Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

the human intellect, and so completely ignorant of his mother tongue, that he is by no means certain, if the Deity himself had informed us of the nature and manner of a triune existence, whether we should have understood it. That is to say, he doubts whether we should be informed, after we had been informed. This is truly mysterious, and as much above our humble comprehension as the doctrine of the Trinity itself. Here is an unintelligible doctrine, and an unintelligible explanation of the unintelligible doctrine, which all together is called information. The editor of the Friend of India must surely be placed at the head of the orthodox divines of the present day.

In answering the objection against the Trinity, drawn from its unreasonableness, the old expedient had been employed, of comparing it to the growth of grass and trees, and the action of mind upon matter, the manner of which growth and action we do not comprehend. This inapplicable comparison is treated by the Bramun, as follows;

“How is it possible for the Editor, or for any one possessed of common sense, not to perceive the gross error of drawing an analogy from things around and within us, to the three distinct persons of the Godhead in one existence; which, so far from being around or within us, exist only in the imagination of Christians. Here the growth of a tree, and its producing leaves and flowers, as well as the operation of mind on matter, being around and within us, are commonly perceptible by all men, whether Christians or not Christians; a denial of which is utterly impossible for one who is possessed of the senses. It is very true that the exact manner in which plants grow, or the mind operates, and the precise principles of nature which act upon them are not thoroughly understood. But all that these facts amount to is, that things around or within us, whether visible, or demonstrated by visible facts, compel conviction. Do the three persons of the God. head in unity exist like growing trees, or bodies joined to mind? Are they phenomena commonly perceptible alike by Christians and not Christians? Or are they like mountains of ice in northern countries, which, though they are not seen or felt by us, yet are reported to us by eye witnesses, without any contradiction from others who have also passed the places where they are said to exist, and where they are liable to be seen by any one; that we should be compelled to believe the existence of the triune God, like that of growing trees, operating minds, or mountains of ice, though we cannot understand them? Christians may perhaps consider the Trinity as perceptible by them, through the force of early instructions, in the same manner as the followers of Tantru doctrines, among Hindoos in Bengal, consider God as consisting of five distinct persons, and yet as one God; and as the generality of modern Hindoos esteem numerous incarnations under one Godhead, almost as an experienced fact, from their early habits. How can Christians, who in general justly pride themselves on their cultivated understanding, admit such an analogy, or justify any one in misleading others with such sophistries?”

A few lines further on, the native charges the missionary with inconsistency in saying that “the triune God had not condescended to inform us of the precise mode in which his infinite and glorious nature exists and acts," and afterwards particularizing certain modes of his existence and actions, such as the creation of the world by the Son, his incarnation, ascension, mediatorial office, and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. He then proceeds with what we regard as perhaps his best argument.

“Is it possible even to conceive for a moment the identity between three beings, one of them in heaven, expressing his pleasure at the conduct of the second, who at the same time on the earth was performing religious rites, and the third of them then residing between heaven and earth, descending on the second at the will of the first? If the difference of bodies and situations, as well as of actions and employments be not sufficient to set aside the idea of the identity and real unity of persons, there would be no means of distinguishing one person from another, and no criterion would be left for considering a tree different from a rock, or a bird from a man. Is this the doctrine which the Editor ascribes to God? and can any book, which contains an idea that defies the use of the senses, be considered worthy to be ascribed to that Being, who has endued the human race with senses and understanding for their use and guidance?

“God the Son is declared by the Editor to have laid aside his glory for a season, and to have prayed his Father to give him the same glory, and also to have taken the forın of a servant. Is it consistent with the nature of the immutable God to lay aside any part of his condition, and pray for it again? Is it conformable to the nature of the Supreme Ruler of the universe to take the form of a servant, though only for a season? Is this the true idea of God, which the Editor maintains? I shall be obliged if the Editor can show that the polythe. istical doctrines, maintained by Hindoos, are in any degree more unreasonable than his own. If not, he will not, I trust, endeavour in future to introduce among them one set of polytheistical sentiments as a substitute for another set; both of them being equally and solely protected by the shield of mystery.

