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Title: Ten Great Religions - An Essay in Comparative Theology
Author: Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888
Language: English
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[Illustration: Frontispiece]

Ten Great Religions

An Essay in Comparative Theology


James Freeman Clarke

   Prophets who have been since the world began.--Luke i. 70.

   Gentiles ... who show the work (or influence) of the (that) law which
   is written in their hearts.--Romans ii. 15.

   God ... hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all
   the face of the earth ... that they should seek the Lord, if haply they
   may feel after him and find him.--Acts, xviii. 24-27.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by James Freeman
Clarke, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Copyright, 1899,
By Eliot C. Clarke.

William Heney Channing,
My Friend and Fellow-Student
During Many Years,
This Work
Is Affectionately Inscribed.


The first six chapters of the present volume are composed from six
articles prepared for the Atlantic Monthly, and published in that magazine
in 1868. They attracted quite as much attention as the writer anticipated,
and this has induced him to enlarge them, and add other chapters. His aim
is to enable the reader to become acquainted with the doctrines and
customs of the principal religions of the world, without having to consult
numerous volumes. He has not come to the task without some preparation,
for it is more than twenty-five years since he first made of this study a
speciality. In this volume it is attempted to give the latest results of
modern investigations, so far as any definite and trustworthy facts have
been attained. But the writer is well aware of the difficulty of being
always accurate in a task which involves such interminable study and such
an amount of details. He can only say, in the words of a Hebrew writer:
"If I have done well, and as is fitting the story, it is that which I
desired; but if slenderly and meanly, it is that which I could attain


Chapter I.

Introduction.--Ethnic and Catholic Religions.

  § 1. Object of the present Work
  § 2. Comparative Theology; its Nature, Value, and present Position
  § 3. Ethnic Religions. Injustice often done to them by Christian
  § 4. How Ethnic Religions were regarded by Christ and his Apostles
  § 5. Comparative Theology will furnish a new Class of Evidences in
         Support of Christianity
  § 6. It will show that, while most of the Religions of the World are
         Ethnic, or the Religions of Races, Christianity is Catholic, or
         adapted to become the Religion of all Races
  § 7. It will show that Ethnic Religions are partial, Christianity
  § 8. It will show that Ethnic Religions are arrested, but that
         Christianity is steadily progressive

Chapter II.

Confucius and the Chinese, or the Prose of Asia.

  § 1. Peculiarities of Chinese Civilization
  § 2. Chinese Government based on Education. Civil-Service Examinations
  § 3. Life and Character of Confucius
  § 4. Philosophy and subsequent Development of Confucianism
  § 5. Lao-tse and Tao-ism
  § 6. Religious Character of the "Kings."
  § 7. Confucius and Christianity. Character of the Chinese
  § 8. The Tae-ping Insurrection
  Note. The Nestorian Inscription in China

Chapter III.


  § 1. Our Knowledge of Brahmanism. Sir William Jones
  § 2. Difficulty of this Study. The Complexity of the System. The
         Hindoos have no History. Their Ultra-Spiritualism
  § 3. Helps from Comparative Philology. The Aryans in Central Asia
  § 4. The Aryans in India. The Native Races. The Vedic Age. Theology
         of the Vedas
  § 5. Second Period. Laws of Manu. The Brahmanic Age
  § 6. The Three Hindoo Systems of Philosophy,--The Sankhya, Vedanta,
         and Nyasa
  § 7. Origin of the Hindoo Triad
  § 8. The Epics, the Puranas, and Modern Hindoo Worship
  § 9. Relation of Brahmanism to Christianity

Chapter IV.

Buddhism, or the Protestantism of the East.

  § 1. Buddhism, in its Forms, resembles Romanism; in its Spirit,
  § 2. Extent of Buddhism. Its Scriptures
  § 3. Sakya-muni, the Founder of Buddhism
  § 4. Leading Doctrines of Buddhism
  § 5. The Spirit of Buddhism Rational and Humane
  § 6. Buddhism as a Religion
  § 7. Karma and Nirvana
  § 8. Good and Evil of Buddhism
  § 9. Relation of Buddhism to Christianity

Chapter V.

Zoroaster and the Zend Avesta.

  § 1. Ruins of the Palace of Xerxes at Persepolis
  § 2. Greek Accounts of Zoroaster. Plutarch's Description of his Religion
  § 3. Anquetil du Perron and his Discovery of the Zend Avesta
  § 4. Epoch of Zoroaster. What do we know of him?
  § 5. Spirit of Zoroaster and of his Religion
  § 6. Character of the Zend Avesta
  § 7. Later Development of the System in the Bundehesch
  § 8. Relation of the Religion of the Zend Avesta to that of the Vedas
  § 9. Is Monotheism or pure Dualism the Doctrine of the Zend Avesta
  § 10. Relation of this System to Christianity. The Kingdom of Heaven

Chapter VI.

The Gods of Egypt.

  § 1. Antiquity and Extent of Egyptian Civilization
  § 2. Religious Character of the Egyptians. Their Ritual
  § 3. Theology of Egypt. Sources of our Knowledge concerning it
  § 4. Central Idea of Egyptian Theology and Religion. Animal Worship
  § 5. Sources of Egyptian Theology. Age of the Empire and Affinities of
         the Race
  § 6. The Three Orders of Gods
  § 7. Influence upon Judaism and Christianity

Chapter VII.

The Gods Of Greece.

  § 1. The Land and the Race
  § 2. Idea and general Character of Greek Religion
  § 3. The Gods of Greece before Homer
  § 4. The Gods of the Poets
  § 5. The Gods of the Artists
  § 6. The Gods of the Philosophers
  § 7. Worship of Greece
  § 8. The Mysteries. Orphism
  § 9. Relation of Greek Religion to Christianity

Chapter VIII.

The Religion of Rome.

  § 1. Origin and essential Character of the Religion of Rome
  § 2. The Gods of Rome
  § 3. Worship and Ritual
  § 4. The Decay of the Roman Religion
  § 5. Relation of the Roman Religion to Christianity

Chapter IX.

The Teutonic and Scandinavian Religion.

  § 1. The Land and the Race
  § 2. Idea of the Scandinavian Religion
  § 3. The Eddas and their Contents
  § 4. The Gods of Scandinavia
  § 5. Resemblance of the Scandinavian Mythology to that of Zoroaster
  § 6. Scandinavian Worship
  § 7. Social Character, Maritime Discoveries, and Political Institutions
         of the Scandinavians
  § 8. Relation of this System to Christianity

Chapter X.

The Jewish Religion.

  § 1. Palestine, and the Semitic Races
  § 2. Abraham; or, Judaism as the Family Worship of a Supreme Being
  § 3. Moses; or, Judaism as the national Worship of a just and holy King
  § 4. David; or, Judaism as the personal Worship of a Father and Friend
  § 5. Solomon; or, the Religious Relapse
  § 6. The Prophets; or, Judaism as a Hope of a spiritual and universal
         Kingdom of God
  § 7. Judaism as a Preparation for Christianity

Chapter XI.

Mohammed and Islam.

  § 1. Recent Works on the Life of Mohammed
  § 2. The Arabs and Arabia
  § 3. Early Life of Mohammed, to the Hegira
  § 4. Change in the Character of Mohammed after the Hegira
  § 5. Religious Doctrines and Practices among the Mohammedans
  § 6. The Criticism of Mr. Palgrave on Mohammedan Theology
  § 7. Mohammedanism a Relapse; the worst Form of Monotheism, and a
         retarding Element in Civilization

Chapter XII.

The Ten Religions and Christianity.

  § 1. General Results of this Survey
  § 2. Christianity a Pleroma, or Fulness of Life
  § 3. Christianity, as a Pleroma, compared with Brahmanism,
         Confucianism, and Buddhism
  § 4. Christianity compared with the Avesta and the Eddas. The Duad in
         all Religions
  § 5. Christianity and the Religions of Egypt, Greece, and Rome
  § 6. Christianity in Relation to Judaism and Mohammedanism. The
         Monad in all Religions
  § 7. The Fulness of Christianity is derived from the Life of Jesus
  § 8. Christianity as a Religion of Progress and of universal Unity

Ten Great Religions.

Chapter I.

Introduction.--Ethnic and Catholic Religions.

  § 1. Object of the present Work.
  § 2. Comparative Theology; its Nature, Value, and present Position.
  § 3. Ethnic Religions. Injustice often done to them by Christian
  § 4. How Ethnic Religions were regarded by Christ and his Apostles.
  § 5. Comparative Theology will furnish a new Class of Evidences in
         Support of Christianity.
  § 6. It will show that, while most of the Religions of the World are
         Ethnic, or the Religions of Races, Christianity is Catholic, or
         adapted to become the Religion of all Races.
  § 7. It will show that Ethnic Religions are Partial, Christianity
  § 8. It will show that Ethnic Religions are arrested, but that
         Christianity is steadily progressive.

§ 1. Object of the present Work.

The present work is what the Germans call a _Versuch_, and the English an
Essay, or attempt. It is an attempt to compare the great religions of the
world with each other. When completed, this comparison ought to show what
each is, what it contains, wherein it resembles the others, wherein it
differs from the others; its origin and development, its place in
universal history; its positive and negative qualities, its truths and
errors, and its influence, past, present, or future, on the welfare of
mankind. For everything becomes more clear by comparison We can never
understand the nature of a phenomenon when we contemplate it by itself, as
well as when we look at it in its relations to other phenomena of the same
kind. The qualities of each become more clear in contrast with those of
the others. By comparing together, therefore, the religions of mankind,
to see wherein they agree and wherein they differ, we are able to perceive
with greater accuracy what each is. The first problem in Comparative
Theology is therefore analytical, being to distinguish each religion from
the rest. We compare them to see wherein they agree and wherein they
differ. But the next problem in Comparative Theology is synthetical, and
considers the adaptation of each system to every other, to determine its
place, use, and value, in reference to universal or absolute religion. It
must, therefore, examine the different religions to find wherein each is
complete or defective, true or false; how each may supply the defects of
the other or prepare the way for a better; how each religion acts on the
race which receives it, is adapted to that race, and to the region of the
earth which it inhabits. In this department, therefore, it connects itself
with Comparative Geography, with universal history, and with ethics.
Finally, this department of Comparative Theology shows the relation of
each partial religion to human civilization, and observes how each
religion of the world is a step in the progress of humanity. It shows that
both the positive and negative side of a religion make it a preparation
for a higher religion, and that the universal religion must root itself in
the decaying soil of partial religions. And in this sense Comparative
Theology becomes the science of missions.

Such a work as this is evidently too great for a single mind. Many
students must co-operate, and that through many years, before it can be
completed. This volume is intended as a contribution toward that end. It
will contain an account of each of the principal religions, and its
development. It will be, therefore, devoted to the natural history of
ethnic and catholic religions, and its method will be that of analysis.
The second part, which may be published hereafter, will compare these
different systems to show what each teaches concerning the great subjects
of religious thought,--God, Duty, and Immortality. Finally, it will
compare them with Christianity, and will inquire whether or not that is
capable of becoming the religion of the human race.

§ 2. Comparative Theology; its Nature, Value, and present Position.

The work of Comparative Theology is to do equal justice to all the
religious tendencies of mankind. Its position is that of a judge, not that
of an advocate. Assuming, with the Apostle Paul, that each religion has
come providentially, as a method by which different races "should seek the
Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him," it attempts to
show how each may be a step in the religious progress of the races, and "a
schoolmaster to bring men to Christ." It is bound, however, to abstain
from such inferences until it has accurately ascertained all the facts.
Its first problem is to learn what each system contains; it may then go
on, and endeavor to generalize from its facts.

Comparative Theology is, therefore, as yet in its infancy. The same
tendency in this century, which has produced the sciences of Comparative
Anatomy, Comparative Geography, and Comparative Philology, is now creating
this new science of Comparative Theology.[1] It will be to any special
theology as Comparative Anatomy is to any special anatomy, Comparative
Geography to any special geography, or Comparative Philology to the study
of any particular language. It may be called a science, since it consists
in the study of the facts of human history, and their relation to each
other. It does not dogmatize: it observes. It deals only with
phenomena,--single phenomena, or facts; grouped phenomena, or laws.

Several valuable works, bearing more or less directly on Comparative
Theology, have recently appeared in Germany, France, and England. Among
these may be mentioned those of Max Müller, Bunsen, Burnouf, Döllinger,
Hardwicke, St. Hilaire, Düncker, F. C. Baur, Rénan, Creuzer, Maurice, G.
W. Cox, and others.

In America, except Mr. Alger's admirable monograph on the "Doctrine of the
Future Life," we have scarcely anything worthy of notice. Mrs. Lydia Maria
Child's work on the "Progress of Religious Ideas" deserves the greatest
credit, when we consider the time when it was written and the few sources
of information then accessible.[2] Twenty-five years ago it was hardly
possible to procure any adequate information concerning Brahmanism,
Buddhism, or the religions of Confucius, Zoroaster, and Mohammed. Hardly
any part of the Vedas had been translated into a European language. The
works of Anquetil du Perron and Kleuker were still the highest authority
upon the Zendavesta. About the Buddhists scarcely anything was known. But
now, though many important _lacunæ_ remain to be filled, we have ample
means of ascertaining the essential facts concerning most of these
movements of the human soul. The time seems to have come to accomplish
something which may have a lasting value.

§ 3. Ethnic Religions. Injustice often done to them by Christian

Comparative Theology, pursuing its impartial course as a positive science,
will avoid the error into which most of the Christian apologists of the
last century fell, in speaking of ethnic or heathen religions. In order to
show the need of Christianity, they thought it necessary to disparage all
other religions. Accordingly they have insisted that, while the Jewish and
Christian religions were revealed, all other religions were invented;
that, while these were from God, those were the work of man; that, while
in the true religions there was nothing false, in the false religions
there was nothing true. If any trace of truth was to be found in
Polytheism, it was so mixed with error as to be practically only evil. As
the doctrines of heathen religions were corrupt, so their worship was only
a debasing superstition. Their influence was to make men worse, not
better; their tendency was to produce sensuality, cruelty, and universal
degradation. They did not proceed, in any sense, from God; they were not
even the work of good men, but rather of deliberate imposition and
priestcraft. A supernatural religion had become necessary in order to
counteract the fatal consequences of these debased and debasing
superstitions. This is the view of the great natural religions of the
world which was taken by such writers as Leland, Whitby, and Warburton in
the last century. Even liberal thinkers, like James Foster[3] and John
Locke,[4] declare that, at the coming of Christ, mankind had fallen into
utter darkness, and that vice and superstition filled the world. Infidel
no less than Christian writers took the same disparaging view of natural
religions. They considered them, in their source, the work of fraud; in
their essence, corrupt superstitions; in their doctrines, wholly false; in
their moral tendency, absolutely injurious; and in their result,
degenerating more and more into greater evil.

A few writers, like Cudworth and the Platonists, endeavored to put in a
good word for the Greek philosophers, but the religions of the world were
abandoned to unmitigated reprobation. The account which so candid a writer
as Mosheim gives of them is worth noticing, on account of its sweeping
character. "All the nations of the world," he says, "except the Jews, were
plunged in the grossest superstition. Some nations, indeed, went beyond
others in impiety and absurdity, but all stood charged with irrationality
and gross stupidity in matters of religion." "The greater part of the gods
of all nations were ancient heroes, famous for their achievements and
their worthy deeds, such as kings, generals, and founders of cities." "To
these some added the more splendid and useful objects in the natural
world, as the sun, moon, and stars; and some were not ashamed to pay
divine honors to mountains, rivers, trees, etc." "The worship of these
deities consisted in ceremonies, sacrifices, and prayers. The ceremonies
were, for the most part, absurd and ridiculous, and throughout debasing,
obscene, and cruel. The prayers were truly insipid and void of piety, both
in their form and matter." "The priests who presided over this worship
basely abused their authority to impose on the people." "The whole pagan
system had not the least efficacy to produce and cherish virtuous emotions
in the soul; because the gods and goddesses were patterns of vice, the
priests bad men, and the doctrines false."[5]

This view of heathen religions is probably much exaggerated. They must
contain more truth than error, and must have been, on the whole, useful to
mankind. We do not believe that they originated in human fraud, that their
essence is superstition, that there is more falsehood than truth in their
doctrines, that their moral tendency is mainly injurious, or that they
continually degenerate into greater evil. No doubt it may be justly
predicated of all these systems that they contain much which is false and
injurious to human virtue. But the following considerations may tend to
show that all the religions of the earth are providential, and that all
tend to benefit mankind.

To ascribe the vast phenomena of religion, in their variety and
complexity, to man as their author, and to suppose the whole a mere work
of human fraud, is not a satisfactory solution of the facts before us.
That priests, working on human ignorance or fear, should be able to build
up such a great mass of belief, sentiment, and action, is like the Hindoo
cosmogony, which supposes the globe to rest on an elephant, the elephant
on a turtle, and the turtle on nothing at all.

If the people were so ignorant, how happened the priests to be so wise? If
the people were so credulous, why were not the priests credulous too?
"Like people, like priests," is a proverb approved by experience. Among
so many nations and through so many centuries, why has not some one priest
betrayed the secret of the famous imposition? Apply a similar theory to
any other human institution, and how patent is its absurdity! Let a
republican contend that all other forms of government--the patriarchal
system, government by castes, the feudal system, absolute and limited
monarchies, oligarchies, and aristocracies--are wholly useless and evil,
and were the result of statecraft alone, with no root in human nature or
the needs of man. Let one maintain that every system of _law_ (except our
own) was an invention of lawyers for private ends. Let one argue in the
same way about medicine, and say that this is a pure system of quackery,
devised by physicians, in order to get a support out of the people for
doing nothing. We should at once reply that, though error and ignorance
may play a part in all these institutions, they cannot be based on error
and ignorance only. Nothing which has not in it some elements of use can
hold its position in the world during so long a time and over so wide a
range. It is only reasonable to say the same of heathen or ethnic
religions. They contain, no doubt, error and evil. No doubt priestcraft
has been carried very far in them, though not further perhaps than it has
sometimes been carried in Christianity. But unless they contained more of
good than evil, they could not have kept their place. They partially
satisfied a great hunger of the human heart. They exercised some restraint
on human wilfulness and passion. They have directed, however imperfectly,
the human conscience toward the right. To assume that they are wholly evil
is disrespectful to human nature. It supposes man to be the easy and
universal dupe of fraud. But these religions do not rest on such a sandy
foundation, but on the feeling of dependence, the sense of accountability,
the recognition of spiritual realities very near to this world of matter,
and the need of looking up and worshipping some unseen power higher and
better than ourselves. A decent respect for the opinions of mankind
forbids us to ascribe pagan religions to priestcraft as their chief

And a reverence for Divine Providence brings us to the same conclusion.
Can it be that God has left himself without a witness in the world, except
among the Hebrews in ancient times and the Christians in modern times?
This narrow creed excludes God from any communion with the great majority
of human beings. The Father of the human race is represented as selecting
a few of his children to keep near himself, and as leaving all the rest to
perish in their ignorance and error. And this is not because they are
prodigal children who have gone astray into a far country of their own
accord; for they are just where they were placed by their Creator. HE "has
determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation."
HE has caused some to be born in India, where they can only hear of him
through Brahmanism; and some in China, where they can know him only
through Buddha and Confucius. The doctrine which we are opposing is; that,
being put there by God, they are born into hopeless error, and are then
punished for their error by everlasting destruction. The doctrine for
which we contend is that of the Apostle Paul, that God has "determined
beforehand the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek the Lord,
nations dwelling on all the face of the earth" may not only seek and feel
after God, but also FIND him. But as all living in heathen lands are
heathen, if they find God at all, they must find him through heathenism.
The pagan religions are the effort of man to feel after God. Otherwise we
must conclude that the Being without whom not a sparrow falls to the
ground, the Being who never puts an insect into the air or a polyp into
the water without providing it with some appropriate food, so that it may
live and grow, has left the vast majority of his human children, made with
religious appetences of conscience, reverence, hope, without a
corresponding nutriment of truth. This view tends to atheism; for if the
presence of adaptation everywhere is the legitimate proof of creative
design, the absence of adaptation in so important a sphere tends, so far,
to set aside that proof.

The view which we are opposing contradicts that law of progress which
alone gives meaning and unity to history. Instead of progress, it teaches
degeneracy and failure. But elsewhere we see progress, not recession.
Geology shows us higher forms of life succeeding to the lower. Botany
exhibits the lichens and mosses preparing a soil for more complex forms of
vegetation. Civil history shows the savage state giving way to the
semi-civilized, and that to the civilized. If heathen religions are a
step, a preparation for Christianity, then this law of degrees appears
also in religion; then we see an order in the progress of the human
soul,--"first the blade, then the ear, afterward the full corn in the
ear." Then we can understand why Christ's coming was delayed till the
fulness of the time had come. But otherwise all, in this most important
sphere of human life, is in disorder, without unity, progress, meaning, or

These views, we trust, will be amply confirmed when we come to examine
each great religion separately and carefully. We shall find them always
feeling after God, often finding him. We shall see that in their origin
they are not the work of priestcraft, but of human nature; in their
essence not superstitions, but religions; in their doctrines true more
frequently than false; in their moral tendency good rather than evil. And
instead of degenerating toward something worse, they come to prepare the
way for something better.

§ 4. How Ethnic Religions were regarded by Christ and his Apostles.

According to Christ and the Apostles, Christianity was to grow out of
Judaism, and be developed into a universal religion. Accordingly, the
method of Jesus was to go first to the Jews; and when he left the limits
of Palestine on a single occasion, he declared himself as only going into
Phoenicia to seek after the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But he
stated that he had other sheep, not of this fold, whom he must bring,
recognizing that there were, among the heathen, good and honest hearts
prepared for Christianity, and already belonging to him; sheep who knew
his voice and were ready to follow him. He also declared that the Roman
centurion and the Phoenician woman already possessed great faith, the
centurion more than he had yet found in Israel. But the most striking
declaration of Jesus, and one singularly overlooked, concerning the
character of the heathen, is to be found in his description of the day of
judgment, in Matthew (chap. XXV.). It is very curious that men should
speculate as to the fate of the heathen, when Jesus has here distinctly
taught that all good men among them are his sheep, though they never heard
of him. The account begins, "Before him shall be gathered all the
Gentiles" (or heathen). It is not a description of the judgment of the
Christian world, but of the heathen world. The word here used (τὰ ἔθνη)
occurs about one hundred and sixty-four times in the New Testament. It is
translated "gentiles" oftener than by any other word, that is, about
ninety-three times; by "heathen" four or five times; and in the remaining
passages it is mostly translated "nations." That it means the Gentiles or
heathen here appears from the fact that they are represented as ignorant
of Christ, and are judged, not by the standard of Christian faith, but by
their humanity and charity toward those in suffering. Jesus recognizes,
therefore, among these ethnic or heathen people, some as belonging to
himself,--the "other sheep," not of the Jewish fold.

The Apostle Paul, who was especially commissioned to the Gentiles, must be
considered as the best authority upon this question. Did he regard their
religions as wholly false? On the contrary, he tells the Athenians that
they are already worshipping the true God, though ignorantly. "Whom ye
ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you." When he said this he was
standing face to face with all that was most imposing in the religion of
Greece. He saw the city filled with idols, majestic forms, the perfection
of artistic grace and beauty. Was his spirit then moved _only_ with
indignation against this worship, and had he no sympathy with the
spiritual needs which it expressed? It does not seem so. He recognized
piety in their souls. "I see that ye are, in all ways, exceedingly
pious." He recognized their worship as passing beyond the idols, to the
true God. He did not profess that he came to revolutionize their religion,
but to reform it. He does not proceed like the backwoodsman, who fells the
forest and takes out the stumps in order to plant a wholly different crop;
but like the nurseryman, who grafts a native stock with a better fruit.
They were already ignorantly worshipping the true God. What the apostle
proposed to do was to enlighten that ignorance by showing them who that
true God was, and what was his character. In his subsequent remarks,
therefore, he does not teach them that there is one Supreme Being, but he
_assumes_ it, as something already believed. He assumes him to be the
creator of all things; to be _omnipotent_,--"the Lord of heaven and
earth"; _spiritual_,--"dwelleth not in temples made with hands";
_absolute_,--"not needing anything," but the source of all things. He says
this, as not expecting any opposition or contradiction; he reserves his
criticisms on their idolatry for the end of his discourse. He then states,
quite clearly, that the different nations of the world have a common
origin, belong to one family, and have been providentially placed in space
and time, that each might seek the Lord in its own way. He recognized in
them a power of seeking and finding God, the God close at hand, and in
whom we live; and he quotes one of their own poets, accepting his
statement of God's fatherly character. Now, it is quite common for those
who deny that there is any truth in heathenism, to admire this speech of
Paul as a masterpiece of ingenuity and eloquence. But he would hardly have
made it, unless he thought it to be true. Those who praise his eloquence
at the expense of his veracity pay him a poor compliment. Did Paul tell
the Athenians that they were worshipping the true God _when they were
not_, and that for the sake of rhetorical effect? If we believe this
concerning him, and yet admire him, let us cease henceforth to find fault
with the Jesuits.

No! Paul believed what he said, that the Athenians were worshipping the
true God, though ignorantly. The sentiment of reverence, of worship, was
lifting them to its true object. All they needed was to have their
understanding enlightened. Truth he placed in the heart rather than the
understanding, but he also connected Christianity with Polytheism where
the two religions touched, that is, on their pantheistic side. While
placing God _above_ the world as its ruler, "seeing he is Lord of heaven
and earth," he placed him _in_ the world as an immanent presence,--"in him
we live, and move, and have our being." And afterward, in writing to the
Romans, he takes the same ground. He teaches that the Gentiles had a
knowledge of the eternal attributes of God (Rom. i. 19) and saw him in his
works (v. 20), and that they also had in their nature a law of duty,
enabling them to do the things contained in the law. This he calls "the
law written in the heart" (Rom. ii. 14,15). He blames them, not for
ignorance, but for disobedience. The Apostle Paul, therefore, agrees with
us in finding in heathen religions essential truth in connection with
their errors.

The early Christian apologists often took the same view. Thus Clement of
Alexandria believed that God had one great plan for educating the world,
of which Christianity was the final step. He refused to consider the
Jewish religion as the only divine preparation for Christianity, but
regarded the Greek philosophy as also a preparation for Christ. Neander
gives his views at length, and says that Clement was the founder of the
true view of history.[6] Tertullian declared the soul to be naturally
Christian. The Sibylline books were quoted as good prophetic works along
with the Jewish prophets. Socrates was called by the Fathers a Christian
before Christ.

Within the last few years the extravagant condemnation of the heathen
religions has produced a reaction in their favor. It has been felt to be
disparaging to human nature to suppose that almost the whole human race
should consent to be fed on error. Such a belief has been seen to be a
denial of God's providence, as regards nine tenths of mankind. Accordingly
it has become more usual of late to rehabilitate heathenism, and to place
it on the same level with Christianity, if not above it. The _Vedas_ are
talked about as though they were somewhat superior to the Old Testament,
and Confucius is quoted as an authority quite equal to Paul or John. An
ignorant admiration of the sacred books of the Buddhists and Brahmins has
succeeded to the former ignorant and sweeping condemnation of them. What
is now needed is a fair and candid examination and comparison of these
systems from reliable sources.

§ 5. Comparative Theology will furnish a new Class of Evidences in Support
of Christianity.

Such an examination, doing full justice to all other religions,
acknowledging their partial truth and use, will not depreciate, but exalt
the value of Christianity. It will furnish a new kind of evidence in its
favor. But the usual form of argument may perhaps be changed.

Is Christianity a supernatural or a natural religion? Is it a religion
attested to be from God by miracles? This has been the great question in
evidences for the last century. The truth and divine origin of
Christianity have been made to depend on its supernatural character, and
to stand or fall with a certain view of miracles. And then, in order to
maintain the reality of miracles, it became necessary to prove the
infallibility of the record; and so we were taught that, to believe in
Jesus Christ, we must first believe in the genuineness and authenticity of
the whole New Testament. "All the theology of England," says Mr.
Pattison,[7] "was devoted to proving the Christian religion credible, in
this manner." "The apostles," said Dr. Johnson, "were being tried one a
week for the capital crime of forgery." This was the work of the school of
Lardner, Paley, and Whately.

But the real question between Christians and unbelievers in Christianity
is, not whether our religion is or is not supernatural; not whether
Christ's miracles were or not violations of law; nor whether the New
Testament, as it stands, is the work of inspired men. The main question,
back of all these, is different, and not dependent on the views we may
happen to take of the universality of law. It is this: Is Christianity, as
taught by Jesus, intended by God to be the religion of the human race? Is
it only one among natural religions? is it to be superseded in its turn by
others, or is it the one religion which is to unite all mankind? "Art thou
he that should come, or look we for another?" This is the question which
we ask of Jesus of Nazareth, and the answer to which makes the real
problem of apologetic theology.

Now the defenders of Christianity have been so occupied with their special
disputes about miracles, about naturalism and supernaturalism, and about
the inspiration and infallibility of the apostles, that they have left
uncultivated the wide field of inquiry belonging to Comparative Theology.
But it belongs to this science to establish the truth of Christianity by
showing that it possesses all the aptitudes which fit it to be the
religion of the human race.

This method of establishing Christianity differs from the traditional
argument in this: that, while the last undertakes to _prove_ Christianity
to be true, this _shows_ it to be true. For if we can make it appear, by a
fair survey of the principal religions of the world, that, while they are
ethnic or local, Christianity is catholic or universal; that, while they
are defective, possessing some truths and wanting others, Christianity
possesses all; and that, while they are stationary, Christianity is
progressive; it will not then be necessary to discuss in what sense it is
a supernatural religion. Such a survey will show that it is adapted to the
nature of man. When we see adaptation we naturally infer design. If
Christianity appears, after a full comparison with other religions, to be
the one and only religion which is perfectly adapted to man, it will be
impossible to doubt that it was designed by God to be the religion of our
race; that it is the providential religion sent by God to man, its truth
God's truth its way the way to God and to heaven.

§ 6. It will show that, while most of the Religions of the World are
Ethnic, or the Religions of Races, Christianity is Catholic, or adapted to
become the Religion of all Races.

By ethnic religions we mean those religions, each of which has always been
confined within the boundaries of a particular race or family of mankind,
and has never made proselytes or converts, except accidentally, outside of
it. By catholic religions we mean those which have shown the desire and
power of passing over these limits, and becoming the religion of a
considerable number of persons belonging to different races.

Now we are met at once with the striking and obvious fact, that most of
the religions of the world are evidently religions limited in some way to
particular races or nations. They are, as we have said, _ethnic_. We use
this Greek word rather than its Latin equivalent, _gentile_, because
_gentile_, though meaning literally "of, or belonging to, a race," has
acquired a special sense from its New Testament use as meaning all who are
not Jews. The word "ethnic" remains pure from any such secondary or
acquired meaning, and signifies simply _that which belongs to a race_.

The science of ethnology is a modern one, and is still in the process of
formation. Some of its conclusions, however, may be considered as
established. It has forever set aside Blumenbach's old classification of
mankind into the Caucasian and four other varieties, and has given us,
instead, a division of the largest part of mankind into Indo-European,
Semitic, and Turanian families, leaving a considerable penumbra outside as
yet unclassified.

That mankind is so divided into races of men it would seem hardly possible
to deny. It is proved by physiology, by psychology, by glossology, and by
civil history. Physiology shows us anatomical differences between races.
There are as marked and real differences between the skull of a Hindoo and
that of a Chinaman as between the skulls of an Englishman and a negro.
There is not as great a difference, perhaps, but it is as real and as
constant. Then the characters of races remain distinct, the same traits
reappearing after many centuries exactly as at first. We find the same
difference of character between the Jews and Arabs, who are merely
different families of the same Semitic race, as existed between their
ancestors, Jacob and Esau, as described in the Book of Genesis. Jacob and
the Jews are prudent, loving trade, money-making, tenacious of their
ideas, living in cities; Esau and the Arabs, careless, wild, hating
cities, loving the desert.

A similar example of the maintaining of a moral type is found in the
characteristic differences between the German and Kelts, two families of
the same Indo-European race. Take an Irishman and a German, working side
by side on the Mississippi, and they present the same characteristic
differences as the Germans and Kelts described by Tacitus and Cæsar. The
German loves liberty, the Kelt equality; the one hates the tyrant, the
other the aristocrat; the one is a serious thinker, the other a quick and
vivid thinker; the one is a Protestant in religion, the other a Catholic.
Ammianus Marcellinus, living in Gaul in the fourth century, describes the
Kelts thus (see whether it does not apply to the race now).

"The Gauls," says he, "are mostly tall of stature,[8] fair and red-haired,
and horrible from the fierceness of their eyes, fond of strife, and
haughtily insolent. A whole band of strangers would not endure one of
them, aided in his brawl by his powerful and blue-eyed wife, especially
when with swollen neck and gnashing teeth, poising her huge white arms,
she begins, joining kicks to blows, to put forth her fists like stones
from a catapult. Most of their voices are terrific and threatening, as
well when they are quiet as when they are angry. All ages are thought fit
for war. They are a nation very fond of wine, and invent many drinks
resembling it, and some of the poorer sort wander about with their senses
quite blunted by continual intoxication."

Now we find that each race, beside its special moral qualities, seems also
to have special religious qualities, which cause it to tend toward some
one kind of religion more than to another kind. These religions are the
flower of the race; they come forth from it as its best aroma. Thus we see
that Brahmanism is confined to that section or race of the great Aryan
family which has occupied India for more than thirty centuries. It belongs
to the Hindoos, to the people taking its name from the Indus, by the
tributaries of which stream it entered India from the northwest. It has
never attempted to extend itself beyond that particular variety of
mankind. Perhaps one hundred and fifty millions of men accept it as their
faith. It has been held by this race as their religion during a period
immense in the history of mankind. Its sacred books are certainly more
than three thousand years old. But during all this time it has never
communicated itself to any race of men outside of the peninsula of India.
It is thus seen to be a strictly ethnic religion, showing neither the
tendency nor the desire to become the religion of mankind.

The same thing may be said of the religion of Confucius. It belongs to
China and the Chinese. It suits their taste and genius. They have had it
as their state religion for some twenty-three hundred years, and it rules
the opinions of the rulers of opinion among three hundred millions of men.
But out of China Confucius is only a name.

