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Dr. Evere't delivered an interesting lecture at the College Conference last evening on the Bible and the Sacred Books of the East. As his subject was so large he limited himself to suggesting a fundamental principle to be followed in the comparative study of religions. He devoted his lecture to comparing Christianity with the other religions of the East from the point of view of this principle, namely that the religion of the world should be that which should meet man in all his aspirations and needs, and snould let him feel a close relationship with God.
Dr. Everett began by taking up the question whether there was anything in the Bible to fit it especially for being the sacred book of nations in an advancing state of civilization. The Hebrew religion began its development at an advanced stage. It was the outgrowth of former polytheistic religions and began its growth with the a lvanced idea of monotheism. The Hebrews' one God grew to be the God who created the land and sea. Later he became the God of the Hebrews alone; he cared for no other people. Thus the Hebrew religion grew up inside a strict wall shutting it off from the outside world. In the midst of this religion Jesus sowed his teaching, yet it was so free from this wall of restricting rights that when in Paul's time this wall was broken down, it spread and became the religion of the Western world.
In comparison with this the Vedas religion was much older. It began its development in the early stages of polytheism. Later there came to be one chief God not superior to all the others, but, so to speak, chief among equals. This chief God was Varuna, the enveloper of heaven and sea. The conception of this great enveloper was very beautiful. Dr. Everett read a hymn to Varuna which almost reached the lofty idea of monotheism. But the worship of Varuna gave place to that of Indra, the God of thunder showers. Here again the religion rose to the verge of monotheism but did not quite fully reach it.
The sacred books of the Pharsee religion begin with the lofty monotheis tic idea; but this degenerated as time went on.
Dr. Everett then compared the great teachers of religion in the light of his fundamental principle of a great world religion. Buddah, he said was tender, loving, and full of the spirit of humanity. But his religion taught men to withdraw from the life of the world, and live on charity. This then was not a religion to minister to man's needs.
Confucius was not troubled with this doctrine of withdrawing from the world. He spent his life actively, doing all he could for men, reviving the old morality and doing his best to remedy the evils of the time.
His contemporary Laotse was a man of a totally different stamp. Both he and Confucius were deeply religious; Laotse's religion, however, was embodied in the idea of kindness and love. Laotse's teaching was one of a mystical connection with God; that of Confucius was active service with man. Each in his way was perfect, yet each lacked the qualities of the other. The final perfection came in Jesus, who taught a service to man together with a mystical reverence for God.
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