Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

their merit has been exhausted by the fruits of it having been enjoyed, must again descend to this miserable world ; while those who obtain absorption in Brahma are for ever liberated from all future vicissitudes.

Another fundamental principle is, that for the acquisition of these two kinds of future felicity there are two distinct roads pointed out by which they are attainable. In order to secure a heaven of carnal delight, a portion in Indra's paradise, for a limited period, a man must perform the duties described in the Shastras with a view to such a reward. In proportion as he attends to all the duties enjoined by the grand popular system of idolatry, will be his merit'; and in proportion to his merit will he vie with Indra in all the pleasures of sense. In order to obtain absorption in the Deity, it is necessary for a man to abandon all works, together with all desire of their rewards, and betake himself to pure and abstract meditations on the eternal Spirit, till by the power of abstraction the soul passes through the suture of the skull, and becomes absorbed in the object of its adoration. The first of these worshippers is called ara, and the latter 5107.

A third principle is, that a man may be a believer in the Vedas and Shastras, and pursue either of these courses at his pleasure ; though a decided preference is to be given to him who ceases to labour for merit through a desire of its rewards, and betakes himself to that course of meditation which will terminate in final absorption. Here we discover the profound skill of the philosopher Vyas, in his recommending one system to the speculative reasoner and another to the popular idolator ; in maintaining that both are consistent with the Shastras, and yet that one is preferable to the other.

On these principles let us examine the quotations that have been made, to prove that the doctrines of Vyas are opposed to those of the Vedas. The first passage is this, “ The followers of the three Vedas, who drink of the moon-plant juice, being purified from sin, worship me in sacrifices and petition for heaven. These having obtained the blessed regions of Indra, the prince of celestial beings, partake in heaven of the excellent enjoyment of the gods ; and after they have enjoyed that spacious heaven, return again to this world of mortals, when their merit is exhausted. In this manner, those who longing for enjoyments, follow the religion of the Védas, are tossed about from one world to another, and enjoy this as their reward.” In this passage Vyas pours no contempt on the Védas, but upon those who while they profess to follow them, do not aim at the highest felicity which they present to the view. He does not say they will not conduct to future supreme felicity, but that they will not conduct those to it who only seek after inferior enjoyment. He maintains that a man will by the Vedas obtain all that he seeks, if he seeks a sensual heaven that will be given him ; and if he seeks absorption, that may be secured.

The second passage is as follows: “ Know that the whole of the benefit which is manifested to accrue from the Veda, from sacrifice, from austerities, and from gifts, passes away; and that he only who applies his mind to wisdom, rises to the supreme and principal place of bliss.” This is in perfect conformity with the principles that have been stated above. The reading of the Vedas, the performing of sacrifices, &c. are the duties enjoined by the Shastras, and he who performs these with a view to future reward will ob tain a measured duration of bliss in Indra's heaven ; but he only who applies his mind to the acquisition of wisdom by meditating on the eternal Spirit, will obtain the supreme and principal place of bliss. The conclusion therefore drawn from the above passage, is not, I conceive, correct, that “ according to the Gita, the Vedas can by no means lead a man to the place of perfect bliss. They can only conduct him to the sensual paradise of Indra, &c."

The third and last passage is from the Katha Upanishad; the words are: “A knowledge of the soul is not acquirable from the study of the Vedas, nor through retentive memory, nor yet by hearing of spiritual instruction,” &c. This also agrees with the principles I have stated. The same is here said of the Vedas that is often said of the Bible, that it is not the reading of it, nor the retaining of it in the memory, nor the hearing of excellent sermons from it, that will confer true and saving knowledge ; something more is wanting. The followers of the Védant tell us, that that something is the knowledge of God acquired by abstraction of mind according to prescribed rules.

