« AnteriorContinuar »
near, but conversing with a poor native, I understood I was within half a mile of a Hindoo college, where two famous Pundits, (i. e. learned Doctors) resided. I immediately determined to pay them a visit, and the man directed me to a large grove of irees, among which they all dwelt
. I proposed to go among them as an enquirer, and to say little or nothing to them directly like a teacher. On my arrival at one of the other dwellings, I met with an elderly Brahman, who asked me what I did there? and, while I was satisfying bim, another Brahman came up, of a more open countenance and intelligent manner. I told him, I had in my heart one very great an iety ; I was a sinner, who had but a little time to stay in the world, and when I should die, my soul would depart to Heaven or Hell, and dwell there for ever and ever. You are a Brahman (said I), can you tell me what I shall do to escape the wrath to come, obtain forgiveness of sins, and admittance into Heaven? He replied, “you must give to the poor." I thanked him, and asked how much I ought to give, so that I might be sure, and not fail of escaping that wrath, and obtaining this felicity. He then said, "you must give one fourth of all that you possess." But, said I, Brahman, if all I possess, should ainoant to four rupees only [i. e. four half crowns), then by giving one rupee to the poor, shall I certainly escape Hell? Can I obtain Heaven for one rupee? Here the poor Brahman felt himself involved in an unexpected dilemma: for it is by no means a notion among them that many will get to Heaven. I desired him to speak again, and he then directed me to do holy deeds; but when he came to discuss the quantity and quality of those deeds, he abruptly broke off, at the dread of another dilemma, and said he would take me to the College just by, where the doctors and more able Brahmans would answer me better than he could.
The buildings of the College are of mud walls, covered with straw, and surrounded with cocoa-nut and other trees, which made a pleasant grove, and afforded an agreeable shade. Their several houses are all round about it, at different distances. As you stand opposite the front of it, you see a large open shed, considerably raised, where the Pundits give lessons to their students every morning : on each side is a row of cottages, inhabited by the students, who come from distant countries, and partake of the bounty allowed by the Rajahs, or other persons who contribute to their support. On our arrival there, the students poured out from their cottages, and assembled under the large shady trees; thither they brought mats, and spread them underneath the shade for the Brahmans to sit on; 'a chair also was brought for me, and they all sat down. After a little time, one of the venerable Doctors appeared, and all rose up to receive him; some paid him homage by prostrating themselves at his feet, and others offered bim tokens of veneration and respect: all now waited for my taking my seat; but I professed to hon
f our my elders, and requested the doctor to take his seat first. At this they were the more astonished, because it is not the custom of Europeans to suffer Natives to be seated in their presence. After much persuasion the doctor seated himself in front of the Brahmans. I then took my chair, and all the Brahmans were seated on the mats. I now began to rehearse the questions and conversation that had passed between me and the Brahman, to which they listened with avidity : I then asked them what I could do to obtain the great ends in question.Some said, I ought to apply myself to the name of God: by this they mean more or less, that I should perform the ZOAP, which consists in its greatest latitude, of pronouncing the name of God, millions of times, without speaking any other word; and some whom I know, have continued this vain repetition for whole days and nights together, till their mental faculties have been deranged. I replied, How can the infinitely great and holy One be pleased to hear his name so often pronounced from <hese polluted lips ? I enquired if the Supreme Being was wise and good; to which they yielded ready affirmatives. I then fixed my eye on one of the Brahmans, and asked him, if he had. any sons ? he answered, “Yes.” Whenever you shall return home, said I, suppose your son was to come runving to meet you, and fall down at your feet should cry out, Peta, Peta, fi. e. Father, Father,) incessantly, without ever saying another word, what would you think of him? "I should think, said he, that he was become foolish." So I fear, said 1, would the wise and good One, if I was, in the same manner, to call over his holy and reverend Name.
I continued my enquiries, and they directed me to wash in the River Ganges, and the water of that sacred river would cleanse away sin. I asked them such questions as these:-does pot sin, according to the Shasters, defile and darken the mind? If sin was taken away, would there not be a great change of mind, as fron darkness to light, and misery to happiness ? and then would not the renewed enjoy sweet communion with the Supreme, who is all light? Can washing the body cleanse away pollution of mind? Do you yourselves, when you wash in the Ganges daily, find this great change? Do you go down into the water with a mind darkened by sin, and come up with a mind enlightened of the Ganges? It is difficult for me to express their utter confusion and astonishment; for, it is probable, they had never before heard any of these things questioned. But
their candour allowed them to speak freely agaiost their owo experience, which immediately reflected the condemnation of their own doctrines.
Others directed me to worship the gods. I then enquired if it was written in their Shasters, that without faith no worship or ceremony could be acceptable to God? They answered, Yes: --then, said I, my worship and ceremonies can never be accepted, for I have none of that which you call faith;—no Cast, no faith ;-how shall I worship ?-how shall I be accepted? The question then was, whether or no I could obtain faith, and how.
