
greater anguish of the spirit, and to look upon love and loyalty to God
as superstition. Is it any wonder that such persons have a warm side
toward Buddhism? Again, this system has certain points in common with
our modern evolution theories. It is unscientific enough certainly in
its speculations, but it gets on without creatorship or divine
superintendence, and believes in the inflexible reign of law, though
without a law-giver. It assigns long ages to the process of creation, if
we may call it creation, and in development through cycles it sees
little necessity for the work of God.

It can also join hands cordially with many social theories of the day.
The pessimism of Buddhists, ancient or modern, finds great sympathy in
the crowded populations of the Western as well as the Eastern world.
And, almost as a rule, Esoteric Buddhism, American Buddhism,
Neo-Buddhism, or whatever we may call it, is a cave of Adullam to which
all types of religious apostates and social malcontents resort. The
thousands who have made shipwreck of faith, who have become soured at
the unequal allotments of Providence, who have learned to hate all who
are above them and more prosperous than they, are just in the state of
mind to take delight in Buddha's sermon at Kapilavastu, as rehearsed by
Sir Edwin Arnold. There all beings met--gods, devas, men, beasts of the
field, and fowls of the air--to make common cause against the
relentless fate that rules the world, and to bewail the sufferings and
death which fill the great charnel-house of existence, while Buddha
voiced their common complaint and stood before them as the only pitying
friend that the universe had found. It was the first great Communist
meeting of which we have any record.[88] The wronged and suffering
universe was there, and all

            "took the promise of his piteous speech,
   So that their lives, prisoned in the shape of ape,
   Tiger or deer, shagged bear, jackal or wolf,
   Foul-feeding kite, pearled dove or peacock gemmed,
   Squat toad or speckled serpent, lizard, bat,
   Yea, or fish fanning the river waves,
   Touched meekly at the skirts of brotherhood
   With man, who hath less innocence than these:
   And in mute gladness knew their bondage broke
   Whilst Buddha spoke these things before the king."

There was no mention of sin, but only of universal misfortune!

In contrast with the deep shadows of a brooding and all-embracing
pessimism like this, we need only to hint at that glow of hope and joy
with which the Sun of Righteousness has flooded the world, and the
fatherly love and compassion with which the Old Testament and the New
are replete, the divine plan of redemption, the psalms of praise and
thanksgiving, the pity of Christ's words and acts, and his invitations
to the weary and heavy-laden. In one view it is strange that pessimism
should have comfort in the fellowship of pessimism, but so it is; there
is luxury even in the sympathy of hate, and so Buddhist pessimism is a
welcome guest among us, though our Communistic querulousness is more

Once more, Buddhist occultism has found congenial fellowship in American
spiritualism. Of late we hear less of spirit-rappings and far more of
Theosophy. But this is only the same crude system with other names, and
rendered more respectable by the cast-off garments of old Indian
philosophy. There is a disposition in the more intellectual circles to
assume a degree of disdain toward the crudeness of spiritualism and its
vulgar familiarity with departed spirits, who must ever be disturbed by
its beck and call; but it is confidently expected that the thousands,
nay, as some say, millions, of American spiritualists will gladly
welcome the name and the creed of Buddha.[89] It will be idle therefore
to assume that the old sleepy system of Gautama has no chance in this
wide-awake republic of the West.[90]

I have already called attention to the special tactics of Buddhists just
now in claiming that Christianity, having been of later origin, has
borrowed its principal facts and its teachings. Let us examine the
charge. It is a real tribute to the character of Christ that so many
sects of false religionists have in all ages claimed Him either as a
follower or as an incarnation of their respective deities. Others have
acknowledged his teachings as belonging to their particular style and
grade. The bitter and scathing calumny of Celsus, in the first
centuries of our era, did not prevent numerous attempts to prove the
identity of Christ's teachings with some of the most popular
philosophies of the heathen world. Porphyry claimed that many of
Christ's virtues were copied from Pythagoras. With like concession
Mohammedanism included Jesus as one of the six great prophets, and
confessedly the only sinless one among them all. Many a fanatic in the
successive centuries has claimed to be a new incarnation of the Son of
God. Hindus have named Him as an incarnation of Vishnu for the Western,
as was Krishna for the Eastern World. As was indicated in the opening of
this lecture, the Theosophists are making special claim to Him,[91] and
are reviving the threadbare theory that He was a follower of Buddha.

So strong an effort is made to prove that Christianity has borrowed both
its divine leader and its essential doctrines from India, that a
moment's attention may well be given to the question here. One
allegation is that the Evangelists copied the Buddhist history and
legends in their account of Christ's early life. Another is that the
leaders of the Alexandrian Church worked over the gospel story at a
later day, having felt more fully the influence of India at that great
commercial centre. The two theories are inconsistent with each other,
and both are inconsistent with the assumption that Christ Himself was a
Buddhist, and taught the Buddhist doctrines, since this supposition
would have obviated the need of any manipulation or fraud at any point.

In replying as briefly as possible I shall endeavor to cover both
allegations. In strong contrast with these cheap assertions of
Alexandrian corruption and plagiarism is the frank admission of such
keen critics as Renan, Weiss, Volkmar, Schenkel, and Hitzig,[92] that
the gospel record as we have it, was written during a generation in
which some of the companions of Jesus still lived. Renan says of Mark's
Gospel that "it is full of minute observations, coming doubtless from an
eye-witness," and he asserts that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written
"in substantially their present form by the men whose names they bear."
These Gospels were the work of men who knew Jesus. Matthew was one of
the Twelve; John in his Epistle speaks of himself as an eye-witness.
They were written in a historic age and were open to challenge. They
were nowhere contradicted in contemporary history. They fit their

How is it with the authenticity of Buddhist literature? Oldenberg says,
"For the _when_ of things men of India have never had a proper organ,"
and Max Müller declares to the same effect, that "the idea of a
faithful, literal translation seems altogether foreign to Oriental
minds." He also informs us that there is not a single manuscript in
India which is a thousand years old, and scarcely one that can claim
five hundred years. For centuries after Gautama's time nothing was
written; all was transmitted by word of mouth. Buddhists themselves say
that the Pali canonical texts were written about 88 B.C.[93]

Any fair comparison of the two histories should confine itself to the
writings which are regarded as canonical respectively, and whose dates
can be fixed. No more importance should be attached to the later
Buddhist legends than to the "Apocryphal Gospels," or to the absurd
"Christian Legends" which appeared in the middle ages. The Buddhist
Canon was adopted by the Council of Patna 242 B.C. The legends which are
generally compared with the canonical story of Christ are not included
in that Canon, or at most very few of them. They are drawn from certain
poetical books written much later, and holding about the same relation
to the Buddhist Canon that the "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained"
of Milton bear to the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Who
would think of quoting "Paradise Lost" in any sober comparison of
Biblical truth with the teachings of other religions?[94]

Even the canonical literature, that which is supposed to contain the
true history and teachings of Buddha, is far from authoritative, owing
to the acknowledged habit--acknowledged even by the author of the
"Dhammapada" of adding commentaries, notes, etc., to original teachings.
Not only was this common among Buddhist writers, but even more
surprising liberties were taken with the narrative. For example: The
legend describing Buddha's leave-taking of his harem is clearly borrowed
from an earlier story of Yasa, a wealthy young householder of Benares,
who, becoming disgusted with his harem, left his sleeping dancing girls
and fled to the Buddha for instruction. Davids and Oldenberg, in
translating this legend from the "Mahavagga," say in a note, "A
well-known incident in the life of Buddha has evidently been shaped
after the model of this story;" and they declare that "_nowhere in the
'Pali Pitakas' is this scene of Buddha's leave-taking mentioned_."

As another evidence of the way in which fact and fiction have been mixed
and manipulated for a purpose, one of the legends, which has often been
presented as a parallel to the story of Christ, represents the Buddha as
repelling the temptation of Mara by quoting texts of "scripture," and
the scripture referred to was the "Dhammapada." But the "Dhammapada" was
compiled hundreds of years after Buddha's death. Besides, there were no
"scriptures" of any kind in his day, for nothing was written till two or
three centuries later; and worse still, Buddha is made to quote his own
subsequent teachings; for the "Dhammapada" claims to consist of the
sacred words of the "enlightened one." Most of the legends of Buddhism
were wholly written after the beginning of the Christian era, and it
cannot be shown that any were written in their present form until two or
three centuries of that era had elapsed. T.W. Rhys Davids says of the
"Lalita Vistara" which contains a very large proportion of them, and one
form of which is said to have been translated into Chinese in the first
century A.D., "that there is no real proof that it existed in its
present form before the year 600 A.D." The "Romantic Legend" cannot be
traced farther back than the third century A.D. Oldenberg says: "No
biography of Buddha has come down to us from ancient times, from the age
of the Pali texts, and we can safely say that no such biography was in
existence then." Beal declares that the Buddhist legend, as found in the
various Epics of Nepaul, Thibet, and China, "is not framed after _any_
Indian model of any date, but is to be found worked out, so to speak,
among northern peoples, who were ignorant of, or indifferent to, the
pedantic stories of the Brahmans. In the southern and primitive records
the terms of the legend are wanting. _Buddha is not born of a royal
family; he is not tempted before his enlightenment; he works no
miracles, and he is not a Universal Saviour._"

The chances are decidedly that if any borrowing has been done it was on
the side of Buddhism. It has been asserted that thirty thousand
Buddhist monks from Alexandria once visited Ceylon on the occasion of a
great festival. This is absurd on the face of it; but that a Christian
colony settled in Malabar at a very early period is attested by the
presence of thousands of their followers even to this day.

In discussing the specific charge of copying Buddhist legends in the
gospel narratives, we are met at the threshold by insurmountable
improbabilities. To some of these I ask a moment's attention. I shall
not take the time to discuss in detail the alleged parallels which are
paraded as proofs. To anyone who understands the spirit of Judaism and
its attitude toward heathenism of all kinds, it is simply inconceivable
that the Christian disciples, whose aim it was to propagate the faith of
their Master in a Jewish community, should have borrowed old Indian
legends, which, by the terms of the supposition, must have been widely
known as such. And Buddhist apologists must admit that it is a little
strange that the Scribes and Pharisees, who were intelligent, and as
alert as they were bitter, should never have exposed this transparent
plagiarism. The great concern of the Apostles was to prove to Jews and
Gentiles that Jesus was the Christ of Old Testament prophecy. The whole
drift of their preaching and their epistles went to show that the gospel
history rested squarely and uncompromisingly on a Jewish basis. Peter
and John, Stephen and Paul, constantly "reasoned with the Jews out of
their own Scriptures." How unspeakably absurd is the notion that they
were trying to palm off on those keen Pharisees a Messiah who, though in
the outset at Nazareth he publicly traced his commission to Old
Testament prophecy, was all the while copying an atheistic philosopher
of India!

It is equally inconceivable that the Christian fathers should have
copied Buddhism. They resisted Persian mysticism as the work of the
Devil, and it was in that mysticism, if anywhere, that Buddhist
influence existed in the Levant. Whoever has read Tertullian's withering
condemnation of Marcion may judge how far the fathers of the Church
favored the heresies of the East. Augustine had himself been a Manichean
mystic, and when after his conversion he became the great theologian of
the Church, he must have known whether the teachings of the Buddha were
being palmed off on the Christian world. The great leaders of that age
were men of thorough scholarship and of the deepest moral earnestness.
Many of them gave up their possessions and devoted their lives to the
promotion of the truths which they professed. Scores of them sealed
their faith by martyr deaths.

But even if we were to accept the flippant allegation that they were all
impostors, yet we should be met by an equally insurmountable difficulty
in the utter silence of the able and bitter assailants of Christianity
in the first two or three centuries. Celsus prepared himself for his
well-known attack on Christianity with the utmost care, searching
history, philosophy, and every known religion from which he could derive
an argument against the Christian faith.

Why did he not strike at the very root of the matter by exposing those
stupid plagiarists who were attempting to play off upon the intelligence
of the Roman world a clumsy imitation of the far-famed Buddha? It was
the very kind of thing that the enemies of Christianity wanted. Why
should the adroit Porphyry attempt to work up a few mere scraps of
resemblance from the life of Pythagoras, when all he had to do was to
lay his hand upon familiar legends which afforded an abundance of the
very thing in demand?

Again, it is to be remembered that Christianity has always been
restrictive and opposed to admixtures with other systems. It repelled
the Neo-Platonism of Alexandria, and it fought for two or three
centuries against Gnosticism, Manichæism, and similar heresies: and the
assumption, in the face of all this, that the Christian Church went out
of its way to copy Indian Buddhism, must be due either to gross
ignorance or to reckless misrepresentation. On the other hand, it is in
accordance with the very genius of Buddhism to borrow. It has absorbed
every indigenous superstition and entered into partnership with every
local religious system, from the Devil Worship of Burmah and Ceylon to
the Taouism of China and the Shinto of Japan. In its long-continued
contact with Christianity it has changed from the original atheism of
Gautama to various forms of theism, and in some of its sects, at least,
from a stanch insistance on self-help alone to an out-and-out doctrine
of salvation by faith. This is true of the Shin and Yodo sects of
Japan. From recognizing no God at all at first, Buddhism had, by the
seventh century A.D., a veritable Trinity, with attributes resembling
those of the Triune God of the Christians, and by the tenth century it
had five trinities with One Supreme Adi-Buddha over them all. Everyone
may judge for himself whether these later interpolations of the system
were borrowed from the New Testament Trinity, which had been proclaimed
through all the East ten centuries before. Buddhism is still absorbing
foreign elements through the aid of its various apologists. Sir Edwin
Arnold has greatly added to the force of its legend by the Christian
phrases and Christian conceptions which he has read into it. Toward the
close of the "Light of Asia" he also introduces into the Buddha's sermon
at Kapilavastu the teachings of Herbert Spencer and others of our own

But altogether the most stupendous improbability lies against the whole
assumption that Christ and his followers based their "essential
doctrines" on the teachings of the Buddha. The early Buddhism was
atheistic: this is the common verdict of Davids, Childers, Sir Monier
Williams, Kellogg, and many others. The Buddha declared that "without
cause and unknown is the life of man in this world," and he recognized
no higher being to whom he owed reverence. "The Buddhist Catechism," by
Subhadra, shows that modern Buddhism has no recognition of God.

It says (page 58): "Buddhism teaches the reign of perfect goodness and
wisdom _without a personal God_, continuance of individuality _without
an immortal soul_, eternal happiness without a local heaven, the way of
salvation without a vicarious saviour, redemption worked out by each one
himself without any prayers, sacrifices, and penances, without the
ministry of ordained priests, without the intercession of saints,
_without divine mercy_." And then, by way of authentication, it adds:
"These, and many others which have become the fundamental doctrines of
the Buddhist religion, were recognized by the Buddha in the night of his
enlightenment under the Boddhi-tree." And yet we are told that this is
the system which Christ and his followers copied. Compare this passage
with the Lord's Prayer, or with the discourse upon the lilies, and its
lesson of trust in God the Father of all! I appeal not merely to
Christian men, but to _any_ man who has brains and common-sense, was
there ever so preposterous an attempt to establish an identity of

But what is the evidence found in the legends themselves? Several
leading Oriental scholars, and men not at all biased in favor of
Christianity, have carefully examined the subject, and have decided that
there is no connection whatever. Professor Seydel, of Leipsic, who has
given the most scientific plea for the so-called coincidences, of which
he claims there are fifty-one, has classified them as: 1, Those which
may have been merely accidental, having arisen from similar causes, and
not necessarily implying any borrowing on either side; 2, those which
seem to have been borrowed from the one narrative or the other; and 3,
those which he thinks were clearly copied by the Christian writers. In
this last class he names but five out of fifty-one.

Kuenen, who has little bias in favor of Christianity, and who has made a
very thorough examination of Seydel's parallels, has completely refuted
these five.[95] And speaking of the whole question he says: "I think we
may safely affirm that we must abstain from assigning to Buddhism the
smallest direct influence on the origin of Christianity." He also says
of similar theories of de Bunsen: "A single instance is enough to teach
us that inventive fancy plays the chief part in them."[96]

Rhys Davids, whom Subhadra's "Buddhist Catechism" approves as the chief
exponent of Buddhism, says on the same subject: "I can find no evidence
of any actual or direct communication of these ideas common to Buddhism
and Christianity from the East to the West." Oldenberg denies their
early date, and Beal denies them an Indian origin of any date.

_Contrasts between Buddhism and Christianity._

Rhys Davids has pointed out the fact that, while Buddhism in some points
is more nearly allied to Christianity than any other system, yet in
others it is the farthest possible from it in its spirit and its
tendency. If we strike out those ethical principles which, to a large
extent, are the common heritage of mankind, revealed in the
understanding and the conscience, we shall find in what remains an
almost total contrariety to the Christian faith. To give a few examples

1. Christ taught the existence and glory of God as Supreme, the Creator
and Father, the righteous Judge. His supreme mission to reconcile all
men to God was the key-note of all His ministry. By His teaching the
hearts of men are lifted up above all earthly conceptions to the worship
of infinite purity, and to the comforting assurance of more than a
father's care and love. Buddhism, on the contrary, knows nothing of God,
offers no heavenly incentive, no divine help. Leading scholars are
agreed that, whatever it may be now, the original orthodox Buddhism was
essentially atheistic. It despised the idea of divine help, and taught
men to rely upon themselves. While, therefore, Buddhism never rose above
the level of earthly resources, and contemplated only lower orders of
being, Christianity begins with God as supreme, to be worshipped and
loved with all the heart, mind, and strength, while our neighbors are to
be loved as ourselves.

2. Christ represented Himself as having pre-existed from the foundation
of the world, as having been equal with God in the glory of heaven, all
of which He resigned that He might enter upon the humiliation of our
earthly state, and raise us up to eternal life. He distinctly claimed
oneness and equality with the Father. Buddha claimed no such antecedent
glory; he spoke of himself as a man merely; the whole aim of his
teaching was to show in himself what every man might accomplish. Later
legends ascribe to him a sort of pre-existence, in which five hundred
and thirty successive lives were passed, sometimes as a man, sometimes
as a god, many times as an animal. But even these claims were not made
by Buddha himself--except so far as was implied by the common doctrine
of transmigration.

Furthermore, in relation to the alleged pre-existences, according to
strict Buddhist doctrine it was not really he who had gone before, it
was only a Kharma or character that had exchanged hands many times
before it could be taken up by the real and conscious Buddha born upon
the earth. Still further, even after the beginning of his earthly life
he lived for many years in what, according to his own teaching, was
heinous sin, all of which is fatal to the theory of pre-existent

3. Christ is a real Saviour; His atonement claimed to be a complete
ransom from the penalty of sin, and by His teaching and example, and by
the power of the Holy Spirit, He overcomes the power of sin itself,
transforming the soul into His own image. Buddha, on the other hand, did
not claim to achieve salvation for any except himself, though Mr. Arnold
and others constantly use such terms as "help" and "salvation." Nothing
of the kind is claimed by the early Buddhist doctrines; they plainly
declare that purity and impurity belong to one's self, and that no one
can purify another.

4. Christ emphatically declared Himself a helper, even in this life:
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest." He promised also to send his Spirit as a comforter, as a
supporter of his disciples' faith, as a guide and teacher, at all times
caring for their need; in whatever exigency his grace would be
sufficient for them. On the contrary, Buddha taught his followers that
no power in heaven or earth could help them; the victory must be their
own. "How can we hope to amend a life," says Bishop Carpenter, "which is
radically bad, by the aid of a system which teaches that man's highest
aim should be to escape from life? All that has been said against the
ascetic and non-worldly attitude of Christianity might be urged with
additional force against Buddhism. It is full of the strong, sweet,
pathetic compassion which looks upon life with eyes full of tears, but
only to turn them away from it again, as from an unsolved and insoluble
riddle." And he substantiates his position by quoting Réville and
Oldenberg. Réville reaches this similar conclusion: "Buddhism, born on
the domain of polytheism, has fought against it, not by rising above
nature in subordinating it to a single sovereign spirit, but by
reproving nature in principle, and condemning life itself as an evil and
a misfortune. Buddhism does not measure itself against this or that
abuse, does not further the development or reformation of society,
either directly or indirectly, for the very simple reason that it turns
away from the world on principle."

Oldenberg, one of the most thorough of Pali scholars, says: "For the
lower order of the people, for those born to toil in manual labor,
hardened by the struggle for existence, the announcement of the
connection of misery with all forms of existence was not made, nor was
the dialectic of the law of the painful concatenation of causes and
effects calculated to satisfy 'the poor in spirit.' 'To the wise
belongeth this law,' it is said, 'not to the foolish.' Very unlike the
work of that Man who 'suffered little children to come unto Him, for of
such is the kingdom of God.' For children, and those who are like
children, the arms of Buddha are not opened."

5. Christ and his disciples set before men the highest motives of life.
The great end of man was to love God supremely, and one's neighbor as
himself. Every true disciple was to consider himself an almoner and
dispenser of the divine goodness to his race. It was this that inspired
the sublime devotion of Paul and of thousands since his time. It is the
secret principle of all the noblest deeds of men. Gautama had no such
high and unselfish aim. He found no inspiring motive above the level of
humanity. His system concentrates all thought and effort on one's own
life--virtually on the attainment of utter indifference to all things
else. The early zeal of Gautama and his followers in preaching to their
fellow-men was inconsistent with the plain doctrines taught at a later
day. If in any case there were those who, like Paul, burned with desire
to save their fellow-men, all we can say is, they were better than their
creed. Such was the spirit of the Gospel, rather than the idle and
useless torpor of the Buddhist order. "Here, according to Buddhists,"
says Spence Hardy, "is a mere code of proprieties, an occasional opiate,
a plan for being free from discomfort, a system for personal profit."
Buddhism certainly taught the repression of human activity and
influence. Instead of saying, "Let your light so shine before men that
they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father who is in heaven,"
or "Work while the day lasts," it said, "If thou keepest thyself silent
as a broken gong, thou hast attained Nirvana." "To wander about like the
rhinoceros alone," was enjoined as the pathway of true wisdom.

6. Christ taught that life, though attended with fearful alternatives,
is a glorious birthright, with boundless possibilities and promise of
good to ourselves and others. Buddhism makes life an evil which it is
the supreme end of man to conquer and cut off from the disaster of
re-birth. Christianity opens a path of usefulness, holiness, and
happiness in this life, and a career of triumph and glory in the endless
ages to come. Both Buddhism and Hinduism are worse than other
pessimistic systems in their fearful law of entailment through countless
transmigrations, each of which must be a struggle.

7. Christ, according to the New Testament, "ever liveth to make
intercession for us," and the Holy Spirit represents Him constantly as
an ever-living power in the world, to regenerate, save, and bless. But
Buddha is dead, and his very existence is a thing of the past. Only
traditions and the influence of his example can help men in the struggle
of life. Said Buddha to his disciples: "As a flame blown by violence
goes out and cannot be reckoned, even so a Buddha delivered from name
and body disappears and cannot be reckoned as existing." Again, he said
to his Order, "Mendicants, that which binds the Teacher (himself) is cut
off, but his body still remains. While this body shall remain he will be
seen by gods and men, but after the termination of life, upon the
dissolution of the body, neither gods nor men shall see him."

8. Christ taught the sacredness of the human body. "Know ye not that
your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?" said His
great Apostle. But Buddhism says: "As men deposit filth upon a dungheap
and depart regretting nothing, wanting nothing, so will I depart leaving
this body filled with vile vapors." Christ and His disciples taught the
triumphant resurrection of the body in spiritual form and purity after
His own image. The Buddhist forsakes utterly and forever the deserted,
cast-off mortality, while still he looks only for another habitation
equally mortal and corruptible, and possibly that of a lower animal.
Thus, through all these lines of contrast, and many others that might be
named, there appear light and life and blessedness on the one hand, and
gloom and desolation on the other.

The gloomy nature of Buddhism is well expressed in Hardy's "Legends and
Theories of Buddhism" as follows: "The system of Buddhism is
humiliating, cheerless, man-marring, soul-crushing. It tells me that I
am not a reality, that I have no soul. It tells me that there is no
unalloyed happiness, no plenitude of enjoyment, no perfect unbroken
peace in the possession of any being whatever, from the highest to the
lowest, in any world. It tells me that I may live myriads of millions of
ages, and that not in any of those ages, nor in any portion of any age,
can I be free from apprehension as to the future, until I attain to a
state of unconsciousness; and that in order to arrive at this
consummation I must turn away from all that is pleasant, or lovely, or
instructive, or elevating, or sublime. It tells me by voices ever
repeated, like the ceaseless sound of the sea-wave on the shore, that I
shall be subject to sorrow, impermanence, and unreality so long as I
exist, and yet that I cannot cease to exist, nor for countless ages to
come, as I can only attain nirvana in the time of a Supreme Buddha. In
my distress I ask for the sympathy of an all-wise and all-powerful
friend. But I am mocked instead by the semblance of relief, and am told
to look to Buddha, who has ceased to exist; to the Dharma that never was
in existence, and to the Sangha, the members of which are real
existences, but like myself are partakers of sorrow and sin."

How shall we measure the contrast between all this and the ecstacies of
Christian hope, which in various forms are expressed in the Epistles of
Paul; the expected crown of righteousness, the eternal weight of glory;
heirship with Christ in an endless inheritance; the house not made with
hands; the General Assembly of the first born? Even in the midst of
earthly sorrows and persecutions he could say, "Nay, in all things we
are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded
that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of
God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord."


[Footnote 80: It is by no means certain that Buddha's followers, in
carrying out his system, have not lapsed into the old notions of
merit-making asceticism to greater or less extent, and have become
virtually very much like the torpid and useless fakirs of the old

[Footnote 81: The _Jataka_ legends of Ceylon, dating in their present
form about 500 A.D., greatly enlarge the proportions of this Northern
legend, making the elephant over seven thousand miles high, and widening
out the surrounding army to one hundred and sixty four miles.]

[Footnote 82: Of the _Romantic Legend_ found in Nepaul, Beall's
translation is probably the best.]

[Footnote 83: See Appendix of _Origin and Growth of Religion as
illustrated in Buddhism_.]

[Footnote 84: See _Buddhism_, pp. 110-115.]

[Footnote 85: _Buddhism_, p. 114.]

[Footnote 86: Pp. 265-285.]

[Footnote 87: It is the boast of the author of _Esoteric Buddhism_, that
strange mixture of Western spiritualism with Oriental mysticism, that
his system despises the tame "goody, goody" spirit of Christianity, and
deals with the endless growth of mind.]

[Footnote 88: _Light of Asia_.]

[Footnote 89: Mr. Sinnett, in his _Esoteric Buddhism_, expressed the
idea that it was high time that the crudities of spiritualism should be
corrected by the more philosophic occultism of the East.]

[Footnote 90: The points of contact between Buddhism and certain forms
of Western thought have been ably treated by Professor S.H. Kellogg, in
the _Light of Asia and Light of the World_.]

[Footnote 91: A recent tract has appeared, entitled _Theosophy the
Religion of Jesus_.]

[Footnote 92: Cited by Professor Kellogg.]

[Footnote 93: Professor T.W. Rhys Davids, in his introduction to
_Buddhism_, enumerates the following sources of knowledge concerning the
early Buddhism:

1. The _Lalita Vistara_, a Sanscrit work of the Northern Buddhists "full
of extravagant fictions" concerning the early portion of Gautama's life.
Davids compares it to Milton's _Paradise Regained_, as a source of
history, and claims that although parts of it were translated into
Chinese in the first century of our era, there is no proof of its
existence in its present form earlier than the sixth century A.D.

2. Two Thibetan versions, based chiefly on the _Lalita Vistara_.

3. The _Romantic Legend_, from the Sanscrit of the Northern Buddhists,
translated into Chinese in the sixth century A.D.; English version by
Beal published in 1875. This also is an extravagant poem. This and the
_Lalita Vistara_ embrace most of the alleged parallels to the Life of

4. The original Pali text of the _Commentary on the Jatakas_, written in
Ceylon probably about the fifth century of our era. Davids considers its
account down to the time of Gautama's return to Kapilavastu, "the best
authority we have." It contains word for word almost the whole of the
life of Gautama given by Turnour, from a commentary on the
_Buddhavansa_, "which is the account of the Buddhas contained in the
second Pitaka."

5. An account taken by Spence Hardy from Cingalese books of a
comparatively modern date.

6. An English translation by Bigandet of a Burmese account, which was
itself a translation of unknown date made from a Pali version.

7. An account of the death of Gautama, given in Pali and said to be the
oldest of all the sources. It is full of wonders created by the fancy of
the unknown author, but differs widely from the fancy sketches of the
_Lalita Vistara_ of the North.

8. A translation by Mr. Alabaster of a Siamese account. It does not
claim to be exact.]

[Footnote 94: T.W. Rhys Davids illustrates the worthlessness of poetic
narrations as grounds of argument by quoting from Milton's _Paradise
Regained_ this mere fancy sketch of the accompaniments of Christ's

          "And either tropic now
   'Gan thunder and both ends of heaven; the clouds
   From many a horrid rift abortive poured
   Fierce rain with lightning mixed, water with fire
   In ruin reconciled; nor slept the winds
   Within their stony caves, but rush'd abroad
   From the four hinges of the world, and fell
   On the vex'd wilderness; whose tallest pines
   Tho' rooted deep as high and sturdiest oaks,
   Bowed their stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts
   Or torn up sheer. Ill wast Thou shrouded then,
   O patient Son of God, yet stood'st alone
   Unshaken! nor yet staid the terror there;
   Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round
   Environed Thee; some howl'd, some yell'd, some shriek'd,
   Some bent at Thee their fiery darts, while Thou
   Sat'st unappall'd in calm and sinless peace."
                                                          Book iv.]

[Footnote 95: See _National Religion and Universal Religion_, p. 362.]

[Footnote 96: _Hibbert Lectures_, 1882.]



It has been the fate of every great religious teacher to have his memory
enveloped in a haze of posthumous myths. Even the Gospel history was
embellished with marvellous apocryphal legends of the childhood of
Christ. Buddhism very soon began to be overgrown with a truly Indian
luxuriance of fables, miracles, and pre-existent histories extending
through five hundred past transmigrations. In like manner, the followers
of Mohammed traced the history of their prophet and of their sacred city
back to the time of Adam. And Mohammedan legends were not a slow and
natural growth, as in the case of most other faiths. There was a set
purpose in producing them without much delay. The conquests of Islam
over the Eastern empires had been very rapid. The success of Mohammed's
cause and creed had exceeded the expectations of his most sanguine
followers. In the first half of the seventh century--nay, between the
years 630 and 638 A.D.--Jerusalem, Damascus, and Aleppo had fallen
before the arms of Omar and his lieutenant "Khaled the Invincible," and
in 639 Egypt was added to the realm of the Khalifs. Persia was conquered
in A.D. 640.

It seemed scarcely possible that achievements so brilliant could have
been the work of a mere unlettered Arab and his brave but unpretentious
successors. The personnel of the prophet must be raised to an adequate
proportion to such a history. Special requisition was made therefore for
incidents. The devout fancy of the faithful was taxed for the
picturesque and marvellous; and the system which Mohammed taught, and
the very place in which he was born, must needs be raised to a
supernatural dignity and importance. Accordingly, the history of the
prophet was traced back to the creation of the world, when God was said
to have imparted to a certain small portion of earthy dust a mysterious
spark of light. When Adam was formed this particular luminous dust
appeared in his forehead, and from him it passed in a direct line to
Abraham. From Abraham it descended, not to Isaac, but to Ishmael; and
this was the cause of Sarah's jealousy and the secret of all Abraham's
domestic troubles. Of course, this bright spark of heavenly effulgence
reappearing on the brow of each lineal progenitor, was designed
ultimately for Mohammed, in whom it shone forth with tenfold brightness.

There is real historic evidence of the fact that the Vale of Mecca had
for a long time been regarded as sacred ground. It was a sort of forest
or extensive grove, a place for holding treaties among the tribes, a
common ground of truce and a refuge from the avenger. It was also a
place for holding annual fairs, for public harangues, and the
competitive recitation of ballads and other poems. But all this, however
creditable to the culture of the Arab tribes, was not sufficient for
the purposes of Islam. The Kaaba, which had been a rude heathen temple,
was raised to the dignity of a shrine of the true God, or rather it was
restored, for it was said to have been built by Adam after a divine
pattern. The story was this: At the time of the Fall, Adam and Eve had
somehow become separated. Adam had wandered away to Ceylon, where a
mountain peak still bears his name. But having been divinely summoned to
Mecca to erect this first of earthly temples, he unexpectedly found Eve
residing upon a hill near the city, and thenceforward the Valley of
Mecca became their paradise regained. At the time of the Deluge the
Kaaba was buried in mud, and for centuries afterward it was overgrown
with trees.

When Hagar and her son Ishmael were driven out from the household of
Abraham, they wandered by chance to this very spot, desolate and
forsaken. While Hagar was diligently searching for water, more anxious
to save the life of her son than her own, Ishmael, boy-like, sat poking
the sand with his heel; when, behold, a spring of water bubbled up in
his footprint. And this was none other than the sacred well Zemzem,
whose brackish waters are still eagerly sought by every Moslem pilgrim.
As Ishmael grew to manhood and established his home in the sacred city,
Abraham was summoned to join him, that they together might rebuild the
Kaaba. But in the succeeding generations apostacy again brought ruin
upon the place, although the heathen Koreish still performed sacred
rites there--especially that of sevenfold processions around the sacred
stone. This blackened object, supposed to be an aërolite which fell
ages ago, is still regarded as sacred, and the sevenfold circuits of
Mohammedan pilgrims take the place of the ancient heathen rites.

Laying aside these crude legends, and confining our attention to
probable history, I can only hope, in the compass of a single lecture,
to barely touch upon a series of prominent points without any very
careful regard to logical order. This will perhaps insure the greatest
clearness as well as the best economy of time. And first, we will glance
at the personal history of Mohammed--a history, it should be remembered,
which was not committed to writing till two hundred years after the
prophet's death, and which depends wholly on the enthusiastic traditions
of his followers. Born in the year 561 A.D., of a recently widowed
mother, he appears to have been from the first a victim of epilepsy, or
some kindred affection whose paroxysms had much to do with his
subsequent experiences and his success. The various tribes of Arabia
were mostly given to a form of polytheistic idolatry in which, however,
the conception of a monotheistic supremacy was still recognized. Most
scholars, including Renan, insist on ascribing to the Arabians, in
common with all other Shemitic races, a worship of one God as Supreme,
though the Arabian Allah, like the Baal of Canaan and Phoenicia, was
supposed to be attended by numerous inferior deities. Though Islam
undoubtedly borrowed the staple of its truths from the Old Testament,
yet there was a short confession strikingly resembling the modern creed
of to-day, which had been upon the lips of many generations of Arabians
before Mohammed's time. Thus it ran: "I dedicate myself to thy service,
O Allah. Thou hast no companion except the companion of whom thou art
master and of whatever is his."

A society known as the "Hanifs" existed at the time of Mohammed's early
manhood, and we know not how long before, whose aim was to bring back
their countrymen from the degrading worship and cruel practices of
heathenism to the purity of monotheistic worship. The old faith had been
reinforced in the minds of the more intelligent Arabs by the truths
learned from Jewish exiles, who, as early as the Babylonish captivity,
had found refuge in Arabia; and it is a striking fact that the four
Hanif leaders whom the young Mohammed found on joining their society,
were pleading for the restoration of the faith of Abraham. All these
leaders refused to follow his standard when he began to claim supremacy
as a prophet; three of them were finally led to Christianity, and the
fourth died in a sort of quandary between the Christian faith and Islam.
The first two, Waraka and Othman, were cousins of Mohammed's wife, and
the third, Obadulla, was his own cousin. Zaid, the last of the four,
presents to us a very pathetic picture. He lived and died in perplexity.
Banished from Mecca by those who feared his conscientious censorship, he
lived by himself on a neighboring hillside, an earnest seeker after
truth to the last; and he died with the prayer on his lips, "O God, if I
knew what form of worship is most pleasing to thee, so would I serve
thee, but I know it not." It is to the credit of Mohammed that he
cherished a profound respect for this man. "I will pray for him," he
said; "in the Resurrection he also will gather a church around him."[97]

In spite of his maladies and the general delicacy of his nervous
organization, Mohammed evinced in early youth a degree of energy and
intellectual capacity which augured well for his future success in some
important sphere. Fortune also favored him in many ways. His success as
manager of the commercial caravans of a wealthy widow led to his
acceptance as her husband. She was fourteen years his senior, but she
seems to have entirely won his affections and to have proved
indispensable, not only as a patroness, but as a wise and faithful
counsellor. So long as she lived she was the good spirit who called
forth his better nature, and kept him from those low impulses which
subsequently wrought the ruin of his character, even in the midst of his
successes. On the one hand, it is an argument in favor of the sincerity
of Mohammed's prophetic claims, that this good and true woman was the
first to believe in him as a prophet of God; but, on the other hand, we
must remember that she was a loving wife, and that that charity which
thinketh no evil is sometimes utterly blind to evil when found in this
tender relation.

