Billeder på siden



By the Rev. H. LOOMIS, Yokohama.

As the numbers and influence of Christians in Japan increases, so does the hostility and activity of opposing forces become more pronounced and definite. The greater part of the Japanese are Buddhists; and they have come to feel that their religion is fast losing ground, and something must be done to maintain their power and influence. Some three years ago they sent to India and obtained the services of Colonel Olcott. It was thought that a man of his notoriety and ability would bring terror and dismay into the hearts of his opponents and complete victory to his friends. His coming was heralded far and wide; and for a short time large crowds thronged to hear him. But his mission was a failure; and when he returned to Japan, about one year ago, he was so unpopular that in Nagoya, which is one of the strongholds of Buddhism, he was driven from the stage and not allowed to speak. Sir Edwin Arnold gave the Buddhists the benefit of his name and influence, but was not active in their support. Two graduates of Harvard (who were employed as teachers in the Tokio University) joined the Buddhists and helped to give strength to their cause. The first missionary to Japan of the Unitarian faith tried to affiliate with the followers of Shaka instead of the followers of Christ.

As all these sources of encouragement and help have failed to sustain the dying cause, there has been an effort to put Buddhism on a new and more substantial basis. It is evident to all thinking minds that the old and absurd doctrines hitherto taught in regard to the creation and other matters must be abandoned, and so new theories have been advanced that were more in harmony with modern science and the known facts of the universe. But Buddhism lacks the quickening power that there is in the religion of Jesus Christ, and is doomed to pass away. The frantic efforts made to prevent its extinction are like the last struggles of the dying. They are indications of death and not of prosperity and vigour.

The Shingon Sect is one of the largest and most influential of the Buddhist Sects in Japan, and has upwards of 13,000 temples and monasteries. Its third general assembly met recently, and it is reported that everything seemed favourable at first. Scores of letters were received, and there were many proposals looking towards the abandonment of a negative, defensive attitude, and taking a positive and progressive position. But when it came to the adoption of a constitution, there was such a wide diversity of opinion that part of the members withdrew and the meeting was dissolved without any result.

In the Nichi-ren Sect there is a controversy over the election of the chief priest. In the Seto Sect two temples have separated from the rest. Representatives from the other Sects decided that the separation was desirable, but the Home Department of the Government has the control of religious affairs and refuses to sanction the separation.

In another Sect the older and the younger members are at war.


protest earnestly against division of the forces of Buddhism at this time of danger, but in vain. The cause of division and strife is the matter of the education of the priests. It is asserted that they have not kept pace with the advanced state of education in the country, and as a class they are condemned on all sides as being ignorant and immoral.

[ocr errors]

Seeing that they were losing ground very fast, about three years ago some priests of the Monto Sect conceived the idea of entering into political life, and went so far as to send delegates to Tokio to memorialise the authorities on the subject of amending the constitution, so as to allow their order to elect and be elected to the House of Representatives. It is also said that some of the priests were engaged in carrying on a secret and sometimes even an open canvass on behalf of some of the parliamentary candidates. An association was likewise formed, called the "Sovereign-revering and Buddha-believing Grand Combination." One of the leading members of this Association was a candidate in Tokio for the Parliament, and another was on the editorial staff of one of the leading papers in the same city. But at a meeting of the chiefs of all the Buddhists held in Tokio in 1890 it was


resolved: First, that no priest be permitted to join any political party; second, that no priest be allowed under any circumstances to labour for the benefit of any political party; third, that every priest take care to warn his flock against the danger of allowing political differences to encroach upon the sphere of social intercourse, and against committing any breaches of the law in the excess of political zeal; and, fourth, that under no circumstances shall any temple or building belonging thereto be lent for holding political meetings.

In commenting upon the conduct of some of the priests in regard to political matters, one of the Buddhist papers says: "These Buddhists were originally impelled to prefer such a request by zeal to increase the influence of their religion. They thought that their cause would gain materially by the presence in the Diet of a powerful contingent of men devoted to their creed. That they thought thus is natural, seeing into how deplorable a condition of ruin the whole fabric of Buddhist power has fallen in these latter days. Nevertheless, Buddhism is a force having deep foundations in the history, customs and art of the country, and it can yet be made an influential factor if only the work of its regeneration be carried out in a judicious and practical manner."

Another Buddhist paper discusses the question of the degeneration of the Buddhist priests. It does not hesitate to denounce the whole order of the priesthood as being sunk in the depths of immoralities. There have been pretended reformers in later years, who have caused a certain amount of excitement in religious circles for a short time, but they soon sank out of notice.

