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religion. But such dogmas or doctrinal and other passages as are not exposed to those objections, and are not unfamiliar to the minds of those for whose benefit the compilation was intended, are generally included, in conformity with the avowed plan of the work-particularly such as seem calculated to direct our love and obedience to the beneficent Author of the universe, and to him whom he graciously sent to deliver those Precepts of Religion and Morality, whose tendency is to promote universal peace and harmony.
8. In objecting to the assertion made by the Compiler in the Introduction as to a belief in the existence of God prevailing generally, the respected Reviewer advances three arguments:—1st, That millions of people believe in a plurality of Gods. 2dly, That the majority of those enlightened persons who deny the truth of the Jewish and Christian Revelation are Atheists. 3rdly, That the very system of the Vedant, which denies to God his moral attributes, is a refined and disguised Atheism. I certainly admit that a great number of men, and even men of profound learning and extensive abilities, are, owing to their early education, literally sunk in Polytheism, an absurd and irrational system of religion. But the admission of a plurality of Gods does not amount to the denial of Godhead. A man, for instance, cannot be accused of having no notion of mankind, because he is proved to believe in the existence of a plurality of individuals. The Reviewer ought, there
fore, to have confined himself to the remark, the truth of which will be readily admitted, that there are millions of people ignorant of the Unity of God; the only doctrine consistent with reason and revelation. The astonishing eagerness of the learned amongst those whose practice and language are polytheistical, to prefer their claim to be considered as Monotheists, is a strong evidence of the consistency of the system of Monotheism with reason. Debased and despicable as is the belief of the Hindoos in three hundred and thirty millions of gods, they pretend to reconcile this persuasion with the doctrine of the Unity of God; alleging that the three hundred and thirty millions of gods, whom they enumerate, are subordinate agents, assuming various offices in preserving the harmony of the universe under one Godhead, as innumerable rays issue from one sun. I am at a loss to trace the origin of his second argument, imputing Atheism to the majority of those who deny the divinity of the Jewish and Christian Revelation. For, notwithstanding my acquaintance with several Europeans and Asiatics who doubt the possibility of Revelation, I have never met with one, to the best of my recollection, maintaining Atheism, however widely they might differ from the Reviewer and the Compiler in a great many points of belief relating to the Deity. The Reviewer perhaps may have met with some unhappy Freethinkers, who have professed doubts respecting the existence of a supreme superintending power—a circumstance which has proba
bly induced him to form this opinion ; but such rare instances can have no force to set aside the credit of what the Compiler affirms, that a belief in God prevails generally. Neither can I conscientiously coincide with the respected Reviewer in his imputing Atheism to the Vedant system, under the supposition of its denying moral attributes to God; nor can I help lamenting that religious prejudice should influence the Reviewer so much, as to make him apply the term of Atheist towards a sect or to individuals who look up to the God of nature through his wonderful works alone ; for the Vedant, in common with the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, from the impossibility of forming more exalted conceptions, constantly ascribes to God the perfection of those moral attributes which are considered among the human species excellent and sublime. To prove this I quote one passage from each of the four Oopunishuds of the Vedant, which have already been translated into English. Moonduk, ch. 1, sect. 1 : “By him who knows all things collectively and distinctly, whose knowledge and will are the only means of his actions, Bruhma, name, and form, and all that vegetates, are produced.” Kuthu, ch. 5: “God is eternal, among all the perishable universe ; and is the source of sensation among all animate existences; and he alone assigns to so many objects their respective purposes.” Kenopunishud: “In a battle between the celestial
a gods and the demons, God enabled the former to defeat the latter." And Ishopunishud : “He over
spreads all creatures, is merely spirit without the form either of a minute body or of an extended one, which is liable to impression or organization. He is
pure, perfect, omniscient, the Ruler of the intellect, omnipresent, and the self-existent. He has from eternity been assigning to all creatures their respective purposes. For further evidence, if required, I beg to refer the Reviewer to the rest of the original Vedant works that may be found in the College Library and in the Missionary stores of books. It is, however, very true, that the Vedant declares very often its total ignorance of the real nature and attributes of God. Kenopunishud, ver. 3: “Hence no vision can approach him, no language can describe him, no intellectual
power can compass or determine him; we know nothing how the Supreme Being should be explained,” &c. It also represents God sometimes in a manner familiar to the understanding of the vulgar. Moonduk, ch. 7, sect. 1: “Heaven is his head, and the sun and the moon are his eyes ; space is his ears,” &c. But such declarations are not pecu
& liar to the Vedant doctrines, as these are found frequently in the sacred Scriptures. Job xxxvi. 26 : “ Behold God is great, and we know him not ;" “ touching the Almighty we cannot find him out; his greatness is unsearchable.” The Scriptures also represent God in the same familiar and figurative manner as is found in the Vedant. God is affirmed to have made man in his own image, after his own likeness. The angels always behold God's face in
heaven. In the Old Testament, as well as in the New, God is represented as repenting of his works, as being moved with anger, vexation, grief, joy, love, and hate as moving from place to place; having arms, with hands and fingers; a head, with face, mouth, tongue, eyes, nose, ears, a heart, bowels, back, thighs, legs; as seeing, being seen, speaking and hearing, slumbering, waking, &c. No one capable of sound reasoning can for a moment imagine that these or any other descriptions of God are intended to convey literal notions of the unsearchable, incomprehensible Being.
May God render religion destructive of differences and dislike between man and man, and conducive to the peace and union of mankind. Amen.