Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Gospel to all lands, and nothing has given me more satisfaction in the work which I endeavored to do for the glory of God through this Parliament, than the warm approval coming from scores of leading missionary scholars. .

We welcomed the best which the non-Christian religions could say for themselves. There was an able delegation of Buddhist priests, there were eloquent representatives of the Brahmo Samaj, there were a score of able expounders of Judaism, there were excellent papers read in praise of Parsiism and Tauism, there were speeches in eulogy of Islâm, there was an extremely elaborate and learned exposition of Confucianism, there were papers on

Hinduism by orthodox Hindus who could not be present, and there was a very interesting and eloquent oration on Hinduism by one who was able to address the Parliament in person, an oration which has had many echoes and many criticisms. But whoever takes pains to read the proceedings of the Parliament, will discover that the meeting “was a great Christian demonstration with a non-Christian section which added color and picturesque effect. The Parliament was distinctively Christian in its spirits, conceptions, prayers, doxologies, benedictions and in its prevailing language, arguments and faith. Only Christianity proclaimed itself the missionary and absolute religion with the world for its field. No Christian struck his colors nor allowed himself to be compromised by the presence of men of other faiths.”

I have the widest possible acquaintance with the effects of that meeting on American Christianity, and I know that it was very generally felt and said by Christian ministers, journalists and teachers that the Christianity of Christ displayed its glorious supremacy, its peerless character from first to last, and some went so far as to affirm that the non-Christian religions would never be willing to appear again in a great WorldCongress and show their little tapers by the side of Christianity's solar orb. My own conviction was strong from the beginning and grew stronger with the progress of the Parliament that the best which the non-Christian faith could say for themselves would only make more conspicuous the supereminence of Christ. Such I believe was the conviction of every Christian missionary who took part in the Parliament. The published proceedings of the meeting were described to me by a leading student of Comparative Theology as one of the best books in recent years on the Evidences of Christianity. It is commended to Christian Theological Students as such. The spirit, the prayers, hymns and main arguments of this Congress were Christian. When at the closing meeting one speaker ventured to suggest that no religion should henceforth seek to make converts of the others, the strange remark received applause from only one person. That great audience at the closing session was thrilled by the Hallelujah Chorus and the prophecy which was sung, The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ," seemed to them more certain than ever to be realized. After the final meeting the Vice-President of a leading Foreign Missionary Society sent to me his thanks for the services which I had rendered to Christianity as he believed by the Parliament of Religions. I have never heard of a single Christian minister who was disturbed in his faith or who gave up his work on account of the Parliament. But I do know that Christianity in America has made steady and strong and rapid advances in the last three years, that willingness to give to Foreign Missions has been as great as ever, and I do know that the forms of Oriental speculation have scarcely made a ripple on the deep surface of our Western life. When the Parliament closed, I with others affirmed that it would give a new impetus to Christian Missions. Mr. Mozoomdar said, “I regard Christ as an essential factor in the future of India," and we who have been trained in Christian lands agree with Christians here that Christ is the essential factor in India's coming regeneration. The Parliament's logical outcome, as Dr. Joseph Cook has written, will be the “exultation of Christianity as the Sun compared with which all alien faiths are only candles.”

“The Parliament,” says Mr. Slater of Bangalore, “cannot fail to broaden the thoughts of all reflectiug Christians and influence for good the spirit of foreign missions. It must tell and has already told in the direction of greater courtesy and wider toleration and fraternity." He also says that the Parliament shows conclusively that Christianity holds the future in its hand. The venerated Dr. Cyrus Hamlin has pronounced this effort to bring together all the religions of the world on the common plane of the brotherhood of man, a « noble humanitarian measure.” Much good has already resulted, says Dr. Wherry, for twenty years a Presbyterian missionary in India, "and more good will result in the future.” “ The Parliament, says that St. Paul among Syrian missionaries, Dr. Henry Á. Jessup,“ has awakened thought, stimulated investigation, stirred up criticism, given light where light was needed, shown the weakness and impotence of the non-Christian systems, given

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Christianity an opportunity to show its supreme excellence, and brought the Church of Christ face to face with those who were afar off and almost unknown. Christian missions have found new justification and a new quickening. “I believe,says Dr. Dennis of Syria, “that the Parliament will be for

" the establishment of Christianity." And that noble missionary scholar, Dr. Post, writes his conviction that “the outcome of our Parliament will be for the furtherance of the Gospel." “The Church of Christ,” says Dr. DeForest of Japan, "is now on a better basis for the intelligent prosecution of mission work." “So far from abnegating the supremacy of Christianity,” says Dr. Martin of the Imperial University of Peking, the Parliament exemplifies the attitude Christianity must assume to win recognition.” And the Rev. Gilbert Reid says, " that while a few from non-Christian lands

may

misinterpret the Parliament, the majority will be drawn by the broad, sympathetic attitude of Christians, and will continue to be influenced by the same spirit.” I have received one testimonial to the Parliament, which I deem of greater weight than all the adverse criticisms, which it has been my fortune to read. The Rev. Daniel McGilvary, the able and veteran missionary among the Laos, writes, "The Parliament of Religions, from its inception, commended itself to my judgment. Besides attending all its sessions, I have read all that I have seen written for and against it, and that judgment remains unchanged. Its records will ever remain a thesaurus from which missionaries and students will draw on all the subjects embraced in its broad range.” When we consider the high character, conservative wisdom and broad experience of this missionary, his knowledge of the Buddhist world in which he lives, and his accurate and perfect understanding of the spirit which pervaded the Congress, these words are entitled to the weight and rank which I have given them.

