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SEVENTH LECTURE.

THE WORLD'S PARLIAMENT OF RELIGIONS. An Address before the Native Christian Conference of Madras.

It has been my pleasure to speak to many hundreds of the Native Christians of India who represent in so large a measure the future of this wondrous land. When I remember the environments of their lives, the inherited prejudices, the tyrannical caste-customs, the atmosphere of superstition and hostility, I regard these Christian communities as more wonderful exhibitions of the power of God, our gracious Father and Creator, than the majestic heights of the Himalayas; and I deem it one of the chief privileges of my visit to India that I am able in any measure to bring encouragement and inspiration to these my fellow-disciples whose allegiance to Christ has often shown itself heroic.

There is one theme of constant and vital interest to the people of India on which I have frequently spoken in other cities, and which is to be the subject of my remarks to-night. Having given time during four years to promoting, organizing and conducting the Parliament of Religions and to preparing and publishing its proceedings, and having had occasion and opportunity to read what has been written about that meeting in all parts of the world, I am able to speak of its purposes, spirit and results with accurate knowledge. It seems important that correct information should be diffused, since misleading and ridiculously inaccurate reports are in some places current. At the very outset let it be understood that Christian America, as represented by most of the leading Christian journals and the great body of her more eminent Christian scholars, has approved the Parliament from its inception until now. Nothing would appear more absurd to wellinformed people in my own land and in Great Britain than the assertion that churches had been closed, and Christian faith shaken by the advocacy in Western Christendom of the claims of Oriental faiths. There is nothing more grotesque and ridiculous in any of the mythologies than the rumors as to the

ever

wide acceptance in America and England of Oriental philosophies as substitutes for Christianity. The courtesy and curiosity of the American people have been misunderstood. The apostles of non-Christian faiths have been received with interest and with admiration, and they have done something to quicken a desire for further knowledge of Eastern modes of thought. I believe that_America will always be hospitable to persons

and to ideas. But to affirm that American Christianity has been shaken by the Eastern speakers at the Parliament of Religions is as absurdly incredible to every one who knows, as to say that a child's hand has pushed back the current of the Ganges. Almost a half million new members last year espoused the cause of Christ in the Protestant churches of the United States. The progress of the Christian faith in America has been as marked as before. And the interest in Foreign Missions and the willingness to give were never greater. And I have yet to hear that, notwithstanding the recent revival of Hinduism, Christian progress in India has been less marked than formerly. I believe with one of the Arcot Missionaries that the revival of Hinduism is “a hopeful rather than a discouraging sign.”. Spiritual lethargy " has at last yielded to the powerful influence of Christianity, and it is only natural that waking from their long sleep they should first turn to the old religion to satisfy their spiritual wants." I have believed, and I am glad to find my faith shared by so many missionaries, that we should joyfully and thankfully recognize all elements of truth and goodness discoverable in Hinduism, Buddhism and Islâm. The sympathetic method of approach is Pauline, wise, necessary and fruitful of best results.

The Parliament of Religions should be looked at with no narrow or one-sided vision. It should not be judged solely from what we deem the accuracy or inaccuracy, the worthiness or the unworthiness, of the representation made in Chicago by the advocate of that particular non-Christian faith in which we are most interested. It should be considered in a large way, with a full knowledge of its generous and lofty purposes, its noble constituency made up of men and women of many nations, the full reports of its public proceedings and a wide acquaintance with its chief results.

The Parliament of Religions was not like the Emperor Asoka's conference, a meeting of Indian Buddhists only; it was not like the Emperor Akbar's little debating society where rival priests of several faiths contended before him like medieval knights, in no spirit of fellowship and fraternity, each anxious for an imperial verdict in his favor. The Parliament was the first meeting in history where the representatives of the world's chief religions coming from many lands conferred together in a great public assembly with full liberty to utter their deepest thoughts and convictions, with the assurance of a calm and sympathetic hearing. The objects proposed for this meeting by those who conducted it, were so large and generous as to win the favor of thousands of the leading minds among many nations and

many faiths. Chief Rabbi Adler of Great Britain suggested the words of the prophet Micah as the motto for the meeting, “Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us?The Christian scholars who co-operated with the Parliament, often quoted the words of the Apostle Peter, “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is acceptable to Him." Christian theologians of wide knowledge, beholding the elements of good in all religions, remembered the declaration made in the Fourth Gospel, that Christ is the original Light, enlightening every man that cometh into the world. We believed that God is the God not only of one people, but of all peoples; that He is the loving Father of all mankind and that His children, more or less enlightened, should live together, and therefore had the privilege of meeting together, as brethren. Those of us who devoutly hold to the supremacy and sufficiency of Christianity, the Christianity of Christ, took for our guide the courteous and sympathetic spirit of the Apostle Paul when he addressed the non-Christian thinkers of Athens.

