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THE BUDDHIST'S DILEMMA.
lectual power which he feels is of right his, and yet which he is conscious that he does not actually possess, must be objects of his obedience and his worship. He has no standard with which he can compare what they are and what they do; he is sure that there must be some who enjoy intercourse with the unseen world; they cannot tell him what the intercourse means, what the result of it is, how he can be the better for it. They seem to say, some of them actually say, and wish him to understand that at all events they are marking out a ne plus ultra to his enquiries, "Beyond us lies a void of Nothingness." Into that void the listening disciple has no temptation to enter. What can he do but accept these finite temporary priests as the best substitutes for the Infinite which he longs for and yet shrinks from? They at least keep alive the appetite, they save him from utter despair. Such is the condition of those who can only contemplate the Spirit which they feel is meant for man as in man. The Christian is taught to think of this Spirit as in God, as coming forth from Him. He is taught that he may ask God continually for the quickening and renewing of it in himself, and in all the family to which he belongs. He is told that when the Comforter comes He shall convince the world of Sin, of Righteousness, of Judgment; that He shall not become identical with the man himself; but shall shew him his evil; shall raise him out of that evil into a Righteousness which is above him, which is in one who is gone to the Father;
shall give him the continual assurance of a final separation between that which is true and that which is false.
III. Thus the promise of the Spirit is the promise to a man of a power to overlook his own mind, to judge its acts and movements, to know what in it requires to be cut off, what is wrought in God. Every human heart is to be the subject of it; no creature belonging to the race for which Christ died, is meant to be defrauded of this mighty illumination. But no one who receives it can pretend to be thereby exalted above his fellows; his knowledge is the knowledge of his own individual abasement; of that glory which he shares with his kind in Christ. And therefore the Scripture, in strict conformity with this idea, represents all intellectual gifts as bestowed, not to raise one man above another, but simply that men may be enabled to serve each other. The highest of all is the servant of all. He who holds his gifts under this condition, and confesses his unfitness for the use of them, is a fellow-worker with the Divine Spirit. He is doing that which he was sent here to do. He who uses them for any other end, who holds them on any other condition, practically disowns the blessing and its Author. The priest and the prophet come under this rule. They especially are to look upon themselves as called by Him who is the deliverer of men out of their confusions and darkness, to an office under Him, as endowed with powers by Him to fulfil this office. So far as the priest or the prophet
THE BUDDHIST AND CHRISTIAN CHURCH. 207
looks upon all the ability he possesses as a gift, the object of which is determined by the character of the giver, and the nature of His work, so far he is a true priest and true prophet; assuming his ability as his property, he becomes a false priest, a false prophet; in the language of Scripture a wolf, and not a shepherd, a destroyer of men, not their deliverer.
IV. But the conception of the Lama supplies us with the most perfect illustration of the difference I am endeavouring to point out. In him is gathered up that spirit of humanity which the Buddhist worships, and from which he deduces his divinity. The Christian affirms that He in whom the priesthood of the universe rests is the eternal Son of God, that He took human nature, united it to God, endued it with that Spirit which dwelt without measure in Himself. He, they declare, is the Head of many members, through each of which, so long as it abides in Him, the same lifeblood is transmitted. The former notion, grounded upon a true and deep feeling that there must be a centre or that there can be no fellowship, assumes the centre anywhere-in a child or old man-and demands implicit faith that there all intelligence rests. The other, starting from the fact that humanity has a centre above itself, declares how He who claimed to be this centre, in poverty, weakness, contempt made good his title, by proving that He could deliver the spirit of man out of its fetters, that in owning Him to be its Lord it attained the freedom it was sighing for.
The one notion glorifying the intellect and spirit of man, insists upon their doing homage to the meanest object which they create for themselves to worship; the other, humbling the intellect and spirit of man before one who has established his right to be their master, offers them an expansion and exaltation of which the knowledge and love of an absolute and perfect Being are the only limits.
V. Thus the society of the Buddhist has no bond except the existence of something mysterious in the creatures who belong to it; feeling this to be insufficient, he invents an external supremacy, and endues it with attributes which he knows it does not possess; he makes a lie, and the lie avails him nothing, for the three hundred millions which own it compose only a mass of atoms without any principle of cohesion, though they are ever seeking one. The Christian Ecclesia confesses by its very name that its existence has its ground in the call of an Almighty Being; that it stands only by His will; that it is distinguished from a divided world to be a witness of that true glory which man possesses when he looks upward, not downwards, to a Master, not to himself; that, having such a call and being such a witness, it is baptized with a Spirit of power, and truth, and love, who by it would bring all men into the divine fellowship which embraces all peoples, tongues, kindreds,—from which no one can, except by an act of self-will, be excluded.
VI. I might perhaps leave the comparison
here drawn to work its way upon the consciences and hearts of all who love truth and freedom and their kind, in deed more than in word. But the subject is so transcendantly important at this time, that I must present it still in one or two other lights. The first is this. Buddhism, you see, necessarily excludes Mahometanism and Hindooism. It is the direct contradiction of the former; Mahometanism basing the universe upon the distinctness and absoluteness of God. Its antipathy to the second is the great fact of its history, the explanation of its existence. It denies the reality of that distinction which is involved in the doctrine of the twice-born man, as opposed to the ordinary man. And now we find it cannot sustain those pretensions to spirituality, on account of which it is at war with the unspiritual Mahometan, or that pretension to humanity and *freedom from priestcraft, on account of which it is at war with the exclusive Brahmin. It sets their ideas at nought; it utterly fails in realizing its But we have been led to think that ideas which have exercised such a sway over multitudes of human beings from generation to generation, must be realized is some way. Our philosophers have taught us to pay this homage to the thoughts of our fellow-men; we bless them for the lesson; we are ashamed of not having learnt it sooner, of not having rather imparted it to them. I beseech
you seriously to ponder this question. How may these ideas be realized? How may they be reconciled? And if you should, after much thinking,