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1889.]

Shall we Study the False Religions?

always in a friendly spirit, and under the guidance of European scholarship they have studied their own systems. They have also sat at the feet of our Western teachers of infidelity, and learned all the points of attack upon the Christian faith. They have welcomed the panegyrics which European or American apologists have lavished upon Buddhism and kindred systems. They have joined hands with American Spiritualism under the new name of Theosophy. “The Light of Asia" has been translated into their various languages, and eagerly read by thousands, and its author has received the special thanks of princes and potentates. How can unfurnished missionaries grapple with such forces? And how can a Church which looks only with disdain upon the enemy's resources, be fitted for the most stupendous conflict that it has ever been called to wage?

The alliance between the old heathen philosophies and our Western doctrines of evolution, is bringing" the war into Africa." We have Buddhist "culture" in Boston and New York. An Armenian graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary had advocated the system of Gautama in Chickering Hall. A Presbyterian pastor of New York has been asked to substitute "The Light of Asia" for the Bible, at a funeral, and the Theosophist, Colonel Olcott, has recently announced to the educated circles of Japan, that there are already 50,000 Buddhists in the United States. This is a characteristic exaggeration, but it is significant.

The recent apologists of the Oriental systems have consciously or unconsciously woven into those systems all the recent theories of Western scientists. Edwin Arnold, Mr. Sinnett and others have read into the old Buddhism the physical evolution of Charles Darwin, and the psychical and moral evolution of Herbert Spencer, and in so ingenious a manner that the old is reinforced by the new, and the new is strength ened by the old; for once the new cloth and the old garment are made to agree. At the same time, these writers, one and all, unhesitatingly clothe heathen systems in the nomenclature and forms of expression which

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they have borrowed from their Christian training, thus adding many conceptions of which no Oriental Buddhist ever dreamed. It may in truth be said that many of the best things with which heathen systems are now credited, have been read into them by the apostate sons of an early Christian cul

ture.

But it is not merely on the apologetic side that reasons appear for a careful and candid study of the false religions which this generation now encounters. There are motives of an aggressive character. The worldwide history of uninspired religions presents many important facts.

First. It emphasizes, as nothing else can, the futility of the unceasing and wearisome efforts of mankind to find out God by their own devices. To borrow an illustration from another, these efforts have all been like the puny attempts of children to place ladders against the sky.

Second. The history of the false religions, as has been most conclusively shown by Ebrard-warmly endorsed by the late Dr. Henry B. Smith-constitutes the most convincing argument against the modern hypothesis of development in religion-from instinct to conscience and worship, from fetichism to polytheism and Christianity. And here perhaps is the most desperate grapple just now between revealed religion and certain theories which relate to the descent of man. Those theories, dealing mainly with his prehistoric career, and reaching conclusions as to his physical development, assume as a sort of corollary, that his moral and religious nature also must necessarily have been an ever upward growth.

But over against these conclusions from unproved premises the actual history of religions reveals the indisputable and univer sal fact of a widespread and continued deterioration. The development has all been downward. Careful investigations of the various systems, summoning only the testimonies contained within themselves, strikingly corroborate Paul's diagnosis of human apostasy as given in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans.

Third. The history of human religions,

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Shall we Study the False Religions?

many of which abound in lofty ethical maxims, corroborates in like manner the second chapter of the same Epistle, which holds mankind so clearly responsible for the light of conscience. I am aware that quite a different use has been made of these high ethical teachings. Mr. Moncure P. Conway in his "Anthology" has attempted to level Christianity with other systems by grouping the beautiful maxims found in all, thus carrying the implication that all are equally of human origin. But rightly viewed, those maxims only the more completely show that all men are under condemnation by the law written upon their hearts. No one has so strongly and so clearly insisted upon the fact that God has implanted ethical truth in the human understanding and conscience as the apostle Paul; but ethics may stand quite apart from religions-the one dealing with implanted principles, the other with divine help and fellowship. Atheistical systems like Buddhism, and agnostic systems like Confucianism, are quite as lofty in their ethics as those which claim to be theistic. As a rule, the ethical standards of the Oriental systems are higher and purer than the religions with which they are connected, while the Christian religion rises higher and ever higher than the dimly inscribed law that is still discernible in the disordered human conscience. The lauded ethics of the heathen world bring new proof that mankind are self-condemned in their sins, that only grace can save, and that missions are necessary.