So, too, of the system of Zoroaster. It was for a long period the religion
of an Aryan tribe who became the ruling people among mankind. The Persians
extended themselves through Western Asia, and conquered many nations, but
they never communicated their religion. It was strictly a national or
ethnic religion, belonging only to the Iranians and their descendants, the

In like manner it may be said that the religion of Egypt, of Greece, of
Scandinavia, of the Jews, of Islam, and of Buddhism are ethnic religions.
Those of Egypt and Scandinavia are strictly so. It is said, to be sure,
that the Greeks borrowed the names of their gods from Egypt, but the gods
themselves were entirely different ones. It is also true that some of the
gods of the Romans were borrowed from the Greeks, but their life was left
behind. They merely repeated by rote the Greek mythology, having no power
to invent one for themselves. But the Greek religion they never received.
For instead of its fair humanities, the Roman gods were only servants of
the state,--a higher kind of consuls, tribunes, and lictors. The real
Olympus of Rome was the Senate Chamber on the Capitoline Hill. Judaism
also was in reality an ethnic religion, though it aimed at catholicity and
expected it, and made proselytes. But it could not tolerate unessentials,
and so failed of becoming catholic. The Jewish religion, until it had
Christianity to help it, was never able to do more than make proselytes
here and there. Christianity, while preaching the doctrines of Jesus and
the New Testament, has been able to carry also the weight of the Old
Testament, and to give a certain catholicity to Judaism. The religion of
Mohammed has been catholic, in that it has become the religion of very
different races,--the Arabs, Turks, and Persians, belonging to the three
great varieties of the human family. But then Mohammedanism has never
sought to make _converts_, but only _subjects;_ it has not asked for
belief, but merely for submission. Consequently Mr. Palgrave, Mr. Lane,
and Mr. Vambery tell us, that, in Arabia, Egypt, and Turkistan, there are
multitudes who are outwardly Mohammedan, but who in their private belief
reject Mohammed, and are really Pagans. But, no doubt, there is a catholic
tendency both in Judaism and Mohammedanism; and this comes from the great
doctrine which they hold in common with Christianity,--the _unity of God_.
Faith in that is the basis of all expectation of a universal religion, and
the wish and the power to convert others come from that doctrine of the
Divine unity.

       *       *       *       *       *

But Christianity teaches the unity of God not merely as a supremacy of
power and will, but as a supremacy of love and wisdom; it teaches God as
Father, and not merely as King; so it seeks not merely to make proselytes
and subjects, but to make converts. Hence Christianity, beginning as a
Semitic religion, among the Jews, went across the Greek Archipelago and
converted the Hellenic and the Latin races; afterward the Goths,
Lombards, Franks, Vandals; later still, the Saxons, Danes, and Normans.
Meantime, its Nestorian missionaries, pushing east, made converts in
Armenia, Persia, India, and China. In later days it has converted negroes,
Indians, and the people of the Pacific Islands. Something, indeed, stopped
its progress after its first triumphant successes during seven or eight
centuries. At the tenth century it reached its term. Modern missions,
whether those of Jesuits or Protestants, have not converted whole nations
and races, but only individuals here and there. The reason of this check,
probably, is, that Christians have repeated the mistakes of the Jews and
Mohammedans. They have sought to make proselytes to an outward system of
worship and ritual, or to make subjects to a _dogma_; but not to make
converts to an idea and a life. When the Christian missionaries shall go
and say to the Hindoos or the Buddhists: "You are already on your way
toward God,--your religion came from him, and was inspired by his Spirit;
now he sends you something more and higher by his Son, who does not come
to destroy but to fulfil, not to take away any good thing you have, but to
add to it something better," then we shall see the process of conversion,
checked in the ninth and tenth, centuries, reinaugurated.

Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, all teaching the strict unity of God,
have all aimed at becoming universal. Judaism failed because it sought
proselytes instead of making converts. Islam, the religion of Mohammed (in
reality a Judaizing Christian sect) failed because it sought to make
subjects rather than converts. Its conquests over a variety of races were
extensive, but not deep. To-day it holds in its embrace at least four very
distinct races,--the Arabs, a Semitic race, the Persians, an Indo-European
race, the Negroes, and the Turks or Turanians. But, correctly viewed,
Islam is only a heretical Christian sect, and so all this must be credited
to the interest of Christianity. Islam is a John the Baptist crying in the
wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord"; Mohammed is a schoolmaster to
bring men to Christ. It does for the nations just what Judaism did, that
is, it teaches the Divine unity. Esau has taken the place of Jacob in the
economy of Providence. When the Jews rejected Christ they ceased from
their providential work, and their cousins, the Arabs, took their place.
The conquests of Islam, therefore, ought to be regarded as the preliminary
conquests of Christianity.

There is still another system which has shown some tendencies toward
catholicity. This is Buddhism, which has extended itself over the whole of
the eastern half of Asia. But though it includes a variety of
nationalities, it is doubtful if it includes any variety of races. All the
Buddhists appear to belong to the great Mongol family. And although this
system originated among the Aryan race in India, it has let go its hold of
that family and transferred itself wholly to the Mongols.

But Christianity, from the first, showed itself capable of taking
possession of the convictions of the most different races of mankind. Now,
as on the day of Pentecost, many races hear the apostles speak in their
own tongues, in which they were born,--Parthians, Medes, Elamites,
dwellers in Mesopotamia, Judæa, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia
and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, strangers of
Rome, Cretes and Arabians. The miracle of tongues was a type of the effect
of the truth in penetrating the mind and heart of different nationalities.
The Jewish Christians, indeed, tried to repeat in Christianity their old
mistake which had prevented Judaism from becoming universal. They wished
to insist that no one should become a Christian unless he became a Jew at
the same time. If they had succeeded in this, they would have effectually
kept the Gospel of Christ from becoming a catholic religion. But the
Apostle Paul was raised up for the emergency, and he prevented this
suicidal course. Consequently Christianity passed at once into Europe, and
became the religion of Greeks and Romans as well as Jews. Paul struck off
from it its Jewish shell, told them that as Christians they had nothing to
do with the Jewish law, or with Jewish Passovers, Sabbaths, or ceremonies.
As Christians they were only to know Christ, and they were not to know
him according to the flesh, that is, not as a Jew. So Christianity became
at once a catholic religion, consisting in the diffusion of great truths
and a divine life. It overflowed the nationalities of Greece and Rome, of
North Africa, of Persia and Western Asia, at the very beginning. It
conquered the Gothic and German conquerors of the Roman Empire. Under
Arian missionaries, it converted Goths, Vandals, Lombards. Under Nestorian
missionaries, it penetrated as far east as China, and made converts there.
In like manner the Gospel spread over the whole of North Africa, whence it
was afterwards expelled by the power of Islam. It has shown itself,
therefore, capable of adapting itself to every variety of the human race.

§ 7. Comparative Theology will probably show that the Ethnic Religions are
one-sided, each containing a Truth of its own, but being defective,
wanting some corresponding Truth. Christianity, or the Catholic Religion,
is complete on every Side.

Brahmanism, for example, is complete on the side of spirit, defective on
the side of matter; full as regards the infinite, empty of the finite;
recognizing eternity but not time, God but not nature. It is a vast system
of spiritual pantheism, in which there is no reality but God, all else
being Maya, or illusion. The Hindoo mind is singularly pious, but also
singularly immoral. It has no history, for history belongs to time. No one
knows when its sacred books were written, when its civilization began,
what caused its progress, what its decline. Gentle, devout, abstract, it
is capable at once of the loftiest thoughts and the basest actions. It
combines the most ascetic self-denials and abstraction from life with the
most voluptuous self-indulgence. The key to the whole system of Hindoo
thought and life is in this original tendency to see God, not man;
eternity, not time; the infinite, not the finite.

Buddhism, which was a revolt from Brahmanism, has exactly the opposite
truths and the opposite defects. Where Brahmanism is strong, it is weak;
where Brahmanism is weak, it is strong. It recognizes man, not God; the
soul, not the all; the finite, not the infinite; morality, not piety. Its
only God, Buddha, is a man who has passed on through innumerable
transmigrations, till, by means of exemplary virtues, he has reached the
lordship of the universe. Its heaven, Nirvana, is indeed the world of
infinite bliss; but, incapable of cognizing the infinite, it calls it
nothing. Heaven, being the inconceivable infinite, is equivalent to pure
negation. Nature, to the Buddhist, instead of being the delusive shadow of
God, as the Brahman views it, is envisaged as a nexus of laws, which
reward and punish impartially both obedience and disobedience.

The system of Confucius has many merits, especially in its influence on
society. The most conservative of all systems, and also the most prosaic,
its essential virtue is reverence for all that is. It is not perplexed by
any fear or hope of change; the thing which has been is that which shall
be; and the very idea of progress is eliminated from the thought of China.
Safety, repose, peace, these are its blessings. Probably merely physical
comfort, earthly _bien-être_, was never carried further than in the
Celestial Empire. That virtue so much exploded in Western civilization, of
respect for parents, remains in full force in China. The emperor is
honored as the father of his people; ancestors are worshipped in every
family; and the best reward offered for a good action is a patent of
nobility, which does not reach forward to one's children, but backward to
one's parents. This is the bright side of Chinese life; the dark side is
the fearful ennui, the moral death, which falls on a people among whom
there are no such things as hope, expectation, or the sense of progress.
Hence the habit of suicide among this people, indicating their small hold
on life. In every Chinese drama there are two or three suicides. A soldier
will commit suicide rather than go into battle. If you displease a
Chinaman, he will resent the offence by killing himself on your doorstep,
hoping thus to give you some inconvenience. Such are the merits and such
the defects of the system of Confucius.

The doctrine of Zoroaster and of the Zend Avesta is far nobler. Its
central thought is that each man is a soldier, bound to battle for good
against evil. The world, at the present time, is the scene of a great
warfare between the hosts of light and those of darkness. Every man who
thinks purely, speaks purely, and acts purely is a servant of Ormazd, the
king of light, and thereby helps on his cause. The result of this doctrine
was that wonderful Persian empire, which astonished the world for
centuries by its brilliant successes; and the virtue and intelligence of
the Parsees of the present time, the only representatives in the world of
that venerable religion. The one thing lacking to the system is unity. It
lives in perpetual conflict. Its virtues are all the virtues of a soldier.
Its defects and merits are, both, the polar opposites of those of China.
If the everlasting peace of China tends to moral stagnation and death, the
perpetual struggle and conflict of Persia tends to exhaustion. The Persian
empire rushed through a short career of flame to its tomb; the Chinese
empire vegetates, unchanged, through a myriad of years.

       *       *       *       *       *

If Brahmanism and Buddhism occupy the opposite poles of the same axis of
thought,--if the system of Confucius stands opposed, on another axis, to
that of Zoroaster,--we find a third development of like polar antagonisms
in the systems of ancient Egypt and Greece. Egypt stands for Nature;
Greece for Man. Inscrutable as is the mystery of that Sphinx of the Nile,
the old religion of Egypt, we can yet trace some phases of its secret. Its
reverence for organization appears in the practice of embalming. The
bodies of men and of animals seemed to it to be divine. Even vegetable
organization had something sacred in it: "O holy nation," said the Roman
satirist, "whose gods grow in gardens!" That plastic force of nature which
appears in organic life and growth made up, in various forms, as we shall
see in the proper place, the Egyptian Pantheon. The life-force of nature
became divided into the three groups of gods, the highest of which
represented its largest generalizations. Kneph, Neith, Sevech, Pascht, are
symbols, according to Lepsius, of the World-Spirit, the World-Matter,
Space and Time. Each circle of the gods shows us some working of the
mysterious powers of nature, and of its occult laws. But when we come to
Greece, these personified laws turn into men. Everything in the Greek
Pantheon is human. All human tendencies appear transfigured into glowing
forms of light on Mount Olympus. The gods of Egypt are powers and laws;
those of Greece are persons.

The opposite tendencies of these antagonist forms of piety appear in the
development of Egyptian and Hellenic life. The gods of Egypt were
mysteries too far removed from the popular apprehension to be objects of
worship; and so religion in Egypt became priestcraft. In Greece, on the
other hand, the gods were too familiar, too near to the people, to be
worshipped with any real reverence. Partaking in all human faults and
vices, it must sooner or later come to pass that familiarity would breed
contempt. And as the religion of Egypt perished from being kept away from
the people, as an esoteric system in the hands of priests, that of Greece,
in which there was no priesthood as an order, came to an end because the
gods ceased to be objects of respect at all.

       *       *       *       *       *

We see, from these examples, how each of the great ethnic religions tends
to a disproportionate and excessive, because one-sided, statement of some
divine truth or law. The question then emerges at this point: "Is
Christianity also one-sided, or does it contain in itself _all_ these
truths?" Is it _teres atque rotundus_, so as to be able to meet every
natural religion with a kindred truth, and thus to supply the defects of
each from its own fulness? If it can be shown to possess this amplitude,
it at once is placed by itself in an order of its own. It is not to be
classified with the other religions, since it does not share their one
family fault. In every other instance we can touch with our finger the
weak place, the empty side. Is there any such weak side in Christianity?
It is the office of Comparative Theology to answer.

The positive side of Brahmanism we saw to be its sense of spiritual
realities. That is also fully present in Christianity. Not merely does
this appear in such New Testament texts as these: "God is spirit," "The
letter killeth, the spirit giveth life": not only does the New Testament
just graze and escape Pantheism in such passages as "From whom, and
through whom, and to whom are all things," "Who is above all, and through
all, and in us all," "In him we live and move and have our being," but the
whole history of Christianity is the record of a spiritualism almost too
excessive. It has appeared in the worship of the Church, the hymns of the
Church, the tendencies to asceticism, the depreciation of earth and man.
Christianity, therefore, fully meets Brahmanism on its positive side,
while it fulfils its negations, as we shall see hereafter, by adding as
full a recognition of man and nature.

The positive side of Buddhism is its cognition of the human soul and the
natural laws of the universe. Now, if we look into the New Testament and
into the history of the Church, we find this element also fully expressed.
It appears in all the parables and teachings of Jesus, in which man is
represented as a responsible agent, rewarded or punished according to the
exact measure of his works; receiving the government of ten or five cities
according to his stewardship. And when we look into the practical working
of Christianity we find almost an exaggerated stress laid on the duty of
saving one's soul. This excessive estimate is chiefly seen in the monastic
system of the Roman Church, and in the Calvinistic sects of Protestantism.
It also comes to light again, curiously enough, in such books as Combe's
"Constitution of Man," the theory of which is exactly the same as that of
the Buddhists; namely, that the aim of life is a prudential virtue,
consisting in wise obedience to the natural laws of the universe. Both
systems substitute prudence for Providence as the arbiter of human
destiny. But, apart from these special tendencies in Christianity, it
cannot be doubted that all Christian experience recognizes the positive
truth of Buddhism in regarding the human soul as a substantial, finite,
but progressive monad, not to be absorbed, as in Brahmanism, in the abyss
of absolute being.

The positive side of the system of Confucius is the organization of the
state on the basis of the family. The government of the emperor is
paternal government, the obedience of the subject is filial obedience.
Now, though Jesus did not for the first time call God "the Father," he
first brought men into a truly filial relation to God. The Roman Church is
organized on the family idea. The word "Pope" means the "Father"; he is
the father of the whole Church. Every bishop and every priest is also the
father of a smaller family, and all those born into the Church are its
children, as all born into a family are born sons and daughters of the
family. In Protestantism, also, society is composed of families as the
body is made up of cells. Only in China, and in Christendom, is family
life thus sacred and worshipful. In some patriarchal systems, polygamy
annuls the wife and the mother; in others the father is a despot, and the
children slaves; in other systems, the crushing authority of the state
destroys the independence of the household. Christianity alone accepts
with China the religion of family life with all its conservative elements,
while it fulfils it with the larger hope of the kingdom of heaven and
brotherhood of mankind.

This idea of the kingdom of heaven, so central in Christianity, is also
the essential motive in the religion of Zoroaster. As, in the Zend Avesta,
every man is a soldier, fighting for light or for darkness, and neutrality
is impossible; so, in the Gospel, light and good stand opposed to darkness
and evil as perpetual foes. A certain current of dualism runs through the
Christian Scriptures and the teaching of the Church. God and Satan, heaven
and hell, are the only alternatives. Every one must choose between them.
In the current theology, this dualism has been so emphasized as even to
exceed that of the Zend Avesta. The doctrine of everlasting punishment and
an everlasting hell has always been the orthodox doctrine in Christianity,
while the Zend Avesta probably, and the religion in its subsequent
development certainly, teaches universal restoration, and the ultimate
triumph of good over evil. Nevertheless, practically, in consequence of
the greater richness and fulness of Christianity, this tendency to dualism
has been neutralized by its monotheism, and evil kept subordinate; while,
in the Zend religion, the evil principle assumed such proportions as to
make it the formidable rival of good in the mind of the worshipper. Here,
as before, we may say that Christianity is able to do justice to all the
truth involved in the doctrine of evil, avoiding any superficial optimism,
and recognizing the fact that all true life must partake of the nature of
a battle.

The positive side of Egyptian religion we saw to be a recognition of the
divine element in nature, of that plastic, mysterious life which embodies
itself in all organisms. Of this view we find little stated explicitly in
the New Testament. But that the principles of Christianity contain it,
implicitly, in an undeveloped form, appears, (1.) Because Christian
monotheism differs from Jewish and Mohammedan monotheism, in recognizing
God "_in all things_" as well as God "_above all things_." (2.) Because
Christian art and literature differ from classic art and literature in the
_romantic_ element, which is exactly the sense of this mysterious life in
nature. The classic artist is a ποιητής, a maker; the romantic artist is a
troubadour, a finder. The one does his work in giving form to a dead
material; the other, by seeking for its hidden life. (3.) Because modern
science is _invention_, i.e. finding. It recognizes mysteries in nature
which are to be searched into, and this search becomes a serious religious
interest with all truly scientific men. It appears to such men a profanity
to doubt or question the revelations of nature, and they believe in its
infallible inspiration quite as much as the dogmatist believes in the
infallible inspiration of Scripture, or the churchman in the infallible
inspiration of the Church. We may, therefore, say, that the essential
truth in the Egyptian system has been taken up into our modern Christian

And how is it, lastly, with that opposite pole of religious thought which
blossomed out in "the fair humanities of old religion" in the wonderful
Hellenic mind? The gods of Greece were men. They were not abstract ideas,
concealing natural powers and laws. They were open as sunshine, bright as
noon, a fair company of men and women idealized and gracious, just a
little way off, a little way up. It was humanity projected upon the skies,
divine creatures of more than mortal beauty, but thrilling with human life
and human sympathies. Has Christianity anything to offer in the place of
this charming system of human gods and goddesses?

We answer that the fundamental doctrine of Christianity is the
incarnation, the word made flesh. It is God revealed in man. Under some
doctrinal type this has always been believed. The common Trinitarian
doctrine states it in a somewhat crude and illogical form. Yet somehow the
man Christ Jesus has always been seen to be the best revelation of God.
But unless there were some human element in the Deity, he could not reveal
himself so in a human life. The doctrine of the incarnation, therefore,
repeats the Mosaic statement that "man was made in the image of God."
Jewish and Mohammedan monotheism separate God entirely from the world.
Philosophic monotheism, in our day, separates God from man, by teaching
that there is nothing in common between the two by which God can be
mediated, and so makes him wholly incomprehensible. Christianity gives us
Emmanuel, God with us, equally removed from the stern despotic omnipotence
of the Semitic monotheism and the finite and imperfect humanities of
Olympus. We see God in Christ, as full of sympathy with man, God "in us
all"; and yet we see him in nature, providence, history, as "above all"
and "through all." The Roman Catholic Church has, perhaps, humanized
religion too far. For every god and goddess of Greece she has given us, on
some immortal canvas, an archangel or a saint to be adored and loved.
Instead of Apollo and the Python we have Guido's St. Michael and the
Dragon; in place of the light, airy Mercury she provides a St. Sebastian;
instead of the "untouched" Diana, some heavenly Agnes or Cecilia. The
Catholic heaven is peopled, all the way up, with beautiful human forms;
and on the upper throne we have holiness and tenderness incarnate in the
queen of heaven and her divine Son. All the Greek humanities are thus
fulfilled in the ample faith of Christendom.

By such a critical survey as we have thus sketched in mere outline it will
be seen that each of the great ethnic religions is full on one side, but
empty on the other, while Christianity is full all round. Christianity is
adapted to take their place, not because they are false, but because they
are true as far as they go. They "know in part and prophesy in part; but
when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be
done away."

§ 8. Comparative Theology will probably show that Ethnic Religions are
arrested, or degenerate, and will come to an End, while the Catholic
Religion is capable of a progressive Development.

The religions of Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, have come to an end; having
shared the fate of the national civilization of which each was a part. The
religions of China, Islam, Buddha, and Judæa have all been arrested, and
remain unchanged and seemingly unchangeable. Like great vessels anchored
in a stream, the current of time flows past them, and each year they are
further behind the spirit of the age, and less in harmony with its
demands. Christianity alone, of all human religions, seems to possess the
power of keeping abreast with the advancing civilization of the world. As
the child's soul grows with his body, so that when he becomes a man it is
a man's soul and not a child's, so the Gospel of Jesus continues the soul
of all human culture. It continually drops its old forms and takes new
ones. It passed out of its Jewish body under the guidance of Paul. In a
speculative age it unfolded into creeds and systems. In a worshipping age
it developed ceremonies and a ritual. When the fall of Rome left Europe
without unity or centre, it gave it an organization and order through the
Papacy. When the Papacy became a tyranny, and the Renaissance called for
free thought, it suddenly put forth Protestantism, as the tree by the
water-side sends forth its shoots in due season. Protestantism, free as
air, opens out into the various sects, each taking hold of some human
need; Lutheranism, Calvinism, Methodism, Swedenborgianism, or Rationalism.
Christianity blossoms out into modern science, literature, art,--children
who indeed often forget their mother, and are ignorant of their source,
but which are still fed from her breasts and partake of her life.
Christianity, the spirit of faith, hope, and love, is the deep fountain of
modern civilization. Its inventions are for the many, not for the few. Its
science is not hoarded, but diffused. It elevates the masses, who
everywhere else have been trampled down. The friend of the people, it
tends to free schools, a free press, a free government, the abolition of
slavery, war, vice, and the melioration of society. We cannot, indeed,
here _prove_ that Christianity is the cause of these features peculiar to
modern life; but we find it everywhere associated with them, and so we can
say that it only, of all the religions of mankind, has been capable of
accompanying man in his progress from evil to good, from good to better.

We have merely suggested some of the results to which the study of
Comparative Theology may lead us. They will appear more fully as we
proceed in our examination of the religions, and subsequently in their
comparison. This introductory chapter has been designed as a sketch of the
course which the work will take. When we have completed our survey, the
results to which we hope to arrive will be these, if we succeed in what we
have undertaken:--

1. All the great religions of the world, except Christianity and
Mohammedanism, are ethnic religions, or religions limited to a single
nation or race. Christianity alone (including Mohammedanism and Judaism,
which are its temporary and local forms) is the religion of all races.

2. Every ethnic religion has its positive and negative side. Its positive
side is that which holds some vital truth; its negative side is the
absence of some other essential truth. Every such religion is true and
providential, but each limited and imperfect.

3. Christianity alone is a πλήρωμα, or a fulness of truth, not coming to
destroy but to fulfil the previous religions; but being capable of
replacing them by teaching all the truth they have taught, and supplying
that which they have omitted.

4. Christianity, being not a system but a life, not a creed or a form, but
a spirit, is able to meet all the changing wants of an advancing
civilization by new developments and adaptations, constantly feeding the
life of man at its roots by fresh supplies of faith in God and faith in

Chapter II.

Confucius and the Chinese, or the Prose of Asia.

  § 1. Peculiarities of Chinese Civilization.
  § 2. Chinese Government based on Education. Civil-Service Examinations.
  § 3. Life and Character of Confucius.
  § 4. Philosophy and subsequent Development of Confucianism.
  § 5. Lao-tse and Tao-ism.
  § 6. Religious Character of the "Kings."
  § 7. Confucius and Christianity. Character of the Chinese.
  § 8. The Tae-ping Insurrection. NOTE. The Nestorian Inscription in China
         of the Eighth Century.

§ 1. Peculiarities of Chinese Civilization.

In qualifying the Chinese mind as prosaic, and in calling the writings of
Confucius and his successors _prose_, we intend no disrespect to either.
Prose is as good as poetry. But we mean to indicate the point of view from
which the study of the Chinese teachers should be approached. Accustomed
to regard the East as the land of imagination; reading in our childhood
the wild romances of Arabia; passing, in the poetry of Persia, into an
atmosphere of tender and entrancing song; then, as we go farther East into
India, encountering the vast epics of the Mahá-Bhárata and the
Rámáyana;--we might naturally expect to find in far Cathay a still wilder
flight of the Asiatic Muse. Not at all. We drop at once from unbridled
romance into the most colorless prose. Another race comes to us, which
seems to have no affinity with Asia, as we have been accustomed to think
of Asia. No more aspiration, no flights of fancy, but the worship of
order, decency, propriety, and peaceful commonplaces. As the people, so
the priests. The works of Confucius and his commentators are as level as
the valley of their great river, the Yang-tse-kiang, which the tide
ascends for four hundred miles. All in these writings is calm, serious,
and moral They assume that all men desire to be made better, and will
take the trouble to find out how they can be made so. It is not thought
necessary to entice them into goodness by the attractions of eloquence,
the charm of imagery, or the fascinations of a brilliant wit. These
philosophers have a Quaker style, a dress of plain drab, used only for
clothing the thought, not at all for its ornament.

And surely we ought not to ask for any other attraction than the subject
itself, in order to find interest in China and its teachers. The Chinese
Empire, which contains more than five millions of square miles, or twice
the area of the United States, has a population of five hundred millions,
or half the number of the human beings inhabiting the globe. China proper,
inhabited by the Chinese, is half as large as Europe, and contains about
three hundred and sixty millions of inhabitants. There are eighteen
provinces in China, many of which contain, singly, more inhabitants than
some of the great states of Europe. But on many other accounts this nation
is deeply interesting.

China is the type of permanence in the world. To say that it is older than
any other _existing_ nation is saying very little. Herodotus, who has been
called the Father of History, travelled in Egypt about 450 B.C. He studied
its monuments, bearing the names of kings who were as distant from his
time as he is from ours,--monuments which even then belonged to a gray
antiquity. But the kings who erected those monuments were possibly
posterior to the founders of the Chinese Empire. Porcelain vessels, with
Chinese mottoes on them, have been found in those ancient tombs, in shape,
material, and appearance precisely like those which are made in China
to-day; and Rosellini believes them to have been imported from China by
kings contemporary with Moses, or before him. This nation and its
institutions have outlasted everything. The ancient Bactrian and Assyrian
kingdoms, the Persian monarchy, Greece and Rome, have all risen,
flourished, and fallen,--and China continues still the same. The dynasty
has been occasionally changed; but the laws, customs, institutions, all
that makes national life, have continued. The authentic history of China
commences some two thousand years before Christ, and a thousand years in
this history is like a century in that of any other people. The oral
language of China has continued the same that it is now for thirty
centuries. The great wall bounding the empire on the north, which is
twelve hundred and forty miles long and twenty feet high, with towers
every few hundred yards,--which crosses mountain ridges, descends into
valleys, and is carried over rivers on arches,--was built two hundred
years before Christ, probably to repel those fierce tribes who, after
ineffectual attempts to conquer China, travelled westward till they
appeared on the borders of Europe five hundred years later, and, under the
name of Huns, assisted in the downfall of the Roman Empire. All China was
intersected with canals at a period when none existed in Europe. The great
canal, like the great wall, is unrivalled by any similar existing work. It
is twice the length of the Erie Canal, is from two hundred to a thousand
feet wide, and has enormous banks built of solid granite along a great
part of its course. One of the important mechanical inventions of modern
Europe is the Artesian well. That sunk at Grenelle, in France, was long
supposed to be the deepest in the world, going down eighteen hundred feet.
One at St. Louis, in the United States, has since been drilled to a depth,
as has recently been stated, of about four thousand.[9] But in China these
wells are found by tens of thousands, sunk at very remote periods to
obtain salt water. The method used by the Chinese from immemorial time has
recently been adopted instead of our own as being the most simple and
economical. The Chinese have been long acquainted with the circulation of
the blood; they inoculated for the small-pox in the ninth century; and
about the same time they invented printing. Their bronze money was made as
early as 1100 B.C., and its form has not been changed since the beginning
of the Christian era. The mariner's compass, gunpowder, and the art of
printing were made known to Europe through stories told by missionaries
returning from Asia. These missionaries, coasting the shores of the
Celestial Empire in Chinese junks, saw a little box containing a
magnetized needle, called Ting-nan-Tchen, or "needle which points to the
south." They also noticed terrible machines used by the armies in China
called Ho-pao or fire-guns, into which was put an inflammable powder,
which produced a noise like thunder and projected stones and pieces of
iron with irresistible force.

Father Hue, in his "Christianity in China," says that "the Europeans who
penetrated into China were no less struck with the libraries of the
Chinese than with their artillery. They were astonished at the sight of
the elegant books printed rapidly upon a pliant, silky paper by means of
wooden blocks. The first edition of the classical works printed in China
appeared in 958, five hundred years before the invention of Gutenberg. The
missionaries had, doubtless, often been busied in their convents with the
laborious work of copying manuscript books, and the simple Chinese method
of printing must have particularly attracted their attention. Many other
marvellous productions were noticed, such as silk, porcelain,
playing-cards, spectacles, and other products of art and industry unknown
in Europe. They brought back these new ideas to Europe; 'and from that
time,' says Abel Remusat, 'the West began to hold in due esteem the most
beautiful, the most populous, and the most anciently civilized of all the
four quarters of the world. The arts, the religious faith, and the
languages of its people were studied, and it was even proposed to
establish a professorship for the Tartar language in the University of
Paris. The world seemed to open towards the East; geography made immense
strides, and ardor for discovery opened a new vent for the adventurous
spirit of the Europeans. As our own hemisphere became better known, the
idea of another ceased to appear a wholly improbable paradox; and in
seeking the Zipangon of Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus discovered the
New World.'"

The first aspect of China produces that impression on the mind which we
call the grotesque. This is merely because the customs of this singular
nation are so opposite to our own. They seem morally, no less than
physically, our antipodes. Their habits are as opposite to ours as the
direction of their bodies. We stand feet to feet in everything. In boxing
the compass they say "westnorth" instead of northwest, "eastsouth" instead
of southeast, and their compass-needle points south instead of north.
Their soldiers wear quilted petticoats, satin boots, and bead necklaces,
carry umbrellas and fans, and go to a night attack with lanterns in their
hands, being more afraid of the dark than of exposing themselves to the
enemy. The people are very fond of fireworks, but prefer to have them in
the daytime. Ladies' ride in wheelbarrows, and cows are driven in
carriages. While in Europe the feet are put in the stocks, in China the
stocks are hung round the neck. In China the family name comes first, and
the personal name afterward. Instead of saying Benjamin Franklin or Walter
Scott they would say Franklin Benjamin, Scott Walter. Thus the Chinese
name of Confucius, Kung-fu-tsee, means the Holy Master Kung;--Kung is the
family name. In the recent wars with the English the mandarins or soldiers
would sometimes run away, and then commit suicide to avoid punishment. In
getting on a horse, the Chinese mount on the right side. Their old men fly
kites, while the little boys look on. The left hand is the seat of honor,
and to keep on your hat is a sign of respect. Visiting cards are painted
red, and are four feet long. In the opinion of the Chinese, the seat of
the understanding is the stomach. They have villages which contain a
million of inhabitants. Their boats are drawn by men, but their carriages
are moved by sails. A married woman while young and pretty is a slave, but
when she becomes old and withered is the most powerful, respected, and
beloved person in the family. The emperor is regarded with the most
profound reverence, but the empress mother is a greater person than he.
When a man furnishes his house, instead of laying stress, as we do, on
rosewood pianos and carved mahogany, his first ambition is for a handsome
camphor-wood coffin, which he keeps in the best place in his room. The
interest of money is thirty-six per cent, which, to be sure, we also give
in hard times to stave off a stoppage, while with them it is the legal
rate. We once heard a bad dinner described thus: "The meat was cold, the
wine was hot, and everything was sour but the vinegar." This would not so
much displease the Chinese, who carefully warm their wine, while we ice
ours. They understand good living, however, very well, are great epicures,
and somewhat gourmands, for, after dining on thirty dishes, they will
sometimes eat a duck by way of a finish. They toss their meat into their
mouths to a tune, every man keeping time with his chop-sticks, while we,
on the contrary, make anything but harmony with the clatter of our knives
and forks. A Chinaman will not drink a drop of milk, but he will devour
birds'-nests, snails, and the fins of sharks with a great relish. Our
mourning color is black and theirs is white; they mourn for their parents
three years, we a much shorter time. The principal room in their houses is
called "the hall of ancestors," the pictures or tablets of whom, set up
against the wall, are worshipped by them; we, on the other hand, are only
too apt to send our grandfather's portrait to the garret.[10]

§ 2. Chinese Government based on Education. Civil-Service Examinations.

Such are a few of the external differences between the Chinese customs and
ours. But the most essential peculiarity of this nation is the high value
which they attribute to knowledge, and the distinctions and rewards which
they bestow on scholarship. All the civil offices in the Empire are given
as rewards of literary merit. The government, indeed, is called a complete
despotism, and the emperor is said to have absolute authority. He is not
bound by any written constitution, indeed; but the public opinion of the
land holds him, nevertheless, to a strict responsibility. He, no less than
his people, is bound by a law higher than that of any private will,--the
authority of custom. For, in China, more than anywhere else, "what is gray
with age becomes religion." The authority of the emperor is simply
authority to govern according to the ancient usages of the country, and
whenever these are persistently violated, a revolution takes place and the
dynasty is changed. But a revolution in China changes nothing but the
person of the monarch; the unwritten constitution of old usages remains in
full force. "A principle as old as the monarchy," says Du Halde, "is this,
that the state is a large family, and the emperor is in the place of both
father and mother. He must govern his people with affection and goodness;
he must attend to the smallest matters which concern their happiness. When
he is not supposed to have this sentiment, he soon loses his hold on the
reverence of the people, and his throne becomes insecure." The emperor,
therefore, is always studying how to preserve this reputation. When a
province is afflicted by famine, inundation, or any other calamity, he
shuts himself in his palace, fasts, and publishes decrees to relieve it of
taxes and afford it aid.

The true power of the government is in the literary class. The government,
though nominally a monarchy, is really an aristocracy. But it is not an
aristocracy of birth, like that of England, for the humblest man's son can
obtain a place in it; neither is it an aristocracy of wealth, like ours
in the United States, nor a military aristocracy, like that of Russia, nor
an aristocracy of priests, like that of ancient Egypt, and of some modern
countries,--as, for instance, that of Paraguay under the Jesuits, or that
of the Sandwich Islands under the Protestant missionaries; but it is a
literary aristocracy.

