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sacred religion; we do not worship many gods in the extravagant manner you are led to suppose. In a multitude of images we adore one divine Essence only. Thou shouldest have applied for information to the learned sacerdotal Brahmans of our nation, who would have enlightened thy mind; and, by removing thy doubts, would have prevented thy dereliction of the holy religion of thy forefathers."
Bernier, who was a very judicious observer of Hindu manners, and who enquired of the Pundits of Benares, why they admitted images in their temples, received their answer as follows : “Elles sont dans nos deuras (temples) afin qu'il y ait quelque chose devant les yeux, qui arrête l'esprit; et quand nous prions ce n'est pas la statue que nous prions, mais celui qui est representé par la statue ; au reste nous reconnoissons que c'est Dieu qui est le maître absolu et le seul tout-puissant."
When M. Ziegenbaly, one of the Missionaries sent by the king of Denmark, when Tanjore was ceded to the Danes, in the year 1621, required, in writing, from a variety of Brahmans, the reason of their adopting images
The 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, these Letters are sub
instead of directing their adoration to the Supreme Being, he uniformly received for answer, “ that God, being spiritual, and without shape, was incomprehensible, and as no precise idea could be formed of him, adoration before idols was permitted by their religion, and would be received by the Eternal as adoration to himself.” The secretary of Akbar, who had every means of gaining information from the Brahmans, affirms, that they, one and all, believe in the unity of the Godhead; and that, although they held images in high veneration yet that they were by no means idolaters, as the ignorant supposed, images being only representations of celestial beings, to whom they turn, whilst at prayer, to prevent their thoughts from wandering ; adding that God may be adored in the heart, in the sụn, in fire, in water or earth, or in the form of an idol. But, after all, the Hindu Scriptures are the best authority; and it is recorded in the Manaya Sastra, that “the divine Spirit alone is the whole assemblage of Gods, that men are permitted to worship that Spirit in any of his works, provided they consider the supreme omnipotent intelligence as the sovereign Lord of them all: that Spirit, being by no means the object of any sense, can only be conceived by a mind wholly abstracted from matter; therefore, for the purpose of assisting his meditation, man may imagine it more subtile than the finest conceivable essence, and more bright than the purest gold. He is, therefore, by some, adored as transcendently present in elementary fire; by others, as Menu, Lord of Creatures; by some, as more distinctly present in Indra, Regent of the clouds and the atmosphere; by others, as pure air; and by some, as the most high eternal Spirit.”
No orthodox Brahman can be an idolater: there may be sectaries, who secede from the established faith, as there are among Christians. But, to give effect to the Gospel in Asia, the ministers of Christ, in lieu of combating an opinion originating in mistaken zeal and prejudices, should, by comparing the religion of the Vedas in its pristine 'purity, with the sublimest doctrine of true religion, incline the natives of Hindustan to reject the impurities that have clouded the religion of their ancestors; and then, by shewing them that the religion of Christ is founded on that promul