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YOUNG MEN OF NEW JAPAN,
IN THE HOPE THAT
THE DECEPTIVE SHIMMER OF NO
SHALL LEAD THEM INTO WAITING QUICKSANDS,
BUT THAT THEY SHALL RISE IN POWER AND BLESS THEIR NATION
THROUGH HIM WHO CAME AS
"A LIGHT TO LIGHTEN THE NATIONS,"
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED.
To explain the genesis of this course of lectures exhaustively would be to give a description of the moral problem in Japan, a task far beyond the limits of a brief prefatory note.
In short, however, the fact is patent to every observer, that old beliefs in Japan have no moral power over the educated classes of the Japanese, and are gradually losing their influence with the masses. What shall replace these old beliefs as a moral regulative force is becoming not merely an interesting social problem, but a national question which must be faced without delay to avert a moral catastrophe, which the clearheaded among Japanese statesmen see all too clearly in the near future. The sleepy, dreamy past is dead. Japan pulsates with new and throbbing intellectual and political life. Forces are awakened which are rapidly transforming the nation. Along with the fossils of the past are vanishing not only religions outworn, but moral sanctions, before an efficient substitute has been accepted.
The Christian is of course ready to prescribe, but the patient does not ask his help. Old prejudice is still strong, "for as concerning this sect it is known that still everywhere it is spoken against." The works of Western unbelief are widely read, science and philosophy are greedily devoured, especially such as seem to antagonize the religion of Christ. Christianity is counted in among the superstitions unworthy of even the consideration of educated men. I do not wish to be understood as saying one word against the grand work being done for the elevation of Japan by her Colleges; nor against the foreign professors who, I believe, are accomplishing a good work for the nation and who in many cases reflect honor upon the lands from which they come. I refer in what follows purely to the present
relation of these schools to the question of the spread of positive Christianity in Japan. The influence of Christian professors in the great schools can be exerted only in the capacity of private men, and the private influence of all who have come from Christian lands is not always positively helpful to the advance of Christianity. It is not to be expected that the national schools and colleges of an emphatically non-Christian nation should encourage an active propagation of Christian teaching, nor even that they should be entirely neutral. Nor should it be a matter of surprise that among teachers from foreign lands, who of course are chosen for their proficiency in secular scholarship and whose religious standing is not taken into account, should sometimes positively antagonize Christian teaching.1 And much less, that Japanese teachers in the national schools, and other great private academies, superficially acquainted with Christianity or entirely ignorant of its real teaching, fed by such works as Tom Paine's Age of Reason, and Herbert Spencer's Philosophy, should refurbish in Japanese style antiquated and rust-eaten weapons, which a little further knowledge would render silly to those who use them and harmless to those for whose benefit they are employed. And when we consider the tendency in Western Colleges, in the callow minds of the first years of under-graduates, to look upon the newest phases of Philosophy as having driven out of existence old fogeyism in the garb of Christianity, it need not be wondered at that Japanese students, being taught the same science and the same a b c of philosophy, and being still more profoundly, in fact almost entirely if not absolutely, ignorant of Christianity, should also feel it incumbent upon them to pass an adverse judgment upon the claims of the Christian religion. Be the cause whatever it may, the fact
1In such a way for instance as was persistently done by one specialist of brief popularity, whose lectures on Evolution have lately been published in a Japanese translation.