Fourth. A just knowledge of the history of false religions furnishes a strong vindication both of the Old Testament dispensation and of the history and conquests of the early Christian Church. Perhaps nowhere else can be found so clear a justification of the severities of the Jewish theocracy as in a

The appointment of Professor Thomas L. Morgan, President of the Rhode Island Normal School, to the office of Commissioner of Indian Affairs, will be hailed with satisfaction by all friends of the red man. With trained intellectual capacity, solid and discriminating judgment, true patriotism and

[August.

careful study of the development of heathenism among the Canaanites and the Phoenicians, as traced by Ebrard, De Pressensé and others. Of all the heathen nations of whom history gives us any account, noue have compared in degradation and wickedness with those races with which the Hebrew migration came into direct contact. The threefold vices of religious prostitution, sodomy, and the cruel and wholesale sacrifice to Moloch of children burned alive, spread westward from the valley of Sodom, until between the time of Abraham and his Canaanitish friends Melchizedek and Abimelech, and the time of Moses and Joshua, it extended over the whole land to the Mediterranean. And ere the Israelitish conquest of extermination was completed, the baneful poison of that unspeakable cult had spread through all the Phoenician colonies-Cyprus, Carthage, Crete and Greece—and had planted the germs which wrought the final overthrow of Grecian and Roman civilization. It is easy for the skepticism of this age to question the wisdom and humanity of the Old Testament history; but the infinite counsels which destroyed the Canaanitish civilization in the East seem to have been repeated in the overruling Providence which subsequently, in the Western colonies, swept away the remaining poison of that same civilization before the half-savage hordes of Northern Europe. It was thus that the divine Providence whose ways are above our ways-higher, broader and more comprehensive in their estimate of what is most merciful on the whole-prepared the way for the new and better civilization of modern times. Even we shrink from the alternative of a Canaanitish civilization spreading forth unchecked as the heritage of the nations and of the ages. F. F. ELLINWOOD.

real zeal for the Indian not only in his social and political but in his religious and moral character, with all these in symmetrical. union, we have promise that during his incumbency Commissioner Morgan will be found all that could be desired by the friends of the Indian.

CONCERT OF PRAYER.

THE ADVANCE OF PROTESTANTISM IN FRANCE.

Few men are better informed as regards the religious life of France than Rev. Dr. Beard, who was for a long time a resident of Paris and pastor of the American church in that city.

Dr. Beard has contributed a valuable and very interesting article to the Congregation alist, on the progress and hopefulness of Protestantism in France, some extracts from which will be of service to our readers. It is a note of encouragement, given by one who has had full opportunity for a survey of the field. Referring to the France which he had found on his first visit, thirty years ago, when Napoleon III. was on his stolen throne, a France full of repression and espionage and Romish arrogance, he says:

If, however, overcoming the repeated hindrances, one visited the different localities of the empire, what did he see? This: he saw thirty-eight millions of people, fourteen millions of whom could not read. He saw a people, with natural and positive religious sentiments, nominally accepting the assertions of an imposed religion which did not touch the heart of the nation, and which found but feeble response in the convictions of those who gave to it a certain assent. He found those whose numbers swelled into the millions, who were saying, as plainly as they dared, "If this religion be Christianity, then we do not believe in Christianity." "If God be the author of this, then we do not believe in God." "This religion does not meet human need; we know of none that does, therefore we are at war with religion."

He saw here and there a scattered remnant of the Huguenots, with perhaps five hundred feeble churches for five or six thousand souls, among the thirty-eight millions which remained to bear witness to the faith and fidelity of their fathers. These, at this period of time, were permitted to exist under repressive and restrictive conditions; but the least aggressiveness of faith meant the prison. He saw the children of the poor in all the provinces without provision for education; and go where he

would, he met the signs of a successful and unscrupulous tyranny over the minds and souls of the people.