We have no reason to doubt that Mohammed was a sincere "Hanif." Having
means and leisure for study, and being of a bright and thoughtful mind,
he doubtless entered with enthusiasm into the work of reforming the
idolatrous customs of his countrymen. From this high standpoint, and
free from superstitious fear of a heathen priesthood, he was prepared to
estimate in their true enormity the degrading rites which he everywhere
witnessed under the abused name of religion. That hatred of idolatry
which became the main spring of his subsequent success, was thus
nourished and strengthened as an honest and abiding sentiment. He was,
moreover, of a contemplative--we may say, of a religious--turn of mind.
His maladies gave him a tinge of melancholy, and, like the Buddha, he
showed a characteristic thoughtfulness bordering upon the morbid.
Becoming more and more a reformer, he followed the example of many other
reformers by withdrawing at stated times to a place of solitude for
meditation; at least such is the statement of his followers, though
there are evidences that he took his family with him, and that he may
have been seeking refuge from the heat. However this may have been, the
place chosen was a neighboring cave, in whose cool shade he not only
spent the heated hours of the day, but sometimes a succession of days
and nights.

Perhaps the confinement increased the violence of his convulsions, and
the vividness and power of the strange phantasmagorias which during his
paroxysms passed through his mind. It was from one of these terrible
attacks that his alleged call to the prophetic office was dated. The
prevailing theories of his time ascribed all such experiences to the
influence of supernatural spirits, either good or evil, and the sufferer
was left to the alternative of assuming either that he had received
messages from heaven, or that he had been a victim of the devil. After
a night of greater suffering and more thrilling visions than he had ever
experienced before, Mohammed chose the more favorable interpretation,
and announced to his sympathizing wife Kadijah that he had received from
Gabriel a solemn call to become the Prophet of God.

There has been endless discussion as to how far he may have been
self-deceived in making this claim, and how far he may have been guilty
of conscious imposture. Speculation is useless, since on the one hand we
cannot judge a man of that age and that race by the rigid standards of
our own times; and on the other, we are forbidden to form a too
favorable judgment by the subsequent developments of Mohammed's
character and life, in regard to which no other interpretation than that
of conscious fraud seems possible.[98]

Aside from the previous development and influence of a monotheistic
reform, and the favoring circumstance of a fortunate marriage, he found
his way prepared by the truths which had been made known in Arabia by
both Jews and Christians. The Jews had fled to the Arabian Peninsula
from the various conquerors who had laid waste Jerusalem and overrun the
territories of the Ten Tribes. At a later day, many Christians had also
found an asylum there from the persecutions of hostile bishops and
emperors. Sir William Muir has shown how largely the teachings of the
Koran are grounded upon those of the Old and New Testaments.[99] All
that is best in Mohammedanism is clearly borrowed from Judaism and
Christianity. Mohammed was illiterate and never claimed originality.
Indeed, he plead his illiteracy as a proof of direct inspiration. A far
better explanation would be found in the knowledge derived from inspired
records, penned long before and under different names.

The prophet was fortunate not only in the possession of truths thus
indirectly received, but in the fact that both Jews and Christians had
lapsed from a fair representation of the creeds which they professed.
The Jews in Arabia had lost the true spirit of their sacred scriptures,
and were following their own perverted traditions rather than the
oracles of God. They had lost the vitality and power of the truths
revealed to their fathers, and were destitute of moral earnestness and
all spiritual life. On the other hand, the Christian sects had fallen
into low superstitions and virtual idolatry. The Trinity, as they
represented it, gave to Mohammed the impression that the Virgin Mary,
"Mother of God," was one of the three persons of the Trinity, and that
the promise of the coming Paraclete might very plausibly be appropriated
by himself.[100] The prevailing worship of pictures, images, and relics
appeared in his vision as truly idolatrous as the polytheism of the
heathen Koreish. It was clear to him that there was a call for some
zealous iconoclast to rise up and deliver his country from idolatry. The
whole situation seemed auspicious. Arabia was ripe for a sweeping
reformation. It appears strange to us, at this late day, that the
churches of Christendom, even down to the seventh century, should have
failed to christianize Arabia, though they had carried the Gospel even
to Spain and to Britain on the west, and to India and China on the east.
If they had imagined that the deserts of the Peninsula were not
sufficiently important to demand attention, they certainly learned their
mistake; for now the sad day of reckoning had come, when swarms of
fanatics should issue from those deserts like locusts, and overrun their
Christian communities, humble their bishops, appropriate their sacred
temples, and reduce their despairing people to the alternatives of
apostacy, tribute, slavery, or the sword.

It seems equally strange that the great empires which had carried their
conquests so far on every hand had neglected to conquer Arabia. It was,
indeed, comparatively isolated; it certainly did not lie in the common
paths of the conquerors; doubtless it appeared barren, and by no means a
tempting prize; and withal it was a difficult field for a successful
campaign. But from whatever reason, the tribes of Arabia had never been
conquered. Various expeditions had won temporary successes, but the
proud Arab could boast that his country had never been brought into
permanent subjection.[101] Meanwhile the heredity of a thousand years
had strengthened the valor of the Arab warrior. He was accustomed to the
saddle from his very infancy; he was almost a part of his horse. He was
trained to the use of arms as a robber, when not engaged in tribal wars.
His whole activity, his all-absorbing interest, was in hostile forays.
He knew no fear; he had no scruples. He had been taught to feel that, as
a son of Ishmael every man's hand was turned against him, and of simple
right his hand might be turned against every man.

Nor was this all. The surrounding nations, east and west, had long been
accustomed to employ these sons of the desert as mercenary soldiers.
They had all had a hand in training them for their terrible work, by
imparting to them a knowledge of their respective countries, their
resources, their modes of warfare, and their points of weakness. How
many nations have thus paved the way to their own destruction by
calling in allies, who finally became their masters![102]

On Mohammed's part, there is no evidence that at the outset he
contemplated a military career. At first a reformer, then a prophet, he
was driven to arms in self-defence against his persecutors, and he was
fortunate in being able to profit by a certain jealousy which existed
between the rival cities of Mecca and Medina. Fleeing from Mecca with
only one follower, Abu Bekr, leaving the faithful Ali to arrange his
affairs while he and his companion were hidden in a cave, he found on
reaching Medina a more favorable reception. He soon gathered a
following, which enabled him to gain a truce from the Meccans for ten
years; and when they on their part violated the truce, he was able to
march upon their city with a force which defied all possible resistance,
and he entered Mecca in triumph. Medina had been won partly by the
supposed credentials of the prophet, but mainly by jealousy of the rival
city. Mecca yielded to a superior force of arms, but in the end became
the honored capital and shrine of Islam.

From this time the career of Mohammed was wholly changed. He was now an
ambitious conqueror, and here as before, the question how far he may
have sincerely interpreted his remarkable fortune as a call of God to
subdue the idolatrous nations, must remain for the present unsettled.
Possibly further light may be thrown upon it as we proceed. Let us
consider some of the changes which appear in the development of this
man's character. If we set out with that high ideal which would seem to
be demanded as a characteristic of a great religious teacher, and
certainly of one claiming to be a prophet of God, we ought to expect
that his character would steadily improve in all purity, humanity,
truthfulness, charity, and godlikeness. The test of character lies in
its trend. If the founder of a religion has not grown nobler and better
under the operation of his own system, that fact is the strongest
possible condemnation of the system. A good man generally feels that he
can afford to be magnanimous and pitiful in proportion to his victories
and his success. But Mohammed became relentless as his power increased.
He had at first endeavored to win the Arabian Jews to his standard. He
had adopted their prophets and much of the Old Testament teachings; he
had insisted upon the virtual identity of the two religions. But having
failed in his overtures, and meanwhile having gained superior power, he
waged against them the most savage persecution. On one occasion he
ordered the massacre of a surrendered garrison of six hundred Jewish
soldiers. At another time he put to the most inhuman torture a leader
who had opposed his cause; in repeated instances he instigated the crime
of assassination.[103] In early life he had been engaged in a peaceful
caravan trade, and all his influence had been cast in favor of universal
security as against the predatory habits of the heathen Arabs; but on
coming to power he himself resorted to robbery to enrich his exchequer.
Sales mentions twenty-seven of these predatory expeditions against
caravans, in which Mohammed was personally present.[104]

The biographers of his early life represent him as a man of a natural
kindness of disposition, and a sensitive temperament almost bordering on
timidity. Though not particularly genial, he was fond of children, and
had at first, as his recorded utterances show, frequent impulses of pity
and magnanimity. But he became hardened as success crowned his career.
The temperateness which characterized his early pleadings and
remonstrances with those who differed from him, gave place to bitter
anathemas; and there was rooted in his personal character that
relentless bigotry which has been the key-note of the most intolerant
system known upon the earth.

A still more marked change occurred in the increasing sensuality of
Mohammed. Such lenient apologists as E. Bosworth Smith and Canon Taylor
have applied their most skilful upholstery to the defects of his
scandalous morals. Mr. Smith has even undertaken to palliate his
appropriation of another man's wife, and the blasphemy of his pretended
revelation in which he made God justify his passion.[105] These authors
base their chief apologies upon comparisons between Mohammed and the
worse depravity of the heathen Arabs, or they balance accounts with some
of his acknowledged virtues.

But the case baffles all such advocacy. The real question is, what was
the _drift_ of the prophet's character? What was the influence of his
professed principles on his own life? It cannot be denied that his moral
trend was downward. If we credit the traditions of his own followers, he
had lived a virtuous life as the husband of one wife,[106] and that for
many years. But after the death of Kadijah he entered upon a career of
polygamy in violation of his own law. He had fixed the limit for all
Moslems at four lawful wives; and in spite of the arguments of R.
Bosworth Smith, we must regard it as a most damning after-thought that
made the first and only exception to accommodate his own weakness. By
that act he placed himself beyond the help of all sophistry, and took
his true place in the sober judgment of mankind. And by a law which is
as unerring as the law of gravitation, he became more and more sensual
as age advanced. At the time of his death he was the husband of eleven
wives. We are not favored with a list of his concubines:[107] we only
know that his system placed no limit upon the number.[108] Now, if a
prophet claiming direct inspiration could break his own inspired laws
for his personal accommodation; if, when found guilty of adultery, he
could compel his friend and follower to divorce his wife that he might
take her; if upon each violation of purity and decency he did not shrink
from the blasphemy of claiming a special revelation which made God the
abettor of his vices, and even represented Him as reproving and
threatening his wives for their just complaints--if all this does not
stamp a man as a reckless impostor, what further turpitude is required?

At the same time it is evident that constant discrimination is demanded
in judging of the character of Mohammed. It is not necessary to assume
that he was wholly depraved at first, or to deny that for a time he was
the good husband that he is represented to have been, or that he was a
sincere and enthusiastic reformer, or even that he may have interpreted
some of his _early_ hallucinations as mysterious messages from heaven.
At various times in his life he doubtless displayed noble sentiments and
performed generous acts. But when we find him dictating divine
communications with deliberate purpose for the most villainous objects,
when we find the messages of Gabriel timed and graded to suit the
exigencies of his growing ambition, or the demands of his worst
passions, we are forced to a preponderating condemnation. The Mohammed
of the later years is a remorseless tyrant when occasion requires, and
at all times the slave of unbridled lust. Refined and cultivated
Mohammedan ladies--I speak from testimony that is very direct--do not
hesitate to condemn the degrading morals of their prophet, and to
contrast him with the spotless purity of Jesus; "but then," they add,
"God used him for a great purpose, and gave him the most exalted honor
among men." Alas! it is the old argument so often employed in many
lands. Success, great intellect, grand achievements gild all moral
deformity, and win the connivance of dazzled minds. In this case,
however, it is not a hero or a statesman, but an alleged prophet of God,
that is on trial.

It is a question difficult to decide, how far Mohammed made
Mohammedanism, and how far the system moulded him. The action of cause
and effect was mutual, and under this interaction both the character and
the system were slow growths. The Koran was composed in detached
fragments suited to different stages of development, different degrees
and kinds of success, different demands of personal impulse or changes
of conduct. The Suras, without any claim to logical connection, were
written down by an amanuensis on bits of parchment, or pieces of wood or
leather, and even on the shoulder-bones of sheep. And they were each the
expression of Mohammed's particular mood at the time, and each entered
in some degree into his character from that time forth. The man and the
book grew together, the system, through all its history, fairly
represents the example of the man and the teaching of the book.

Let us next consider the historic character and influence of the system
of Islam. In forming just conclusions as to the real influence of
Mohammedanism, a judicial fairness is necessary. In the first place, we
must guard against the hasty and sweeping judgments which are too often
indulged in by zealous Christians; and on the other hand, we must
certainly challenge the exaggerated statements of enthusiastic
apologists. It is erroneous to assert that Islam has never encouraged
education, that it has invariably been adverse to all progress, that it
knows nothing but the Koran, or that Omar, in ordering the destruction
of the Alexandrian library, is the only historical exponent of the
system. Such statements are full of partial truths, but they are also
mingled with patent errors.

The Arab races in their original home were naturally inclined to the
encouragement of letters, particularly of poetry, and Mohammed himself,
though he had never been taught even to read, much less to write, took
special pains to encourage learning. "Teach your children poetry," he
said; "it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom, and makes the heroic
virtues hereditary."[109] According to Sprenger, he gave liberty to
every prisoner who taught twelve boys of Mecca to write. The Abbasside
princes of a later day offered most generous prizes for superior
excellence in poetry, and Bagdad, Damascus, Alexandria, Bassora, and
Samarcand were noted for their universities.[110] Cordova and Seville
were able to lend their light to the infant university of Oxford. The
fine arts of sculpture and painting were condemned by the early caliphs,
doubtless on account of the idolatrous tendencies which they were
supposed to foster; but medicine, philosophy, mathematics, chemistry,
and astronomy were especially developed, and that at a time when the
nations of Europe were mostly in darkness.[111] Yet it cannot be denied
that on the whole the influence of Islam has been hostile to learning
and to civilization.[112] The world will never forget that by the
burning of the great library of Alexandria the rich legacy which the old
world had bequeathed to the new was destroyed. By its occupation of
Egypt and Constantinople, and thus cutting off the most important
channels of communication, the Mohammedan power became largely
responsible for the long eclipse of Europe during the Middle Ages.

Moreover, when zealous advocates of the system contrast the barbarism of
Richard Coeur de Lion with the culture and humanity of Saladin, they
seem to forget that the race of Richard had but just emerged from the
savagery of the Northmen, while Saladin and his race had not only
inherited the high moral culture of Judaism and Christianity, but had
virtually monopolized it. It was chiefly by the wars of the Crusaders
that Western Europe became acquainted with the civilization of the

Instead of ignoring the advantages which the East had over the West at
that period, it would be more just to inquire what comparative
improvements of their respective opportunities have been made by Western
Christianity and Eastern Mohammedanism since that time. It would be an
interesting task, for example, to start with the period of Saladin and
Coeur de Lion, and impartially trace on the one hand the influence of
Christianity as it moulded the savage conquerors of the Roman Empire,
and from such rude materials built up the great Christian nations of the
nineteenth century; and on the other hand, follow the banner of the
Crescent through all the lands where it has borne sway: Persia, Arabia,
Northern India, Egypt, the Barbary States, East Africa, and the Soudan,
and then draw an unbiased conclusion as to which system, as a system,
has done more to spread general enlightenment, foster the sentiments of
kindness and philanthropy, promote human liberty, advance civilization,
increase and elevate populations, promote the purity and happiness of
the family and the home, and raise the standards of ethics and true
religion among mankind.[113]

One of the brilliant dynasties of Mohammedan history was that of the
Moors of Spain. We can never cease to admire their encouragement of arts
and their beautiful architecture, but is it quite certain that all this
was a direct fruit of Islam? The suggestion that it may have been partly
due to contact with the Gothic elements which the Moors vanquished,
finds support in the fact that nothing of the kind appeared on the
opposite coast of Africa. And while the Mohammedan Empire in India has
left the most exquisite architectural structures in the world, it is
well known that they were the work of European architects.

But in considering the influence which Islam has exerted on the whole,
lack of time compels me to limit our survey to Africa, except as other
lands may be referred to incidentally.[114] That the first African
conquests, extending from Egypt to Morocco, were simple warlike
invasions in which the sword was the only instrument of propagandism, no
one will deny. But it is contended that in later centuries a great work
has been accomplished in Western Soudan, and is still being
accomplished, by missionary effort and the general advance of a
wholesome civilization.

Any fair estimate of Mohammedan influence must take account of the
elements which it found in Northern Africa at the time of its conquests.
The states which border on the Mediterranean had once been powerful and
comparatively enlightened. They had been populous and prosperous. The
Phoenician colony in Carthage had grown to be no mean rival of Rome's
military power. Egypt had been a great centre of learning, not only in
the most ancient times, but especially after the building of Alexandria.
More western lands, like Numidia and Mauritania, had been peopled by
noble races.

After the introduction of Christianity, Alexandria became the bright
focus into which the religions and philosophies of the world poured
their concentrated light. Some of the greatest of the Christian fathers,
like Augustine, Tertullian, and Cyprian, were Africans. The foundations
of Latin Christianity were laid by these men. The Bishopric of Hippo was
a model for all time in deep and intelligent devotion. The grace and
strength, the sublime and all-conquering faith of Monica, and others
like her, furnished a pattern for all Christian womanhood and

I do not forget that before the time of the Mohammedan invasion the
Vandals had done their work of devastation, or that the African Church
had been woefully weakened and rent by wild heresies and schisms, or
that the defection of the Monophysite or Coptic Church of Egypt was one
of the influences which facilitated the Mohammedan success. But making
due allowance for all this, vandalism and schism could not have
destroyed so soon the ancient civilization or sapped the strength of the
North African races. The process which has permanently reduced so many
once populous cities and villages to deserts, and left large portions of
the Barbary States with only the moldering ruins of their former
greatness, has been a gradual one. For centuries after the Arab conquest
those states were virtually shut off from communication with Europe, and
for at least three centuries more, say from 1500 down to the generation
which immediately preceded our own, they were known chiefly by the
piracies which they carried on against the commerce of all maritime
nations. Even the Government of the United States was compelled to pay a
million of dollars for the ransom of captured American seamen, and it
paid it not to private corsairs, but to the Mohammedan governments by
which those piracies were subsidized, as a means of supplying the public
exchequer. These large amounts were recovered only when our navy, in
co-operation with that of England, extirpated the Riff piracies by
bombarding the Moslem ports. The vaunted civilizations of the North
African states would have been supported by wholesale marauding to this
day, had not their piratical fleets been thus summarily swept from the
seas by other powers.

If Egypt has shown a higher degree of advancement it has been due to her
peculiar geographical position, to the inexhaustible fertility of the
Delta, and, most of all, to the infusion of foreign life and energy into
the management of her affairs. Ambitious adventurers, like the Albanian
Mehamet Ali, have risen to power and have made Egypt what she is, or
rather what she was before the more recent intervention of the European
powers. Even Canon Taylor admits that for centuries it has been
necessary to import more vigorous foreign blood for the administration
of Egyptian affairs.[115]

It will be admitted that Mohammedan conquests have been made in mediæval
times, and down to our own age, in Central Africa, and that along the
southern borders of Sahara a cordon of more or less prosperous states
has been established; also, that the civilization of those states
contrasts favorably with the savagery of the cannibal tribes with which
they have come in contact. Probably the best--that is to say, the least
objectionable--exemplifications of Islam now to be found in the world
are seen in some of the older states of Western Soudan. The Mandingo of
the central uplands furnished a better material than the "unspeakable
Turk," and it would not be quite fair to ascribe all his present virtues
to the Moslem rule.

But _how_ have these conquests in Central Africa been made? The
contention of the apologists for Islam is that recently, at least, and
probably more or less in the past, a quiet missionary work has greatly
extended monotheism, temperance, education, and general comfort, and
that it has done more than all other influences for the permanent
extinction of the slave trade! Dr. E.W. Blyden, in answer to the charge
that Mohammedan Arabs are now, and long have been, chiefly responsible
for the horrors of that trade, and that even when Americans bought
slaves for their plantations, Moslem raiders in the interior instigated
the tribal quarrels which supplied the markets on the coast, contends
that the Moslem conquests do most effectually destroy the trade, since
tribes which have become Moslem can no longer be enslaved by
Moslems.[116] It is a curious argument, especially as it seems to ignore
the fact that at the present time both the supply and the demand depend
on Mohammedan influence.

As to the means by which the Soudanese States are now extending their
power we may content ourselves with a mere reference to the operations
of the late "El Mahdi" in the East and the notorious Samadu in the West.
Their methods may be accepted as illustrations of a kind of tactics
which have been employed for ages. The career of El Mahdi is already
well known. Samadu was originally a prisoner, captured while yet a boy
in one of the tribal wars near the headwaters of the Niger. Partly by
intrigue and partly by the aid of his religious fanaticism he at length
became sufficiently powerful to enslave his master. Soon afterward he
proclaimed his divine mission, and declared a _Jehad_ or holy war
against all infidels. Thousands flocked to his banner, influenced
largely by the hope of booty; and ere long, to quote the language of a
lay correspondent of the London _Standard_, written in Sierra Leone
September 18, 1888, "he became the scourge of all the peaceable states
on the right bank of the Upper Niger." Since 1882 he has attempted to
dispute the territorial claims of the French on the upper, and of the
English on the lower Niger, though without success. But he has seemed to
avenge his disappointment the more terribly on the native tribes.

The letter published in the _Standard_ gives an account of an official
commission sent by the Governor of Sierra Leone to the headquarters of
Samadu in 1888, and in describing the track of this Western Mahdi in his
approaches to the French territories it says: "The messengers report
that every town and village through which they passed was in ruins, and
that the road, from the borders of Sulimania to Herimakono, was lined
with human skeletons, the remains of unfortunates who had been slain by
Samadu's fanatical soldiery, or had perished from starvation through the
devastation of the surrounding country. Some of these poor wretches, to
judge from the horrible contortions of the skeletons, had been attacked
by vultures and beasts of prey while yet alive, and when too near their
lingering death to have sufficient strength to beat them off. Around the
ruined towns were hundreds of doubled-up skeletons, the remains of
prisoners who, bound hand and foot, had been forced upon their knees,
and their heads struck off. Keba, the heroic Bambara king, is still
resisting bravely, but he has only one stronghold (Siaso) left, and the
end cannot now be far off."

Samadu's career in this direction having been arrested, he next turned
his attention toward the tribes under English protection on the
southeast, "where, unfortunately, there was no power to take up the
cause of humanity and arrest his progress. Before long he entirely
overran and subjected Kouranko, Limbah, Sulimania, Kono, and Kissi. The
most horrible atrocities were committed; peaceable agriculturists were
slaughted in thousands, and their women and children carried off into
slavery. Falaba, the celebrated capital of Sulimania, and the great
emporium for trade between Sierra Leone and the Niger, was captured and
destroyed; and all the inhabitants of that district, whom every
traveller, from Winwood Reade down to Dr. Blyden, has mentioned with
praise for their industry and docility, have been exterminated or
carried off. Sulimania, which was the garden of West Africa, has now
become a howling wilderness."

And the writer adds: "The people of the States to the south of Futa
Djallon are pagans, and Samadu makes their religion a pretext for his
outrages. He is desirous, he says, of converting them to the 'True
Faith,' and his modes of persuasion are murder and slavery. What could
be more horrible than the story just brought down by the messengers who
were with Major Festing? Miles of road strewn with human bones;
blackened ruins where were peaceful hamlets; desolation and emptiness
where were smiling plantations. What has become of the tens of
thousands of peaceful agriculturists, their wives and their innocent
children? Gone; converted, after Samadu's manner, to the 'True Faith.'
And thus the conversion of West Africa to Islamism goes merrily on,
while _dilettante_ scholars at home complacently discuss the question as
to whether that faith or Christianity is the more suitable for the
Negro; and the British people, dead to their generous instincts of old,
make no demand that such deeds of cruelty and horror shall be arrested
with a strong hand."[117]

Similar accounts of the African _propagandism_ of Islam might be given
in the very words of numerous travellers and explorers, but one or two
witnesses only shall be summoned to speak of the Mohammedan dominion and
civilization in East Africa. Professor Drummond, in giving his
impressions of Zanzibar, says: "Oriental in its appearance, Mohammedan
in its religion, Arabian in its morals, a cesspool of wickedness, it is
a fit capital to the Dark Continent." And it is the great emporium--not
an obscure settlement, but the consummate flower of East African
civilization and boasting in the late Sultan Bargash, an unusually
enlightened Moslem ruler. Of the interior and the ivory-slave trade
pursued under the auspices of Arab dominion the same author says: "Arab
encampments for carrying on a wholesale trade in this terrible commodity
are now established all over the heart of Africa. They are usually
connected with wealthy Arab traders at Zanzibar and other places on the
coast, and communication is kept up by caravans, which pass at long
intervals from one to the other. Being always large and well-supplied
with the material of war, these caravans have at their mercy the feeble
and divided native tribes through which they pass, and their trail
across the continent is darkened with every aggravation of tyranny and
crime. They come upon the scene suddenly; they stay only long enough to
secure their end, and disappear only to return when a new crop has
arisen which is worth the reaping. Sometimes these Arab traders will
actually settle for a year or two in the heart of some quiet community
in the remote interior. They pretend perfect friendship; they molest no
one; they barter honestly. They plant the seeds of their favorite
vegetables and fruits--the Arab always carries seeds with him--as if
they meant to stay forever. Meantime they buy ivory, tusk after tusk,
until great piles of it are buried beneath their huts, and all their
barter goods are gone. Then one day suddenly the inevitable quarrel is
picked. And then follows a wholesale massacre. Enough only are spared
from the slaughter to carry the ivory to the coast; the grass huts of
the village are set on fire; the Arabs strike camp; and the slave march,
worse than death, begins. The last act in the drama, the slave march, is
the aspect of slavery which in the past has chiefly aroused the passions
and the sympathy of the outside world, but the greater evil is the
demoralization and disintegration of communities by which it is
necessarily preceded. It is essential to the traffic that the region
drained by the slaver should be kept in perpetual political ferment;
that, in order to prevent combination, chief should be pitted against
chief, and that the moment any tribe threatens to assume a dominating
strength it should either be broken up by the instigation of rebellion
among its dependencies or made a tool of at their expense. The
inter-relation of tribes is so intricate that it is impossible to
exaggerate the effect of disturbing the equilibrium at even a single
centre. But, like a river, a slave caravan has to be fed by innumerable
tributaries all along its course, at first in order to gather a
sufficient volume of human bodies for the start, and afterward to
replace the frightful loss by desertion, disablement, and death."

Next to Livingstone, whose last pathetic appeal to the civilized world
to "heal the open sore of Africa" stands engraved in marble in
Westminster Abbey, no better witness can be summoned in regard to the
slave trade and the influence of Islam generally in Eastern and Central
Africa than Henry M. Stanley. From the time when he encountered the
Mohammedan propagandists at the Court of Uganda he has seen how
intimately and vitally the faith and the traffic are everywhere united.
I give but a single passage from his "Congo Free State," page 144.

"We discovered that this horde of banditti--for in reality and without
disguise they were nothing else--was under the leadership of several
chiefs, but principally under Karema and Kibunga. They had started
sixteen months previously from Wane-Kirundu, about thirty miles below
Vinya Njara. For eleven months the band had been raiding successfully
between the Congo and the Lubiranzi, on the left bank. They had then
undertaken to perform the same cruel work between the Biyerré and
Wane-Kirundu. On looking at my map I find that such a territory within
the area described would cover superficially 16,200 square geographical
miles on the left bank, and 10,500 miles on the right, all of which in
statute mileage would be equal to 34,700 square miles, just 2,000 square
miles greater than the island of Ireland, inhabited by about 1,000,000

"The band when it set out from Kirundu numbered 300 fighting men, armed
with flint-locks, double-barrelled percussion guns, and a few
breech-loaders; their followers, or domestic slaves and women, doubled
this force.... Within the enclosure was a series of low sheds extending
many lines deep from the immediate edge of the clay bank inland, 100
yards; in length the camp was about 300 yards. At the landing-place
below were 54 long canoes, varying in carrying capacity. Each might
convey from 10 to 100 people.... The first general impressions are that
the camp is much too densely peopled for comfort. There are rows upon
rows of dark nakedness, relieved here and there by the white dresses of
the captors. There are lines or groups of naked forms--upright,
standing, or moving about listlessly; naked bodies are stretched under
the sheds in all positions; naked legs innumerable are seen in the
perspective of prostrate sleepers; there are countless naked
children--many mere infants--forms of boyhood and girlhood, and
occasionally a drove of absolutely naked old women bending under a
basket of fuel, or cassava tubers, or bananas, who are driven through
the moving groups by two or three musketeers. On paying more attention
to details, I observe that mostly all are fettered; youths with iron
rings around their necks, through which a chain, like one of our boat
anchor-chains, is rove, securing the captives by twenties. The children
over ten are secured by these copper rings, each ringed leg brought
together by the central ring."

By a careful examination of statistics Mr. Stanley estimates that
counting the men killed in the raids and those who perish on the march
or are slain because supposed to be worthless, every 5,000 slaves
actually sold cost over 30,000 lives.

But there are Arabs and Arabs we are told. The slave-dealers of East
Africa and the barbarous chieftains who push their bloody conquests in
Western Soudan are bad enough, it is admitted, but they are
"exceptions." Yet we insist that they illustrate the very spirit of
Mohammed himself, who authorized the taking of prisoners of war as
slaves. Their plea is that they save the souls of those they capture;
many of these traders are Mollahs--Pharisees of the Pharisees. Canon
Taylor, Dr. Blyden, and others have given us glowing accounts of "Arab
missionaries going about without purse or scrip, and disseminating their
religion by quietly teaching the Koran;" but the venerable Bishop
Crowther, who has spent his whole life in that part of Africa where
these conquests are supposed to be made, declares that the real vocation
of the quiet apostles of the Koran is that of fetish peddlers.[118] If
it be objected that this is the biased testimony of a Christian
missionary, it may be backed by the explorer Lander, who, in speaking of
this same class of men, says: "These Mollahs procure an easy subsistence
by making fetishes or writing charms on bits of wood which are washed
off carefully into a basin of water, and drank with avidity by the
credulous multitude." And he adds: "Those who profess the Mohammedan
faith among the negroes are as ignorant and superstitious as their
idolatrous brethren; nor does it appear that their having adopted a new
creed has either improved their manners or bettered their condition in
life." Dr. Schweinfurth also describes the Mohammedan missionaries whom
he found at Khartoum as "polluted with every abominable vice which the
imagination of man can conceive of." In answer to various statements
which had been published in regard to the rapid missionary progress made
by Mohammedans in West Central Africa, Bishop Crowther wrote a letter to
the Church Missionary Society at the beginning of 1888, giving the
results of his own prolonged observation. He describes the methods used

1. War upon the heathen tribes. "If the Chief of a heathen tribe accepts
the Koran his people are at once counted as converts and he is received
into favor, and is thus prepared to become an instrument in conquering
other tribes. But on the refusal to accept the Koran war is declared,
the destruction of their country is the consequence, and horrible
bloodshed. The aged, male and female, are massacred, while the salable
are led away as slaves. One half of the slaves are reserved by the
chief, the other half is divided among the soldiers to encourage them to
future raids."

2. Another cause of large increase is polygamy. "For although but four
lawful wives are allowed, there is unlimited license for concubinage."

3. The sale of charms is so conducted as to prove not only a means of
profit but a shrewd propaganda. "When childless women are furnished with
these, they are pledged, if successful, to dedicate their children to

And Bishop Crowther verifies the statement made by others in reference
to East Africa, that the priests "besides being charm-makers are traders
both in general articles and more largely in slaves."[119]

We have only time to consider one question more, viz., What is the
character of Islam as we find it to-day, and what are its prospects of
development? It is a characteristic of our age that no religion stands
wholly alone and uninfluenced by others. It is especially true that the
systems of the East are all deeply affected by the higher ethics and
purer religious conceptions borrowed from Christianity. Thus many
Mohammedans of our day, and especially those living in close contact
with our Christian civilization, are rising to higher conceptions of God
and of religious truth than have been entertained by Moslems hitherto.
Canon Taylor, in a little volume entitled "Leaves from an Egyptian
Note-Book," has drawn a picture of Islam which Omar and Othman would
hardly have recognized. In the first place it should be remembered that,
as he confesses, his reputation as a defender of Mohammed and his system
had gone before him to Cairo, and that he was understood to be a seeker
after facts favorable to his known views. This opened the hearts of
friendly Pashas and served to bring out all the praises that they could
bestow upon their own faith. It appears accordingly that he was assured
by them that polygamy is widely discarded and condemned by prominent
Moslems in such cities as Cairo and Alexandria, that many leading men
are highly intelligent and widely read, that they profess belief in most
of the doctrines held by the Christian Church, that they receive the
inspired testimony of the Old and New Testaments--except in so far as
they have been corrupted by Christian manipulation. This exception,
however, includes all that is at variance with the Koran. They advocate
temperance and condemn the slave trade. They encourage the general
promotion of education, and what seems to the credulous Canon most
remarkable of all is that they express deep regret that Christians do
not feel the same charity and fellowship toward Moslems that they feel
toward Christians!

Now, making all due abatement for the _couleur de rose_ which these
easy-going and politic Pashas may have employed with their English
champion, it is undoubtedly true that a class of Mohammedans are found
in the great cosmopolitan cities of the Levant who have come to
recognize the spirit of the age in which they live. Many of them have
been educated in Europe; they speak several languages; they read the
current literature; they are ashamed of the old fanatical Mohammedanism.
Though they cherish a partisan interest in the recognized religion of
their country, their faith is really eclectic; it comes not from Old
Mecca, but is in part a product of the awakened thought of the
nineteenth century. But Canon Taylor's great fallacy lies in trying to
persuade himself and an intelligent Christian public that this is Islam.
He wearies himself in his attempts to square the modern Cairo with the
old, and to trace the modern gentlemanly Pasha, whose faith at least
sits lightly upon his soul, as a legitimate descendant of the fanatical
and licentious prophet of Arabia. When he strives to convince the world
that because these courteous Pashas feel kindly enough toward the Canon
of York and others like him, therefore Islam is and always has been a
charitable and highly tolerant system, he simply stultifies the whole
testimony of history. He tells us that his Egyptian friends complain
that "whereas they regard us as brother-believers and accept our
scriptures, they are nevertheless denounced as infidels. And they ask
why should an eternal coldness reign in our hearts."

Probably they are not acquainted with Samadu of Western Soudan and his
methods of propagandism. They have forgotten the career of El Mahdi;
they are not familiar with the terrible oppression of the Jews in
Morocco--with which even that in Russia cannot compare; they have not
read the dark accounts of the extortion practised by the Wahábees of
Arabia, even upon Moslems of another sect on their pilgrimages to
Mecca,[120] nor do they seem to know that Syrian converts from Islam are
now hiding in Egypt from the bloodthirsty Moslems of Beyrut. Finally, he
forgets that the very "children are taught formulas of prayer in which
they may compendiously curse Jews and Christians and all

A more plausible case is made out by Canon Taylor, Dr. Blyden, and
others on the question of temperance. It is true that Moslems, as a
rule, are not hard drinkers. Men and races of men have their besetting
sins. Drinking was not the special vice of the Arabs. Their country was
too arid; but they had another vice of which Mohammed was the chief
exemplar. Canon Taylor is doubtless correct also in the statement that
the English protectorate in Egypt has greatly increased the degree of
intemperance, and that in this respect the presence of European races
generally has been a curse. Certainly too much cannot be said in
condemnation of the wholesale liquor trade carried on in Africa by
unscrupulous subjects of Christian nations. But it should be remembered
that the whiskey of Cairo and of the West Coast does not represent
Christianity any more than the Greek assassin or the Italian pickpocket
in Cairo represents Islam. Christian philanthropists in Europe and
America are seeking to suppress the evil. If Christian missionaries in
West Africa were selling rum as Moslem Mollahs are buying and selling
slaves in Uganda, if the Bible authorized the system as the Koran
encourages slavery and concubinage, as means of propagandism, a parallel
might be presented; but the very reverse is true.

As a rule Nomadic races are not as greatly inclined to the use of ardent
spirits as are the descendants of the ancient tribes of Northern Europe.
The difference is due to climate, temperament, heredity, and the amount
of supply. The Koran discourages intemperance and so does the Bible;
both are disregarded when the means of gratification are abundant.

The Moguls of India were sots almost as a rule. Wealthy Persian Moslems
are the chief purchasers of the native wines. Lander, Schweinfurth, and
even Mungo Parke all speak of communities in Central Africa as wholly
given to intemperance.[122] Egyptians even, according to Canon Taylor,
find the abundant supplies afforded by Europeans too tempting for the
restraints of the Koran.

One of the most significant indications that the sober judgment of all
enlightened men favors the immense superiority of the Christian faith
over all ethnic systems is the fact that even those zealous apologists
who have most plausibly defended the non-Christian religions have
subsequently evinced some misgivings and have even become advocates of
the superior light of Christianity. Sir Edwin Arnold, seeing how
seriously some ill-grounded Christian people had interpreted "The Light
of Asia," has since made amends by writing "The Light of the World." And
E. Bosworth Smith, on reading the extravagant glorification given to
Islam by Canon Isaac Taylor, whom he accuses of plagiarism and absurd
exaggeration, has come to the stand as a witness against his extreme
views. Without acknowledging any important modification of his own
former views he has greatly changed the place of emphasis. He has not
only recorded his condemnation of Canon Taylor's extravagance but he has
made a strong appeal for the transcendent superiority of the Christian
faith as that alone which must finally regenerate Africa and the world.
He has called public attention to the following pointed criticism of
Canon Taylor's plea for Islam, made by a gentleman long resident in
Algeria, and he has given it his own endorsement: "Canon Isaac Taylor,"
says the writer, "has constructed at the expense of Christianity a
rose-colored picture of Islam, by a process of comparison in which
Christianity is arraigned for failures in practice, of which
Christendom is deeply and penitently conscious, no account being taken
of Christian precept; while Islam is judged by its better precepts only,
no account being taken of the frightful shortcomings in Mohammedan
practice, even from the standard of the Koran."[123] No indictment ever
carried its proofs more conspicuously on its face than this.

E. Bosworth Smith's subsequent tribute to the relative superiority of
the Christian faith was given in an address before the Fellows of Zion's
College, February 21, 1888. I give his closing comparison entire; also
his eloquent appeal for Christian Missions in Africa. "The resemblances
between the two Creeds are indeed many and striking, as I have implied
throughout; but, if I may, once more, quote a few words which I have
used elsewhere in dealing with this question, the contrasts are even
more striking than the resemblances. The religion of Christ contains
whole fields of morality and whole realms of thought which are all but
outside the religion of Mohammed. It opens humility, purity of heart,
forgiveness of injuries, sacrifice of self, to man's moral nature; it
gives scope for toleration, development, boundless progress to his mind;
its motive power is stronger even as a friend is better than a king, and
love higher than obedience. Its realized ideals in the various paths of
human greatness have been more commanding, more many-sided, more holy,
as Averroes is below Newton, Harun below Alfred, and Ali below St. Paul.
Finally, the ideal life of all is far more elevating, far more
majestic, far more inspiring, even as the life of the founder of
Mohammedanism is below the life of the Founder of Christianity.

"If, then, we believe Christianity to be truer and purer in itself than
Islam, and than any other religion, we must needs wish others to be
partakers of it; and the effort to propagate it is thrice blessed--it
blesses him that offers, no less than him who accepts it; nay, it often
blesses him who accepts it not. The last words of a dying friend are apt
to linger in the chambers of the heart till the heart itself has ceased
to beat; and the last recorded words of the Founder of Christianity are
not likely to pass from the memory of His Church till that Church has
done its work. They are the marching orders of the Christian army; the
consolation for every past and present failure; the earnest and the
warrant, in some shape or other, of ultimate success. The value of a
Christian mission is not, therefore, to be measured by the number of its
converts. The presence in a heathen or a Muslim district of a single man
who, filled with the missionary spirit, exhibits in his preaching and,
so far as may be, in his life, the self-denying and the Christian
virtues, who is charged with sympathy for those among whom his lot is
cast, who is patient of disappointment and of failure, and of the sneers
of the ignorant or the irreligious, and who works steadily on with a
single eye to the glory of God and the good of his fellow-men, is, of
itself, an influence for good, and a centre from which it radiates,
wholly independent of the number of converts he is able to enlist. There
is a vast number of such men engaged in mission work all over the
world, and our best Indian statesmen, some of whom, for obvious reasons,
have been hostile to direct proselytizing efforts, are unanimous as to
the quantity and quality of the services they render.

"Nothing, therefore, can be more shallow, or more disingenuous, or more
misleading, than to attempt to disparage Christian missions by pitting
the bare number of converts whom they claim against the number of
converts claimed by Islam. The numbers are, of course, enormously in
favor of Islam. But does conversion mean the same, or anything like the
same, thing in each? Is it _in pari materia_, and if not, is the
comparison worth the paper on which it is written? The submission to the
rite of circumcision and the repetition of a confession of faith,
however noble and however elevating in its ultimate effect, do not
necessitate, they do not even necessarily tend toward what a Christian
means by a change of heart. It is the characteristic of Mohammedanism to
deal with batches and with masses. It is the characteristic of
Christianity to speak straight to the individual conscience.

"The conversion of a whole Pagan community to Islam need not imply more
effort, more sincerity, or more vital change, than the conversion of a
single individual to Christianity. The Christianity accepted wholesale
by Clovis and his fierce warriors, in the flush of victory, on the field
of battle, or by the Russian peasants, when they were driven by the
Cossack whips into the Dnieper, and baptized there by force--these are
truer parallels to the tribal conversions to Mohammedanism in Africa at
the present day. And, whatever may have been their beneficial effects in
the march of the centuries, they are not the Christianity of Christ, nor
are they the methods or the objects at which a Christian missionary of
the present day would dream of aiming.

"A Christian missionary could not thus bring over a Pagan or a Muslim
tribe to Christianity, even if he would; he ought not to try thus to
bring them over, even if he could. 'Missionary work,' as remarked by an
able writer in the _Spectator_ the other day, 'is sowing, not reaping,
and the sowing of a plant which is slow to bear.' At times, the
difficulties and discouragements may daunt the stoutest heart and the
most living faith. But God is greater than our hearts and wider than our
thoughts, and, if we are able to believe in Him at all, we must also
believe that the ultimate triumph of Christianity--and by Christianity I
mean not the comparatively narrow creed of this or that particular
Church, but the Divine Spirit of its Founder, that Spirit which, exactly
in proportion as they are true to their name, informs, and animates, and
underlies, and overlies them all--is not problematical, but certain, and
in His good time, across the lapse of ages, will prove to be, not local
but universal, not partial but complete, not evanescent but


[Footnote 97: Sprenger's _Life of Mohammed_, pp. 40, 41.]

[Footnote 98: It is a suspicious fact that the first chapter of the
_Koran_ begins with protestations that it is a true revelation, and with
most terrible anathemas against all who doubt it. This seems
significant, and contrasts strongly with the conscious truthfulness and
simplicity of the Gospel narrators.]

[Footnote 99: Nor have later defenders of the system failed to derive
alleged proofs of their system from Biblical sources. Mohammedan
controversialists have urged some very specious and plausible arguments;
for example, Deut. xviii. 15-18, promises that the Lord shall raise up
unto Israel a prophet from _among their brethren_. But Israel had no
brethren but the sons of Ishmael. There was also promised a prophet like
unto Moses; but Deut. xxxiv. declares that "_There arose no Prophet in
Israel like unto Moses_."

When John the Baptist was asked whether he were the Christ, or Elijah,
or "_that prophet_," no other than Mohammed could have been meant by
"_that prophet_."]

[Footnote 100: Rev. Mr. Bruce, missionary in Persia, states that
pictures of the Father, the Son, and Mary are still seen in Eastern
churches.--_Church Missionary Intelligencer_, January, 1882.]

[Footnote 101: Sales, in his _Preliminary Discourse_, Section 1st,
enumerates the great nations which have vainly attempted the conquest of
Arabia, from the Assyrians down to the Romans, and he asserts that even
the Turks have held only a nominal sway.]

[Footnote 102: China owes her present dynasty to the fact that the hardy
Manchus were called in as mercenaries or as allies.]

[Footnote 103: Dr. Koelle: quoted in _Church Missionary Intelligencer_.]

[Footnote 104: Sales: _Koran and Preliminary Discourse_, Wherry's
edition, p. 89. One of the chief religious duties under the _Koran_ was
the giving of alms (Zakat), and under this euphonious name was included
the tax by which Mohammed maintained the force that enabled him to keep
up his predatory raids on the caravans of his enemies.]

[Footnote 105: _Mohammed and Mohammedanism_, p. 123.]

[Footnote 106: Dr. Koelle gravely questions this.]

[Footnote 107: One of the most wicked and disastrous of all Mohammed's
laws was that which allowed the free practice of capturing women and
girls in war, and retaining them as lawful chattels in the capacity of
concubines. It has been in all ages a base stimulus to the raids of the
slave-hunter. Sir William Muir has justly said, that so long as a free
sanction to this great evil stands recorded on the pages of the _Koran_,
Mohammedans will never of their own accord cease to prosecute the

[Footnote 108: According to Dr. Koelle, the number of women and children
who fell to the prophet's share of captives at the time of his great
slaughter of the surrendered Jewish soldiers, was two hundred.]

[Footnote 109: _Mohammed, Buddha, and Christ_, p. 112.]

[Footnote 110: _Mohammed, Buddha, and Christ_.]

[Footnote 111: Ibid, p. 112.]

[Footnote 112: Says Sir William Muir: "Three radical evils flow from the
faith, in all ages and in every country, and must continue to flow _so
long as the Koran is the standard of belief_. _First_, polygamy, divorce,
and slavery are maintained and perpetuated, striking at the root of
public morals, poisoning domestic life, and disorganizing society.
_Second_, freedom of thought and private judgment in religion is crushed
and annihilated. The sword still is, and must remain, the inevitable
penalty for the denial of Islam. Toleration is unknown. _Third_, a
barrier has been interposed against the reception of Christianity. They
labor under a miserable delusion who suppose that Mohammedanism paves
the way for a purer faith. No system could have been devised with more
consummate skill for shutting out the nations over which it has sway
from the light of truth. _Idolatrous_ Arabia (judging from the analogy
of other nations) might have been aroused to spiritual life and to the
adoption of the faith of Jesus. _Mohammedan_ Arabia is to the human eye
sealed against the benign influences of the Gospel.... The sword of
Mohammed and the Koran are the most stubborn enemies of civilization,
liberty, and truth which the world has yet known."--_Church Missionary
Intelligencer_, November, 1885.]

[Footnote 113: Osborne, in his _Islam under the Arabs_, and Marcus
Dodds, in _Mohammed, Buddha, and Christ_, have emphasized the fact that
Islam, however favorably it might compare with the Arabian heathenism
which it overthrew, was wholly out of place in forcing its
semi-barbarous cultus upon civilizations which were far above it. It
might be an advance upon the rudeness and cruelty of the Koreish, but
the misfortune was that it stamped its stereotyped and unchanging
principles and customs upon nations which were in advance of it even
then, and which, but for its deadening influence, might have made far
greater progress in the centuries which followed.

Its bigoted founder gave the _Koran_ as the sufficient guide for all
time. It arrested the world's progress as far as its power extended.
Very different was the spirit of Judaism. "It distinctly disclaimed both
finality and completeness. Every part of the Mosaic religion had a
forward look, and was designed to leave the mind in an attitude of

Mohammedanism, in claiming to be the one religion for all men and all
time, is convicted of absurdity and imposture by its failures; by the
retrograde which marks its whole history in Western Asia. As a universal
religion it has been tried and found wanting.]

[Footnote 114: It has been claimed that the spread of Mohammedanism in
India is far more rapid than that of Christianity. If this were true in
point of fact, it would be significant; for India under British rule
furnishes a fair field for such a contest. But it so happens that there,
where Islam holds no sword of conquest, and no arbitrary power to compel
the faith of men, its growth is very slow, it only keeps pace with the
general increase of the population. It cannot compare with the
advancement of Christianity. I subjoin an extract from Sir W. Hunter's
paper in the _Nineteenth Century_ for July, 1888:

"The official census, notwithstanding its obscurities of classification
and the disturbing effects of the famine of 1877, attests the rapid
increase of the Christian population. So far as these disturbing
influences allow of an inference for all British India, the normal rate
of increase among the general population was about 8 per cent, from 1872
to 1881, while the actual rate of the Christian population was over 30
per cent. But, taking the lieutenant-governorship of Bengal as the
greatest province outside the famine area of 1877, and for whose
population, amounting to one-third of the whole of British India, really
comparable statistics exist, the census results are clear. The general
population increased in the nine years preceding 1881 at the rate of
10.89 per cent., the Mohammedans at the rate of 10.96 per cent., the
Hindus at some undetermined rate below 13.64 per cent., Christians of
all races at the rate of 40.71 per cent., and the native Christians at
the rate of 64.07 per cent."]

[Footnote 115: _Leaves from an Egyptian Note-book._]

[Footnote 116: _Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race_, p. 241.]

[Footnote 117: For the full text of the letter to the _Standard_, see
_Church Missionary Intelligencer_, December, 1888.]

[Footnote 118: _Church Missionary Intelligencer_, 1887, p. 653.]

[Footnote 119: See _Church Missionary Intelligencer_, April, 1888.]

[Footnote 120: Over against Canon Taylor's glowing accounts of this
broad and gentle charity we may place the testimony of Palgrave in
regard to the remorseless rapacity practised by the Wahábees upon the
Shiyaées of Persia while passing through their territory in their
pilgrimages to a common shrine. He tells us that "forty gold tománs were
fixed as the claim of the Wahábee treasury on every Persian pilgrim for
his passage through R'ad, and forty more for a safe conduct through the
rest of the empire--eighty in all....

"Every local governor on the way would naturally enough take the hint,
and strive not to let the 'enemies of God' (for this is the sole title
given by Wahábees to all except themselves) go by without spoiling them
more or less....

"So that, all counted up, the legal and necessary dues levied on every
Persian Shiyaée while traversing Central Arabia, and under Wahábee
guidance and protection, amounted, I found, to about one hundred and
fifty gold tománs, equalling nearly sixty pounds sterling, English, no
light expenditure for a Persian, and no despicable gain to an
Arab."--Palgrave's _Central and Eastern Africa_, p. 161.]

[Footnote 121: Dodds: _Mohammed, Buddha, and Christ_, p. 118.]

[Footnote 122: _Church Missionary Intelligencer_, November, 1887.]

[Footnote 123: _Church Missionary Intelligencer_, February, 1888, p.

[Footnote 124: _Church Missionary Intelligencer_, April, 1888.]



There are two conflicting theories now in vogue in regard to the origin
of religion. The first is that of Christian theists as taught in the Old
and New Testament Scriptures, viz., that the human race in its first
ancestry, and again in the few survivors of the Deluge, possessed the
knowledge of the true God. It is not necessary to suppose that they had
a full and mature conception of Him, or that that conception excluded
the idea of other gods. No one would maintain that Adam or Noah
comprehended the nature of the Infinite as it has been revealed in the
history of God's dealings with men in later times. But from their simple
worship of one God their descendants came gradually to worship various
visible objects with which they associated their blessings--the sun as
the source of warmth and vitality, the rain as imparting a quickening
power to the earth, the spirits of ancestors to whom they looked with a
special awe, and finally a great variety of created things instead of
the invisible Creator. The other theory is that man, as we now behold
him, has been developed from lower forms of animal life, rising first to
the state of a mere human animal, but gradually acquiring intellect,
conscience, and finally a soul;--that ethics and religion have been
developed from instinct by social contact, especially by ties of family
and the tribal relation; that altruism which began with the instinctive
care of parents for their offspring, rose to the higher domain of
religion and began to recognize the claims of deity; that God, if there
be a God, never revealed himself to man by any preternatural means, but
that great souls, like Moses, Isaiah, and Plato, by their higher and
clearer insight, have gained loftier views of deity than others, and as
prophets and teachers have made known their inspirations to their
fellow-men. Gradually they have formed rituals and elaborated
philosophies, adding such supernatural elements as the ignorant fancy of
the masses was supposed to demand.

According to this theory, religions, like everything else, have grown up
from simple germs: and it is only in the later stages of his development
that man can be said to be a religious being. While an animal merely,
and for a time even after he had attained to a rude and savage manhood,
a life of selfish passion and marauding was justifiable, since only thus
could the survival of the fittest be secured and the advancement of the
race attained.[125] It is fair to say that there are various shades of
the theory here presented--some materialistic, some theistic, others
having a qualified theism, and still others practically agnostic. Some
even who claim to be Christians regard the various religions of men as
so many stages in the divine education of the race--all being under the
direct guidance of God, and all designed to lead ultimately to
Christianity which is the goal.

That God has overruled all things, even the errors and wickedness of
men, for some wise object will not be denied; that He has implanted in
the human understanding many correct conceptions of ethical truth, so
that noble principles are found in the teachings of all religious
systems; that God is the author of all truth and all right impulses,
even in heathen minds, is readily admitted. But that He has directly
planned and chosen the non-Christian religions on the principle that
half-truths and perverted truths and the direct opposites of the truth,
were best adapted to certain stages of development--in other words, that
He has causatively led any nation into error and consequent destruction
as a means of preparing for subsequent generations something higher and
better, we cannot admit. The logic of such a conclusion would lead to a
remorseless fatalism. Everything would depend on the age and the
environment in which one's lot were cast. We cannot believe that
fetishism and idolatry have been God's kindergarten method of training
the human race for the higher and more spiritual service of His kingdom.

Turning from the testimony of the Scriptures on the one hand and the _à
priori_ assumptions of evolution on the other, what is the witness of
the actual history of religions? Have they shown an upward or a downward
development? Do they appear to have risen from polytheism toward simpler
and more spiritual forms, or have simple forms been ramified into
polytheism?[126] If we shall be able to establish clear evidence that
monotheistic or even henotheistic types of faith existed among all, or
nearly all, the races at the dawn of history, a very important point
will have been gained. The late Dr. Henry B. Smith, after a careful
perusal of Ebrard's elaborate presentation of the religions of the
ancient and the modern world, and his clear proofs that they had at
first been invariably monotheistic and had gradually lapsed into
ramified forms of polytheism, says in his review of Ebrard's work: "We
do not know where to find a more weighty reply to the assumptions and
theories of those writers who persist in claiming, according to the
approved hypothesis of a merely naturalistic evolution, that the
primitive state of mankind was the lowest and most debased form of
polytheistic idolatry, and that the higher religions have been developed
out of these base rudiments. Dr. Ebrard shows conclusively that the
facts all lead to another conclusion, that gross idolatry is a
degeneration of mankind from antecedent and purer forms of religious
worship.... He first treats of the civilized nations of antiquity, the
Aryan and Indian religions, the Vedas, the Indra period of Brahmanism
and Buddhism; then of the religion of the Iranians, the Avesta of the
Parsees; next of the Greeks and Romans, the Egyptians, the Canaanites,
and the heathen Semitic forms of worship, including the Phoenicians,
Assyrians, and Babylonians. His second division is devoted to the
half-civilized and savage races in the North and West of Europe, in Asia
and Polynesia (Tartars, Mongols, Malays, and Cushites); then the races
of America, including a minute examination of the relations of the
different races here to the Mongols, Japanese, and old Chinese

Ebrard himself, in summing up the results of these prolonged
investigations, says: "We have nowhere been able to discover the least
trace of any forward and upward movement from fetichism to polytheism,
and from that again to a gradually advancing knowledge of the one God;
but, on the contrary, we have found among all the peoples of the heathen
world a most decided tendency to sink from an earlier and relatively
purer knowledge of God toward something lower."[128]

If these conclusions, reached by Ebrard and endorsed by the scholarly
Dr. Henry B. Smith, are correct, they are of great importance; they
bring to the stand the witness of the false religions themselves upon an
issue in which historic testimony as distinguished from mere theories is
in special demand in our time. Of similar import are the well-considered
words of Professor Naville, in the first of his lectures on modern
atheism.[129] He says: "Almost all pagans seem to have had a glimpse of
the divine unity over the multiplicity of their idols, and of the rays
of the divine holiness across the saturnalia of their Olympi. It was a
Greek (Cleanthus) who wrote these words: 'Nothing is accomplished on the
earth without Thee, O God, save the deeds which the wicked perpetrate in
their folly.' It was in a theatre at Athens, that the chorus of a
tragedy sang, more than two thousand years ago: 'May destiny aid me to
preserve, unsullied, the purity of my words, and of all my actions,
according to those sublime laws which, brought forth in the celestial
heights, have the raven alone for their father, to which the race of
mortals did not give birth and which oblivion shall never entomb. In
them is a supreme God, and one who waxes not old.' It would be easy to
multiply quotations of this order and to show, in the documents of
Grecian and Roman civilization, numerous traces of the knowledge of the
only and holy God."

With much careful discrimination, Dr. William A.P. Martin, of the
Peking University, has said: "It is customary with a certain school to
represent religion as altogether the fruit of an intellectual process.
It had its birth, say they, in ignorance, is modified by every stage in
the progress of knowledge, and expires when the light of philosophy
reaches its noon-day. The fetish gives place to a personification of the
powers of nature, and this poetic pantheon is, in time, superseded by
the high idea of unity in nature expressed by monotheism. This theory
has the merit of verisimilitude. It indicates what might be the process
if man were left to make his own religion; but it has the misfortune to
be at variance with facts. A wide survey of the history of civilized
nations (and the history of others is beyond reach) shows that the
actual process undergone by the human mind in its religious development
is precisely opposite to that which this theory supposes; in a word,
that man was not left to construct his own creed, but that his
blundering logic has always been active in its attempts to corrupt and
obscure a divine original. The connection subsisting between the
religious systems of ancient and distant countries presents many a
problem difficult of solution. Indeed, their mythologies and religious
rites are generally so distinct as to admit the hypothesis of an
independent origin; but the simplicity of their earliest beliefs
exhibits an unmistakable resemblance, suggestive of a common source.

"China, India, Egypt, and Greece all agree in the monotheistic type of
their early religion. The Orphic hymns, long before the advent of the
popular divinities, celebrated the Pantheos, the Universal God. The odes
compiled by Confucius testify to the early worship of Shangte, the
Supreme Euler. The Vedas speak of 'one unknown true Being, all-present,
all-powerful; the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer of the universe.'
And in Egypt, as late as the time of Plutarch, there were still vestiges
of a monotheistic worship. 'The other Egyptians,' he says, 'all made
offerings at the tombs of the sacred beasts; but the inhabitants of the
Thebaïd stood alone in making no such offerings, not regarding as a god
anything that can die, and acknowledging no god but one, whom they call
Kneph, who had no birth, and can have no death. Abraham, in his
wanderings, found the God of his fathers known and honored in Salem, in
Gerar, and in Memphis; while at a later day Jethro, in Midian, and
Balaam, in Mesopotamia, were witnesses that the knowledge of Jehovah was
not yet extinct in those countries.'"[130]

Professor Max Müller speaks in a similar strain of the lapse of mankind
from earlier and simpler types of faith to low and manifold
superstitions: "Whenever we can trace back a religion to its first
beginning," says the distinguished Oxford professor, "we find it free
from many of the blemishes that offend us in its later phases. The
founders of the ancient religions of the world, as far as we can judge,
were minds of a high stamp, full of noble aspirations, yearning for
truth, devoted to the welfare of their neighbors, examples of purity and
unselfishness. What they desired to found upon earth was but seldom
realized, and their sayings, if preserved in their original form,
offered often a strange contrast to the practice of those who profess to
be their disciples. As soon as a religion is established, and more
particularly when it has become the religion of a powerful state, the
foreign and worldly elements encroach more and more on the original
foundation, and human interests mar the simplicity and purity of the
plan which the founder had conceived in his own heart and matured in his
communings with his God."[131]

But in pursuing our subject we should clearly determine the real
question before us. How much may we expect to prove from the early
history of the non-Christian systems? Not certainly that all nations
once received a knowledge of the Old Testament revelation, as some have
claimed, nor that all races possessed at the beginning of their several
historic periods one and the same monotheistic faith. We cannot prove
from non-scriptural sources that their varying monotheistic conceptions
sprang from a common belief. We cannot prove either the supernatural
revelation which Professor Max Müller emphatically rejects, nor the
identity of the well-nigh universal henotheisms which he professes to
believe. We cannot prove that the worship of one God as supreme did not
coexist with a sort of worship of inferior deities or ministering
spirits. Almost as a rule, the worship of ancestors, or spirits, or
rulers, or the powers of nature, or even totems and fetishes has been
rendered as subordinate to the worship of the one supreme deity who
created and upholds all things. Even the monotheism of Judaism and of
Christianity has been attended with the belief in angels and the worship
of intercessory saints, to say nothing of the many superstitions which
prevail among the more ignorant classes. We shall only attempt to show
that monotheism, in the sense of worshipping _one God as supreme_, is
found in nearly all the early teachings of the world. That these crude
faiths are one in the origin is only presumable, if we leave the
testimony of the Bible out of the account.

When on a summer afternoon we see great shafts of light arising and
spreading fan-shaped from behind a cloud which lies along the western
horizon, we have a strong presumption that they all spring from one
great luminary toward which they converge, although that luminary is
hidden from our view. So tracing the convergence of heathen faiths with
respect to one original monotheism, back to the point where the
prehistoric obscurity begins, we may on the same principle say that all
the evidence in the case, and it is not small, points toward a common
origin for the early religious conceptions of mankind.

Professor Robert Flint, in his scholarly article on theism in "The
Britannica," seems to discard the idea that the first religion of
mankind was monotheism; but a careful study of his position will show
that he has in view those conceptions of monotheism which are common to
us, or, as he expresses it, "monotheism in the ordinary or proper sense
of the term," "monotheism properly so called," "monotheism which excludes
polytheism," etc. Moreover, he maintains that we cannot, from historical
sources, learn what conceptions men first had of God. Even when speaking
of the Old Testament record, he says: "These chapters (of Genesis),
although they plainly teach monotheism and represent the God whose words
and acts are recorded in the Bible as no mere national God, but the only
true God, they do not teach what is alone in the question--that there
was a primitive monotheism, a monotheism revealed and known from the
beginning. They give no warrant to the common assumption that God
revealed monotheism to Adam, Noah, and others before the Flood, and that
the traces of monotheistic beliefs and tendencies in heathendom are
derivable from the tradition of this primitive and antediluvian
monotheism. The one true God is represented as making himself known by
particular words and in particular ways to Adam, but is nowhere said to
have taught him that He only was God." It is plain that Professor Flint
is here dealing with a conception of monotheism which is exclusive of
all other gods. And his view is undoubtedly correct, so far as Adam was
concerned. There was no more need of teaching him that his God was the
only God, than that Eve was the only woman. With Noah the case is not so
plain. He doubtless worshipped God amid the surroundings of polytheistic
heathenism. Enoch probably had a similar environment, and there is no
good reason for supposing that their monotheism may not have been as
exclusive as that of Abraham. But with respect to the Gentile nations,
the dim traces of this monism or henotheism which Professor Flint seems
to accord to Adam and to Noah, is all that we are contending for, and
all that is necessary to the argument of this lecture. We may even admit
that heathen deities may sometimes have been called by different names
while the one source of power was intended. Different names seem to have
been employed to represent different manifestations of the one God of
the Old Testament according to His varied relations toward His people.
There are those who deny this polyonomy, as Max Müller has called it,
and who maintain that the names in the earliest Veda represented
distinct deities; but, by similar reasoning, Professor Tiele and others
insist that three different Hebrew Gods, according to their respective
names, were worshipped in successive periods of the Jewish history. It
seems quite possible, therefore, that a too restrictive definition of
monotheism may prove too much, by opening the way for a claim that even
the Jewish and Christian faith, with its old Testament names of God, its
angels, its theophanies, and its fully developed trinity, is not
strictly monotheistic. For our present purpose, traces of the worship of
one supreme God--call it monotheism or henotheism--is all that is

With these limitations and qualifications in view, let us turn to the
history of some of the leading non-Christian faiths. Looking first to
India, we find in the 129th hymn of the Rig Veda, a passage which not
only presents the conception of one only supreme and self-existing
Being, but at the same time bears significant resemblance to our own
account of the creation from chaos. It reads thus:

   "In the beginning there was neither naught nor aught,
    Then there was neither atmosphere nor sky above,
    There was neither death nor immortality,
    There was neither day nor night, nor light, nor darkness,
    Only the EXISTENT ONE breathed calmly self-contained.
    Naught else but He was there, naught else above, beyond.
    Then first came darkness hid in darkness, gloom in gloom;
    Next all was water, chaos indiscrete,
    In which ONE lay void, shrouded in nothingness."[132]

In the 121st hymn of the same Veda occurs a passage which seems to
resemble the opening of the Gospel of St. John. It reads thus, as
translated by Sir Monier Williams:

     "Him let us praise, the golden child that was In the beginning, who
     was born the Lord, Who made the earth and formed the sky."

"The one born Lord" reminds us of the New Testament expression, "the
only begotten Son." Both were "in the beginning;" both were the creators
of the world. While there is much that is mysterious in these
references, the idea of oneness and supremacy is too plain to be
mistaken. Professor Max Müller has well expressed this fact when he
said: "There is a monotheism which precedes polytheism in the Veda; and
even in the invocation of their (inferior) gods, the remembrance of _a_
God, one and infinite, breaks through the mist of an idolatrous
phraseology like the blue sky that is hidden by passing clouds."[133]
These monotheistic conceptions appear to have been common to the Aryans
before their removal from their early home near the sources of the Oxus,
and we shall see further on that in one form or another they survived
among all branches of the migrating race. The same distinguished scholar
traces the early existence of monotheism in a series of brief and rapid
references to nearly all the scattered Aryans not only, but also to the
Turanians on the North and East, to the Tungusic, Mongolic, Tartaric,
and Finnic tribes. "Everywhere," he says, "we find a worship of nature,
and the spirits of the departed, but behind it all there rises a belief
in some higher power called by different names, who is Maker and
Protector of the world, and who always resides in heaven."[134] He also
speaks of an ancient African faith which, together with its worship of
reptiles and of ancestors, showed a vague hope of a future life, "and a
not altogether faded reminiscence of a supreme God," which certainly
implies a previous knowledge.[135]

The same prevalence of one supreme worship rising above all idolatry he
traces among the various tribes of the Pacific Islands. His
generalizations are only second to those of Ebrard. Although he rejects
the theory of a supernatural revelation, yet stronger language could
hardly be used than that which he employs in proof of a universal
monotheistic faith.[136] "Nowhere," he says, "do we find stronger
arguments against idolatry, nowhere has the unity of God been upheld
more strenuously against the errors of polytheism, than by some of the
ancient sages of India. Even in the oldest of the sacred books, the Rig
Veda, composed three or four thousand years ago, where we find hymns
addressed to the different deities of the sky, the air, the earth, the
rivers, the protest of the human heart against many gods breaks forth
from time to time with no uncertain sound." Professor Müller's whole
position is pretty clearly stated in his first lecture on "The Science
of Religion," in which he protests against the idea that God once gave
to man "a _preternatural_ revelation" concerning Himself; and yet he
gives in this same lecture this striking testimony to the doctrine of an
early and prevailing monotheistic faith:

"Is it not something worth knowing," he says, "worth knowing even to us
after the lapse of four or five thousand years, that before the
separation of the Aryan race, before the existence of Sanskrit, Greek,
or Latin, before the gods of the Veda had been worshipped, and before
there was a sanctuary of Zeus among the sacred oaks of Dodona, one
Supreme deity had been found, had been named, had been invoked by the
ancestors of our race, and had been invoked by a name which has never
been excelled by any other name?" And again, on the same subject, he
says: "If a critical examination of the ancient language of the Jews
leads to no worse results than those which have followed from a careful
interpretation of the petrified language of ancient India and Greece, we
need not fear; we shall be gainers, not losers. Like an old precious
medal, the ancient religion, after the rust of ages has been removed,
will come out in all its purity and brightness; and the image which it
discloses will be the image of the Father, the Father of all the nations
upon earth; and the superscription, when we can read it again, will be,
not only in Judea, but in the languages of all the races of the world,
the Word of God, revealed where alone it can be revealed--revealed in
the heart of man."[137]

The late Professor Banergea, of Calcutta, in a publication entitled "The
Aryan Witness," not only maintained the existence of monotheism in the
early Vedas, but with his rare knowledge of Sanskrit and kindred
tongues, he gathered from Iranian as well as Hindu sources many
evidences of a monotheism common to all Aryans. His conclusions derive
special value from the fact that he was a high caste Hindu, and was not
only well versed in the sacred language, but was perfectly familiar with
Hindu traditions and modes of thought. He was as well qualified to judge
of early Hinduism as Paul was of Judaism, and for the same reason. And
from his Hindu standpoint, as a Pharisee of the Pharisees, though
afterward a Christian convert, he did not hesitate to declare his
belief, not only that the early Vedic faith was monotheistic, but that
it contained traces of that true revelation, once made to men.[138]

In the same line we find the testimony of the various types of revived
Aryanism of our own times. The Brahmo Somaj, the Arya Somaj, and other
similar organizations, are not only all monotheistic, but they declare
that monotheism was the religion of the early Vedas. And many other
Hindu reforms, some of them going as far back as the twelfth century,
have been so many returns to monotheism. A recent Arya catechism
published by Ganeshi, asserts in its first article that there is one
only God, omnipotent, infinite, and eternal. It proceeds to show that
the Vedas present but one, and that when hymns were addressed to Agni,
Vayu, Indra, etc., it was only a use of different names for one and the
same Being.[139]

It represents God as having all the attributes of supreme Deity. He
created the world by His direct power and for the revelation of His
glory to His creatures. Man, according to the Aryas, came not by
evolution nor by any of the processes known to Hindu philosophy, but by
direct creation from existing atoms.

In all this it is easy to see that much has been borrowed from the
Christian conception of God's character and attributes, but the value of
this Aryan testimony lies in the fact that it claims for the ancient
Vedas a clear and positive monotheism.

If we consult the sacred books of China, we shall find there also many
traces of an ancient faith which antedates both Confucianism and
Taouism. The golden age of the past to which all Chinese sages look with
reverence, was the dynasty of Yao and Shun, which was eighteen centuries
earlier than the period of Confucius and Laotze. The records of the
Shu-king which Confucius compiled, and from which unfortunately his
agnosticism excluded nearly all its original references to religion,
nevertheless retain a full account of certain sacred rites performed by
Shun on his accession to the full imperial power. In those rites the
worship of One God as supreme is distinctly set forth as a "customary
service," thereby implying that it was already long established.
Separate mention is also made of offerings to inferior deities, as if
these were honored at his own special instance. It is unquestionably
true that in China, and indeed in all lands, there sprang up almost from
the first a tendency to worship, or at least to fear, unseen spirits.
This tendency has coexisted with all religions of the world--even with
the Old Testament cult--even with Christianity. To the excited
imaginations of men, especially the ignorant classes, the world has
always been a haunted world, and just in proportion as the light of true
religion has become dim, countless hordes of ghosts and demons have
appeared. When Confucius arose this gross animism had almost monopolized
the worship of his countrymen, and universal corruption bore sway. He
was not an original thinker, but only a compiler of the ancient wisdom,
and in his selections from the traditions of the ancients, he compiled
those things only which served his great purpose of building up, from
the relations of family and kindred, the complete pyramid of a
well-ordered state in which the Emperor should hold to his subjects the
place of deity. If such honor to a mortal seemed extravagant, yet in his
view a wise emperor was far worthier of reverence than the imaginary
ghosts of the popular superstitions. Yet, even Confucius could not quite
succeed in banishing the idea of divine help, nor could he destroy that
higher and most venerable worship which has ever survived amid all the
corruptions of polytheism. Professor Legge, of Oxford, has claimed, from
what he regards as valid linguistic proofs, that at a still earlier
period than the dynasty of Yao and Shun there existed in China the
worship of one God. He says: "Five thousand years ago the Chinese were
monotheists--not henotheists, but monotheists"--though he adds that even
then there was a constant struggle with nature-worship and

The same high authority cites a remarkable prayer of an Emperor of the
Ming dynasty (1538 A.D.) to show that in spite of the agnosticism and
reticence of Confucius, Shangte has been worshipped in the centuries
which have followed his time. The prayer is very significant as showing
how the One Supreme God stands related to the subordinate gods which
polytheism has introduced. The Emperor was about to decree a slight
change in the name of Shangte to be used in the imperial worship. He
first addressed the spirits of the hills, the rivers, and the seas,
asking them to intercede for him with Shangte. "We will trouble you,"
said he, "on our behalf to exert your spiritual power and to display
your vigorous efficacy, communicating our poor desires to Shangte, and
praying him graciously to grant us his acceptance and regard, and to be
pleased with the title which we shall reverently present." But very
different was the language used when he came to address Shangte himself.
"Of old, in the beginning," he began,--"Of old in the beginning, there
was the great chaos without form, and dark. The five elements had not
begun to revolve nor the sun and moon to shine. In the midst thereof
there presented itself neither form nor sound. Thou, O spiritual
Sovereign! earnest forth in thy presidency, and first didst divide the
grosser parts from the purer. Thou madest heaven: Thou madest earth:
Thou madest man. All things got their being with their producing power.
O Te! when Thou hadst opened the course for the inactive and active
forces of matter to operate, thy making work went on. Thou didst
produce, O Spirit! the sun and moon and five planets, and pure and
beautiful was their light. The vault of heaven was spread out like a
curtain, and the square earth supported all on it, and all creatures
were happy. I, thy servant, presume reverently to thank Thee." Farther
on he says: "All the numerous tribes of animated beings are indebted to
Thy favor for their being. Men and creatures are emparadised in Thy
love. All living things are indebted to Thy goodness. But who knows
whence his blessings come to him? It is Thou, O Lord! who art the
parent of all things."[141]

Surely this prayer humbly offered by a monarch would not be greatly out
of place among the Psalms of David. Its description of the primeval
chaos strikingly resembles that which I have quoted from the Rig Veda,
and both resemble that of the Mosaic record. If the language used does
not present the clear conception of one God, the Creator and the
Upholder of all things, and a supreme and personal Sovereign over kings
and even "gods," then language has no meaning. The monotheistic
conception of the second petition is as distinct from the polytheism of
the first, as any prayer to Jehovah is from a Roman Catholic's prayer
for the intercession of the saints; and there is no stronger argument in
the one case against monotheism than in the other. Dr. Legge asserts
that both in the Shu-king and in the Shiking, "Te," or "Shangte,"
appears as a personal being ruling in heaven and in earth, the author of
man's moral nature, the governor among the nations, the rewarder of the
good and the punisher of the evil.[142] There are proofs that Confucius,
though in his position with respect to God he fell short of the doctrine
of the ancient sages, yet believed in the existence of Shangte as a
personal being. When in old age he had finished his writings, he laid
them on an altar upon a certain hill-top, and kneeling before the altar
he returned thanks that he had been spared to complete his work.[143]
Max Müller says of him: "It is clear from many passages that with
Confucius, Tien, or the Spirit of Heaven, was the supreme deity, and
that he looked upon the other gods of the people--the spirits of the
air, the mountains, and the rivers,[144] and the spirits of the
departed, very much with the same feeling with which Socrates regarded
the mythological deities of Greece."[145]

But there remains to this day a remarkable evidence of the worship of
the supreme God, Shangte, as he was worshipped in the days of the
Emperor Shun, 2356 B.C. It is found in the great Temple of Heaven at
Peking. Dr. Martin and Professors Legge and Douglas all insist that the
sacrifices there celebrated are relics of the ancient worship of a
supreme God. China is full of the traces of polytheism; the land swarms
with Taouist deities of all names and functions, with Confucian and
ancestral tablets, and with Buddhist temples and dagobas; but within the
sacred enclosure of this temple no symbol of heathenism appears. Of the
August Imperial service Dr. Martin thus eloquently speaks:[146] "Within
the gates of the southern division of the capital, and surrounded by a
sacred grove so extensive that the silence of its deep shades is never
broken by the noise of the busy world around it, stands the Temple of
Heaven. It consists of a single tower, whose tiling of resplendent azure
is intended to represent the form and color of the aerial vault. It
contains no image; but on a marble altar a bullock is offered once a
year as a burnt sacrifice, while the monarch of the empire prostrates
himself in adoration of the Spirit of the Universe. This is the high
place of Chinese devotion, and the thoughtful visitor feels that he
ought to tread its courts with unsandalled feet, for no vulgar idolatry
has entered here. This mountain-top still stands above the waves of
corruption, and on this solitary altar there still rests a faint ray of
its primeval faith. The tablet which represents the invisible deity is
inscribed with the name Shangte, the Supreme Ruler, and as we
contemplate the Majesty of the Empire before it, while the smoke ascends
from his burning sacrifice, our thoughts are irresistably carried back
to the time when the King of Salem officiated as priest of the Most High
God. There is," he adds, "no need of extended argument to establish the
fact that the early Chinese were by no means destitute of the knowledge
of the true God." Dr. Legge, the learned translator of the Chinese
classics, shares so fully the views here expressed, that he actually put
his shoes from off his feet before ascending the great altar, feeling
that amidst all the mists and darkness of the national superstition, a
trace of the glory of the Infinite Jehovah still lingered there. And in
many a discussion since he has firmly maintained that that is in a dim
way an altar of the true and living God.

