“A Hindu’s View of ‘National Christianity’” American Sentinel 13, 36, pp. 566, 567.

THE difference between the so-called Christianity of the national type—that which gives rise to the term “Christian nation”—and real Christianity, is illustrated in the experience of a convert from Hinduism, as related by Professor Max Muller in the August Cosmopolist. “I was sitting in my room at Oxford copying Sanscrit,” says the professor, when “a gentleman was shown in, dressed in a long, black coat, looking different from my usual visitors, and addressing me in language of which I did not understand a single word.” It was a learned Hindu who had come to see Mr. Muller and was addressing him in Sanscrit. Upon being given some manuscript of the Veda to peruse, he said he did not believe in the Veda any longer, but had become a Christian. An [567] earnest conversation ensued, of which the professor says:—

“It was not long before I discovered a sad and perplexed tone in his conversation, and, though he assured me that nothing but a deep conviction of the truth of Christ’s teaching had induced him to change his religion, he told me he was in great anxiety and did not know what to do for the future. What he had seen of England, more particularly of London, was not what he had imagined a Christian country to be. His patron, Dhulip Singh, had placed him at some kind of missionary seminary in London, where he found himself, together with a number of what he considered half-educated and narrow-minded young men, candidates for ordination, and missionary work. They showed him no sympathy and love, but found fault with everything he did and said.

“He had been, as I soon found out, a careful student of Hindu philosophy, and his mind had passed through a strict philosophical discipline. Hindu philosophy in by many respect as good a discipline as Plato or Aristotle, and, Christian though he was, he was familiar with the boldest conceptions of the world as found in the six systems of Hindu philosophy, and he could argue with great subtlety and accuracy on any of the old problems of the human mind. The fact was, he stood too high for his companions, and they were evidently unable to understand and appreciate his thoughts. He did not use words at random, and was always ready to give a definition of them, whenever they seemed ambiguous. And yet this man was treated as a kind of nigger by those who ought to have been not only kind, but respectful to him. He was told that smoking was a sin, and that he never could be a true Christian if he abstained from eating meat, especially beef. He told me that with a great effort he had brought himself once to swallow sandwich containing a slice of meat, but it was to him what eating human flesh would be to us. He could not do it again.

“When he thus found himself in this thoroughly uncongenial society, and saw nothing in London of what he had supposed a Christian city to be, he ran away, and came to Oxford to find me, having heard of my interest in India, in its religion and its ancient literature. He had evidently dreamt of a Christian country where everybody loved his neighbor as himself; where everybody, if struck on the right cheek, would turn the other also; where everybody, when robbed of his coat, would give up his cloak also. All this, as we know, is no longer the fashion in the streets of London, and what he actually saw in those streets was so different from his ideals that he said to me: ‘If what I have seen in London is Christianity, I want to go back to India; if that is Christianity, I am not a Christian.’”

The Hindu convert had made the mistake of supposing that since Christianity was the professed religion in London, the city was a Christian city, just as it is taken for granted by many not of Hindu blood and education, that a nation where Christianity is the professed religion of the people, must be a Christian nation. His mind had not grasped the fact that profession, as regards Christianity, might be no evidence at all of possession; and that the many possessed but a counterfeit of Christianity, no more like the genuine than is a corpse like a living person. It was perhaps not strange that he should have entertained this false conception, having been educated in the formal systems of heathenism, where profession has always its face value; but such a mistake is without excuse in those who have grown up amidst Christian privileges.

The result was fatal to the new life that had been awakened in his soul, and the professor records that after holding his profession for a time in much perplexity and almost in despair, he sought refuge at last in the old religion which he had renounced. It is a sad illustration of a false conception of Christianity and its effect upon the mind by which it is entertained.

THE most poisonous thing in the world, is sin; the most poisonous serpent is that by which Adam and Eve were bitten, in Eden.

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