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“In reading the proceedings of the Parliament of Religions, I have been struck with the many points of harmony between the different faiths, and the possibility of so presenting Christianity to others as to win their favorable interest in its truths. If the committee shall decide to utilize this lectureship still further in calling forth the views of scholarly representatives of the non-Christian faiths, I authorize and shall approve such a decision. Only good will grow out of such a comparison of views.
“' It is my wish that, accepting the offer which I now make, the committee of the University will correspond with the leaders of religious thought in India, and secure from them such helpful suggestions as they may be ready to give. I cherish the expectation that the Barrows lectures will prove, in years that shall come, a new golden bond between the East and West. In the belief that this foundation will be blessed by our Heavenly Father, to the extension of the benign influence of our great University, to the promotion of the highest interests of humanity, and to the enlargement of the kingdom of Truth and Love on earth, I remain, with much regard,
DR. BARROWS IN INDIA.
BY REV. ROBERT A. HUME, D.D. Every one knows that time is needed for the development of great things in vegetation, in animal life and in architecture. But every one does not understand that there is similar need of time for the development and for an adequate appreciation of great things in mind and in spirit. The Parliament of Religions, which met in Chicago in 1893, was a unique and great event in the world of mind and spirit. Therefore, according to the law of life, time is necessary for the development of its results and for men to fully appreciate it. Hence, though held in America, it is not yet adequately understood even there. Much less can its true significance be grasped in distant Asia from the reports of comparatively few persons.
persons. But it is the nature of great things that they must diffuse themselves and their fruits. It is an evidence that the first Parliament of Religions was great that it is yearly more and more diffusing itself. It was conceived and grew in connection with the greatest International Exposition of material things, because its promoters believed that a colossal exhibition of such things is inadequate and in some respects dangerous, unless there is with it and in it an exposition of the greatest spiritual things. This conviction brought forth the Parliament, the first truly ecumenical exposition of religions.
And, of course, if it was to be an ecumenical exposition of spiritual things, it could not be conducted on a less courteous or less wise basis than the exposition of material things. In this latter exposition every nation, even the weakest and least advanced, was invited to send specimens of its best products, to be selected and displayed by its own representatives in their own way, and to be placed by the side of the products of other lands, in the confidence that such an exposition would be mutually helpful. The products displayed by the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, were immensely superior to the displays sent from Africa and South America. Nevertheless the mutual exposition was helpful to Europe and America, as well as to Africa and South America.
It ought to have been in a similarly courteous spirit and it was in such a spirit that the international exhibition of religions was conceived and conducted.
Its meaning was the supremacy of the spiritual element in man. This was noble in itself, and more sublime because of its connection with a gigantic exhibition of the material products of the world. Representatives of each religion presented their faiths in their own way. All were not fair or wise. But no other course would have been feasible or wise. Naturally the followers of each religion put a very high estimate on their own faith. But it does not seem doubtful that the one crowning impression of the Parliament was, in the supremacy of spiritual things, the supremacy of Christ. None but Christians could or would have planned or executed it.
Because it was a living spiritual power the Parliament of Religions led to subsequent important events. First a Christian lady of America, Mrs. Caroline E. Haskell, founded a lectureship on Comparative Religion in the Chicago University, for attendants at that institution. Then, she founded a lectureship on the same subject in connection with the same University, but the lectures to be delivered in India, every other year, by some eminent man. Naturally Mrs. Haskell and the University requested the President of the Parliament, the Rev. John Henry Barrows, D.D., to be the first lecturer to India on this foundation. But he declined the appoint
ment. Just before that time Mr. Gladstone had retired from political life and he was then formally requested by the University to come to India to give the first series of lectures on the relation of Christianity to the faiths of this land. He also declined, and suggested Canon Gore. That eminent man was unable to accept the invitation. The University then again most urgently requested Dr. Barrows to accept the appointment. He was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago and laid the matter before the authorities of his Church. They felt that it was undesirable to give him the prolonged leave of absence necessary for this purpose. But under all the circumstances it seemed to him that there was a divine call to this service. Therefore he resigned his important position in Chicago and went to Germany to secure the amplest preparation for the first series of lectures on this new foundation.
Two influential communities in India looked forward with deep interest and questioning to these Barrows-Haskell lectures, viz. the non-Christian religious reformers and the Christian missionaries. The former have been much influenced by the Lord Jesus Christ; they know that there has been some change among Western Christians in conceiving and stating the Christian faith and they have thought and hoped that the Parliament of Religions meant and would more and more show that none of the present religions of the world is to become the final religion, but that each, with some modifications, is good enough for its adherents, and that the final, universal religion will be some mixture and outcome of them all. Such persons anticipated, with much hope, yet with some misgiving, the coming of Dr. Barrows.
Because the entire non-Christian community in India had so interpreted the Parliament of Religions and because most missionaries in India have not had time to see what is to be the real outcome of that unique religious conference, many missionaries here looked forward with misgiving lest the Barrows-Haskell lectures would lead Indians to think that leaders of the West had somewhat lowered the Christian standard. But there were some missionaries who confidently expected a high and strong presentation of their faith.
The great courtesy and kindness which Dr. Barrows had shown to the Indian representatives of all faiths at the Chicago Conference, and his unique position both as the President of that remarkable gathering, and now as representative of the vigorous young University of Chicago to the thinking men of India, made it certain that he would have a most cordial reception from all classes in this courteous country, whatever he might say. When he landed in Bombay accompanied by Mrs. Barrows, on December 15th, 1896, he was very heartily welcomed by representatives of the Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Brahmo and Christian communities, partly through delegations and partly by letters. The Bombay Missionary Conference had arranged a large reception for him at Wilson College, where leaders of all communities were to meet him. But on account of the epidemic which is ravaging Bombay it was deemed best that he should hurry away from that city and the reception was given up. He went first to Benares and spent five days in observations of Hinduism in its capital. But his work began in Calcutta, the political and intellectual capital of India, where he stayed from December 23rd to January 4th.
A noble reception, worthy of the hospitality of hospitable India and most honorable to the leader of Hindu Society in Calcutta, was given at the palace of the Maharajah Bahadur Sir Jotindra Mohun Tagore, K. C. S. I., by representatives of the Hindu, Mohammedan, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, Brahmo and Christian communities. It was a unique and grand occasion, the exact parallel to which has never occurred, when, in an orthodox Hindu prince's palace, representatives of every faith met to give the heartiest welcome to a Christian lecturer from the West. At this introduction to his special mission to