The Parliament speaks to Christians with a brave and cheerful voice, bidding us to be full of hope and love and brotherhood, bidding us to emphasize those essentials of truth by which the world is to be saved rather than those non-essentials by which it is liable to be lost. The Parliament was not founded on the false theory that all religions are equally good. It was founded on the spirit of Christian courtesy, and also on the rock of absolute sincerity in the maintenance of individual convictions. Nothing could be further from the facts than the contention that all the representatives of religion

were

welcomed “as equally, inspired and equally sufficient prophets and teachers in things sacred and divine." “Superficial people,” writes Professor Bruce of Scotland, "might carry away the impression that it put all religions on a level. The truth, however, is that it simply gave the religions of the world an opportunity of being compared one with another on their merits." “ That Christianity,” says Dr. Dennis, the Secretary of the American Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, " has a right to command, is true, but has it not the right also to discuss, compare and persuade ? God says even to offending sinners, 'Come let us reason together.' "I do not under

' stand," he adds, “that Christianity ever resigned the purpose and hope of both influencing and convincing men through the Parliament of Religions."

Much might be rightly said of the high character and ability of many of those who composed this assembly. If I were asked to-day to name a score and more of those who seemed to me now to have been the chief and most powerful personalities in that Congress, the list would include the Catholic Bishop Keane, who organized the Catholic forces most ably and proved himself catholic-hearted on every day of the Parliament, and in every relation with men who differed from him; the Archbishop of Zante, an impressive orator and great-hearted speaker, whose sudden death shortly after his return has sorrowed many hearts; Dr. George Dana Boardman of Philadelphia, almost always present at the meetings and a gracious influence everywhere; the late Dr. Philip Schaff, the eminent historian, whose address on the “Reunion of Christendom” has been called apostolic; Mr. Mozoomdar, the leader of the Brahmo-Samaj, a man of great eloquence and spiritual power; Dr. Joseph Cook, a critic of the Parliament during many of its days and its powerful champion since; Rev. George T. Candlin, the English missionary from China, who spoke so persuasively for Christian unity in Missionary fields, and who found the Parliament had become an epoch in his intellectual life; the Honorable Pung Quang Ya, the learned representative of Confucianism; Mr. Dharmapala, the gentle Buddhist of Ceylon, whose heart still lingers in America, to which he has returned and who writes most discouragingly of the lethargic spirit of the Buddhist priests, and who says that “if Christians would include kindness to animals in their programme, he would be glad to close his life as a preacher of Jesus”; Prince Wolkonsky of Russia, whose voice was heard on three occasions, always with acceptance; Mr. Hirai, the Japanese orator, whose stern denunciation of the sins of Chris

U

tian people, evoked the applause of Christian auditors; the orator of philosophic Hinduism now welcomed back to India ; Washington Gladden, who spoke on the Social Problem with a divine fire which ought to burn down the barriers of un-Christian separations, and inspire the disciples of Jesus to co-operative labors for the common good; Dr. Washburn of Constantinople, who expounded the Mohammedan question with rare wisdom and whose writings in behalf of the Parliament have had a wide influence; Cardinal Gibbons who won many hearts when he thanked God that there is one platform on which we all stand united, the platform of Charity, of Humanity and of Benevolence; Rabbi Gottheil of New York, who gave such an eloquent eulogy of Moses, and who considered it the glory and reward of his life to be able to speak in such an assembly of the man who had been light, strength and inspiration to him from childwood ; Col. Thomas W. Higginson who so skilfully turned the minds of his hearers from theological to less speculative and more practical questions ; Professor Peabody, of Harward, who spoke of Christ as the greatest Individualist and the greatest Socialist of history; Lyman Abbott of New York, who eulogized Religion as the essential foundation of all religions; Dr. Alger of Boston, who pointed out with wonderful philosophic insight the necessary steps towards the spiritual reunion of mankind; Dr. Pentecost of London, who preached the Gospel at a Parliament of Religions with the same aggressive fearlessness that he employed in addressing the college students of Calcutta ; Dr. Momerie, the able and brilliant expounder of Christian Theism ; Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, whose words seemed a benediction; Robert A. Hume, one of the broadest minded and most earnest of our Indian missionaries ; Rev. B. Fay Mills, the evangelist, who, after speaking of Christ as the world's Saviour, wrought his great audience into a fervour of Christian feeling which brought many of them to their feet; and Bishop Dudley of Kentucky, who preached the historic Christ with such majestic faith and personal enthusiasm of devout feeling that he strengthened the confidence of multitudes that Christ alone is equal to the task of redeeming humanity.

No meeting like that which I am describing, however carefully planned, will be devoid of mistake. The Parliament of 1893 was conducted by men who did the best that could under very difficult circumstances. They believed that, though some unfortunate misconceptions would inevitably result, the undertaking was well worth the risk, and their

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »