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Asia's message to Europe. 20th Jan,
JESUS CHRIST: EUROPE AND ASIA.
N referring to the map of what is known as the and Asia, separated from each other by the Ural Mountains, the River Ural, and a number of inland seas. Near the southern extremity of this boundary line, and bordering on the waters of the Mediterranean, lies the country called the Holy Land, Here, upwards of eighteen hundred years ago, Jesus Christ, the greatest and truest benefactor of mankind, lived and died. Here he originated that mighty religious movement which has achieved such splendid results in the world, and scattered the blessings of saving truth on untold nations and generations. I purpose this evening to trace the gradual and steady progress of this grand movement, and its influence on the character and destinies of the European and Asiatic nations. It will be seen how the Church of Christ grew and expanded from small beginnings ; how, but a small rivulet at first, it increased in depth and breadth as it flowed along, swept away in its resistless tide the impregnable strongholds of ancient error and superstition, and the accumulated corruptions of centuries, and, by spreading its genial currents on humanity, fertilized it, and produced cheering and magnificent harvests. I shall endeavour to show how, under an overruling Providence, it has brought the Asiatic and the European races together, and made the East
how it has linked the best representatives of the two continents in India, and come to affect our interests at this distance of time and place. I shall compare the national character of the two nations in relation to the high standard of Christian ethics, and point out their respective defects and shortcomings, which prevent their harmonious union and counteract the spirit of true Christianity. I shall show the absolute necessity which exists for a proper appreciation of Christ's precepts by the Natives and Europeans in the present critical state of India, and impress upon you those fundamental precepts, the observance of which the present age seems specially to demand. In addressing you on this momentous theme, I not, however, forget that I am a Brahmo. I will not dissemble my convictions, which differ, as you are, aware, from the orthodox opinions of popular Christianity. Whatever differences, however, there may be on strictly theological questions, I must say I am no hater of Christianity-much less of Jesus Christ. I cherish the profoundest reverence for the character of Jesus, and the lofty ideal of moral truth which he taught and lived ; and it is to impress his moral excellence on my countrymen, as well as the European community in India, -unbiassed by sectarian bigotry or the spirit of theological wrangling,—that I appear before you this evening.
As, after a long and gloomy night, when creation lies prostrate in death-like sleep, the great luminary of the day rises in the east, clad in glittering gold, and travels towards the west, shedding warmth, light, and life in all directions,—so rose Christianity in the East, amidst the deep gloom of ignorance and corruption, and gloriously careered westward, awaking slumbering nations to truth and rigliteousness-God and salvation. Yes, the world
was enveloped in almost impenetrable darkness when Jesus was born. Grim idolatry stalked over the length and breadth of the then known world, and prejudices and corruptions of a most revolting type followed in its train. Greece, Rome, and Egypt, each had its pantheon of varied and count. less deities, who ruled the mind of the age with iron sway. The principles of morality had also suffered a wreck amid the surges of extravagant luxuries and sensuality, and unbridled dissipation and debauchery prevailed on all sides. The light of wisdom and truth, which solitary greatness had now and then enkindled, had become well nigh extinct. There was hardly any vestige of the beneficial influence produced by that code of pure ethics which venerable Socrates founded, and for which he laid down his very life ; the same was also the fate of the sublime system of theophilosophy elaborated by the master-mind of Plato, and the unrivalled organum of ratiocination by which Aristotle laid the basis of true scientific knowledge. Only in corrupt and demoralizing forms the perverted spirit of philosophy still lingered such as the schools of Epicureanism and Scepticism. Many openly professed and boldly practised the doctrine of eat, drink, and be merry, and revelled in all manner of licentiousness ; while many, on the other hand, laid the axe at the very, root of morality, Judaism alone stood in solitary grandeur and promis nent relief amid this scene of universal degradation, for it contained within itself the precious truths of Theism ; but even that had come to be encumbered with empty rituals and ceremonies, and lay divided between the conceited and hypocritical Pharisees on the one hand, and the cold-hearted and sceptical Sadducees on the other. Thus the