Imágenes de páginas

widely adapted by the educated Brahmins is the Vedanta or Mimansa, which requires its votaries to become familiar with the higher theological science of the sacred books, as well as with the lower sciences. It is a system of atheistic Pantheism acknowledging no distinct idea of a God, but attributing all objects and all emotions to the subtile influence of some allpervading essence, of whom or which they hold it equally irreverent to say that it is created or uncreated, existent or non-existent. A second school, having fewer adherents, and these, for the most part, hostile to the pure Brahmins, who are generally believers in the Vedanta, is the Sankhya, a dualistic system, which regards all created things as having sprung into spontaneous existence in pairs. This system admits three methods of attaining knowledge, namely, by sensual perception, induction, and testimony. It is hardly less atheistic than the Vedanta.

A third school, the Atomistic, maintains substantially the same doctrines as our materialist philosophers, but has few adherents. The choice then to the Hindu, who knows only his own theological system, seems to lie between a degrading and brutish idolatry and sheer atheism.

The system of caste among the Hindoos has always been connected with their religion, and has formed a serious barrier to the propagation of Christianity, or even a higher civilization, among them. The principal castes are five, thongh there are many subdivisions. They are the Brahmins, whom their sacred books declare were formed from the mouth of Brahma; the Kshatriyas, or warriors; the Vaisyas, or agriculturists; the Sudras, or laborers; and the Pariahs, or outcasts from all the other castes who are yet tenacious of their own purity in matters of caste. The Kshatriyas, the sacred book says, were made from the arms of Brahma, the Vaisyas from his body, and the Sudras from his feet. The different occupations of individuals of the same caste have led to the formation of subcastes in great numbers.

To the warrior and agricultural castes are permitted some instruction, though very much at the option of the lordly Brahmin, to whom they must pay reverence and present offerings; but woe to the Sudra who should thirst for knowledge. To teach him to read is an offense which death only can expi

ate; to read to him one of the sacred books is to subject the reader to severe punishment, while the unfortunate Sudra is to have melted lead poured in his ears. For him to aspire to any knowledge is fatal; any man of another caste may put him to death, even for the expression of a wish to learn. Yet must he serve the Brahmin with the utmost assiduity, and as the highest reward of his faithfulness he may be so blessed as to become, in his next return to existence, (for the doctrine of transmigration is carefully inculcated in the Brahminical theology,) the donkey who shall bear upon his back the holy man, or the dog who shall attend him upon his journeyings. To fail in the least point in his services is to subject himself to the most terrible tortures through untold ages.

But degraded as is the condition of the Sudra and the Pariah, for whom all the penalties and disabilities of the Sudras are increased tenfold, they are far more favored than woman. It is difficult to conceive what motive could have prompted the malignity and virulence everywhere manifested in the sacred books against woman. Denied the possession of a soul, she must be from early childhood the slave of her husband, cringing at his frown, attentive to his every look and want, ready to perform for him the most menial service, and receiving in return for her faithfulness only curses and blows; divorced at his pleasure, and permitted only one privilege, even if her husband be the most exalted of Brahmins—that of being buried or burned alive with his dead body. Even the son whom she has borne is authorized to treat her with indignity and cruelty; and in case of a suttee, his hand must light the funeral pile that consumes alike the living mother and the dead father.

Bad as is this system of false religion, its practical workings are still worse. The Brahmin, accustomed to almost irresponsible powers and assured of a support without labor, is an incarnation of tyranny, pride, indolence, and lust; the subordinate castes are deceitful, avaricious, oppressors when they dare, servile and fawning sycophants when they fear others, cruel, brutish, and licentious. Infanticide is very generally practiced, and parents, when aged, are placed by the banks of the sacred rivers, their mouths filled with mud, and they left a prey to crocodiles, tigers, and vultures. Suicide, especially before the car of Juggernath, or some other idol shrine, is very


frequent, and self-torture by religious devotees is practiced in its most ingenious forms. Religious mendicancy abounds, and the highest merit is supposed to follow the greatest degree of filth. Chastity is the exception, not the rule; theft is almost universal ; and among the religious orders were, till the East India Company broke them up, bands of Thugs who decoyed victims to them for the purposes of murder and plunder. The suttee, or burning alive of widows, was only prohibited in 1829, and its prohibition almost excited an insurrection.