Laotze, like Confucius, was agnostic; yet he could not wholly rid
himself of the influence of the ancient faith. His conception of Taou,
or Reason, was rationalistic, certainly, yet he invested it with all the
attributes of personality, as the word "Wisdom" is sometimes used in the
Old Testament. He spoke of it as "The Infinite Supreme," "The First
Beginning," and "The Great Original." Dr. Medhurst has translated from
the "Taou Teh King" this striking Taouist prayer: "O thou perfectly
honored One of heaven and earth, the rock, the origin of myriad
energies, the great manager of boundless kalpas, do Thou enlighten my
spiritual conceptions. Within and without the three worlds, the Logos,
or divine Taou, is alone honorable, embodying in himself a golden light.
May he overspread and illumine my person. He whom we cannot see with the
eye, or hear with the ear, who embraces and includes heaven and earth,
may he nourish and support the multitudes of living beings."

If we turn to the religion of the Iranian or Persian branch of the Aryan
family, we find among them also the traces of a primitive monotheism;
and that it was not borrowed from Semitic sources, through the
descendants of Abraham or others, Ebrard has shown clearly in the second
volume of his "Apologetics." Max Müller also maintains the identity of
the Iranian faith with that of the Indo-Aryans. The very first notices
of the religion of the Avesta represent it as monotheistic. Ahura Mazda,
even when opposed by Ahriman, is supreme, and in the oldest hymns or
gathas of the Yasna, Ahriman does not appear; there are references to
evil beings, but they have no formidable head; Persian dualism,
therefore, was of later growth. Zoroaster, whom Monier Williams assigns
to the close of the sixth century B.C.,[147] speaks of himself as a
reformer sent to re-establish the pure worship of Ahura, and Haug
considers the conception of Ahura identical with that of Jehovah. High
on a rocky precipice at Behistun, Rawlinson has deciphered an
inscription claiming to have been ordered by Darius Hystaspes, who lived
500 B.C., which is as clearly monotheistic as the Song of Moses. The
Vendidad, which Rawlinson supposes to have been composed 800 years B.C.,
is full of references to minor gods, but Ahura is always supreme. The
modern Parsees of Bombay claim to be monotheistic, and declare that such
has been the faith of their fathers from the beginning.

A Parsee catechism published in Bombay twenty-five years ago reads thus:
"We believe in only one God, and do not believe in any besides Him....
He is the God who created the heavens, the earth, the angels, the stars,
the sun, the moon, the fire, the water, ... and all things of the
worlds; that God we believe in, Him we invoke, Him we adore." And lest
this should be supposed to be a modern faith, the confession further
declares that "This is the religion which the true prophet Zurthust, or
Zoroaster, brought from God."

The Shintoists of Japan, according to their sacred book, the "Kojiki,"
believe in one self-existent and supreme God, from whom others emanated.
From two of these, male and female, sprang the Goddess of the Sun, and
from her the royal line of the Mikados. There was no creation, but the
two active emanations stirred up the eternally existing chaos, till from
it came forth the teeming world of animal and vegetable life.

It has often been asserted that tribes of men are found who have no
conception of God. The author of "Two Years in the Jungle" declares that
the Hill Dyaks of Borneo are without the slightest notion of a divine
being. But a Government officer, who for two years was the guest of
Rajah Brooke, succeeded after long delay in gaining a key to the
religion of these Dyaks. He gives the name of one Supreme being among
subordinate gods, and describes minutely the forms of worship. Professor
Max Müller, while referring to this same often-repeated allegation as
having been applied to the aborigines of Australia, cites one of Sir
Hercules Robinson's Reports on New South Wales, which contains this
description of the singular faith of one of the lowest of the interior
tribes:[148] First a being is mentioned who is supreme and whose name
signifies the "maker or cutter-out," and who is therefore worshipped as
the great author of all things. But as this supreme god is supposed to
be inscrutable and far removed, a second deity is named, who is the
_revealer_ of the first and his mediator in all the affairs of men.[149]

Rev. A.C. Good, now a missionary among the cannibal tribes of West
Africa, stated in the Presbyterian General Assembly at Saratoga in May,
1890, that with all the fetishes and superstitions known among the
tribes on the Ogovie, if a man is asked who made him, he points to the
sky and utters the name of an unknown being who created all things.[150]
When Tschoop, the stalwart Mohican chief, came to the Moravians to ask
that a missionary might be sent to his people, he said: "Do not send us
a man to tell us that there is a God--we all know that; or that we are
sinners--we all know that; but send one to tell us about
salvation."[151] Even Buddhism has not remained true to the atheism of
its founder. A Thibetan Lama said to Abbé Huc: "You must not confound
religious truths with the superstitions of the vulgar. The Tartars
prostrate themselves before whatever they see, but there is one only
Sovereign of the universe, the creator of all things, alike without
beginning and without end."

But what is the testimony of the great dead religions of the past with
respect to a primitive monotheism? It is admitted that the later
developments of the old Egyptian faith were polytheistic. But it has
generally been conceded that as we approach the earliest notices of that
faith, monotheistic features more and more prevail. This position is
contested by Miss Amelia B. Edwards and others, who lean toward the
development theory. Miss Edwards declares that the earliest faith of
Egypt was mere totemism, while on the other hand Ebrard, gathering up
the results of the researches of Lepsius, Ebers, Brugsch, and Emanuel de
Rougé, deduces what seem to be clear evidences of an early Egyptian
monotheism. He quotes Manetho, who declares that "for the first nine
thousand years the god Ptah ruled alone; there was no other." According
to inscriptions quoted by De Rougé, the Egyptians in the primitive
period worshipped "the one being who truly lives, who has made all
things, and who alone has not been made." This one God was known in
different parts of Egypt under different names, which only in later
times came to stand for distinct beings. A text which belongs to a
period fifteen hundred years before Moses says:

"He has made all that is; thou alone art, the millions owe their being
to thee; he is the Lord of all that which is, and of that which is not."
A papyrus now in Paris, dating 2300 B.C., contains quotations from two
much older records, one a writing of the time of King Suffern, about
3500 B.C., which says: "The operation of God is a thing which cannot be
understood." The other, from a writing of Ptah Hotep, about 3000 B.C.,
reads: "This is the command of the God of creation, the peaceable may
come and issue orders.... The eating of bread is in conformity with the
ordinance of God; can one forget that his blessing rests thereupon?...
If thou art a prudent man teach thy son the love of God."[152]

Professor Ernest Naville, in speaking of this same subject in a course
of popular lectures in Geneva, said: "Listen now to a voice which has
come forth actually from the recesses of the sepulchre: it reaches us
from ancient Egypt.

"In Egypt, as you know, the degradation of the religious idea was in
popular practice complete. But under the confused accents of
superstition the science of our age is succeeding in catching from afar
the vibrations of a sublime utterance. In the coffins of a large number
of mummies have been discovered rolls of papyrus containing a sacred
text which is called 'The Book of the Dead.' Here is the translation of
some fragments which appear to date from a very remote epoch. It is God
who speaks thus: 'I am the Most Holy, the Creator of all that
replenishes the earth, and of the earth itself, the habitation of
mortals. I am the Prince of the infinite ages. I am the Great and Mighty
God, the Most High, shining in the midst of the careering stars and of
the armies which praise me above thy head.... It is I who chastise the
evil-doers and the persecutors of Godly men. I discover and confound the
liars. I am the all-seeing Avenger, ... the Guardian of my laws in the
land of the righteous.' These words are found mingled in the text, from
which I extract them, with allusions to inferior deities; and it must be
acknowledged that the translation of the ancient documents of Egypt is
uncertain enough; still this uncertainty does not appear to extend to
the general sense and bearing of the recent discoveries of our

Professor Flint as against Cudworth, Ebrard, Gladstone, and others,
maintains that the Egyptian religion at the very dawn of its history had
"certain great gods," though he adds that "there were not so many as in
later times." "Ancestor worship, but not so developed as in later times,
and animal worship, but very little of it compared with later times." On
the other hand, as against Professor Tiele, Miss Amelia B. Edwards, and
others, he says: "For the opinion that its lower elements were older
than the higher there is not a particle of properly historical evidence,
not a trace in the inscriptions of mere propitiation of ancestors or of
belief in the absolute divinity of kings or animals; on the contrary
ancestors are always found propitiated through prayer to some of the
great gods; kings worshipped as emanations and images of the sun god and
the divine animals adored as divine symbols and incarnations."

Among the Greeks there are few traces of monotheism, but we have reason
for this in the fact that their earliest literature dates from so late a
period. It began with Homer not earlier than 600 B.C., and direct
accounts of the religion of the Greeks are not traced beyond 560 B.C.
But Welcker, whose examinations have been exhaustive, has, in the
opinion of Max Müller, fairly established the primitive monotheism of
the Greeks. Müller says: "When we ascend with him to the most distant
heights of Greek history the idea of God as the supreme being stands
before us as a simple fact. Next to this adoration of One God the father
of men we find in Greece a worship of nature. The powers of nature,
originally worshipped as such, were afterward changed into a family of
gods, of which Zeus became the king and father. The third phase is what
is generally called Greek mythology; but it was preceded in time, or at
least rendered possible in thought, by the two prior conceptions, a
belief in a supreme God and a worship of the powers of nature.... The
divine character of Zeus, as distinguished from his mythological
character, is most carefully brought out by Welcker. He avails himself
of all the discoveries of comparative philology in order to show more
clearly how the same idea which found expression in the ancient
religions of the Brahmans, the Sclavs, and the Germans had been
preserved under the same simple, clear, and sublime name by the original
settlers of Hellas."[154]

The same high authority traces in his own linguistic studies the
important fact that all branches of the Aryan race preserve the same
name for the Supreme Being, while they show great ramification and
variation in the names of their subordinate gods. If, therefore, the
Indo-Aryans give evidence of a monotheistic faith at the time of their
dispersion, there is an _à priori_ presumption for the monotheism of the
Greeks. "Herodotus," says Professor Rawlinson, "speaks of God as if he
had never heard of polytheism." The testimony of the Greek poets shows
that beneath the prevailing polytheism there remained an underlying
conception of monotheistic supremacy. Professor Rawlinson quotes from an
Orphic poem the words:

       "Ares is war, peace
   Soft Aphrodite, wine that God has made
   Is Dionysius, Themis is the right
   Men render to each. Apollo, too,
   And Phoebus and Æschlepius, who doth heal
   Diseases, are the sun. All these are one."

Max Müller traces to this same element of monotheism the real greatness
and power of the Hellenic race when he says: "What was it, then, that
preserved in their hearts (the Greeks), in spite even of the feuds of
tribes and the jealousies of states, the deep feeling of that ideal
unity which constitutes a people? It was their primitive religion; it
was a dim recollection of the common allegiance they owed from time
immemorial to the great father of gods and men; it was their belief in
the old Zeus of Dodona in the Pan-Hellenic Zeus."[155] "There is, in
truth, but one," says Sophocles, "one only God, who made both heaven and
long-extended earth and bright-faced swell of seas and force of winds."
Xenophanes says: "'Mongst gods and men there is one mightiest God not
mortal or in form or thought. Entire he sees and understands, and
without labor governs all by mind." Aratus, whom Paul quotes,[156] says:
"With Zeus began we; let no mortal voice of men leave Zeus unpraised.
Zeus fills the heavens, the streets, the marts. Everywhere we live in
Zeus. Zeus fills the sea, the shores, the harbors. _We are his
offspring, too._" The reference made by Paul evidently implies that this
Zeus was a dim conception of the one true God.

That all branches of the Semitic race were monotheistic we may call not
only Ebrard and Müller, but Renan, to witness. According to Renan,
evidences that the monotheism of the Semitic races was of a very early
origin, appears in the fact that all their names for deity--El, Elohim,
Ilu, Baal, Bel, Adonai, Shaddai, and Allah--denote one being and that
supreme. These names have resisted all changes, and doubtless extend as
far back as the Semitic language or the Semitic race. Max Müller, in
speaking of the early faith of the Arabs, says: "Long before Mohammed
the primitive intuition of God made itself felt in Arabia;" and he
quotes this ancient Arabian prayer: "I dedicate myself to thy service, O
Allah. Thou hast no companion, except the companion of whom thou art
master absolute, and of whatever is his." The book of Job and the story
of Balaam indicate the prevalence of an early monotheism beyond the pale
of the Abrahamic church. In the records of the kings of Assyria and
Babylonia there is a conspicuous polytheism, yet it is significant that
each king worshipped _one God only_. And this fact suggests, as a wide
generalization, that political and dynastic jealousies had their
influence in multiplying the names and differentiating the attributes of
ancient deities. This was notably the case in ancient Egypt, where each
invasion and each change of dynasty led to a new adjustment of the
Egyptian Pantheon.

Rome had many gods, but Jupiter was supreme. Herodotus says of the
Scythians, that they had eight gods, but one was supreme, like Zeus. The
Northmen, according to Dr. Dascent, had one supreme god known as the
"All-fader." The Druids, though worshipping various subordinate deities,
believed in One who was supreme--the creator of all things and the soul
of all things. Though conceived of in a Pantheistic sense, He was
personal and exerted a moral control, as is shown by the famous triad:
"Fear God; be just to all men; die for your country." In the highest and
purest period of the old Mexican faith we read of the Tezcucan monarch
Nezahualcoyotl, who said: "These idols of wood and stone can neither
hear nor feel; much less could they make the heavens and the earth, and
man who is the lord of it. These must be the work of the all-powerful
unknown God, the Creator of the universe, on whom alone I must rely for
consolation and support."[157] The Incas of Peru also, though
sun-worshippers, believed in a supreme creator who made the sun. The
oldest of their temples was reared to the supreme god "Virachoca." And
one of the greatest Incas has left his declared belief that "there must
be above the sun a greater and more powerful ruler, at whose behest the
sun pursues his daily and untiring round."[158]

It has been assumed throughout this lecture, that instead of an advance
in the religions of men, there has everywhere been decline. Our proofs
of this are not theoretic but historic. As an example, all writers are
agreed, I believe, that during the historic period the religion of the
Egyptians steadily deteriorated until Christianity and Mohammedanism
superseded it. In strong contrast with the lofty and ennobling prayer
which we have quoted from an ancient Egyptian record, is the degradation
of the later worship. On a column at Heliopolis, belonging to the fourth
century before Christ, is inscribed this petition: "O thou white cat,
thy head is the head of the sun god, thy nose is the nose of Thoth, of
the exceeding great love of Hemopolis." The whole prayer is on this low
level. Clement, of Alexandria, after describing the great beauty of an
Egyptian temple, proceeds to say: "The innermost sanctuary is concealed
by a curtain wrought in gold, which the priest draws aside, and there is
seen a cat, or a crocodile, or a serpent, which wriggles on a purple

That the religions of India have degenerated is equally clear. The fact
that all the medieval and modern reforms look back for their ideals to
the earlier and purer Aryan faith, might of itself afford sufficient
proof of this, but we have also abundant evidence which is direct. In
the Rig Veda there is little polytheism, and no idolatry. There is no
doctrine of caste, no base worship of Siva with the foul enormities of
Saktism.[160] In the most ancient times there was no doctrine of
transmigration, nor any notion that human life is an evil to be overcome
by self-mortification. Woman was comparatively free from the oppressions
which she suffered in the later periods. Infanticide had not then been
sanctioned and enjoined by religious authority, and widow burning and
the religious murders of the Thugs were unknown. And yet so deeply were
these evils rooted at the beginning of the British rule in India, that
the joint influence of Christian instruction and Governmental authority
for a whole century has not been sufficient to overcome them.

Buddhism in the first two or three centuries had much to commend it.
King Ashoka left monuments of practical beneficence and philanthropy
which have survived to this day. But countless legends soon sprang up to
mar the simplicity of Gautama's ethics. Corruptions crept in.
Compromises were made with popular superstitions and with Hindu
Saktism.[161] The monastic orders sank into corruption, and by the ninth
century of our era the system had been wholly swept from India. The
Buddhism of Ceylon was planted first by the devout son and daughter of a
king, and for a time was characterized by great purity and devotion. But
now it exists only in name, and a prominent missionary of the country
declared, in the London Missionary Conference of 1888, that nine-tenths
of the Cingalese were worshippers of serpents or of spirits.[162] The
prevailing Buddhism in Thibet, from the eighth to the tenth century, was
an admixture with Saktism and superstition. Where the system has
survived in any good degree of strength, it has been due either to
government support or to an alliance with other religions. The history
of Taouism has shown a still worse deterioration. Laotze, though
impracticable as a reformer, was a profound philosopher. His teachings
set forth a lofty moral code. Superstition he abominated. His ideas of
deity were cold and rationalistic, but they were pure and lofty. But the
modern Taouism is a medley of wild and degrading superstitions.
According to its theodicy all nature is haunted. The ignorant masses are
enthralled by the fear of ghosts, and all progress is paralyzed by the
nightmare of "fung shuay." Had not Taouism been balanced by the sturdy
common-sense ethics of Confucianism, the Chinese might have become a
race of savages.[163]

The decline of Mohammedanism from the sublime fanaticism of Abu Bekr and
the intellectual aspirations of Haroun Al Raschid, to the senseless
imbecility of the modern Turk, is too patent to need argument. The worm
of destruction was left in the system by the vices of Mohammed himself;
and from the higher level of his early followers it has not only
deteriorated, but it has dragged down everything else with it. It has
destroyed the family, because it has degraded woman. It has separated
her immeasurably from the status of dignity and honor which she enjoyed
under the influence of the early Christian church, and it has robbed her
of even that freedom which was accorded to her by heathen Rome. One need
only look at Northern Africa, the land of Cyprian and Origen, of
Augustine and the saintly Monica, to see what Islam has done. And even
the later centuries have brought no relief. Prosperous lands have been
rendered desolate and sterile, and all progress has been paralyzed.

In the history of the Greek religion it is granted that there were
periods of advancement. The times of the fully developed Apollo worship
showed vast improvement over previous periods, but even Professor Tiele
virtually admits that this was owing to the importation of foreign
influences. It was not due to any natural process of evolution; and it
was followed by hopeless corruption and decline. The last days of both
Greece and Rome were degenerate and full of depression and despair.

It is not contended that no revivals or reforms are possible in
heathenism. There have been many of these, but with all allowance for
spasmodic efforts, the general drift has been always downward.[164]
There is a natural disposition among men to multiply objects of
worship. Herbert Spencer's principle, that development proceeds from the
homogeneous to the heterogeneous, is certainly true of the religions of
the world; but his other principle, that development proceeds from the
incoherent to the coherent, does not apply. Incoherency and moral chaos
mark the trend of all man-made faiths. The universal tendency to
deterioration is well summed up as follows by Professor Naville:

"Traces are found almost everywhere in the midst of idolatrous
superstitions, of a religion comparatively pure and often stamped with a
lofty morality. Paganism is not a simple fact; it offers to view in the
same bed two currents (like the Arve and the Arveiron)--the one pure,
the other impure. What is the relation between these two currents? ...
Did humanity begin with a coarse fetishism, and thence rise by slow
degrees to higher conceptions? Do the traces of a comparatively pure
monotheism first show themselves in the recent periods of idolatry?
Contemporary science inclines more and more to answer in the negative.
It is in the most ancient historical ground that the laborious
investigators of the past meet with the most elevated ideas of religion.
Cut to the ground a young and vigorous beech-tree, and come back a few
years afterward. In place of the tree cut down you will find
coppice-wood; the sap which nourished a single trunk has been divided
among a multitude of shoots. This comparison expresses well enough the
opinion which tends to prevail among our savants on the subject of the
historical development of religions. The idea of one God is at the
roots--it is primitive; polytheism is derivative."[165]

We have thus far drawn our proofs of man's polytheistic tendencies from
the history of the non-Christian religions. In proof of the same general
tendency we now turn to the history of the Israelites, the chosen people
of God. We may properly appeal to the Bible as history, especially when
showing idolatrous tendencies even under the full blaze of the truth. In
spite of the supernatural revelation which they claimed to
possess--notwithstanding all their instructions, warnings, promises,
deliverances, divinely aided conquests--they relapsed into idolatry
again and again. Ere they had reached the land of promise they had begun
to make images of the gods of Egypt. They made constant compromises and
alliances with the Canaanites, and not even severe judgments could
withhold them from this downward drift. Their wisest king was
demoralized by heathen marriages, and his successors openly patronized
the heathen shrines. The abominations of Baal worship and the nameless
vices of Sodom were practised under the very shadow of the Temple.[166]
Judgments followed upon this miserable degeneracy. Prophets were sent
with repeated warnings, and many were slain for their faithful messages.
Tribe after tribe was borne into captivity, the Temple was destroyed,
and at last the nation was virtually broken up and scattered abroad.

There was indeed a true development in the church of God from the
Abrahamic period to the Apostolic day. There was a rising from a narrow
national spirit to one which embraced the whole brotherhood of man, from
type and prophecy to fulfilment, from the sins that were winked at, to a
purer ethic and the perfect law of love; but these results came not by
natural evolution--far enough from it. They were wrought out not by man,
but we might almost say, in spite of man. Divine interpositions were all
that saved Judaism from a total wreck, even as the national unity was
destroyed. A new Dispensation was introduced, a Divine Redeemer and an
Omnipotent Spirit were the forces which saved the world from a second
universal apostasy.

We come nearer still to the church of God for proofs of man's inherent
tendency to polytheism. Even under the new Dispensation we have seen the
church sink into virtual idolatry. Within six centuries from the time of
Christ and His apostles there had been a sad lapse into what seemed the
worship of images, pictures, and relics, and a faith in holy places and
the bones of saints. What Mohammed saw, or thought he saw, was a
Christian idolatry scarcely better than that of the Arabian Koreish.
And, as if by the judgment of God, the churches of the East were swept
with a destruction like that which had been visited upon the Ten Tribes.
In the Christianity of to-day, viewed as a whole, how strong is the
tendency to turn from the pure spiritual conception of God to some more
objective trust--a saint, a relic, a ritual, an ordinance. In the old
churches of the East or on the Continent of Europe, how much of virtual
idolatry is there even now? It is only another form of the tendency in
man to seek out many devices--to find visible objects of trust--to try
new panaceas for the ailments of the soul--to multiply unto himself gods
to help his weakness. This is just what has been done in all ages and
among all races of the world. This explains polytheism. Man's religious
nature is a vine, and God is its only proper support. Once fallen from
that support, it creeps and grovels in all directions and over all false

We have not resorted to Divine revelation for proofs except as history.
But our conclusions drawn from heathen sources bring us directly, as one
face answereth to another face in a glass, to the plain teachings of
Paul and other inspired writers, who tell us that the human race was
once possessed of the knowledge of One Supreme God, but that men
apostatized from Him, preferring to worship the creature rather than the
Creator. There are no traces of an upward evolution toward clearer
knowledge and purer lives, except by the operation of outward causes,
but there are many proofs that men's hearts have become darkened and
their moral nature more and more depraved. In all lands there have been
those who seemed to gain some glimpses of truth, and whose teachings
were far above the average sentiment and character of their times, but
they have either been discarded like Socrates and the prophets of
Israel, or they have obtained a following only for a time and their
precepts have fallen into neglect. It has been well said that no race of
men live up to their religion, however imperfect it may be. They first
disregard it, and then at length degrade it, to suit their apostate

Paul's estimate of heathen character was that of a man who, aside from
his direct inspiration, spoke from a wide range of observation. He was a
philosopher by education, and he lived in an age and amid national
surroundings which afforded the broadest knowledge of men, of customs,
of religious faiths, of institutions. Trained as a Jew, dealing
constantly with the most enlightened heathen, persecuting the
Christians, and then espousing their cause, his preparation for a broad,
calm, and unerring judgment of the character of the Gentile nations was
complete; and his one emphatic verdict was _apostasy_.


[Footnote 125: Fiske: _The Destiny of Man_, pp. 78-80.]

[Footnote 126: We do not care to enter the field of pre-historic
speculation where the evolution of religion from totemism or fetishism
claims to find its chief support. We are considering only the
traditional development of the ancient faiths of man.]

[Footnote 127: _Introduction to Christian Theology_, Appendix, pp. 166,

[Footnote 128: Ebrard's _Apologetics_, vols. ii. and iii.]

[Footnote 129: _Modern Atheism_, p. 13.]

[Footnote 130: _The Chinese_, pp. 163, 164.]

[Footnote 131: _Chips from a German Workshop_, vol. i., p. 23.]

[Footnote 132: Professor Banergea (see _Indian Antiquary_, February,
1875) thinks that this Hindu account of creation shows traces of the
common revelation made to mankind.]

[Footnote 133: _Science of Religion_, p. 99.]

[Footnote 134: _Science of Religion_, p. 88.]

[Footnote 135: "The ancient relics of African faith are rapidly
disappearing at the approach of Mohammedan and Christian missionaries;
but what has been preserved of it, chiefly through the exertions of
learned missionaries, is full of interest to the student of religion,
with its strange worship of snakes and ancestors, its vague hope of a
future life, and its not altogether faded reminiscence of a Supreme God,
the Father of the black as well as of the white man."--_Science of
Religion_, p. 39.]

[Footnote 136: While he maintains that the idea of God must have
preceded that of _gods_, as the plural always implies the singular, he
yet claims very justly that the exclusive conception of monotheism as
against polytheism could hardly have existed. Men simply thought of God
as God, as a child thinks of its father, and does not even raise the
question of a second.--See _Chips from a German Workshop_, vol. i., p.

[Footnote 137: St. Augustine, in quoting Cyprian, shows that the fathers
of the Church looked upon Plato as a monotheist. The passage is as
follows: "For when he (Cyprian) speaks of the Magians, he says that the
chief among them, Hostanes, maintains that the true God is invisible,
and that true angels sit at His throne; and that Plato agrees with this
and believes in one God, considering the others to be demons; and that
Hermes Trismegistus also speaks of one God, and confesses that He is
incomprehensible." Angus., _De Baptismo contra Donat_., Lib. VI., Cap.

[Footnote 138: _The Aryan Witness_, passim.]

[Footnote 139: Aristotle said, "God, though He is one, has many names,
because He is called according to the states into which He always enters

[Footnote 140: _The Religions of China_, p. 16.]

[Footnote 141: _The Religions of China_, p. 49.]

[Footnote 142: "In the year 1600 the Emperor of China declared in an
edict that the Chinese should adore, not the material heavens, but the
_Master_ of heaven."--Cardinal Gibbons: _Our Christian Heritage_.]

[Footnote 143: Martin: _The Chinese_, p. 106.]

[Footnote 144: It has been related by Rev. Hudson Taylor that the
fishermen of the Fukien Province, when a storm arises, pray to the
goddess of the sea; but when that does not avail they throw all the
idols aside and pray to the "Great-grandfather in Heaven." Father is a
great conception to the Chinese mind. Great-grandfather is higher still,
and stands to them for the Supreme.]

[Footnote 145: _Science of Religion_, p. 86.]

[Footnote 146: _The Chinese_, p. 99.]

[Footnote 147: Other writers contend that he was probably
contemporaneous with Abraham. Still others think Zoroaster a general
name for great prophets. Darmestetter inclines to this view.]

[Footnote 148: _Chips from a German Workshop._]

[Footnote 149: Archbishop Vaughn, of Sydney, emphatically declares that
the aborigines of Australia believe in a Supreme Being.]

[Footnote 150: Rev. Mr. Johnson, of Lagos, has expressed a belief that
the pagan tribes of West Africa were monotheists before the incursion of
the Mohammedans. Rev. Alfred Marling, of Gaboon, bears the same
testimony of the Fans.]

[Footnote 151: Rev. A.C. Thompson, D.D. _The Moravians_.

One of the early converts from among the Ojibwas, said to the
missionary, Rev. S.G. Wright: "A great deal of your preaching I readily
understand, especially what you say about our real characters. We
Indians all know that it is wrong to lie, to steal, to be dishonest, to
slander, to be covetous, and we always know that the Great Spirit hates
all these things. All this we knew before we ever saw the white man. I
knew these things when I was a little boy. We did not, however, know the
way of pardon for these sins. In our religion there is nothing said by
the wise men about pardon. We knew nothing of the Lord Jesus Christ as a

[Footnote 152: Professor Tiele, of Leyden, asserts that "It is
altogether erroneous to regard the Egyptian religion as the polytheistic
degeneration of a prehistoric monotheism. It was polytheistic from the
beginning." But on one of the oldest of Egyptian monuments is found this
hymn, which is quoted by Cardinal Gibbons in _Our Christian

   "Hail to thee, say all creatures; ...
   The gods adore thy majesty,
   The spirits thou has made exalt thee,
   Rejoicing before the feet of their begetter.
   They cry out welcome to thee,
   Father of the fathers of all the gods,
   Who raises the heavens, who fixes the earth;
   We worship thy spirit who alone hast made us,
   We whom thou hast made thank thee that thou hast given us birth,
   We give to thee praises for thy mercy toward us."]

[Footnote 153: _Modern Atheism_, p. 13.]

[Footnote 154: _Chips from a German Workshop_, vol. ii., pp. 146, 147.]

[Footnote 155: _Science of Religion_, Lecture III., p. 57.]

[Footnote 156: Acts xvii. 28.]

[Footnote 157: Prescott's _Conquest of Mexico_.]

[Footnote 158: Réville in his _Hibbert Lectures_ on Mexican and Peruvian
religions asserts that polytheism existed from the beginning, but our
contention is that One God was supreme and created the sun.]

[Footnote 159: De Pressensé: _The Ancient World and Christianity_.]

[Footnote 160: Bournouf found the Tantras so obscene that he refused to
translate them.]

[Footnote 161: T. Rhys Davids: _Buddhism_, p. 208.]

[Footnote 162: _Report of Missionary Conference_, vol. i, p. 70.]

[Footnote 163: Buddhism, in the _Britannica_.]

[Footnote 164: Rev. S.G. Wright, long a missionary among the American
Indians, says: "During the forty-six years in which I have been laboring
among the Ojibway Indians, I have been more and more impressed with the
evidence, showing itself in their language, that at some former time
they have been in possession of much higher ideas of God's attributes,
and of what constitutes true happiness, immortality, and virtue, as well
as of the nature of the Devil and his influence in the world, than those
which they now possess. The thing which early in our experience
surprised us, and which has not ceased to impress us, is, that, with
their present low conceptions of spiritual things, they could have
chosen so lofty and spiritual a word for the Deity. The only
satisfactory explanation seems to be that, at an early period of their
history, they had higher and more correct ideas concerning God than
those which they now possess, and that these have become, as the
geologists would say, _fossilized_ in their forms of speech, and so
preserved."--_Bibliotheca Sacra_, October, 1889.]

[Footnote 165: _Modern Atheism_, p. 10.]

[Footnote 166: I. Kings, xiv., and II. Kings, xxiii.]



I am to speak of certain indirect tributes borne by the non-Christian
religions to the doctrines of Christianity. One such tribute of great
value we have already considered in the prevalence of early monotheism,
so far corroborating the scriptural account of man's first estate, and
affording many proofs which corroborate the scriptural doctrine of human
apostasy. Others of the same general bearing will now be considered. The
history of man's origin, the strange traditions of his fall by
transgression and his banishment from Eden, of the conflict of good with
evil represented by a serpent, of the Deluge and the dispersion of the
human race, have all been the subjects of ridicule by anti-Christian
writers:--though by turns they have recognized these same facts and have
used them as proofs that Christianity had borrowed them from old myths.
The idea of sacrifice, or atonement, of Divine incarnation, of a
trinity, of mediation, of a salvation by faith instead of one's own
merits, have been represented as unphilosophical, and therefore
improbable in the nature of the case.

It becomes an important question, therefore, whether other religions of
mankind show similar traditions, however widely they have dwelt apart,
and however diversified their languages, literatures, and institutions
may have been in other respects. And it is also an important question,
whether even under heathen systems, the consciousness of sin and the
deepest moral yearnings of men have found expression along the very
lines which are represented by the Christian doctrines of grace. To
these questions we now address ourselves. What are the lessons of the
various ethnic traditions? And how are we to account for their striking
similarities? The most obvious theory is, that a common origin must be
assigned to them, that they are dim reminiscences of a real knowledge
once clear and distinct. The fact that with their essential unity they
differ from each other and differ from our Scriptural record, seems to
rather strengthen the theory that all--our own included--have been
handed down from the pre-Mosaic times--ours being divinely edited by an
inspired and infallible author. Their differences are such as might have
been expected from separate transmissions, independently made.

We have, first of all, the various traditions of the Creation. In most
heathen races there have appeared, in their later stages, grave and
grotesque cosmogonies; and a too common impression is, that these
represent the real teachings of their sacred books or their earliest
traditions. But when one enters upon a careful study of the
non-Christian religions, and traces them back to their sources, he finds
more rational accounts of the Creation and the order of nature, and
sees striking points of resemblance to the Mosaic record. The story of
Genesis represents the "Beginning" as formless, chaotic, and dark. The
Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The heavens and the
earth were separated. Light appeared long before the sun and moon were
visible, and the day and night were clearly defined. Creation proceeded
in a certain order from vegetable to animal life, and from lower animals
to higher, and last of all man appeared. In heathen systems we find
fragments of this traditional account, and, as a rule, they are more or
less clear in proportion to their nearness to, or departure from, the
great cradle of the human race.[167] Thus Professor Rawlinson quotes
from an Assyrian account of the creation, as found upon the clay tablets
discovered in the palace of Assur-bani-pal, a description of
formlessness, emptiness, and darkness on the deep--of a separation
between the earth and sky--and of the light as preceding the appearance
of the sun. That account also places the creation of animals before that
of man, whom it represents as being formed of the dust of the earth, and
as receiving a divine effluence from the Creator.[168] According to an
Etruscan saga quoted by Suidas, God created the world in six periods of
1,000 years each. In the first, the heavens and the earth; in the
second, the firmament; in the third, the seas; in the fourth, the sun,
moon, and stars; in the fifth, the beasts of the land, the air, and the
sea; in the sixth, man. According to a passage in the Persian Avesta,
the supreme Ormazd created the visible world by his word in six periods
or thousands of years: in the first, the heavens with the stars; in the
second, the water and the clouds; in the third, the earth and the
mountains; in the fourth, the trees and the plants; in the fifth, the
beasts which sprang from the primeval beast; in the sixth, man.[169]

As we get farther away from the supposed early home of the race, the
traditions become more fragmentary and indistinct. The Rig Veda,
Mandala, x., 129, tells us that:

     "In the beginning there was neither naught nor aught; There was
     neither day nor night nor light nor darkness; Only the EXISTENT ONE
     breathed calmly. Next came darkness, gloom on gloom. Next all was
     water--chaos indiscrete."[170]

Strikingly similar is the language quoted in a former lecture from the
prayer of a Chinese emperor of the Ming Dynasty. It runs thus: "Of old,
in the beginning, there was the great chaos without form and dark. The
five elements had not begun to revolve, nor the sun and moon to shine.
In the midst thereof there presented itself neither form nor sound.
Thou, O Spiritual Sovereign, didst divide the grosser parts from the
purer. Thou madest heaven: Thou madest earth: Thou madest man."