To the fourth objection, the missionary editor gives, as the Bramun says, “an evasive answer,” which is this; “Christians worship Jesus Christ, and not his Dody separately from him." The native is not to be satisfied in this manner. “I never charged Christians," he replies, “with worshipping the body of Jesus Christ separately from himself The Editor in fact confesses their adoration of Jesus Christ as the very God in the material form; nevertheless he attempts to maintain that they worship God in spirit.” This inhabitant of a heathen land then goes on with some remarks, which are as sound, and just, and spiritual, as if he had been instructed from his childhood in the worthiest conceptions of the one only living and true God.

“If we admit that the worship of spirit, possessed of material body, is worship in spirit, we must not any longer impute idolatry to any religious sect; for none of them adore mere matter, unconnected with spirit. Did the Greeks and Romans worship the bodies of Jupiter and Juno, and their other supposed gods, separately from their respective spirits? Are not the miraculous works, ascribed by them to these gods, proofs of their viewing them as spirits connected with the body? Do the idolaters among Hindoos worship the assumed forms of their incarnations, divested of their spirit? Nothing of the kind. Even in worshipping idols, Hindoos do not consider them objects of worship until they have performed Pranprutistha, or communication of divine life. According to the definition given by the Editor, none of them can be supposed idolaters, because they never worship the body separately from the spirit. But in fact, any worship, through either an artificial form, or imaginary material repre. sentation, 28 nothing but idolatry."

Now we must say, and we do not wish to appear uncharitable, that the Hindoo seems to us to understand the meaning and spirit of the second commandment, far better than the Christian.

The argument on the fifth objection is short, and we shall extract it entire. It shows either a real or affected misapprehension on the one side, and considerable ingenuity and readiness on the other.

“My fifth question was, “How can equality subsist except between objects possessed of different essences and existences?' But the Editor repeats only a part of it, that is, how the Son can be equal with the Father, when he does possess the same nature; and then declares the question unintelligible. I never meant the impossibility of equality between persons or things that possess the same nature; as we find often equality in some property subsisting between man and man, though possessing the same nature. But as no equality can subsist except between things of different existences, and the professed beJief of the missionary gentlemen was, that the Son is the same in existence, as well as in nature, with the Father, I took the liberty to ask, how the Son can be equal with the Father, when he is supposed to be possessed of the same nature and existence. Unless they deny to the Son the same existence with the Father, they cannot, I think, maintain his equality with the Father, I therefore presume my question is perfectly intelligible.”

Our readers will, by this time, have formed an opinion of the ability, which is now opposing the unintelligible doctrines presented to the Hindoos as Christianity. The missionaries have a new work on their

hands. It is learning, and not ignorance, reason, and not superstition, with which they have now to contend; and if we are not mistaken, they will find the present the harder task of the two. They are not now engaged with an unenlightened tribe of savages, who can be made to believe any thing by those, whose superior knowledge, virtues, and power, they are compelled to respect, and whose doctrines are all the better to them for being mysterious. They are opposed by a well-informed and influential class of theists, who are able to examine every proposition, and who seem determined not to resign their own views till they can obtain better in exchange. Of this state of things, the missionaries appear to be wilfully ignorant. If we may judge from the following remarks of the writer, whose arguments we have been repeating, they plod on in the accus. tomed track, and talk in the same way to a people, who, as we have been informed, have seven native printing presses at work, as they would to a race of absolute barbarians.

“I cannot help feeling compassion for his total want of knowledge of the literary employment, and domestic conduct of the native community at large, notwithstanding his long residence in India. During only a few years past, hundreds of works on different subjects, such as Theology, Law, Logic, Grammar, and Astronomy, have been written by the natives of Bengal alone. I do not wonder that they have not reached the knowledge of the Editor, who, in common with almost all his colleagues, has shut his eyes against any thing that might do the smallest credit to the natives.”

And then with regard to the proper spirit and manner of conducting a controversy, it will not be difficult to determine, after we have read the concluding paragraphs of this number of the Magazine, which of the

« ForrigeFortsett »