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Tue following Letters, written during the Summer of 1815, for the information of a young friend, who had recently received an appointment in the East India Company's service, were intended to prevent his imbibing prejudices, as unjust as they are illiberal, against a race of people, eminent for their piety and morality:- prejudices which seem to have arisen from a total ignorance of Oriental Chronology, and a confined knowledge of the religion of the Vedas. But it having been suggested to the Author, that the giving publicity to a system of Chronology, varying in all its parts from that hitherto admitted by Europeans, might assist the ministers of our Church, in the pious and arduous task of removing prejudices, which are supposed to have retarded the progress of Christianity in Hindustan, there Letters are submitted to the public with the hope, that the motive; which induces their publication, will be received as an apology for the inaccuracies they may contain. With a view to render the subject less intricate to those who are unaccustomed to Hindu history, an explanatory Glossary is affixed, which will in some degree rectify those typical errors, which occur in consequence of the unavoidable absence of the Author, when the Letters were in the press.
The impediments which have hitherto retarded the progress of Christianity among the Brahmans, appear to have arisen rather from the intolerance with which it has been enforced, and the prejudices of those who have endeavoured to enforce it, than from any religious prejudices on the part of the Hindus. Those who will take the trouble to examine the history of their religion, will easily trace the pure worship of an almighty, just, and merciful God, in all their sacred Puranas. The prejudices of the Brahmans are political rather «than religious, and attach wholly to Casts. For, although tenacious of their own doctrine, they never endeavour to convert others to their faith; concluding that as, in their original purity, all
religions were from God; they must necessarily be equally acceptable to him; and that, provided the faith in that God is pure and holy, the form, in which he is adored, must be immaterial. Consequently, they neither despise nor condemn those who differ in religious opinions, but suppose them to be, equally with themselves, under the protection of that benevolent God, who is never unmindful of those, who offer up their prayers with purity of heart; firmly believing, that “the power that stooped to soften human woes, none e'er implored in vain.” The priests of a religion so tolerant, cannot justly be deemed prejudiced ; nor can prejudices (if such they are deemed), so favourable to religion, be considered as obstacles to reformation: it must then be supposed, that it is not the prejudices of the Brahmans, but the prejudices of Europeans, that have impeded the progress of Christianity in Asia ; and, if the mode hitherto adopted be examined with candour, it will appear, that, until within a very few years, the orthodox ministers of our Church have made no efforts on the subject; and that the Missionaries, unacquainted both with the chronology and religion of the Hindus, have endeavoured to over
throw the religion of the living God, instead of withdrawing the veil by which it is obscured. On the one hand, the Roman Missionaries, while they prostrated themselves before the images of their saints, showered forth anathemas against the Hindus, as Idolaters; and, on the other, a people who had been taught, from the earliest ages of the world, to consider morality as the means by which the favour of the Almighty was infallibly to be obtained, were told, that to believe in the incarnation of Christ was alone necessary to salvation; but happily a period has arrived, when the eyes of the Brahmans will be opened to the Christian religion, in its purest form ; they will hear the religion of Christ expounded without either superstition or bigotry, and be enabled to become proselytes thereto, .without apostatizing from that of the God they adore.
Some years ago, on a young Brahman having been converted to Christianity, by a Danish Missionary, his father exclaimed, “ Alas! he was ignorant of his own religion :” and thus mildly admonished bim : My son, thou art yet too young to be acquainted with the mysteries of our