There is a possibility that these conceptions may have come from
Christian sources instead of primitive Chinese traditions, possibly from
early Nestorian missionaries, though this is scarcely probable, as
Chinese emperors have been slow to introduce foreign conceptions into
their august temple service to Shangte; its chief glory lies in its
antiquity and its purely national character. Buddhism had already been
in China more than a thousand years, and these prayers are far enough
from its teachings. May we not believe that the ideas here expressed had
always existed in the minds of the more devout rulers of the empire? In
similar language, the Edda of the Icelandic Northmen describes the
primeval chaos.


   "'Twas the morning of time
    When yet naught was,
    Nor sand nor sea was there,
    Nor cooling streams.
    Earth was not formed
    Nor heaven above.
    A yawning gap was there
    And grass nowhere."

Not unlike these conceptions of the "Beginning" is that which Morenhout
found in a song of the Tahitans, and which ran thus:

   "He was; Toaroa was his name,
    He existed in space; no earth, no heaven, no men."

M. Goussin adds the further translation: "Toaroa, the Great Orderer, is
the origin of the earth: he has no father, no posterity."[171] The
tradition of the Odshis, a negro tribe on the African Gold Coast,
represents the creation as having been completed in six days. God
created first the woman; then the man; then the animals; then the trees
and plants; and lastly the rocks. God created nothing on the seventh
day. He only gave men His commandments. The reversal of the order here
only confirms the supposition that it is an original tradition. We find
everywhere on the Western Hemisphere, north and south, plain recognition
of the creation of the world by one Supreme God, though the order is not
given. How shall we account for the similarities above indicated, except
on the supposition of a common and a very ancient source?

Still more striking are the various traditions of the Fall of man by
sin. In the British Museum there is a very old Babylonian seal which
bears the figures of a man and a woman stretching out their hands toward
a fruit-tree, while behind the woman lurks a serpent. A fragment bearing
an inscription represents a tree of life as guarded on all sides by a
sword. Another inscription describes a delectable region surrounded by
four rivers. Professors Rawlinson and Delitzsch both regard this as a
reference to the Garden of Eden.

"The Hindu legends," says Hardwick, "are agreed in representing man as
one of the last products of creative wisdom, as the master-work of God;
and also in extolling the first race of men as pure and upright,
innocent and happy. The beings who were thus created by Brahma are all
said to have been endowed with righteousness and perfect faith; they
abode wherever they pleased, unchecked by any impediment; their hearts
were free from guile; they were pure, made free from toil by observance
of sacred institutes. In their sanctified minds Hari dwelt; and they
were filled with perfect wisdom by which they contemplated the glory of

"The first men were, accordingly, the best. The Krita age, the 'age of
truth,' the reign of purity, in which mankind, as it came forth from the
Creator, was not divided into numerous conflicting orders, and in which
the different faculties of man all worked harmoniously together, was a
thought that lay too near the human heart to be uprooted by the ills and
inequalities of actual life. In this the Hindu sided altogether with the
Hebrew, and as flatly contradicted the unworthy speculations of the
modern philosopher, who would fain persuade us that human beings have
not issued from one single pair, and also, that the primitive type of
men is scarcely separable from that of ordinary animals...."[172]

Spence Hardy, in speaking on this subject, describes a Buddhist legend
of Ceylon which represents the original inhabitants of the world as
having been once spotlessly pure, and as dwelling in ethereal bodies
which moved at will through space. They had no need of sun or moon. They
lived in perfect happiness and peace till, at last, one of their number
tasted of a strange substance which he found lying on the surface of the
earth. He induced others to eat also, whereupon all knew good and evil,
and their high estate was lost. They now had perpetual need of food,
which only made them more gross and earthly. Wickedness abounded, and
they were in darkness. Assembling together, they fashioned for
themselves a sun, but after a few hours it fell below the horizon, and
they were compelled to create a moon.[173] An old Mongolian legend
represents the first man as having transgressed by eating a pistache
nut. As a punishment, he and all his posterity came under the power of
sin and death, and were subjected to toil and suffering.[174] A
tradition of the African Odshis, already named, relates that formerly
God was very near to men. But a woman, who had been pounding banana
fruit in a mortar, inadvertently entering His presence with a pestle in
her hands, aroused His anger, and He withdrew into the high heavens and
listened to men no more. Six rainless years brought famine and distress,
whereupon they besought Him to send one of His counsellors who should be
their daysman, and should undertake their cause and care for them. God
sent his chief minister, with a promise that He would give rain and
sunshine, and He directed that His rainbow should appear in the
sky.[175] The inhabitants of Tahiti have a tradition of a fall which is
very striking; and Humboldt, after careful study, reached the conclusion
that it had not been derived through any communication with Christian
lands, but was an old native legend. The Karens of Burmah had a story of
an early temptation of their ancestors by an evil being and their
consequent apostasy. Many other races who have no definite tradition of
this kind have still some vague notion of a golden age in the past.
There has been everywhere a mournful and pathetic sense of something
lost, of degeneracy from better days gone by, of Divine displeasure and
forfeited favor. The baffled gropings of all false religions seem to
have been so many devices to regain some squandered heritage of the
past. All this is strikingly true of China.

Still more clear and wellnigh universal are the traditions of a flood.
The Hindu Brahmanas and the Mahabharata of a later age present legends
of a deluge which strikingly resemble the story of Genesis. Vishnu
incarnate in a fish warned a great sage of a coming flood and directed
him to build an ark. A ship was built and the sage with seven others
entered. Attached to the horn of the fish the ship was towed over the
waters to a high mountain top.[176] The Chinese also have a story of a
flood, though it is not given in much detail. The Iranian tradition is
very fragmentary and seems to confound the survivor with the first man
of the creation. Yima, the Noah of the story, was warned by the
beginning of a great winter rain, by which the waters were raised 19,000
feet. Yima was commanded to prepare a place of safety for a number of
chosen men, birds, and beasts. It was to be three stories high, and to
be furnished with a high door and window, but whether it was a ship or a
refuge on the mountain top does not appear. The same tradition speaks of
Eden and of a serpent, but the account is suddenly cut short.[177]

The Greek traditions of a flood varied according to the different
branches of the Greek nation. The Arcadians traced their origin to
Dardanus, who was preserved from the great flood in a skin-covered boat.
The Pelasgians held the tradition of Deucalion and his wife, who were
saved in a ship which was grounded on the summit of Pindus. As the water
receded they sent out a dove to search for land. The Assyrian account,
which was found a few years ago on a tablet in the palace of
Assur-bani-pal, claims to have been related as a matter of personal
experience by Sisit, the Chaldean Noah, who was commanded to construct a
ship 600 cubits long, into which he should enter with his family and his
goods. At the time appointed the earth became a waste. The very gods in
heaven fled from the fury of the tempest and "huddled down in their
refuge like affrighted dogs." The race of men was swept away. On the
seventh day Sisit opened a window and saw that the rain was stayed, but
the water was covered with floating corpses; all men had become as clay.
The ship rested on a mountain top, and Sisit sent forth a dove, a
swallow, and a raven. The dove and the swallow returned, but the raven
was satisfied with the floating carcasses. Sisit went forth and offered
sacrifice, around which "the gods hovered like flies."

Professor Rawlinson thinks that these accounts and those given in
Genesis were both derived from the earlier traditions, the Assyrian
version having been greatly corrupted. The Chaldean tradition is
slightly different. The Noah of the Chaldeans was commanded in a dream
not only to build a ship, but to bury all important documents and so
preserve the antediluvian history. As the flood subsided he, his family,
and his pilot were transferred to heaven, but certain friends who were
saved with them remained and peopled the earth. Among the ancient
Peruvians we find a tradition of a great deluge which swept the earth.
After it had passed, the aged man Wiracotscha rose out of Lake Titicaca
and his three sons issued from a cave and peopled the earth.[178] Hugh
Miller and others have named many similar traditions.

The fact that in nearly every case those who were rescued from the flood
immediately offered piacular sacrifices suggests the recognition in all
human history of still another fundamental doctrine of Christianity, the
universal sense of sin. This conviction was especially strong when the
survivors of a Divine judgment beheld the spectacle of a race swept away
for their transgressions; but there are abundant traces of it in all
ages of the world. The exceptions are found in those instances where
false systems of philosophy have sophisticated the natural sense of
guilt by destroying the consciousness of personality. All races of men
have shown a feeling of moral delinquency and a corresponding fear. The
late C. Loring Brace, in his work entitled "The Unknown God," quotes
some striking penitential psalms or prayers offered by the Akkadians of
Northern Assyria four thousand years ago.

The deep-seated conviction of guilt which is indicated by the old
religion of the Egyptians is well set forth by Dr. John Wortabet, of
Beyrut, in a pamphlet entitled "The Temples and Tombs of Thebes." He
says: "The immortality of the soul, its rewards and punishments in the
next world, and its final salvation and return into the essence of the
divinity were among the most cherished articles of the Egyptian creed.
Here (in the tombs), as on the papyri which contain the 'Ritual of the
Dead,' are represented the passage of the soul through the nether world
and its introduction into the Judgment Hall, where Osiris, the god of
benevolence, sits on a throne, and with the assistance of forty-two
assessors proceeds to examine the deceased. His actions are weighed in a
balance against truth in the presence of Thoth, the ibis-headed god of
wisdom, and if found wanting he is hounded out in the shape of an
unclean animal by Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the infernal regions.
The soul then proceeds in a series of transmigrations into the bodies of
animals and human beings and thus passes through a purgatorial process
which entitles it to appear again before the judgment-seat of Osiris. If
found pure it is conveyed to Aalu, the Elysian fields, or the 'Pools of
Peace.' After three thousand years of sowing and reaping by cool waters
it returns to its old body (the preserved mummy), suffers another period
of probation, and is ultimately absorbed into the godhead. One of the
most impressive scenes in the whole series is that where the soul, in
the form of a mummified body, stands before Osiris and the forty-two
judges to be examined on the forty-two commandments of the Egyptian
religion. Bearing on its face the signs of solemnity and fear, and
carrying in its hand a feather, the symbol of veracity, it says among
other things: 'I have not blasphemed the gods, I have defrauded no man,
I have not changed the measures of Egypt, I have not prevaricated at the
courts of justice, I have not lied, I have not stolen, I have not
committed adultery, I have done no murder, I have not been idle, I have
not been drunk, I have not been cruel, I have not famished my family, I
have not been a hypocrite, I have not defiled my conscience for the sake
of my superiors, I have not smitten privily, I have lived on truth, I
have made it my delight to do what men command and the gods approve, I
have given bread to the hungry and drink to the thirsty and clothes to
the naked, my mouth and hands are pure.' Now what strikes one with great
force in this remarkable passage from the walls of the old sand-covered
tombs is the wonderful scope and fulness with which the laws of right
and wrong were stamped upon the Egyptian conscience. There is here a
recognition, not only of the great evils which man shall not commit, but
also of many of those positive duties which his moral nature requires.
It matters not that these words are wholly exculpatory; they
nevertheless recognize sin."

But perhaps no one has depicted man's sense of guilt and fear more
eloquently than Dean Stanley when speaking of the Egyptian Sphinx.
Proceeding upon the theory that that time-worn and mysterious relic is a
couchant lion whose projecting paws were long since buried in the desert
sands, and following the tradition that an altar once stood before that
mighty embodiment of power, he graphically pictures the transient
generations of men, in all the sin and weakness of their frail humanity,
coming up with their offerings and their prayers "between the paws of
deity." It is a grim spectacle, but it emphasizes the sense of human
guilt. Only the Revealed Word of God affords a complete and satisfactory
explanation of the remarkable fact that the human race universally stand
self-convicted of sin.

There is also a tribute to the truth of Christianity in certain traces
of a conception of Divine sacrifice for sin found in some of the early
religious faiths of men. All are familiar with the difference between
the offerings of Abel and those of Cain--the former disclosing a faith
in a higher expiation. In like manner there appear mysterious references
to a divine and vicarious sacrifice in the early Vedas of India. In the
Parusha Sukta of the Rig Veda occurs this passage: "From him called
Parusha was born Viraj, and from Viraj was Parusha produced, whom gods
made their oblation. With Parusha as a victim they performed a
sacrifice." Manu says that Parusha, "the first man," was called Brahma,
and was produced by emanation from the "self-existent spirit." Brahma
thus emanating, was "the first male," or, as elsewhere called, "the born
lord." By him the world was made. The idea is brought out still more
strikingly in one of the Brahmanas where the sacrifice is represented as
voluntary and all availing. "Surely," says Sir Monier Williams, "in
these mysterious allusions to the sacrifice of a representative man we
may perceive traces of the original institution of sacrifice as a
divinely appointed ordinance, typical of the one great offering of the
Son of God for the sins of the world." The late Professor Banergea, of
Calcutta, reaching the same conclusion, says: "It is not easy to account
for the genesis of these ideas in the Veda, of 'one born in the
beginning Lord of creatures,' offering himself a sacrifice for the
benefit of deified mortals, except on the assumption that it is based
upon the tradition of the 'Lamb slain from the foundation of the

No doubt modern scepticism might be slow to acknowledge any such
inference as this; but as Professor Banergea was a high-caste Hindu of
great learning, and was well acquainted with the subtleties of Hindu
thought, his opinion should have great weight. And when we remember how
easily scientific scepticism is satisfied with the faintest traces of
whatever strengthens its theories--how thin are some of the
generalizations of Herbert Spencer--how very slight and fanciful are the
resemblances of words which philologists often accept as indisputable
proofs--how far-fetched are the inferences sometimes drawn from the
appearance of half-decayed fossils as proofs and even demonstrations of
the law of evolution--we need not be over-modest in setting forth these
traces of an original divine element in the institution of typical
sacrifices among men.

It is never safe to assume positively this or that meaning for a
mysterious passage found in the sacred books of non-Christian systems,
but there are many things which seem at least to illustrate important
precepts of the Christian faith. Thus the slain Osiris of the Egyptians
was said to enter into the sufferings of mortals. "Having suffered the
great wound," so the record runs, "he was wounded in every other wound."
And we read in "The Book of the Dead" that "when the Lord of truth
cleanses away defilement, evil is joined to the deity that the truth may
expel the evil."[179] This seems to denote an idea of vicarious

The Onondaga Indians had a tradition that the celestial Hiawatha
descended from heaven and dwelt among their ancestors, and that upon the
establishment of the League of the Iroquois he was called by the Great
Spirit to sanctify that League by self-sacrifice. As the Indian council
was about to open, Hiawatha was bowed with intense suffering, which
faintly reminds one of Christ's agony in Gethsemane. He foresaw that his
innocent and only child would be taken from him. Soon after a messenger
from heaven smote her to the earth by his side. Then, having drank this
cup of sorrow, he entered the council and guided its deliberations with
superhuman wisdom.[180] In citing this incident nothing more is intended
than to call attention to some of the mysterious conceptions which seem
to float dimly through the minds of the most savage races, and which
show at the very least that the idea of vicarious sacrifice is not
strange to mankind, but is often mysteriously connected with their
greatest blessings. The legend of "Prometheus Bound," as we find it in
the tragedies of Æschylus, is so graphic in its picture of vicarious
suffering for the good of men that infidel writers have charged the
story of the Cross with plagiarism, and have applied to Prometheus some
of the expressions used in the fifty-third chapter of the Prophecy of
Isaiah. We are often told that there is injustice in the very idea of
vicarious suffering, as involved in the Christian doctrine of salvation,
or that the best instincts of a reasonable humanity revolt against it.
But such criticisms are sufficiently met by these analogies which we
find among all nations.

Let me next call attention to some of the predicted deliverers for whom
the nations have been looking. Nothing found in the study of the
religious history of mankind is more striking than the universality of a
vague expectation of coming messiahs. According to the teachings of
Hinduism there have been nine incarnations of Vishnu, of whom Buddha was
admitted to be one. But there is to be a tenth avatar who shall yet come
at a time of great and universal wickedness, and shall establish a
kingdom of righteousness on the earth. Some years ago the Rev. Dr. John
Newton, of Lahore, took advantage of this prediction and wrote a tract
showing that the true deliverer and king of righteousness had already
come in the person of Jesus Christ. So striking seemed the fulfilment
viewed from the Hindu standpoint, that some hundreds in the city of
Rampore were led to a faith in Christ as an avatar of Vishnu.

A remarkable illustration of a felt want of something brighter and more
hopeful is seen in the legends and predictions of the Teutonic and Norse
religions. The faiths of all the Teutonic races were of the sternest
character, and it was such a cultus that made them the terror of Europe.
They worshipped their grim deities in the congenial darkness of deep
forest shades. There was no joy, no sense of divine pity, no peace. They
were conscious of deep and unutterable wants which were never met. They
yearned for a golden age and the coming of a deliverer. Baldr, one of
the sons of Woden, had passed away, but prophecy promised that he should
return to deliver mankind from sorrow and from death. "When the twilight
of the gods should have passed away, then amid prodigies and the crash
and decay of a wicked world, in glory and joy he should return, and a
glorious kingdom should be renewed." Or, in the words of one of their
own poets:

   "Then unsown the swath shall flourish and back come Baldr;
    With him Hoder shall dwell in Hropter's palace,
    Shrines of gods the great and holy,
    There the just shall joy forever,
          And in pleasure pass the ages."

The well-known prediction of the Sibyl of Cumæ bears testimony to the
same expectation of mankind. The genuine Sibylline Oracles were in
existence anterior to the birth of Christ. Virgil died forty years
before that event, and the well-known eclogue _Pollio_ is stated by him
to be a transcript of the prophetic carmen of the Sibyl of Cumæ. But for
the fact that it has a Roman instead of a Jewish coloring, it might
almost seem Messianic. The oracle speaks thus: "The last era, the
subject of the Sibyl song of Cumæ, has now arrived; the great series of
ages begins anew. The virgin returns--returns the reign of Saturn. The
progeny from heaven now descends. Be thou propitious to the Infant Boy
by whom first the Iron Age shall expire, and the Golden Age over the
whole world shall commence. Whilst thou, O Pollio, art consul, this
glory of our age shall be made manifest, and the celestial months begin
their revolutions. Under thy auspices whatever vestiges of our guilt
remain, shall, by being atoned for, redeem the earth from fear forever.
He shall partake of the life of the gods. He shall reign over a world in
peace with his father's virtues. The earth, sweet boy, as her
first-fruits, shall pour thee forth spontaneous flowers. The serpent
shall die: the poisonous and deceptive tree shall die. All things,
heavens and earth and the regions of the sea, rejoice at the advent of
this age. The time is now at hand."[181] Forty years later the Christ
appeared. Whether Virgil had been influenced by Hebrew prophecy it is
impossible to say. It may be that the so-called Sibyl had caught
something of the same hope which led the Magi of the East to the cradle
of the infant Messiah, but in any case the eclogue voiced a vague
expectation which prevailed throughout the Roman Empire.

In modern as well as in ancient times nations and races have looked for
deliverers or for some brighter hope. Missionaries found the Hawaiians
dissatisfied and hopeless; their idols had been thrown away. The Karens
were waiting for the arrival of the messengers of the truth. The
Mexicans, at the time of the Spanish conquest, were looking for a
celestial benefactor. The very last instance of an anxious looking for a
deliverer is that which quite recently has so sadly misled our Sioux

Mankind have longed not only for deliverers, but also for _mediators_.
The central truth of the Christian faith is its divine sympathy and help
brought down into our human nature. In other words, mediation--God with
man. The faith of the Hindus, lacking this element, was cold and
remorseless. Siva, the god of destruction, and his hideous and
blood-thirsty wives, had become chief objects of worship, only because
destruction and death led to life again. But there was no divine help.
The gods were plied with sharp bargains in sacrifice and merit; they
were appeased; they were cajoled; but there was no love. But the time
came when the felt want of men for something nearer and more sympathetic
led to the doctrine of Vishnu's incarnations: first grotesque deliverers
in animal shapes, but at length the genial and sympathetic Krishna. He
was not the highest model of character, but he was human. He had
associated with the rustics and frolicked around their camp-fires. He
became Arjuna's charioteer and rendered him counsel and help in that low
disguise. He was a sharer of burdens--a counsellor and friend. And he
became the most popular of all Hindu deities.

The important point in all this is that this old system, so
self-sufficient and self-satisfied, should have groped its way toward a
divine sympathizer in human form, a living and helpful god among men.
Hinduism had not been wanting in anthropomorphisms: it had imagined the
presence of God in a thousand visible objects which rude men could
appreciate. Trees, apes, cattle, crocodiles, and serpents had been
invested with an in-dwelling spirit, but it had found no mediator. Men
had been trying by all manner of devices to sublimate their souls, and
climb Godward by their own self-mortification; but they had realized no
divine help. To meet this want they developed a veritable doctrine of
faith. They had learned from Buddhism the great influence and power of
one who could instruct and counsel and encourage. Some Oriental scholars
think that they had also learned many things from Christian

However that may be--from whatever source they had gained this
suggestion--they found it to accord with the deepest wants of the human
heart. And the splendid tribute which that peculiar development bears to
the great fundamental principles of the Christian faith, is all the more
striking for the fact that it grew up in spite of the adamantine
convervatism of a system, all of whose teachings had been in a precisely
opposite direction. It was old Hinduism coming out of its intrenchments
to pay honor to the true way of eternal life. Probably the doctrine
first sprang from a felt want, but was subsequently reinforced by
Christian influences.

The late Professor Banergea, in his "Aryan Witness," gives what must be
regarded as at least a very plausible account of the last development of
the so-called Krishna cult, and of this doctrine of faith. He thinks
that it borrowed very much from western monotheists. He quotes a passage
from the Narada Pancharata, which represents a pious Brahman of the
eighth century A.D., as having been sent to the far northwest, where
"white-faced monotheists" would teach him a pure faith in the Supreme
Vishnu or Krishna. He quotes also, from another and later authority, a
dialogue in which this same Brahman reproved Vyasa for not having
celebrated the praises of Krishna as supreme. This Professor Banergea
regarded as proof that previously to the eighth century Krishna has been
worshipped only as a demigod. But the whole drift of the old Brahmanical
doctrines had been toward sacrifice as a debt and credit system, and
that plan had failed. It had impoverished the land and ruined the
people, and had brought no spiritual comfort. Men had found that they
could not buy salvation.

Moreover, Buddhism and other forms of rationalistic philosophy, after
prolonged and thorough experiment, had also failed. The Hindu race had
found that as salvation could not be purchased with sacrifices, neither
could it be reasoned out by philosophy, nor worked out by austerities.
It must come from a Divine helper. Thus, when Narada had wearied
himself with austerities--so we read in the Narada Pancharata--he heard
a voice from heaven saying: "If Krishna is worshipped, what is the use
of austerities? If Krishna is _not_ worshipped, what is the use of
austerities? If Krishna is within and without, what is the use of
austerities? If Krishna is _not_ within and without, what is the use of
austerities? Stop, O Brahman; why do you engage in austerities? Go
quickly and get matured faith in Krishna, as described by the sect of
Vishnu who snaps the fetters of the world." "We are thus led," says
Professor Banergea, "to the very genesis of the doctrine of faith in
connection with Hinduism. And it was admittedly not an excogitation of
the Brahmanical mind itself. Narada had brought it from the land of 'the
whites,' where he got an insight into Vishnu as the Saviour which was
not attainable elsewhere." And he then persuaded the author of one of
the Puranas to recount the "Lord's acts"--in other words, the history of
Krishna, with the enforcement of faith in his divinity: "Change the
name," says Banergea, "and it is almost Christian doctrine."[183]

It is an interesting fact that Buddhism, in its progress through the
centuries, has also wrought out a doctrine of faith by a similar
process. It began as a form of atheistic rationalism. Its most salient
feature was staunch and avowed independence of all help from gods or
men. It emphasized in every way the self-sufficiency of one's own mind
and will to work out emancipation. But when Buddha died no enlightened
counsellor was left, and another Buddha could not be expected for four
thousand years. The multitudes of his disciples felt that, theory or no
theory, there was an awful void. The bald and bleak system could not
stand on such a basis. The human heart cried out for some divine helper,
some one to whom man could pray. Fortunately there were supposed to be
predestined Buddhas.--"Bodisats"--then living in some of the heavens,
and as they were preparing themselves to become incarnate Buddhas, they
must already be interested in human affairs, and especially the
Maitreyeh, who would appear on earth next in order.

So Buddhism, in spite of its own most pronounced dogmas, began to pray
to an unseen being, began to depend and trust, began to lay hold on
divine sympathy, and look to heaven for help. By the seventh century of
our era the northern Buddhists, whether influenced in part by the
contact of Christianity, or not, had subsidized more than one of these
coming Buddhas. They had a complete Trinity. One person of this Trinity,
the everywhere present Avolokitesvara, became the chief object of
worship, the divine helper on whom all dependence was placed. This
mythical being was really the God of northern Buddhism in the Middle
Ages, and is the popular sympathizer of all Mongolian races to the
present day. In Thibet he is supposed to be incarnate in the Grand Lama.
In China he is incarnate in Quanyen, the goddess of mercy. With sailors
she is the goddess of the sea. In many temples she is invoked by the
sick, the halt, the blind, the impoverished. Her images are sometimes
represented with a hundred arms to symbolize her omnipotence to save.
Beal says of this, as Banergea says of the faith element of the Krishna
cult, that it is wholly alien to the religion whose name it bears: it is
not Buddhism. He thinks that it has been greatly affected by Christian

Another mythical being who is worshipped as God in China and Japan, is
Amitabba, a Dhyana or celestial Buddha, who in long kalpas of Time has
acquired merit enough for the whole world. Two of the twelve Buddhist
sects of Japan have abandoned every principle taught by Gautama, except
his ethics, and have cast themselves upon the free grace of Amitabba.
They have exchanged the old atheism for theism. They have given up all
dependence on merit-making and self-help; they now rely wholly on the
infinite merit of another. Their religious duties are performed out of
gratitude for a free salvation wrought out for them, and no longer as
the means of gaining heaven. They live by a faith which works by love.
They expect at death an immediate transfer to a permanent heaven,
instead of a series of transmigrations. Their Buddha is not dead, but he
ever liveth to receive into his heavenly realm all who accept his grace,
and to admit them to his divine fellowship forever. By a direct and
complete imputation they are made sharers in his righteousness, and
become joint heirs in his heavenly inheritance. Whatever the genesis of
these strange cults which now prevail as the chief religious beliefs
among the Mongolian races, they are marvellously significant. They have
come almost to the very threshold of Christianity. What they need is the
true Saviour and not a myth, a living faith and not an empty delusion.
Nevertheless, they prove that faith in a divine salvation is the only
religion that can meet the wants of the human soul.

There is something very encouraging in these approaches toward the great
doctrines of salvation. I do not believe that these sects have come so
near to the true Messiah without the influence of the Spirit of God, and
without more or less light from Christian sources. But partly they have
been moved by those wants which Hinduism and Buddhism could not satisfy.
The principle of their faith is worthy of recognition, and the
missionary should say as Paul said: "Whom ye ignorantly worship, Him
declare I unto you."

It is a very significant fact that most of the Brahmo Somajes of India
have adopted Jesus Christ as the greatest of the world's prophets.
Chunder Sen sometimes spoke of him as a devout Christian would speak.
The Arya Somaj would not own His name, but it has graced its Hindu creed
with many of His essential doctrines. Quite recently a new organ of the
Brahmo Somaj, published at Hyderabad, has announced as its leading
object, "to harmonize pure Hinduism and pure Christianity, with Christ
as the chief corner-stone." In the exact words of this paper, called
_The Harmony_, its aim is "to preach Christ as the eternal Son of God,
as the Logos in all prophets and saints before and after the
incarnation, as the incarnate, perfect righteousness by whose obedience
man is made righteous.... Christ is the reconciliation of man with man,
and of all men with God, the harmony of humanity with humanity, and of
all humanity with Divinity." This prospectus condemns the average
Christianity of foreigners in India--the over-reaching, "beef-eating,
beer-drinking" Anglo-Saxon type, "which despises the Hindu Scriptures
and yet belies its own;" but it exalts the spotless and exalted Christ
and builds all the hopes of humanity upon Him. How will the mere
philosopher explain this wonderful power of personality over men of all
races, if it be not Divine?

But perhaps the most remarkable tribute to the transcendent character of
Christ is seen in the fact that _all_ sects of religionists, the most
fanatical and irrational, seem to claim Him as in some sense their own.
Mormonism, even when plunging into the lowest depths of degradation, has
always claimed to rest on the redemption of Jesus Christ.
Mohammedanism--even the Koran itself--has always acknowledged Christ as
the only sinless prophet. All the others, from Adam to Mohammed, stand
convicted of heinous offences, and they will not reappear on earth;
while He who knew no sin shall, according to Mohammedan prophecy, yet
come again to judge the earth. The worshippers of Krishna, some of whom
are found among us in this land, claim Christ as one of the true avatars
of Vishnu, and heartily commend His character and His teachings. Our
western Buddhists are just now emphasizing the idea that Christ was the
sacred Buddha of Palestine, that he studied and taught "the eight-fold
path," became an arahat, and attained Nirvana, and that the Christian
Church has only misrepresented His transcendent wisdom and purity. The
ablest tract on Theosophy that I have yet seen is entitled "Theosophy
the Religion of Jesus."

How marvellous is all this--that Theosophists, Aryas, Brahmos,
Buddhists, Moslems, though they hate Christianity and fight it to the
death--still bow before the mild sceptre of Christ. As the central light
of the diamond shines alike through every facet and angle, so His
doctrine and character are claimed as the glory of every creed. Many
types of heathen faiths honor Him, and many schools of philosophic
scepticism. Some of the noblest tributes to His unearthly purity have
been given by men who rejected His divinity. In spite of itself the most
earnest thought of many races, many systems, many creeds, has
crystallized around Him. History has made Him its moral centre, the
calendar of the nations begins with Him, and the anniversary of His
birth is the festival of the civilized world. The prediction that all
nations should call Him blessed is already fulfilled.


[Footnote 167: It is worthy of note that both the Pentateuch and most
heathen traditions agree, as to the order or stages of creation, with
the geological record of modern science.]

[Footnote 168: Rawlinson: _Ancient Monarchies_.]

[Footnote 169: Ebrard: _Apologetics_, vol. ii.]

[Footnote 170: Williams: _Indian Wisdom_, p. 22.]

[Footnote 171: De Quatrefages: _The Human Species_, p. 490.]

[Footnote 172: _Christ and Other Masters_, p. 281.]

[Footnote 173: _Manual of Buddhism_, p. 66.]

[Footnote 174: Ebrard: _Apologetics_, vol. ii.]

[Footnote 175: Ibid.]

[Footnote 176: _Indian Wisdom_, pp. 32, 393.]

[Footnote 177: Ebrard: _Apologetics_, vol. ii.]

[Footnote 178: Ebrard: _Apologetics_, vol. iii.]

[Footnote 179: De Pressensé: _The Ancient World and Christianity_, p.

[Footnote 180: Schoolcraft: _Notes on the Iroquois_.]

[Footnote 181: Quoted by Morgan in _St. Paul in Britain_, p. 23.]

[Footnote 182: The full development of the doctrine was not reached till
far on in the Christian centuries. Hardwick: _Christ and Other Masters_,
p. 204.]

[Footnote 183: _Aryan Witness_, closing chapter.]



It is not my purpose to discuss the comparative merits of philosophic
systems, but only to consider some practical bearings of philosophy,
ancient and modern, upon vital questions of morals and religion. There
has been no lack of speculation in the world. For ages the most gifted
minds have labored and struggled to solve the mysteries of the Universe
and of its Author. But they have missed the all-important fact that with
the heart, as well as with the intellect, men are to be learners of the
highest wisdom, and that they are to listen to the voice of God not only
in nature, but in the soul.

So the old questions, still unsolved, are ever asked anew. The same
wearying researches and the same confident assertions, to be replaced by
others equally confident, are found both in the ancient and in the
modern history of mankind. By wisdom the present generation has come no
nearer to finding out God than men of the remotest times. The cheerless
conclusion of agnosticism was reached in India twenty-four centuries
ago, and Confucius expressed it exactly when he said, with reference to
the future, "We do not know life; how can we know death?" This same
dubious negation probably has the largest following of all types of
unbelief in our time. It is not atheism: that, to the great mass of men,
is unthinkable; it is easier to assume simply that "we do not know." Yet
almost every form of agnosticism, ancient or modern, claims to possess a
vast amount of very positive knowledge. Speculative hypothesis never
employed the language of dogmatic assurance so confidently as now. Even
theosophic occultism speaks of itself as "science."

That which strikes one first of all in the history of philosophy is the
similarity between ancient and modern speculations upon the great
mysteries of the world.

1. Notice with what accord various earlier and later theories dispense
with real and personal creatorship in the origin of the universe. The
atomic theory of creation is by no means a modern invention, and so far
as evolution is connected with that hypothesis, evolution is very old.
Mr. Herbert Spencer states his theory thus: "First in the order of
evolution is the formation of simple mechanical aggregates of atoms,
e.g., molecules, spheres, systems; then the evolution of more complex
aggregations or organisms: then the evolution of the highest product of
organization, thought; and lastly, the evolution of the complex
relations which exist between thinking organisms, or society with its
regulative laws, both civil and moral." Between these stages, he tells
us, "there is no fixed line of demarcation.... The passage from one to
the other is continuous, the transition from organization to thought
being mediated by the nerve-system, in the molecular changes of which
are to be found the mechanical correlates and equivalents of all
conscious processes." It will be seen that this comprehensive statement
is designed to cover, if not the creation, at least the creative
processes of all things in the universe of matter and in the universe of

Mr. Spencer does not allude here to the question of a First Cause back
of the molecules and their movements, though he is generally understood
to admit that such a Cause may exist. He does not in express terms deny
that at some stage in this development there may have been introduced a
divine spark of immortal life direct from the Creator's hand. He even
maintains that "the conscious soul is not the product of a collocation
of material particles, but is in the deepest sense a Divine
effluence."[184] Yet he seems to get on without any very necessary
reliance upon such an intervention, since the development from the atom
to the civilized man is "a continuous process," and throughout the whole
course from molecule to thought and moral and social law, "there are no
lines of demarcation." He leaves it for the believer in theistic
evolution to show when and where and how the Divine effluence is

Similar to this was the theory which the Hindu Kanada propounded more
than two thousand years ago. As translated and interpreted by Colebrook,
Kanada taught that two earthly atoms concurring by an unseen and
peculiar virtue called "adrishta," or by the will of God, or by time, or
by competent cause, constitute a double atom of earth; and by concourse
of three binary atoms a tertiary atom is produced, and by concourse of
four triple atoms a quaternary, and so on.[185] Thus the great earth is
produced. The system of Lucretius was much the same, though neither
Lucretius nor Spencer has recognized any such force as adrishta.[186]

What seems to distinguish Mr. Spencer's theory is the extension of this
evolutionary process to mind and spirit in the development of thought
and feeling. He does not say that mind resides in the molecules, but
that their movements attend (if they do not originate and control) the
operation of the mind. Professor Leconte seems to go farther when he
says that "in animals brain-changes are in all cases the cause of
psychical phenomena; in man alone, and only in his higher activities,
psychic changes precede and determine brain changes."[187] We shall see
farther on that Mr. Spencer, in his theory of intuition, admits this
same principle by logical inference, and traces even man's highest
faculties to brain or nerve changes in our ancestors. Kanada also held
that mind, instead of being a purely spiritual power, is atomic or
molecular, and by logical deduction the mental activities must depend
on the condition of the molecules.

Ram Chandra Bose, in expounding Kanada's theory, says: "The general idea
of mind is that _which is subordinate to substance_, being also found in
intimate relations in an atom, and it is itself material." The early
Buddhist philosophers also taught that physical elements are among the
five "skandas" which constitute the phenomenal soul. Democritus and
Lucretius regarded the mind as atomic, and the primal "monad" of
Leibnitz was the living germ--smallest of things--which enters into all
visible and invisible creations, and which is itself all-potential; it
is a living microcosm; it is an immortal soul. These various theories
are not parallels, but they have striking similarities. And I believe
that Professor Tyndall, in his famous Belfast Address, virtually
acknowledges Lucretius as the father of the modern atomic theories.
Whether Lucretius borrowed them from India, we shall not stop to
inquire, but we may safely assert that modern philosophers, German,
French or English, have borrowed them from one or both.

It is not my purpose to discuss the truth or falsity of the atomic
theory, or the relation of mind to the movements of molecules in the
brain; I simply point out the fact that this is virtually an old
hypothesis; and I leave each one to judge how great a degree of light it
has shed upon the path of human life in the ages of the past, how far it
availed to check the decline of Greece and Rome, and how much of real
moral or intellectual force it has imparted to the Hindu race. The
credulous masses of men should not be left to suppose that these are new
speculations, nor to imagine that that which has been so barren in the
past can become a gospel of hope in the present and the future.