The civil officers in China are called mandarins. They are chosen from the
three degrees of learned men, who may be called the bachelors,
licentiates, and doctors. All persons may be candidates for the first
degree, except three excluded classes,--boatmen, barbers, and actors. The
candidates are examined by the governors of their own towns. Of those
approved, a few are selected after another examination. These again are
examined by an officer who makes a circuit once in three years for that
purpose. They are placed alone in little rooms or closets, with pencils,
ink, and paper, and a subject is given them to write upon. Out of some
four hundred candidates fifteen may be selected, who receive the lowest
degree. There is another triennial examination for the second degree, at
which a small number of the bachelors are promoted. The examination for
the highest degree, that of doctor, is held at Pekin only, when some three
hundred are taken out of five thousand. These are capable of receiving the
highest offices. Whenever a vacancy occurs, one of those who have received
a degree is taken by lot from the few senior names. But a few years since,
there were five thousand of the highest rank, and twenty-seven thousand of
the second rank, who had not received employment.

The subjects upon which the candidates are examined, and the methods of
these examinations, are thus described in the Shanghae Almanac (1852).[11]

The examinations for the degree of Keujin (or licentiate) takes place at
the principal city of each province once in three years. The average
number of bachelors in the large province of Keang-Nan (which contains
seventy millions of inhabitants) is twenty thousand, out of whom only
about two hundred succeed. Sixty-five mandarins are deputed for this
examination, besides subordinate officials. The two chief examiners are
sent from Pekin. When the candidates enter the examination hall they are
searched for books or manuscripts, which might assist them in writing
their essays. This precaution is not superfluous, for many plans have been
invented to enable mediocre people to pass. Sometimes a thin book, printed
on very small type from copperplates, is slipped into a hole in the sole
of the shoe. But persons detected in such practices are ruined for life.
In a list of one hundred and forty-four successful candidates, in 1851,
thirteen were over forty years of age, and one under fourteen years; seven
were under twenty; and all, to succeed, must have known by heart the whole
of the Sacred Books, besides being well read in history.

Three sets of themes are given, each occupying two days and a night, and
until that time is expired no one is allowed to leave his apartment, which
is scarcely large enough to sleep in. The essays must not contain more
than seven hundred characters, and no erasure or correction is allowed. On
the first days the themes are taken from the Four Books; on the next, from
the older classics; on the last, miscellaneous questions are given. The
themes are such as these: "Choo-tsze, in commenting on the Shoo-King, made
use of four authors, who sometimes say too much, at other times too
little; sometimes their explanations are forced, at other times too
ornamental. What have you to observe on them?" "Chinshow had great
abilities for historic writing. In his Three Kingdoms he has depreciated
Choo-ko-leang, and made very light of E and E, two other celebrated
characters. What is it that he says of them?"

These public-service examinations are conducted with the greatest
impartiality. They were established about a thousand years ago, and have
been gradually improved during the intervening time. They form the basis
of the whole system of Chinese government. They make a good education
universally desirable, as the poorest man may see his son thus advanced to
the highest position. All of the hundreds of thousands who prepare to
compete are obliged to know the whole system of Confucius, to commit to
memory all his moral doctrines, and to become familiar with all the
traditional wisdom of the land. Thus a public opinion in favor of existing
institutions and the fundamental ideas of Chinese government is
continually created anew.

What an immense advantage it would be to our own country if we should
adopt this institution of China! Instead of making offices the prize of
impudence, political management, and party services, let them be competed
for by all who consider themselves qualified. Let all offices now given by
appointment be hereafter bestowed on those who show themselves best
qualified to perform the duties. Each class of offices would of course
require a different kind of examination. For some, physical culture as
well as mental might be required. Persons who wished diplomatic situations
should be prepared in a knowledge of foreign languages as well as of
international law. All should be examined on the Constitution and history
of the United States. Candidates for the Post-Office Department should be
good copyists, quick at arithmetic, and acquainted with book-keeping. It
is true that we cannot by an examination obtain a certain knowledge of
moral qualities; but industry, accuracy, fidelity in work would certainly
show themselves. A change from the present corrupt and corrupting system
of appointments to that of competitive examinations would do more just now
for our country than any other measure of reconstruction which can be
proposed. The permanence of Chinese institutions is believed, by those who
know best, to result from the influence of the literary class. Literature
is naturally conservative; the tone of the literature studied is eminently
conservative; and the most intelligent men in the empire are personally
interested in the continuance of the institutions under which they hope to
attain position and fortune.

The highest civil offices are seats at the great tribunals or boards, and
the positions of viceroys, or governors, of the eighteen provinces.

The boards are:--

  Ly Pou, Board of Appointment of Mandarins.
  Hou Pou, Board of Finance.
  Lee Pou, Board of Ceremonies.
  Ping Pou, Board of War.
  Hing Pou, Board of Criminal Justice.
  Kong Pou, Board of Works,--canals, bridges, &c.

The members of these boards, with their councillors and subordinates,
amount to twelve hundred officers. Then there is the Board of Doctors of
the Han Lin College, who have charge of the archives, history of the
empire, &c.; and the Board of Censors, who are the highest mandarins, and
have a peculiar office. Their duty is to stand between the people and the
mandarins, and between the people and the emperor, and even rebuke the
latter if they find him doing wrong. This is rather a perilous duty, but
it is often faithfully performed. A censor, who went to tell the emperor
of some faults, took his coffin with him, and left it at the door of the
palace. Two censors remonstrated with a late emperor on the expenses of
his palace, specifying the sums uselessly lavished for perfumes and
flowers for his concubines, and stating that a million of taels of silver
might be saved for the poor by reducing these expenses. Sung, the
commissioner who attended Lord Macartney, remonstrated with the Emperor
Kiaking on his attachment to play-actors and strong drink, which degraded
him in the eyes of the people. The emperor, highly irritated, asked him
what punishment he deserved for his insolence. "Quartering," said Sung.
"Choose another," said the emperor. "Let me be beheaded." "Choose again,"
said the emperor; and Sung asked to be strangled. The next day the emperor
appointed him governor of a distant province,--afraid to punish him for
the faithful discharge of his duty, but glad to have him at a distance.
Many such anecdotes are related, showing that there is some moral courage
in China.

The governor of a province, or viceroy, has great power. He also is chosen
from among the mandarins in the way described. The only limitations of his
power are these: he is bound to make a full report every three years of
the affairs of the province, _and give in it an account of his own
faults,_ and if he omits any, and they are discovered in other ways, he is
punished by degradation, bambooing, or death. It is the right of any
subject, however humble, to complain to the emperor himself against any
officer, however high; and for this purpose a large drum is placed at one
of the palace gates. Whoever strikes it has his case examined under the
emperor's eye, and if he has been wronged, his wrongs are redressed, but
if he has complained unnecessarily, he is severely punished. Imperial
visitors, sent by the Board of Censors, may suddenly arrive at any time to
examine the concerns of a province; and a governor or other public officer
who is caught tripping is immediately reported and punished.

Thus the political institutions of China are built on literature.
Knowledge is the road to power and wealth. All the talent and knowledge of
the nation are interested in the support of institutions which give to
them either power or the hope of it. And these institutions work well. The
machinery is simple, but it produces a vast amount of happiness and
domestic virtue. While in most parts of Asia the people are oppressed by
petty tyrants, and ground down by taxes,--while they have no motive to
improve their condition, since every advance will only expose them to
greater extortion,--the people of China are industrious and happy. In no
part of the world has agriculture been carried to such perfection. Every
piece of ground in the cultivated parts of the empire, except those
portions devoted to ancestral monuments, is made to yield two or three
crops annually, by the careful tillage bestowed on it. The ceremony of
opening the soil at the beginning of the year, at which the emperor
officiates, originated two thousand years ago. Farms are small,--of one or
two acres,--and each family raises on its farm all that it consumes. Silk
and cotton are cultivated and manufactured in families, each man spinning,
weaving, and dyeing his own web. In the manufacture of porcelain, on the
contrary, the division of labor is carried very far. The best is made at
the village of Kiangsee, which contains a million of inhabitants. Seventy
hands are sometimes employed on a single cup. The Chinese are very
skilful in working horn and ivory. Large lanterns are made of horn,
transparent and without a flaw. At Birmingham men have tried with machines
to cut ivory in the same manner as the Chinese, and have failed.

§ 3. Life and Character of Confucius.

Of this nation the great teacher for twenty-three centuries has been
Confucius. He was born 551 B.C., and was contemporary with the Tarquins,
Pythagoras, and Cyrus. About his time occurred the return of the Jews from
Babylon and the invasion of Greece by Xerxes. His descendants have always
enjoyed high privileges, and there are now some forty thousand of them in
China, seventy generations and more removed from their great ancestor. His
is the oldest family in the world, unless we consider the Jews as a single
family descended from Abraham. His influence, through his writings, on the
minds of so many millions of human beings is greater than that of any man
who ever lived, excepting the writers of the Bible; and in saying this we
do not forget the names of Mohammed, Aristotle, St. Augustine, and Luther.
So far as we can see, it is the influence of Confucius which has
maintained, though probably not originated, in China, that profound
reverence for parents, that strong family affection, that love of order,
that regard for knowledge and deference for literary men, which are
fundamental principles underlying all the Chinese institutions. His minute
and practical system of morals, studied as it is by all the learned, and
constituting the sum of knowledge and the principle of government in
China, has exerted and exerts an influence on that innumerable people
which it is impossible to estimate, but which makes us admire the power
which can emanate from a single soul.

To exert such an influence requires greatness. If the tree is to be known
by its fruits, Confucius must have been one of the master minds of our
race. The supposition that a man of low morals or small intellect, an
impostor or an enthusiast, could influence the world, is a theory which
is an insult to human nature. The time for such theories has happily gone
by. We now know that nothing can come of nothing,--that a fire of straw
may make a bright blaze, but must necessarily soon go out. A light which
illuminates centuries must be more than an ignis fatuus. Accordingly we
should approach Confucius with respect, and expect to find something good
and wise in his writings. It is only a loving spirit which will enable us
to penetrate the difficulties which surround the study, and to apprehend
something of the true genius of the man and his teachings. As there is no
immediate danger of becoming his followers, we can see no objections to
such a course, which also appears to be a species of mental hospitality,
eminently in accordance with the spirit of our own Master.

Confucius belongs to that small company of select ones whose lives have
been devoted to the moral elevation of their fellow-men. Among them he
stands high, for he sought to implant the purest principles of religion
and morals in the character of the whole people, and succeeded in doing
it. To show that this was his purpose it will be necessary to give a brief
sketch of his life.

His ancestors were eminent statesmen and soldiers in the small country of
Loo, then an independent kingdom, now a Chinese province. The year of his
birth was that in which Cyrus became king of Persia. His father, one of
the highest officers of the kingdom, and a brave soldier, died when
Confucius was three years old. He was a studious boy, and when fifteen
years old had studied the five sacred books called Kings. He was married
at the age of nineteen, and had only one son by his only wife. This son
died before Confucius, leaving as his posterity a single grandchild, from
whom the great multitudes of his descendants now in China were derived.
This grandson was second only to Confucius in wisdom, and was the teacher
of the illustrious Mencius.

The first part of the life of Confucius was spent in attempting to reform
the abuses of society by means of the official stations which he held, by
his influence with princes, and by travelling and intercourse with men.
The second period was that in which he was recalled from his travels to
become a minister in his native country, the kingdom of Loo. Here he
applied his theories of government, and tested their practicability. He
was then fifty years old. His success was soon apparent in the growing
prosperity of the whole people. Instead of the tyranny which before
prevailed, they were now ruled according to his idea of good
government,--that of the father of a family. Confidence was restored to
the public mind, and all good influences followed. But the tree was not
yet deeply enough rooted to resist accidents, and all his wise
arrangements were suddenly overthrown by the caprice of the monarch, who,
tired of the austere virtue of Confucius, suddenly plunged into a career
of dissipation. Confucius resigned his office, and again became a
wanderer, but now with a new motive. He had before travelled to learn, now
he travelled to teach. He collected disciples around him, and, no longer
seeking to gain the ear of princes, he diffused his ideas among the common
people by means of his disciples, whom he sent out everywhere to
communicate his doctrines. So, amid many vicissitudes of outward fortune,
he lived till he was seventy-three years old. In the last years of his
life he occupied himself in publishing his works, and in editing the
Sacred Books. His disciples had become very numerous, historians
estimating them at three thousand, of whom five hundred had attained to
official station, seventy-two had penetrated deeply into his system, and
ten, of the highest class of mind and character, were continually near his
person. Of these Hwuy was especially valued by him, as having early
attained superior virtue. He frequently referred to him in his
conversations. "I saw him continually advance," said he, "but I never saw
him stop in the path of knowledge." Again he says: "The wisest of my
disciples, having one idea, understands two. Hwuy, having one understands
ten." One of the select ten disciples, Tszee-loo, was rash and impetuous
like the Apostle Peter. Another, Tszee-Kung, was loving and tender like
the Apostle John; he built a house near the grave of Confucius, wherein to
mourn for him after his death.

The last years of the life of Confucius were devoted to editing the
Sacred Books, or Kings. As we now have them they come from him. Authentic
records of Chinese history extend back to 2357 B.C., while the Chinese
philosophy originated with Fuh-he, who lived about 3327 B.C. He it was who
substituted writing for the knotted strings which before formed the only
means of record. He was also the author of the Eight Diagrams,--each
consisting of three lines, half of which are whole and half broken in
two,--which by their various combinations are supposed to represent the
active and passive principles of the universe in all their essential
forms. Confucius edited the Yih-King, the Shoo-King, the She-King, and the
Le-Ke, which constitute the whole of the ancient literature of China which
has come down to posterity.[1] The Four Books, which contain the doctrines
of Confucius, and of his school, were not written by himself, but composed
by others after his death.

One of these is called the "Immutable Mean," and its object is to show
that virtue consists in avoiding extremes. Another--the Lun-Yu, or
Analects--contains the conversation or table-talk of Confucius, and
somewhat resembles the Memorabilia of Xenophon and Boswell's Life of

The life of Confucius was thus devoted to communicating to the Chinese
nation a few great moral and religious principles, which he believed would
insure the happiness of the people. His devotion to this aim appears in
his writings. Thus he says:--

"At fifteen years I longed for wisdom. At thirty my mind was fixed in the
pursuit of it. At forty I saw clearly certain principles. At fifty I
understood the rule given by heaven. At sixty everything I heard I easily
understood. At seventy the desires of my heart no longer transgressed the

"If in the morning I hear about the right way, and in the evening I die, I
can be happy."

He says of himself: "He is a man who through his earnestness in seeking
knowledge forgets his food, and in his joy for having found it loses all
sense of his toil, and thus occupied is unconscious that he has almost
reached old age."

Again: "Coarse rice for food, water to drink, the bended arm for a
pillow,--happiness may be enjoyed even with these; but without virtue both
riches and honor seem to me like the passing cloud."

"Grieve not that men know not you; grieve that you know not men."

"To rule with equity is like the North Star, which is fixed, and all the
rest go round it."

"The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to
confess your ignorance."

"Worship as though the Deity were present."

"If my mind is not engaged in my worship, it is as though I worshipped

"Formerly, in hearing men, I heard their words, and gave them credit for
their conduct; now I hear their words, and observe their conduct."

"A man's life depends on virtue; if a bad man lives, it is only by good

"Some proceed blindly to action, without knowledge; I hear much, and
select the best course."

He was once found fault with, when in office, for not opposing the
marriage of a ruler with a distant relation, which was an offence against
Chinese propriety. He said: "I am a happy man; if I have a fault, men
observe it."

Confucius was humble. He said: "I cannot bear to hear myself called equal
to the sages and the good. All that can be said of me is, that I study
with delight the conduct of the sages, and instruct men without weariness

"The good man is serene," said he, "the bad always in fear."

"A good man regards the ROOT; he fixes the root, and all else flows out of
it. The root is filial piety; the fruit brotherly love."

"There may be fair words and an humble countenance when there is little
real virtue."

"I daily examine myself in a threefold manner: in my transactions with
men, if I am upright; in my intercourse with friends, if I am faithful;
and whether I illustrate the teachings of my master in my conduct."

"Faithfulness and sincerity are the highest things."

"When you transgress, do not fear to return."

"Learn the past and you will know the future."

The great principles which he taught were chiefly based on family
affection and duty. He taught kings that they were to treat their
subjects as children, subjects to respect the kings as parents; and these
ideas so penetrated the national mind, that emperors are obliged to seem
to govern thus, even if they do not desire it. Confucius was a teacher of
reverence,--reverence for God, respect for parents, respect and reverence
for the past and its legacies, for the great men and great ideas of former
times. He taught men also to regard each other as brethren, and even the
golden rule, in its negative if not its positive form, is to be found in
his writings.

Curiously enough, this teacher of reverence was distinguished by a
remarkable lump on the top of his head, where the phrenologists have
placed the organ of veneration.[13] Rooted in his organization, and
strengthened by all his convictions, this element of adoration seemed to
him the crown of the whole moral nature of man. But, while full of
veneration, he seems to have been deficient in the sense of spiritual
things. A personal God was unknown to him; so that his worship was
directed, not to God, but to antiquity, to ancestors, to propriety and
usage, to the state as father and mother of its subjects, to the ruler as
in the place of authority. Perfectly sincere, deeply and absolutely
assured of all that he knew, he said nothing he did not believe. His power
came not only from the depth and clearness of his convictions, but from
the absolute honesty of his soul.

Lao-tse, for twenty-eight years his contemporary, founder of one of the
three existing religions of China,--Tao-ism,--was a man of perhaps equal
intelligence. But he was chiefly a thinker; he made no attempt to elevate
the people; his purpose was to repress the passions, and to preserve the
soul in a perfect equanimity. He was the Zeno of the East, founder of a
Chinese stoicism. With him virtue is sure of its reward; everything is
arranged by a fixed law. His disciples afterwards added to his system a
thaumaturgic element and an invocation of departed spirits, so that now it
resembles our modern Spiritism; but the original doctrine of Lao-tse was
rationalism in philosophy and stoicism in morals. Confucius is said, in a
Chinese work, to have visited him, and to have frankly confessed his
inability to understand him. "I know how birds fly, how fishes swim, how
animals run. The bird may be shot, the fish hooked, and the beast snared.
But there is the dragon. I cannot tell how he mounts in the air, and soars
to heaven. To-day I have seen the dragon."

But the modest man, who lived for others, has far surpassed in his
influence this dragon of intelligence. It certainly increases our hope for
man, when we see how these qualities of perfect honesty, good sense,
generous devotion to the public good, and fidelity to the last in
adherence to his work, have made Confucius during twenty-three centuries
the daily teacher and guide of a third of the human race.

Confucius was eminently distinguished by energy and persistency. He did
not stop working till he died. His life was of one piece, beautiful,
noble. "The general of a large army," said he, "may be defeated, but you
cannot defeat the determined mind of a peasant." He acted conformably to
this thought, and to another of his sayings. "If I am building a mountain,
and stop before the last basketful of earth is placed on the summit, I
have failed of my work. But if I have placed but one basketful on the
plain, and go on, I am really building a mountain."

Many beautiful and noble things are related concerning the character of
Confucius,--of his courage in the midst of danger, of his humility in the
highest position of honor. His writings and life have given the law to
Chinese thought. He is the patron saint of that great empire. His doctrine
is the state religion of the nation, sustained by the whole power of the
emperor and the literary body. His books are published every year by
societies formed for that purpose, who distribute them gratuitously. His
descendants enjoy the highest consideration. The number of temples erected
to his memory is sixteen hundred and sixty. One of them occupies ten acres
of land. On the two festivals in the year sacred to his memory there are
sacrificed some seventy thousand animals of different kinds, and
twenty-seven thousand pieces of silk are burned on his altars. Yet his is
a religion without priests, liturgy, or public worship, except on these
two occasions.

§ 4. Philosophy and subsequent Development of Confucianism.

According to Mr. Meadows, the philosophy of China, in its origin and
present aspect, may be thus briefly described.[14] Setting aside the
Buddhist system and that of Tao-ism, which supply to the Chinese the
element of religious worship and the doctrine of a supernatural world,
wanting in the system of Confucius, we find the latter as the established
religion of the state, merely tolerating the others as suited to persons
of weak minds. The Confucian system, constantly taught by the competitive
examinations, rules the thought of China. Its first development was from
the birth of Confucius to the death of Mencias (or from 551 B.C. to 313
B.C.). Its second period was from the time of Chow-tsze (A.D. 1034) to
that of Choo-tsze (A.D. 1200). The last of these is the real fashioner of
Chinese philosophy, and one of the truly great men of the human race. His
works are chiefly Commentaries on the Kings and the Four Books. They are
committed to memory by millions of Chinese who aspire to pass the
public-service examinations. The Chinese philosophy, thus established by
Choo-tsze, is as follows.[15]

There is one highest, ultimate principle of all existence,--the Tae-keih,
or Grand Extreme. This is absolutely immaterial, and the basis of the
order of the universe. From this ultimate principle, operating from all
eternity, come all animate and inanimate nature. It operates in a twofold
way, by expansion and contraction, or by ceaseless active and passive
pulsations. The active expansive pulsation is called Yang, the passive
intensive pulsation is Yin, and the two may be called the Positive and
Negative Essences of all things. When the active expansive phase of the
process has reached its extreme limit, the operation becomes passive and
intensive; and from these vibrations originate all material and mortal
existences. Creation is therefore a perpetual process,--matter and spirit
are opposite results of the same force. The one tends to variety, the
other to unity; and variety in unity is a permanent and universal law of
being. Man results from the utmost development of this pulsatory action
and passion; and man's nature, as the highest result, is perfectly good,
consisting of five elements, namely, charity, righteousness, propriety,
wisdom, and sincerity. These constitute the inmost, essential nature of
man; but as man comes in contact with the outward world evil arises by the
conflict. When man follows the dictates of his nature his actions are
good, and harmony results. When he is unduly influenced by the outward
world his actions are evil, and discord intervenes. The holy man is one
who has an instinctive, inward sight of the ultimate principle in its
twofold operation (or what we should call the sight of God, the beatific
vision), and who therefore spontaneously and easily obeys his nature.
Hence all his thoughts are perfectly wise, his actions perfectly good, and
his words perfectly true. Confucius was the last of these holy men. The
infallible authority of the Sacred Books results from the fact that their
writers, being holy men, had an instinctive perception of the working of
the ultimate principle.

All Confucian philosophy is pervaded by these principles: first, that
example is omnipotent; secondly, that to secure the safety of the empire,
you must secure the happiness of the people; thirdly, that by solitary
persistent thought one may penetrate at last to a knowledge of the essence
of things; fourthly, that the object of all government is to make the
people virtuous and contented.

§ 5. Lao-tse and Tao-ism.

One of the three religious systems of China is that of the Tao, the other
two being that of Confucius, and that of Buddhism in its Chinese form. The
difficulty in understanding Tao-ism comes from its appearing under three
entirely distinct forms: (1) as a philosophy of the absolute or
unconditioned, in the great work of the Tse-Lao, or old teacher;[16] (2)
as a system of morality of the utilitarian school,[17] which resolves duty
into prudence; and (3) as a system of magic, connected with the belief in
spirits. In the Tao-te-king we have the ideas of Lao himself, which we
will endeavor to state; premising that they are considered very obscure
and difficult even by the Chinese commentators.

The TAO (§ 1) is the unnamable, and is the origin of heaven and earth. As
that which can be named, it is the mother of all things. These two are
essentially one. Being and not-being are born from each other (§ 2). The
Tao is empty but inexhaustible (§ 4), is pure, is profound, and was before
the Gods. It is invisible, not the object of perception, it returns into
not-being (§§ 14, 40). It is vague, confused, and obscure (§ 25, 21). It
is little and strong, universally present, and all beings return into it
(§ 32). It is without desires, great (§ 34). All things are born of being,
being is born of not-being (§ 40).

From these and similar statements it would appear that the philosophy of
the Tao-te-king is that of absolute being, or the identity of being and
not-being. In this point it anticipated Hegel by twenty-three
centuries.[18] It teaches that the absolute is the source of being and of
not-being. Being is essence, not-being is existence. The first is the
noumenal, the last the phenomenal.'

As being is the source of not-being (§ 40), by identifying one's self with
being one attains to all that is not-being, i.e. to all that exists.
Instead, therefore, of aiming at acquiring knowledge, the wise man avoids
it: instead of acting, he refuses to act. He "feeds his mind with a wise
passiveness." (§ 16.) "_Not to act_ is the source of all power," is a
thesis continually present to the mind of Lao (§§ 3, 23, 38,43,48, 63).
The wise man is like water (§§ 8, 78), which seems weak and is strong;
which yields, seeks the lowest place, which seems the softest thing and
breaks the hardest thing. To be wise one must renounce wisdom, to be good
one must renounce justice and humanity, to be learned one must renounce
knowledge (§§ 19, 20, 45), and must have no desires (§§ 8, 22), must
detach one's self from all things (§ 20) and be like a new-born babe. From
everything proceeds its opposite, the easy from the difficult, the
difficult from the easy, the long from the short, the high from the low,
ignorance from knowledge, knowledge from ignorance, the first from the
last, the last from the first. These antagonisms are mutually related by
the hidden principle of the Tao (§§ 2, 27). Nothing is independent or
capable of existing save through its opposite. The good man and bad man
are equally necessary to each other (§ 27). To desire aright is not to
desire (§ 64). The saint can do great things because he does not attempt
to do them (§ 63). The unwarlike man conquers.[19] He who submits to
others controls them. By this negation of all things we come into
possession of all things (§ 68). _Not to act_ is, therefore, the secret of
all power (§§ 3, 23, 38, 43, 48, 63).

We find here the same doctrine of opposites which appears in the Phædo,
and which has come up again and again in philosophy. We shall find
something like it in the Sánkhya-karika of the Hindoos. The Duad, with the
Monad brooding behind it, is the fundamental principle of the Avesta.

The result, thus far, is to an active passivity. Lao teaches that not to
act involves the highest energy of being, and leads to the greatest
results. By not acting one identifies himself with the Tao, and receives
all its power. And here we cannot doubt that the Chinese philosopher was
pursuing the same course with Sakya-Muni. The Tao of the one is the
Nirvana of the other. The different motive in each mind constitutes the
difference of their career. Sakya-Muni sought Nirvana, or the absolute,
the pure knowledge, in order to escape from evil and to conquer it. Lao
sought it, as his book shows, to attain power. At this point the two
systems diverge. Buddhism is generous, benevolent, humane; it seeks to
help others. Tao-ism seeks its own. Hence the selfish morality which
pervades the Book of Rewards and Punishments. Every good action has its
reward attached to it. Hence also the degradation of the system into pure
magic and spiritism. Buddhism, though its course runs so nearly parallel,
always retains in its scheme of merits a touch of generosity.

We find thus, in the Tao-te-king, the element afterwards expanded into the
system of utilitarian and eudæmonic ethics in the Book of Rewards and
Punishments. We also can trace in it the source of the magical tendency in
Tao-ism. The principle, that by putting one's self into an entirely
passive condition one can enter into communion with the unnamed Tao, and
so acquire power over nature, naturally tends to magic. Precisely the same
course of thought led to similar results in the case of Neo-Platonism. The
ecstatic union with the divine element in all nature, which Plotinus
attained four times in his life, resulted from an immediate sight of God.
In this sight is all truth given to the soul. The unity, says Plotinus,
which produces all things, is an essence behind both substance and form.
Through this essential being all souls commune and interact, and magic is
this interaction of soul upon soul through the soul of souls, with which
one becomes identified in the ecstatic union. A man therefore can act on
demons and control spirits by theurgic rites. Julian, that ardent
Neo-Platonician, was surrounded by diviners, hierophants, and

In the Tao-te-king (§§ 50, 55, 56, etc.) it is said that he who knows the
Tao need not fear the bite of serpents nor the jaws of wild beasts, nor
the claws of birds of prey. He is inaccessible to good and to evil. He
need fear neither rhinoceros nor tiger. In battle he needs neither cuirass
nor sword. The tiger cannot tear him, the soldier cannot wound him. He is
invulnerable and safe from death.[21]

If Neo-Platonism had not had for its antagonist the vital force of
Christianity, it might have established itself as a permanent form of
religion in the Roman Empire, as Tao-ism has in China. I have tried to
show how the later form of this Chinese system has come naturally from its
principles, and how a philosophy of the absolute may have degenerated into
a system of necromancy.

§ 6. Religious Character of the "Kings."

We have seen that, in the philosophy of the Confucians, the ultimate
principle is not necessarily identical with a living, intelligent, and
personal God. Nor did Confucius, when he speaks of Teen, or Heaven,
express any faith in such a being. He neither asserted nor denied a
Supreme God. His worship and prayer did not necessarily imply such a
faith. It was the prayer of reverence addressed to some sacred,
mysterious, unknown power, above and behind all visible things. What that
power was, he, with his supreme candor, did not venture to intimate. But
in the She-King a personal God is addressed. The oldest books recognize a
Divine person. They teach that there is one Supreme Being, who is
omnipresent, who sees all things, and has an intelligence which nothing
can escape,--that he wishes men to live together in peace and brotherhood.
He commands not only right actions, but pure desires and thoughts, that we
should watch all our behavior, and maintain a grave and majestic demeanor,
"which is like a palace in which virtue resides"; but especially that we
should guard the tongue. "For a blemish may be taken out of a diamond by
carefully polishing it; but, if your words have the least blemish, there
is no way to efface that." "Humility is the solid foundation of all the
virtues." "To acknowledge one's incapacity is the way to be soon prepared
to teach others; for from the moment that a man is no longer full of
himself, nor puffed up with empty pride, whatever good he learns in the
morning he practices before night." "Heaven penetrates to the bottom of
our hearts, like light into a dark chamber. We must conform ourselves to
it, till we are like two instruments of music tamed to the same pitch. We
must join ourselves with it, like two tablets which appear but one. We
must receive its gifts the very moment its hand is open to bestow. Our
irregular passions shut up the door of our souls against God."

Such are the teachings of these Kings, which are unquestionably among the
oldest existing productions of the human mind. In the days of Confucius
they seem to have been nearly forgotten, and their precepts wholly
neglected. Confucius revised them, added his own explanations and
comments, and, as one of the last acts of his life, called his disciples
around him and made a solemn dedication of these books to Heaven. He
erected an altar on which he placed them, adored God, and returned thanks
upon his knees in a humble manner for having had life and health granted
him to finish this undertaking.

§ 7. Confucius and Christianity. Character of the Chinese.

It were easy to find defects in the doctrine of Confucius. It has little
to teach of God or immortality. But if the law of Moses, which taught
nothing of a future life, was a preparation for Christianity; if, as the
early Christian Fathers asserted, Greek philosophy was also schoolmaster
to bring men to Christ; who can doubt that the truth and purity in the
teachings of Confucius were providentially intended to lead this great
nation in the right direction? Confucius is a Star in the East, to lead
his people to Christ. One of the most authentic of his sayings is this,
that "in the West the true Saint must be looked for and found." He has a
perception, such as truly great men have often had, of some one higher
than himself, who was to come after him. We cannot doubt, therefore, that
God, who forgets none of his children, has given this teacher to the
swarming millions of China to lead them on till they are ready for a
higher light. And certainly the temporal prosperity and external virtues
of this nation, and their long-continued stability amid the universal
changes of the world, are owing in no small decree to the lessons of
reverence for the past, of respect for knowledge, of peace and order, and
especially of filial piety, which he inculcated. In their case, if in no
other, has been fulfilled the promise of the divine commandment, "Honor
thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the
Lord thy God giveth thee."

In comparing the system of Confucius with Christianity, it appears at once
that Christianity differs from this system, as from most others, in its
greater completeness. Jesus says to the Chinese philosopher, as he said to
the Jewish law, "I have not come to destroy, but to fulfil." He fulfils
the Confucian reverence for the past by adding hope for the future; he
fulfils its stability by progress, its faith in man with faith in God, its
interest in this world with the expectation of another, its sense of time
with that of eternity. Confucius aims at peace, order, outward prosperity,
virtue, and good morals. All this belongs also to Christianity, but
Christianity adds a moral enthusiasm, a faith in the spiritual world, a
hope of immortal life, a sense of the Fatherly presence of God. So that
here, as before, we find that Christianity does not exclude other
religions, but includes them, and is distinguished by being deeper,
higher, broader, and more far-reaching than they.

A people with such institutions and such a social life as we have
described cannot be despised, and to call them uncivilized is as absurd in
us as it is in them to call Europeans barbarians. They are a good,
intelligent, and happy people. Lieutenant Forbes, who spent five years in
China,--from 1842 to 1847,--says: "I found myself in the midst of as
amiable, kind, and hospitable a population as any on the face of the
earth, as far ahead of us in some things as behind us in others." As to
the charge of dishonesty brought against them by those who judge the whole
nation by the degraded population of the suburbs of Canton, Forbes says,
"My own property suffered more in landing in England and passing the
British frontier than in my whole sojourn in China."

"There is no nation," says the Jesuit Du Halde, "more laborious and
temperate than this. They are inured to hardships from their infancy,
which greatly contributes to preserve the innocence of their manners....
They are of a mild, tractable, and humane disposition." He thinks them
exceedingly modest, and regards the love of gain as their chief vice.
"Interest," says he, "is the spring of all their actions; for, when the
least profit offers, they despise all difficulties and undertake the most
painful journeys to procure it" This may be true; but if a Chinese
traveller in America should give the same account of us, would it not be
quite as true? One of the latest writers--the author of "The Middle
Kingdom"--accuses the Chinese of gross sensuality, mendacity, and
dishonesty. No doubt these are besetting sins with them, as with all
nations who are educated under a system which makes submission to
authority the chief virtue. But then this writer lived only at Canton and
Macao, and saw personally only the refuse of the people. He admits that
"they have attained, by the observance of peace and good order, to a high
security of life and property; that the various classes are linked
together in a remarkably homogeneous manner by the diffusion of education;
and that property and industry receive their just reward of food, raiment,
and shelter." He also reminds us that the religion of China differs from
all Pagan religions in this, that it encourages neither cruelty nor
sensuality. No human victims have ever been offered on its altars, and
those licentious rites which have appeared in so many religions have never
disgraced its pure worship.

