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    Chapter 12

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    Chapter 13
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    There are those who scoff at the schoolboy, calling him frivolous and
    shallow: Yet it was the schoolboy who said "Faith is believing what you
    know ain't so."
    --Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

    In Sydney I had a large dream, and in the course of talk I told it to a
    missionary from India who was on his way to visit some relatives in New
    Zealand. I dreamed that the visible universe is the physical person of
    God; that the vast worlds that we see twinkling millions of miles apart
    in the fields of space are the blood corpuscles in His veins; and that we
    and the other creatures are the microbes that charge with multitudinous
    life the corpuscles.

    Mr. X., the missionary, considered the dream awhile, then said:

    "It is not surpassable for magnitude, since its metes and bounds are
    the metes and bounds of the universe itself; and it seems to me that
    it almost accounts for a thing which is otherwise nearly
    unaccountable--the origin of the sacred legends of the Hindoos.
    Perhaps they dream them, and then honestly believe them to be divine
    revelations of fact. It looks like that, for the legends are built
    on so vast a scale that it does not seem reasonable that plodding
    priests would happen upon such colossal fancies when awake."

    He told some of the legends, and said that they were implicitly believed
    by all classes of Hindoos, including those of high social position and
    intelligence; and he said that this universal credulity was a great
    hindrance to the missionary in his work. Then he said something like
    this:

    "At home, people wonder why Christianity does not make faster
    progress in India. They hear that the Indians believe easily, and
    that they have a natural trust in miracles and give them a
    hospitable reception. Then they argue like this: since the Indian
    believes easily, place Christianity before them and they must
    believe; confirm its truths by the biblical miracles, and they will
    no longer doubt, The natural deduction is, that as Christianity
    makes but indifferent progress in India, the fault is with us: we
    are not fortunate in presenting the doctrines and the miracles.

    "But the truth is, we are not by any means so well equipped as they
    think. We have not the easy task that they imagine. To use a
    military figure, we are sent against the enemy with good powder in
    our guns, but only wads for bullets; that is to say, our miracles
    are not effective; the Hindoos do not care for them; they have more
    extraordinary ones of their own. All the details of their own
    religion are proven and established by miracles; the details of ours
    must be proven in the same way. When I first began my work in India
    I greatly underestimated the difficulties thus put upon my task. A
    correction was not long in coming. I thought as our friends think
    at home--that to prepare my childlike wonder-lovers to listen with
    favor to my grave message I only needed to charm the way to it with
    wonders, marvels, miracles. With full confidence I told the wonders
    performed by Samson, the strongest man that had ever lived--for so I
    called him.

    "At first I saw lively anticipation and strong interest in the faces
    of my people, but as I moved along from incident to incident of the
    great story, I was distressed to see that I was steadily losing the
    sympathy of my audience. I could not understand it. It was a
    surprise to me, and a disappointment. Before I was through, the
    fading sympathy had paled to indifference. Thence to the end the
    indifference remained; I was not able to make any impression upon
    it.

    "A good old Hindoo gentleman told me where my trouble lay. He said
    'We Hindoos recognize a god by the work of his hands--we accept no
    other testimony. Apparently, this is also the rule with you
    Christians. And we know when a man has his power from a god by the
    fact that he does things which he could not do, as a man, with the
    mere powers of a man. Plainly, this is the Christian's way also, of
    knowing when a man is working by a god's power and not by his own.
    You saw that there was a supernatural property in the hair of
    Samson; for you perceived that when his hair was gone he was as
    other men. It is our way, as I have said. There are many nations
    in the world, and each group of nations has its own gods, and will
    pay no worship to the gods of the others. Each group believes its
    own gods to be strongest, and it will not exchange them except for
    gods that shall be proven to be their superiors in power. Man is
    but a weak creature, and needs the help of gods--he cannot do
    without it. Shall he place his fate in the hands of weak gods when
    there may be stronger ones to be found? That would be foolish. No,
    if he hear of gods that are stronger than his own, he should not
    turn a deaf ear, for it is not a light matter that is at stake. How
    then shall he determine which gods are the stronger, his own or
    those that preside over the concerns of other nations? By comparing
    the known works of his own gods with the works of those others;
    there is no other way. Now, when we make this comparison, we are
    not drawn towards the gods of any other nation. Our gods are shown
    by their works to be the strongest, the most powerful. The
    Christians have but few gods, and they are new--new, and not strong;
    as it seems to us. They will increase in number, it is true, for
    this has happened with all gods, but that time is far away, many
    ages and decades of ages away, for gods multiply slowly, as is meet
    for beings to whom a thousand years is but a single moment. Our own
    gods have been born millions of years apart. The process is slow,
    the gathering of strength and power is similarly slow. In the slow
    lapse of the ages the steadily accumulating power of our gods has at
    last become prodigious. We have a thousand proofs of this in the
    colossal character of their personal acts and the acts of ordinary
    men to whom they have given supernatural qualities. To your Samson
    was given supernatural power, and when he broke the withes, and slew
    the thousands with the jawbone of an ass, and carried away the
    gate's of the city upon his shoulders, you were amazed--and also
    awed, for you recognized the divine source of his strength. But it
    could not profit to place these things before your Hindoo
    congregation and invite their wonder; for they would compare them
    with the deed done by Hanuman, when our gods infused their divine
    strength into his muscles; and they would be indifferent to them--as
    you saw. In the old, old times, ages and ages gone by, when our god
    Rama was warring with the demon god of Ceylon, Rama bethought him to
    bridge the sea and connect Ceylon with India, so that his armies
    might pass easily over; and he sent his general, Hanuman, inspired
    like your own Samson with divine strength, to bring the materials
    for the bridge. In two days Hanuman strode fifteen hundred miles,
    to the Himalayas, and took upon his shoulder a range of those lofty
    mountains two hundred miles long, and started with it toward Ceylon.
    It was in the night; and, as he passed along the plain, the people
    of Govardhun heard the thunder of his tread and felt the earth
    rocking under it, and they ran out, and there, with their snowy
    summits piled to heaven, they saw the Himalayas passing by. And as
    this huge continent swept along overshadowing the earth, upon its
    slopes they discerned the twinkling lights of a thousand sleeping
    villages, and it was as if the constellations were filing in
    procession through the sky. While they were looking, Hanuman
    stumbled, and a small ridge of red sandstone twenty miles long was
    jolted loose and fell. Half of its length has wasted away in the
    course of the ages, but the other ten miles of it remain in the
    plain by Govardhun to this day as proof of the might of the
    inspiration of our gods. You must know, yourself, that Hanuman
    could not have carried those mountains to Ceylon except by the
    strength of the gods. You know that it was not done by his own
    strength, therefore, you know that it was done by the strength of
    the gods, just as you know that Samson carried the gates by the
    divine strength and not by his own. I think you must concede two
    things: First, That in carrying the gates of the city upon his
    shoulders, Samson did not establish the superiority of his gods over
    ours; secondly, That his feat is not supported by any but verbal
    evidence, while Hanuman's is not only supported by verbal evidence,
    but this evidence is confirmed, established, proven, by visible,
    tangible evidence, which is the strongest of all testimony. We have
    the sandstone ridge, and while it remains we cannot doubt, and shall
    not. Have you the gates?'"
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