In whatever part of heathendom those virtuous heathen, in praise of whom infidel writers speak in such raptures, whose purity and morality, they tell us, far exceed those of Christian nations, may reside, we know not; but this much is certain, it is vain to look for them on the plains of Hindoostan, or among the worshipers of Brahma. Subtle and plausible as may be their schemes of philosophy, their doctrines are cruel and tyrannical, and their practice “earthly, sensual, devlish.” No redeeming feature exists in their system to make it other than loathsome, and the portraiture of them by the apostle (Romans i, 20–32) is so accurate that when Carey read it to some Brahmins, they accused him of attempting to palm upon them the result of his own observations as a divine revelation. Its truth they acknowledged, but insisted that no writer eighteen hundred years before could have described them so accurately. • The adherents to this system of imposture and credulity, though confined to India almost exclusively, number about one hundred millions.

The East India Company, throughout its entire sway over the peninsula of India, rendered a quasi support and sanction to Brahminism. It did, indeed, suppress some of its worst outrages, but it protected by its officers and soldiers its festivals and temples, and made invidious distinctions between the Brahmin and the Christian native in its civil as well as its military service. The late mutiny, professedly originating in some alleged violation of the laws of caste by some of the English officers, opened the eyes of the British Government to the folly of sustaining a system of paganism so revolting in its character, and the British possessions in India being now under the control of the government instead of the East India Company, radical changes have been made, looking to the protection of the native Christians and the discountenancing of caste and the depraving scenes of the Hindoo festivals. The result of this benign and judicious legislation is already apparent in the great increase of inquirers and converts at most of the missionary stations, and the abandonment of caste openly by large numbers of respectable natives. Once freed from the oppression of this cruel system, and from the degrading influences of Brahminism, the shrewd, quick-witted Hindoo will soon by his intellectual powers achieve a position far in advance of what he has attained in the long ages of the past, and if those powers are sanctified by the religion of Christ, he may yet become the most efficient of God's heralds of salvation to a lost and perishing world.

far in ad voor soon by his

song ages of th



It is a pleasant fact that our Calvinian brethren of the elder school, as their eyes become cleared of prejudice arising from want of information, express no little gratification that we are 80 orthodox on the subject of original sin and human depravity. The writer of a certain book not much known to fame, though locally popular with a portion of that class of theologians, and indorsed, in fact, by the Princeton Review, quotes some of our standard doctrinal statements and adds the following remarks: “The great matter of surprise is, that such correct and Scriptural views of man's fall and its farreaching results have been incorporated into a system otherwise Arminian.” He talks of our doctrine as an attempt to mingle iron and clay," and of the “great inconsistency of this attempt to patch Arminianism with shreds of Calvinistie doctrine." Now, however it may be with this writer, his indorsing reviewer cannot but know that such language is about the reverse of historic truth. The doctrine of depravity and the fall, as central to an Arminian system, is older than Calvinism. It was a doctrine of the first three centuries of Christian history. It is not Arminians who have patched it into their system; it is Calvinists who have girt it round with predestination. The Augustinian and Edwardian innovations of predestination and necessitated will were not the orthodoxy of the early Church. Of these Calvinian novelties of predestination and fatalism we can mark the first introduction into the Church, just as we know the introduction of the Papal novelties of transubstantiation and the celibacy of the clergy. As the Reformers arrived at a purer Church by discarding the inventions of popery, so our Arminians arrived at a purer theology by eliminating the accretions of predestination. Both returned toward the simplicity and truth of the primitive ages. Both the Arminians and Wesley were conscious and boasted of the fact. We place ourselves upon the same vantage ground. Neology is with our brethren opposite; with us, are antiquity and genuine orthodoxy.

The doctrines of the fall, depravity, and redemption, as collected in systematic form from the scattered statements of Scripture, present, at first glance, a somewhat complex aspect. The simple Christian reader of the Bible will find and feel all their elements in the sacred word, and yet will find it difficult, without some patient study, even to comprehend them when presented in synthetic form. The master-workman in Christian truth feels the necessity, at successive periods, of review and revisal of the modes of statement in the light of fresh investigations, and especially in the light of the latest opposition. This is the benefit that the assaults of error confer upon truth : that they compel fresh and more fundamental investigations by its defenders, and thereby produce clearer views and more explicit statements. · Those doctrines are so plentifully assumed or stated in Scripture in such varieties of form, that very few persons entertaining strict and reverent views of Scripture inspiration and authority can refuse to accept them. The Scripture statement that “in Adam all die,” (1 Cor. xv, 22,) indissolubly connects the mortality of our entire race by a line of descent with Adam. That sin underlies this mortality in all cases is clear from many stateinents; as, for instance, that “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ;” and that “by one man's disobedience the many were made sinners.” Actually or conceptually every human being, adult or infant, that dies is held a sinner. Sin, somehow, underlies all human death. That to this

« AnteriorContinuar »