The Chinese citizen enjoys a degree of order, peace, and comfort unknown
elsewhere in Asia. "He can hold and sell landed property with a facility,
certainty, and security which is absolute perfection compared with the
nature of English dealings of the same kind."[22] He can traverse the
country for two thousand miles unquestioned by any official. He can
follow what occupation he pleases. He can quit his country and re-enter it
without a passport. The law of primogeniture does not exist. The emperor
appoints his heir, but a younger son quite as often as an elder one. The
principle that no man is entitled by birth to rule over them is better
known to the three hundred and sixty millions of China than to the
twenty-seven millions of Great Britain that they have a right to a trial
by their peers.[23] The principle of Chinese government is to persuade
rather than to compel, to use moral means rather than physical. This rests
on the fundamental belief in human goodness. For, as Mr. Meadows justly
observes: "The theory that man's nature is radically vicious is the true
psychical basis of despotic or physical-force government; while the theory
that man's nature is radically good is the basis of free or moral-force
government." The Chinese government endeavors to be paternal. It has
refused to lay a tax on opium, because that would countenance the sale of
it, though it might derive a large income from such a tax. The sacred
literature of the Chinese is perfectly free from everything impure or
offensive. There is not a line but might be read aloud in any family
circle in England. All immoral ceremonies in idol worship are forbidden.
M. Hue says that the birth of a daughter is counted a disaster in China;
but well-informed travellers tell us that fathers go about with little
daughters on their arms, as proud and pleased as a European father could
be. Slavery and concubinage exist in China, and the husband has absolute
power over his wife, even of life and death. These customs tend to
demoralize the Chinese, and are a source of great evil. Woman is the slave
of man. The exception to this is in the case of a mother. She is absolute
in her household, and mothers, in China, command universal reverence. If
an officer asks leave of absence to visit his mother it must be granted
him. A mother may order an official to take her son to prison, and she
must be obeyed. As a wife without children woman is a slave, but as a
mother with grownup sons she is a monarch.

§ 8. The Tae-ping Insurrection.

Two extraordinary events have occurred in our day in China, the results of
which may be of the utmost importance to the nation and to mankind. The
one is the Tae-ping insurrection, the other the diplomatic mission of Mr.
Burlingame to the Western world. Whatever may be the immediate issue of
the great insurrection of our day against the Tartar dynasty, it will
remain a phenomenon of the utmost significance. There is no doubt,
notwithstanding the general opinion to the contrary, that it has been a
religious movement, proceeding from a single mind deeply moved by the
reading of the Bible. The hostility of the Chinese to the present Mantchoo
Tartar monarchs no doubt aided it; but there has been in it an element of
power from the beginning, derived, like that of the Puritans, from its
religious enthusiasm. Its leader, the Heavenly Prince, Hung-sew-tseuen,
son of a poor peasant living thirty miles northeast of Canton, received a
tract, containing extracts from the Chinese Bible of Dr. Morison, from a
Chinese tract distributor in the streets of Canton. This was in 1833, when
he was about twenty years of age. He took the book home, looked over it
carelessly, and threw it aside. Disappointed of his degree at two
competitive examinations, he fell sick, and saw a vision of an old man,
saying: "I am the Creator of all things. Go and do my work." After this
vision six years passed by, when the English war broke out, and the
English fleet took the Chinese forts in the river of Canton. Such a great
national calamity indicated, according to Chinese ideas, something rotten
in the government; and such success on the part of the English showed
that, in some way, they were fulfilling the will of Heaven. This led
Hung-sew-tseuen to peruse again his Christian books; and alone, with no
guide, he became a sincere believer in Christ, after a fashion of his own.
God was the Creator of all things, and the Supreme Father. Jesus was the
Elder Brother and heavenly Teacher of mankind. Idolatry was to be
overthrown, virtue to be practised. Hung-sew-tseuen believed that the
Bible confirmed his former visions. He accepted his mission and began to
make converts All his converts renounced idolatry, and gave up the worship
of Confucius. They travelled to and fro teaching, and formed a society of
"God-worshippers." The first convert, Fung-yun-san, became its most ardent
missionary and its disinterested preacher. Hung-sew-tseuen returned home,
went to Canton, and there met Mr. Roberts, an American missionary, who was
induced by false charges to refuse him Christian baptism. But he, without
being offended with Mr. Roberts, went home and taught his converts how to
baptize themselves. The society of "God-worshippers" increased in number.
Some of them were arrested for destroying idols, and among them
Fung-yun-san, who, however, on his way to prison, converted the policemen
by his side. These new converts set him at liberty and went away with him
as his disciples. Various striking phenomena occurred in this society. Men
fell into a state of ecstasy and delivered exhortations. Sick persons were
cured by the power of prayer. The teachings of these ecstatics were tested
by Scripture; if found to agree therewith, they were accepted; if not,

It was in October, 1850, that this religious movement assumed a political
form. A large body of persons, in a state of chronic rebellion against the
Chinese authorities, had fled into the district, and joined the
"God-worshippers." Pursued by the imperial soldiers, they were protected
against them. Hence war began. The leaders of the religious movement found
themselves compelled to choose between submission and resistance. They
resisted, and the great insurrection began. But in China an insurrection
against the dynasty is in the natural order of things. Indeed, it may be
said to be a part of the constitution. By the Sacred Books, taught in all
the schools and made a part of the examination papers, it is the duty of
the people to overthrow any bad government. The Chinese have no power to
legislate, do not tax themselves, and the government is a pure autocracy.
But it is not a despotism; for old usages make a constitution, which the
government must respect or be overthrown. "The right to rebel," says Mr.
Meadows, "is in China a chief element of national stability." The
Tae-ping (or Universal-Peace) Insurrection has shown its religious
character throughout. It has not been cruel, except in retaliation. At the
taking of Nan-king orders were given to put all the women together and
protect them, and any one doing them an injury was punished with death.
Before the attack on Nan-king a large body of the insurgents knelt down
and prayed, and then rose and fought, like the soldiers of Cromwell. The
aid of a large body of rebels was refused, because they did not renounce
idolatry, and continued to allow the use of opium. Hymns of praise to the
Heavenly Father and Elder Brother were chanted in the camp. And the head
of the insurrection distinctly announced that, in case it succeeded, the
Bible would be substituted in all public examinations for office in the
place of Confucius. This would cause the Bible to be at once studied by
all candidates for office among three hundred and sixty millions of
people. It would constitute the greatest event in the history of
Christianity since the days of Constantino, or at least since the
conversion of the Teutonic races. The rebellion has probably failed; but
great results must follow this immense interest in Christianity in the
heart of China,--an interest awakened by no Christian mission, whether
Catholic or Protestant, but coming down into this great nation like the
rain from heaven.

In the "History of the Ti-Ping Revolution" (published in London in 1866),
written by an Englishman who held a command among the Ti-Piugs, there is
given a full, interesting, and apparently candid account of the religious
and moral character of this great movement, from which I take the
following particulars:--

"I have probably," says this writer,[24] "had a much greater experience
of the Ti-Ping religious practices than any other European, and as a
Protestant Christian I have never yet found occasion to condemn their form
of worship. The most important part of their faith is the Holy Bible,--Old
and New Testaments, entire. These have been printed and circulated
gratuitously by the government through the whole population of the Ti-Ping
jurisdiction." Abstracts of the Bible, put into verse, were circulated and
committed to memory. Their form of worship was assimilated to
Protestantism. The Sabbath was kept religiously on the seventh day. Three
cups of tea were put on the altar on that day as an offering to the
Trinity. They celebrated the communion once a month by partaking of a cup
of grape wine. Every one admitted to their fellowship was baptized, after
an examination and confession of sins. The following was the form
prescribed in the "Book of Religious Precepts of the Ti-Ping

_Forms to be observed when Men wish to forsake their Sins_--"They must
kneel down in God's presence, and ask him to forgive their sins. They may
then take either a basin of water and wash themselves, or go to the river
and bathe themselves; after which they must continue daily to supplicate
Divine favor, and the Holy Spirit's assistance to renew their hearts,
saying grace at every meal, keeping holy the Sabbath day, and obeying all
God's commandments, especially avoiding idolatry. They may then be
accounted the children of God, and their souls will go to Heaven when they

The prayer offered by the recipient of Baptism was as follows:--

"I (A. B.), kneeling down with a true heart, repent of my sins, and pray
the Heavenly Father, the great God, of his abundant mercy, to forgive my
former sins of ignorance in repeatedly breaking the Divine commands,
earnestly beseeching him also to grant me repentance and newness of life,
that my soul may go to Heaven, while I henceforth truly forsake my former
ways, abandoning idolatry and all corrupt practices, in obedience to
God's commands. I also pray that God would give me his Holy Spirit to
change my wicked heart, deliver me from all temptation, and grant me his
favor and protection, bestowing on me food and raiment, and exemption from
calamity, peace in this world and glory in the next, through the mercies
of our Saviour and Elder Brother, Jesus, who redeemed us from sin."

In every household throughout the Ti-Ping territory the following
translation of the Lord's Prayer was hung up for the use of the children,
printed in large black characters on a white board:--

"Supreme Lord, our Heavenly Father, forgive all our sins that we have
committed in ignorance, rebelling against thee. Bless us, brethren and
sisters, thy little children. Give us our daily food and raiment; keep
from us all calamities and afflictions; that in this world we may have
peace and finally ascend to heaven to enjoy everlasting happiness. We pray
thee to bless our brethren and sisters of all nations. We ask these things
for the redeeming merits of our Lord and Saviour, our heavenly brother,
Jesus. We also pray, Heavenly Father, that thy will may be done on earth
as in heaven: for thine are all the kingdoms, glory, and power. Amen."

The writer says he has frequently watched the Ti-Ping women teaching the
children this prayer; "and often, on entering a house, the children ran up
to me, and pulling me toward the board, began to read the prayer."

The seventh day was kept very strictly. As soon as midnight sounded on
Friday, all the people throughout; Ti-Pingdom were summoned to worship.
Two other services were held during the day. Each opened with a doxology
to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Then was sung this hymn:--

    "The true doctrine is different from the doctrine of this world;
    It saves men's souls and gives eternal bliss.
    The wise receive it instantly with joy;
    The foolish, wakened by it, find the way to Heaven.
    Our Heavenly Father, of his great mercy,
    Did not spare his own Son, but sent him down
    To give his life to redeem sinners.
    When men know this, and repent, they may go to Heaven."

The rest of the services consisted in a chapter of the Bible read by the
minister; a creed, repeated by the congregation standing; a prayer, read
by the minister and repeated by the whole congregation kneeling. Then the
prayer was burned, the minister read a sermon, an anthem was chanted to
the long life of the king; then followed the Ten Commandments, music, and
the burning of incense and fire-crackers. No business was allowed on the
Sabbath, and the shops were closed. There was a clergy, chosen by
competitive examination, subject to the approval of the Tien-Wong, or
supreme religious head of the movement. There was a minister placed over
every twenty-five families, and a church, or Heavenly Hall, assigned to
him in some public building. Over every twenty, five parishes there was a
superior, who visited them in turn every Sabbath. Once every month the
whole people were addressed by the chief Wong.

The writer of this work describes his attendance on morning prayers at
Nan-king, in the Heavenly Hall of the Chung-Wang's household. This took
place at sunrise every morning, the men and women sitting on opposite
sides of the hall. "Oftentimes," says he, "while kneeling in the midst of
an apparently devout congregation, and gazing on the upturned countenances
lightened by the early morning sun, have I wondered why no British
missionary occupied my place, and why Europeans generally preferred
slaughtering the Ti-Pings to accepting them as brothers in Christ. When I
look back," he adds, "on the unchangeable and universal kindness I always
met with among the Ti-Pings, even when their dearest relatives were being
slaughtered by my countrymen, or delivered over to the Manchoos to be
tortured to death, their magnanimous forbearance seems like a dream. Their
kind and friendly feelings were often annoying. To those who have
experienced the ordinary dislike of foreigners by the Chinese, the
surprising friendliness of the Ti-Pings was most remarkable." They
welcomed Europeans as "brethren from across the sea," and claimed them as
fellow-worshippers of "Yesu."

Though the Ti-Pings did not at once lay aside all heathen customs, and
could not be expected to do so, they took some remarkable steps in the
right direction. Their women were in a much higher position than among the
other Chinese; they abolished the custom of cramping their feet; a married
woman had rights, and could not be divorced at will, or sold, as under the
Manchoos. Large institutions were established for unmarried women. Slavery
was totally abolished, and to sell a human being was made a capital
offence. They utterly prohibited the use of opium; and this was probably
their chief offence in the eyes of the English. Prostitution was punished
by death, and was unknown in their cities. Idolatry was also utterly
abolished. Their treatment of the people under them was merciful; they
protected their prisoners, whom the Imperialists always massacred. The
British troops, instead of preserving neutrality, aided the Imperialists
in putting down the insurrection in such ways as this. The British
cruisers _assumed_ that the Ti-Ping junks were pirates, because they
captured Chinese vessels. The British ship Bittern and another steamer
sank every vessel but two in a rebel fleet, and gave up the crew of one
which they captured to be put to death. This is the description of another
transaction of the same kind, in the harbor of Shi-poo: "The junks were
destroyed, and their crews shot, drowned, and hunted down, until about a
thousand were killed; the Bittern's men aiding the Chinese on shore to
complete the wholesale massacre."[26]

It is the deliberate opinion of this well-informed English writer that the
Ti-Ping insurrection would have succeeded but for British intervention;
that the Tartar dynasty would have been expelled, the Chinese regained
their autonomy, and Christianity have been established throughout the
Empire. At the end of his book he gives a table of _forty-three_ battles
and massacres in which the British soldiers and navy took part, in which
about four hundred thousand of the Ti-Pings were killed, and he estimates
that more than two millions more died of starvation in 1863 and 1864, in
the famine occasioned by the operations of the allied English, French, and
Chinese troop's, when the Ti-Pings were driven from their territories. In
view of such facts, well may an English writer say: "It is not once or
twice that the policy of the British government has been ruinous to the
best interests of the world. Disregard of international law and of treaty
law in Europe, deeds of piracy and spoliation in Asia, one vast system of
wrong and violence, have everywhere for years marked the dealings of the
British government with the weaker races of the globe."[27]

Other Englishmen, beside "Lin-Le" and Mr. Meadows, give the same testimony
to the Christian character of this great movement in China. Captain
Fishbourne, describing his visit in H.M.S. Hermes to Nan-king, says: "It
was obvious to the commonest observer that they were practically a
different race." They had the Scriptures, many seemed to him to be
practical Christians, serious and religious, believing in a special
Providence, thinking that their trials were sent to purify them. "They
accuse us of magic," said one. "The only magic we employ is prayer to
God." The man who said this, says Captain Fishbourne, "was a little
shrivelled-up person, but he uttered words of courageous confidence in
God, and could utter the words of a hero. He and others like him have
impressed the minds of their followers with their own courage and

The English Bishop of Victoria has constantly given the same testimony. Of
one of the Ti-Ping books Dr. Medhurst says: "There is not a word in it
which a Christian missionary might not adopt and circulate as a tract for
the benefit of the Chinese."

Dr. Medhurst also describes a scene which took place in Shanghae, where he
was preaching in the chapel of the London Missionary Society, on the folly
of idolatry and the duty of worshipping the one true God. A man arose in
the middle of the congregation and said: "That is true! that is true! the
idols must perish. I am a Ti-Ping; we all worship one God and believe in
Jesus, and we everywhere destroy the idols. Two years ago when we began we
were only three thousand; now we have marched across the Empire, because
God was on our side." He then exhorted the people to abandon idolatry and
to believe in Jesus, and said: "We are happy in our religion, and look on
the day of our death as the happiest moment of life. When any of our
number dies, we do not weep, but congratulate each other because he has
gone to the joy of the heavenly world."

The mission of Mr. Burlingame indicated a sincere desire on the part of
the sagacious men who then governed China, especially of Prince Kung, to
enter into relations with modern civilization and modern thought. From the
official papers of this mission,[28] it appears that Mr. Burlingame was
authorized "to transact all business with the Treaty Powers in which those
countries and China had a common interest," (communication of Prince Kung,
December 31, 1867). The Chinese government expressly states that this step
is intended as adopting the customs of diplomatic intercourse peculiar to
the West, and that in so doing the Chinese Empire means to conform to the
law of nations, as understood among the European states. It therefore
adopted "Wheaton's International Law" as the text-book and authority to be
used in its Foreign Office, and had it carefully translated into Chinese
for the use of its mandarins. This movement was the result, says Mr.
Burlingame, of the "co-operative policy" adopted by the representatives in
China of the Treaty Powers, in which they agreed to act together on all
important questions, to take no cession of territory, and never to menace
the autonomy of the Empire. They agreed "to leave her perfectly free to
develop herself according to her own form of civilization, not to
interfere with her interior affairs, to make her waters neutral, and her
land safe" (Burlingame's speech at San Francisco). There is no doubt that
if the states known as the "Treaty Powers," namely, the United States,
Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Holland, Italy, North Germany,
Russia, Spain, and Sweden, will loyally abstain from aggression and
interference in China and respect her independence, that this great
Empire will step forth from her seclusion of fifty centuries, and enter
the commonwealth of nations.

The treaty between the United States and China of July 28, 1868, includes
provisions for the neutrality of the Chinese waters; for freedom of
worship for United States citizens in China, and for the Chinese in the
United States; for allowing voluntary emigration, and prohibiting the
compulsory coolie trade; for freedom to travel in China and the United
States by the citizens of either country; and for freedom to establish and
attend schools in both countries.

We add to this chapter a Note, containing an interesting account, from
Hue's "Christianity in China," of an inscribed stone, proving that
Christian churches existed in China in the seventh century. These churches
were the result of the efforts of Nestorian missionaries, who were the
Protestant Christians of their age. Their success in China is another
proof that the Christianity which is to be welcomed there must be
presented in an intelligible and rational form.

       *       *       *       *       *


   The Nestorian Inscription in China.[29]

   In 1625 some Chinese workmen, engaged in digging a foundation for a
   house, outside the walls of the city of Si-ngau-Fou, the capital of the
   province of Chen-si, found buried in the earth a large monumental stone
   resembling those which the Chinese are in the habit of raising to
   preserve to posterity the remembrance of remarkable events and
   illustrious men. It was a dark-colored marble tablet, ten feet high and
   five broad, and bearing on one side an inscription in ancient Chinese,
   and also some other characters quite unknown in China.

       *       *       *       *       *

   Several exact tracings from the stone were sent to Europe by the
   Jesuits who saw it. The library of their house at Rome had one of the
   first, and it attracted numerous visitors; subsequently, another
   authentic copy of the dimensions of the tablet was sent to Paris, and
   deposited at the library in the Rue Richelieu, where it may still be
   seen in the gallery of manuscripts.

   This monument, discovered by chance amidst rubbish in the environs of
   an ancient capital of the Chinese Empire, excited a great sensation;
   for on examining the stone, and endeavoring to interpret the
   inscription, it was with surprise discovered that the Christian
   religion had had numerous apostles in China at the beginning of the
   seventh century, and that it had for a long time flourished there. The
   strange characters proved to be those called _estrangélhos_, which were
   in use among the ancient inhabitants of Syria, and will be found in
   some Syriac manuscripts of earlier date than the eighth century.

       *       *       *       *       *

   _Monument of the great Propagation of the Luminous Doctrine in the
   Central Empire, composed by Khing-Tsing, a devout Man of the Temple of

   1. There has always been only one true Cause, essentially the first,
   and without beginning, supremely intelligent and immaterial;
   essentially the last, and uniting all perfections. He placed the poles
   of the heavens and created all beings; marvellously holy, he is the
   source of all perfection. This admirable being, is he not the _Triune_,
   the true Lord without beginning, _Oloho_?

   He divided the world by a cross into four parts. After having
   decomposed the primordial air, he gave birth to the two elements.

   Chaos was transformed, and then the sun and the moon appeared. He made
   the sun and the moon move to produce day and night. He elaborated and
   perfected the ten thousand things; but in creating the first man, he
   endowed him with perfect interior harmony. He enjoined him to watch
   over the sea of his desires. His nature was without vice and without
   error; his heart, pure and simple, was originally without disorderly

   2. But Sa-Thang propagated lies, and stained by his malice that which
   had been pure and holy. He proclaimed, as a truth, the equality of
   greatness, and upset all ideas. This is why three hundred and
   sixty-five sects, lending each other a mutual support, formed a long
   chain, and wove, so to speak, a net of law. Some put the creature in
   the place of the Eternal, others denied the existence of beings, and
   destroyed the two principles. Others instituted prayers and sacrifices
   to obtain good fortune; others proclaimed their own sanctity to deceive
   mankind. The minds of men labored, and were filled with anxiety;
   aspirations after the supreme good were trampled down; thus perpetually
   floating about they attained to nothing, and all went from bad to
   worse. The darkness thickened, men lost their sight, and for a long
   time they wandered without being able to find it again.

   3. Then our Triune God communicated his substance to the very venerable
   Mi-chi-ho (Messiah), who, veiling his true majesty, appeared in the
   world in the likeness of a man. The celestial spirits manifested their
   joy, and a virgin brought forth the saint in Ta-Thsin. The most
   splendid constellations announced this happy event; the Persians saw
   the splendor, and ran to pay tribute. He fulfilled what was said of old
   by the twenty-four saints; he organized, by his precepts, both families
   and kingdoms; he instituted the new religion according to the true
   notion of the Trinity in Unity; he regulated conscience by the true
   faith; he signified to the world the eight commandments, and purged
   humanity from its pollutions by opening the door to the three virtues.
   He diffused life and extinguished death; he suspended the luminous sun
   to destroy the dwelling of darkness, and then the lies of demons passed
   away. He directed the bark of mercy towards the palace of light, and
   all creatures endowed with intelligence have been succored. After
   having consummated this act of power, he rose at midday towards the
   Truth. Twenty-seven books have been left. He has enlarged the springs
   of mercy, that men might be converted. The baptism by water and by the
   Spirit is a law that purifies the soul and beautifies the exterior. The
   sign of the cross unites the four quarters of the world, and restores
   the harmony that had been destroyed. By striking upon a piece of wood,
   we make the voice of charity and mercy resound; by sacrificing towards
   the east we indicate the way of life and glory.

   Our ministers allow their beards to grow, to show that they are devoted
   to their neighbors. The tonsure that they wear at the top of their
   heads indicates that they have renounced worldly desires. In giving
   liberty to slaves we become a link between the powerful and weak. We do
   not accumulate riches, and we share with the poor that which we
   possess. Fasting strengthens the intellectual powers, abstinence and
   moderation preserve health. We worship seven times a day, and by our
   prayers we aid the living and the dead. On the seventh day we offer
   sacrifice, after having purified our hearts and received absolution for
   our sins. This religion, so perfect and so excellent, is difficult to
   name, but it enlightens darkness by its brilliant precepts. It is
   called the Luminous Religion.

   5. Learning alone without sanctity has no grandeur, sanctity without
   learning makes no progress. When learning and sanctity proceed
   harmoniously, the universe is adorned and resplendent.

   The Emperor Tai-Tsoung illustrated the Empire. He opened the
   revolution, and governed men in holiness. In his time there was a man
   of high virtue named Olopen, who came from the kingdom of Ta-Thsin.
   Directed by the blue clouds, he bore the Scriptures of the true
   doctrine; he observed the rules of the winds, and traversed difficult
   and perilous countries

   In the ninth year of Tching-Kouan (636) he arrived at Tehang-ngan. The
   Emperor ordered Fang-hi-wen-Ling, first minister of the Empire, to go
   with a great train of attendants to the western suburb, to meet the
   stranger and bring him to the palace. He had the Holy Scriptures
   translated in the Imperial library. The court listened to the doctrine,
   meditated on it profoundly, and understood the great unity of truth. A
   special edict was promulgated for its publication and diffusion.

   In the twelfth year of Tching-Kouan, in the seventh moon, during the
   autumn, the new edict was promulgated in these terms:--

   The doctrine has no fixed name, the holy has no determinate substance;
   it institutes religions suitable to various countries, and carries men
   in crowds in its tracks. Olopen, a man of Ta-Thsin, and of a lofty
   virtue, bearing Scriptures and images, has come to offer them in the
   Supreme Court. After a minute examination of the spirit of this
   religion, it has been found to be excellent, mysterious, and pacific.
   The contemplation of its radical principle gives birth to perfection
   and fixes the will. It is exempt from verbosity; it considers only good
   results. It is useful to men, and consequently ought to be published
   under the whole extent of the heavens. I, therefore, command the
   magistrates to have a Ta-Thsin temple constructed in the quarter named
   T-ning of the Imperial city, and twenty-one religious men shall be
   installed therein.

       *       *       *       *       *

   10. Sou-Tsoung, the illustrious and brilliant emperor, erected at
   Ling-on and other towns, five in all, _luminous_ temples. The primitive
   good was thus strengthened, and felicity flourished. Joyous solemnities
   were inaugurated, and the Empire entered on a wide course of

   11. Tai-Tsoung (764), a lettered and a warlike emperor, propagated the
   holy revolution. He sought for peace and tranquillity. Every year, at
   the hour of the Nativity (Christmas), he burnt celestial perfumes in
   remembrance of the divine benefit; he prepared imperial feasts, to
   honor the _luminous_ (Christian) multitude.

       *       *       *       *       *

   21. This stone was raised in the second year of Kien-Tchoung of the
   great dynasty of Thang (A.D. 781), on the seventh day of the moon of
   the great increase. At this time the devout Ning-Chou, lord of the
   doctrine, governed the luminous multitude in the Eastern country.

   Such is the translation of the famous inscription found at Si-ngau-Fou,
   in 1625. On the left of the monument are to be read the following words
   in the Syriac language: "In the days of the Father of Fathers,
   Anan-Yeschouah, Patriarch _Catholicos_." To the right can be traced,
   "Adam, Priest, and Chor-Episcopus"; and at the base of the inscription:
   "In the year of the Greeks one thousand nine hundred and two (A.D.
   781), Mar Yezd-bouzid, Priest and Chor-Episcopus of the Imperial city
   of Komdam, son of Millesins, priest of happy memory, of Balkh, a town
   of Tokharistan (Turkistan), raised this tablet of stone, on which are
   described the benefits of our Saviour, and the preaching of our fathers
   in the kingdom of the Chinese. Adam, Deacon, son of Yezd-bouzid,
   Chor-Episcopus; Sabar-Jesu, Priest; Gabriel, Priest, Archdeacon, and
   Ecclesiarch of Komdam and Sarage."

       *       *       *       *       *

   The abridgment of Christian doctrine given in the Syro-Chinese
   inscription of Si-ngau-Fou shows us, also, that the propagators of the
   faith in Upper Asia in the seventh century professed the Nestorian

   Through the vague and obscure verbiage which characterizes the Chinese
   style, we recognize the mode in which that heresiarch admitted the
   union of the Word with man, by indwelling plenitude of grace superior
   to that of all the saints. One of the persons of the Trinity
   communicated himself to the very illustrious and venerable Messiah,
   "veiling his majesty." That is certainly the doctrine of Nestorius;
   upon that point the authority of the critics is unanimous.

   History, as we have elsewhere remarked, records the rapid progress of
   the Nestorian sects in the interior of Asia, and their being able to
   hold their ground, even under the sway of the Mussulmans, by means of
   compromises and concessions of every kind.

   Setting out from the banks of the Tigris or the Euphrates, these ardent
   and courageous propagators of the Gospel probably proceeded to
   Khorassan, and then crossing the Oxus, directed their course toward the
   Lake of Lop, and entered the Chinese Empire by the province of Chen-si.
   Olopen, and his successors in the Christian mission, whether Syrians or
   Persians by birth, certainly belonged to the Nestorian church.

   Voltaire, who did not like to trouble himself with scientific
   arguments, and who was much stronger in sarcasm than in erudition,
   roundly accuses the missionaries of having fabricated the inscription
   on the monument of Si-ngau-Fou, from motives of "pious fraud." "As if,"
   says Remusat, "such a fabrication could have been practicable in the
   midst of a distrustful and suspicious nation, in a country in which
   magistrates and private people are equally ill-disposed towards
   foreigners, and especially missionaries, where all eyes are open to
   their most trivial proceedings, and where the authorities watch with
   the most jealous care over everything relating to the historical
   traditions and monuments of antiquity. It would be very difficult to
   explain how the missionaries could have been bold enough to have
   printed and published in China, and in Chinese, an inscription that had
   never existed, and how they could have imitated the Chinese style,
   counterfeited the manner of the writers of the dynasty of Thang,
   alluded to customs little known, to local circumstances, to dates
   calculated from the mysterious figures of Chinese astrology, and the
   whole without betraying themselves for a moment; and with such
   perfection as to impose on the most skilful men of letters, induced, of
   course, by the singularity of the discovery to dispute its
   authenticity. It could only have been done by one of the most erudite
   of Chinese scholars, joining with the missionaries to impose on his own

   "Even that would not be all, for the borders of the inscription are
   covered with Syrian names in fine _estranghélo_ characters. The forgers
   must, then, have been not only acquainted with these characters, but
   have been able to get engraved with perfect exactness ninety lines of
   them, and in the ancient writing, known at present to very few."

   "This argument of Remusat's," says another learned Orientalist, M.
   Felix Neve, "is of irresistible force, and we have formerly heard a
   similar one maintained with the greatest confidence by M. Quatremère,
   of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres, and we allow
   ourselves to quote the opinion of so highly qualified a judge upon this
   point. Before the last century it would have been absolutely impossible
   to forge in Europe a series of names and titles belonging to a
   Christian nation of Western Asia; it is only since the fruits of
   Assemam's labors have been made public by his family at Rome, that
   there existed a sufficient knowledge of the Syriac for such a purpose;
   and it is only by the publication of the manuscripts of the Vatican,
   that the extent to which Nestorianism spread in the centre of Asia, and
   the influence of its hierarchy in the Persian provinces could have been
   estimated. There is no reason to suppose that missionaries who left
   Europe in the very beginning of the seventeenth century could have
   acquired a knowledge which could only be obtained from reading the
   originals and not vague accounts of them."

   The sagacity of M. Saint Martin, who was for a long time the colleague
   of M. Quatremère, has pointed out in a note worthy of his erudition,
   another special proof, which is by no means to be neglected.

   "Amongst the various arguments," he says, "that might be urged in favor
   of the legitimacy of the monument, but of which, as yet, no use has
   been made, must not be forgotten the name of the priest by whom it is
   said to have been erected. The name _Yezd-bouzid_ is Persian, and at
   the epoch when the monument was discovered it would have been
   impossible to invent it, as there existed no work where it could have
   been found. Indeed, I do not think that, even since then, there has
   ever been any one published in which it could have been met with.

   "It is a very celebrated name among the Armenians, and comes to them
   from a martyr, a Persian by birth, and of the royal race, who perished
   towards the middle of the seventh century, and rendered his name
   illustrious amongst the Christian nations of the East." Saint Martin
   adds in the same place, that the famous monument of Si-ngau-Fou, whose
   authenticity has for a long time been called in question from the
   hatred entertained against the Jesuit missionaries who discovered it,
   rather than from a candid examination of its contents, is now regarded
   as above all suspicion.

Chapter III.


  § 1. Our Knowledge of Brahmanism. Sir William Jones.
  § 2. Difficulty of this Study. The Complexity of the System. The Hindoos
         have no History. Their Ultra-Spiritualism.
  § 3. Helps from Comparative Philology. The Aryans in Central Asia.
  § 4. The Aryans in India. The Native Races. The Vedic Age. Theology of
         the Vedas.
  § 5. Second Period. Laws of Manu. The Brahmanic Age.
  § 6. The Three Hindoo Systems of Philosophy,--the Sánkhya, Vedanta, and
  § 7. Origin of the Hindoo Triad.
  § 8. The Epics, the Puranas, and Modern Hindoo Worship.
  § 9. Relation of Brahmanism to Christianity.

§ 1. Our Knowledge of Brahmanism. Sir William Jones.

It is more than forty years since the writer, then a boy, was one day
searching among the heavy works of a learned library in the country to
find some entertaining reading for a summer afternoon. It was a library
rich in theology, in Greek and Latin classics, in French and Spanish
literature, but contained little to amuse a child. Led by some happy
fortune, in turning over a pile of the "Monthly Anthology" his eye was
attracted by the title of a play, "Sácontala,[30] or the Fatal Ring; an
Indian Drama, translated from the original Sanskrit and Pracrit. Calcutta,
1789," and reprinted in the Anthology in successive numbers. Gathering
them together, the boy took them into a great chestnut-tree, amid the
limbs of which he had constructed a study, and there, in the warm,
fragrant shade, read hour after hour this bewitching story. The tale was
suited to the day and the scene,--filled with images of tender girls and
religious sages, who lived amid a tropical abundance of flowers and
fruits; so blending the beauty of nature with the charm of love. Nature
becomes in it alive, and is interpenetrated with human sentiments.
Sákuntalá loves the flowers as sisters; the Késara-tree beckons to her
with its waving blossoms, and clings to her in affection as she bends over
it. The jasmine, the wife of the mango-tree, embraces her lord, who leans
down to protect his blooming bride, "the moonlight of the grove." The holy
hermits defend the timid fawn from the hunters, and the birds, grown tame
in their peaceful solitudes, look tranquilly on the intruder. The demons
occasionally disturb the sacrificial rites, but, like well-educated
demons, retire at once, as soon as the protecting Raja enters the sacred
grove. All breathes of love, gentle and generous sentiment, and quiet joys
in the bosom of a luxuriant and beautiful summer land. Thus, in this poem,
written a hundred years before Christ, we find that romantic view of
nature, unknown to the Greeks and Romans, and first appearing in our own
time in such writers as Rousseau, Goethe, and Byron.

He who translated this poem into a European language, and communicated it
to modern readers, was Sir William Jones, one of the few first-class
scholars whom the world has produced. In him was joined a marvellous gift
of language with a love for truth and beauty, which detected by an
infallible instinct what was worth knowing, in the mighty maze of Oriental
literature. He had also the rare good fortune of being the first to
discover this domain of literature in Asia, unknown to the West till he
came to reveal it. The vast realm of Hindoo, Chinese, and Persian genius
was as much a new continent to Europe, when discovered by Sir William
Jones, as America was when made known by Columbus. Its riches had been
accumulating during thousands of years, waiting till the fortunate man
should arrive, destined to reveal to our age the barbaric pearl and gold
of the gorgeous East,--the true wealth of Ormus and of Ind.

