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of originals, and if the originals require not only to be read, but to be read again and again, translations require to be studied with much greater care.” This work of translation would therefore, appear to be a labour utterly disproportioned to the good to be obtained. My readers therefore who have not the opportunity, in their missionary fields, of seeing these translations may feel that they do not suffer a great loss.
The practical part of men will ask, in connection with these statements by the Editor, what is the good of all this learned labor and research of so many scholars? This question is more especially apposite in connection with the fact, that there already exists translations of the most important books connected with the series. There is already a translation of many of the Hymns of the Vedas, of the books of Zoroaster, of the Buddhists, Taouists, Confucianists, and of the Koran. In some cases, the translations to be published in this series are revisions of translations previously published by the same authors.
Is there any connection between the motive, which has prompted the Editor, at his time of life, to undertake such a herculean work, and the hope which he has expressed in a work published since this work was commenced ? In his work on "The origin and growth of religion as illustrated by the religions of India" he has expressed the hope “that a time will come when the deepest foundation of all the religions of the world will be laid free and restored; and then Christianity will not be considered to be the one absolute, universal religion ; but the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Mohammedan, the Jew and the Christian will form one church, by each retaining of their respective systems some great principle, their pearl of great price, after they have learnt to put away childish things, call them genealogies, legends, miracles, or oracles.'” The expression of such a wish by Prof. Müller has surprised me, for I have hitherto considered him as a believer in the divine origin of Christianity. But this wish manifests that he does not consider the Christian religion as a divinely revealed religion; nor does he hope or wish to see it become universal. The Christian Scriptures claim that they are divinely given, and that the knowledge of Jehovah who revealed them shall fill the whole world. The wish above expressed is inconsistent with the belief in either of these claims set forth in the Christian Scriptures. To my great regret therefore I must regard Prof. Müller as holding that Christianity is only one of the great religions of the world. He may think it is better than any of them, but still developed by the human mind in its search after the infinite; but that it has not just claim to become universal to the superseding of all others. I am very sorry to find strong statements from his own pen which agree with the sentence quoted above.
In the preface to the Sacred Books of the East I find him writing as follows of the Christian Scriptures : “ There is no specific difference between ourselves, and the Brumans, the Buddhists, the Zoroastrians, or the Tao-sze. Our powers of perceiving, of reasoning, of believing may be more highly developed ; but we cannot claim the possession of any verifying power or of any power of belief which they did not possess as well. Shall we say then that they were forsaken of God while we are his chosen people ? God forbid ! There is much, no doubt, in their sacred books which we should tolerate no longer, though, we must not forget, that there are portions in our own sacred books, too, which many of us would wish to be absent."* The Bible everywhere claims that the Jews, to whom the Old Testament was revealed, were the chosen people of Jehovah; and every sincere Christian thanks God, in no pharlsaical spirit, that God has made him to differ from the heathen nations, in that he has given him the knowledge of the true, and the only true religion and way of salvation. And yet Prof. Müller expresses his dissent from such an idea in the strongest language possible. His statement that there are portions of the Christian Scriptures which many of us would wish to be absent is very suggestive. Writing in the preface to a series of books in the translation of which many scholars are associated with himself, the us of this sentence might be understood to refer to his associated translators. I infer nothing in regard to any others, but only in regard to himself. It is clear from this sentence that he himself thinks, that there are portions of the Sacred Scriptures which he “would wish to be absent.” This opinion is inconsistent with the view of the inspiration of the Bible which is held by the great body of Christians. For since we regard "that Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” it would be the height of folly for a finite creature to wish any portion of that to be absent which divine wisdom had made known to us. In this preface Prof. Müller does not estimate what portions he would wish to be absent from our Sacred Books. But in the passage quoted above from a work written since the writing of this preface, he mentions miracles and oracles as things that will be put away “as childish things” when all the great religions of the world, including the Christian will form one church. It is not entirely clear what he means by oracles. Oracles is defind by Chambers' dictionary: “The revelations made to the prophets.” If this is the sense in which he used the word then the things which he hopes to see put away from the Christian, religion as childish things when it forms a part of the one church are the prophecies and miracles.” These are the great external
* The Sacred Books of the East, vol. I., Preface, p. 37.
evidences of the fact that the Bible is a revelation from God. To one who does not regard “our holy religion
our holy religion” as given by God, these external evidences are of no account, they are indeed "childish things" as not being true or real. But we are not left in any doubt as to what Prof. Müller's opinion is in regard to the matter of a revelation from God.
In my judgment there will arise a new, and hitherto unexperienced, hindrance and opposition to the spread of the Christian religion in India, China and Japan, and among the Mohammedans in various countries, from the regard, not to say reverence, with which so many scholars study and comment on these so-called sacred books of their several religions, as containing what their scholars represent “as fragments of primeval truth.” The people of Western lands are by the people of these Eastern lands considered to be believers in the Christian religion. They do not know of the distinction of nominal Christians and true believers. When they, therefore, learn that great and distinguished scholars in Western lands are giving their efforts to bring out translations of these books, and that a celebrated university is supplying the funds to publish them, they will conclude that Westeru scholars set a high value on these books, that they place them in the same category as they do the Christian Scriptures. This conviction will lead them at once to estimate their respective ancient books more highly, and to lower the estimate which they have hitherto had for the Christian Scriptures. The Christian Scriptures are offensive to the unregenerate human heart, and the heathen will be very ready to receive objections from Western scholars against them. These people, from their unacquaintedness with the motives which lead their scholars to translate them in the interest of historical research, will ascribe their doing so to a different cause. Their readiness to ascribe actions to a wrong cause was illustrated in a statement that was made a few years ago. A missionary having retired from missionary work, he was subsequently invited at home, to a Professorship of the language and literature of the people among whom he had labored as a missionary. He accepted the position. This was spoken of by the people among whom he had been a missionary thus; He, knowing the superior excellency of the system he had learned in the heathen land, had left preaching the gospel to them, that he might make known that system to his countrymen. With the increase of intercourse between the Western and Eastern lands, missionaries in these latter countries may prepare themselves for a new class of objections to the Gospel from this source.
