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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37

How the Pagan Answered the Missionary

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How the Pagan Answered the Missionary.

I have studied the Roman Catholic book, "Maha Kangwon," the Great ('are, and it seems to me that the priests' great cares are their own interests. I set? no attempt to explain any difficult and doubtful matters. If, as they say, God, when he created man, knew what every man would be, why did he create thievesy This is not explained. The book tells us that all those virtuous men who have taught religions differing from the Roman Catholic have been enemies of God, but it does not explain why God has allowed so many different religions to arise and exist. How much do this and all other religions differ on this point from the religion of Buddha, which allows that there are eight kinds of holiness leading to ultimate happiness! (i. e. does not insist on Buddhism being necessary to salvation).

The American missionary, Dr. Jones, wrote a book called the "Golden Balance for weighing Buddhism and Christianity," but I think any one who reads it will see that his balance is very one-sided; indeed, he who would weigh things ought to be able to look impartially at the scales.

Dr. Gutzlaff declared that "Somana Kodom(Buddha) only taught people to reverence himself and his disciples, saying, that by such means merit and heaven could be attained, teaching them to respect the temples, and Po-trees, and everything in the temple grounds, lest by injuring them they should go to hell; a teaching designed only for the protection of himself and his disciples, and of no advantage to any others." I replied, "In Christianity there is a command to worship God alone, and no other; Mahomet also taught the worship of one only, and promised that he would take into heaven every one who joined his religion, even the murderer of his parents, while those who would not join his religion, however virtuous their lives, should surely go to hell; also he taught that page 39 all other religions were the enemies of his religion, and that heaven could be attained by injuring the temples, idols, and anything held sacred by another religion. Is such teaching as that fit for belief? Buddha did not teach that he alone should be venerated, nor did he, the just one, ever teach that it was right to persecute other religions. As for adoration, so far as I know, men of every religion adore the holy one of their religion. It is incorrect of the Doctor to say that Buddha taught men to adore him alone. He neither taught that such was necessary, nor offered the alternative of hell as all other religions do.

I said to the missionary, "How about the Dewas the Chinese believe in, are there any?" He said, "No; no one has seen them; they do not exist; there are only the angels, the servants of God, and the evil spirits whom God drove out to be devils and deceive men." I said, "Is there a God Jehovah?" He am swered,. "Certainly, one God!" I rejoined, "You said there were no Dewas because no one had seen them; why then do you assert the existence of a God, for neither can we see him?" The missionary answered, "Truly, we see him not, but all the works of creation must have a master: they could not have originated of themselves." I said, "There is no evidence of the creation, it is only a tradition: why not account for it by the self-producing power of Nature?" The missionary replied, "that, he had no doubt but that God created everything, and that not even a hair or a grain of sand existed of itself, for the things on the earth may be likened to dishes of food arranged on a table, and though no owner should be seen, none would doubt but that there was one; no one would think that the things came into the dishes of themselves." I said, "Then you consider that even a stone in the bladder is created by God!" He replied, "Yes. Everything. God creates everything!" "Then," answered l, "if that is so, God creates in man that which will cause his death, and you medical missionaries remove it and restore his health! Are you not opposing God in so doing? Are you not offending Him in curing those whom he would kill?" When I had said this, the missionary became angry, and saying I was hard to teach, left me.