Among the objects proposed for the Parliament were these : to deepen the spirit of human brotherhood without fostering any temper of indifferentism, to show men what are the common truths of different religions, to set forth the distinctive truths of each, to inquire what light one religion may throw upon another, to indicate the foundations of theism and the reasons for faith in immortality, and to strengthen the forces adverse to materialism. Here was surely a large field in to which Christianity might enter with joyful and exultant confidence. It is no wonder that with such ideas and purposes the organizers of the Congress secured the adhesion of many of the foremost men of Christendom, including Christian statesmen like Mr. Gladstone, leading divines of all Christian nations, missionaries and missionary secretaries of high repute, Christian poets like Tennyson and Whittier and many eminent ecclesiastics including the Roman Catholic hierarchy of America and twenty-three Bishops of the Anglican Communion.

With these ideas and feelings the promoters of this great religious Council toiled on year after year, finding helpers in nearly all lands, and nowhere were more earnest and generous-hearted friends than in India among men belonging to different Confessions. On the eleventh of September, 1893, our labors and hopes reached their fulfilment. With representatives of ten religions gathered beneath one roof and with a Catholic Cardinal repeating the universal prayer of the world's Saviour, the Parliament opened. It was indeed a meeting of brotherhood where “the Brahmin forgot his caste, and the Catholic was chiefly conscious of his catholicity ;” and where, in the audience, “ the variety of interests, faiths, ranks and races was as great as that found on the platform.” As the representatives of China, Japan, Russia, Germany, Hindustan, Sweden and Norway, Greece, France, Africa, the United States, and the all-clasping Empire of Great Britain, from England to India and New Zealand, uttered their thoughts and feelings, multitudes entered anew into the spirit of the Nazarene Prophet, who seemed always to include the whole world in his purpose and affection. Nearly all great events to-day are the result of the ages which have preceded, but the special preparations for this meeting were the almost universal prevalence of Christian missions, the rise and study of comparative religion, the wide use of the English language making such a conference possible, international facilities for travel, the attractive opportunity afforded by a world's Exposition, much hard work extending over more than three years, and ample religious freedom in America. So-called Liberal Christians naturally looked upon it as one of their triumphs, but they alone could not have gained the co-operation of historic Christendom. Liberal-minded Jews saw in it the fulfilment of the prophecy that the knowledge of Jehovah should cover the earth, but Judaism alone could not have achieved a convention of Christians. The Brahmo-Somaj of India regarded the Parliament as fulfilling the ideas of the New Dispensation, but the Brahmo-Somaj would have been unable to draw together the representatives of the great faiths. No Christian missionary society could have achieved the Parliament, for the fear of aggressive propagandism would have kept out the non-Christian world. No ecclesiastical body in Christendom, whether Catholic, Greek, Anglican or Lutheran, could have assembled the Parliament. No kingly and imperial government in which the church and State are united could have gathered it, and no republican government where church and state are separated would have deemed it a part of its office to summon it. But, as one element of an international Exposition, and controlled by a generous-minded and representative committee under no ecclesiastical dictation, appealing in the spirit of fraternity to highminded individuals, the Parliament was possible, and was actualized.

I believe that the forces which working through ages culminated in this conference of the world's faiths were the intellectual and spiritual movements which make the gulf stream of history. These forces come as I believe from the Bible, which is the text-book of a universal religion; they come from the Christ, the Unifier of Humanity, Who offered Himself for the life of the whole world; these forces are linked with that growing spirit of brotherhood which is breaking down the walls of caste and of national antipathy. And when on that September morning the hopes and toils of years were realized, and the President of the World's Congress Auxiliary and the President of the Columbian Exposition were accompanied by a Catholic Cardinal of America and a Catholic Archbishop from New Zealand and a Greek archbishop from Zante, by representatives of the imperial government of China, by Buddhist priests and scholars from Ceylon and Japan, by representatives of the Brahmo-Somaj of India, by missionaries of the Orient, by Mohammedans, Hindus and Jains, by a Russian and an African Prince, by a high priest of Shintoism, and by a score of the representative men and women of America, entered the hall of Columbus and joined in an act of common worship to Almighty God; when the immense assembly sang

Before Jehovah's awful throne"
Ye nations, bow with sacred joy ;
Know that the Lord is God alone;

He can create, and He destroy. thousands realized that they were present at a never-to-beforgotten event in human history. A Christian divine and philosopher has written, “It was the greatest experience in my life. I never expect a repetition of the sight and the thrill of that opening morning hour until I stand before the throne above." For seventeen days the Parliament continued. One hundred and fifty thousand people attended its sessions. It was full of the highest religious enthusiasm from first to last. At times

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