After contrasting this picture with the France of to-day, and tracing the wonderful downfall of the empire, the waning power of an hereditary aristocracy, and the absolute freedom everywhere found, he continues:

The power of Romanism is broken also, and its prestige has passed away. You can put the Bible in every house in Paris, and the Church of Rome has not the power to stop you. You can preach the gospel on the corner opposite the prison, and there will be no danger. Thirty years ago the policeman would have arrested you. Now he protects you. It is true one will hear those who reject the Church, and hence deny God, now boldly vociferating their infidelity. Before they whispered it between their teeth. It is unrestrained now; I am not ready to say that it is greater.

On the other hand, he will also see the ancient churches of the Huguenots multiplying in numbers and increasing in religious activities and strength. He will find a hundred Protestant mission stations where there was not one, and thousands of children in Sabbath-schools where Sabbath-schools were never heard of. He will find in Paris alone forty Protestant churches engaged in aggressive Christian work, and fifty Protestant missions which are demonstrating-many of them seven nights in the week-that the people are not hopelessly bound, either in the superstitions of Romanism or in the reactionary prejudices of infidelity.

He will find these children of the Huguenots once more taking in the missionary spirit, and taking on the missionary consecration, contributing, out of their relative weakness, for their churches, their schools and varied forms of Christian service a round million of dollars each year, as against almost nothing in the days which we remember.

In "the palmy days of the empire" the entire budget of public instruction was about four million of dollars for thirty-eight millions of people. The republic began in 1870, and

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The Free Church of France.

has augmented this budget to more than twentysix millions of dollars per year. It has built sixteen thousand new school-houses, repaired ten thousand more, and by compulsory and gratuitous education has increased the number of pupils in schools by more than a million. ...

Moreover, the pupils are studying history, and the principles of civil government and of democratic institutions. Every five years a new class goes out committed to republican principles; all of which bears on the question of the future, and upon the hopefulness of Protestantism.

For France has Protestant

ideas of government, and is unlearning every day the old Roman Catholic ideas of government. If Protestant ideas of government continue and prevail, they will not help Romanism.

Another contrast is visible. The Protestant people are understanding that the power of Protestantism in France cannot as yet be in its numbers. They realize, however, that though they are few, their representatives occupy many of the most important places in the nation, and are significantly prominent in influential positions in the government. Though but two per cent. of the whole population, they are recognized as great factors in the commerce, the industries and the public and political life of the country. . . .

It is unquestionable that seven and a half millions of people, who claim to have no religious belief whatever, are a menace to the republic. But the point which I wish to make is this, viz., the favorable opportunity which, for the first time in the nation's history, the faithful children of heroic fathers have, under the republic, not only to live and grow, but also to put the light of Christ upon all this darkness. This they are doing. The tyranny which destroyed two thousand five hundred prosperous churches in 1685 is dead. But Protestantism is not, and six hundred churches have sprung forth from the ashes of the martyrs and are living with the spirit of the early days.

In the south of France, for example, you may see associations of Congregational churches at work in noble self-denial and consecration. The Free churches emulate the Free churches of Scotland, and are doing God service. The Reformed churches, with their unofficial synod, which exercises only the authority there is in the reason of it, are in fact Presbyterial-Congregational, and are the great hope of France. The McAll Mission is a work of special providence, and power, and promise, speaking

[August,

plainly and urgently as it does to more than a million of souls a year.

Another point is, the attitude of thought in the republic. Probably there are no people in any land more ready to inquire for the truth of the gospel than are the common people in France. The very fact that the problems of government, and of society, and of labor and capital, and of whatever concerns life, are in solution, contributes to a favorable attitude of thought for the questions of faith. It is easy everywhere to secure attention to Bible themes. So true is this that my good friend M. Reveillaud is now making efforts to erect a house in which priests may be received and be prepared for the ministry of the Protestant churches. Several priests have already come out from their traditional beliefs through the prevalent spirit of inquiry. It is altogether an error to regard the French people as disinclined to serious considerations. They are mercurial, but they are not unserious, and there is in them no lack of religious susceptibility or feeling. History has no greater names than those of France who have resisted unto blood for the faith once delivered to the saints. With their beautiful home-life-for they have a home-life and one that is beautiful-with their genius for enthusiasm and for apostleship, with their susceptibility to great impulses, the French people once converted to Christ would stand in the front ranks of the missionary world.

