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The ‘Duff Lectures’ for 1888 were delivered by me at Edinburgh in the month of March. In introducing my subject, I spoke to the following effect:—
‘I wish to express my deep sense of the responsibility which the writing of these Lectures has laid upon me, and my earnest desire that they may, by their usefulness, prove in some degree worthy of the great missionary whose name they bear.
‘Dr. Duff was a man of power, who left his own foot-print so deeply impressed on the soil of Bengal, that its traces are never likely to be effaced, and still serve to encourage less ardent spirits, who are striving to imitate his example in the same field of labour.
‘But not only is the impress of his vigorous personality still fresh in Bengal. He has earned an enduring reputation throughout India and the United Kingdom, as the prince of educational missionaries. He was in all that he undertook an enthusiastic and indefatigable workman, of whom, if of any human being, it might be truly said, that, when called upon to quit the sphere of his labours, “he needed not to be ashamed.” No one can have travelled much in India vi without having observed how wonderfully the results of his indomitable energy and fervid eloquence in the cause of Truth wait on the memory of his work everywhere. Monuments may be erected and lectureships founded to perpetuate his name and testify to his victories over difficulties which few other men could have overcome, but better than these will be the living testimony of successive generations of Hindū men and women, whose growth and progress in true enlightenment will be due to the seed which he planted, and to which God has given the increase.’
I said a few more words expressive of my hope that the ‘Life of Dr. Duff’ would be read and pondered by every student destined for work of any kind in our Indian empire, and to that biography I refer all who are unacquainted with the particulars of the labours of a man to whom Scotland has assigned a place in the foremost rank of her most eminent Evangelists.
I now proceed to explain the process by which these Lectures have gradually outgrown the limits required by the Duff Trustees.
When I addressed myself to the carrying out of their wishes—communicated to me by Mr. W. Pirie Duff—I had no intention of undertaking more than a concise account of a subject which I had been studying for many years. I conceived it possible to compress into vii six Lectures a scholarly sketch of what may be called true Buddhism,—that is, the Buddhism of the Piṭakas or Pāli texts which are now being edited by the Pāli Text Society, and some of which have been translated in the ‘Sacred Books of the East.’ It soon, however, became apparent to me that to write an account of Buddhism which would be worthy of the great Indian missionary, I ought to exhibit it in its connexion with Brāhmanism and Hindūism and even with Jainism, and in its contrast with Christianity. Then, as I proceeded, I began to feel that to do justice to my subject I should be compelled to enlarge the range of my researches, so as to embrace some of the later phases and modern developments of Buddhism. This led me to undertake a more careful study of Koeppen’s Lamaismus than I had before thought necessary. Furthermore, I felt it my duty to study attentively numerous treatises on Northern Buddhism, which I had before read in a cursory manner. I even thought it incumbent on me to look a little into the Tibetan language, of which I was before wholly ignorant.
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