A young scholar, named Enouye Enryo, is trying to arouse interest in the study of Buddhism as a system of philosophy; but his efforts have not the slightest influence in reviving the vitality of the religion. "Is there not," asks an author in one of the Buddhist papers, a single true follower of Buddha among the 200,000 priests in Japan?"


In a recent copy of The Japan Mail there appears an article in which it says: "The regeneration of Buddhism is a very popular topic in a certain circle of Japanese scholars, but to all appearances the writings on the subject have not yet produced any noteworthy result. Nobody appears to question that the time for reformation is nearly ripe. The difficulty seems to be that there does not exist at present any priest equal to the task of reformation. The present scarcity of able men is not likely to be remedied in a short space of years, as the requirements of other departments of life are absorbing virtually all the available talent, and will continue to do so for many years to come. The priesthood is now composed, for the most part, of the lowest dregs of society-bankrupt spendthrifts, knaves who have no other place of refuge left, and good-for-nothing fellows incapable of earning a livelihood in any sterner line of life."

One of the severest blows that has been struck at Buddhism is the recent decision of the Tokio City Council that the cemeteries of the Capital shall no longer be under the control of the various temples, but controlled by the district officials. The priests can thus no longer sell the ground as heretofore for burial purposes, and the great part of their income will thus be cut off. This action has caused great uneasiness among the priests; and it is reported that they are resolved to contest the matter by a lawsuit against the Governor. Whatever may be the issue, it is evident that the superstitions of the past are steadily losing their hold upon the minds of the people and opening the way for the coming of the King of Righteousness with healing in His wings.

Professor Ladd, of Yale Theological Seminary, has recently visited Japan, and writes in regard to the condition of things as follows: "Some of the most observing, thoughtful and influential of the political leaders of Japan are coming to recognise the fact that they, the nation, need Christianity as a moral power to teach the people self-control; need it also to reform evil customs, alleviate suffering, solace sadness and cheer the fainting national heart. Some of the most reactionary of the 'Conservative Party,' in view of their inability to bring the nation back upon the Confucian Ethics, are really glad of help from Christian ethical teaching and discipline. It is as a moral force that the statesmen of Japan are most inclined to welcome the work of Christian teachers."-Chinese Recorder.


Last April two special meetings of Colporteurs were held: one in Yokohama and the other at Osaka. The following brief statement was made at the earlier of

the two meetings:

Katano Sensuke said "I wish to tell you to-day of three remarkable things I have met with. One day, while I was speaking by the roadside about Lazarus, a beggar came up to me and bought a gospel. He was in rags, but though evidently extremely poor seemed so glad to get the book. The following evening, one of the guests at a hotel I was staying at came into my room, and asked me to go with him to a house of ill-repute. He seemed ashamed on my refusal, but said, 'You are a strange man. Why will you not go ?' I said, 'I am a believer in the true God and cannot go,' and then I told him about Christianity. After a little he said, 'This is a beautiful and true religion,' and then he bought a copy of the whole Bible and promised after his return home to try and induce his relations to become Christians. Another day, near Odawara, on calling at a house to sell Scriptures, I was led round to a house at the back. On knocking at the door, a voice said, 'Come in.' I went in, and a man called out from behind a screen and asked me what I had for sale. I said, 'I am a Christian and am selling Scriptures.' Thereupon the man asked me to explain Christianity to him. After I had talked to him a little while he said, I am a leper and so cannot go out, but though I have studied both Shintoism and Buddhism, I am not satisfied with either, and so I wish to study Christianity. Please, therefore, come here often and tell me about it.' I promised to do so and left after selling him a New Testament. The above three cases seem to me very interesting."


The question of religious liberty has recently come before the highest authorities in Japan, and has received from them a satisfactory answer. Article 28 of the Constitution reads: "Japanese subjects shall within limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects, enjoy freedom of religious belief." Some incidents transpiring recently within the Kumamoto Prefecture have led a number of representatives of the Christian community, among whom were Mr. Yokoi and Mr. Harada, well known in this country, to ask from the Minister of State for Education and the Minister for Home Affairs an interpretation of this article. It was affirmed that the governor of Kumamoto, in an address at one of the temples, declared in reference to teachers of primary schools that they must not be believers in Christianity; that "Christianity is a foreign religion and is not to be believed." In the same Prefecture four students were re primanded by the principal of a school because they were studying Christian books, and were ordered to desist. One of them, for refusing to yield the point, was expelled as a disorderly student. These facts were brought before the Ministers of State by the representatives of the Christian community, and the case was examined by them. The Kumamoto governor denied that he had made the statements referred to, but on the general principle which was brought into consideration both the Ministers for Education and for Home Affairs declared that no official should be permitted to construe the article of the Constitution otherwise than as it stands. At the Educational office it was asserted that every individual was left entirely to his free will as to his acceptance of Buddhism, Christianity, or no religion at all. The Minister of Home Affairs informed the governor of Kumamoto that there must be no arbitrary interference on his part with the religious convictions of the people. All this is entirely satisfactory, as showing the purpose of the Government. No doubt in many localities, where religious prejudices are strong, there will be social and other obstacles in the way of full religious liberty, but the attitude of the Government is clear, and official interference with the followers of the Christian faith will before long be wholly a thing of the past.-Missionary Herald of the A. B. C. F. M.


