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their five daily prayers to the Unseen and One Only God ! · Drawing nearer home, we meet with an example of far greater interest to our countrymen, on account of its national affinity, and one with which, therefore, we are likely to sympathize more readily and lovingly. Three hundred years ago, when Bengal lay divided between empty ritualism and Vedantic contemplation on the one hand, and the immoral orgies and bacchanalian revelry of the Shakti worshippers on the other, when under proud priestly domination the vast bulk of the Sudra population were almost excluded from the advantages of religious life, Chaitanya, the great prophet of love and faith, appeared, and by precept and example exerted mighty influence to suppress these combined evils. The dead and dry religion of wisdom and works succumbed to the living and sweet doctrine of Bhakti he preached ; the tide of sensuality was checked by his simplicity and purity of life ; and the proud head of caste was laid low under the overpowering weight of that love of God which he taught and evinced. By infusing the element of faith into dead Hinduism he gave it new life, and made it an effective instrument of conversion. Religion was no longer the monopoly of the learned and the respectable, but the most degraded and hated, the meanest and the lowest, were declared eligible to God's kingdom through faith. When the new gospel of love was announced, thousands upon thousands came and swelled Chaitanya's ranks with enthusiasm ; Brahmins and Chandals danced together, rejoicing in their God of love. Naywould you believe it ?-Mahometans, despite the curse which Hinduism still attaches to the Yavana's name, were welcomed and freely admitted into the new church. It is indeed impossible to exag ate
the power of him who effected such momentous reforms as these in the Hindu church-reforms from which English educated Natives, with all their boasted enlightenment and civilization, and with all their organized and combined power, so ignobly recoil even at the present day. Chaitanya, by the power of love and faith, achieved triumphs which must appear to be a wonder to my educated countrymen, Such is the marvellous power, ard such the incomprehensible greatness, of prophet-reformers.
Is it not, then, our duty, I ask, and shall we not esteem it a privilege, to render unto prophets and great men the humble tribute of our gratitude and esteem ? The immense service they render to mankind, and the noble characteristics which distinguish them—their deep wisdom and invincible power, their rigid self-denial and fervent devotion, challenge the spontaneous gratitude and esteem of all men.
To honour them is no meanness, no sycophancy; no sordid “Boswellism," no idolatrous “ hero-worship," as some foolishly imagine. To honour them is to honour our benefactors, and to glorify the greatness of human nature. We cannot, we dare not, slight them. They are of universal interest and importance. Their lives deserve our careful study; their greatness should excite our earnest aspiration. They are designed by Providence for our study and imitation.
" Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime ;" nay, they stir up our best energies to attain that sublimity of which they afford living examples. In precepts and doctrines there is indeed much to enlighten the mind; but what can more effectively quicken it than examples ? Life alone can give life ; and, above all, the life of heaven-appointed prophets. It is what they have actually done that
makes us understand the loftiness and sublimity which humanity is capable of, and impels us forcibly to attain that loftiness and sublimity. The world is vastly indebted to them : they are the glory, the pride of mankind; we boast of them ; we naturally feel grateful to them. We thank Him who sends them for our benefit, and Whom, as His servants and messengers, they in some measure reveal.
Let not our homage, however, be exclusively confined to any one of them, and withheld from the rest. We must honour all of them, unbiassed by local influences, party feeling, or sectarian bigotry. It is the want of this cathclic spirit, it is the evil of awarding exclusive honour to particular prophets, that has filled the religious world with jealousies, hatred, and sangainary strife, and made their followers plunge the dagger of brutal animosity into each other's breast. In fact, it is this which has mainly originated sectarianism and multiplied hogtile churches. In many cases, again, such exclusive honour has been carried so far as to assume the form of deification. Struck with amazement at the superhuman character of their prophet, men have, in the blind zeal of extreme devotion, exalted him to divinity, and identified him with the Godhead ; and while adoring their own prophet as the God of salvation, they have condemned all other prophets as false prophets, who lead their followers to perdition. It is indeed painful to contemplate the twofold evil of such sectarian bigotry. Man, mortal man, with all his frailties and shortcomings, is deified and worshipped ; and to him is rendered that supreme adoration which belongs to God alone! This idolatrous bending of the knee before man is an insult to Heaven, and an audacious violation of that entire loyalty and allegiance to God which is
demanded of every true believer. Like every other form of idolatry, it is a treason against God, which pollutes the heart and degrades the soul. On the other hand, equally mischievous, if not equally sacrilegious, is the rancour with which every prophet is hated and cursed by the followers of another prophet. Every religious sect shuts up truth, inspiration and holiness in its own narrow church, and looks upon the life and labours of its prophets as the only saving dispensation of Providence; while all prophets and truths that lie beyond its church are condemned as impostors and lies. This is making God the God of a clan, a country, and an epoch, instead of, as He is, the God of all mankind, of all space, and of all time. All true believers acknowledge the Supreme Creator of the universe as the sole object of adoration and worship; and as He is eternal and omnipresent, and His providence universal, they treat with reverence and gratitude the various dispensations of His Grace made at different times, and in different countries, for the benefit of mankind. They see Him revealed throughout the length and breadth of animate and inanimate creation; they behold His general providence in all the ordinary events and phenomena of nature's economy ; while His special providence they devoutly trace in those special dispensations which He from time to time makes through His prophets to save whole nations from error and iniquity. The lives of all such prophets are accepted reverently a3 God's Revelation in History ; various and different they may be in their peculiar features and local adaptations, yet, as regards the universal and eternal principles they represent, they are parts of the same divine economy, and subserve, more or less, in the hands of God, the same grand purposes of revela
tion and redemption. Each of the prophets came into the world as a messenger of God, bearing a distinct message of glad tidings which he contributed to the cause of religious enlightenment and progress. We must then freely honour all of them, and gratefully accept from each what he has to deliver, instead of binding ourselves as slaves to any particular person as the only chosen prophet of God. For " at sundry times and in divers manners God spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.” And though Jesus Christ, the Prince of Prophets, effected greater wonders, and did infinitely more good to the world than the others, and deserves therefore our profoundest reverence, we must not neglect that chain, or any single link in that chain, of prophets that preceded him, and prepared the world for him ; nor must we refuse honour to those who, coming after him, have carried on the blessed work of human regeneration for which he lived and died. Let sectarianism perish, then. Let denominational and geographical · boundaries be for ever forgotten, and let all nations - unite in celebrating a universal festival in honour of all prophets, regarding them the Elder Brothers of the human race. Hindu brethren, as ye honour your prophets, honour ye likewise the illustrious reformers and great men of Christendom. I know, my educated countrymen, you appreciate and honour England's immortal bard, Shakespeare, the greatest literary genius of the West ; and you honour too the military, and political, and scientific great men whose brilliant lives shed lustre on the profane history of Christian nations. Why should you scruple then to pay the tribute of your esteem and gratitude to the religious geniuses, the inspired prophets of Christendom, who