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VI.

(Lecture II., page 32.)

COMPARATIVE THEOLOGY.

It will be apparent to all students of comparative theology how little I have ventured to touch the problems of this science, although I have been deeply interested in it for many years, in connection with my own special studies in the historic development of Christian Doctrine. My aim has been,—leaving aside all the difficult, and, as it appears to me, as yet insoluble questions, as to the chronology and external history of the great religions antecedent to Christianity,—to sketch from the general substance or contents of their thought the steps of advance on the special question of Evil—a comparatively easy task, for which there are abundant materials. The outward relations of the ancient Egyptian religion, or of the religions of Western Asia, to the oriental faiths—Vedism, Brahmanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism,—and again of these faiths to one another—especially the historical relations of Vedism and Zoroastrianism,—are subjects quite beyond my powers to meddle with. The view of the latter subject suggested in the text is that held by the most competent inquirers, whose moderation of judgment and good sense, as well as learning, excite the confidence of the second-hand student on such matters.

The following brief statements,—the first from Bunsen’s 222‘God in History’ (Miss Winkworth’s translation, from which my quotations in the text are uniformly made), and the second quoted in Max Müller’s ‘Chips from a German Workshop,’ from a well-known Sanscrit scholar,—speak for themselves:—

“The migration from Bactria to India took place, as we shall see, anterior to the reformation of the Bactrian faith by Zoroaster. The Vedic hymns themselves may be in part coeval with that reformation; but they are the hymns of the ancient faith, which in the original parent-land of the race was superseded, if not extirpated, by Zoroaster and their language is the most ancient monument of the Bactrian consciousness.”—Bunsen,’ God in History,’ i. 274.

“Professor Roth, of Tubingen, has expressed the mutual relation of the Veda and Zend-Avesta under the following simile: ‘The Veda,’ he writes, ‘and the Zend-Avesta, are two rivers flowing from one fountain-head: the stream of the Veda is the fuller and purer, and has remained truer to its original character; that of the Zend-Avesta, has been in various ways polluted, has altered its course, and cannot, with certainty, be traced back to its source.’ “—Miller on the Zend-Avesta, ‘Chips,’ &c,, ii. 87.

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