The Life of "Fra Paolo Sarpi: the Greatest of the Venetians." By the Rev. ALEXANDER ROBERTSON. Sampson, Low Marston, & Co. THIS is a most fascinating memoir of one of the greatest men of the sixteenth century. It describes to us a man of gigantic intellect and universal knowledge, a servile friar, but yet a humble disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, and an earnest student of the Bible, in an age when the Church of Rome was putting forth all its diabolical powers to root out the Reformation heresy. The Council of Trent, which sat, with interruptions, from 1545 to 1563, decreed that the Church as the sole interpreter of Scripture, and confirmed all the errors of transubstantiation, auricular confession, purgatory, &c.; but the true proceedings of the Council having been brought to light by Paolo Sarpi, the Papacy made unceasing efforts to destroy him. After a long but fruitless attempt to get possession of Fra Paolo's person, he, being beloved by the Venetians among whom he dwelt, the Pope nearly succeeded in taking his life by the daggers of midnight assassins. But he had an almost miraculous recovery from the wounds, and a further lease of fifteen years of life. During those years the Pope sought to make away with him, but he was spared to be a blessing to the Venetian Republic till his death in 1623, at the age of threescore years and ten. Mr. Robert

son has given us a book which deserves to take a high place among historical biographies, and one of the finest chapters is, perhaps, that in which he describes the struggle between Pope Paul V. and the Republic of Venice. We have brought before us in the volume clear evidence of the undying hatred of civil and religious liberty, cherished by Pope and Curia. We trust the volume will have a large circulation.

The Golden Secret in Christian Work. By J. OSWALD JACKSON. Religious Tract Society. THERE is nothing new in this little work, but it is none the worse for that. Some old truths are put tersely and vigorously, giving a practical value to the general contents of the book. Present-day Primers.-" Early Church History." By J. VERNON BARTLETT, M.A. "The Printed English Bible." By the Rev. R. Lovett, m.a. Religious Tract Society.

THESE little volumes appear to be the result of very careful study and treatment of old themesall facts, documents, &c., being carefully revised and tested, and everything in the way cf information being brought up to date. They will be found most instructive and useful.

[ocr errors]

The Money of the Bible. By GEORGE C. WILLIAMSON. Religious Tract Society. A VERY handy little volume of the " "By-Path series, well illustrated and affording much useful information in a small compass.

The Missions of the World; a new monthly, edited by the Rev. GAVIN CARLYLE, M.A., and published at 128 Edgware Road.

THE first number is an interesting one of fortyeight pages, and contains valuable articles on various parts of the mission field. The aim of the journal is to give a comprehensive view of

the progress of Christian Missions, and if this plan is carried out in accordance with the first issue there is little doubt of great success attending the magazine.

Round the World with the Union Jack. Religious Tract Society.

THIS is a handsome little volume with a number of capital illustrations, and containing interesting information regarding the British Empire. The author's own words in his introduction may he quoted here: "How this vast Imperial fabric was built up, how it was gradually enlarged and consolidated, it must always be interesting to consider; and we propose, therefore, to pass over it in rapid review, following the Union Jack all round the world, and inquiring how it came to make so extended a circuit." The chief facts in the history, condition, and Christian work of each part of our colonial and foreign empire are given.

Present-day Tracts. Religious Tract Society. THIS is the twelfth volume of this admirable series on subjects of Christian Evidence, Doctrine, and Morals. The present volume contains tracts by various writers, including some well known to members and friends of the Evangelical Alliance, amongst them the Rev. Joseph Augus, M.A., D.D., and the Rev. R. McCheyne Edgar, M.A., D.D. We can strongly recommend this as a book which may be placed in the hands of any Christian man or woman; and it embraces a wide range of subjects, including "Testimonies of Great Men to the Bible"; "Modern Scepticism compared with Christian Faith," and "Christ's Doctrine of Prayer." The latter subject is treated argumentatively, and with a view to refute the cultured scepticism of the day. It is a valuable and helpful treatise.