The constant tendency with young students of philosophy, is to conclude
that the hypotheses which they espouse with so much enthusiasm are new
revelations in metaphysics and ethics as well as in physical
science--compared with which the Christian cultus of eighteen centuries
is now effete and doomed. It is well, therefore, to know that so far
from these speculations having risen upon the ruins of Christianity,
Christianity rose upon the ruins of these speculations as, in modified
forms, they had been profoundly elaborated in the philosophies of Greece
and Rome. Lucretius was born a century before the Christian era, and
Democritus, whose disciple he became, lived earlier still. Kanada, the
atomist philosopher of India, lived three centuries before Democritus.
The early Christian fathers were perfectly familiar with the theories of
Lucretius. We are indebted to Jerome for many of the facts which we
possess concerning him. Nearly all the great leaders of the church, from
Origen to Ambrose, had studied Greek philosophy, some of them had been
its devotees before their conversion to the Christian faith. There is at
least incidental evidence that the Apostle Paul was versed in the
current philosophy as well as in the poetry of Greece.

These great men--great in natural powers and in philosophic
training--had seen just what the speculations of Democritus, Lucretius,
Zeno, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle could do; they had indeed
undermined the low superstitions of their time, but they had proved
powerless to regenerate society, or even relieve the individual
pessimism and despair of men like Seneca, Pliny, or Marcus Aurelius.
Lucretius, wholly or partially insane, died by his own hand. The light
of philosophy left the Roman Empire, as Uhlhorn and others have clearly
shown, under the shadow of a general despair. And it was in the midst of
that gloom that the light of Christianity shone forth. Augustine, who
had fathomed various systems and believed in them, tells us that it was
the philosophy which appeared in the writings and in the life of the
Apostle Paul which finally wrought the great change in his career. Plato
had done much; Paul and the Cross of Christ did infinitely more.

The development of higher forms of life from lower by natural selection,
as set forth by the late Charles Darwin, has been supposed to be an
entirely new system. Yet the Chinese claim to have held a theory of
development which represents the mountains as having once been covered
by the sea. When the waters subsided small herbs sprang up, which in the
course of ages developed into trees. Worms and insects also appeared
spontaneously, like lice upon a living body; and these after a long
period became larger animals--beetles became tortoises; worms, serpents.
The mantis was developed into an ape, and certain apes became at length
hairless. One of these by accident struck fire with a flint. The
cooking of food at length followed the use of fire, and the apes, by
being better nourished, were finally changed into men. Whether this
theory is ancient or modern, it is eminently Chinese, and it shows the
natural tendency of men to ascribe the germs of life to spontaneous
generation, because they fail to see the Great First Cause who produces
them. The one thing which is noticeable in nearly all human systems of
religion and philosophy, is that they have no clear and distinct idea of
creatorship. They are systems of evolution; in one way or another they
represent the world as having _grown_. Generally they assume the
eternity of matter, and often they are found to regard the present
cosmos as only a certain stage in an endless circle of changes from life
to death and from death to life. The world rebuilds itself from the
wreck and débris of former worlds. It is quite consistent with many of
these systems that there should be gods, but as a rule they recognize no
God. While all races of men have shown traces of a belief in a Supreme
Creator and Ruler far above their inferior deities, yet their
philosophers, if they had any, have sooner or later bowed Him out.

2. Most systems of philosophic speculation, ancient and modern, tend to
weaken the sense of moral accountability. First, the atomic theory,
which we have just considered, leads to this result by the molecular,
and therefore purely physical, origin which it assigns to moral acts and
conditions. We have already alluded to Herbert Spencer's theory of
intuition. In the "Data of Ethics," page 123, he says: "I believe that
the experiences of utility, organized and consolidated through all past
generations of the human race, have been producing corresponding nervous
modifications, which by continued transmission and accumulation _have
become in us certain faculties of moral intuition_, certain emotions
corresponding to right and wrong conduct which have no apparent basis in
the individual experiences of utility."

It appears from this statement that, so far as we are concerned, our
moral intuitions are the results of "nervous modifications," if not in
ourselves, at least in our ancestors, so that the controlling influence
which rules, and which ought to rule, our conduct is a nervous, and
therefore a physical, condition which we have inherited. It follows,
therefore, that every man's conscience or inherited moral sense is bound
by a necessity of his physical constitution. And if this be so, why is
there not a wide door here opened for theories of moral insanity, which
might come at length to cast their shield over all forms and grades of
crime? It is easy to see that, whatever theory of creation may be
admitted as to the origin of the human soul, this hypothesis rules out
the idea of an original moral likeness of the human spirit to a Supreme
Moral Ruler of the universe, in whom righteousness dwells as an eternal
principle; and it finds no higher source for what we call conscience
than the accumulated experience of our ancestors.

The materialistic view recently presented by Dr. Henry Maudsley, in an
article entitled, "The Physical Basis of Mind"--an article which seems
to follow Mr. Spencer very closely--would break down all moral
responsibility. His theory that true character depends upon what he
calls the reflex action of the nerve-cells; that acts of reason or
conscience which have been put forth so many times that, in a sense,
they perform themselves without any exercise of consciousness, are the
best; that a man is an instinctive thief or liar, or a born poet,
because the proper nervous structure has been fixed in his constitution
by his ancestors; that any moral act, so long as it is conscious, is not
ingrained in character, and the more conscious it is, the more dubious
it is; and that "virtue itself is not safely lodged until it has become
a habit"--in other words, till it has become an automatic and
unconscious operation of the nerve-cells, such a doctrine, in its
extreme logical results, destroys all voluntary and conscious loyalty to
principle, and renders man a mere automatic machine.

On the other hand Mr. A.R. Wallace, in combating the theory that the
moral sense in man is based on the utility experienced by our ancestors,
relates the following incident: "A number of prisoners taken during the
Santal insurrection were allowed to go free on parole, to work at a
certain spot for wages. After some time cholera attacked them and they
were obliged to leave, but everyone of them returned and gave up his
earnings to the guard. Two hundred savages with money in their girdles
walked thirty miles back to prison rather than break their word. My own
experience with savages has furnished me with similar, although less
severely tested, instances; and we cannot avoid asking how it is that,
in these few cases 'experience of utility' have left such an
overpowering impression, while in others they have left none.... The
intuitional theory which I am now advocating explains this by the
supposition that there is a feeling--a sense of right and wrong--in our
nature antecedent to, and independent of, experiences of utility."[188]

3. Theories which confound the origin of man with that of brutes,
whether in the old doctrine of transmigration or in at least some of the
theories of evolution, involve a contradiction in man's ethical history.
The confusion shown in the Buddhist Jatakas, wherein Buddha, in the
previous existences which prepared him for his great and holy mission,
was sometimes a saint and sometimes a gambler and a thief, is scarcely
greater, from an ethical point of view, than that which evolution
encounters in bridging the chasm between brute instinct and the lofty
ethics of the perfected man.

The lower grades of animal life know no other law than the instinct
which prompts them to devour the types which are lower still. This
destruction of the weaker by the stronger pervades the whole brute
creation; it is a life of violence throughout. On the other hand, all
weaker creatures, exposed to such ravages, protect themselves
universally by deception. The grouse shields her young from hawks or
other carnivora by running in the opposite direction, with the assumed
appearance of a broken wing. The flat fish, to escape its mortal
enemies, lies upon the bottom of the stream, scarcely distinguishable in
color or appearance from the sand which constitutes its bed. Nature
seems to aid and abet its falsehood by the very form which has been
assigned to it. And so also the gift of transparency helps the chameleon
in seeming to be a part of the green plant, or the brown bark, upon
which it lies. And Professor Drummond, in his interesting account of his
African travels, describes certain insects which render themselves
indistinguishable either in color or in form from the branchings and
exfoliation of certain grasses upon which they feed. Deception therefore
becomes a chief resource of the weak, while violence is that of the
strong. And those which are in the middle of the scale practise both.
There are still other animals which are invested with attributes of all
that is meanest and most contemptible in character. The sly and
insinuating snake gliding noiselessly toward the victim of its envenomed
sting--the spider which spreads forth its beautiful and alluring net,
sparkling with morning dew, while it lurks in a secret corner, ready to
fall upon its luckless prey--the sneaking and repulsive hyena, too
cowardly to attack the strong and vigorous, but waiting for the
crippled, the helpless, the sick, and dying--if all these are in the
school of preparation for that noble stage of manhood when truth and
righteousness shall be its crown of glory, then, where is the
turning-point? Where do violence, meanness, and deception gradually beam
forth into benevolence and truth?

   "The spider kills the fly. The wiser sphinx
    Stings the poor spider in the centre nerve,
    Which paralyzes only; lays her eggs,
    And buries with them with a loving care
    The spider, powerless but still alive,
    To warm them unto life, and afterward
    To serve as food among the little ones.
    This is the lesson nature has to teach,
    'Woe to the conquered, victory to the strong.'
    And so through all the ages, step by step,
    The stronger and the craftier replaced
    The weaker, and increased and multiplied.
    And in the end the outcome of the strife
    Was man, who had dominion over all,
    And preyed on all things, and the stronger man
    Trampled his weaker brother under foot."

Mr. John Fiske maintains that mankind, during the previous bestial
period, were compelled like all other animals to maraud and destroy, as
a part of the plan of natural selection in securing the survival of the
fittest; the victories of the strong over the weak were the steps and
stages of the animal creation in its general advancement. And he further
states that, even after man had entered upon the heritage of his
manhood, it was still for a time the true end of his being to maraud as
before and to despoil all men whose weakness placed them in his power.
It was only thus that the steady improvement of the race could be
secured; and in that view it was man's duty to consult the dictates of
selfishness and cruelty rather than those of kindness. To use Mr.
Fiske's own words, "If we could put a moral interpretation upon events
which antedated morality as we understand it, we should say it was their
duty to fight; and the reverence accorded to the chieftain who murdered
most successfully in behalf of his clansmen was well deserved."[189]

Much to the same effect writes Professor Leconte. "In organic evolution
the weak, the sick, the helpless, the unfit in anyway, perish, _and
ought to perish_, because this is the most efficient way of
strengthening the _blood or physical nature_ of the species, and thus of
carrying forward evolution. In human evolution (which occurs at an
advanced stage) the weak, the helpless, the sick, the old, the unfit in
anyway, are sustained, _and ought to be sustained_, because sympathy,
love, pity, strengthen the _spirit and moral nature_ of the race."[190]
There is this difference, however, between this statement and that of
Mr. Fiske, that it does not indicate at what point "human evolution"
begins; it does not expressly declare that the subject of evolution,
even after he has become a man, is still for a time in duty bound to
fight in the interest of selfishness and natural selection. Still he
reverses the "ought" as he advances from organic to human evolution.

According to both authors, when, in view of new environments and new
social requirements, it became more advantageous to each individual man
that he should cease to maraud, should learn to regard the rights of
others, should respect the family relation, and subordinate his selfish
interest to the general good; then altruism dawned upon the world, moral
principle appeared, and the angel of benevolence and love became
enshrined in the human breast. Step by step this favored being, the
ideal of natural selection in all her plans, advanced to a stage in
which it became incumbent to even subordinate self to the good of
others, not only to spare the weak but to tenderly care for them, and
even to love those who have treated him with unkindness and abuse. While
in the early stages the law of life and progress had been the sacrifice
of others for selfish good; now the crowning glory consists in
self-sacrifice for the good of all but self.

The logical result of this reasoning cannot escape the notice of any who
carefully consider it. If, for any reason, any community of human beings
should decline in moral and intellectual character until they should
finally reach the original state of savagery, it would again become
their duty to lay aside all high ethical claims as no longer suited to
their condition. The extraneous complications which had grown out of
mere social order having passed away, rectitude also would pass away;
benevolence, philanthropy, humanity, would be wholly out of place, and
however lovely Christian charity might appear from a sentimental point
of view, it would be ill adapted to that condition of society. In such a
state of things the strong and vigorous, if sacrificing themselves to
the weak, would only perpetuate weakness, and it would be their duty
rather to extirpate them, and by the survival only of the fittest to
regain the higher civilization. I state the case in all its naked
deformity, because it shows the confusion and darkness of a world in
which God is not the moral centre.

And here, as already stated, modern speculation joins hands with the old
heathen systems. According to Hindu as well as Buddhist philosophy, this
retrograde process might not only carry civilized man back to savagery,
but might place him again in the category of brutes. If tendencies
control all things and have no limit, why might they not remand the
human being to lower and lower forms, until he should reach again the
status of the mollusk?

Now, over against all the systems which make mind either a product or a
phenomenon of matter, we have the Scriptural doctrine that man was
created in the image of God. This fact explains the differences which
distinguish him from the beasts of the field; for even in his lowest
estate he is amenable to the principle of right and wrong. Paul taught,
in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, that when men descend
to the grade of beasts--and he shows that they may descend even below
the dignity of beasts--so far from becoming exempt from moral claims,
they fall under increased condemnation. The old Hindu systems taught
that there can be no release from the consequences of evil acts. They
traced them from one rebirth to another in kharma, as modern speculation
traces them physically in heredity. The one saw no relief except in the
changes of endless transmigrations, the other finds it only in the
gradual readjustment of the nerve-cells. But we know by observation and
experience that the spiritual power of the Holy Ghost can transform
character at once. No fact in the history of Christianity is more firmly
or more widely established than this. The nerve-tissues to the contrary
notwithstanding, the human soul may be born again. The persecuting Saul
may become at once a chief apostle. The blasphemer, the sot, the
debauchee, the murderer, may be transformed to a meek and sincere
Christian. Millions of the heathen, with thousands of years of savage
and bestial heredity behind them, have become pure and loyal disciples
of the spotless Redeemer. The fierce heathen Africaner, as well as the
dissolute Jerry McCauley, have illustrated this transforming power.

Professor Huxley and others, in our time, are trying to elaborate some
basis of ethics independently of religion. But, as a matter of fact,
these very men are living on conventional moral promptings and
restraints derived from the Bible. The best basis of morals yet known is
that of Christianity, and it is from its high and ennobling cultus that
even the enemies of the truth are deriving their highest inspiration.
Mr. Goldwin Smith, in an able article published in the _Forum_ of April,
1891, on the question, "Will Morality Survive Faith?" shows at least
that the best ethics which the world now has are the outcome of
religious belief and of Christian belief, and he leads the minds of his
readers to gravely doubt whether a gospel of agnostic evolution could
ever produce those forces of moral prompting and restraint which the
centuries of Christianity have developed. He does not hesitate to assert
that those who hold and advocate the modern anti-theistic speculations
are themselves living upon the influence of a Christian cultus which has
survived their faith. A true test of their principles could only be made
when a generation should appear upon which no influence of Christian
parents still remained, and in a society in which Christian sentiment
no longer survived.[191] It may be said that the _truth_ must be
received without regard to the results which may follow. This is
admitted, but the same cannot be said of _theories_. If there is
perfect harmony between all truths in the physical and the moral world,
then all these should have their influence in reaching final

4. The philosophies, ancient and modern, have agreed in lowering the
common estimate of man as man; they have exerted an influence the
opposite of that in which the New Testament pleads for a common and an
exalted brotherhood of the race.

Hinduism raised the Brahman almost to the dignity of the gods, and
debased the Sudra to a grade but a little higher than the brute. Buddha
declared that his teachings were for the wise, and not for the simple.
The philosophers of Greece and Rome, even the best of them, regarded
the helot and the slave as of an inferior grade of beings--even though
occasionally a slave by his superior force rose to a high degree. In
like manner the whole tendency of modern evolution is to degrade the
dignity and sacredness of humanity. It is searching for "missing links;"
it measures the skulls of degraded races for proofs of its theories. It
has travellers and adventurers on the lookout for tribes who have no
conception of God, and no religious rites; it searches caves and dredges
lakes for historical traces of man when he had but recently learned to
"stand upright upon his hind legs." The lower the types that can be
found, the more valuable are they for the purposes required. All this
tends to the dishonoring of the inferior types of men. Wherever
Christianity had changed the old estimates of the philosophers, and had
led to the nobler sentiment that God had made of one blood all nations
and races, and had stamped His own image on them all, and even redeemed
them all by the sacrifice of His Son, the speculations of sceptical
biology have in a measure counteracted its benign influence. They have
fostered the contempt of various classes for a dark skin or an inferior
civilization. They indirectly encourage those who, with little merit of
their own, speak contemptuously of the "Buck Indian," "the Nigger," the
"Heathen Chinee." They encourage the "hoodlum," and so far as they have
any influence, give an implied sanction to much unrighteous legislation.

Even Peschel, who will not be suspected of any bias toward Christianity,
has said on this subject: "This dark side of the life of uncivilized
nations has induced barbarous and inhuman settlers in transoceanic
regions to assume as their own a right to cultivate as their own the
inheritance of the aborigines, and to extol the murder of races as a
triumph of civilization. Other writers, led away by Darwinian dogmas,
fancied that they had discovered populations which had, as it were,
remained in a former animal condition for the instruction of our times."
And he adds: "Thus in the words of a 'History of Creation,' in the taste
now prevalent, 'in Southern Asia and the East of Africa men live in
hordes, mostly climbing trees and eating fruit, unacquainted with fire,
and using no weapons but stones and clubs, after the manner of the
higher apes.' It can be shown," he continues, "that these statements are
derived from the writings of a learned scholar of Bonn on the condition
of savage nations, the facts of which are based either on the
depositions of an African slave of the Doko tribe, a dwarfish people in
the south of Shoa, or on the assertions of Bengalese planters, or
perhaps on the observations of a sporting adventurer, that a mother and
daughter, and at another time a man and woman, were found in India in a
semi-animal condition. On the other hand, not only have neither nations,
nor even hordes, in an ape-like condition ever been encountered by any
trustworthy traveller of modern times, but even those races which in the
first superficial descriptions were ranked far below our grade of
civilization have, on nearer acquaintance, been placed much nearer the
civilized nations. No portion of the human race has yet been discovered
which does not possess a more or less rich vocabulary, rules of
language, artificially pointed weapons, and various implements, as well
as the art of kindling fire.[192]"

The assertion has been made again and again that races are found which
are possessed of no knowledge or conception of Deity, but this
assumption has been thoroughly refuted by Max Müller and many others.

There is a very general assumption abroad in the world that bigotry and
even bias of judgment belong exclusively to the advocates of religious
truth, and that the teachers of agnostic science are, in the nature of
the case, impartial and therefore authoritative. But the generalizations
which have been massed by non-Christian anthropologists and sociologists
are often gleaned and culled under the strongest subserviency to some
favorite hypothesis, and that on the most superficial observation and
from the most unreliable authorities. De Quatrefages, an anthropologist
of profound learning, and certainly with no predilections for Christian
theism, in speaking of the alleged evidences given by Sir John Lubbock
and Saint-Hilaire to show that many races of men have been found
destitute of any conception of Deity, says: "When the writers against
whom I am now arguing have to choose between two evidences, the one
attesting, and the other denying, the existence of religious belief in a
population, it is always the latter which they seem to think should be
accepted. More often than not, they do not even mention the contrary
evidences, however definite, however authentic they may be. Now, it is
evidently much _easier not to see_ than to _discover_ that which may be
in so many ways rendered inappreciable to our eyes. When a traveller
states that he has proved the existence of religious sentiments in a
population which by others has been declared destitute of them, when he
gives precise details upon such a delicate question, he has
unquestionably at least probability in his favor. I see nothing to
authorize this rejection of _positive evidence_ and unconditional
acceptance of _negative evidence_. This, however, is too often the case.
I might justify this imputation by taking one by one almost all the
examples of so-called atheist populations pointed out by different
authors."[193] De Quatrefages then proceeds to show how, with respect to
American tribes, Robertson is quoted while D'Orbigny is passed in
silence, even though he has by the testimony of many authors disproved
the statements of Robertson; how Baegert's negative and sweeping
statements in regard to the California tribes are accepted, while the
very specific testimony of De Mofras in regard both to the fact and to
the nature of their worship is rejected. In relation to the Mincopies,
Mouat (negative) is adopted against Symes and Day. The Hottentots are
adjudged atheistic on the testimony of Le Vaillant, in spite of the
united witness of Kolben, Saar, Tachard, Boeving, and Campbell. The
Kaffirs are declared to be destitute of religion on the statements of
Burchel, while Livingstone and Cazalis have given clear accounts of the
religion of the different Kaffir tribes.

In a similar manner Professor Flint, of Edinburgh, arraigns Sir John
Lubbock and certain other advocates of the atheistic theory concerning
savage tribes, for the partiality of their selection of testimony and
for the superficial evidence which they accept when favorable to their
theories. After reviewing Lubbock's wholesale quotations concerning the
Indian tribes of Brazil, he says, "These are Sir John Lubbock's
instances from South American tribes. But I find that they are all
either erroneous or insufficiently established." And he gives many
counter-proofs. "It will never do," he says, "to believe such sweeping
statements--sweeping negatives--merely because they happen to be
printed." Farther on he adds: "But I think that he (Lubbock) might have
told us that Humboldt, whose travels in South America were so extensive,
whose explorations were so varied, scientific, and successful, and who
certainly was uninfluenced by traditional theological beliefs, _found no
tribes and peoples without a religion_; and that Prince Max von Neuwied
tells us that in all his many and wide wanderings in Brazil he had found
no tribes the members of which did not give manifest signs of religious

In the appendix of the book from which these extracts are made,
Professor Flint says: "No one, I think, who has not a theory to maintain
can consider the circumstances in which most of the Brazilian Indian
tribes are placed without coming to the conclusion that they must have
sunk from a higher intellectual and religious level."

I have dwelt at length upon these arraignments of the careless and
biased utterances of supposed scientists, because it is so much the
fashion of our times to support certain theories of anthropology by
massing the supposed evidences of man's degradation found, even now, in
the environments of savage life. Many readers, apparently dazed by the
vast accumulation of indiscriminate and heterogeneous statements which
they have no time to examine, yield an easy and blind assent, based
either on the supposed wisdom of the writer or upon the fact that so
many others believe, and they imagine that no little courage is required
on their part to risk the loss of intellectual caste. A vast amount of
the thinking of our age, although it claims to be scientific, is really
a matter of simple faith--faith in the opinions and dicta of
distinguished leaders. And under such circumstances, is it not our
privilege and our duty as Christian men to at least challenge and
cross-question those theories which depress and dishonor our common
humanity before we yield them our assent?

The majority of scientists now so confidently assume the certain
derivation of man from lower orders of life, that, as Max Müller has
expressed it, their intolerance greets "with a perfect howl of derision
a man like Virchow," who dares to declare that proof of man's derivation
from animals is still wanting. Nevertheless Virchow, himself an
evolutionist, maintains his ground, as the following passage quoted some
months since from _The London Tablet_ will show:

"Some sensation has been caused at the recent Anthropological Congress
in Vienna by the speech of the great Berlin biologist, Professor
Virchow. About a year ago Virchow, on a similar occasion, made a severe
attack on the Darwinian position, and this year he is similarly
outspoken. We make the following extracts from his long address to the

"'Twenty years ago, when we met at Innspruck, it was precisely the
moment when the Darwinian theory had made its first victorious mark
throughout the world. My friend Vogt at once rushed into the ranks of
the champions of this doctrine. We have since sought in vain for the
intermediate stages which were supposed to connect man with the apes;
the proto-man, the pro-anthropos is not yet discovered. For
anthropological science the pro-anthropos is not even a subject of
discussion. The anthropologist may, perhaps, see him in a dream, but as
soon as he awakes he cannot say that he has made any approach toward
him. At that time in Innspruck the prospect was, apparently, that the
course of descent from ape to man would be reconstructed all at once,
but now we cannot even prove the descent of the separate races from one
another.[194] At this moment we are able to say that among the peoples
of antiquity no single one was any nearer to the apes than we are. At
this moment I can affirm that there is not upon earth any absolutely
unknown race of men. The least known of all are the peoples of the
central mountainous districts of the Malay peninsula, but otherwise we
know the people of Terra del Fuego quite as well as the Eskimo,
Bashkirs, Polynesians, and Lapps. Nay! we know more of many of these
races than we do of certain European tribes. I need only mention the
Albanians. Every living race is still human; no single one has yet been
found that we can designate as Simian or quasi-Simian. Even when in
certain ones phenomena appear which are characteristic of the
apes--e.g., the peculiar ape-like projections of the skull in certain
races--still we cannot on that account alone say that these men are
ape-like. As regards the Lake dwellings, I have been able to submit to
comparative examination nearly every single skull that has been found.
The result has been that we have certainly met with opposite
characteristics among various races; but of all these there is not one
that lies outside of the boundaries of our present population. It can
thus be positively demonstrated that in the course of five thousand
years no change of type worthy of mention has taken place. If you ask me
whether the first man were white or black, I can only say I don't know.'

"Professor Virchow thus summed up the question as to what
anthropological science during the last forty years has gained, and
whether, as many contend, it has gone forward or backward.

"'Twenty years ago the leaders of our science asserted that they knew
many things which, as a matter of fact, they did not know. Nowadays we
know what we know. I can only reckon up our account in so far as to say
that we have made no debts; that is, we have made no loan from
hypotheses; we are in no danger of seeing that which we know over-turned
in the course of the next moment. We have levelled the ground so that
the coming generation may make abundant use of the material at their
disposition. As an attainable objective of the next twenty years, we
must look to the anthropology of the European nationalities.'"

5. Another demoralizing type of speculation which has exerted a wide
influence in many ages and on many nations is pantheism. By abdicating
the place and function of the conscious ego, by making all things mere
specialized expressions of infinite Deity, and yet failing to grasp any
clear conception of what is meant by Deity, men have gradually
destroyed that sense of moral responsibility which the most savage show
to have been a common heritage. It is not among the lowest and most
simple races that missionaries find the greatest degree of obtuseness
and insensibility with respect to sin; it is among populations like
those of India, where the natural promptings of conscience have been
sophisticated by philosophic theories. The old Vedantism, by
representing all things as mere phenomenal expressions of infinite
Brahm, tended necessarily to destroy all sense of personal
responsibility. The abdication of the personal ego is an easy way of
shifting the burden of guilt. The late Naryan Sheshadri declared that
one thing which led him to renounce Hinduism was the fact that, when he
came to trace its underlying principles to their last logical result he
saw no ground of moral responsibility left. It plunged him into an abyss
of intellectual and moral darkness without chart or compass. It
paralyzed conscience and moral sensibility.

It is equally impossible to reason ourselves into any consciousness of
merit or demerit, if we are moved only by some vague law of nature whose
behest, as described by Mr. Buckle, we cannot resist, whose operations
within us we cannot discern, and whose drift or tendency we cannot
foresee. It makes little difference whether we build our faith upon the
god of pantheism or upon the unknowable but impersonal force which is
supposed to move the world, which operates in the same ways upon all
grades of existence from the archangel to the mote in the sunbeam,
which moves the molecules of the human brain only as it stirs the
globules of sap in the tree or plant. It is difficult to see how, upon
any such hypothesis, we are any more responsible for our volitions and
affections than we are for our heart-beats or respirations. And yet we
are conscious of responsibility in the one case and not in the other.
Consciousness comes in with tremendous force at just this point, all
theories and speculations to the contrary notwithstanding. And we dare
not disregard its testimony or its claims. We know that we are morally

6. Many philosophic systems, ancient and modern, have tended to fill the
world with gloomy pessimism. Pessimism is very old and very widespread.
Schopenhauer acknowledges his indebtedness to Gautama for much of the
philosophy which is known by his name. In Hinduism and Buddhism, as well
as in the teachings of the German pessimists, the natural complainings
of the human heart are organized into philosophical systems. There is in
all human nature quite enough of querulousness against the unequal
allotments of Providence, but all these systems inculcate and foster
that discontent by the sanctions of philosophy. The whole assumption of
"The Light of Asia" is that the power that upholds and governs the world
is a hard master, from whose leash we should escape if we can by
annihilating our powers and faculties, and abdicating our conscious
being; that the world and the entire constitution of things are all
wrong; that misery is everywhere in the ascendant, and that man and
beast can only make common cause against the tyranny of a reckless
fate, and cry out with common voice for some sympathizing benefactor who
can pity and deliver. There is no hint that sin has wrought the evil.
Man is not so much a sinner as the victim of a hard lot; he is
unfortunate, and it is the world that is wrong. Therefore the true end
of life is to get rid of the recurrence of life.

In much of our modern agnosticism there is the same dark outlook, and
agnosticism naturally joins hands with pessimism. Dr. Noah Porter, in
one of the series of "Present-Day Tracts," has shown it to be a doctrine
of despair. A well-known lecturer who has loudly declaimed against what
he considers the remorseless character of the Old Testament, has
acknowledged that it is not more cruel than nature; that in the actual
world about us we find the same dark mystery, the weak perishing before
the strong, the wicked prosperous, the just oppressed, and the innocent
given as a prey to the guilty; and his conclusion is that deism is no
more defensible than Christianity. His pessimistic estimate of the
actual world drives him to a disbelief in a personal God.

We do not ignore the sad facts of life; even the Christian is often
saddened by the mysteries which he cannot explain. Bishop J. Boyd
Carpenter, in speaking of the sad and cheerless spirit of Buddhism, has
said: "There are moments in which we are all Buddhists; when life has
disappointed us, when weariness is upon us, when the keen anguish born
of the sight of human suffering appals and benumbs us, when we are
frozen to terror, and our manhood flies at the sight of the Medusa-like
head of the world's unappeased and unappeasable agony; then we too are
torn by the paroxysm of anguish; we would flee to the Nirvana of
oblivion and unconsciousness, turning our back upon what we cannot
alleviate, and longing to lay down the burden of life, and to escape
from that which has become insupportable."[195] But these are only the
dark and seemingly forsaken hours in which men sit in despair beneath
the juniper-tree and imagine that all the world has gone wrong. The
juniper-tree in Christianity is the exception; the Bo-tree of Buddhism,
with the same despondent estimate, is the rule. No divine message came
to show the Buddha a brighter side. And the agnostic stops his ears that
no voice of cheer may be heard. The whole philosophy of Buddhism and of
modern agnosticism is pessimistic. The word and Spirit of God do not
deny the sad facts of human life in a world of sin, but they enable the
Christian to triumph over them, and even to rejoice in tribulation.

7. And this leads to one more common feature of all false systems, their
fatalism. Among the exaggerated claims which are made for heathen
religions in our day, it is alleged that they rest upon a more humane
philosophy than appears in the grim fatalism of our Christian theology,
especially that of the Calvinistic type. Without entering upon any
defence of Christian doctrines of one type or another, it would be easy
to show that fatalism, complete and unmitigated, is at the foundation of
all Oriental religion and philosophy, all ancient or modern pantheism,
and most of the various types of agnosticism. While this has been the
point at which all infidel systems have assailed the Christian faith, it
has nevertheless been the goal which they have all reached by their own
speculations. They have differed from Christianity in that their
predestinating, determining force, instead of being qualified by any
play of free-will, or any feasible plan of ultimate and superabounding
good, has been a real fatalism, changeless, hopeless, remorseless. That
the distaff of the Fates, and the ruthless sceptre of the Erinnys,
entered in full force into all the religions of the Greeks and Romans,
scarcely needs to be affirmed. They controlled all human affairs, and
even the gods were subject to them. The Sagas of the Northmen also were
full of fatalism, and that principle still survives in the folk-lore and
common superstitions of all Scandinavian, Teutonic, and Celtic races.

The fatalism of the Hindus is plainly stated in the "Code of Manu,"
which declares that, "in order to distinguish actions, he (the creator)
separated merit from demerit. To whatever course of action the Lord
appointed each kind of being, that alone it has spontaneously adopted in
each succeeding creation. Whatever he has assigned to each at the first
creation, noxiousness or harmlessness, gentleness or ferocity, virtue or
sin, truth or falsehood, that clings to it."[196] The same doctrine is
put in still more offensive form when it is declared that "Manu (here
used in the sense of creator) allotted to woman a love of her bed, of
her seat, of ornament, also impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, and bad
conduct."[197] There would be some relief from this horrible doctrine if
in subsequent chapters of Manu there were kindly tokens of grace, or
sympathy for woman, or any light of hope here or hereafter; but the
whole teaching and spirit of the "Code" rests as an iron yoke upon
womanhood, and it is largely a result of this high authority that the
female sex has for ages been subjected to the most cruel tyranny and
degradation. It might well be said that, in spite of the horrors of
infanticide, the most merciful element of Hinduism with respect to woman
is the custom by which so large a proportion of female children have
been destroyed at birth. The same fatalistic principles affect all ranks
and conditions of Hindu society. The poor Sudra is not only low-born and
degraded, but he is immovably fixed in his degradation. He is cut off
from all hope or aspiration; he cannot rise from the thraldom of his
fate. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna declares to Arjuna that it is

   "Better to do the duty of one's caste
    Though bad or ill performed, and fraught with evil,
    Than undertake the business of another,
    However good it be."

Thus even the laws of right and wrong are subordinate to the fatality of
caste, and all aspiration is paralyzed.

On the other hand, it has been acknowledged repeatedly that the sternest
type of Puritan theology, as a moral and political force, is full of
inspiration; it does not deaden the soul; it stimulates the action of
free-will; its moral earnestness has been a great power in molding
national destinies. Mr. Bancroft has not hesitated to declare that the
great charters of human liberty are largely due to its strong conception
of a divine and all-controlling purpose. Even Matthew Arnold admitted
that its stern "Hebraic" culture, as he called it, had wrought some of
the grandest achievements of history. But Hindu fatalists, noble Aryans
as they were at first, have been conquered by every race of invaders
that has chosen to assail them. And no better result could have been
expected from a philosophy whose _summum bonum_ is the renunciation of
life as not worth living, and the loss of all personality by absorption
into the One supreme existence.

Buddhism does not present the same fatalistic theory of creation as
Brahminism, but it introduces even a more aggravated fatalism into human
life. Both alike load down the newly-born with burdens of guilt and
consequent suffering transmitted from previous existences. But in the
case of Buddhism there is no identity between the sinner, who incurred
the guilt, and the recipient of the evil kharma, which demands
punishment. Every man comes into the world entangled in the moral
bankruptcy of some one who has gone before, he knows not who nor where.
There is no consciousness of identity, no remembrance, no possible sense
of guilt, or notion of responsibility. It is not the same soul that
suffers, for in either case there is no soul; there is only a bundle of
so-called skandhas--certain faculties of mind and body newly combined
whose interaction produces thought and emotion. Yet there is conscious
suffering. Scoffers have long pointed with indignation at the Christian
doctrine that a child inherits a moral bias from his parents, but
nowadays evolutionists carry the law of heredity to an extreme which no
hyper-Calvinist ever thought of, and many cavillers at "original sin"
have become eloquent in their praises of Buddhism, which handicaps each
child with the accumulated demerit of pre-existent beings with whom he
had no connection whatever.[198] The Christian doctrine imputes
punishable guilt only so far as each one's free choice makes the sin his
own: the dying infant who has no choice is saved by grace; but upon
every Buddhist, however short-lived, there rests an heir-loom of destiny
which countless transmigrations cannot discharge.

In Mohammedanism the doctrine of fate--clear, express, and emphatic--is
fully set forth. The Koran resorts to no euphemism or circumlocution in
declaring it. Thus, in Sura lxxiv. 3, 4, we read: "Thus doth God cause
to err whom he pleases, and directeth whom he pleases." Again, Sura xx.
4, says: "The fate of every man have we bound round his neck." As is
well known, fatalism as a practical doctrine of life has passed into all
Mohammedan society. "Kismet" (it is fated) is the exclamation of
despair with which a Moslem succumbs to adversity and often dies without
an effort to recover. In times of pestilence missionaries in Syria have
sometimes found whole villages paralyzed with despair. Yielding to the
fatalism of their creed, the poor mountaineers have abandoned all means
of cure and resigned themselves to their fate. The same fatal paralysis
has affected all liberty of thought, all inventiveness and enterprise,
all reform of evils, all higher aspiration of the oppressed people.

With the lower forms of religious belief, fetishism, animism, serpent
worship, demon worship, the case is still worse. The only deities that
are practically recognized in these rude faiths are generally supposed
to be malevolent beings, who have not only fixed an evil fate upon men,
but whose active and continued function it is to torment them. Though
there is a lingering belief in a Supreme Being who created all things,
yet he is far off and incomprehensible. He has left his creatures in the
hands of inferior deities, at whose mercy they pass a miserable
existence. Looking at the dark facts of life and having no revelation of
a merciful God they form their estimates of Deity from their trials,
hardships, fears, and they are filled with dread; all their religious
rites have been devised for appeasing the powers that dominate and
distress the world. And yet a pronounced agnostic has asked us to
believe that even this wide-spread horror, this universal nightmare of
heathen superstition, is more humane than the Calvinistic creed.

If we inquire into the tendency of all types of ancient or modern
pantheism in this particular phase, we shall find them, without
exception, fatalistic. They not merely make God the author of sin--they
make Him the sinner. Our misdeeds are not our acts, but God's. Thus the
vaunted Bhagavad Gita, uniting the Sankhyan and the Vedanta
philosophies, makes Krishna say to Arjuna: "All actions are incessantly
performed by operation of the qualities of Prakriti (the self-existing
Essence). Deluded by the thought of individuality, the soul vainly
believes itself to be the doer. The soul, existing from eternity, devoid
of qualities, imperishable, abiding in the body, acts not, nor is by any
act polluted. He who sees that actions are performed by Prakriti alone,
and that the soul is not an actor, perceives the truth."[199] Such is
Hindu pantheism. Yet this most inconsistent system charges man with
guilt. It represents his inexorable fate as pursuing him through endless
transmigrations, holding over him the lash of retribution, while it
exacts the very last farthing. Still, from first to last, it is not he
that acts, but some fractional part of the One only Existence which
fills all space.