Sir William Jones came well equipped for his task. Some men are born
philologians, loving _words_ for their own sake,--men to whom the devious
paths of language are open highways; who, as Lord Bacon says, "have come
forth from the second general curse, which was the confusion of tongues,
by the art of grammar." Sir William Jones was one of these, perhaps the
greatest of them. A paper in his own handwriting tells us that he knew
critically eight languages,--English, Latin, French, Italian, Greek,
Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit; less perfectly eight others,--Spanish,
Portuguese, German, Runic, Hebrew, Bengali, Hindi, Turkish; and was
moderately familiar with twelve more,--Tibetian, Pâli, Phalavi, Deri,
Russian, Syriac, Ethiopic, Coptic, Welsh, Swedish, Dutch, and Chinese.
There have been, perhaps, other scholars who have known as many tongues as
this. But usually they are crushed by their own accumulations, and we
never hear of their accomplishing anything. Sir William Jones was not one
of these, "deep versed in books, and shallow in himself." Language was his
instrument, but knowledge his aim. So, when he had mastered Sanskrit and
other Oriental languages, he rendered into English not only Sákuntalá, but
a far more important work, "The Laws of Manu"; "almost the only work in
Sanskrit," says Max Müller, "the early date of which, assigned to it by
Sir William Jones from the first, has not been assailed." He also
translated from the Sanskrit the fables of Hitopadesa, extracts from the
Vedas, and shorter pieces. He formed a society in Calcutta for the study
of Oriental literature, was its first president, and contributed numerous
essays, all valuable, to its periodical, the "Asiatic Researches." He
wrote a grammar of the Persian language, and translated from Persian into
French the history of Nadir Shah. From the Arabic he also translated many
pieces, and among them the Seven Poems suspended in the temple at Mecca,
which, in their subjects and style, seem an Arabic anticipation of Walt
Whitman. He wrote in Latin a Book of Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry, in
English several works on the Mohammedan and Civil Law, with a translation
of the Greek Orations of Isæus. As a lawyer, a judge, a student of natural
history, his ardor of study was equally apparent. He presented to the
Royal Society in London a large collection of valuable Oriental
manuscripts, and left a long list of studies in Sanskrit to be pursued by
those who should come after him. His generous nature showed itself in his
opposition to slavery and the slave-trade, and his open sympathy with the
American Revolution. His correspondence was large, including such names as
those of Benjamin Franklin, Sir Joseph Banks, Lord Monboddo, Gibbon,
Warren Hastings, Dr. Price, Edmund Burke, and Dr. Parr. Such a man ought
to be remembered, especially by all who take an interest in the studies to
which he has opened the way, for he was one who had a right to speak of
himself, as he has spoken in these lines:--

    "Before thy mystic altar, heavenly truth,
    I kneel in manhood, as I knelt in youth.
    Thus let me kneel, till this dull form decay,
    And life's last shade be brightened by thy ray,
    Then shall my soul, now lost in clouds below,
    Soar without bound, without consuming glow."

Since the days of Sir William Jones immense progress has been made in the
study of Sanskrit literature, especially within the last thirty or forty
years, from the time when the Schlegels led the way in this department.
Now, professors of Sanskrit are to be found in all the great European
universities, and in this country we have at least one Sanskrit scholar of
the very highest order, Professor William D. Whitney, of Yale. The system
of Brahmanism, which a short time since could only be known to Western
readers by means of the writings of Colebrooke, Wilkins, Wilson, and a few
others, has now been made accessible by the works of Lassen, Max Müller,
Burnouf, Muir, Pictet, Bopp, Weber, Windischmann, Vivien de Saint-Martin,
and a multitude of eminent writers in France, England, and Germany.[31]

§ 2. Difficulty of this Study. The Complexity of the System. The Hindoos
have no History. Their Ultra-Spiritualism.

But, notwithstanding these many helps, Brahmanism remains a difficult
study. Its source is not in a man, but in a caste. It is not the religion
of a Confucius, a Zoroaster, a Mohammed, but the religion of the Brahmans.
We call it Brahmanism, and it can be traced to no individual as its
founder or restorer. There is no personality about it.[32] It is a vast
world of ideas, but wanting the unity which is given by the life of a man,
its embodiment and representative.

But what a system? How large, how difficult to understand! So vast, so
complicated, so full of contradictions, so various and changeable, that
its very immensity is our refuge! We say, It is impossible to do justice
to such a system; therefore do not demand it of us.

India has been a land of mystery from the earliest times. From the most
ancient days we hear of India as the most populous nation of the world,
full of barbaric wealth and a strange wisdom. It has attracted conquerors,
and has been overrun by the armies of Semiramis, Darius, Alexander; by
Mahmud, and Tamerlane, and Nadir Shah; by Lord Clive and the Duke of
Wellington. These conquerors, from the Assyrian Queen to the British
Mercantile Company, have overrun and plundered India, but have left it the
same unintelligible, unchangeable, and marvellous country as before. It is
the same land now which the soldiers of Alexander described,--the land of
grotto temples dug out of solid porphyry; of one of the most ancient Pagan
religions of the world; of social distinctions fixed and permanent as the
earth itself; of the sacred Ganges; of the idols of Juggernaut, with its
bloody worship; the land of elephants and tigers; of fields of rice and
groves of palm; of treasuries filled with chests of gold, heaps of pearls,
diamonds, and incense. But, above all, it is the land of unintelligible
systems of belief, of puzzling incongruities, and irreconcilable

The Hindoos have sacred books of great antiquity, and a rich literature
extending back twenty or thirty centuries; yet no history, no chronology,
no annals. They have a philosophy as acute, profound and, spiritual as any
in the world, which is yet harmoniously associated with the coarsest
superstitions. With a belief so abstract that it almost escapes the grasp
of the most speculative intellect, is joined the notion that sin can be
atoned for by bathing in the Ganges or repeating a text of the Veda. With
an ideal pantheism resembling that of Hegel, is united the opinion that
Brahma and Siva can be driven from the throne of the universe by any one
who will sacrifice a sufficient number of wild horses. To abstract one's
self from matter, to renounce all the gratification of the senses, to
macerate the body, is thought the true road to felicity; and nowhere in
the world are luxury, licentiousness and the gratification of the
appetites carried so far. Every civil right and privilege of ruler and
subject is fixed in a code of laws, and a body of jurisprudence older far
than the Christian era, and the object of universal reverence; but the
application of these laws rests (says Rhode) on the arbitrary decisions of
the priests, and their execution on the will of the sovereign. The
constitution of India is therefore like a house without a foundation and
without a roof. It is a principle of Hindoo religion not to kill a worm,
not even to tread on a blade of grass, for fear of injuring life; but the
torments, cruelties, and bloodshed inflicted by Indian tyrants would shock
a Nero or a Borgia. Half the best informed writers on India will tell you
that the Brahmanical religion is pure monotheism; the other half as
confidently assert that they worship a million gods. Some teach us that
the Hindoos are spiritualists and pantheists; others that their idolatry
is more gross than that of any living people.

Is there any way of reconciling these inconsistencies? If we cannot find
such an explanation, there is at least one central point where we may
place ourselves; one elevated position, from which this mighty maze will
not seem wholly without a plan. In India the whole tendency of thought is
ideal, the whole religion a pure spiritualism. An ultra, one-sided
idealism is the central tendency of the Hindoo mind. The God of Brahmanism
is an intelligence, absorbed in the rest of profound contemplation. The
good man of this religion is he who withdraws from an evil world into
abstract thought.

Nothing else explains the Hindoo character as this does. An eminently
religious people, it is their one-sided spiritualism, their extreme
idealism, which gives rise to all their incongruities. They have no
history and no authentic chronology, for history belongs to this world,
and chronology belongs to time. But this world and time are to them wholly
uninteresting; God and eternity are all in all. They torture themselves
with self-inflicted torments; for the body is the great enemy of the
soul's salvation, and they must beat it down by ascetic mortifications.
But asceticism, here as everywhere else, tends to self-indulgence, since
one extreme produces another. In one part of India, therefore, devotees
are swinging on hooks in honor of Siva, hanging themselves by the feet,
head downwards, over a fire, rolling on a bed of prickly thorns, jumping
on a couch filled with sharp knives, boring holes in their tongues, and
sticking their bodies full of pins and needles, or perhaps holding the
arms over the head till they stiffen in that position. Meantime in other
places whole regions are given over to sensual indulgences, and companies
of abandoned women are connected with different temples and consecrate
their gains to the support of their worship.

As one-sided spiritualism will manifest itself in morals in the two forms
of austerity and sensuality, so in religion it shows itself in the
opposite direction of an ideal pantheism and a gross idolatry.
Spiritualism first fills the world full of God, and this is a true and
Christian view of things. But it takes another step, which is to deny all
real existence to the world, and so runs into a false pantheism. It first
says, truly, "There is nothing _without_ God." It next says, falsely,
"There is nothing _but_ God." This second step was taken in India by means
of the doctrine of _Maya_, or _Illusion. Maya_ means the delusive shows
which spirit assumes. For there is nothing but spirit; which neither
creates nor is created, neither acts nor suffers, which cannot change, and
into which all souls are absorbed when they free themselves by meditation
from the belief that they suffer or are happy, that they can experience
either pleasure or pain. The next step is to polytheism. For if God
neither creates nor destroys, but only seems to create and destroy, these
_appearances_ are not united together as being the acts of one Being, but
are separate, independent phenomena. When you remove personality from the
conception of God, as you do in removing will, you remove unity. Now if
creation be an illusion, and there be no creation, still the _appearance_
of creation is a fact. But as there is no substance but spirit, this
_appearance_ must have its cause in spirit, that is, is a _divine_
appearance, is God. So destruction, in the same way, is an appearance of
God, and reproduction is an appearance of God, and every other appearance
in nature is a manifestation of God. But the unity of will and person
being taken away, we have not one God, but a multitude of gods,--or

Having begun this career of thought, no course was possible for the human
mind to pursue but this. An ultra spiritualism must become pantheism, and
pantheism must go on to polytheism. In India this is not a theory, but a
history. We find, side by side, a spiritualism which denies the existence
of anything but motionless spirit or Brahm, and a polytheism which
believes and worships Brahma the Creator, Siva the Destroyer, Vischnu the
Preserver, Indra the God of the Heavens, the Sactis or energies of the
gods, Krishna the Hindoo Apollo, Doorga, and a host of others, innumerable
as the changes and appearances of things.

But such a system as this must necessarily lead also to idolatry. There is
in the human mind a tendency to worship, and men must worship something.
But they believe in one Being, the absolute Spirit, the supreme and only
God,--Para Brahm; _him_ they cannot worship, for he is literally an
unknown God. He has no qualities; no attributes, no activity. He is
neither the object of hope, fear, love, nor aversion. Since there is
nothing in the universe but spirit and illusive appearances, and they
cannot worship spirit because it is absolutely unknown, they must worship
these appearances, which are at any rate _divine_ appearances, and which
do possess some traits, qualities, character; _are_ objects of hope and
fear. But they cannot worship them as appearances, they must worship them
as persons. But if they have an inward personality or soul, they become
real beings, and also beings independent of Brahm, whose appearances they
are. They must therefore have an outward personality; in other words, a
body, a shape, emblematical and characteristic; that is to say, they
become idols.

Accordingly idol-worship is universal in India. The most horrible and
grotesque images are carved in the stone of the grottos, stand in rude,
block-like statues in the temple, or are coarsely painted on the walls.
Figures of men with heads of elephants or of other animals, or with six or
seven human heads,--sometimes growing in a pyramid, one out of the other,
sometimes with six hands coming from one shoulder,--grisly and uncouth
monsters, like nothing in nature, yet too grotesque for symbols,--such are
the objects of the Hindoo worship.

§ 3. Helps from Comparative Philology. The Aryans in Central Asia.

We have seen how hopeless the task has appeared of getting any definite
light on Hindoo chronology or history. To the ancient Egyptians events
were so important that the most trivial incidents of daily life were
written on stone and the imperishable records of the land, covering the
tombs and obelisks, have patiently waited during long centuries, till
their decipherer should come to read them. To the Hindoos, on the other
hand, all events were equally unimportant. The most unhistoric people on
earth, they cared more for the minutiæ of grammar, or the subtilties of
metaphysics, than for the whole of their past. The only date which has
emerged from this vague antiquity is that of Chandragupta, a contemporary
of Alexander, and called by the Greek historians Sandracottus. He became
king B.C. 315, and as, at his accession, Buddha had been dead (by Hindoo
statement) one hundred and sixty-two years, Buddha may have died B.C. 477.
We can thus import a single date from Greek history into that of India.
This is the whole.

But all at once light dawns on us from an unexpected quarter. While we can
learn nothing concerning the history of India from its literature, and
nothing from its inscriptions or carved temples, _language_, comes to our
aid. The fugitive and airy sounds, which seem so fleeting and so
changeable, prove to be more durable monuments than brass or granite. The
study of the Sanskrit language has told us a long story concerning the
origin of the Hindoos. It has rectified the ethnology of Blumenbach, has
taught us who were the ancestors of the nations of Europe, and has given
us the information that one great family, the Indo-European, has done most
of the work of the world. It shows us that this family consists of seven
races,--the Hindoos, the Persians, the^ Greeks, the Romans, who all
emigrated to the south from the original ancestral home; and the Kelts,
the Teutons, and Slavi, who entered Europe on the northern side of the
Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. This has been accomplished by the new
science of Comparative Philology. A comparison of languages has made it
too plain to be questioned, that these seven races were originally one;
that they must have emigrated from a region of Central Asia, at the east
of the Caspian, and northwest of India; that they were originally a
pastoral race, and gradually changed their habits as they descended from
those great plains into the valleys of the Indus and the Euphrates. In
these seven linguistic families the roots of the most common names are the
same; the grammatical constructions are also the same; so that no scholar,
who has attended to the subject, can doubt that the seven languages are
all daughters of one common mother-tongue.

Pursuing the subject still further, it has been found possible to
conjecture with no little confidence what was the condition of family life
in this great race of Central Asia, before its dispersion. The original
stock has received the name Aryan. This designation occurs in Manu (II.
22), who says: "As far as the eastern and western oceans, between the two
mountains, lies the land which the wise have named Ar-ya-vesta, or
_inhabited by honorable men_." The people of Iran receive this same
appellation in the Zend Avesta, with the same meaning of _honorable_.
Herodotus testifies that the Medes were formerly called Ἄριοι (Herod. VII.
61). Strabo mentions that, in the time of Alexander, the whole region
about the Indus was called _Ariana_. In modern times, the word _Iran_ for
Persia and _Erin_ for Ireland are possible reminiscences of the original
family appellation.

The Ayrans, long before the age of the Vedas or the Zend Avesta, were
living as a pastoral people on the great plains east of the Caspian Sea.
What their condition was at that epoch is deduced by the following method:
If it is found that the name of any fact is the same in two or more of the
seven tribal languages of this stock, it is evident that the name was
given to it before they separated. For there is no reason to suppose that
two nations living wide apart would have independently selected the same
word for the same object. For example, since we find that _house_ is in
Sanskrit _Damn_ and _Dam_; in Zend, _Demana_; in Greek, Δόμος; in Latin,
_Domus_; in Irish, _Dahm_; in Slavonic, _Domu_,--from which root comes
also our English word _Domestic_,--we may be pretty sure that the original
Aryans lived in houses. When we learn that _boat_ was in Sanskrit _Nau_ or
_nauka_; in Persian, _Naw, nawah;_ in Greek, Ναῦς; in Latin, _Navis_; in
old Irish, _Noi_ or _nai_; in old German, _Nawa_ or _nawi_; and in Polish
_Nawa_, we cannot doubt that they knew something of what we call in
English _Nau_tical affairs, or Navigation. But as the words designating
masts, sails, yards, &c. differ wholly from each other in all these
linguistic families, it is reasonable to infer that the Aryans, before
their dispersion, went only in boats, with oars, on the rivers of their
land, the Oxus and Jaxartes, and did not sail anywhere on the sea.

Pursuing this method, we see that we can ask almost any question
concerning the condition of the Aryans, and obtain an answer by means of
Comparative Philology.

Were they a pastoral people? The very word _pastoral_ gives us the answer.
For _Pa_ in Sanskrit means to watch, to guard, as men guard cattle,--from
which a whole company of words has come in all the Aryan languages.

The results of this method of inquiry, so far as given by Pictet, are
these. Some 3000 years B.C.,[33] the Aryans, as yet undivided into
Hindoos, Persians, Kelts, Latins, Greeks, Teutons, and Slavi, were living
in Central Asia, in a region of which Bactriana was the centre. Here they
must have remained long enough to have developed their admirable language,
the mother-tongue of those which we know. They were essentially a
pastoral, but not a nomad people, having fixed homes. They had oxen,
horses, sheep, goats, hogs, and domestic fowls. Herds of cows fed in
pastures, each the property of a community, and each with a cluster of
stables in the centre. The daughters[34] of the house were the
dairy-maids; the food was chiefly the products of the dairy and the flesh
of the cattle. The cow was, however, the most important animal, and gave
its name to many plants, and even to the clouds and stars, in which men
saw heavenly herds passing over the firmament above them.

But the Aryans were not an exclusively pastoral people; they certainly had
barley, and perhaps other cereals, before their dispersion. They possessed
the plough, the mill for grinding grain; they had hatchet,[35] hammer,
auger. The Aryans were acquainted with several metals, among which were
gold, silver, copper, tin. They knew how to spin and weave to some extent;
they were acquainted with pottery. How their houses were built we do not
know, but they contained doors, windows, and fireplaces. They had cloaks
or mantles, they boiled and roasted meat, and certainly used soup. They
had lances, swords, the bow and arrow, shields, but not armor. They had
family life, some simple laws, games, the dance, and wind instruments.
They had the decimal numeration, and their year was of three hundred and
sixty days. They worshipped the heaven, earth, sun, fire, water, wind; but
there are also plain traces of an earlier monotheism, from which this
nature-worship proceeded.

§ 4. The Aryans in India. The Native Races. The Vedic Age. Theology of the

So far Comparative Philology takes us, and the next step forward brings us
to the Vedas, the oldest works in the Hindoo literature, but at least one
thousand or fifteen hundred years more recent than the times we have been
describing. The Aryans have separated, and the Hindoos are now in India.
It is eleven centuries before the time of Alexander. They occupy the
region between the Punjaub and the Ganges, and here was accomplished the
transition of the Aryans from warlike shepherds into agriculturists and
builders of cities.[36]

The last hymns of the Vedas were written (says St. Martin) when they
arrived from the Indus at the Ganges, and were building their oldest city,
at the confluence of that river with the Jumna. Their complexion was then
white, and they call the race whom they conquered, and who afterward were
made _Soudras_, or lowest caste, blacks.[37] The chief gods of the Vedic
age were Indra, Varuna, Agni, Savitri, Soma. The first was the god of the
atmosphere; the second, of the Ocean of light, or Heaven; the third, of
Fire;[38] the fourth, of the Sun; and the fifth, of the Moon. Yama was the
god of death. All the powers of nature were personified in turn,--as
earth, food, wine, months, seasons, day, night, and dawn. Among all these
divinities, Indra and Agni were the chief.[39] But behind this incipient
polytheism lurks the original monotheism,--for each of these gods, in
turn, becomes the Supreme Being. The universal Deity seems to become
apparent, first in one form of nature and then in another. Such is the
opinion of Colebrooke, who says that "the ancient Hindoo religion
recognizes but one God, not yet sufficiently discriminating the creature
from the Creator." And Max Müller says: "The hymns celebrate Varuna,
Indra, Agni, &c., and each in turn is called supreme. The whole mythology
is fluent. The powers of nature become moral beings."

Max Müller adds: "It would be easy to find, in the numerous hymns of the
Veda, passages in which almost every single god is represented as supreme
and absolute. Agni is called 'Ruler of the Universe'; Indra is celebrated
as the Strongest god, and in one hymn it is said, 'Indra is stronger than
all.' It is said of Soma that 'he conquers every one.'"

But clearer traces of monotheism are to be found in the Vedas. In one hymn
of the Rig-Veda it is said: "They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni;
then he is the well-winged heavenly Garutmat; that which is One, the wise
call it many ways; they call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan."

Nothing, however, will give us so good an idea of the character of these
Vedic hymns as the hymns themselves. I therefore select a few of the most
striking of those which have been translated by Colebrooke, Wilson, M.
Müller, E. Bumont, and others.

In the following, from one of the oldest Vedas, the unity of God seems
very clearly expressed.

   RIG-VEDA, X. 121.

   "In the beginning there arose the Source of golden light. He was the
   only born Lord of all that is. He established the earth, and this sky.
   Who is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

   "He who gives life. He who gives strength; whose blessing all the
   bright gods desire; whose shadow is immortality, whose shadow is death.
   Who is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

   "He who through his power is the only king of the breathing and
   awakening world. He who governs all, man and beast. Who is the god to
   whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

   "He whose power these snowy mountains, whose power the sea proclaims,
   with the distant river. He whose these regions are, as it were his two
   arms. Who is the god to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

   "He through whom the sky is bright and the earth firm. He through whom
   heaven was stablished; nay, the highest heaven. He who measured out the
   light in the air. Who is the god to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

   "He to whom heaven and earth, standing firm by his will, look up,
   trembling inwardly. He over whom the rising sun shines forth. Who is
   the god to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

   "Wherever the mighty water-clouds went, where they placed the seed and
   lit the fire, thence arose he who is the only life of the bright gods.
   Who is the god to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

   "He who by his might looked even over the water-clouds, the clouds
   which gave strength and lit the sacrifice; _he who is God above all
   gods_. Who is the god to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

   "May he not destroy us,--he the creator of the earth,--or he, the
   righteous, who created heaven; he who also created the bright and
   mighty waters. Who is the god to whom we shall offer our

The oldest and most striking account of creation is in the eleventh
chapter of the tenth Book of the Rig-Veda. Colebrooke, Max Müller, Muir,
and Goldstucker, all give a translation of this remarkable hymn and speak
of it with admiration. We take that of Colehrooke, modified by that of

   "Then there was no entity nor non-entity; no world, no sky, nor aught
   above it; nothing anywhere, involving or involved; nor water deep and
   dangerous. Death was not, and therefore no immortality, nor distinction
   of day or night. But THAT ONE breathed calmly[41] alone with Nature,
   her who is sustained within him. Other than Him, nothing existed
   [which] since [has been]. Darkness there was; [for] this universe was
   enveloped with darkness, and was indistinguishable waters; but that
   mass, which was covered by the husk, was [at length] produced by the
   power of contemplation. First desire[42] was formed in his mind; and
   that became the original productive seed; which the wise, recognizing
   it by the intellect in their hearts, distinguish as the bond of
   non-entity with entity.

   "Did the luminous ray of these [creative acts] expand in the middle, or
   above, or below? That productive energy became providence [or sentient
   souls], and matter [or the elements]; Nature, who is sustained within,
   was inferior; and he who sustains was above.

   "Who knows exactly, and who shall in this world declare, whence and why
   this creation took place? The gods are subsequent to the production of
   this world: then who can know whence it proceeded, or whence this
   varied world arose, or whether it upholds [itself] or not? He who in
   the highest heaven is the ruler of this universe,--he knows, or does
   not know."

If the following hymn, says Müller, were addressed only to the Almighty,
omitting the word "Varuna," it would not disturb us in a Christian

   1. "Let me not yet, O Varuna, enter into the house of clay; have mercy,
   almighty, have mercy.

   2. "If I go along trembling, like a cloud driven by the wind, have
   mercy, almighty, have mercy!

   3. "Through want of strength, thou strong and bright god, have I gone
   to the wrong shore; have mercy, almighty, have mercy!

   4. "Thirst came upon the worshipper, though he stood in the midst of
   the waters; have mercy, almighty, have mercy!

   5. "Whenever we men, O Varuna, commit an offence before the heavenly
   host; whenever we break thy law through thoughtlessness; have mercy,
   almighty, have mercy!"

Out of a large number of hymns addressed to Indra, Müller selects one that
is ascribed to Vasishtha.

   1. "Let no one, not even those who worship thee, delay thee far from
   us! Even from afar come to our feast! Or, if thou art here, listen to

   2. "For these who here make prayers for thee, sit together near the
   libation, like flies round the honey. The worshippers, anxious for
   wealth, have placed their desire upon Indra, as we put our foot upon a

   3. "Desirous of riches, I call him who holds the thunderbolt with his
   arm, and who is a good giver, like as a son calls his father.

   4. "These libations of Soma, mixed with milk, have been prepared for
   Indra: thou, armed with the thunderbolt, come with the steeds to drink
   of them for thy delight; come to the house!

   5. "May he hear us, for he has ears to hear. He is asked for riches;
   will he despise our prayers? He could soon give hundreds and
   thousands;--no one could check him if he wishes to give."

   13. "Make for the sacred gods a hymn that is not small, that is well
   set and beautiful! Many snares pass by him who abides with Indra
   through his sacrifice.

   14. "What mortal dares to attack him who is rich in thee? Through faith
   in thee, O mighty, the strong acquires spod in the day of battle."

   17. "Thou art well known as the benefactor of every one, whatever
   battles there be. Every one of these kings of the earth implores thy
   name, when wishing for help.

   18. "If I were lord of as much as thou, I should support the sacred
   bard, thou scatterer of wealth, I should not abandon him to misery.

   19. "I should award wealth day by day to him who magnifies; I should
   award it to whosoever it be. We have no other friend but thee, no other
   happiness, no other father, O mighty!"

   22. "We call for thee, O hero, like cows that have not been milked; we
   praise thee as ruler of all that moves, O Indra, as ruler of all that
   is immovable.

   23. "There is no one like thee in heaven and earth; he is not born, and
   will not be born. O mighty Indra, we call upon thee as we go fighting
   for cows and horses."

"In this hymn," says Müller, "Indra is clearly conceived as the Supreme
God, and we can hardly understand how a people who had formed so exalted a
notion of the Deity and embodied it in the person of Indra, could, at the
same sacrifice, invoke other gods with equal praise. When Agni, the lord
of fire, is addressed by the poet, he is spoken of as the first god, not
inferior even to Indra. While Agni is invoked Indra is forgotten; there is
no competition between the two, nor any rivalry between them and other
gods. This is a most important feature in the religion of the Veda, and
has never been taken into consideration by those who have written on the
history of ancient polytheism."[43]

"It is curious," says Müller, "to watch the almost imperceptible
transition by which the phenomena of nature, if reflected in the mind of
the poet, assume the character of divine beings. The dawn is frequently
described in the Veda as it might be described by a modern poet. She is
the friend of men, she smiles like a young wife, she is the daughter of
the sky." "But the transition from _devî_, the bright, to _devî_, the
goddess, is so easy; the daughter of the sky assumes so readily the same
personality which is given to the sky, Dyaus, her father, that we can only
guess whether in every passage the poet is speaking of a bright
apparition, or of a bright goddess; of a natural vision, or of a visible
deity. The following hymn of Vashishtha will serve as an instance:--

   "She shines upon us, like a young wife, rousing every living being to
   go to his work. The fire had to be kindled by men; she brought light by
   striking down darkness.

   "She rose up, spreading far and wide, and moving towards every one. She
   grew in brightness, wearing her brilliant garment. The mother of the
   cows (of the morning clouds), the leader of the days, she shone
   gold-colored, lovely to behold.

   "She, the fortunate, who brings the eye of the god, who leads the white
   and lovely steed (of the sun), the Dawn was seen, revealed by her rays;
   with brilliant treasures she follows every one.

   "Thou, who art a blessing where thou art near, drive far away the
   unfriendly; make the pastures wide, give us safety! Remove the haters,
   bring treasures! Raise wealth to the worshipper, thou mighty Dawn.

   "Shine for us with thy best rays, thou bright Dawn, thou who
   lengthenest our life, thou the love of all, who givest us food, who
   givest us wealth in cows, horses, and chariots.

   "Thou, daughter of the sky, thou high-born Dawn, whom the Vasishthas
   magnify with songs, give us riches high and wide: all ye gods, protect
   us always with your blessings!"

"This hymn, addressed to the Dawn, is a fair specimen of the original
simple poetry of the Veda. It has no reference to any special sacrifice,
it contains no technical expressions, it can hardly be called a hymn, in
our sense of the word. It is simply a poem expressing, without any effort,
without any display of far-fetched thought or brilliant imagery, the
feelings of a man who has watched the approach of the Dawn with mingled
delight and awe, and who was moved to give utterance to what he felt in
measured language."[44]

"But there is a charm in these primitive strains discoverable in no other
class of poetry. Every word retains something of its radical meaning,
every epithet tells, every thought, in spite of the most intricate and
abrupt expressions, is, if we once disentangle it, true, correct, and

The Vedic literature is divided by Müller into four periods, namely, those
of the Chhandas, Mantra, Brâhmana, and Sûtras. The Chhandas period
contains the oldest hymns of the oldest, or Rig-Veda. To that of the
Mantras belong the later hymns of the same Veda. But the most modern of
these are older than the Brâhmanas. The Brâhmanas contain theology; the
older Mantras are liturgic. Müller says that the Brâhmanas, though so very
ancient, are full of pedantry, shallow and insipid grandiloquence and
priestly conceit. Next to these, in the order of time, are the Upanishads.
These are philosophical, and almost the only part of the Vedas which are
read at the present time. They are believed to contain the highest
authority for the different philosophical systems, of which we shall speak
hereafter. Their authors are unknown. More modern than these are the
Sûtras. The word "Sûtra" means _string_, and they consist of a string of
short sentences. Conciseness is the aim in this style, and every doctrine
is reduced to a skeleton. The numerous Sûtras now extant contain the
distilled essence of all the knowledge which the Brâhmans have collected
during centuries of meditation. They belong to the non-revealed
literature, as distinguished from the revealed literature,--a distinction
made by the Brâhmans before the time of Buddha. At the time of the
Buddhist controversy the Sûtras were admitted to be of human origin and
were consequently recent works. The distinction between the Sûtras and
Brâhmanas is very marked, the second being revealed. The Brâhmanas were
composed by and for Brahmans and are in three collections. The Vedângas
are intermediate between the Vedic and non-Vedic literature. Pânini, the
grammarian of India, was said to be contemporary with King Nanda, who was
the successor of Chandragupta, the contemporary of Alexander, and
therefore in the second half of the fourth century before Christ. Dates
are so precarious in Indian literature, says Max Müller, that a
confirmation within a century or two is not to be despised. Now the
grammarian Kâtyâyana completed and corrected the grammar of Pânini, and
Patanjeli wrote an immense commentary on the two which became so famous as
to be imported by royal authority into Cashmere, in the first half of the
first century of our era. Müller considers the limits of the Sûtra period
to extend from 600 B.C. to 200 B.C. Buddhism before Asoka was but modified
Brahmanism. The basis of Indian chronology is the date of Chandragupta.
All dates before his time are merely hypothetical. Several classical
writers speak of him as founding an empire on the Ganges soon after the
invasion of Alexander. He was grandfather of Asoka. Indian traditions
refer to this king.

Returning to the Brâhmana period, we notice that between the Sûtras and
Bârahmanas come the Aranyakas, which are books written for the recluse. Of
these the Upanishads, before mentioned, form part. They presuppose the
existence of the Brâhmanas.

Rammohun Roy was surprised that Dr. Rosen should have thought it worth
while to publish the hymns of the Veda, and considered the Upanishads the
only Vedic books worth reading. They speak of the divine SELF, of the
Eternal Word in the heavens from which the hymns came. The divine SELF
they say is not to be grasped by tradition, reason, or revelation, but
only by him whom he himself grasps. In the beginning was Self alone. Atman
is the SELF in all our selves,--the Divine Self concealed by his own
qualities. This Self they sometimes call the Undeveloped and sometimes the
Not-Being. There are ten of the old Upanishads, all of which have been
published. Anquetil Du Perron translated fifty into Latin out of Persian.

The Brâhmanas are very numerous. Müller gives stories from them and
legends. They relate to sacrifices, to the story of the deluge, and other
legends. They substituted these legends for the simple poetry of the
ancient Vedas. They must have extended over at least two hundred years,
and contained long lists of teachers.

Müller supposes that writing was unknown when the Rig-Veda was composed.
The thousand and ten hymns of the Vedas contain no mention of writing or
books, any more than the Homeric poems. There is no allusion to writing
during the whole of the Brâhmana period, nor even through the Sûtra
period. This seems incredible to us, says Müller, only because our memory
has been systematically debilitated by newspapers and the like during
many generations. It was the business of every Brahman to learn by heart
the Vedas during the twelve years of his student life. The Guru, or
teacher, pronounces a group of words, and the pupils repeat after him.
After writing was introduced, the Brahmans were strictly forbidden to read
the Vedas, or to write them. Cæsar says the same of the Druids. Even
Pânini never alludes to written words or letters. None of the ordinary
modern words for book, paper, ink, or writing have been found in any
ancient Sanskrit work. No such words as _volumen_, volume; _liber_, or
inner bark of a tree; _byblos_, inner bark of papyrus; or book, that is
beech wood. But Buddha had learnt to write, as we find by a book
translated into Chinese A.D. 76. In this book Buddha instructs his
teacher; as in the "Gospel of the Infancy" Jesus explains to his teacher
the meaning of the Hebrew alphabet. So Buddha tells his teacher the names
of sixty-four alphabets. The first authentic inscription in India is of
Buddhist origin, belonging to the third century before Christ.

In the most ancient Vedic period the language had become complete. There
is no growing language in the Vedas.

In regard to the age of these Vedic writings, we will quote the words of
Max Müller, at the conclusion of his admirable work on the "History of
Ancient Sanskrit Literature," from which most of this section has been

   "Oriental scholars are frequently suspected of a desire to make the
   literature of the Eastern nations appear more ancient than it is. As to
   myself, I can truly say that nothing would be to me a more welcome
   discovery, nothing would remove so many doubts and difficulties, as
   some suggestions as to the manner in which certain of the Vedic hymns
   could have been added to the original collection during the Brâhmana or
   Sûtra periods, or, if possible, by the writers of our MSS., of which
   most are not older than the fifteenth century. But these MSS., though
   so modern, are checked by the Anukramanis. Every hymn which stands in
   our MSS. is counted in the Index of Saunaka, who is anterior to the
   invasion of Alexander. The Sûtras, belonging to the same period as
   Saunaka, prove the previous existence of every chapter of the
   Brâhmanas; and I doubt whether there is a single hymn in the Sanhitâ
   of the Rig-Veda which could not be checked by some passage of the
   Brâhmanas and Sûtras. The chronological limits assigned to the Sûtra
   and Brâhmana periods will seem to most Sanskrit scholars too narrow
   rather than too wide, and if we assign but two hundred years to the
   Mantra period, from 800 to 1000 B.C., and an equal number to the
   Chhandas period, from 1000 to 1200 B.C., we can do so only under the
   supposition that during the early periods of history the growth of the
   human mind was more luxuriant than in later times, and that the layers
   of thought were formed less slowly in the primary than in the tertiary
   ages of the world."

