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less they are understood, and the devotions of the people (performed by proxy) the more welcome in heaven for their being dressed in the garb of a foreign tongue. Thus
the synagogue, the mosque, the pagan temple, and the Romish church seem all to agree in ascribing marvellous efficacy to the sounds of an unknown language; and as
they have Jews, Mahomedans, and Pagans on their side, those Christians who plead for the use of an unknown tongue in the services of religion have certainly a host, as to number, in support of their opinion. That Scripture, reason, and common sense should happen to be on the other side, is indeed a misfortune for them, but there is no help for it.
* The sacred language of the Budhists is called “The language of Fân,' which is the name of the birthplace of Budha. It is totally unknown to the Chinese generally, and the priests themselves know nothing of it, beyond the sound of a few favourite words and phrases. There are, it is true, glossaries attached to some of their religious books, which are designed to explain these technical shibboleth ; but the definition is sometimes given in other technical terms equally unintelligible, and from their general ignorance of letters very few of the priests are capable of consulting such helps. Among them there may now and then be found a scholar, and some have written books, but as a body they are extremely ignorant. Beyond the stated and occasional lessons of their Liturgy, which they have learned to repeat by rote, they have very little knowledge of books, and many of them cannot read. As a sect, however, they profess to cherish the most profound veneration for the language of Fân. They ascribe miraculous effects to the use of the written character and of the oral language, and consider both to be of celestial origin. To the repetition of the bare sounds, without regard to the meaning, they attach the highest importance ; hence they occasionally go over the same words hundreds and thousands of times. I once asked a priest, What advantage can you expect to derive from merely repeating a nụmber of words, with the sense of which you are entirely unacquainted ?' His answer was, “True, I do not know the sense—it is
profound and mysterious; yet the benefit of often repeating the sounds is incalculable ; it is infinite!'
“Let us now attend for a moment to the sentiments of the Malays on the same subject. Their religious opinions are derived from the Korân, the principles of which they profess to imbibe, and daily observe its ceremonies. No language but the Arabic is allowed in their public religious services, and, though there be not one in a hundred Malays that understands it, they tenaciously stick to it, and consider worship as profaned by the use of any other. Let them speak for themselves. “The Arabic language possesses superlative glory in the Islam religion, and no other can be allowed in the Mahomedan mosques. If prayers be offered in the Malay, Javanese, Buggis, Bornean, Hindoostanee, or other languages, they are rendered profane and useless. The Arabic is that in which the Mahornedan faith was first given. The angel Gabriel was commanded by God to deliver the words of the Koran exclusively in Arabic to the prophet Mahomed.'”
But to return to Budhism. The paradise of Fo includes those circumstances of sensual indulgence which the founders of most false religions have promised to their votaries; but unlike the elysium of Mahomed, no houries are to be supplied to the saints of Budhism, for even the women that are admitted there must first change their sex. “ The bodies of the saints reproduced from the lotus* are pure and fragrant, their countenances fair and well formed, their hearts full of wisdom, and without vexation. They dress not, and yet are not cold; they dress, and yet are not made hot. They eat not, and yet are not hungry; they eat, and yet are not satiated. They are without pain, irritation, and sickness, and they become not old.* ***** They behold the lotus flowers and trees of gems delightfully waving, like the motion of a vast sheet of embroidered silk. On looking upwards, they see the firmament full of the To-lo flowers, falling in beautiful confusion like rain. The felicity of that kingdom may justly be called superlative, and the age of its inhabitants is without measure. This is the place called the paradise of the west.”
* The lotus is a favourite type of creative power, and representations of it perpetually occur in connexion with Budhism.
'The hell of the Chinese Budhists may be described from a translation,* made by Dr. Morrison, of the explanatory letterpress on ten large woodcuts, which are exhibited on particular occasions in the temples, and copies of which have been mistaken sometimes in Europe for the criminal punishments of China, giving rise to very unfounded notions of penal jurisdiction in that country. Prior to their final condemnation, the souls are exposed to judgment in the courts of the She-ming-wâng, “the ten kings of darkness.” † The proceedings in these courts are represented exactly after the manner of the Chinese judicial trials, with the difference in the punishments, which in these pictures of the infernal regions are of course sufficiently appalling. In one view are seen the judge with his attendants and officers of the court, to whom the merciful goddess Kuânyin appears, in order to save from punishment a soul that is condemned to be pounded in a mortar. Other punishments consist of sawing asunder, tying to a burning pillar of brass, &c. Liars have their tongues, cut out ; thieves and robbers are cast upon a hill of knives; and so on. After the trials are over, the more eminently good ascend to paradise ; the middling class return to earth in other bodies, to enjoy riches and honours; while the wicked are tormented in hell, or transformed into various animals, whose dispositions and habits they imitated during their past lives.
* Chinese Gleaner, vol. iii. p. 288.
+ There is a festival to the honour of these about the month of August. See Festivals, vol. i. p. 354.
One of the emperors of the Ming dynasty, who was much attached to the Budhist tenets, and who meditated sending, about the commencement of the 16th century, an ambassador with expensive presents to India, for the purpose of bringing some of the most learned of that sect to court, to explain their doctrines, was addressed by one of his ministers in the following strain :-“ That for which the people of the world most honour and love Shakia himself amounts to this, that he continued to teach his doctrines during the space of forty years, and that he died aged eighty-two. This was indeed a great age, but the years of Shun were a hundred and ten ; those of Yaou a hundred and twenty. Supposing that your majesty's extreme affection for the sect of Fo springs from a genuine wish to discover the good way, I venture to entreat your majesty not to love the name merely, but to seek diligently the reality ; not to regard the end only, but carefully to search for the principle; and not to seek them from Fo, but from the spotless sages; not from foreigners, but in our own country. Could your majesty be persuaded to regard our sacred sages with the same ardour with which you love Fo, to seek the doctrines of Yaou and Shun with the earnestness which leads you to those of Shakia, there will be no need to send many thousand miles to the happy land of the west, for the object is at hand, and before your eyes.* *** I adduce the testimony of Confucius, who says, "The very moment that I desire to be virtuous, the attainment is made.'” &c. It is by arguments allied to these that the introduction of foreign innovations has perpetually been restrained and checked in China, although occasionally, as in the case of Budhism, they