Dr. Gutzlaff once said to me, "Phra Somana Kodom, having entered Nippan, is entirely lost and non-exis- page 40 tent; who, then, will give any return for recitations in his praise, benedictions, reverences, and merit-making? It is as a country without a king, where merit is unrewarded, because there is no one to reward it; but the religion of Jesus Christ has the Lord Jehovah and Christ to reward merit, and receive prayers and praises, and give a recompense." I replied, "It is true that, according to the Buddhist religion, the Lord Buddha does not give the reward of merit; but if any do as he has taught, they will find their recompense in the act. Even when Buddha lived on earth, lie had no power to lead to heaven those who prayed for his assistance but did not honor and follow the just way. The holy religion of Buddha is perfect justice springing from a man's own meritorious disposition. It is that disposition which rewards the good and punishes the evil. The recitations are the teachings of the Lord Buddha, which are found in various Soodras, set forms given by Buddha to holy hermits, and some of them are descriptions of that which is suitable and becoming in conduct. Even though the Lord has entered Nippan, his grace and benevolence are not exhausted. You missionaries praise the grace of Jehovah and Christ, and say that the Lord waits to hear and grant the prayers of those that call to Him. But are those prayers granted? So far as I see, they get no more than people who do not believe in prayer. They die the same, and they are equally liable to age and disease and sorrow. How, then, can you say that your religion is better than any other? In the Bible we find that God created Adam and Eve, and desired that they should have no sickness nor sorrow, nor know death; but because they, the progenitors of mankind, ate of a forbidden fruit, God became angry, and ordained that henceforth they should endure toil and weariness and trouble and sickness, and from that time fatigue and sorrow and sickness and death fell upon mankind. It was said that by baptism men should be free from the curse of Adam, but I do not see that any one who is baptized nowadays is free from the curse of Adam, or escapes toil and grief and sickness and death, any more than those who are not baptized." The missionary answered, "Baptism for the remission of sin is only effectual in gaining heaven after death, for those who die unbaptized will certainly go to hell." But the page 41 missionary did not explain the declaration that by baptism men should be free from pains and troubles in their present state. He further said, "It does at times please God to accede to the requests of those that pray to Him, a remarkable instance of which is, that Europeans and Americans have more excellent arts than any other people. Have they not steamboats and railways, and telegraphs and manufactures, and guns and weapons of war superior to any others in the world? Are not the nations which do not worship Christ comparatively ignorant?" I asked the Doctor about sorrow and sickness, things which prevail throughout the world, things in which Christians have no advantage over other men, but he would not reply on that point, and spoke only of matters of knowledge. Where is the witness who can say that this knowledge was the gift of God? There are many in Europe who do not believe in God, but are indifferent, yet have subtile and expanded intellects, and are great philosophers and politicians. How is it that God grants to these men, who do not believe in Him, the same intelligence He grants to those who do? Again, how is it that the Siamese, Burmese, Cochin Chinese, and other Roman Catholic converts, whom we see more attentive to their religion than the Europeans who reside among us, do not receive some reward for their merit, and have superior advantages and intelligence to those who are not converted? So far as I can see, the reverse is the case: the unconverted flourish, but the converted are continually in debt and bondage. There are many converts in Siam, but I see none of them rise to wealth, so as to become talked about. They continually pray to God, but, it seems, nothing happens according to their prayer." The missionary replied, "They are Roman Catholics, and hold an untrue religion, therefore God is not pleased with them." I said to the missionary, 'You say that God sometimes grants the prayers of those who pray to Him; now the Chinese, who pray to spirits and devils, sometimes obtain what they have prayed for: do you not, therefore, allow that these spirits can benefit man V" The missionary answered, "The devil receives bribes." I inquired, "Among the men and animals God creates, some die in the womb, and many at or immediately after birth, and before reaching maturity, and many are deaf, dumb, and crippled: page 42 why are such created? Is it not a waste of labor? Again, God creates men, and does not set their hearts to hold to His religion, but sets them free to take false religions, so that they are all damned, while those who worship Him go to heaven: is not this inconsistent with His goodness and mercy? If He, indeed, created all men, would He not have shown equal compassion to all, and not allowed inequalities? Then I should have believed in a creating God. But, as it is, it seems nothing but a game at dolls." The missionary replied, "With regard to long and short lives, the good may live but a short time, God being pleased to call them to heaven, and sometimes He permits the wicked to live to a full age, that they may repent of their sins. And the death of innocent children is the mercy of God calling them to heaven." I rejoined, "How should God take a special liking to unloveable, shapeless, unborn children?" The missionary replied, "He who would learn to swim must practise in shallow places first, or he will he drowned. If any spoke like this in European countries, he would lie put in prison!" I invite particular attention to this statement.

Another time I said to the missionary Gutzlaff, "It is said in the Bible that God is the creator of all men and animals. Why should he not create them spontaneously, as worms and vermin arise from filth, and fish are formed in new pools by the emanations of air and water? Why must there be procreation, and agony and often death to mothers? Is not this labor lost? I can see no good in it." He replied, "God instituted procreation so that men might know their fathers and mothers and relatives, and the pains of child-birth are a consequence of the curse of Adam." I said, "If procreation was designed that men should know their relatives, why are animals, which do not know their relatives, produced in the same manner? And why do they, not being descendants of Eve, suffer pain in labor for her sin of eating a little forbidden fruit? Besides, the Bible says, by belief in Christ man shall escape the consequences of Eve's sin; yet I cannot see that men do so escape in any degree, but suffer just as others do." The missionary answered, "It is waste of time to converse with evil men who will not be taught," and so left me.