The philosophy of Spinoza was quite as fatalistic as the Hindu Vedanta.
He taught, according to Schwegler, that "The finite has no independent
existence in itself: it exists because the unrestrained productive
energy of the (infinite) Substance spontaneously produced an infinite
variety of particular forms. It has, however, no proper reality; it
exists only in and through the Substance. Finite things are the most
external, the last, the most subordinate forms of existence into which
the universal life is specialized, and they manifest their finitude in
that they are without resistance, subject to the infinite chain of
causality which binds the world. The divine Substance works freely
according to the inner essence of its own nature; individuals, however,
are not free, but are subject to the influence of those things with
which they come into contact. It follows from these metaphysical
grounds," Schwegler continues, "that what is called free-will cannot be
admitted. For, since man is only a mode, he, like any other mode, stands
in an endless series of conditioning causes, and no free-will can,
therefore, be predicated of him." Further on he adds: "Evil, or sin, is,
therefore, only relative and not positive, for nothing happens against
God's will. It is only a simple negation or deprivation, which only
seems to be a reality in our representation."[200] The late Samuel
Johnson, in his chapter on "The Morality and Piety of Pantheism,"
undertakes to defend both the Vedantic and the Spinozan philosophy by
pointing out a distinction between an "external compulsion and an inner
force which merges us in the Infinite. Though both are equally efficient
as to the result, and both are inconsistent with individual freedom, yet
real fate is only that which is external.... While destiny or fate in
the sense of absolute external compulsion would certainly be
destructive, not only of moral responsibility but of personality itself,
yet religion or science without fate is radically unsound." Again he
adds: "We cannot separate perfection and fate. Deity whose sway is not
destiny is not venerable, nor even reliable. It would be a purpose that
did not round the universe, a love that could not preserve it. Theism
without fate is a kind of atheism, and a self-dominated atheism. But
holding justice to be the true necessity or fate, is properly theism,
though it refuses the name."[201]

The reasoning here reminds one of the conclusions of a still more recent
writer, who while condemning what he considers the fatalism of
Calvinistic theology, still asserts that its logic leaves no alternative
but the denial of a personal God. And an early Buddhist philosopher has
left a fragment which gives the very same reason for agnosticism. Thus
he says: "If the world was made by God (Isvara) there should be no such
thing as sorrow or calamity, nor doing wrong, nor doing right; for all,
both pure and impure, deeds must come from Isvara.... If he makes
without a purpose he is like a suckling child, or with a purpose, he is
not complete. Sorrow and joy spring up in all that lives; these, at
least, are not alike the works of Isvara, for if he causes love and joy
he must himself have love and hate. But if he loves and hates, he is not
rightly called self-existent. 'Twere equal, then, the doing right or
doing wrong. There should be no reward of works; the works themselves
being his, then all things are the same to him, the maker."

This was a Buddhist's answer to the Hindu pantheism, and there follows
a reply also to the Oriental dualism which attempted to solve the
difficulty by assigning two great first causes, one good and the other
evil. "Nay," says this Buddhist philosopher, "if you say there is
another cause beside this Isvara, then he is not the end or sum of all,
and therefore all that lives may, after all, be uncreated, and so you
see the thought of Isvara is overthrown."[202] Thus the same problems of
existence have taxed human speculation in all lands and all ages. The
same perplexities have arisen, and the same cavils and complaints.

There is an important sense in which all forms of materialism are
fatalistic in their relation to moral responsibility. James Büchner
assures us that "what is called man's soul or mind is now almost
universally conceded as equivalent to a function of the substance of the
brain." Walter Bagehot, like Maudsley, suggests that the newly born
child has his destiny inscribed on his nervous tissues.[203] Mr. Buckle
assures us that certain underlying but indefinable laws of society, as
indicated by statistics, control human action irrespective of choice or
moral responsibility. Even accidents, the averages of forgetfulness or
neglect, are the subjects of computation. To support his position he
cites the averages of suicides, or the number of letters deposited
yearly in a given post-office, the superscription of which has been
forgotten. Thus, underlying all human activity there is an unknown
force, a vague something--call it Deity, or call it Fate--which controls
human affairs irresistibly.

It would be amusing, if it were not sad, to see what devices and what
names have been resorted to in order to get rid of a personal God. The
Hindu Sankhyans ascribed all things to the "Eternally Existing Essence."
The Greek Atomists called it an "Inconceivable Necessity;" Anaxagoras,
"The World-forming Intelligence;" Hegel, "Absolute Idea;" Spinoza,
"Absolute Substance;" Schopenhauer, "Unconscious Will." Spencer finds
only "The Unknowable;" Darwin's virtual Creator is "Natural Selection;"
Matthew Arnold recognize a "Stream of Tendency not our own which makes
for righteousness." Nothing can be more melancholy than this dreary
waste of human speculation, this weary and bootless search after the
secret of the universe. At the same time a deaf ear is turned to those
voices of nature and revelation which speak of a benevolent Creator. But
the point to which I call particular attention in this connection is,
that these vague terms, whatever else they may mean, imply in each case
some law of necessity which moulds the world. They are only the names of
the Fates whom all philosophies have set over us. If we have been
correct in tracing an element of fatalism through all the heathen
faiths, and all ancient and modern philosophies, how is it that the
whole army of unbelief concentrate their assailments against divine
sovereignty in the Word of God, and yet are ready to laud and approve
these systems which exhibit the same things in greater degree and
without mitigation?

That which differentiates Christianity is the fact that, while it does
represent God as the originator and controller of all things, it yet
respects the freedom of the human will, which Mohammedanism does not,
which Hinduism does not, which ancient or modern Buddhism does not,
which Materialism does not. Not only the Word of God but our own reason
tells us that the Creator of this world must have proceeded upon a
definite and all-embracing plan; and yet at the same time, not only the
Word of God, but our own consciousness, tells us that we are free to act
according to our own will. How these things are to be reconciled we know
not, simply because we are finite and God is infinite. I once stood
before the great snowy range of the Himalayas, whose lofty peaks rose
twenty-five thousand feet above the sea. None could see how those
gigantic masses stood related to each other, simply because no mortal
ever has explored, or ever can explore, their awful and unapproachable

So with many great truths concerning the being, attributes, and works of
God. One may say that God predetermined and then foresaw what He had
ordained; another that He foresaw and then resolved to effect what he
had foreseen. Neither is correct, or at least neither can know that he
is correct. God is not subject to our conditions of time and space. It
is impossible that He, whose knowledge and will encompass all things,
should be affected by our notions of order and sequence; there is with
Him no before and after. The whole universe, with all its farthest
extended history, stood before Him from all eternity as one conception
and as one purpose; and the conception and the purpose were one. The
too frequent mistake of human formulas is that they undertake to reason
out infinite mysteries on our low anthropomorphic lines, one in one
extreme and another in another. We cannot fit the ways of God to the
measure of our logic or our metaphysics. What we have to do with many
things is simply to believe and trust and wait.[204] On the other hand,
there are many things of a practical nature which God has made very
plain. He has brought them down to us. The whole scheme of grace is an
adaptation of the mysteries of the Godhead to our knowledge, faith,
obedience, and love.

And this leads directly to the chief differential which Christianity
presents in contrast with the fatalisms of false systems, viz., that
while sin and death abound, as all must see, the Gospel alone reveals a
superabounding grace. It is enough for us that the whole scheme is one
of Redemption, that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the
world--nay, that He made the world, and made it for an infinitely
benevolent purpose. If dark mysteries appear in the Word or in the
world, we are to view them in the light of Calvary, and wait till we can
see as we are seen; for this world is Christ's, and will surely subserve
His ends, which are those of infinite compassion.

Our position, therefore, as before the abettors of heathen or agnostic
philosophy, is impregnable: the fatalism is all theirs, the union of
sovereign power with infinite love is ours. We have reason as well as
they. We realize the facts and mysteries of life as fully as they, but
are not embittered by them. We see nothing to be gained by putting out
the light we have. We prefer faith to pessimism, incarnate love to the
tyranny of "unconscious will."


[Footnote 184: Quoted in Fiske's _Destiny of Man_, p. 117.]

[Footnote 185: See _Indian Wisdom_, p. 82.]

[Footnote 186: What Kanada meant by adrishta was a sort of habit of
matter derived from its past combinations in a previous cosmos, one or
more. The rod which has been bent will bend again, and so matter which
has once been combined will unite again.]

[Footnote 187: _Evolution and its Relation to Religious Thought_, p.

[Footnote 188: _On Natural Selection_, p. 353.]

[Footnote 189: _The Destiny of Man_, p. 80.]

[Footnote 190: _Evolution and its Relation to Religious Thought_, p.

[Footnote 191: Some of Goldwin Smith's utterances are such as these: "If
morality has been based on religion there must be reason to fear that
the foundation being removed the superstructure will fall. That it has
rested on religion so far as the great majority are concerned will
hardly be doubted." ... "The presence of this theistic sanction has been
especially apparent in all acts and lives of all heroic self-sacrifice
and self-devotion." ... "All moral philosophers whose philosophy has
been practically effective, from Socrates down, have been religious.
Many have tried to find an independent basis but have not been
successful--at least have not arrived at any agreement." ... "Thucydides
ascribed the fall of Greece to the fall of religion. Machiavelianism
followed the fall of the Catholic faith." ... "Into the void left by
religion came spiritual charlatanry and physical superstition, such as
the arts of the hierophant of Isis, the soothsayer, the
astrologer--significant precursors of our modern mediums." ...
"Conscience as a mere evolution of tribal experience may have
importance, but it can have no authority, and 'Nature' is an unmeaning
word without an Author of nature--or rather it is a philosophic name for
God." ... "Evolution is not moral, nor can morality be educed from it.
It proclaims as its law the survival of the fittest, and the only proof
of fitness is survival." ... "We must remember that whatever may be our
philosophic school we are still living under the influence of theism,
and most of us under Christianity. There is no saying how much of
Christianity still lingers in the theories of agnostics." ... "The
generation after the next may perhaps see agnosticism, moral as well as
religious, tried on a clear field." These utterances are weighty, though
detached. We only raise a doubt whether "the generation after the next"
will see agnosticism tried on a clear field. On the contrary, it will be
surrounded as now, and more and more, by Christian influences, and will
still depend on those influences to save it from the sad results of its
own teachings.]

[Footnote 192: _The Races of Man_, pp. 137, 138.]

[Footnote 193: _The Human Species_, p. 478.]

[Footnote 194: Mr. John Fiske declares that man is descended from the
catarrhine apes.--_Destiny of Man_, p. 19. Professor Le Conte maintains
that no existing animal could ever be developed into man. He traces all
existing species up from a common stock, of which man is the head. The
common line of ancestors are all extinct.--_Evolution in Relation to
Religious Thought_, p. 90.]

[Footnote 195: _The Permanent Elements in Religion_, p. 154]

[Footnote 196: Book II., 13.]

[Footnote 197: Book IX., 17.]

[Footnote 198: Development by "heredity" and the Buddhist doctrine of
transmigration, though both fatalistic, reach that result in different
ways; they are, in fact, contradictory. Character, according to
Buddhism, is inherited not from parents: it follows the line of

[Footnote 199: _Indian Wisdom_, p. 152.]

[Footnote 200: _History of Philosophy_, pp. 220, 221.]

[Footnote 201: _Oriental Religions_--_India_. Part II., p. 44.]

[Footnote 202: Beal, _Buddhism in China_, p. 180.]

[Footnote 203: _Physics and Politics_.]

[Footnote 204: "Probably no more significant change awaits the theology
of the future than the recognition of this province of the unknown, and
the cessation of controversy as to matters that come within it, and
therefore admit of no dogmatic settlement."--Tulloch's _Religious
Thought in Britain_, p. 24.]



We have in previous lectures instituted brief and partial comparisons
between Christianity and particular faiths of the East, but I now
propose a general comparative survey.

Never before has the Christian Faith been so boldly challenged to show
cause for its supreme and exclusive claims as in our time. The early
Christians encountered something of the same kind: it seemed very
preposterous to the proud Roman that an obscure sect, coming out of
despised Nazareth, should refuse to place a statue of its deified
Founder within the Pantheon, in the goodly company of renowned gods from
every part of the Roman Empire; but it did so refuse and gave its
reasons, and it ultimately carried its point. It gained the Pantheon and
Rome itself for Christ alone. He was proclaimed as the One Redeemer of
the world, and this claim has been maintained from that day to this.
"There can be no diversity," said His followers, "for there is no other
name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved. The very
genius of Christianity means supremacy and monopoly, for the reason that
it is divine and God cannot be divided against Himself." But in our time
the whole world is brought very closely together. The religions of men,
like their social customs and political institutions, are placed in
contact and comparison. The enemies of the Christian faith here, in
Western lands, naturally make the most of any possible alliances with
other systems supposed to antagonize Christianity; while a multitude of
others, having no particular interest in any religion, and rather
priding themselves upon a broad charity which is but a courteous name
for indifference, are demanding with a superior air that fair play shall
be shown to all religions alike. The Church is therefore called upon to
defend her unique position and the promulgation of her message to
mankind. Why does she refuse to admit the validity of other religions,
and why send her missionaries over the earth to turn the non-Christian
races from those faiths which are their heritage by birth, and in which
they honestly put their trust? Why not respect everywhere that noblest
of all man's instincts which prompts him to inquire after God, who hath
made of one blood all nations that dwell upon the earth? If the old
Hindu pantheism of the Bhagavad Gita taught that the worshippers of
other gods were only worshipping the One Supreme Vishnu unawares; if
Buddhism forbids its followers to assert that theirs is the only
religion, or even that it is the best religion;[205] is it not time that
Christians should emulate this noble charity?

This plausible plea is urged with such force and volume, it is so backed
by the current literature and the secular newspaper press that it
cannot be ignored. The time has come when the Church must not only be
able to give a reason for the faith she professes, but must assign
reasons why her faith should supplant every other. I am aware that many
are insisting that her true course is to be found in an intensive zeal
in the promulgation of her own doctrines without regard to any other.
"Preach the Gospel," it is said, "whether men will hear or whether they
forbear." But it must be borne in mind that Paul's more intelligent
method was to strive as one who would win, and not as they who beat the
air. The Salvation Army will reach a certain class with their mere
unlettered zeal. The men who purposely read only One Book, but read that
on their knees, doubtless have an important work to do, but the Church
as a whole cannot go back to the time when devout zealots sneered at the
idea of an educated ministry. The conflict of truth and error must be
waged intelligently. There are sufficient reasons for claiming a divine
supremacy for the Gospel over all heathen faiths, and the sooner we
thoroughly understand the difference, the more wisely and successfully
shall we accomplish our work.

Wherein, then, consists the unique supremacy of the Christian faith?

1. It alone offers a real salvation. We are not speaking of ethics, or
conceptions of God, or methods of race culture, but of that one element
which heals the wounds of acknowledged sin and reconciles men to God.
And this is found in Christianity alone. There is no divine help in any
other. Systems of speculation, theories of the universe, and of our
relation to the Infinite are found in all sacred books of the East.
There are lofty ethical teachings gathered from the lips of many
masters, and records of patient research, cheerful endurance of ascetic
rigors, and the voluntary encounter of martyrs' deaths. And one cannot
but be impressed by this spectacle of earnest struggles in men of every
land and every age to find some way of peace. But in none of the ethnic
religions has there been revealed a divine and heaven-wrought salvation.
They have all begun and ended with human merit and human effort. Broken
cisterns have everywhere taken the place of the One Fountain of Eternal
Life. Though all these systems recognize the sin and misery of the
world, and carry their estimate of them to the length of downright
pessimism, they have discovered no eye that could pity and no arm that
could bring salvation. In the silence and gloom of the world's history
only one voice has said, "Lo, I come! in the volume of the Book it is
written of me." And although men have in all ages striven to rid
themselves of sin by self-mortification, and even mutilation, yet the
ever-recurring question, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this
death?" was never answered till Paul answered it in his rapturous
acknowledgment of victory through the righteousness of Christ. Mohammed
never claimed to be a saviour or even an intercessor. He was the sword
of God against idolators, and the ambassador of God to believers; but
beyond the promise of a sensuous heaven, he offered no salvation. He had
no remedy for sin--except that in his own case he claimed a special
revelation of clemency and indulgence. Many a wholesome truth derived
from the Old Testament scriptures was promulgated to the faithful, but
self-righteousness, and especially valor in Mohammedan conquest, was
offered as the key to paradise.[206]

Doubtless we should view the false systems with discrimination. Like the
sublime philosophy of Plato, Mohammedanism does teach an exalted idea of
God, and there is, accordingly, a dignity and reverence in its forms of
worship. I once witnessed a very imposing spectacle in the great mosque
at Delhi, on the Moslem Sabbath. Several hundred Indian Mohammedans were
repeating their prayers in concert. They were in their best attire, and
fresh from their ablutions, and their concerted genuflections, the
subdued murmur of their many voices, and the general solemnity of their
demeanor, rendered the whole service most impressive. It contrasted
strongly with the spectacle which I witnessed a little later in the
temple of Siva, in Benares. The unspeakable worship of the linga, the
scattering of rice and flowers and the pouring of libations before this
symbol; the hanging of garlands on the horns of sacred bulls, and that
by women; the rushing to and fro, tracking the filth of the sacred
stables into the trodden ooze of rice and flowers which covered the
temple pavements; the drawing and sipping of water from the adjacent
cesspool, known as the sacred well; the shouting and striking of bells,
and the general frenzy of the people--all this could be considered as
nothing short of wild and depraved orgies. If we must choose, give us
Islam, whether in contrast with the Siva worship of India or with the
tyranny of the witch doctors of interior Africa.

Yet, I repeat, Islam has no salvation, no scheme of grace, no great
Physician. In visiting any Mohammedan country one is impressed with this
one defect, the want of a Mediator. I once stood in the central hall of
an imposing mansion in Damascus, around the frieze of which were
described, in Arabic letters of gold, "The Hundred Names of Allah." They
were interpreted to me by a friend as setting forth the lofty attributes
of God--for example, "The Infinite," "The Eternal," "The Creator," "The
All-Seeing," "The Merciful," "The Just." No one could help being
impressed by these inspiring names. They were the common heritage of
Judaism and Christianity before Islam adopted them, and they are well
calculated to fill the soul with reverence and awe. But there is another
class of names which were predicted by Judaism and rejoiced in by
Christianity, but which Islam rejects; for example, "Messiah,"
"Immanuel," or God with us, "The Son of God," "The Son of Man," "The
Redeemer," "The Elder Brother." In a word, Islam has nothing to fill the
breach between a holy and just God and the conscience-smitten souls of
men. These honored names of Allah are as sublime as the snow-peaks of
the Himalayas and as inaccessible. How can we attain unto them? Without
a Daysman how shall we bridge the abyss that lies between? Even Israel
plead for Moses to speak to them in place of the Infinite, and they
voiced a felt want of all human hearts.

Yet no religious system but Christianity reveals a Mediator. There is in
other faiths no such conception as the fatherhood of God. Though such
names as Dyauspater, Zeuspiter or Jupiter, and others bearing the import
of father are sometimes found, yet they imply only a common source, as
the sun is the source of life. They lack the elements of love and
fostering care. There can be no real fatherhood and no spirit of
adoption except through union with the Son of God. The idea that
re-birth and remission of sin may be followed by adoption and heirship,
and joint heirship with the Son of the Infinite, belongs to the
Christian faith alone; and the hope and inspiration of such a heritage,
seen in contrast with the endless and disheartening prospects of
countless transmigrations, are beyond the power of language to describe.
It was with infinite reason that Paul was taught to regard his work
among the Gentiles as a rescue or a deliverance "from darkness unto
light, and from the power of Satan unto God," and it was a priceless
boon which enabled him to offer at once the full remission of sins and a
part in the glorious inheritance revealed through faith in Christ.

Mere ethical knowledge cannot comfort the human soul. Contrast the gloom
of Marcus Aurelius with the joy of David in Psalm cxix.; and Seneca,
also, with all his discernment, and his eloquent presentation of
beautiful precepts, was one of the saddest, darkest characters of Roman
history. He was the man who schemed with Catiline, and who at the same
time that he wrote epigrams urged Nero onward with flattery and
encouragement to his most infamous vices and his boldest crimes.
Knowledge of ethical maxims and the power of expressing them, therefore,
is one thing, religion is another. Religion is a device, human or
divine, for raising up men by a real or a supposed supernatural aid. It
ought to reveal God as a helper and a Saviour. It ought to be a
provision of grace by which the Just can yet be a justifier of them that
are weak and wounded by sin. The ethical systems of the heathen world
corroborate the Scriptural diagnosis of man's character and condition,
but they fail as prescriptions. So far as divine help and regenerative
power are concerned, they leave the race helpless still.

Christianity is a system of faith in a moral as well as in an
intellectual sense. It inculcates a spirit of loving, filial trust
instead of a querulous self-righteousness which virtually chides the
unknown Ruler of the universe. According to "The Light of Asia" when the
Buddha preached at Kapilavastu there were assembled men and devils,
beasts and birds, all victims alike of the cruel fate that ruled the
world. Existence was an evil and only the Buddha could be found to pity.
But that pity offered no hope except in the destruction of hope, and the
destruction of all desire, all aspiration, even all feeling; while
Christianity offers a hope which maketh not ashamed, even an immortal
inheritance.[207] Hinduism also, like Islam and Buddhism, lacks every
element of divine salvation. It is wholly a thing of merit. The infinite
Brahm is said to be void of attributes of all kinds. No anthropomorphic
conception can be predicated of him. The three Gods of the Trimurti are
cold and distant--though for Vishnu in his alleged incarnation of
Krishna, a sympathetic nature was claimed at a later day--borrowed, some
say, from Buddhism, or, according to others, from Christianity. In the
Hindu saint all spiritual power in this life is the merit power of
ascetic austerities, all hope for the future world lies in the cleansing
efficacy of endless transmigrations of which the goal is absorption into

But the difficulty with both Buddhism and Hinduism is that
transmigration cannot regenerate. It is only a vague postponement of the
moral issues of the soul. There is recognized no future intervention
that can effect a change in the downward drift, and why should a
thousand existences prove better than one? According to a law of physics
known as the persistence of force, a body once set in motion will never
stop unless through the intervention of some other resisting force. And
this is strikingly true of moral character and the well-known power and
momentum of habit. Who shall change the leopard's spots or deflect the
fatal drift of a human soul? Remorselessly these Oriental systems exact
from Kharma the uttermost farthing. They emphasize the fact that
according to the sowing shall be the reaping, and that in no part of the
universe can ill desert escape its awards. Even if change were possible,
therefore, how shall the old score be settled? What help, what rescue
can mere infinitude of time afford, though the transmigrations should
number tens of thousands? There is no hint that any pitying eye of God
or devil looks upon the struggle, or any arm is stretched forth to raise
up the crippled and helpless soul. Time is the only Saviour--time so
vast, so vague, so distant, that the mind cannot follows its cycles or
trace the relations of cause and effect.

In contrast with all this, Christianity bids the Hindu ascetic cease
from his self-mortification and become himself a herald of Glad Tidings.
It invites the hook-swinger to renounce his useless torture and accept
the availing sacrifice of Him who hung upon the Cross. It relieves woman
from the power of Satan, as exercised in those cruel disabilities which
false systems have imposed upon her, and assigns her a place of honor in
the kingdom of God. The world has not done scoffing at the idea of a
vicarious sacrifice for the sins of men, and yet it has advanced so far
that its best thinkers, even without any religious bias, are agreed that
the principle of self-sacrifice is the very highest element of character
that man can aspire to. And this is tantamount to an acknowledgment that
the great principle which the Cross illustrates, and on which the
salvation of the race is made to rest, is the crowning glory of all
ethics and must be therefore the germinal principle of all true

Christianity with its doctrine of voluntary Divine Sacrifice was no
after-thought. Paul speaks of it as "the mystery which hath been hid
from ages and from generations but now is made manifest." It was the one
great mystery which angels had desired to look into and for which the
whole world had waited in travail and expectation. Christ was "the Lamb
slain from the foundation of the world," and the entire world-history
has proceeded under an economy of grace. And I repeat, its fundamental
principle of sacrifice, exemplified as it has been through the
Christian centuries, has won the recognition even of those who were not
themselves the followers of Christ. "The history of self-sacrifice
during the last eighteen hundred years," says Lecky, "has been mainly
the history of the action of Christianity upon the world. Ignorance and
error have no doubt often directed the heroic spirit into wrong
channels, and sometimes even made it a cause of great evil to mankind;
but it is the moral type and beauty, the enlarged conception and
persuasive power of the Christian faith that have chiefly called it into
being; and it is by their influence alone that it can be permanently
maintained."[208] Speaking of the same principle Carlyle says: "It is
only with renunciation that life, properly speaking, can be said to
begin.... In a valiant suffering for others, not in a slothful making
others suffer for us, did nobleness ever lie." And George Sand in still
stronger terms has said, "There is but one sole virtue in the world--the
Eternal Sacrifice of self."

While we ponder these testimonies coming from such witnesses we remember
how the Great Apostle traces this wonder-working principle back to its
Divine Source, and from that Source down into all the commonest walks of
life when he says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ,
who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with
God; but made himself of no reputation, and took on Him the form of a
servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion
as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the
death of the Cross." Or when he reminds the Corinthians that, though
Christ was rich, yet for their sake He became poor, that they through
His poverty might be rich.

In all the Oriental systems there is nothing like this, either as a
divine source of all-availing help and rescue, or as a celestial spring
of human action. It is through this communicable grace that Christ
becomes the Way, the Truth, the Life. Well might Augustine say that
while the philosophy of Plato led him to lofty conceptions of God, it
could not show him how to approach Him or be reconciled unto Him. "For
it is one thing," he says, "from the mountain's shaggy top to see the
land of peace and to find no way thither; and in vain to essay through
ways impossible, opposed and beset by fugitives and deserters, under
their captain the lion and the dragon; and another to keep on the way
that leads thither guarded by the host of the heavenly General, where
they spoil not that have deserted the heavenly army; for they avoid it
as very torment. These things did wonderfully sink into my bowels when I
read that _least of Thy Apostles_, and had meditated upon Thy works and
trembled exceedingly." While Christianity is wholly unique in providing
an objective Salvation instead of attempting to work out perfection from
"beggarly elements" within the soul itself, as all heathen systems do,
and as all our modern schemes of mere ethical culture do, it at the same
time implants in the heart the most fruitful germs of subjective
spiritual life. Its superior transformation of human character, as
compared with all other cults, is not only a matter of doctrine but also
a matter of history. It is acknowledged that Christianity has wrought
most powerfully of all faiths in taming savage races as well as
individual men, in moulding higher civilizations and inspiring
sentiments of humanity and brotherly love. "Christ," says one of the
Bampton Lecturers, "is the Light that broods over all history.... All
that there is upon earth of beauty, truth, and goodness, all that
distinguishes the civilized man from the savage is this gift." And if it
be asked how the leaven of Christ's influence has pervaded all society,
the answer is that the work is presided over by a divine and omnipotent
Spirit who represents Christ, who carries out what He began, who by a
direct and transforming power renews and enlightens and prompts the

Christianity, then, is not a record, a history of what was said and done
eighteen centuries ago: it is not a body of doctrines and precepts: it
is the living power of God in the soul of man. The written Word is the
sword of this Divine Spirit. The renewed soul is begotten of the Spirit
and it is instinct with the indwelling of the Spirit. No other system
makes any claim to such an influence as that of the Holy Ghost. Sacred
books, written systems of law or ethics would all prove a dead
letter--the Bible itself, as well as the Veda, would be a dead letter
but for the co-operation of this Divine Spirit. Sacred Scriptures might
be venerated, they would not be obeyed. The dead heart must be quickened
and renewed and only Christianity reveals the Transforming Power.
_Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot
see the Kingdom of God._

Instantaneous renewal of the character and the life is not even claimed
by other faiths; there is in them nothing like the conversion of Saul of
Tarsus, or that of thousands of others well known in the history of
Christian experience. There are no such changes in men who, from having
led lives of profligacy and irreligion, have turned at once into paths
of righteousness--have tamed their wild propensities and submitted
themselves to the gentle law of love. But under Christian influence we
have seen Africaner the savage transformed to a tractable, humane, and
loving disciple. We have seen the wild and bloodthirsty Koord subdued
and made as a little child. We have seen the cannibal King Thokambo, of
Fiji, turned from his cruelty to a simple, childlike faith, and made to
prefer the good of his people to the glory of a powerless sceptre. Whole
races, like the Northmen, have been tamed from savagery and made
peaceable and earnest followers of Christ. In our own time it has been
said of a missionary in the South Pacific Islands, "that when he arrived
on his field there were no Christians, and when he closed his labors
there were no heathen."

The religion of Gautama has won whole tribes of men, Hinduism and
Mohammedanism are even now winning converts from fetish-worshipping
races, but, so far as I know, none of these faiths have ever made
converts except either by war or by the presentation of such motives as
might appeal to the natural heart of man; there has been no spiritual
transformation. If it be said that the Buddhist Nirvana and the Hindu
doctrine of final absorption cannot attract the natural heart, the ready
answer is that Nirvana and absorption are not the real inspiration of
their respective systems. They are so far removed into the dim future as
to exert no practical influence on the great mass of men. The future
estate that is really expected and desired is a happy ideal
transmigration, and perhaps many of them; and the chief felicity of the
Hindu is that no particular estate is prescribed. While the Christian is
promised a heaven to which the natural heart does not aspire, the Hindu
may imagine and prefigure his own heaven. His next life may be as carnal
as the celestial hunting-ground of the Indian or the promised paradise
of the Moslem. It may be only the air-castle of a day-dreamer. There is
no moral transformation. There is no expulsive power of a new and higher
aspiration. Old things have not passed away; nothing has become new.

But the grace of God in Christ claims to work an entire change in the
desires and aspirations of the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Paul found the men of Ephesus highly civilized in a sense, but "dead in
trespasses and sins," "walking according to the course of this world,
and having their conversation in the lusts of the flesh." But God by His
Spirit so "quickened" them that they were able to understand and
appreciate one of the most spiritual of all his Epistles. He addressed
them as "new creatures," as God's "workmanship," "_created in Christ
Jesus unto good works_."

As has already been noticed, all theories of moral transformation found
in heathen systems require time. The process is carried on by intensive
and long-continued thought, or by gradual accumulations of merit. Only
the Buddha was enlightened _per sallum_,[209] so to speak. And quite in
accord with this view are those modern forms of materialism which
maintain that mental and moral habits consist in gradual impressions
made in the molecules of the nerve-tissues--that these impressions come
at length to determine our acts without the necessity of either purpose
or conscious recognition, and that only when right action becomes thus
involuntary can character strictly be said to exist.[210] But such
theories certainly do not harmonize with the known facts of Christian
conversion already alluded to. We do not refuse to recognize a certain
degree of truth hidden in these speculations. We are aware that
continued thought or emotion promotes a certain habit, and that in the
Christian life such habit becomes an element of strength. We also admit
that high and pure thought and emotion stamp themselves at length upon
our physical nature, and appear in the very expression of the
countenance, but when we look for the transforming impulse that can
begin and sustain such habitual exercises in spite of the natural
sinfulness and corruption which all systems admit, we find it only in
the Christian doctrine of the new birth by the power of the Holy Ghost.

On these two doctrines of a Divine Vicarious Sacrifice and of the
transforming power of a Divine Spirit we might rest our case. It should
be sufficient to show, first, that Christianity alone provides a divine
salvation in which God is made sin for us; and second, that its power
alone, though objective, works in us the only effectual subjective
transformation by a direct influence from on high. But there are many
other points of contrast in which the transcendent character of
Christianity appears.

First, an important differential lies in the completeness of the Divine
personality of Jesus. Buddhism, Confucianism, and Mohammedanism, were
strongly supported by the personality of their founders. We also
cheerfully accord to such men as Socrates and Plato great personal
influence. They have impressed themselves upon the millions of mankind
more deeply than statesmen, or potentates, or conquerors; but not one of
these presents to us a complete and rounded character, judged even from
a human stand-point. Mohammed utterly failed on the ethical side.[211]
His life was so marred by coarse sensuality, weak effeminacy, heartless
cruelty, unblushing hypocrisy, and heaven-defying blasphemy, that but
for his stupendous achievements, and his sublime and persistent
self-assertion, he would long since have been buried beneath the
contempt of mankind.[212] Confucius appears to have been above reproach
in morals, and that amid universal profligacy; but he was cold in
temperament, unsympathetic, and slavishly utilitarian in his teachings.
His ethics lacked symmetry and just proportion. The five relations which
constituted his ethico-political system were everything. They were made
the basis of inexorable social customs which sacrificed some of the
tenderest and noblest promptings of the human heart. Confucius mourned
the death of his mother, for filial respect was a part of his system,
but for his dying wife there is no evidence of grief or regret, and when
his son mourned the death of his wife the philosopher reproved him. In
all things he reasoned upward toward the throne; his grand aim was to
build up an ideal state. He therefore magnified reverence for parents
and all ancestors even to the verge of idolatry, but he utterly failed
in that symmetry in which Paul makes the duties of parents and children
mutual. Under his system a father might exercise his caprice almost to
the power of life or death, and a Chinese mother-in-law is proverbially
a tyrant. The beautiful sympathy of Christ, shown in blessing little
children and in drawing lessons from their simple trust, would have been
utterly out of place in the great sage of China. Confucius seems to
have troubled himself but slightly, if at all, about the wants of the
poor and the suffering; he taught no doctrine of self-sacrifice for the
ignorant and the unworthy. His ideal of the "superior man" would have
been tarnished by that contact with the lowly and degraded which was the
glory of the Christ. And when his cotemporary, Laotze, taught the duty
of doing good, even to enemies, he repudiated the principle as uncalled
for in the relative duties which should govern mankind.[213]

With respect to personality, probably a higher claim has been made for
Gautama than for either of the characters who have been named. Sir Edwin
Arnold, in his preface to the "Light of Asia," has assigned to him a
virtual sinlessness, and such is doubtless the character which his
followers would claim for him. But as a model for the great masses of
men Gautama was very far from perfection. He had little of the genial
sunlight of humanity; in every fibre of his nature he was a recluse; his
views of life were pessimistic; he had no glad tidings for the
sorrowing; no encouragement for the weary and the heavy laden.[214] His
agnosticism was ill adapted to the irrepressible wants of mankind, for
they must place their trust in a higher power, real or imagined.[215]
But while he cast a cloud over the being of God he drove his despairing
countrymen to the worship of serpents and evil spirits. In Ceylon, which
is _par eminence_ an orthodox Buddhist country, ninety per cent. of the
population are said to be devil worshippers, and the devil jugglers are
patronized even by the Buddhist monks.[216] As the philosophy of Gautama
was above the comprehension of the common people, so his example was
also above their reach. It utterly lacked the element of trust, and
involved the very destruction of society. To "wander apart like a
rhinoceros" and "be silent as a broken gong" might be practicable for a
chosen few, if only self were to be considered, but silence and
isolation are not worthy ideals in a world of mutual dependence and
where all life's blessings are enhanced by the ministries of the strong
to the necessities of the weak. Infinitely higher was the example of Him
who said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work;" and who accordingly
exhorted his disciples to work while the day lasts. Christ prayed not
that they should be taken out of the world, but that they should be kept
from the evil.

Again the Buddha's life furnished but a poor example in the domestic
duties. His abandonment of his wife and child cannot be justified upon
any sound theory of life. Whatever may be said of the merits of celibacy
in those who are under no marriage vows, the abandonment of sacred
relations once formed must be considered a crime against all society. As
Mohammed's example of impurity has cast a blight over all Moslem lands,
so Gautama's withdrawal from his home has borne, and is still bearing,
its evil fruit. In Burmah it is common for a Buddhist who desires a
change of wives to abandon his family for the sacred life of a
monastery, where, if he remains but a single month, he sunders the old
relation and is at liberty to form a new one. Good men are disgusted,
but there is the example of "the Blessed One!" It will be admitted that
in comparison with Hinduism the Buddhist ethics advanced woman to a
higher social condition, but when modern apologists compare Gautama with
Christ there are many contrasts which cannot be disguised.