The Vedic age, according to Müller, will then be as follows:--

    Sûtra period,    from B.C. 200 to B.C. 600.
    Brâhmana period,  "    "   600     "   800.
    Mantra period,    "    "   800     "  1000.
    Chhandas period,  "    "  1000     "  1200.

Dr. Haug, a high authority, considers the Vedic period to extend from B.C.
1200 to B.C. 2000, and the very oldest hymns to have been composed B.C.

The principal deity in the oldest Vedas is Indra, God of the air. In Greek
he becomes Zeus; in Latin, Jupiter. The hymns to Indra are not unlike some
of the Psalms of the Old Testament. Indra is called upon as the most
ancient god whom the Fathers worshipped. Next to India comes Agni, fire,
derived from the root Ag, which means "to move."[46] Fire is worshipped as
the principle of motion on earth, as Indra was the moving power above. Not
only fire, but the forms of flame, are worshipped and all that belongs to
it. Entire nature is called Aditi, whose children are named Adityas. M.
Maury quotes these words from Gotama: "Aditi is heaven; Aditi is air;
Aditi is mother, father, and son; Aditi is all the gods and the five
races; Aditi is whatever is born and will be born; in short, the heavens
and the earth, the heavens being the father and the earth the mother of
all things." This reminds one of the Greek Zeus-pateer and Gee-mêteer.
Varuna is the vault of heaven. Mitra is often associated with Varuna in
the Vedic hymns. Mitra is the sun, illuminating the day, while Varuna was
the sun with an obscure face going back in the darkness from west to east
to take his luminous disk again. From Mitra seems to be derived the
Persian Mithra. There are no invocations to the stars in the Veda. But the
Aurora, or Dawn, is the object of great admiration; also, the Aswins, or
twin gods, who in Greece become the Dioscuri. The god of storms is Rudra,
supposed by some writers to be the same as Siva. The two hostile worships
of Vishnu and Siva do not appear, however, till long after this time.
Vishnu appears frequently in the Veda, and his three steps are often
spoken of. These steps measure the heavens. But his real worship came much

The religion of the Vedas was of odes and hymns, a religion of worship by
simple adoration. Sometimes there were prayers for temporal blessings,
sometimes simple sacrifices and libations. Human sacrifices have scarcely
left any trace of themselves if they ever existed, unless it be in a
typical ceremony reported in one of the Vedas.

§ 5. Second Period. Laws of Manu. The Brahmanic Age.

Long after the age of the elder Vedas Brahmanism begins. Its text-book is
the Laws of Manu.[47] As yet Vishnu and Siva are not known. The former is
named once, the latter not at all. The writer only knows three Vedas. The
Atharva-Veda is later. But as Siva is mentioned in the oldest Buddhist
writings, it follows that the laws of Manu are older than these. In the
time of Manu the Aryans are still living in the valley of the Ganges. The
caste system is now in full operation, and the authority of the Brahman is
raised to its highest point. The Indus and Punjaub are not mentioned; all
this is forgotten. This work could not be later than B.C. 700, or earlier
than B.C. 1200. It was probably written about B.C. 900 or B.C. 1000. In
this view agree Wilson, Lassen, Max Müller, and Saint-Martin. The Supreme
Deity is now Brahma, and sacrifice is still the act by which one comes
into relation with heaven. Widow-burning is not mentioned in Manu; but it
appears in the Mahabharata, one of the great epics, which is therefore

In the region of the Sarasvati, a holy river, which formerly emptied into
the Indus, but is now lost in a desert, the Aryan race of India was
transformed from nomads into a stable community.[48] There they received
their laws, and there their first cities were erected. There were founded
the Solar and Lunar monarchies.

The Manu of the Vedas and he of the Brahmans are very different persons.
The first is called in the Vedas the father of mankind. He also escapes
from a deluge by building a ship, which he is advised to do by a fish. He
preserves the fish, which grows to a great size, and when the flood comes
acts as a tow-boat to drag the ship of Manu to a mountain.[49] This
account is contained in a Brahmana.

The name of Manu seems afterward to have been given by the Brahmans to the
author of their code. Some extracts from this very interesting volume we
will now give, slightly abridged, from Sir William Jones's
translation.[50] From the first book, on Creation:--

   "The universe existed in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable,
   undiscoverable, and undiscovered; as if immersed in sleep."

   "Then the self-existing power, undiscovered himself, but making the
   world discernible, with the five elements and other principles,
   appeared in undiminished glory, dispelling the gloom."

   "He, whom the mind alone can perceive, whose essence eludes the
   external organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from eternity,
   even he, the soul of all beings, shone forth in person.

   "He having willed to produce various beings from his own divine
   substance, first with a thought created the waters, and placed in them
   a productive seed."

   "The seed became an egg bright as gold, blazing like the luminary with
   a thousand beams, and in that egg he was born himself, in the form of
   Brahma, the great forefather of all spirits.

   "The waters are called Nárá, because they were the production of Nara,
   or the spirit of God; and hence they were his first ayana, or place of
   motion; he hence is named Nara yana, or moving on the waters.

   "In that egg the great power sat inactive a whole year of the creator,
   at the close of which, by his thought alone, he caused the egg to
   divide itself.

   "And from its two divisions he framed the heaven above and the earth
   beneath; in the midst he placed the subtile ether, the eight regions,
   and the permanent receptacle of waters.

   "From the supreme soul he drew forth mind, existing substantially
   though unperceived by sense, immaterial; and before mind, or the
   reasoning power, he produced consciousness, the internal monitor, the

   "And before them both he produced the great principle of the soul, or
   first expansion of the divine idea; and all vital forms endued with the
   three qualities of goodness, passion, and darkness, and the five
   perceptions of sense, and the five organs of sensation.

   "Thus, having at once pervaded with emanations from the Supreme Spirit
   the minutest portions of fixed principles immensely operative,
   consciousness and the five perceptions, he framed all creatures.

   "Thence proceed the great elements, endued with peculiar powers, and
   mind with operations infinitely subtile, the unperishable cause of all
   apparent forms.

   "This universe, therefore, is compacted from the minute portions of
   those seven divine and active principles, the great soul, or first
   emanation, consciousness, and five perceptions; a mutable universe from
   immutable ideas.

   "Of created things, the most excellent are those which are animated; of
   the animated, those which subsist by intelligence; of the intelligent,
   mankind; and of men, the sacerdotal class.

   "Of priests, those eminent in learning; of the learned, those who know
   their duty; of those who know it, such as perform it virtuously; and of
   the virtuous, those who seek beatitude from a perfect acquaintance with
   scriptural doctrine.

   "The very birth of Brahmans is a constant incarnation of Dharma, God of
   justice; for the Brahman is born to promote justice, and to procure
   ultimate happiness.

   "When a Brahman springs to light, he is born above the world, the chief
   of all creatures, assigned to guard the treasury of duties, religious
   and civil.

   "The Brahman who studies this book, having performed sacred rites, is
   perpetually free from offence in thought, in word and in deed.

   "He confers purity on his living family, on his ancestors, and on his
   descendants as far as the seventh person, and he alone deserves to
   possess this whole earth."

The following passages are from Book II., "On Education and the

   "Self-love is no laudable motive, yet an exemption from self-love is
   not to be found in this world: on self-love is grounded the study of
   Scripture, and the practice of actions recommended in it.

   "Eager desire to act has its root in expectation of some advantage; and
   with such expectation are sacrifices performed; the rules of religious
   austerity and abstinence from sins are all known to arise from hope of

   "Not a single act here below appears ever to be done by a man free from
   self-love; whatever he perform, it is wrought from his desire of a

   "He, indeed, who should persist in discharging these duties without any
   view to their fruit, would attain hereafter the state of the immortals,
   and even in this life would enjoy all the virtuous gratifications that
   his fancy could suggest.

   "The most excellent of the three classes, being girt with the
   sacrificial thread, must ask food with the respectful word Dhavati at
   the beginning of the phrase; those of the second class with that word
   in the middle; and those of the third with that word at the end.

   "Let him first beg food of his mother, or of his sister, or of his
   mother's whole sister; then of some other female who will not disgrace

   "Having collected as much of the desired food as he has occasion for,
   and having presented it without guile to his preceptor, let him eat
   some of it, being duly purified, with his face to the east.

   "If he seek long life, he should eat with his face to the east; if
   prosperity, to the west; if truth and its reward, to the north.

   "When the student is going to read the Veda he must perform an
   ablution, as the law ordains, with his face to the north; and having
   paid scriptural homage, he must receive instruction, wearing a clean
   vest, his members being duly composed.

   "A Brahman beginning and ending a lecture on the Veda must always
   pronounce to himself the syllable óm; for unless the syllable óm
   precede, his learning will slip away from him; and unless it follow,
   nothing will be long retained.

   "A priest who shall know the Veda, and shall pronounce to himself, both
   morning and evening, that syllable, and that holy text preceded by the
   three words, shall attain the sanctity which the Veda confers.

   "And a twice-born man, who shall a thousand times repeat those three
   (or óm, the vyáhrĭtis, and the gáyatri) apart from the multitude, shall
   be released in a month even from a great offence, as a snake from his

   "The three great immutable words, preceded by the triliteral syllable,
   and followed by the gáyatri, which consists of three measures, must be
   considered as the mouth, or principal part of the Veda.

   "The triliteral monosyllable is an emblem of the Supreme; the
   suppressions of breath, with a mind fixed on God, are the highest
   devotion; but nothing is more exalted than the gáyatri; a declaration
   of truth is more excellent than silence.

   "All rites ordained in the Veda, oblations to fire, and solemn
   sacrifices pass away; but that which passes not away is declared to be
   the syllable óm, thence called acshara; since it is a symbol of God,
   the Lord of created beings.

   "The act of repeating his Holy Name is ten times better than the
   appointed sacrifice; an hundred times better when it is heard by no
   man; and a thousand times better when it is purely mental.

   "To a man contaminated by sensuality, neither the Vedas, nor
   liberality, nor sacrifices, nor strict observances, nor pious
   austerities, ever procure felicity.

   "As he who digs deep with a spade comes to a spring of water, so the
   student, who humbly serves his teacher, attains the knowledge which
   lies deep in his teacher's mind.

   "If the sun should rise and set, while he sleeps through sensual
   indulgence, and knows it not, he must fast a whole day repeating the

   "Let him adore God both at sunrise and at sunset, as the law ordains,
   having made his ablution, and keeping his organs controlled; and with
   fixed attention let him repeat the text, which he ought to repeat in a
   place free from impurity.

   "The twice-born man who shall thus without intermission have passed the
   time of his studentship shall ascend after death to the most exalted of
   regions, and no more again spring to birth in this lower world."

The following passages are from Book IV., "On Private Morals":--

   "Let a Brahman, having dwelt with a preceptor during the first quarter
   of a man's life, pass the second quarter of human life in his own
   house, when he has contracted a legal marriage.

   "He must live with no injury, or with the least possible injury, to
   animated beings, by pursuing those means of gaining subsistence, which
   are strictly prescribed by law, except in times of distress.

   "Let him say what is true, but let him say what is pleasing; let him
   speak no disagreeable truth, nor let him speak agreeable falsehood;
   this is a primeval rule.

   "Let him say 'well and good,' or let him say 'well' only; but let him
   not maintain fruitless enmity and altercation with any man.

   "All that depends on another gives pain; and all that depends on
   himself gives pleasure; let him know this to be in few words the
   definition of pleasure and pain.

   "And for whatever purpose a man bestows a gift, for a similar purpose
   he shall receive, with due honor, a similar reward.

   "Both he who respectfully bestows a present, and he who respectfully
   accepts it, shall go to a seat of bliss; but, if they act otherwise, to
   a region of horror.

   "Let not a man be proud of his rigorous devotion; let him not, having
   sacrificed, utter a falsehood; let him not, though injured, insult a
   priest; having made a donation, let him never proclaim it.

   "By falsehood the sacrifice becomes vain; by pride the merit of
   devotion is lost; by insulting priests life is diminished; and by
   proclaiming a largess its fruit is destroyed.

   "For in his passage to the next world, neither his father, nor his
   mother, nor his wife, nor his son, nor his kinsmen will remain his
   company; his virtue alone will adhere to him.

   "Single is each man born; single he dies; single he receives the reward
   of his good, and single the punishment of his evil deeds."

From Book V., "On Diet":--

   "The twice-born man who has intentionally eaten a mushroom, the flesh
   of a tame hog, or a town cock, a leek, or an onion, or garlic, is
   degraded immediately.

   "But having undesignedly tasted either of those six things, he must
   perform the penance sántapana, or the chándráyana, which anchorites
   practise; for other things he must fast a whole day.

   "One of those harsh penances called prájápatya the twice-born man must
   perform annually, to purify him from the unknown taint of illicit food;
   but he must do particular penance for such food intentionally eaten.

   "He who injures no animated creature shall attain without hardship
   whatever he thinks of, whatever he strives for, whatever he fixes his
   mind on.

   "Flesh meat cannot be procured without injury to animals, and the
   slaughter of animals obstructs the path to beatitude; from flesh meat,
   therefore, let man abstain.

   "Attentively considering the formation of bodies, and the death or
   confinement of embodied spirits, let him abstain from eating flesh meat
   of any kind.

   "Not a mortal exists more sinful than he who, without an oblation to
   the manes or the gods, desires to enlarge his own flesh with the flesh
   of another creature.

   "By subsisting on pure fruit and on roots, and by eating such grains as
   are eaten by hermits, a man reaps not so high a reward as by carefully
   abstaining from animal food.

   "In lawfully tasting meat, in drinking fermented liquor, in caressing
   women, there is no turpitude; for to such enjoyments men are naturally
   prone, but a virtuous abstinence from them produces a signal

   "Sacred learning, austere devotion, fire, holy aliment, earth, the
   mind, water, smearing with cow-dung, air, prescribed acts of religion,
   the sun, and time are purifiers of embodied spirits.

   "But of all pure things purity in acquiring wealth is pronounced the
   most excellent; since he who gains wealth with clean hands is truly
   pure; not he who is purified merely with earth and water.

   "By forgiveness of injuries, the learned are purified; by liberality,
   those who have neglected their duty; by pious meditation, those who
   have secret faults; by devout austerity, those who best know the Veda.

   "Bodies are cleansed by water; the mind is purified by truth; the vital
   spirit, by theology and devotion; the understanding, by clear

   "No sacrifice is allowed to women apart from their husbands, no
   religious rite, no fasting; as far only as a wife honors her lord, so
   far she is exalted in heaven.

   "A faithful wife, who wishes to attain in heaven the mansion of her
   husband, must do nothing unkind to him, be he living or dead.

   "Let her emaciate her body by living voluntarily on pure flowers,
   roots, and fruit; but let her not, when her lord is deceased, even
   pronounce the name of another man.

   "Let her continue till death forgiving all injuries, performing harsh
   duties, avoiding every sensual pleasure, and cheerfully practising the
   incomparable rules of virtue, which have been followed by such women as
   were devoted to one only husband."

The Sixth Book of the Laws of Manu relates to devotion. It seems that the
Brahmans were in the habit of becoming ascetics, or, as the Roman
Catholics would say, entering Religion. A Brahman, or twice-born man, who
wishes to become an ascetic, must abandon his home and family, and go to
live in the forest. His food must be roots and fruit, his clothing a bark
garment or a skin, he must bathe morning and evening, and suffer his hair
to grow. He must spend his time in reading the Veda, with a mind intent on
the Supreme Being, "a perpetual giver but no receiver of gifts; with
tender affection for all animated bodies." He is to perform various
sacrifices with offerings of fruits and flowers, practise austerities by
exposing himself to heat and cold, and "for the purpose of uniting his
soul with the Divine Spirit he must study the Upanishads."

   "A Brahman, having shuffled off his body by these modes, which great
   sages practise, and becoming void of sorrow and fear, it exalted into
   the divine essence."

   "Let him not wish for death. Let him not wish for life. Let him expect
   his appointed time, as the hired servant expects his wages."

   "Meditating on the Supreme Spirit, without any earthly desire, with no
   companion but his own soul, let him live in this world seeking the
   bliss of the next."

The anchorite is to beg food, but only once a day; if it is not given to
him, he must not be sorrowful, and if he receives it he must not be glad;
he is to meditate on the "subtle indivisible essence of the Supreme
Being," he is to be careful not to destroy the life of the smallest
insect, and he must make atonement for the death of those which he has
ignorantly destroyed by making six suppressions of his breath, repeating
at the same time the triliteral syllable A U M. He will thus at last
become united with the Eternal Spirit, and his good deeds will be
inherited by those who love him, and his evil deeds by those who hate him.

The Seventh Book relates to the duties of rulers. One of these is to
reward the good and punish the wicked. The genius of punishment is a son
of Brahma, and has a body of pure light. Punishment is an active ruler,
governs all mankind, dispenses laws, preserves the race, and is the
perfection of justice. Without it all classes would become corrupt, all
barriers would fall, and there would be total confusion. Kings are to
respect the Brahmans, must shun vices, must select good counsellors and
brave soldiers. A King must be a father to his people. When he goes to war
he must observe the rules of honorable warfare, must not use poisoned
arrows, strike a fallen enemy, nor one who sues for life, nor one without
arms, nor one who surrenders. He is not to take too little revenue, and so
"cut up his own root"; nor too much, and so "cut up the root of others";
he is to be severe when it is necessary, and mild when it is necessary.

The Eighth Book relates to civil and criminal law. The Raja is to hold his
court every day, assisted by his Brahmans, and decide causes concerning
debts and loans, sales, wages, contracts, boundaries, slander, assaults,
larceny, robbery, and other crimes. The Raja, "understanding what is
expedient or inexpedient, but considering only what is law or not law,"
should examine all disputes. He must protect unprotected women, restore
property to its rightful owner, not encourage litigation, and decide
according to the rules of law. These rules correspond very nearly to our
law of evidence. Witnesses are warned to speak the truth in all cases by
the consideration that, though they may think that none see them, the gods
distinctly see them and also the spirit in their own breasts.

   "The soul itself is its own witness, the soul itself is its own refuge;
   offend not thy conscious soul, the supreme internal witness of men."

   "The fruit of every virtuous act which thou hast done, O good man,
   since thy birth, shall depart from thee to the dogs, if thou deviate
   from the truth."

   "O friend to virtue, the Supreme Spirit, which is the same with
   thyself, resides in thy bosom perpetually, and is an all-knowing
   inspector of thy goodness or wickedness."

The law then proceeds to describe the punishments which the gods would
inflict upon false witnesses; but, curiously enough, allows false witness
to be given, from a benevolent motive, in order to save an innocent man
from a tyrant. This is called "the venial sin of benevolent falsehood."
The book then proceeds to describe weights and measures, and the rate of
usury, which is put down as five percent. It forbids compound interest.
The law of deposits occupies a large space, as in all Eastern countries,
where investments are difficult. A good deal is said about the wages of
servants, especially of those hired to keep cattle, and their
responsibilities. The law of slander is carefully laid down. Crimes of
violence are also minutely described, and here the _Lex Talionis_ comes
in. If a man strikes a human being or an animal so as to inflict much
pain, he shall be struck himself in the same way. A man is allowed to
correct with a small stick his wife, son, or servant, but not on the head
or any noble part of the body. The Brahmans, however, are protected by
special laws.

   "Never shall the king flay a Brahman, though convicted of all possible
   crimes: let him banish the offender from his realm, but with all his
   property secure and his body unhurt."

   "No greater crime is known on earth than flaying a Brahman; and the
   king, therefore, must not even form in his mind the idea of killing a

The Ninth Book relates to women, to families, and to the law of castes. It
states that women must be kept in a state of dependence.

   "Their fathers protect them in childhood; their husbands protect them
   in youth; their sons protect them in age. A woman is never fit for

It is the duty of men to watch and guard women, and very unfavorable
opinions are expressed concerning the female character.

   "Women have no business with the text of the Veda; this is fully
   settled; therefore having no knowledge of expiatory texts, sinful women
   must be as foul as falsehood itself. This is a fixed law."

It is, however, stated that good women become like goddesses, and shall be
joined with their husbands in heaven; and that a man is only perfect when
he consists of three persons united,--his wife, himself, and his son. Manu
also attributes to ancient Brahmans a maxim almost verbally the same as
that of the Bible, namely, "The husband is even one person with his wife."
Nothing is said by Manu concerning the cremation of widows, but, on the
other hand, minute directions are given for the behavior of widows during
their life. Directions are also given concerning the marriage of daughters
and sons and their inheritance of property. The rest of the book is
devoted to a further description of crimes and punishments.

The Tenth Book relates to the mixed classes and times of distress.

The Eleventh Book relates to penance and expiation. In this book is
mentioned the remarkable rite which consists in drinking the fermented
juice of the moon-plant (or acid asclepias) with religious ceremonies.
This Hindu sacrament began in the Vedic age, and the Sanhita of the
Sama-Veda consists of hymns to be sung at the moon-plant sacrifice.[51]
This ceremony is still practised occasionally in India, and Dr. Hang has
tasted this sacred beverage, which he describes as astringent, bitter,
intoxicating, and very disagreeable.[52] It is stated by Manu that no one
has a right to drink this sacred juice who does not properly provide for
his own household. He encourages sacrifices by declaring that they are
highly meritorious and will expiate sin. Involuntary sins require a much
lighter penance than those committed with knowledge. Crimes committed by
Brahmans require a less severe penance than those performed by others;
while those committed against Brahmans involve a much deeper guilt and
require severer penance. The law declares:--

   "From his high birth alone a Brahman is an object of veneration, even
   to deities, and his declarations are decisive evidence."

   "A Brahman, who has performed an expiation with his whole mind fixed on
   God, purifies his soul."

Drinking intoxicating liquor (except in the Soma sacrifice) is strictly
prohibited, and it is even declared that a Brahman who tastes intoxicating
liquor sinks to the low caste of a Sudra. If a Brahman who has tasted the
Soma juice even smells the breath of a man who has been drinking spirits,
he must do penance by repeating the Gayatri, suppressing his breath, and
eating clarified butter. Next to Brahmans, cows were the objects of
reverence, probably because, in the earliest times, the Aryan race, as
nomads, depended on this animal for food. He who kills a cow must perform
very severe penances, among which are these:--

   "All day he must wait on a herd of cows and stand quaffing the dust
   raised by their hoofs; at night, having servilely attended them, he
   must sit near and guard them."

   "Free from passion, he must stand while they stand, follow when they
   move, and lie down near them when they lie down."

   "By thus waiting on a herd for three months, he who has killed a cow
   atones for his guilt."

For such offences as cutting down fruit-trees or grasses, or killing
insects, or injuring sentient creatures, the penance is to repeat so many
texts of the Veda, to eat clarified butter, or to stop the breath. A
low-born man who treats a Brahman disrespectfully, or who even overcomes
him in argument, must fast all day and fall prostrate before him. He who
strikes a Brahman shall remain in hell a thousand years. Great, however,
is the power of sincere devotion. By repentance, open confession, reading
the Scripture, almsgiving, and reformation, one is released from guilt.
Devotion, it is said, is equal to the performance of all duties; and even
the souls of worms and insects and vegetables attain heaven by the power
of devotion. But especially great is the sanctifying influence of the
Vedas. He who can repeat the whole of the Rig-Veda would be free from
guilt, even if he had killed the inhabitants of the three worlds.

The last book of Manu is on transmigration and final beatitude. The
principle is here laid down that every human action, word, and thought
bears its appropriate fruit, good or evil. Out of the heart proceed three
sins of thought, four sins of the tongue, and three of the body, namely,
covetous, disobedient, and atheistic thoughts; scurrilous, false,
frivolous, and unkind words; and actions of theft, bodily injury, and
licentiousness. He who controls his thoughts, words, and actions is called
a triple commander. There are three qualities of the soul, giving it a
tendency to goodness, to passion, and to darkness. The first leads to
knowledge, the second to desire, the third to sensuality. To the first
belong study of Scripture, devotion, purity, self-command, and obedience.
From the second proceed hypocritical actions, anxiety, disobedience, and
self-indulgence. The third produces avarice, atheism, indolence, and every
act which a man is ashamed of doing. The object of the first quality is
virtue; of the second, worldly success; of the third, pleasure. The souls
in which the first quality is supreme rise after death to the condition of
deities; those in whom the second rules pass into the bodies of other
men; while those under the dominion of the third become beasts and
vegetables. Manu proceeds to expound, in great detail, this law of
transmigration. For great sins one is condemned to pass a great many times
into the bodies of dogs, insects, spiders, snakes, or grasses. The change
has relation to the crime: thus, he who steals grain shall be born a rat;
he who steals meat, a vulture; those who indulge in forbidden pleasures of
the senses shall have their senses made acute to endure intense pain.

The highest of all virtues is disinterested goodness, performed from the
love of God, and based on the knowledge of the Veda. A religious action,
performed from hope of reward in this world or the next, will give one a
place in the lowest heaven. But he who performs good actions without hope
of reward, "perceiving the supreme soul in all beings, and all beings in
the supreme soul, fixing his mind on God, approaches the divine nature."

   "Let every Brahman, with fixed attention, consider all nature as
   existing in the Divine Spirit; all worlds as seated in him; he alone as
   the whole assemblage of gods; and he the author of all human actions."

   "Let him consider the supreme omnipresent intelligence as the sovereign
   lord of the universe, by whom alone it exists, an incomprehensible
   spirit; pervading all beings in five elemental forms, and causing them
   to pass through birth, growth, and decay, and so to revolve like the
   wheels of a car."

   "Thus the man who perceives in his own soul the supreme soul present in
   all creatures, acquires equanimity toward them all, and shall be
   absolved at last in the highest essence, even that of the Almighty

We have given these copious extracts from the Brahmanic law, because this
code is so ancient and authentic, and contains the bright consummate
flower of the system, before decay began to come.

§ 6. The Three Hindoo Systems of Philosophy,--Sánkhya, Vedanta, and Nyasa.

Duncker says[53] that the Indian systems of philosophy were produced in
the sixth or seventh century before Christ. As the system of Buddha
implies the existence of the Sánkhya philosophy, the latter must have
preceded Buddhism.[54] Moreover, Kapila and his two principles are
distinctly mentioned in the Laws of Manu,[55] and in the later
Upanishads.[56] This brings it to the Brahmana period of Max Müller, B.C.
600 to B.C. 800, and probably still earlier. Dr. Weber at one time was of
the opinion that Kapila and Buddha were the same person, but afterward
retracted this opinion.[57] Colebrooke says that Kapila is mentioned in
the Veda itself, but intimates that this is probably another sage of the
same name.[58] The sage was even considered to be an incarnation of
Vischnu, or of Agni. The Vedanta philosophy is also said by Lassen to be
mentioned in the Laws of Manu.[59] This system is founded on the
Upanishads, and would seem to be later than that of Kapila, since it
criticises his system, and devotes much space to its confutation.[60] But
Duncker regards it as the oldest, and already beginning in the Upanishads
of the Vedas.[61] As the oldest works now extant in both systems are later
than their origin, this question of date can only be determined from their
contents. That which logically precedes the other must be chronologically
the oldest.

The Sánkhya system of Kapila is contained in many works, but notably in
the Káriká, or Sánkhya-Káriká, by Iswara Krishna. This consists in
eighty-two memorial verses, with a commentary.[62] The Vedanta is
contained in the Sutras, the Upanishads, and especially the Brahma-Sutra
attributed to Vyasa.[63] The Nyaya is to be found in the Sutras of Gotama
and Canade.[64]

These three systems of Hindoo philosophy, the Sánkhya, the Nyaya, and the
Vedanta, reach far back into a misty twilight, which leaves it doubtful
when they began or who were their real authors. In some points they agree,
in others they are widely opposed. They all agree in having for their
object deliverance from the evils of time, change, sorrow, into an eternal
rest and peace. Their aim is, therefore, not merely speculative, but
practical. All agree in considering existence to be an evil, understanding
by existence a life in time and space. All are idealists, to whom the
world of sense and time is a delusion and snare, and who regard the Idea
as the only substance. All agree in accepting the fact of transmigration,
the cessation of which brings final deliverance. All consider that the
means of this deliverance is to be found in knowledge, in a perfect
knowledge of reality as opposed to appearance. And all are held by
Brahmans, who consider themselves orthodox, who honor the Vedas above all
other books, pay complete respect to the Hinduism of the day, perform the
daily ceremonies, and observe the usual caste rules.[65] The systems of
philosophy supplement the religious worship, but are not intended to
destroy it. The Vedantists hold that while in truth there is but one God,
the various forms of worship in the Vedas, of Indra, Agni, the Maruts,
etc., were all intended for those who could not rise to this sublime
monotheism. Those who believe in the Sánkhya maintain that though it
wholly omits God, and is called "the system without a God," it merely
omits, but does not deny, the Divine existence.[66]

Each of these philosophies has a speculative and a practical side. The
speculative problem is, How did the universe come? The practical problem
is, How shall man be delivered from evil?

In answering the first question, the Vedanta, or Mimansa doctrine,
proceeds from a single eternal and uncreated Principle; declaring that
there is only ONE being in the universe, God or Brahm, and that all else
is Maya, or illusion. The Sankhya accepts TWO eternal and uncreated
substances, Soul and Nature. The Nyaya assumes THREE eternal and uncreated
substances,--Atoms, Souls, and God.

The solution of the second problem is the same in all three systems. It is
by knowledge that the soul is emancipated from body or matter or nature.
Worship is inadequate, though not to be despised. Action is injurious
rather than beneficial, for it implies desire. Only knowledge can lead to
entire rest and peace.

According to all three systems, the transmigration of the soul through
different bodies is an evil resulting from desire. As long as the soul
wishes anything, it will continue to migrate and to suffer. When it
gathers itself up into calm insight, it ceases to wander and finds repose.

The _Vedanta_ or _Mimansa_ is supposed to be referred to in Manu.[67]
_Mimansa_ means "searching." In its logical forms it adopts the method so
common among the scholastics, in first stating the question, then giving
the objection, after that the reply to the objection, and lastly the
conclusion. The first part of the Mimansa relates to worship and the
ceremonies and ritual of the Veda. The second part teaches the doctrine of
Brahma. Brahma is the one, eternal, absolute, unchangeable Being. He
unfolds into the universe as Creator and Created. He becomes first ether,
then air, then fire, then water, then earth. From these five elements all
bodily existence proceeds. Souls are sparks from the central fire of
Brahma, separated for a time, to be absorbed again at last.

Brahma, in his highest form as Para-Brahm, stands for the Absolute Being.
The following extract from the Sáma-Veda (after Haug's translation)
expresses this: "The generation of Brahma was before all ages, unfolding
himself evermore in a beautiful glory; everything which is highest and
everything which is deepest belongs to him. Being and Not-Being are
unveiled through Brahma."

The following passage is from a Upanishad, translated by Windischmann:--

"How can any one teach concerning Brahma? he is neither the known nor the
unknown. That which cannot be expressed by words, but through which all
expression comes, this I know to be Brahma. That which cannot be thought
by the mind, but by which all thinking comes, this I know is Brahma. That
which cannot be seen by the eye, but by which the eye sees, is Brahma. If
thou thinkest that thou canst know it, then in truth thou knowest it very
little. To whom it is unknown, he knows it; but to whom it is known, he
knows it not."

This also is from Windischmann, from the Kathaka Upanishad: "One cannot
attain to it through the word, through the mind, or through the eye. It is
only reached by him who says, 'It is! It is!' He perceives it in its
essence. Its essence appears when one perceives it as it is."

The old German expression _Istigkeit_, according to Bunsen, corresponds to
this. This also is the name of Jehovah as given to Moses from the burning
bush: "And God said unto Moses, I AM THE I AM. Thus shalt thou say unto
the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." The idea is that God
alone really exists, and that the root of all being is in him. This is
expressed in another Upanishad: "HE WHO EXISTS is the root of all
creatures; he WHO EXISTS is their foundation, and in him they rest."

In the Vedanta philosophy this speculative pantheism is carried further.
Thus speaks Sankara, the chief teacher of the Vedanta philosophy
("Colebrooke's Essays"): "I am the great Brahma, eternal, pure, free, one,
constant, happy, existing without end. He who ceases to contemplate other
things, who retires into solitude, annihilates his desires, and subjects
his passions, he understands that Spirit is the One and the Eternal. The
wise man annihilates all sensible things in spiritual things, and
contemplates that one Spirit who resembles pure space. Brahma is without
size, quality, character, or division."

According to this philosophy (says Bunsen) the world is the Not-Being. It
is, says Sankara, "appearance without Being; it is like the deception of a
dream." "The soul itself," he adds, "has no actual being."

There is an essay on Vedantism in a book published in Calcutta, 1854, by a
young Hindoo, Shoshee Chunder Dutt, which describes the creation as
proceeding from Maya, in this way: "Dissatisfied with his own solitude,
Brahma feels a desire to create worlds, and then the volition ceases so
far as he is concerned, and he sinks again into his apathetic happiness,
while the desire, thus willed into existence, assumes an active character.
It becomes Maya, and by this was the universe created, without exertion on
the part of Brahma. This passing wish of Brahma carried, however, no
reality with it. And the creation proceeding from it is only an illusion.
There is only one absolute Unity really existing, and existing without
plurality. But he is like one asleep. Krishna, in the Gita, says: 'These
works (the universe) confine not me, for I am like one who sitteth aloof
uninterested in them all.' The universe is therefore all illusion, holding
a position between something and nothing. It is real as an illusion, but
unreal as being. It is not true, because it has no essence; but not false,
because its existence, even as illusion, is from God. The Vedanta
declares: 'From the highest state of Brahma to the lowest condition of a
straw, all things are delusion.'" Chunder Dutt, however, contradicts
Bunsen's assertion that the soul also is an illusion according to the
Vedanta. "The soul," he says, "is not subject to birth or death, but is in
its substance, from Brahma himself." The truth seems to be that the
Vedanta regards the individuation of the soul as from Maya and illusive,
but the substance of the soul is from Brahma, and destined to be absorbed
into him. As the body of man is to be resolved into its material elements,
so the soul of man is to be resolved into Brahma. This substance of the
soul is neither born nor dies, nor is it a thing of which it can be said,
"It was, is, or shall be." In the Gita, Krishna tells Arjun that he and
the other princes of the world "never were not."[68]

The Vedantist philosopher, however, though he considers all souls as
emanations from God, does not believe that all of them will return into
God at death. Those only who have obtained a knowledge of God are rewarded
by absorption, but the rest continue to migrate from body to body so long
as they remain unqualified for the same. "The knower of God becomes God."
This union with the Deity is the total loss of personal identity, and is
the attainment of the highest bliss, in which are no grades and from which
is no return. This absorption comes not from good works or penances, for
these confine the soul and do not liberate it. "The confinement of fetters
is the same whether the chain be of gold or iron." "The knowledge which
realizes that everything is Brahm alone liberates the soul. It annuls the
effect both of our virtues and vices. We traverse thereby both merit and
demerit, the heart's knot is broken, all doubts are split, and all our
works perish. Only by perfect abstraction, not merely from the senses, but
also from the thinking intellect and by remaining in the knowing
intellect, does the devotee become identified with Brahm. He then remains
as pure glass when the shadow has left it. He lives destitute of passions
and affections. He lives sinless; for as water wets not the leaf of the
lotus, so sin touches not him who knows God." He stands in no further need
of virtue, for "of what use can be a winnowing fan when the sweet southern
wind is blowing." His meditations are of this sort: "I am Brahm, I am
life. I am everlasting, perfect, self-existent, undivided, joyful."