If these my remarks are correct, it will thence follow, that it remains yet to be proved that the doctrines of the Veda and Védant disagree. I am no advocate of these systems, but regard them as the most complicated nets that Satan ever wove in which to entangle human souls. I admire the object of the writer in attempting to point out any real disagreement between them; as in case of his success, the one will not only be separated from the other, and so rendered weaker, but each will be made to fight for the destruction of the other. Approving as I do of his object, he may not take the following suggestion amiss, viz. “ that in order to establish a discrepance between the Veda and Védant, it is particularly necessary to ascertain whether the Vedas allow of two kinds of future felicity, of two methods of obtaining them, and of a man's pursuing either according to his inclination, or one as a stepping stone to the other.”

I cannot conclude these remarks without observing, that whatever may be the truth as to the difference between the Véda and Védant, the difference between them and the Bible is very strik

[ocr errors]

ing. They offer the alternative of sensuality, and misery; or absorption, and the loss of individual existence. The idea of a heaven, spiritual in its nature, pure in its pleasures, and eternal in its duration, to be enjoyed by a spirit pure and happy in the presence of God, never entered the mind of any heathen. Such an object was never proposed to the attention of man by any of the numerous false systems of religion ; and hence it may be emphatically said, that “ life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel. It is a painful thought, that all the salvation sought by the millions of India, whether Hindoos or Musulmans, is either a sensual paradise or a loss of individual existence; and that they have none of them the most distant idea of a state of being, in which God shall be eternally glorified by the pure worship and perfect happiness of immortal spirits in his presence. And happy would it be for the world, if Christians who have this knowledge were more anxious to be prepared for that happy state, and more diligent in imparting that knowledge by which others might be brought to its enjoyment.

Yours, &c. &c.

ALIQUIS.

IV.- The Congregational Magazine, and its Remarks on the

Criminality and Superstitious Feelings of Lord Byron. If the world does not grow in wisdom, it is not for want of books. There is no department of knowledge that does not swarm with publications, erudite and popular, theoretical and practical: there is no extended association of men holding peculiar opinions on any of the countless subjects that have agitated the human mind, without its accredited organs for the dissemination of its principles. On this fertile theme we enter no farther at present than simply to observe that religious societies also keep pace, in the quantity and variety of their publications, with the active spirit of this restless age. We take more pleasure in remarking that many of the religious periodicals, in particular, display a new and unwonted liberality of sentiment, which, while it is the opposite of bigotry, is at the same time not less remote from the reckless spirit of latitudinarianism. One may now see the London Christian Observer and the British Critic passing merited encomiums on the actions and the writings of Divines of the Church of Scotland, of the Independant, and Baptist, and other Churches : and these deserved eulogies may often be seen repaid in kind, in the Edinburgh Christian Instructor, the Congregational, Baptist, and Wesleyan Magazines. All this is as it should be: though there is still much room for improvement. Simply to acknowledge merit, so transcendant that it were injustice to overlook it, is a negative sort of praise-worthiness. We trust that a closer coalition, founded on

the basis of many agreements respecting grand fundamental truths, will yet be formed, and by indefinite approximation, reduce all differences to the very zero of substantive existence. There may still be many a storm, and many a heaving earthquake, but all must terminate in settled repose. From a great number of “ Observers,” Instructors," “ Spectators," “ Recorders," &c. . for last September, we have taken up at random “ The Congregational Magazine;" and in it we find realized much of what has now been hinted at as possible, as probable, as certain in the prospective. While it vigorously upholds the peculiar principles of the denomination of which it is the organ, it breathes a spirit of enlarged liberality towards all who entertain different views on matters of subordinate importance. In a Review of Dr. Belfrage's* Practical Exposition of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, the Church of England is spoken of in the following handsome terms: “ The author quotes episcopal and prelatical writers, with Christian esteem ; speaks rationally, and without bigotry, on the subject of using the Lord's prayer in our public devotions ;” and page 22 exclaims, “ How remarkable is that invocation in the Litany of the Church of England, after the şupplication for mercy to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, O holy and ever blessed Trinity, three Persons in One God, have mercy on us miserable sinners. It is delightful to the friends of the Gospel to mark, not only in the articles, but in the worship of that Church, such a testimony to the faith once delivered to the saints. This is a nobler glory than all the pomp which adorns her cathedrals, and a more sure defence than all the statutes of human policy.”—Of Catechetical formularies it is remarked, that “ when judiciously employed, sound theological learning has been possessed and manifested—that of this the Scotch, as a body, form a striking instance—and that of the present work, though emanating from the Kirk of Scotland, it may be affirmed, that a truly evangelical spirit pervades every page, and renders it the property of the Universal Church.” With like “ manliness and vigour of opinion, and like noble hardihood in avowing it,” is justice dealt out to other religious bodies, when directly mentioned, or incidentally alluded to.

