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And so, on the steps of the Christian ladder, we pass from Egypt into India, from the vision of the Sphinx to the creed of the Brahman. The message of Brahmanism, as we found, was the soul's life in God, the proclamation of the truth that the highest reality of things lay above the forms that are seen and temporal. Now, this is precisely the doctrine of Christianity. It proclaims that aspiration is itself God in the soul. Why is it that in the system of Christ such peculiar value is attached to the act of prayer ? It is because the desire of God is the memory of God. In any spiritual sphere no man can seek more than he was born to. If he asks for God, it is a proof that he has come from God; his want is itself his birthright, his weakness is his strength. It is here that the gospel of Christ meets with the creed of the Brahman. It declares that in his very destitution, by reason of the very sense of his destitution, man is proved to be divine, on a level with that for which he prays; so that the Founder of Christianity Himself has not scrupled to say, “ Whatsoever things ye have need of, believe that ye receive them, and ye have received them.” The Christian has excelled the Brahman in the boldness of his claims. He has declared that his life is already hid with God, that he is even now risen from the grave, that he has passed from death unto life, that he is a citizen of the upper world, that he is seated at God's right hand in the heavenly places, that the divine Life is at this moment dwelling within him. And so vivid is this consciousness, that to him, as to the Brahman, there are times in which every other life is felt to be a shadow, in which this world appears to be but a vain show, but a blaze of stage-scenery, with no present reality and not even a lengthened semblance of reality. What is it that prevents him from going straight to the Brahman's conclusion, and regarding this earthly state as an idle dream ?
It is because Christianity here passes from Brahmanism into Parsism. You remember the message of Parsism. It told the world that the shadows which dim the vision of eternity are no dreams, that they are the result of an intense reality-something which has gone wrong in the mechanism of the moral universe. And here Christianity takes up the Parsee's story. It tells me that I dare not regard this scene of time as a series of delusions, dare not persuade myself that I have entered into rest. I have not entered into rest. However much I wish it, however strongly I aspire after it, there is something which holds me back and impedes the movement of my wing. I call it sin, but it matters not much what we call it; it is there, and it is no dream. In this the ancient Parseel and the Christian are at one. They both emphasise the tremendous reality of the hindrance to the moral life of man. They both recognise the fact that there is a twofold nature in the human soul-a law in the members warring against the law of the mind, an antagonism of the spirit to the flesh, and of the flesh to the spirit. They both, in accents equally piercing, reveal the same great burden and utter the same great cry, “ Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death ?”
i I use the expression “ancient Parsee” advisedly ; modern Parsism has entirely deserted the distinctive tenet of the old religion-its recognition of two Powers.
But with the utterance of that cry Parsism and Christianity part company. With neither is the cry one of despair; yet their ground of hope is different. Parsism looks forward; its hope is for a golden future. But Christianity's first glance is turned backward. The darkest cloud it sees is not in the future but in the past. It feels that, before it can advance into anything golden, it must retrace its steps to undo something in the bygone years. It is here that, as I have pointed out in an earlier chapter of this book, the religion of Christ finds a place for another and a very different religion — the faith of the Chinese empire. We have seen how that empire, spite of its materialism, and notwithstanding its utilitarianism, has been unable to rest in the hour. We have seen how it has been unable even to rest in the prospect of a coming hour. It has sought redemption not so much by the advent of something new as by the clearing away of something old. It aims to get back to the morning that is past, not forward to the morning that is coming. Corruptions have gathered during the day; abuses have accumulated in the circling of the suns. No future morning will avail to wipe these out; each brighter sun will make them only more evident. The shadow itself must be rolled backward on the dial; the past must be unspoken, the word must be unsaid. Here, as I have indicated, is the place in the Christian Pantheon in which the Chinese empire can stand. She is unlike everything else in Asia; but she is justified by Christ. Her place in history is vindicated by the creed of the Son of man. She loses her absurdity, her grotesqueness, her peculiarity, when she stands on the steps of the only ladder which professes to find a foothold for all sorts and conditions of men. The idea which she has ventilated has received a part to play in Christ's message of reconciliation.
And the next place is one for Buddhism. After redemption from the past comes surrender to human brotherhood. Christ, in the system of St Paul, is not an individual; he is the Head of a bodythe body of humanity. To surrender myself to Christ, therefore, is to do exactly what the Buddhist does—to yield myself to the service of man. The difference is one not of act but of spirit. It mainly lies in the fact that the Buddhist begins his sacrifice while the past is still pressing on him ; the Christian waits till the burden has been removed. The effect of this is the difference between a sacrifice of despair and a sacrifice of hope. Buddhism, as it appears in Christianity, is not a different star, but the old star in a new position. It shines with the same brightness, but it shines from an opposite locality. It was once lit by grief; it is now illuminated by joy. It was once fired by despondency ; it is now inspired by hope. It is no longer prompted by the belief that life is not worth living, and that the essence of existence is pain. It arises rather from the consciousness that life has revealed undreamt-of possibilities of expansion, and from a conviction that the most seemingly hopeless soul may yet be partaker of unclouded joy. The Buddhism of Christianity is impelled to the Cross by the crown.
And, the result of this surrender is the reappearance on the Christian ladder of that faith which it superseded—Judaism. “Love is the fulfilling of the law,” are the words in which Christianity itself proclaims the possibility that, in a new order of things, Moses may live again. Judaism failed to keep a perfect morality, because the keeping of a perfect morality was its aim; the obstruction of self-consciousness was created by the thought of selfrighteousness. But the religion of Christ declares that, if love came first, there would be no fear of failure. It declares that, if a man, instead of seek