James Gilmour and His Boys.
Tract Society,


THIS handsome and well-illustrated volume, containing a portrait of Mr. Gilmour as a frontispiece, is partly a biography, partly a series of adventures, and partly a story of work done for Jesus Christ. It is written mainly by Mr. Gilmour himself in the shape of letters addressed to his two boys, though the Editor is the Rev. Richard Lovett, M.A. (author of a former volume

"James Gilmour of Mongolia.") It is a book which will be doubly interesting to young people, from the fact that the editor has prepared it specially for them, and he adds in the introduction: " Reading these lines carefully, and thinking and praying over them, they cannot fail to make you better boys and girls. They will help you, I feel sure, to love Jesus more, and for His sake to love other people more, and especially

the heathen."

Missions of the United Presbyterian Church.-We have received from the publishers in Edinburgh two little volumes which are evidently brim full of interest. The one is "The Story of our Jamaica Mission, with a sketch of our Trinidad Mission," by the Rev. GEORGE ROBSON, D.D.; the other is "The Story of our Mission in Old Calabar," by the Rev. WM. DICKIE, M.A. Each book contains

a useful map and statistics, together with many illustrations. Dr. Robson says in his preface: "A true view of our Mission enterprise in Jamaica requires not only a certain knowledge of the history of the Island and of the history of slavery and its still surviving influences, but also a continual outlook upon the material and social surroundings to which the progress of our Mission has been related. but I have sought to tell the story so as to make it also in some measure a handbook to our Jamaica Mission."

[ocr errors]

A Year with Christ. By the Rev. F. HARPER,
M.A. John Shaw & Co.

THIS little work consists of devout meditation,
on passages taken from the special portions, or
suggested by the subjects, of the different Sundays
and chief festivals of the Christian year. They

will be found profitable for personal use, or as containing themes on which more lengthened addresses may be based. The volume is rich in illustrations and suggestive thoughts. The following is a specimen: Under the words "Jesus met them, saying, all hail!" which is Mr. Harper's text for the first Sunday after Easter, he says—“A diamond in its rough and ready state is neither lustrous nor beautiful, but when cut and polished it is one of the loveliest of gems. The pearl, however, is already perfect, and handling mars it. This text is like a pearl." May Meeting Guide.-Mr. E. J. MAY, of Fleet Street, has again published his handy little guide to the May Meetings. It is a most useful compilation, not only giving a complete list of the season's anniversaries, but also containing a descriptive guide to the sights of London.

[blocks in formation]

OUR columns have already contained the announcement of the Annual Conversazione of the Evangelical Alliance, which will again take place (D.v.) at Regent's Park College, where, for many years past, the Rev. Principal and Mrs. Angus gave the Alliance a cordial welcome. The new President of the College, the Rev. R. H. Roberts, has expressed the pleasure it will afford him and Mrs. Roberts to give the use of the College for this gathering of the Alliance. The meeting will be held on Thursday, May 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. The first half-hour, during which tea and coffee, &c., are served in the dining-hall, always affords the opportunity for social intercourse which is much appreciated amid the great number of May meetings, necessarily of a more public and formal character. The coming occasion promises to be equally interesting with the many which have preceded it, and it is expected that there will be a good representation of Alliance friends from all parts of our own country and from foreign lands. The list of speakers includes the Rev. Thomas Bryson, of Tientsin, North China; Dr. F. W. Baedeker, who has recently returned from a long journey through Russia and Siberia; and the Rev. J. D. Kilburn, of Hamburg. Other brethren from abroad are also expected to be present.

It is earnestly hoped that many members and friends of the Alliance resident in the metropolis will make it convenient to be present, and any who are visiting London from various parts of the country will also be cordially welcomed. The Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance, 7 Adam Street, London, will gladly send cards of invitation to any who communicate with them.


THE monthly meeting of Council was held on Thursday, April 12, the Treasurer presiding. After the Chairman had read a passage of Scripture, prayer was offered by the Rev. Bishop Taylor.


The following persons were unanimously admitted to membership :

Miss E. Young, Eastbourne.

Mr. Jolly, St. Albans.

H. E. Pakeman, Esq., St. Albans.
F. Perrott, Esq., St. Albans.

Rev. W. Cowan, Alexandria, Egypt.
Rev. M. T. S. Taylor, Alexandria,


Rev. M. J. Elliot, Alexandria, Egypt.

« ForrigeFortsæt »