, Faith, they said, was obtained by reading the Vedas: But, I answered, the words of the Vedas are reputed so holy, that if any man should read then who is not a Brahman, it would be his sin: I am not a Brahman, neither can I become a Brahman, if I would give ten thousand worlds. Beside, said I, do you believe the words of Judisteer! “O! yes, certainly, certainly," said they, from every quarter. Now Judisteer is a very great character in their grand poem, the Mahabharot, and some think the account there given of him is a mutilated tradition of Jesus Christ; be that as it may, they say of him in this poem, That he
, was not born by ordinary generation, but of the Holy One: That when he was born all the hills of the earth were enlightened: That, while a child, some great king sought his death : That, as he grew up, he went about doing good, and diffusing blessings wherever he came : That he had several younger brethren, who had not the knowledge of the Holy One, like him: And on a certain day, his mother sent one of her younger sons to fetch water from a tank, or pool : On his coming to the tank, he saw the Holy One, sitting on the water's edge, in shape of a bird : who asked him four questions, the last and chief of them was,
; “Which is the way to heaven?” The lad said, he could not tell. The Holy One then forbad him to take water, till the question was answered. But he presuming, went to take water, and fell down dead. The mother finding her son did not return, sent another, and the same things happened to him; she sent them all, one after another, and they all died in the same manner; last of all she sent Judisteer :-When he came, he readily answered all the questions, and to this question, “Which is the way to Heaven ?” he answered thus: “The Vedas are discor"dant, contradictory, one directs this way to heaven, another " that.
The Shasters are also discordant. None of the rules “of the ancients, but what are discordant. The way to heaven “is different from all these. The path which the Great Person walks in, that's the way." Judisteer having fully replied, the Holy one was well pleased; in token of which, his brothers were all restored to life, who takingwater all went home with him. Now Brahman, said I, I ask you the way to heaven? you direct to the Vedas :-Judisteer says, the Vedas are discordant. Nothing that is discordant could ever come from God you know. I ask you the way to heaven? and you direct me to the sayings of the Shasters; but Judisteer says, the way to heaven is different from all these ; which am I to believe, you or Judisteer? You cannot be both right. Here they expressed their wonder, how I came to be acquainted with what was written in their Shasters, and they knew not what to say, but continued to declare, they never saw or heard of the like. I could no longer withhold, but now began to unfold to them the word of God, which, at sundry times and places, and in divers manners, was sent to men in past ages by the prophets : I particularly spoke of the prophecies of the great one that was to come, of the time, the tribe, the place, and the manner of his coming. Of his conception, his birth, mysterious person, miracles, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, and of his shedding down the Holy Ghost in the first times; and of his giving that rest, and peace, which passeth all understanding, to poor sinners, even to this day, of whom I myself was one; and that he does so in all parts of the earth wherever his saving health and holy name is known.
It would not be an easy work to describe their affecting emotions of mind, which they all along expressed in different ways : Some ran and climbed up the cocoa-nut trees, gathered the nuts and broke the shell, that I might drink the sweet water out of them; (God Almighty grant that I may break the shell to many of them, that they may drink of living waters, out of the inexhaustible fountain in Christ,) others brought sweat-meats, fruits, milk, and the like, and laid them at my feet, saying, it would be their sin to suffer me to go away and not eat, for the day was now declining: we had been six hours in conversation, and I began to take my leave, but they continued to follow me even down to the boat ; there I shewed them a Bible, the first they ever saw; and I reminded them of a saying in their Shasters, “That all nations of the earth should one day become of one Cast, and one Religion;" they assented : also, “that there should come a little book, and eat up all their
great books." Yes, they all knew this saying to be common : Then holding up a Bible of Pasham's edition, I said, this is the little book, this is the Book of God. I also pleased them very much by shewing them a part of it translated into their own language, and by assuring them of the awful and pleasing effects this book will shortly Jy have upon all nations of the earth. The evening came on, and we parted. Never, methinks, did a people shew more reluctance to part with a man, who was a total stranger; they stood op the shore, waiting and looking as long as they could see me
and the boat. Not long after I sailed for England, but this is one of the first places I intend to visit (deo rolente) when I return."
Julian, a Roman Emperor and an Apostate from the Christian Religion, repulsed from re-building the Temple at Jerusalem.
When the Emperor Julian had replunged himself in pagan darkness, he burned with a crafty zeal against the Christian Religion, thinking to weaken it, by proving that Jesus Christ was a false prophet: and imagining this would be sufficiently done, by re-building the temple of Jerusalem, and the Jews again to offer their sacrifice. But the attack was against the King of kings. Ruffinus and Sozoman mention this business at large : See what Ammein Marcellin says in his Annals, Book 23. "Julian having a great desire to perpetuate the memory of his reign, by the grandeur of his enterprizes, formed the design of rebuilding the superb Temple of Jerusalem, which having been taken by assault, and after many bloody encounters was destroyed, while Vespasian and Titus were carrying on the siege: To rebuild this temple would require immense sums : Julian having charged Alipius of Antioch with the undertaking, he who had commanded in Britain under the
governors. But when Alipius seconded by the governor of the Province, was eager to advance the work, globes of fire, bursting suddenly from the earth, near the foundations, of the building, rendered the place inaccessible by the constant assaults which they made upon the workmen, many of whom perished by the flames. So that they were obliged to desist from pursuing the enterprize, to which fate, and the element of fire were so strongly opposed.” More than this can scarcely be expected from a heathen author, who had been a general in Julian's army: but he speaks sufficiently clear, so as not to leave any doubt of the truth of so remarkable an event.
The following accounts, are three interesting extracts from the
History of Mexico, respecting the manners and customs of its
ANCIENTLY the high-priesthood was conferred by election; but we are ignorant whether the electors were of the priestly