But there is another subject introduced, in a way at once marked and peculiar. Let the Reviewer announce and advocate his own sentiments, in his own language :

“There is (in Belfrage's work) the same intrepid spirit evinced in speak. ing of the poetical idol of the day, (and this idol has been extolled almost to adoration by some preachers in dissenting pulpits in the metropolis very lately!) we mean Lord Byron, than whom, we fear, there is not a lost spirit

, who receives from souls he has ruined by the fascinations of genius, more of upbraiding and bitter reproach. In the world of hopeless woe, misery will be enhanced by the criminations of those who ascribe their perdition to authors, whose writings after their death continue to work with poisonous and fatal agency. How many, under sentence of condemnation, fiercely accuse Voltaire as the cause of their ruin! The contrast to that blessed state, where apostles, martyrs, and confessors have, in their converts, a theme of joy and a crown of rejoicing.

* Of Falkirk, N, B.

“ But this foe of God and man ; this eulogised modern poet, who ridiculed all that is sacred, and laughed to scorn Revelation and its believers, with true infidel consistency, was himself the slave of superstitious feelings and fears. This man, who gloried in his contempt of religion, when a boy, was warned by a fortune-teller, that he should die in his thirty-seventh year. That idea haunted him uriceasingly, and in his last illness, he mentioned the prediction as precluding all hope of his recovery. It repressed, says his physician, that energy of spirit so necessary to assist nature in struggling with disease. He talked of two days as his unlucky days, on which nothing could tempt him to commence any matter of importance; and alleged, in excuse for indulging in such fancies, that his friend Shelley also had a familiar, who had admonished him that he should perish by drowning; and such was the fate of that gifted but misguided man. Yet these are the men who could insult the religious as drivellers and bigots, and set their mouths against the heavens.

“How instructive is the lesson, that those principles which are the strain of their poetry, were the curse of their lives; and how different would have been their lot, had their genius been hallowed by devotion; and how blest their memory, had the Rose of Sharon been mingled with their laurels.”

It is unnecessary to dwell on this most striking and most significant passage. Let opinions differ as they may respecting the justness, the candour, or the charitableness of the former part, there is, it is to be feared, too much serious and sober, though disagreeable, truth, at the bottom of it. And of the latter part, it is enough to say, that if it does not go far to put to shame the whole “ infidel and scoffing crew,” it furnishes positive proof that with them inconsistency the most glaring is no disgrace, nor disturbance the most wanton of the peace of their neighbours, a breach of common decorum.

ALPHA.

V.-Answers to Hindoo Objections against certain Christian

Doctrines.
To the Editors of the Calcutta Christian Observer.
GENTLEMEN,

In your last number you request popular answers to the objections commonly brought forward by Hindoos to the doctrines of Christianity. If the accompanying accord with your plan, they are at your service; and allow me, at the same time, to solicit some of my more experienced brethren to furnish your pages with the results of their studies in this department, as I am persuaded they might thus be useful to more than one Jan. 9, 1833.

YOUNG MISSIONARY.
Question. How can we love God if he is invisible ?
Answer. For what do

you
love
your

friend? Do you love him because he is tall or short, or fair or dark, or because he is

BB

« ZurückWeiter »