THE FREE CHURCH OF FRANCE, Or, more exactly, the Union of the Free Evangelical Church of France, is one of the missionary forces in the midst of Papal Europe which has received assistance for many years past from our own Foreign Board. It gives a good account of itself by the pen of its president, M. E. Pressensé, D.D.

Regarding it as their special charge, their raison d'étre, to secure the spirituality of the church, they write:

We believe it to be more necessary than ever to advocate the great truth that one becomes a Christian by conversion, not by birth. (Fuent non nascuntur Christiani.) Our churches by their very existence and constitution are speaking out that elementary truth with an untiring energy; they are saying to everybody, "Unless you be born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God," and thus are troubling

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the carnal security of many who would think themselves all right because they have been baptized in their infancy, and have passed in their early youth through the eternal process of the first communion (premiére communion).

The influence of the Free Church is greater than its numbers would imply. Its principles are asserting themselves in the bosom of other churches. Availing themselves of the large liberty in France now enjoyed, pastors and laymen are itinerating, preaching the pure gospel in places never reached by its message before, and scattering their evangelistic leaflets and tracts.

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The Free Church numbers few wealthy persons among its members. They are chiefly peasants and working people. Yet notwithstanding this, and the depressed condition of trade, the three or four thousand communicants of this body are contributing yearly "for the maintenance of church ordinances or for evangelistic purposes more than 150,000 francs."

The Church sustains two thirds as many mission stations, central stations, as it has regular congregations; thirty-five of the latter and twenty-two of the former, with missionary laborers at each of them.

"THE GLORIOUS RETURN!"

Words which will never cease to make the bosom of every Waldensian swell with exultation and gratitude. It was the return of resolute exiles to their native land; the long battle for home and faith, fought among Alpine heights and frightful passes and headlong torrents, by a band of believing heroes against twelve times their number of disciplined and determined foes. It was the victory with which the God of battles, to whom they knelt on every field, crowned their courage. It was the restoration of their pure worship to those beloved "Valleys" which armed Papists had desecrated with the symbols of superstition, after reddening their mountain snows with martyr blood, and rolling mother and child together down the rocks. It was the re-entry of the banished thousands of the Waldenses at last into their mountain asylum, won back by their brothers from their enemies, there to abide, often oppressed, but never conquered, until this day.

No wonder that the Vaudois are preparing to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the event which they so proudly and devoutly call La Glorieuse Rentrée.

On a dark night, the 16th of August, 1686, at a spot near Nyon, on Lake Geneva, under the shadow of the Jura mountains, the Waldensian vanguard met, nine hundred in number, to start upon their hazardous

enterprise. Their pastor, Henri Arnaud, was their military leader as well, an indomitable and most godly man, who had previously fought under William Prince of Orange, afterward William III. of England, and had won not only promotion, but the high regard of the prince, for his military genius and his character.

When the hour came for the Vaudois to take their boat at Nyon to cross the lake, Arnaud fell upon his knees on the shore, and in a loud voice implored the blessing of the Almighty on their attempt to win back their homes and to re-establish there his truth.

Organizing his little army into twenty companies, according to the valleys and the parishes from which they came-Angrogna, San Giovanni, etc.-Arnaud led them into the mountains of Savoy, to the east, which separated them from their own valleys. See this little company, undisciplined peasants, without equipment, almost without food, starting to scale those successive mountain walls, often capped with snow and ice, defended as they were by thousands of soldiers, commanded by the renowned captains of France and of Savoy. After great privations and toil, on the evening of the fourth day they cross the Arve and reach Sallenche, at the foot of Mt. Blanc. All the resolution and courage, even of these mountain

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