In some respects Socrates stands highest among great philosophers.
Mohammed's career cost him nothing but gained for him everything that
man's earthly nature could desire. Gautama made only a temporary
sacrifice; he changed lower indulgences for honor and renown, and died
at a ripe old age surrounded by loving friends. But Socrates resolutely
and calmly suffered martyrdom for his principles. The sublime dignity
and self-control of his dying hours will never cease to win the
admiration of mankind; yet Socrates was by no means a complete
character. He died unto himself merely. He left no gospel of peace to
humanity. His influence, however pure, could not, and in fact did not,
become a diffusive and transforming leaven, either in his own or in any
subsequent generation. The late Matthew Arnold has said, "The radical
difference between Jesus and Socrates is that such a conception as
Paul's (conception of faith) would, if applied to Socrates, be out of
place and ineffective. Socrates inspired boundless friendship and
esteem, but the inspiration of reason and conscience is the one
inspiration which comes from him and which impels us to live righteously
as he did. A penetrating enthusiasm of love, sympathy, pity, adoration,
reinforcing the inspiration of reason and duty does not belong to
Socrates. With Jesus it is different. On this point it is needless to
argue: history has proved. In the midst of errors the most prosaic, the
most immoral, the most unscriptural, concerning God, Christ, and
righteousness, the immense emotion of love and sympathy inspired by the
person and character of Jesus has had to work almost by itself alone for
righteousness, but it has worked wonders."[217]

This tribute to the completeness and power of Christ's personality is
calculated to remind one of a memorable chapter in the well-known work
of the late Dr. Horace Bushnell, entitled, "Nature and the
Supernatural." With a wonderful power it portrays Christ as rising above
the plane of merely human characters--as belonging to no age or race or
stage of civilization--as transcendent not in some of the virtues, but
in them all--as never subject to prejudice, or the impulse of passion,
never losing that perfect poise which it has been impossible for the
greatest of men to achieve--as possessed of a mysterious magnetism which
carried conviction to His hearers even when claiming to be one with the
Infinite--as inspiring thousands with a love which has led them to give
their lives for His cause.[218]

I have often thought that one of the most striking evidences of the
divine reality of the Christian faith is found in the reflection of
Christ's personality in the character and life of the apostle Paul.[219]
No one can doubt that Paul was a real historic personage, that from
having been a strict and influential Jew he became a follower of Jesus
and gave himself to His service with a sublime devotion; that he sealed
the sincerity of his belief by a life of marvellous self-denial. He had
no motive for acting a false part at such cost; on the contrary, an
unmistakable genuineness is stamped upon his whole career. How shall we
explain that career? Where else in the world's history have we seen a
gifted and experienced man, full of strong and repellant prejudices, so
stamped and penetrated by the personality of another?

On what theory can we account for such a change in such a life, except
that his own story of his conversion was strictly true, that he had felt
in his inmost soul a power so overwhelming as to sweep away his
prejudices, humble his pride, arm him against the derision of his former
friends, and prepare him for inevitable persecution and for the martyr
death of which he was forewarned? So vivid were his impressions of this
divine personality that it seemed almost to absorb his own. Christ,
though He had ascended, was still with him as a living presence. All his
inspiration, all his strength came from Him. His plans and purposes
centred in his Divine Master, and his only ambition was to be found
well-pleasing in his sight. He saw all types and prophecies fulfilled in
Him as the Son of God, the fulness of His glory, and the express image
of His person. Paul never indulged in any similes by which to express
the glory of heaven; it was enough that we should be like Christ and be
with Him where He is.

The writings of all the apostles differ from the books of other
religions in the fact that their doctrines, precepts, and exhortations
are so centred in their divine Teacher and Saviour. Buddha's disciples
continued to quote their Master, but Buddha was dead. Theoretically not
even his immortal soul survived. He had declared that when his bodily
life should cease there would be nothing left of which it could be said
"I am."

But to the vivid and realizing faith of Christ's followers He is still
their living Head, their Intercessor, their Guide. His resurrection is
the warrant of their future life. He has gone before and will come again
to receive His own. Christianity is Christ: all believers are members of
His mystic body: the Church is His bride. He is the Alpha and the Omega
of the world's history. In the contemplation of His personality as the
chief among ten thousand His people are changed into His image as from
glory to glory. The ground of salvation in Christianity is not in a
church, nor a body of doctrines, not even in the teachings of the
Master: it is in Christ Himself as a humiliated sacrifice and a
triumphant Saviour.

Second, the religion of the Bible differs from every other in its
completeness and scope--its adaptation to all the duties and experiences
of life and to all races and all conditions of men. It alone is able to
meet all the deep and manifold wants of mankind. Hardwick has very aptly
pointed out a contrast in this respect between the faith of Abraham and
that of the early Indo-Aryan chiefs as portrayed in the Rig Veda. The
pressing wants of humanity necessitate a faith that is of the nature of
a heartfelt trust. No other can be regarded as strictly religious. Now
Abraham's faith was something more than a speculation or a creed. It was
an all-embracing confidence in God. He had an abiding sense of His
presence and he confided in Him as his constant guide, defender, and
friend. His family, his flocks, his relations to the hostile tribes who
surrounded him, the promised possession of the land to which he
journeyed--all these were matters which he left in the hands of an
unseen but ever-faithful friend. His was a practical faith--a real and
complete venture, and it involved gratitude and loyalty and love.
Abraham's childhood had been spent in the home of an idolatrous father;
for Shemite as well as Aryan had departed from the worship of the true
God. In Chaldea, as in India, men had come to worship the sun and moon
and the forces of nature. But while the Hindu wandered ever farther away
from Jehovah, Abraham restored the faith which his ancestors had lost.
He had no recourse to Indra or Varuna, he sought no help from devas or
departed spirits. He looked to God alone, for he had heard a voice
saying, "I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou
perfect."[220] Under the inspiration of such a summons Abraham became
"the father of the faithful." He was the representative and exemplar of
real and practical faith, not only to the Hebrew race but to all
mankind. He staked his all upon a promise which he regarded as divine
and therefore sure. He believed in the Lord and He counted it to him for
righteousness. He left home and country and ventured among hostile
tribes in an assured confidence that he should gain a possession, though
empty-handed, and a countless posterity, though yet childless, and that
all this would be granted him not for his own glory, but that all
nations might be blest in him. And this subordination of self and this
uplifting of his soul to a sublime hope rendered him patient when
fulfilment seemed postponed, and strong against temptation when spoils
and emoluments were offered him; for in some sense, vague perhaps, he
foresaw a Messiah and a Kingdom of Righteousness, and he was girded with
confidence to the last, though he died without the sight.

We look in vain for anything to be compared with this in the Vedic
literature, still less in that of the period of Brahmanical
sacerdotalism, or in the still later speculations of the philosophic
schools. Real Hinduism is wanting in the element of trust. Its only
faith is a belief, a theory, a speculation. It receives nothing and
expects nothing as a free gift of God. Sacrificial rites survived in the
early Vedic period, but they had lost all prophetic significance. They
terminated in themselves and rested upon their own value. There was no
remembered promise and no expectation of any specific fulfilment. The
Hindu gained simply what he bought with his merit or his offerings, and
he had no greater sense of gratitude to deity than to the tradesman of
whom he made a purchase in the bazaar. There are, indeed, traces in some
of the earliest Vedic hymns of a feeling of dependence upon superior
powers, yet the Brahmanical priesthood taught men that he who was rich
enough to offer a sacrifice of a hundred horses might bankrupt heaven,
and by his simple right of purchase even rob Indra of his throne.[221]
As stated in a previous lecture, so far was this system from "the faith
which works by love" that even demons, by costly sacrifices might
dispute the supremacy of the universe.

There is an equally significant contrast between the legislation of
Moses and that of Manu. The life and experience of the former are
interwoven with his statutes. They are illustrated with references to
actual events in the history of the people. The blessings, the trials,
the punishments, the victories, the defeats of Israel enter into the
texture of the whole Mosaic record: it is full of sympathetic feeling;
it takes hold on the actual life of men and therefore is able to reform
and elevate them. It brings not only Moses, but Jehovah Himself into
personal sympathy with the people. But Manu presents statutes only. Many
of these are wholesome as laws, but they are destitute of tenderness or
compassion. No indication is given of the author's own experience, and
we are left in doubt whether there were not many authors to whom the
general name of Manu was applied. There is no inculcation of gratitude
and love to God, or any hint of His love to men. No prayer, no song, no
confession of dependence, no tribute of praise, no record of trembling,
yet trustful, experience. It is all cold, lifeless precept and
prohibition, with threats of punishment here and hereafter. Religious
exaction is most strict, but there are few religious privileges except
for Brahmans, and these they possess by divine birthright. No
particular favor is asked from any being in heaven or on earth.

With respect to this same element of personal trust, and real, heartfelt
experience, contrast David also with any author whose name is given in
Hindu literature. He was full of humanity, large-hearted, loving,
grateful, and though stained by sin, yet he was so penitent and humble
and tender that he was said to be a man after God's own heart. He was a
successful warrior and a great king, but he held all his honor and his
power as a divine gift and for the Divine glory. Compare the 119th Psalm
with the Upanishads, or with any of the six schools of philosophy. The
one deals with moral precepts and spiritual aspirations, all the others
with subtle theories of creation or problems of the universe. The one is
the outflowing of joyous experience found in obedience to God's moral
law, and only out of the heart could such a psalm have been written. The
law of God had become not a barrier or a hamper, but a delight.
Evidently David had found a religion which filled every avenue and met
every want of his whole being.

Again, only the religion of Christ brings man into his proper relation
of penitence and humility before God. It is necessary to the very
conception of reconciliation to a higher and purer being that
wrong-doing shall be confessed. All the leading faiths of the world have
traditions of the fall of man from a higher and holier estate, and most
of them--notably Hinduism, Buddhism, ancient Druidism, and the Druse
religion of Mount Lebanon--declare that the fall was the result of
pride and rebellion of spirit. And of necessity the wrong, if it cannot
be undone, must at least be confessed. Self-justification is
perpetuation. The offender must lay aside his false estimate of self and
admit the justice whose claims he has violated. Even in the ordinary
intercourse of men this principle is universally recognized. There can
be no reconciliation without either actual reparation or at least a
frank acknowledgment. Governmental pardon always implies repentance and
promised reform, and between individuals a due concession to violated
principle is deemed the dictate of the truest honor. How can there be
reconciliation to God, then, without repentance and humiliation? Of what
value can heathen asceticism and merit-making be while the heart is
still barred and buttressed with self-righteousness? The longer a man
approaches the Holiness of Deity with the offerings of his own
self-consequence the greater does the enormity of his offence become and
the wider the breach which he attempts to close.

Even if he could render a perfect obedience and service for the future,
he could never overtake the old unsettled score. The prodigal cannot
recover the squandered estate or wipe out the record of folly and sin,
and if there be no resource of free remission on the one hand, and no
deep and genuine repentance on the other, there can be no possible
adjustment. The universal judgment and conscience of men so decide.
Philosophers may present this method and that of moral culture and
assimilation to the character of the Infinite, but practically all men
will approve the philosophy taught in Christ's touching parable of the
Prodigal Son. The beauty, the force, the propriety of its principles
strike the human understanding, whether of the sage or of the savage,
like a flash of sunlight, and no human heart can fail to be touched by
its lessons. Yet where in all the wide waste of heathen faiths or
philosophies is there anything which even remotely resembles the story
of the Prodigal? Where is the system in which such an incident and such
a lesson would not be wholly out of place?

In that ancient book of the Egyptian religion known as "The Book of the
Dead," the souls of the departed when arraigned before the throne of
Osiris are represented as all joining in one refrain of
self-exculpation, uttering such pleas as these: "I have not offended or
caused others to offend." "I have not snared ducks illegally on the
Nile." "I have not used false weights or measures." "I have not
defrauded my neighbor by unjustly opening the sluices upon my own land!"
Any sense of the inward character of sin or any conception of wrong
attitudes of mind or heart toward God is utterly wanting. It is simply
the plea of "not guilty," which even the most hardened culprit may make
in court. In one of the Vedic hymns to Varuna there is something which
looks like confession of sin, but it really ends in palliation. "It was
not our doing, O Varuna, it was necessity; an intoxicating draught,
passion, dice, thoughtlessness. The old is there to mislead the young.
Even sleep brings unrighteousness." And the remission sought for is not
one involving a change of character but only release from an external
bond. "Absolve us from the sins of our fathers and from those which we
committed with our own bodies. Release Vasishtha, O King, like a thief
who has feasted on stolen oxen. Release him like a calf from the

In the Penitential Psalms of the ancient Akkadians, who inhabited
Northern Assyria in the times of Abraham, and who may have retained
something of that true faith from which Abraham's father had declined,
we find a nearer approach to true penitence, but that also lacks the
inner sense of sin and seeks merely an exemption from punishments.

Only in the Old and New Testaments is sin recognized as of the nature of
personal guilt. Accordingly, Christianity alone recognizes the fact that
right thoughts and motives and a worthy character are the gifts of God.
Cicero has truly remarked[223] that men justly thank God for external
blessings, but never for virtue, or talent, or character. All that is
regarded as their own. And such is the conceit of human
self-righteousness in all man-made religions, whether Hindu or Greek,
ancient or modern. Philosophy is in its very nature haughty and
aristocratic. Even Plato betrays this element. It is only the Christian
apostle that is heard to say, with heartfelt emotion, "By the grace of
God I am what I am." The Buddha declared that he recognized no being in
any world to whom he owed any special reverence; and especially in his
later years, when his disciples had come to look upon him as in a sense
divine, he regarded himself as the highest of all intelligences on the
earth or in the various heavens. Such assumptions in both Buddha and
Confucius will explain the fact that for ages both have been virtually
worshipped. "At fifteen," said Confucius, "I had my mind bent on
learning. At thirty I stood firm. At forty I had no doubt. At fifty I
knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty my ear was an obedient organ for
the reception of truth. At seventy I could follow what my heart desired
without transgressing what was right."[224] Yet neither of these great
teachers claimed to be a divine Saviour. They were simply exemplars;
their self-righteousness was supposed to be attainable by all.

I cannot do better in this connection than point out a striking contrast
in the recorded experiences of two well-known historic characters. Islam
honors David, King of Israel, and accords him a place among its
accredited prophets. Both David and Mohammed were guilty of adultery
under circumstances of peculiar aggravation. Mohammed covered his
offence by a blasphemous pretence of special revelations from God,
justifying his crime and chiding him for such qualms of conscience as he
had. David lay in dust and ashes while he bemoaned not only the
consequences of his sin and the breach of justice toward his neighbor,
but also the deep spiritual offence of his act. "Against Thee, and Thee
only, O God, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight."
Profoundest penitence on the one hand and Heaven-daring blasphemy on
the other, the Bible and the Koran being witnesses!

Another marked distinction is seen in the moral purity of the Christian
Scriptures as contrasted with the so-called sacred books of all other
religions. That which is simply human will naturally be expected to show
the moral taint of lapsed humanity. The waters cannot rise higher than
the fountain-head, nor can one gather figs from thistles. In our social
intercourse with men we sooner or later find out their true moral level.
And so in what is written, the exact grade of the author will surely
appear. And it is by this very test that we can with tolerable accuracy
distinguish the human from the divine in religious records. It is not
difficult to determine what is from heaven and what is of the earth.

No enlightened reader of Greek mythology can proceed far without
discovering that he is dealing with the prurient and often lascivious
imaginings of semi-barbarous poets. He finds the poetry and the art of
Greece both reflecting the character of a passionate people, bred under
a southern sun and in an extremely sensuous age. If he ventures into the
lowest depths of the popular religious literature of Greece or Rome, or
ancient Egypt or Phoenicia, he finds unspeakable vice enshrined among
the mysteries of religion, and corruptions which an age of refinement
refuses to translate or depict abound on every hand. Or apply the same
test to the literature of Hinduism, even in its earliest and purest
stages. The sacred Vedas, which are supposed to have been breathed into
the souls of ancient rishis by direct divine effluence, are tainted here
and there by debasing human elements, and that not incidentally but as
the very soul of the Hindu system. For example, when the Vedic hymns
promise as future rewards the lowest sensual indulgences[225] none can
doubt the earthly source of their inspiration. As for the Upanishads,
which are regarded as _Sruti_ or inspired, Professor Max Müller, in his
Introduction to the first volume of "The Sacred Books of the East,"
virtually admits the impropriety of translating them for English readers
without expurgation. Mr. Ram Chandra Bose, of Lucknow, declares himself
unable, for the same reason, to give a full and unabridged account of
the ancient Hindu sacrifices.[226] The later literatures of the Puranas
and the Tantras are lower still. Anti-Christian Orientalists have so
generally conveyed the popular impression that their culled and
expurgated translations were fair representations of Hindu literature
that Wilson finally felt called upon in the interest of truth and
honesty to lift the veil from some of the later revelations of the
Puranas, and it is sufficient to say that the Greek mythology is fairly
outdone by the alleged and repeated escapades of the chief Hindu

The traditions of all ancient religions found on either hemisphere, and
the usages observed among savage tribes of to-day all conform to the
same low moral gauge. All are as deplorably human as the degraded
peoples who devised them. In Mexico and Peru, as well as in Egypt and in
Babylonia, base human passion was mingled with the highest teachings of
religion.[227] Buddhism has generally been considered an exception to
this general rule, and it will be confessed that its influence has been
vastly higher than that of the old Hinduism, or the religions of Canaan,
or Greece, or Rome, and immeasurably higher in morals than that of
Islam; yet even Buddhism has been colored by its European advocates with
far too roseate a hue. Sir Edwin Arnold was not the first biographer of
Gautama to glorify incidentally the seductive influences of his Indian
harem, and to leave on too many minds the impression that, after all,
the luxurious palace of Sidartha was more attractive than the beggars'
bowl of the enlightened "Tathagata." The Bishop of Colombo, in an able
article on Buddhism, arraigns the apologetic translators of Buddhistic
literature for having given to the world an altogether erroneous
impression of the moral purity of the Sacred Books of Ceylon.[228]

The vaunted claim that the early Buddhist records, and especially the
early rock inscriptions found in caves, are pure, whatever corruptions
may have crept into more modern manuscripts, is well met by letters from
a recent traveller, which speak of certain Buddhist inscriptions so
questionable in character that they cannot be translated or

It is scarcely necessary for me to speak of the base appeal to man's low
passions found in the Koran. It is only necessary to trace its
unmistakable influence in the moral degeneracy of Mohammedan populations
in all lands and all ages--destroying the sacredness of the home,
degrading woman, engendering unnatural vices, and poisoning all society
from generation to generation. It is indeed a hard task for its
apologists, by any kind of literary veneering to cover the moral
deformity and the blasphemous wickedness which, side by side with
acknowledged excellences, mar the pages of the Koran. The soiled
finger-marks of the sensual Arab everywhere defile them. Like the blood
of Banquo, they defy all ocean's waters to wash them out. It was easy
enough for Mohammed to copy many exalted truths from Judaism and
Christianity, and no candid mind will deny that there are many noble
precepts in the Koran; but after all has been said, its ruling spirit is
base. Even its promised heaven is demoralizing. It is characteristically
a human book, and very low in the ethical scale at that.

Let us now turn to the Bible; let us remember that the Old Testament
represents those early centuries when the people of Israel were
surrounded by the corruptions of Baal worship, which transcended the
grovelling wickedness of all other heathen systems, ancient or modern.
Let us bear in mind the kind of training which the nation had received
amid the corruptions of Egypt, all rendered more effective for evil by
their degrading bondage; and with all these disadvantages in view, let
us search everywhere, from Genesis to Malachi, and see if there be one
prurient utterance, one sanction for, or even connivance at, impurity
in all those records, written by men in different lands and ages, men
representing all social grades, all vocations in life, and chosen from
among all varieties of association. Who will deny that these men appear
to have been raised by some unaccountable power to a common level of
moral purity which was above their age, their social standards, their
natural impulses, or any of the highest human influences which could
have been exerted upon them?

They were often called to deal plainly with moral evils. They record
instances of grievous dereliction, in some cases the writers were
themselves the offenders. But there is always reproof. The story always
has a salutary moral. Sin is always shown to be a losing game, a sowing
to the wind and a reaping of the whirlwind. It is either followed by
severe judgments, or it is repented of with a contrition which bows even
a great monarch in dust and ashes.

The books of the New Testament were also written in an age of great
moral corruption. Judaism was virtually dead; the current religion in
the Holy City was "a sad perversion of the truth." Hypocrisy sat in high
places when John Baptist came with his protest and his rebukes. The
Herods, who held the sceptres of provincial authority, were either base
time-servers, or worse, they were monsters of lust and depravity. In the
far-off capitals of the dominant heathen races vice had attained its
full fruitage and was already going to seed and consequent decay.
Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, and Antioch were steeped in iniquity, while
the emperors who wielded the sceptre of the Roman empire were hastening
the ruin of the existing civilization. It was in such an age and amid
such surroundings that the Gospels and the Epistles came forth as the
lotus springs, pure and radiant from the foul and fetid quagmire. What
could have produced them? The widely accepted rule that religions are
the products of their environments is surely at fault here. Neither in
the natural impulses of a dozen Judean fishermen and peasants, nor in
the bigoted breast of Saul of Tarsus, could these unique and sublime
conceptions have found their genesis. They are manifestly divine. How
exalted is the portraiture of the Christ! What human skill could have
depicted a character which no ideal of our best modern culture can

In all the New Testament there are none but the highest and purest
ethical teachings, and even the most poetical descriptions of heaven are
free from any faintest tinge of human folly. The Apocalypse is full of
images which appeal to the senses, but there is nothing which does not
minister to the most rigid purity; while the representations which Paul
makes of eternal felicity are strictly and conspicuously spiritual and
elevating. Everywhere, from Matthew to Revelations, it is the pure in
heart who shall see God, and the inducement held out is to be pure
because He is pure. And although the gift of eternal life is a free
gift, yet it affords no excuse for laxity. The sixth chapter of the
Epistle to the Romans is a remonstrance against all presumption in those
that are "under grace." "Reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto
sin, but alive unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Let not sin
therefore rule in your mortal body that ye should obey it in the lusts
thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness
unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the
dead."[230] The religion of the New Testament is a spiritual religion,
the resurrection body is a spiritual body; heaven is not an Indian
hunting-ground, nor a Vikings Valhalla of shield-clad warriors, nor a
Moslem harem. It is a spiritual abode, and its companionships are with
God and the Lamb, with the church of the first-born and of saints made
perfect. Now, all that we can say of these lofty and pure conceptions is
that flesh and blood never revealed them. They are divine. They are out
of the range of our native humanity; they are not the things that human
nature desires, and it is only by the high culture of transforming grace
that human aspirations are raised to their level.

In conclusion, there are many points in which Christianity asserts its
unique supremacy over all other systems of which there is time but for
the briefest mention. It presents to man the only cultus which can have
universal adaptation. Christ only, belongs to all ages and all races.
Buddha is but an Asiatic, Mohammed is an Arab and belongs only to the
East. The religion or philosophy of Confucius has never found adaptation
to any but Mongolian races; his social and political pyramid would
crumble in contact with republican institutions. On the other hand, the
religion of Christ is not only adapted to all races, but it aims at
their union in one great brotherhood. Again, Christianity alone presents
the true relation between Divine help and human effort. It does not
invest marred and crippled human nature with a false and impossible
independence, neither does it crush it. Whenever heathen systems have
taught a salvation by faith they have lost sight of moral obligation.
Weitbrecht and others state this as a fact with the Hindu doctrine of
Bakti (faith) adopted in the later centuries; De Quatrefages asserts the
same of the Tahitans. But the faith of the New Testament everywhere
supposes a Divine and effectual co-operation. "Work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you to
will and to do of His good pleasure." It bids men serve not as
hirelings, but as sons and heirs; it stimulates hope without engendering
pride; it administers discipline, but with a father's love; it teaches
that trials are not judgments, but wholesome lessons. Of all religions
it alone inculcates a rational and consoling doctrine of Providence. It
declares that to the righteous death is not destruction, but a sleep in
peace and hope. It bids the Christian lay off his cares and worries--in
all things making his requests known unto God with thanksgivings; and
yet it enjoins him not to rest in sloth, but to aspire after all that is
pure and true and honorable and lovely and of good report in human life
and conduct. It saves him from sin not by the stifling and atrophy of
any God-given power, but by the expulsive influence of new affections;
it bids him be pure even as God is pure.

There is in the brief epistle of Paul to Titus a passage which in a
single sentence sets forth the way of salvation in its fulness. It
traces redemption to the grace of God, and it makes it a free provision
for all men; yet it insists upon carefulness and sobriety. Salvation is
shown to begin _now_ in the laying aside of all sin and the living of a
godly life. Meanwhile it cheers the soul with expectation that Christ
shall dwell with the redeemed in triumph, as He once came in
humiliation, and it keeps ever in mind the great truth that His mission
is not merely to secure for man future exemptions and possessions, but
to build up character--character that shall continue to rise and expand

_For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live
soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that
blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us
from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of
good works._


[Footnote 205: _Holy Bible and Sacred Books of the East_, p. 12.]

[Footnote 206: Mohammed was once asked whether he trusted in his own
merit or in the mercy of God, and he answered, "The mercy of God." But
the whole drift of his teaching belied this one pious utterance.]

[Footnote 207: Of the terrible darkness and bewilderment into which
benighted races are often found Schoolcraft furnishes this graphic and
painful picture in the condition of the Iroquois:

"Their notions of a deity, founded apparently on some dreamy tradition
of original truth, are so subtile and divisible, and establish so
heterogeneous a connection between spirit and matter of all imaginable
forms, that popular belief seems to have wholly confounded the possible
with the impossible, the natural with the supernatural. Action, so far
as respects cause and effect, takes the widest and wildest range,
through the agency of good or evil influences, which are put in motion
alike for noble or ignoble ends--alike by men, beasts, devils, or gods.
Seeing something mysterious and wonderful, he believes all things
mysterious and wonderful; and he is afloat without shore or compass, on
the wildest sea of superstition and necromancy. He sees a god in every
phenomenon, and fears a sorcerer in every enemy. Life, under such a
system of polytheism and wild belief, is a constant scene of fears and
alarms. Fear is the predominating passion, and he is ready, wherever he
goes, to sacrifice at any altar, be the supposed deity ever so
grotesque. He relates just what he believes, and unluckily he believes
everything that can possibly be told. A beast, or a bird, or a man, or a
god, or a devil, a stone, a serpent, or a wizard, a wind, or a sound, or
a ray of light--these are so many causes of action, which the meanest
and lowest of the series may put in motion, but which shall in his
theology and philosophy vibrate along the mysterious chain through the
uppermost, and life or death may at any moment be the reward or the
penalty."--_Notes on the Iroquois_, p. 263.]

[Footnote 208: _History of Rationalism_.]

[Footnote 209: And even the Buddha had spent six years in
self-mortification and in the diligent search for what he regarded as
the true wisdom.]

[Footnote 210: Henry Maudsley, in _The Arena_ of April, 1891.]

[Footnote 211: "Barren Mohammedanism has been in all the higher and more
tender virtues, because its noble morality and its pure theism have been
united with no living example."--Lecky, _History of Morals_, vol. ii.,
p. 10.]

[Footnote 212: The most intelligent Mohammedans, as we have shown in a
former lecture, admit the moral blemishes of his character as compared
with the purity of Jesus and only revere him as the instrument of a
great Divine purpose. His only element of greatness was success. Even
the Koran convicts him of what the world must regard as heinous sin, and
presents Jesus as the only sinless prophet.]

[Footnote 213: Douglass, _Confucianism and Taouism_.]

[Footnote 214: The apologists of Buddhism have made much of the story of
a distressed young mother who came to the "Master" bearing in her arms
the dead body of her first-born--hoping for some comfort or help. He
bade her bring him some mustard seed found in a home where no child had
died. After a wearisome but vain search he only reminded her of the
universality of death. No hope of a future life and a glad recovery of
the lost was given. As an illustration of Buddhism the example is a good

[Footnote 215: "Men wanted a Father in heaven, who should take account
of their efforts and assure them a recompense. Men wanted a future of
righteousness, in which the earth should belong to the feeble and the
poor; they wanted the assurance that human suffering is not all loss,
but that beyond this sad horizon, dimmed by tears, are happy plains
where sorrow shall one day find its consolation."--Renan, _Hibbert
Lectures_, p. 42.]

[Footnote 216: See report of Missionary Conference, London, 1888, vol.
i., p. 70.]

[Footnote 217: _St. Paul and Protestantism_, p. 79, quoted by Bishop

[Footnote 218: It is hardly necessary to remind the reader of the
well-known tribute which Napoleon, in his conversations with his friends
on the island of St. Helena, paid to the transcendent personality of
Christ. He drew a graphic contrast between the so-called glory which had
been won by great conquerors like Alexander, Cæsar, and himself, and
that mysterious and all-mastering power which in all lands and all ages
continues to attach itself to the person, the name, the memory of
Christ, for whom, after eighteen centuries of time, millions of men
would sacrifice their lives.]

[Footnote 219: Augustine appears to have been greatly moved by the life
as well as by the writings of Paul. In an account given of his
conversion to his friend Romanianus, he says, "So then stumbling,
hurrying, hesitating, I seized the apostle Paul, 'for never,' said I,
'could they have wrought such things, or lived as it is plain they did
live, if their writings and arguments were opposed to this so high a
good.'"--_Confessions_, Bk. vii., xxi., note.]

[Footnote 220: Genesis, xvii. 1.]

[Footnote 221: The doctrine of human merit-making was carried to such an
extreme under the Brahmanical system that the gods became afraid of its
power. They sometimes found it necessary to send apsaras (nymphs), wives
of genii, to tempt the most holy ascetics, lest their austerities and
their merit should proceed too far.--_See Article Brahmanism, in the

[Footnote 222: Müller, _Chips from a German Workshop_, vol. i., p. 40.]

[Footnote 223: De Nat. Deorum, iii., 36.]

[Footnote 224: _Chips from a German Workshop_, p. 304.]

[Footnote 225: See Murdock's _Vedic Religion_, p. 57.]

[Footnote 226: _Hindu Philosophy_.]

[Footnote 227: The most sacred of human victims offered by the Aztecs
were prepared by a month of unbridled lust. See Prescott's _Conquest_.]

[Footnote 228: _Nineteenth Century_, July, 1888.]

[Footnote 229: Letters of Rev. Pentecost in _The Christian at Work_,

[Footnote 230: The same principles are set forth with great emphasis in
Isaiah, Chap. iii.]



The books relating directly or indirectly to the wide range of topics
discussed in the following lectures are too numerous for citation here;
but there are some which are so essential to a thorough knowledge of
comparative religion and comparative philosophy, that a special
acknowledgment is due.

"The Sacred Books of the East" are indispensable to one who would catch
the real spirit of the Oriental religions. The translations from Hindu,
Buddhist, Mohammedan, Confucian, and Zoroastrian literatures, by Max
Müller, Rhys Davids, Oldenberg, Fausbôll, Palmer, Darmesteter, Mills,
Legge, Buhler, West, Beal, and other able scholars, are invaluable. The
various other works of Max Müller, "The Science of Religion," "Chips
from a German Workshop," "The Origin and Growth of Religion," "Physical
Religion," etc., fill an important place in all study of these subjects.

"Indian Wisdom," by Sir Monier Williams, is the most comprehensive, and
in many ways the best, of all compends of Hindu religion and philosophy.
His abridged work, "Hinduism," and the larger volume entitled
"Brahmanism and Hinduism," are also valuable. R.C. Bose has given to the
public an able treatise entitled "Hindu Philosophy." Other books on
Hinduism to which more or less reference is made, are: "The Vedic
Religion," by McDonald; "India and the Indians," by Duff; "The Life and
Letters of Colbrooke;" "The Bhagavad Gita," as translated by Chatterji;
"The Vishnu Puranas," by Wilson; "The Ramayana," by Griffiths;
"Brahmoism," by Bose; "The Oriental Christ," by Mozoomdar; "Christianity
and Hindu Philosophy," by Ballantyne.

Among the ablest books on Buddhism are: "Buddhism;" "The Growth of
Religion as illustrated by Buddhism," and the able article on the same
subject in the "Britannica"--all by Rhys Davids. "Buddha: His Life,
Character, and Order," by Professor Oldenberg, is a scarcely less
important contribution to Buddhist literature. "The Light of Asia," by
Sir Edwin Arnold, has done more than any other work to interest Western
nations in the legends of Gautama; perhaps no other Oriental character
has been more successfully popularized. Of the many efforts to correct
the misleading impressions given by this fanciful but really poetic
story, "The Light of Asia and the Light of the World," by Dr. S.H.
Kellogg, is probably the ablest. Dr. Edkins, in "Chinese Buddhism," and
Professor Beal, in "Buddhism in China," have very successfully shown the
characteristics of the Chinese types of the system. Spence Hardy, in his
"Manual of Buddhism," has rendered a similar service in relation to the
Buddhism of Ceylon, while Bigandet has set forth that of Burmah, and
Alabaster that of Siam. Sir Monier Williams, in his more recent work,
"Buddhism," has done much to counteract the fashionable tendency of most
Orientalists to idealize the Buddhist system.

Other works relating to Buddhism are, "Mohammed, Buddha, and Christ," by
Dodds; "Buddhism (Modern)," by Subhadra; and "Esoteric Buddhism," by
Sinnett. Maurice, Bishop Carpenter, Brace, the Bishop of Colombo,
Martin, and many others have ably discussed the subject.

Of all works on Mohammedanism, Sale's translation of the Koran, with a
"Preliminary Discourse," is the most comprehensive and important.
Sprenger's "Life of Mohammed, from Original Sources," is perhaps next in
rank. "Islam and Mahomet," by Samuel Johnson; "Mohammed and
Mohammedanism," by E. Bosworth Smith; "Christianity, Islam, and the
Negro Race," by E.W. Blyden; and "Leaves from an Egyptian Note-book," by
Canon Isaac Taylor, are among the principal apologies for Islam.
Gibbon's fifth volume of the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" has
at least done ample justice to the glory of the Mohammedan conquest.

Of those who have ably controverted the claims of Islam, the late Dr.
Pfander, of Northern India, will perhaps hold the first rank. Of the
three Moulvies who were selected to meet him in public discussion, two
are said to have been converted to Christianity by his arguments. The
concessions of the Koran to the truths of the Old and New Testaments
have been ably pointed out by Sir William Muir in "The Koran," and Dr.
E.M. Wherry, in his "Commentary," has established the striking fact,
that of all the prophets named in the Koran, including Mohammed, Jesus
alone is represented as sinless. The modern apologists of Mohammed and
his system have been well answered by Knox in current numbers of the
_Church Missionary Intelligencer_. Other works upon the subject are
"Islam," by Stobart; "Islam as a Missionary Religion," by Haines;
"Essays on Eastern Questions," by Palgrave. Sir William Muir's "History
of the Caliphate" is an important and recent work.

Confucianism and Taouism may be fairly understood, even by those who
have not the time for a careful study of Legge's translations of the
Chinese classics, by reference to the following works: "China and the
Chinese," by Medhurst; "The Religions of China," by Legge; "The
Chinese," by Martin; "Confucianism and Taouism," by Douglass; "Religion
in China," by Edkins. The late Samuel Johnson, in his "Oriental
Religions," has devoted a large volume to the religions of China,
principally to the ethics and political economy of the Confucian system;
and James Freeman Clark has given considerable attention to Confucianism
as one of "The Ten Great Religions."

Zoroastrianism is ably treated by Darmesteter in the Introduction to his
translation of the "Zend Avesta." Instructive lectures on the religion
and literature of Persia may be found in the first volume of Max
Müller's "Chips from a German Workshop;" also in "The Religion of the
Iranians," found in Ebrard's "Apologetics," vol. ii. West's and
Darmesteter's translations of "Pahlavi Texts," in the "Sacred Books of
the East," are also suggestive.

In the following discussions, relating broadly to the ancient as well as
the modern religions and philosophies of the world, and their contrasts
to Christian truth, reference is made directly or indirectly to the
following works: "Christ and Other Masters," by Hardwick; "The Ancient
World and Christianity," by Edward de Pressensé; "The Religions of the
World," by Maurice; "The Aryan Witness," by Banergea; "The Unknown God,"
by Brace; "The Permanent Elements in Religion," by Boyd Carpenter;
"Oriental and Linguistic Studies," by A.D. Whitney; "The Doomed
Religions," by Reid; "The Idea of God," by Fiske; "The Destiny of Man,"
by Fiske; "The Races of Man," by Peschel; "Introduction to the
Philosophy of Religion," by Caird; "National Religions and Universal
Religions," by Kuenen; "Some Elements of Religion," by Liddon; "Outlines
of the History of Ancient Religions," by Tiele; "The Philosophy of
Religion," by Pfleiderer; "Our Christian Heritage," by Cardinal Gibbons;
"Hulsean Lectures, 1845-6," by Trench; "Hibbert Lectures, 1880," by
Renan; "Origins of English History," by Elton; "St. Paul in Britain"
(Druidism), by Morgan; "Fossil Men and their Modern Representatives," by
Dawson; "Modern Ideas of Evolution," by Dawson; "Marcus Aurelius," by
Renan; "Epictetus," Bonn's Library; "Confessions," by St. Augustine;
"History of the Egyptian Religion," by Tiele; "Lucretius," Bonn's
Library; "Lives of the Fathers," by Farrar; "The Vikings of Western
Christendom," by Keary; "Principles of Sociology," by Spencer; "The
Descent of Man," by Darwin; "Evolution and Its Relation to Christian
Thought," by Le Conte; "History of European Morals," by Lecky; "The
Kojiki" (Sacred Books of Shinto), Chamberlain's translation; "The
Witness of History to Christ," by Farrar; "Anti-Theistic Theories," by
Flint; "The Human Species," by De Quatrefages.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Oriental Religions and Christianity - A Course of Lectures Delivered on the Ely Foundation Before the - Students of Union Theological Seminary, New York, 1891" ***

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