If therefore, according to this system, knowledge alone unites the soul to
God, the question comes, Of what use are acts of virtue, penances,
sacrifices, worship? The answer is, that they effect a happy
transmigration from the lower forms of bodily life to higher ones. They
do not accomplish the great end, which is absorption and escape from Maya,
but they prepare the way for it by causing one to be born in a higher

The second system of philosophy, the Sánkhya of Kapila, is founded not on
one principle, like the Vedanta, but on two. According to the seventy
aphorisms, Nature is one of these principles. It is uncreated and eternal.
It is one, active, creating, non-intelligent. The other of the two
principles, also uncreated and eternal, is Soul, or rather Souls. Souls
are many, passive, not creative, intelligent, and in all things the
opposite to Nature. But from the union of the two all the visible universe
proceeds, according to the law of cause and effect.

God not being recognized in this system, it is often called atheism. Its
argument, to show that no one perfect being could create the universe, is
this. Desire implies want, or imperfection. Accordingly, if God desired to
create, he would be unable to do so; if he was able, he would not desire
to do it. In neither case, therefore, could God have created the universe.
The gods are spoken of by the usual names, Brahma, Indra, etc., but are
all finite beings, belonging to the order of human souls, though superior.

Every soul is clothed in two bodies,--the interior original body, the
individualizing force, which is eternal as itself and accompanies it
through all its migrations; and the material, secondary body, made of the
five elements, ether, air, fire, water, and earth. The original body is
subtile and spiritual. It is the office of Nature to liberate the Soul.
Nature is not what we perceive by the senses, but an invisible plastic
principle behind, which must be known by the intellect. As the Soul
ascends by goodness, it is freed by knowledge. The final result of this
emancipation is the certainty of non-existence,--"neither I am, nor is
aught mine, nor do I exist,"--which seems to be the same result as that of
Hegel, Being = Not-Being. Two or three of the aphorisms of the Karika are
as follows:--

   "LIX. As a dancer, having exhibited herself to the spectator, desists
   from the dance, so does Nature desist, having manifested herself to the

   "LX. Generous Nature, endued with qualities, does by manifold means
   accomplish, without benefit (to herself), the wish of ungrateful Soul,
   devoid of qualities."

   "LXI. Nothing, in my opinion, is more gentle than Nature; once aware of
   having been seen, she does not again expose herself to the gaze of

   "LXVI. Soul desists, because it has seen Nature. Nature desists,
   because she has been seen. In their (mere) union there is no motive for

Accordingly, the result of knowledge is to put an end to creation, and to
leave the Soul emancipated from desire, from change, from the material
body, in a state which is Being, but not Existence (_esse,_ not
_existere_; Seyn, not Da-seyn).

This Sánkhya philosophy becomes of great importance, when we consider that
it was the undoubted source of Buddhism. This doctrine which we have been
describing was the basis of Buddhism.[69]

M. Cousin has called it the sensualism of India,[70] but certainly without
propriety. It is as purely ideal a doctrine as that of the Vedas. Its two
eternal principles are both ideal. The plastic force which is one of them,
Kapila distinctly declares cannot be perceived by the senses.[71] Soul,
the other eternal and uncreated principle, who "is witness, solitary,
bystander, spectator, and passive,"[72] is not only spiritual itself, but
is clothed with a spiritual body, within the material body. In fact, the
Karika declares the material universe to be the result of the contact of
the Soul with Nature, and consists in chains with which Nature binds
herself, for the purpose (unconscious) of delivering the Soul. When by a
process of knowledge the Soul looks through these, and perceives the
ultimate principle beyond, the material universe ceases, and both Soul and
Nature are emancipated.[73]

One of the definitions of the Karika will call to mind the fourfold
division of the universe by the great thinker of the ninth century,
Erigena. In his work, περὶ φύσεως μερισμοῦ he asserts that there is, (1.)
A Nature which creates and is not created. (2.) A Nature which is created
and creates. (3.) A Nature which is created and does not create. (4.) A
Nature which neither creates nor is created. So Kapila (Karika, 3) says,
"Nature, the root of all things, is productive but not a production. Seven
principles are productions and productive. Sixteen are productions but not
productive. Soul is neither a production nor productive."

Mr. Muir (Sanskrit Texts, Part III. p. 96) quotes the following passages
in proof of the antiquity of Kapila, and the respect paid to his doctrine
in very early times:--

   _Svet. Upanishad._ "The God who superintends every mode of production
   and all forms, who formerly nourished with various knowledge his son
   Kapila the rishi, and beheld him at his birth."

   "_Bhagavat Purana_ (I. 3, 10) makes Kapila an incarnation of Vischnu.
   In his fifth incarnation, in the form of Kapila, he declared to Asuri
   the Sankhya which defines the collection of principles.

   "_Bhagavat Purana_ (IX. 8, 12) relates that Kapila, being attacked by
   the sons of King Sangara, destroyed them with fire which issued from
   his body. But the author of the Purana denies that this was done in
   _anger_. 'How could the sage, by whom the strong ship of the Sankhya
   was launched, on which the man seeking emancipation crosses the ocean
   of existence, entertain the distinction of friend and foe'?"

The Sánkhya system is also frequently mentioned in the Mahabarata.

The Nyaya system differs from that of Kapila, by assuming a third eternal
and indestructible principle as the basis of matter, namely, _Atoms_. It
also assumes the existence of a Supreme Soul, Brahma, who is almighty and
allwise. It agrees with Kapila in making all souls eternal, and distinct
from body. Its evil to be overcome is the same, namely, transmigration;
and its method of release is the same, namely _Buddhï_, or knowledge. It
is a more dialectic system than the others, and is rather of the nature of
a logic than a philosophy.

Mr. Banerjea, in his Dialogues on the Hindu philosophy, considers the
Buddhists' system as closely resembling the Nyaya system. He regards the
Buddhist Nirvana as equivalent to the emancipation of the Nyaya system.
Apavarga, or emancipation, is declared in this philosophy to be final
deliverance from pain, birth, activity, fault, and false notions. Even so
the Pali doctrinal books speak of Nirvana as an exemption from old age,
disease, and death. In it desire, anger, and ignorance are consumed by the
fire of knowledge. Here all selfish distinctions of mine and thine, all
evil thoughts, all slander and jealousy, are cut down by the weapon of
knowledge. Here we have an experience of immortality which is cessation of
all trouble and perfect felicity.[74]

§ 7. Origin of the Hindoo Triad.

There had gradually grown up among the people a worship founded on that of
the ancient Vedas. In the West of India, the god RUDRA, mentioned in the
Vedic hymns, had been transformed into Siva. In the Rig-Veda Rudra is
sometimes the name for Agni.[75] He is described as father of the winds.
He is the same as Maha-deva. He is fierce and beneficent at once. He
presides over medicinal plants. According to Weber (Indische Stud., II.
19) he is the Storm-God. The same view is taken by Professor Whitney.[76]
But his worship gradually extended, until, under the name of Siva, the
Destroyer, he became one of the principal deities of India. Meantime, in
the valley of the Ganges, a similar devotion had grown up for the Vedic
god VISCHNU, who in like manner had been promoted to the chief rank in the
Hindoo Pantheon. He had been elevated to the character of a Friend and
Protector, gifted with mild attributes, and worshipped as the life of
Nature. By accepting the popular worship, the Brahmans were able to oppose
Buddhism with success.

We have no doubt that the Hindoo Triad came from the effort of the
Brahmans to unite all India in one worship, and it may for a time have
succeeded. Images of the Trimurtti, or three-faced God, are frequent in
India, and this is still the object of Brahmanical worship. But beside
this practical motive, the tendency of thought is always toward a triad of
law, force, or elemental substance, as the best explanation of the
universe. Hence there have been Triads in so many religions: in Egypt, of
_Osiris_ the Creator, _Typhon_ the Destroyer, and _Horus_ the Preserver;
in Persia, of _Ormazd_ the Creator, _Ahriman_ the Destroyer, and _Mithra_
the Restorer; in Buddhism, of _Buddha_ the Divine Man, _Dharmma_ the Word,
and _Sangha_ the Communion of Saints. Simple monotheism does not long
satisfy the speculative intellect, because, though it accounts for the
harmonies of creation, it leaves its discords unexplained. But a dualism
of opposing forces is found still more unsatisfactory, for the world does
not appear to be such a scene of utter warfare and discord as this. So the
mind comes to accept a Triad, in which the unities of life and growth
proceed from one element, the antagonisms from a second, and the higher
harmonies of reconciled oppositions from a third. The Brahmanical Triad
arose in the same way.[77]

Thus grew up, from amid the spiritual pantheism into which all Hindoo
religion seemed to have settled, another system, that of the Trimurtti, or
Divine Triad; the Indian Trinity of _Brahma, Vischnu_, and _Siva_. This
Triad expresses the unity of Creation, Destruction, and Restoration. A
foundation for this already existed in a Vedic saying, that the highest
being exists in three states, that of creation, continuance, and

Neither of these three supreme deities of Brahmanism held any high rank in
the Vedas. Siva (Çiva) does not appear therein at all, nor, according to
Lassen, is Brahma mentioned in the Vedic hymns, but first in a Upanishad.
Vischnu is spoken of in the Rig-Veda, but always as one of the names for
the sun. He is the Sun-God. His three steps are sunrise, noon, and sunset.
He is mentioned as one of the sons of Aditi; he is called the
"wide-stepping," "measurer of the world," "the strong," "the deliverer,"
"renewer of life," "who sets in motion the revolutions of time," "a
protector," "preserving the highest heaven." Evidently he begins his
career in this mythology as the sun.

BRAHMA, at first a word meaning prayer and devotion, becomes in the laws
of Manu the primal God, first-born of the creation, from the self-existent
being, in the form of a golden egg. He became the creator of all things by
the power of prayer. In the struggle for ascendency which took place
between the priests and the warriors, Brahma naturally became the deity of
the former. But, meantime, as we have seen, the worship of Vischnu had
been extending itself in one region and that of Siva in another. Then took
place those mysterious wars between the kings of the Solar and Lunar
races, of which the great epics contain all that we know. And at the close
of these wars a compromise was apparently accepted, by which Brahma,
Vischnu, and Siva were united in one supreme God, as creator, preserver,
and destroyer, all in one.

It is almost certain that this Hindoo Triad was the result of an ingenious
and successful attempt, on the part of the Brahmans, to unite all classes
of worshippers in India against the Buddhists. In this sense the Brahmans
edited anew the Mahabharata, inserting in that epic passages extolling
Vischnu in the form of Krishna. The Greek accounts of India which followed
the invasion of Alexander speak of the worship of Hercules as prevalent
in the East, and by Hercules they apparently mean the god Krishna.[78]
The struggle between the Brahmans and Buddhists lasted during nine
centuries (from A.D. 500 to A.D. 1400), ending with the total expulsion of
Buddhism, and the triumphant establishment of the Triad, as the worship of

Before this Triad or Trimurtti (of Brahma, Vischnu, and Siva) there seems
to have been another, consisting of Agni, Indra, and Surya.[80] This may
have given the hint of the second Triad, which distributed among the three
gods the attributes of Creation, Destruction, and Renovation. Of these
Brahma, the Creator, ceased soon to be popular, and the worship of Siva
and Vischnu as Krishna remain as the popular religion of India.

One part, and a very curious one, of the worship of Vischnu is the
doctrine of the Avatars, or incarnations of that deity. There are ten of
these Avatars,--nine have passed and one is to come. The object of Vischnu
is, each time, to save the gods from destruction impending over them in
consequence of the immense power acquired by some king, giant, or demon,
by superior acts of austerity and piety. For here, as elsewhere, extreme
spiritualism is often divorced from morality; and so these extremely
pious, spiritual, and self-denying giants are the most cruel and
tyrannical monsters, who must be destroyed at all hazards. Vischnu, by
force or fraud, overcomes them all.

His first Avatar is of the Fish, as related in the Mahabharata. The object
was to recover the Vedas, which had been stolen by a demon from Brahma
when asleep. In consequence of this loss the human race became corrupt,
and were destroyed by a deluge, except a pious prince and seven holy men
who were saved in a ship. Vischnu, as a large fish, drew the ship safely
over the water, killed the demon, and recovered the Vedas. The second
Avatar was in a Turtle, to make the drink of immortality. The third was in
a Boar, the fourth in a Man-Lion, the fifth in the Dwarf who deceived
Bali, who had become so powerful by austerities as to conquer the gods
and take possession of Heaven. In the eighth Avatar he appears as Krishna
and in the ninth as Buddha.

This system of Avatars is so peculiar and so deeply rooted in the system,
that it would seem to indicate some law of Hindoo thought. Perhaps some
explanation may be reached thus:--

We observe that,--

Vischnu does not mediate between Brahma and Siva, but between the deities
and the lower races of men or demons.

The danger arises from a certain fate or necessity which is superior both
to gods and men. There are laws which enable a man to get away from the
power of Brahma and Siva.

But what is this necessity but nature, or the nature of things, the laws
of the outward world of active existences? It is not till essence becomes
existence, till spirit passes into action, that it becomes subject to law.

The danger then is from the world of nature. The gods are pure spirit, and
spirit is everything. But, now and then, nature _seems to be something_,
it will not be ignored or lost in God. Personality, activity, or human
nature rebel against the pantheistic idealism, the abstract spiritualism
of this system.

To conquer body, Vischnu or spirit enters into body, again and again.
Spirit must appear as body to destroy Nature. For thus is shown that
spirit cannot be excluded from anything,--that it can descend into the
lowest forms of life, and work _in_ law as well as above law.

But all the efforts of Brahmanism could not arrest the natural development
of the system. It passed on into polytheism and idolatry. The worship of
India for many centuries has been divided into a multitude of sects. While
the majority of the Brahmans still profess to recognize the equal divinity
of Brahma, Vischnu, and Siva, the mass of the people worship Krishna,
Rama, the Lingam, and many other gods and idols. There are Hindoo atheists
who revile the Vedas; there are the Kabirs, who are a sort of Hindoo
Quakers, and oppose all worship; the _Ramanujas_, an ancient sect of
Vischnu worshippers; the _Ramavats_, living in monasteries; the _Panthis_,
who oppose all austerities; the _Maharajas_, whose religion consists with
great licentiousness. Most of these are worshippers of Vischnu or of Siva,
for Brahma-worship has wholly disappeared.

§ 8. The Epics, the Puranas, and modern Hindoo Worship.

The Hindoos have two great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, each
of immense length, and very popular with the people. Mr. Talboys Wheeler
has recently incorporated both epics (of course much abridged) into his
History of India, and we must refer our readers to his work for a
knowledge of these remarkable poems. The whole life of ancient India
appears in them, and certainly they are not unworthy products of the
genius of that great nation.

According to Lassen,[81] the period to which the great Indian epics refer
follows directly on the Vedic age. Yet they contain passages inserted at a
much later epoch, probably, indeed, as long after as the war which ended
in the expulsion of the Buddhists from India.[82] Mr. Talboys Wheeler
considers the war of Rama and the Monkeys against Ravana to refer to this
conflict, and so makes the Ramayana later than the Mahabharata. The
majority of writers, however, differ from him on this point. The writers
of the Mahabharata were evidently Brahmans, educated under the laws of
Manu.[83] But it is very difficult to fix the date of either poem with any
approach to accuracy. Lassen has proved that the greater part of the
Mahabharata was written before the political establishment of
Buddhism.[84] These epics were originally transmitted by oral tradition.
They must have been brought to their present forms by Brahmans, for their
doctrine is that of this priesthood. Now if such poems had been composed
after the time of Asoka, when Buddhism became a state religion in India,
it must have been often referred to. No such references appear in these
epics, except in some solitary passages, which are evidently modern
additions.[85] Hence the epics must have been composed before the time of
Buddhism. This argument of Lassen's is thought by Max Müller to be
conclusive, and if so it disproves Mr. Talboys Wheeler's view of the
purpose of the Ramayana.

Few Hindoos now read the Vedas. The Puranas and the two great epics
constitute their sacred books. The Ramayana contains about fifty thousand
lines, and is held in great veneration by the Hindoos. It describes the
youth of Rama, who is an incarnation of Vischnu, his banishment and
residence in Central India, and his war with the giants and demons of the
South, to recover his wife, Sita. It probably is founded on some real war
between the early Aryan invaders of Hindostan and the indigenous

The Mahabharata, which is probably of later date, contains about two
hundred and twenty thousand lines, and is divided into eighteen books,
each of which would make a large volume. It is supposed to have been
collected by Vyasa, who also collected the Vedas and Puranas. These
legends are very old, and seem to refer to the early history of India.
There appear to have been two Aryan dynasties in ancient India,--the Solar
and Lunar. Rama belonged to the first and Bharata to the second. Pandu, a
descendant of the last, has five brave sons, who are the heroes of this
book. One of them, Arjuna, is especially distinguished. One of the
episodes is the famous Bhagavat-gita. Another is called the Brahman's
Lament. Another describes the deluge, showing the tradition of a flood
existing in India many centuries before Christ. Another gives the story of
Savitri and Satyavan. These episodes occupy three fourths of the poem, and
from them are derived most of the legends of the Puranas. A supplement,
which is itself a longer poem than the Iliad and Odyssey combined (which
together contain about thirty thousand lines), is the source of the modern
worship of Krishna. The whole poem represents the multilateral character
of Hinduism. It indicates a higher degree of civilization than that of the
Homeric poems, and describes a vast variety of fruits and flowers existing
under culture. The characters are nobler and purer than those of Homer.
The pictures of domestic and social life are very touching; children are
dutiful to their parents, parents careful of their children; wives are
loyal and obedient, yet independent in their opinions; and peace reigns in
the domestic circle.

The different works known as the Puranas are derived from the same
religious system as the two epics. They repeat the cosmogony of the poems,
and they relate more fully their mythological legends. Siva and Vischnu
are almost the sole objects of worship in the Puranas. There is a
sectarian element in their devotion to these deities which shows their
partiality, and prevents them from being authorities for Hindoo belief as
a whole.[86]

The Puranas, in their original form, belong to a period, says Mr. Wilson,
a century before the Christian era. They grew out of the conflict between
Buddhism and Brahmanism. The latter system had offered no personal gods to
the people and given them no outward worship, and the masses had been
uninterested in the abstract view of Deity held by the Brahmans.[87]

According to Mr. Wilson,[88] there are eighteen Puranas which are now read
by the common people. They are read a great deal by women. Some are very
ancient, or at least contain fragments of more ancient Puranas. The very
word signifies "antiquity." Most of them are devoted to the worship of
Vischnu. According to the Bhagavat Purana,[89] the only reasonable object
of life is to meditate on Vischnu. Brahma, who is called in one place
"the cause of causes," proclaims Vischnu to be the only pure absolute
essence, of which the universe is the manifestation. In the Vischnu
Purana, Brahma, at the head of the gods, adores Vischnu as the Supreme
Being whom he himself cannot understand.

The power of ascetic penances is highly extolled in the Puranas, as also
in the epics. In the Bhagavat it is said that Brahma, by a penitence of
sixteen thousand years, created the universe. It is even told in the
Ramayana, that a sage of a lower caste became a Brahman by dint of
austerities, in spite of the gods who considered such a confusion of
castes a breach of Hindoo etiquette.[90] To prevent him from continuing
his devotions, they sent a beautiful nymph to tempt him, and their
daughter was the famous Sakuntala. But in the end, the obstinate old
ascetic conquered the gods, and when they still refused to Brahmanize him,
he began to create new heavens and new gods, and had already made a few
stars, when the deities thought it prudent to yield, and allowed him to
become a Brahman. It is also mentioned that the Ganges, the sacred river,
in the course of her wanderings, overflowed the sacrificial ground of
another powerful ascetic, who incontinently drank up, in his anger, all
its waters, but was finally induced by the persuasions of the gods to set
the river free again by discharging it from his ears. Such were the freaks
of sages in the times of the Puranas.

Never was there a more complete example of piety divorced from morality
than in these theories. The most wicked demons acquire power over gods and
men, by devout asceticism. This principle is already fully developed in
the epic poems. The plot of the Ramayana turns around this idea. A Rajah,
Ravana, had become so powerful by sacrifice and devotion, that he
oppressed the gods; compelled Yama (or Death) to retire from his
dominions; compelled the sun to shine there all the year, and the moon to
be always full above his Raj. Agni (Fire) must not burn in his presence;
the Maruts (Winds) must blow only as he wishes. He cannot be hurt by gods
or demons. So Vischnu becomes incarnate as Rama and the gods become
incarnate as Monkeys, in order to destroy him. Such vast power was
supposed to be attained by piety without morality.

The Puranas are derived from the same system as the epic poems, and carry
out further the same ideas. Siva and Vischnu are almost the only gods who
are worshipped, and they are worshipped with a sectarian zeal unknown to
the epics. Most of the Puranas contain these five topics,--Creation,
Destruction and Renovation, the Genealogy of the gods, Reigns of the
Manus, and History of the Solar and Lunar races. Their philosophy of
creation is derived from the Sánknya philosophy. Pantheism is one of their
invariable characteristics, as they always identify God and Nature; and
herein they differ from the system of Kapila. The form of the Puranas is
always that of a dialogue. The Puranas are eighteen in number, and the
contents of the whole are stated to be one million six hundred thousand

The religion of the Hindoos at the present time is very different from
that of the Vedas or Manu. Idolatry is universal, and every month has its
special worship,--April, October, and January being most sacred. April
begins the Hindoo year. During this sacred month bands of singers go from
house to house, early in the morning, singing hymns to the gods. On the
1st of April Hindoos of all castes dedicate pitchers to the shades of
their ancestors. The girls bring flowers with which to worship little
ponds of water dedicated to Siva. Women adore the river Ganges, bathing in
it and offering it flowers. They also walk in procession round the banyan
or sacred tree. Then they worship the cow, pouring water on her feet and
putting oil on her forehead. Sometimes they take a vow to feed some
particular Brahman luxuriously during the whole month. They bathe their
idols with religious care every day and offer them food. This lasts during
April and then stops.

In May the women of India worship a goddess friendly to little babies,
named Shus-ty. They bring the infants to be blessed by some venerable
woman before the image of the goddess, whose messenger is a cat. Social
parties are also given on these occasions, although the lower castes are
kept distinct at four separate tables. The women also, not being allowed
to meet with the men at such times, have a separate entertainment by

The month of June is devoted to the bath of Jugger-naut, who was one of
the incarnations of Vischnu. The name, Jugger-naut, means Lord of the
Universe. His worship is comparatively recent. His idols are extremely
ugly. But the most remarkable thing perhaps about this worship is that it
destroys, for the time, the distinction of castes. While within the walls
which surround the temple Hindoos of every caste eat together from the
same dish. But as soon as they leave the temple this equality disappears.
The ceremony of the bath originated in this legend. The idol Jugger-naut,
desiring to bathe in the Ganges, came in the form of a boy to the river,
and then gave one of his golden ornaments to a confectioner for something
to eat. Next day the ornament was missing, and the priests could find it
nowhere. But that night in a dream the god revealed to a priest that he
had given it to a certain confectioner to pay for his lunch; and it being
found so, a festival was established on the spot, at which the idol is
annually bathed.

The other festival of this month is the worship of the Ganges, the sacred
river of India. Here the people come to bathe and to offer sacrifices,
which consist of flowers, incense, and clothes. The most sacred spot is
where the river enters the sea. Before plunging into the water each one
confesses his sins to the goddess. On the surface of this river castes are
also abolished, the holiness of the river making the low-caste man also

In the month of July is celebrated the famous ceremony of the car of
Jugger-naut, instituted to commemorate the departure of Krishna from his
native land. These cars are in the form of a pyramid, built several
stories high, and some are even fifty feet in height. They are found in
every part of India, the offerings of wealthy people, and some contain
costly statues. They are drawn by hundreds of men, it being their faith
that each one who pulls the rope will certainly go to the heaven of
Krishna when he dies. Multitudes, therefore, crowd around the rope in
order to pull, and in the excitement they sometimes fall under the wheels
and are crushed. But this is accidental, for Krishna does not desire the
suffering of his worshippers. He is a mild divinity, and not like the
fierce Siva, who loves self-torture.

In the month of August is celebrated the nativity of Krishna, the story of
whose birth resembles that in the Gospel in this, that the tyrant whom he
came to destroy sought to kill him, but a heavenly voice told the father
to fly with the child across the Jumna, and the tyrant, like Herod, killed
the infants in the village. In this month also is a feast upon which no
fire must be kindled or food cooked, and on which the cactus-tree and
serpents are worshipped..

In September is the great festival of the worship of Doorga, wife of Siva.
It commences on the seventh day of the full moon and lasts three days. It
commemorates a visit made by the goddess to her parents. The idol has
three eyes and ten hands. The ceremony, which is costly, can only be
celebrated by the rich people, who also give presents on this occasion to
the poor. The image is placed in the middle of the hall of the rich man's
house. One Brahman sits before the image with flowers, holy water,
incense. Trays laden with rice, fruit, and other kinds of food are placed
near the image, and given to the Brahmans. Goats and sheep are then
sacrificed to the idol on an altar in the yard of the house. When the head
of the victim falls the people shout, "Victory to thee, O mother!" Then
the bells ring, the trumpets sound, and the people shout for joy. The
lamps are waved before the idol, and a Brahman reads aloud from the
Scripture. Then comes a dinner on each of the three days, to which the
poor and the low-caste people are also invited and are served by the
Brahmans. The people visit from house to house, and in the evening there
is music, dancing, and public shows. So that the worship of the Hindoos
is by no means all of it ascetic, but much is social and joyful,
especially in Bengal.

In October, November, and December there are fewer ceremonies. January is
a month devoted to religious bathing. Also, in January, the religious
Hindoos invite Brahmans to read and expound the sacred books in their
houses, which are open to all hearers. In February there are festivals to

The month of March is devoted to ascetic exercises, especially to the
famous one of swinging suspended by hooks. It is a festival in honor of
Siva. A procession goes through the streets and enlists followers by
putting a thread round their necks. Every man thus enlisted must join the
party and go about with it till the end of the ceremony under pain of
losing caste. On the day before the swinging, men thrust iron or bamboo
sticks through their arms or tongues. On the next day they march in
procession to the swinging tree, where the men are suspended by hooks and
whirled round the tree four or five times.

It is considered a pious act in India to build temples, dig tanks, or
plant trees by the roadside. Rich people have idols in their houses for
daily worship, and pay a priest who comes every morning to wake up the
idols, wash and dress them, and offer them their food. In the evening he
comes again, gives them their supper and puts them to bed.

Mr. Gangooly, in his book, from which most of the above facts are drawn,
denies emphatically the statement so commonly made that Hindoo mothers
throw their infants into the Ganges. He justly says that the maternal
instinct is as strong with them as with others; and in addition to that,
their religion teaches them to offer sacrifices for the life and health of
their children.

§ 9. Relation of Brahmanism to Christianity.

Having thus attempted, in the space we can here use, to give an account of
Brahmanism, we close by showing its special relation as a system of
thought to Christianity.

Brahmanism teaches the truth of the reality of spirit, and that spirit is
infinite, absolute, perfect, one; that it is the substance underlying all
existence. Brahmanism glows through and through with this spirituality.
Its literature, no less than its theology, teaches it. It is in the dramas
of Calidasa, as well as in the sublime strains of the Bhagavat-gita.
Something divine is present in all nature and all life,--

    "Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
     And the round ocean and the living air."

Now, with this Christianity is in fullest agreement. We have such passages
in the Scripture as these: "God is a Spirit"; "God is love; whoso dwelleth
in love dwelleth in God, and God in him"; "In him we live, and move, and
have our being"; "He is above all, and through all, and in us all." But
beside these texts, which strike the key-note of the music which was to
come after, there are divine strains of spiritualism, of God all in all,
which come through a long chain of teachers of the Church, sounding on in
the Confessions of Augustine, the prayers of Thomas Aquinas, Anselm,
Bonaventura, St. Bernard, through the Latin hymns of the Middle Ages, and
develop themselves at last in what is called romantic art and romantic
song. A Gothic cathedral like Antwerp or Strasburg,--what is it but a
striving upward of the soul to lose itself in God? A symphony of
Beethoven,--what is it but the same unbounded longing and striving toward
the Infinite and Eternal? The poetry of Wordsworth, of Goethe, Schiller,
Dante, Byron, Victor Hugo, Manzoni, all partake of the same element. It is
opposed to classic art and classic poetry in this, that instead of limits,
it seeks the unlimited; that is, it believes in spirit, which alone is the
unlimited; the _in_finite, that which _is,_ not that which appears; the
_essence_ of things, not their _ex_istence or outwardness.

Thus Christianity meets and accepts the truth of Brahmanism. But how does
it fulfil Brahmanism? The deficiencies of Brahmanism are these,--that
holding to eternity, it omits time, and so loses history. It therefore is
incapable of progress, for progress takes place in time. Believing in
spirit, or infinite unlimited substance, it loses person, or definite
substance, whether infinite or finite. The Christian God is the infinite,
definite substance, self-limited or defined by his essential nature. He is
good and not bad, righteous and not the opposite, perfect love, not
perfect self-love. Christianity, therefore, gives us God as a person, and
man also as a person, and so makes it possible to consider the universe as
order, kosmos, method, beauty, and providence. For, unless we can conceive
the Infinite Substance as definite, and not undefined; that is, as a
person with positive characters; there is no difference between good and
bad, right and wrong, to-day and to-morrow, this and that, but all is one
immense chaos of indefinite spirit. The moment that creation begins, that
the spirit of the Lord moves on the face of the waters, and says, "Let
there be light," and so divides light from darkness, God becomes a person,
and man can also be a person. Things then become "separate and divisible"
which before were "huddled and lumped."

Christianity, therefore, fulfils Brahmanism by adding to eternity time, to
the infinite the finite, to God as spirit God as nature and providence.
God in himself is the unlimited, unknown, dwelling in the light which no
man can approach unto; hidden, not by darkness, but by light. But God, as
turned toward us in nature and providence, is the infinite definite
substance, that is, having certain defined characters, though these have
no bounds as regards extent. This last view of God Christianity shares
with other religions, which differ from Brahmanism in the opposite
direction. For example, the religion of Greece and of the Greek
philosophers never loses the definite God, however high it may soar. While
Brahmanism, seeing eternity and infinity, loses time and the finite, the
Greek religion, dwelling in time, often loses the eternal and the
spiritual. Christianity is the mediator, able to mediate, not by standing
between both, but by standing beside both. It can lead the Hindoos to an
Infinite Friend, a perfect Father, a Divine Providence, and so make the
possibility for them of a new progress, and give to that ancient and
highly endowed race another chance in history. What they want is evidently
moral power, for they have all intellectual ability. The effeminate
quality which has made them slaves of tyrants during two thousand years
will be taken out of them, and a virile strength substituted, when they
come to see God as law and love,--perfect law and perfect love,--and to
see that communion with him comes, not from absorption, contemplation, and
inaction, but from active obedience, moral growth, and personal
development. For Christianity certainly teaches that we unite ourselves
with God, not by sinking into and losing our personality, in him, but by
developing it, so that we may be able to serve and love him.

Chapter IV.

Buddhism, or the Protestantism of the East.

  § 1. Buddhism, in its Forms, resembles Romanism; in its Spirit,
  § 2. Extent of Buddhism. Its Scriptures.
  § 3. Sakyamuni, the Founder of Buddhism.
  § 4. Leading Doctrines of Buddhism.
  § 5. The Spirit of Buddhism Rational and Humane.
  § 6. Buddhism as a Religion.
  § 7. Karma and Nirvana.
  § 8. Good and Evil of Buddhism.
  § 9. Relation of Buddhism to Christianity.

§ 1. Buddhism, in its Forms, resembles Romanism; in its Spirit,

On first becoming acquainted with the mighty and ancient religion of
Buddha, one may be tempted to deny the correctness of this title, "The
_Protestantism_ of the East." One might say, "Why not rather the
_Romanism_ of the East?" For so numerous are the resemblances between the
customs of this system and those of the Romish Church, that the first
Catholic missionaries who encountered the priests of Buddha were
confounded, and thought that Satan had been mocking their sacred rites.
Father Bury, a Portuguese missionary,[92] when he beheld the Chinese
bonzes tonsured, using rosaries, praying in an unknown tongue, and
kneeling before images, exclaimed in astonishment: "There is not a piece
of dress, not a sacerdotal function, not a ceremony of the court of Rome,
which the Devil has not copied in this country." Mr. Davis (Transactions
of the Royal Asiatic Society, II. 491) speaks of "the celibacy of the
Buddhist clergy, and the monastic life of the societies of both sexes; to
which might be added their strings of beads, their manner of chanting
prayers, their incense, and their candles." Mr. Medhurst ("China," London,
1857) mentions the image of a virgin, called the "queen of heaven,"
having an infant in her arms, and holding a cross. Confession of sins is
regularly practised. Father Huc, in his "Recollections of a Journey in
Tartary, Thibet, and China," (Hazlitt's translation), says: "The cross,
the mitre, the dalmatica, the cope, which the grand lamas wear on their
journeys, or when they are performing some ceremony out of the
temple,--the service with double choirs, the psalmody, the exorcisms, the
censer suspended from five chains, and which you can open or close at
pleasure,--the benedictions given by the lamas by extending the right hand
over the heads of the faithful,--the chaplet, ecclesiastical celibacy,
religious retirement, the worship of the saints, the fasts, the
processions, the litanies, the holy water,--all these are analogies
between the Buddhists and ourselves." And in Thibet there is also a Dalai
Lama, who is a sort of Buddhist pope. Such numerous and striking analogies
are difficult to explain. After the simple theory "que le diable y était
pour beaucoup" was abandoned, the next opinion held by the Jesuit
missionaries was that the Buddhists had copied these customs from
Nestorian missionaries, who are known to have penetrated early even as far
as China.[93] But a serious objection to this theory is that Buddhism is
at least five hundred years older than Christianity, and that many of
these striking resemblances belong to its earliest period. Thus Wilson
(Hindu Drama) has translated plays written before the Christian era, in
which Buddhist monks appear as mendicants. The worship of relics is quite
as ancient. Fergusson[94] describes topes, or shrines for relics, of very
great antiquity, existing in India, Ceylon, Birmah, and Java. Many of them
belong to the age of Asoka, the great Buddhist emperor, who ruled all
India B.C. 250, and in whose reign Buddhism became the religion of the
state, and held its third Œcumenical Council.