But from things which have occurred in India, it would appear that yet greater hindrances than those above referred to may be
expected in India, if not in other lands also, in the near future, from attempts to reform the religion of the Vedas and to establish among the people some form of worship and organization after the forms of the Christian Church. It would also appear that some perverts from Christianity from Western lands will co-operate with the natives of India in such efforts. A writer, in the Church Missionary Intelligencer for April, 1881, in a very interesting and able paper on “Missions in the north-west provinces of India," thus writes of this new phase of missionary experience: "There is moreover another antagonism, which, however ridiculous and contemptible it may seem in the description of it, deserves consideration. At present it is with it only the day of small things, but it has apparently a future in the congenial haziness of metaphysical delusions in India. This is Theosophism. As probably few in England are acquainted with it, some account of it may be of service. There for a long time we have heard of Comparative Religion. This has a great show of learning, and some men of high intelligence have been bestowing a deal of pains in endeavouring out of the Vedas, the sacred books of the Buddhists, the Zoroastrians, the Mohammedans, the Confucianists, &c., to gather what they deem to be fragments of primeval truth. Here it has not done much harm; it has been merely a fresh element thrown into the bubbling caldron of infidelity, where it simmers with the rest. It enables scientists sciolists to utter a great deal of pretentious talk which imposes upon ignorant people, but with us it has not got much furthur. Not so in America. In New York Comparative Religion, the study of the Vedas especially, has been taken up, not to gratify learned curiosity, but in sober earnest as a
, means of vamping up a fresh religion, which it is hoped will supersede all others. IIence has resulted a creed, or no creed, which is the spawn of American Atheism, and the study of the Vedas. It is not very easy to describe it, as it has its exoteric and esoteric phases. The enthusiasts, however, who originated it speedily put themselves in communication with pundits at Benares and prostrated themselves before them in terms of abject humiliation. This is a strange comment upon American sagacity, but Mormonism arose in that country. So far as appears, the result has been a sort of Bu idhism, which has four grades by which the Deity is approached, the lowest by penances, the highest by meditation. It has too a system of spiritualistic seances for weak people with processes of disintegration and redintegration. For instance, if a rotary wishes earnestly for a pair of gloves from London or Paris, they undergo a process of disintegration and come over in small particles to India, where they are redintegrated. Lost spoons, brooches, and similar articles can be restored to votaries by processes which it is superfluous to describe. The system, therefore, concerns itself not only about maxima but also minima. It pores over the Vedas, and by metaphysical processes restores lost property to the true owners much as here, gipsy fortune-tellers do. Not content, however, with its progress in New York, the promoters determined to make their way to India as the true seat and origin of their religion. Accordingly a deputation was sent to do pooja to the pundits in Benares. A Colonel Olcott and a Mrs. Blavatzky are the leading inembers of this movement. On their landing at Bombay it was given out that the new creed was to be the handmaid to all other creeds, especially Christianity. This, however, was soon exposed in the Indian Evangelical Review by a Presbyterian Missionary, who, by authentic documents, conclusively established that the chief aim of the new system is to exterminate Christianity. In point of fact this first fruit of embodied comparative religion was a repetition of Voltaire's Ecrases l’Infume. The result of the exposure was so damaging that the copies of the Review were bought up in all directions, and are not now readily procurable. The apostles however proceeded into the interior, there having been a split at Bombay. Their head quarters are at Allahabad and Simla, where European proselytes can chiefly be gathered; but the head of the sect in Benares is a Brahmin, Dayananda Sarasvati. The relations of the American apostles with one whom Prof. Max. Müller, in a letter to the London Atheneum (No. 2780, Feb. 5th, 1881), terms an Indian religious reformer,” have been most intimate and reverential. It may be convenient not to enter more fully into them, at any rate for the present. Those who read Prof. Max. Müller's letter must have been puzzled to understand the purport of it. There is evidently, and not unnaturally, some uneasiness felt by the learned Prof. at the strange outcome of the study of the Vedas and comparative religion. The translation is furnished of a most astounding jumble, purporting to be a letter from Rájá Sivaprasád, “Star of India," who had been to see the universally well-known Madam Blavatzky and Colonel Olcott in the garden of Dayananda Sarasvati. Dayananda, who is vouched for by Prof. Max. Müller as a “ devoted and learned man,” but holding “unnatural, unhistorical, and uncritical views,” and as differing from the great theologians of his own country, is the head of the Theosophists. We suspect the readers of the Atheneum, even with the aid of Professor Max. Müller's labours, must have found themselves much in the dark when they finished the correspondence, but with the clue we have furnished some light may be let in.