The ancient Buddhist architecture is very singular, and often very
beautiful. It consists of topes, rock-cut temples, and monasteries. Some
of the topes are monolithic columns, more than forty feet high, with
ornamented capitals. Some are immense domes of brick and stone, containing
sacred relics. The tooth of Buddha was once preserved in a magnificent
shrine in India, but was conveyed to Ceyion A.D. 311, where it still
remains an object of universal reverence. It is a piece of ivory or bone
two inches long, and is kept in six cases, the largest of which, of solid
silver, is five feet high. The other cases are inlaid with rubies and
precious stones.[95] Besides this, Ceylon possesses the "left collar-bone
relic," contained in a bell-shaped tope, fifty feet high, and the thorax
bone, which was placed in a tope built by a Hindoo Raja, B.C. 250, beside
which two others were subsequently erected, the last being eighty cubits
high. The Sanchi tope, the finest in India,[96] is a solid dome of stone,
one hundred and six feet in diameter and forty-two feet high, with a
basement and terrace, having a colonnade, now fallen, of sixty pillars,
with richly carved stone railing and gateway.

The rock-cut temples of the Buddhists are very ancient, and are numerous
in India. Mr. Fergusson, who has made a special personal study of these
monuments, believes that more than nine hundred still remain, most of them
within the Bombay presidency. Of these, many date back two centuries
before our era. In form they singularly resemble the earliest Roman
Catholic churches. Excavated out of the solid rock, they have a nave and
side aisles, terminating in an apse or semi-dome, round which the aisle is
carried. One at Karli, built in this manner, is one hundred and twenty-six
feet long and forty-five wide, with fifteen richly carved columns on each
side, separating the nave from the aisles. The facade of this temple is
also richly ornamented, and has a great open window for lighting the
interior, beneath an elegant gallery or rood-loft.

The Buddhist rock-cut monasteries in India are also numerous, though long
since deserted. Between seven and eight hundred are known to exist, most
of them having been excavated between B.C. 200 and A.D. 500. Buddhist
monks, then as now, took the same three vows of celibacy, poverty, and
obedience, which are taken by the members of all the Catholic orders. In
addition to this, _all_ the Buddhist priests are mendicants. They shave
their heads, wear a friar's robe tied round the waist with a rope, and beg
from house to house, carrying their wooden bowl in which to receive boiled
rice. The old monasteries of India contain chapels and cells for the
monks. The largest, however, had accommodation for only thirty or forty;
while at the present time a single monastery in Thibet, visited by MM. Huc
and Gabet (the lamasery of Kounboum), is occupied by four thousand lamas.
The structure of these monasteries shows clearly that the monkish system
of the Buddhists is far too ancient to have been copied from the

Is, then, the reverse true? Did the Catholic Christians derive their
monastic institutions, their bells, their rosary, their tonsure, their
incense, their mitre and cope, their worship of relics, their custom of
confession, etc., from the Buddhists? Such is the opinion of Mr. Prinsep
(Thibet, Tartary, and Mongolia, 1852) and of Lassen (Indische
Alterthumskunde). But, in reply to this view, Mr. Hardwicke objects that
we do not find in history any trace of such an influence. Possibly,
therefore, the resemblances may be the result of common human tendencies
working out, independently, the same results. If, however, it is necessary
to assume that either religion copied from the other, the Buddhists may
claim originality, on the ground of antiquity.

But, however this may he, the question returns, Why call Buddhism the
Protestantism of the East, when all its external features so much resemble
those of the Roman Catholic Church?

We answer: Because deeper and more essential relations connect Brahmanism
with the Romish Church, and the Buddhist system with Protestantism. The
human mind in Asia went through the same course of experience, afterward
repeated in Europe. It protested, in the interest of humanity, against
the oppression of a priestly caste. Brahmanism, like the Church of Rome,
established a system of sacramental salvation in the hands of a sacred
order. Buddhism, like Protestantism, revolted, and established a doctrine
of individual salvation based on personal character. Brahmanism, like the
Church of Rome, teaches an exclusive spiritualism, glorifying penances and
martyrdom, and considers the body the enemy of the soul. But Buddhism and
Protestantism accept nature and its laws, and make a religion of humanity
as well as of devotion. To such broad statements numerous exceptions may
doubtless be always found, but these are the large lines of distinction.

The Roman Catholic Church and Brahmanism place the essence of religion in
sacrifices. Each is eminently a sacrificial system. The daily sacrifice of
the mass is the central feature of the Romish Church. So Brahmanism is a
system of sacrifices. But Protestantism and Buddhism save the soul by
teaching. In the Church of Rome the sermon is subordinate to the mass; in
Protestantism and in Buddhism sermons are the main instruments by which
souls are saved. Brahmanism is a system of inflexible castes; the priestly
caste is made distinct and supreme; and in Romanism the priesthood almost
constitutes the church. In Buddhism and Protestantism the laity regain
their rights. Therefore, notwithstanding the external resemblance of
Buddhist rites and ceremonies to those of the Roman Catholic Church, the
internal resemblance is to Protestantism. Buddhism in Asia, like
Protestantism in Europe, is a revolt of nature against spirit, of humanity
against caste, of individual freedom against the despotism of an order, of
salvation by faith against salvation by sacraments. And as all revolts are
apt to go too far, so it has been with Buddhism. In asserting the rights
of nature against the tyranny of spirit, Buddhism has lost God. There is
in Buddhism neither creation nor Creator. Its tracts say: "The rising of
the world is a natural case." "Its rising and perishing are by nature
itself." "It is natural that the world should rise and perish."[97] While
in Brahmanism absolute spirit is the only reality, and this world is an
illusion, the Buddhists know only this world, and the eternal world is so
entirely unknown as to be equivalent to nullity. But yet, as no revolt,
however radical, gives up _all_ its antecedents, so Buddhism has the same
_aim_ as Brahmanism, namely, to escape from the vicissitudes of time into
the absolute rest of eternity. They agree as to the object of existence;
they differ as to the method of reaching it. The Brahman and the Roman
Catholic think that eternal rest is to be obtained by intellectual
submission, by passive reception of what is taught us and done for us by
others: the Buddhist and Protestant believe it must be accomplished by an
intelligent and free obedience to Divine laws. Mr. Hodgson, who has long
studied the features of this religion in Nepaul, says: "The one infallible
diagnostic of Buddhism is a belief in the infinite capacity of the human
intellect." The name of Buddha means the Intelligent One, or the one who
is wide awake. And herein also is another resemblance to Protestantism,
which emphasizes so strongly the value of free thought and the seeking
after truth. In Judaism we find two spiritual powers,--the prophet and the
priest. The priest is the organ of the pardoning and saving love of God;
the prophet, of his inspiring truth. In the European Reformation, the
prophet revolting against the priest founded Protestantism; in the Asiatic
Reformation he founded Buddhism. Finally, Brahmanism and the Roman
Catholic Church are more religious; Buddhism and Protestant Christianity,
more moral. Such, sketched in broad outline, is the justification for the
title of this chapter; but we shall be more convinced of its accuracy
after looking more closely into the resemblances above indicated between
the religious ceremonies of the East and West.

These resemblances are chiefly between the Buddhists and the monastic
orders of the Church of Rome. Now it is a fact, but one which has never
been sufficiently noticed, that the whole monastic system of Rome is based
on a principle foreign to the essential ideas of that church. The
fundamental doctrine of Rome is that of salvation by sacraments. This
alone justifies its maxim, that "out of communion with the Church there is
no salvation." The sacrament of Baptism regenerates the soul; the
sacrament of Penance purifies it from mortal sin; the sacrament of the
Eucharist renews its life; and that of Holy Orders qualifies the priest
for administering these and the other sacraments. But if the soul is saved
by sacraments, duly administered and received, why go into a religious
order to save the soul? Why seek by special acts of piety, self-denial,
and separation from the world that which comes sufficiently through the
usual sacraments of the church? The more we examine this subject, the more
we shall see that the whole monastic system of the Church of Rome is an
_included Protestantism_, or a Protestantism within the church.

Many of the reformers before the Reformation were monks. Savonarola, St.
Bernard, Luther himself, were monks. From the monasteries came many of the
leaders of the Reformation. The Protestant element in the Romish Church
was shut up in monasteries during many centuries, and remained there as a
foreign substance, an alien element included in the vast body. When a
bullet, or other foreign substance, is lodged in the flesh, the vital
powers go to work and build up a little wall around it, and shut it in. So
when Catholics came who were not satisfied with a merely sacramental
salvation, and longed for a higher life, the sagacity of the Church put
them together in convents, and kept them by themselves, where they could
do no harm. One of the curious homologons of history is this repetition in
Europe of the course of events in Asia. Buddhism was, for many centuries,
tolerated in India in the same way. It took the form of a monasticism
included in Brahmanism, and remained a part of the Hindoo religion. And
so, when the crisis came and the conflict began, this Hindoo Protestantism
maintained itself for a long time in India, as Lutheranism continued for a
century in Italy, Spain, and Austria. But it was at last driven out of its
birthplace, as Protestantism was driven from Italy and Spain; and now only
the ruins of its topes, its temples, and its monasteries remain to show
how extensive was its former influence in the midst of Brahmanism.

§ 2. Extent of Buddhism. Its Scriptures.

Yet, though expelled from India, and unable to maintain its control over
any Aryan race, it has exhibited a powerful propagandist element, and so
has converted to its creed the majority of the Mongol nations. It embraces
nearly or quite (for statistics here are only guesswork)[98] three hundred
millions of human beings. It is the popular religion of China; the state
religion of Thibet, and of the Birman Empire; it is the religion of Japan,
Siam, Anam, Assam, Nepaul, Ceylon, in short, of nearly the whole of
Eastern Asia.

Concerning this vast religion we have had, until recently, very few means
of information. But, during the last quarter of a century, so many sources
have been opened, that at present we can easily study it in its original
features and its subsequent development. The sacred books of this religion
have been preserved independently, in Ceylon, Nepaul, China, and Thibet.
Mr. G. Turnour, Mr. Georgely, and Mr. R. Spence Hardy are our chief
authorities in regard to the Pitikas, or the Scriptures in the Pali
language, preserved in Ceylon. Mr. Hodgson has collected and studied the
Sanskrit Scriptures, found in Nepaul. In 1825 he transmitted to the
Asiatic Society in Bengal sixty works in Sanskrit, and two hundred and
fifty in the language of Thibet. M. Csoma, an Hungarian physician,
discovered in the Buddhist monasteries of Thibet an immense collection of
sacred books, which had been translated from the Sanskrit works previously
studied by Mr. Hodgson. In 1829 M. Schmidt found the same works in the
Mongolian. M. Stanislas Julien, an eminent student of the Chinese, has
also translated works on Buddhism from that language, which ascend to the
year 76 of our era.[99] More recently inscriptions cut upon rocks,
columns, and other monuments in Northern India, have been transcribed and
translated. Mr. James Prinsep deciphered these inscriptions, and found
them to be in the ancient language of the province of Magadha where
Buddhism first appeared. They contain the decrees of a king, or raja,
named Pyadasi, whom Mr. Turnour has shown to be the same as the famous
Asoka, before alluded to. This king appears to have come to the throne
somewhere between B.C. 319 and B.C. 260. Similar inscriptions have been
discovered throughout India, proving to the satisfaction of such scholars
as Burnouf, Prinsep, Turnour, Lassen, Weber, Max Müller, and
Saint-Hilaire, that Buddhism had become almost the state religion of
India, in the fourth century before Christ.[100]

§ 3. Sakya-muni, the Founder of Buddhism.

North of Central India and of the kingdom of Oude, near the borders of
Nepaul, there reigned, at the end of the seventh century before Christ, a
wise and good king, in his capital city, Kapilavastu[101]. He was one of
the last of the great Solar race, celebrated in the ancient epics of
India. His wife, named _Maya_ because of her great beauty, became the
mother of a prince, who was named Siddârtha, and afterward known as the
Buddha[102]. She died seven days after his birth, and the child was
brought up by his maternal aunt. The young prince distinguished himself by
his personal and intellectual qualities, but still more by his early
piety. It appears from the laws of Manu that it was not unusual, in the
earliest periods of Brahmanism, for those seeking a superior piety to turn
hermits, and to live alone in the forest, engaged in acts of prayer,
meditation, abstinence, and the study of the Vedas. This practice,
however, seems to have been confined to the Brahmans. It was, therefore, a
grief to the king, when his son, in the flower of his youth and highly
accomplished in every kingly faculty of body and mind, began to turn his
thoughts toward the life of an anchorite. In fact, the young Siddârtha
seems to have gone through that deep experience out of which the great
prophets of mankind have always been born. The evils of the world pressed
on his heart and brain; the very air seemed full of mortality; all things
were passing away. Was anything permanent? anything stable? Nothing but
truth; only the absolute, eternal law of things. "Let me see that," said
he, "and I can give lasting peace to mankind. Then shall I become their
deliverer." So, in opposition to the strong entreaties of his father,
wife, and friends, he left the palace one night, and exchanged the
position of a prince for that of a mendicant. "I will never return to the
palace," said he, "till I have attained to the sight of the divine law,
and so become Buddha."[103]

He first visited the Brahmans, and listened to their doctrines, but found
no satisfaction therein. The wisest among them could not teach him true
peace,--that profound inward rest, which was already called Nirvana. He
was twenty-nine years old. Although disapproving of the Brahmanic
austerities as an end, he practised them during six years, in order to
subdue the senses. He then became satisfied that the path to perfection
did not lie that way. He therefore resumed his former diet and a more
comfortable mode of life, and so lost many disciples who had been
attracted by his amazing austerity. Alone in his hermitage, he came at
last to that solid conviction, that KNOWLEDGE never to be shaken, of the
laws of things, which had seemed to him the only foundation of a truly
free life. The spot where, after a week of constant meditation, he at last
arrived at this beatific vision, became one of the most sacred places in
India. He was seated under a tree, his face to the east, not having moved
for a day and night, when he attained the triple science, which was to
rescue mankind from its woes. Twelve hundred years after the death of the
Buddha, a Chinese pilgrim was shown what then passed for the sacred tree.
It was surrounded by high brick walls, with an opening to the east, and
near it stood many topes and monasteries. In the opinion of M.
Saint-Hilaire, these ruins, and the locality of the tree, may yet be
rediscovered. The spot deserves to be sought for, since there began a
movement which has, on the whole, been a source of happiness and
improvement to immense multitudes of human beings, during twenty-four

Having attained this inward certainty of vision, he decided to teach the
world his truth. He knew well what it would bring him,--what opposition,
insult, neglect, scorn. But he thought of three classes of men: those who
were already on the way to the truth, and did not need him; those who were
fixed in error, and whom he could not help; and the poor doubters,
uncertain of their way. It was to help these last, the doubters, that the
Buddha went forth to preach. On his way to the holy city of India,
Benares, a serious difficulty arrested him at the Ganges, namely, his
having no money to pay the boatman for his passage. At Benares he made his
first converts, "turning the wheel of the law" for the first time. His
discourses are contained in the sacred books of the Buddhists. He
converted great numbers, his father among the rest, but met with fierce
opposition from the Hindoo Scribes and Pharisees, the leading Brahmans. So
he lived and taught, and died at the age of eighty years.

Naturally, as soon as the prophet was dead he became very precious in all
eyes. His body was burned with much pomp, and great contention arose for
the unconsumed fragments of bone. At last they were divided into eight
parts, and a tope was erected, by each of the eight fortunate possessors,
over such relics as had fallen to him. The ancient books of the North and
South agree as to the places where the topes were built, and no Roman
Catholic relics are so well authenticated. The Buddha, who believed with
Jesus that "the flesh profiteth nothing," and that "the word is spirit and
life," would probably have been the first to condemn this idolatry. But
fetich-worship lingers in the purest religions.

The time of the death of Sakya-muni, like most Oriental dates, is
uncertain. The Northern Buddhists, in Thibet, Nepaul, etc., vary greatly
among themselves. The Chinese Buddhists are not more certain. Lassen,
therefore, with most of the scholars, accepts as authentic the period upon
which all the authorities of the South, especially of Ceylon, agree, which
is B.C. 543. Lately Westergaard has written a monograph on the subject, in
which, by a labored argument, he places the date about two hundred years
later. Whether he will convince his brother _savans_ remains to be seen.

Immediately after the death of Sakya-muni a general council of his most
eminent disciples was called, to fix the doctrine and discipline of the
church. The legend runs that three of the disciples were selected to
recite from memory what the sage had taught. The first was appointed to
repeat his teaching upon discipline; "for discipline," said they, "is the
soul of the law." Whereupon Upali, mounting the pulpit, repeated all of
the precepts concerning morals and the ritual. Then Ananda was chosen to
give his master's discourses concerning faith or doctrine. Finally,
Kasyapa announced the philosophy and metaphysics of the system. The
council sat during seven months, and the threefold division of the sacred
Scriptures of Buddhism was the result of their work; for Sakya-muni wrote
nothing himself. He taught by conversation only.

The second general council was called to correct certain abuses which had
begun to creep in. It was held about a hundred years after the teacher's
death. A great fraternity of monks proposed to relax the conventual
discipline, by allowing greater liberty in taking food, in drinking
intoxicating liquor, and taking gold and silver if offered in alms. The
schismatic monks were degraded, to the number of ten thousand, but formed
a new sect. The third council, held during the reign of the great Buddhist
Emperor Asoka, was called on account of heretics, who, to the number of
sixty thousand, were degraded and expelled. After this, missionaries were
despatched to preach the word in different lands. The names and success of
these missionaries are recorded in the _Mahawanso_, or Sacred History,
translated by Mr. George Turnour from the Singhalese. But what is
remarkable is, that the relics of some of them have been recently found in
the Sanchi topes, and in other sacred buildings, contained in caskets,
with their names inscribed on them. These inscribed names correspond with
those given to the same missionaries in the historical books of Ceylon.
For example, according to the _Mahawanso_, two missionaries, one named
Kassapo (or Kasyapa), and the other called Majjhima (or Madhyama), went to
preach in the region of the Himalayan Mountains. They journeyed, preached,
suffered, and toiled, side by side, so the ancient history informs us,--a
history composed in Ceylon in the fifth century of our era, with the aid
of works still more ancient;[104] and now, when the second Sanchi tope was
opened in 1851, by Major Cunningham, the relics of these very missionaries
were discovered.[105] The tope was perfect in 1819, when visited by
Captain Fell,--"not a stone fallen." And though afterward injured, in
1822, by some amateur relic-hunters, its contents remained intact. It is a
solid hemisphere, built of rough stones without mortar, thirty-nine feet
in diameter; it has a basement six feet high, projecting all around five
feet, and so making a terrace. It is surrounded by a stone railing, with
carved figures. In the centre of this tope was found a small chamber, made
of six stones, containing the relic-box of white sandstone, about ten
inches square. Inside this were four caskets of steatite (a sacred stone
among the Buddhists), each containing small portions of burnt human bone.
On the outside lid of one of these boxes was this inscription: "Relics of
the emancipated Kasyapa Gotra, missionary to the whole Hemawanta." And on
the inside of the lid was carved: "Relics of the emancipated Madhyama."
These relics, with those of eight other leading men of the Buddhist
Church, had rested in this monument since the age of Asoka, and cannot
have been placed there later than B.C. 220.

The missionary spirit displayed by Buddhism distinguishes it from all
other religions which preceded Christianity. The religion of Confucius
never attempted to make converts outside of China. Brahmanism never went
beyond India. The system of Zoroaster was a Persian religion; that of
Egypt was confined to the Valley of the Nile; that of Greece to the
Hellenic race. But Buddhism was inflamed with the desire of bringing all
mankind to a knowledge of its truths. Its ardent and successful
missionaries converted multitudes in Nepaul, Thibet, Birmah, Ceylon,
China, Siam, Japan; and in all these states its monasteries are to-day the
chief sources of knowledge and centres of instruction to the people. It is
idle to class such a religion as this with the superstitions which debase
mankind. Its power lay in the strength of conviction which inspired its
teachers; and that, again, must have come from the sight of truth, not the
belief in error.

§ 4. Leading Doctrines of Buddhism.

What, then, are the doctrines of Buddhism? What are the essential
teachings of the Buddha and his disciples? Is it a system, as we are so
often told, which denies God and immortality? Has _atheism_ such a power
over human hearts in the East? Is the Asiatic mind thus in love with
eternal death? Let us try to discover.

The hermit of Sakya, as we have seen, took his departure from two profound
convictions,--the evil of perpetual change, and the possibility of
something permanent. He might have used the language of the Book of
Ecclesiastes, and cried, "Vanity of vanities! all is vanity!" The profound
gloom of that wonderful book is based on the same course of thought as
that of the Buddha, namely, that everything goes round and round in a
circle; that nothing moves forward; that there is no new thing under the
sun; that the sun rises and sets, and rises again; that the wind blows
north and south, and east and west, and then returns according to its
circuits. Where can rest be found? where peace? where any certainty?
Siddârtha was young; but he saw age approaching. He was in health; but he
knew that sickness and death were lying in wait for him. He could not
escape from the sight of this perpetual round of growth and decay, life
and death, joy and woe. He cried out, from the depths of his soul, for
something stable, permanent, real.

Again, he was assured that this emancipation from change and decay was to
be found in knowledge. But by knowledge he did not intend the perception
and recollection of outward facts,--not learning. Nor did he mean
speculative knowledge, or the power of reasoning. He meant intuitive
knowledge, the sight of eternal truth, the perception of the unchanging
laws of the universe. This was a knowledge which was not to be attained by
any merely intellectual process, but by moral training, by purity of heart
and lite. Therefore he renounced the world, and went into the forest, and
became an anchorite.

But just at this point he separated himself from the Brahmans. They also
were, and are, believers in the value of mortification, abnegation,
penance. They had their hermits in his day. But they believed in the value
of penance as accumulating merit. They practised self-denial for its own
sake. The Buddha practised it as a means to a higher end,--emancipation,
purification, intuition. And this end he believed that he had at last
attained. At last he _saw_ the truth. He became "wide awake." Illusions
disappeared; the reality was before him. He was the Buddha,--the MAN WHO

Still he was a man, not a God. And here again is another point of
departure from Brahmanism. In that system, the final result of devotion
was to become absorbed in God. The doctrine of the Brahmans is divine
absorption; that of the Buddhists, human development. In the Brahmanical
system, God is everything and man nothing. In the Buddhist, man is
everything and God nothing. Here is its atheism, that it makes so much of
man as to forget God. It is perhaps "without God in the world," but it
does not deny him. It accepts the doctrine of the three worlds,--the
eternal world of absolute being; the celestial world of the gods, Brahma,
Indra, Vischnu, Siva; and the finite world, consisting of individual
souls and the laws of nature. Only it says, of the world of absolute
being, Nirvana, we know nothing. That is our aim and end; but it is the
direct opposite to all we know. It is, therefore, to us as nothing. The
celestial world, that of the gods, is even of less moment to us. What we
know are the everlasting laws of nature, by obedience to which we rise,
disobeying which we fall, by perfect obedience to which we shall at last
obtain Nirvana, and rest forever.

To the mind of the Buddha, therefore, the world consisted of two orders of
existence,--souls and laws. He saw an infinite multitude of souls,--in
insects, animals, men,--and saw that they were surrounded by inflexible
laws,--the laws of nature. To know these and to obey them,--this was

The fundamental doctrine of Buddhism, taught by its founder and received
by all Buddhists without exception, in the North and in the South, in
Birmah and Thibet, in Ceylon and China, is the doctrine of the four
sublime truths, namely:--

   1. All existence is evil, because all existence is subject to change
   and decay.

   2. The source of this evil is the desire for things which are to change
   and pass away.

   3. This desire, and the evil which follows it, are not inevitable; for
   if we choose we can arrive at Nirvana, when both shall wholly cease.

   4. There is a fixed and certain method to adopt, by pursuing which we
   attain this end, without possibility of failure.

These four truths are the basis of the system. They are: 1st, the evil;
2d, its cause; 3d, its end; 4th, the way of reaching the end.

Then follow the eight steps of this way, namely:--

   1. Right belief, or the correct faith.

   2. Right judgment, or wise application of that faith to life.

   3. Right utterance, or perfect truth in all that we say and do.

   4. Right motives, or proposing always a proper end and aim.

   5. Right occupation, or an outward life not involving sin.

   6. Right obedience, or faithful observance of duty.

   7. Right memory, or a proper recollection of past conduct.

   8. Right meditation, or keeping the mind fixed on permanent truth.

After this system of doctrine follow certain moral commands and
prohibitions, namely, five, which apply to all men, and five others which
apply only to the novices or the monks. The five first commandments are:
1st, do not kill; 2d, do not steal; 3d, do not commit adultery; 4th, do
not lie; 5th, do not become intoxicated. The other five are: 1st, take no
solid food after noon; 2d, do not visit dances, singing, or theatrical
representations; 3d, use no ornaments or perfumery in dress; 4th, use no
luxurious beds; 5th, accept neither gold nor silver.

All these doctrines and precepts have been the subject of innumerable
commentaries and expositions. Everything has been commented, explained,
and elucidated. Systems of casuistry as voluminous as those of the Fathers
of the Company of Jesus, systems of theology as full of minute analysis as
the great _Summa Totius Theologiæ_ of St. Thomas, are to be found in the
libraries of the monasteries of Thibet and Ceylon. The monks have their
Golden Legends, their Lives of Saints, full of miracles and marvels. On
this simple basis of a few rules and convictions has arisen a vast fabric
of metaphysics. Much of this literature is instructive and entertaining.
Some of it is profound. Baur, who had made a special study of the
intricate speculations of the Gnostics, compares them with "the vast
abstractions of Buddhism."

§ 5. The Spirit of Buddhism Rational and Humane.

Ultimately, two facts appear, as we contemplate this system,--first, its
rationalism; second, its humanity.

It is a system of rationalism. It appeals throughout to human reason. It
proposes to save man, not from a future but a present hell, and to save
him by teaching. Its great means of influence is the sermon. The Buddha
preached innumerable sermons; his missionaries went abroad preaching.
Buddhism has made all its conquests honorably, by a process of rational
appeal to the human mind. It was never propagated by force, even when it
had the power of imperial rajas to support it. Certainly, it is a very
encouraging fact in the history of man, that the two religions which have
made more converts than any other, Buddhism and Christianity, have not
depended for their success on the sword of the conqueror or the frauds of
priestcraft, but have gained their victories in the fair conflict of
reason with reason. We grant that Buddhism has not been without its
superstitions and its errors; but it has not deceived, and it has not
persecuted. In this respect it can teach Christians a lesson. Buddhism has
no prejudices against those who confess another faith. The Buddhists have
founded no Inquisition; they have combined the zeal which converted
kingdoms with a toleration almost inexplicable to our Western experience.
Only one religious war has darkened their peaceful history during
twenty-three centuries,--that which took place in Thibet, but of which we
know little. A Siamese told Crawford that he believed all the religions of
the world to be branches of the true religion. A Buddhist in Ceylon sent
his son to a Christian school, and told the astonished missionary, "I
respect Christianity as much as Buddhism, for I regard it as a help to
Buddhism." MM. Hue and Gabet converted no Buddhist in Tartary and Thibet,
but they partially converted one, bringing him so far as to say that he
considered himself at the same time a good Christian and a good Buddhist.

Buddhism is also a religion of humanity. Because it lays such stress on
reason, it respects all men, since all possess this same gift. In its
origin it broke down all castes. All men, of whatever rank, can enter its
priesthood. It has an unbounded charity for all souls, and holds it a duty
to make sacrifices for all. One legend tells us that the Buddha gave his
body for food to a starved tigress, who could not nurse her young through
weakness. An incident singularly like that in the fourth chapter of John
is recorded of the hermit, who asked a woman of low caste for water, and
when she expressed surprise said, "Give me drink, and I will give you
truth." The unconditional command, "Thou shalt not kill," which applies to
all living creatures, has had great influence in softening the manners of
the Mongols. This command is connected with the doctrine of transmigration
of souls, which is one of the essential doctrines of this system as well
as of Brahmanism. But Buddhism has abolished human sacrifices, and indeed
all bloody offerings, and its innocent altars are only crowned with
flowers and leaves. It also inculcates a positive humanity, consisting of
good actions. All its priests are supported by daily alms. It is a duty of
the Buddhist to be hospitable to strangers, to establish hospitals for the
sick and poor, and even for sick animals, to plant shade-trees, and erect
houses for travellers. Mr. Malcom, the Baptist missionary, says that he
was resting one day in a _zayat_ in a small village in Birmah, and was
scarcely seated when a woman brought a nice mat for him to lie on. Another
brought cool water, and a man went and picked for him half a dozen good
oranges. None sought or expected, he says, the least reward, but
disappeared, and left him to his repose. He adds: "None can ascend the
river without being struck with the hardihood, skill, energy, and
good-humor of the Birmese boatmen. In point of temper and morality they
are infinitely superior to the boatmen on our Western waters. In my
various trips, I have seen no quarrel nor heard a hard word."

Mr. Malcom goes on thus: "Many of these people have never seen a white man
before, but I am constantly struck with their politeness. They desist from
anything on the slightest intimation; never crowd around to be
troublesome; and if on my showing them my watch or pencil-case, or
anything which particularly attracts them, there are more than can get a
sight, the outer ones stand aloof and wait till their turn comes....

"I saw no intemperance in Birmah, though an intoxicating liquor is made
easily of the juice of a palm....

"A man may travel from one end of the kingdom to the other without money,
feeding and lodging as well as the people."

"I have seen thousands together, for hours, on public occasions, rejoicing
in all ardor, and no act of violence or case of intoxication....

"During my whole residence in the country I never saw an indecent act or
immodest gesture in man or woman.... I have seen hundreds of men and women
bathing, and no immodest or careless act....

"Children are treated with great kindness, not only by the mother but the
father, who, when unemployed, takes the young child in his arms, and seems
pleased to attend to it, while the mother cleans the rice or sits
unemployed at his side. I have as often seen fathers caressing female
infants as male. A widow with male and female children is more likely to
be sought in marriage than if she has none....

"Children are almost as reverent to parents as among the Chinese. The aged
are treated with great care and tenderness, and occupy the best places in
all assemblies."

According to Saint-Hilaire's opinion, the Buddhist morality is one of
endurance, patience, submission, and abstinence, rather than of action,
energy, enterprise. Love for all beings is its nucleus, every animal being
our possible relative. To love our enemies, to offer our lives for
animals, to abstain from even defensive warfare, to govern ourselves, to
avoid vices, to pay obedience to superiors, to reverence age, to provide
food and shelter for men and animals, to dig wells and plant trees, to
despise no religion, show no intolerance, not to persecute, are the
virtues of these people. Polygamy is tolerated, but not approved. Monogamy
is general in Ceylon, Siam, Birinah; somewhat less so in Thibet and
Mongolia. Woman is better treated by Buddhism than by any other Oriental

§ 6. Buddhism as a Religion.

But what is the religious life of Buddhism? Can there be a religion
without a God? And if Buddhism has no God, how can it have worship,
prayer, devotion? There is no doubt that it has all these. We have seen
that its _cultus_ is much like that of the Roman Catholic Church. It
differs from this church in having no secular priests, but only regulars;
all its clergy are monks, taking the three vows of poverty, chastity, and
obedience. Their vows, however, are not irrevocable; they can relinquish
the yellow robe, and return into the world, if they find they have
mistaken their vocation.

The God of Buddhism is the Buddha himself, the deified man, who has become
an infinite being by entering Nirvana. To him prayer is addressed, and it
is so natural for man to pray, that no theory can prevent him from doing
it. In Thibet, prayer-meetings are held even in the streets. Huc says:
"There is a very touching custom at Lhassa. In the evening, just before
sundown, all the people leave their work, and meet in groups in the public
streets and squares. All kneel and begin to chant their prayers in a low
and musical tone. The concert of song which rises from all these numerous
reunions produces an immense and solemn harmony, which deeply impresses
the mind. We could not help sadly comparing this Pagan city, where all the
people prayed together, with our European cities, where men would blush to
be seen making the sign of the cross."

In Thibet _confession_ was early enjoined. Public worship is there a
solemn confession before the assembled priests. It confers entire
absolution from sins. It consists in an open confession of sin, and a
promise to sin no more. Consecrated water is also used in the service of
the Pagodas.

There are thirty-five Buddhas who have preceded Sakya-muni, and are
considered the chief powers for taking away sin. These are called the
"Thirty-five Buddhas of Confession." Sakya-muni, however, has been
included in the number. Some lamas are also joined with them in the sacred
pictures, as Tsonkhapa, a lama born in A.D. 1555, and others. The
mendicant priests of Buddha are bound to confess twice a month, at the new
and full moon.

The Buddhists have also nunneries for women. It is related that
Sakya-muni consented to establish them at the earnest request of his aunt
and nurse, and of his favorite disciple, Ananda. These nuns take the same
vows as the monks. Their rules require them to show reverence even to the
youngest monk, and to use no angry or harsh words to a priest. The nun
must be willing to be taught; she must go once a fortnight for this
purpose to some virtuous teacher; she must not devote more than two weeks
at a time to spiritual retirement; she must not go out merely for
amusement; after two years' preparation she can be initiated, and she is
bound to attend the closing ceremonies of the rainy season.

§ 7. Karma and Nirvana.

One of the principal metaphysical doctrines of this system is that which
it called Karma. This means the law of consequences, by which every act
committed in one life entails results in another. This law operates until
one reaches Nirvana. Mr. Hardy goes so far as to suppose that Karma causes
the merits or demerits of each soul to result at death in the production
of another consciousness, and in fact to result in a new person. But this
must be an error. Karma is the law of consequences, by which every act
receives its exact recompense in the next world, where the soul is born
again. But unless the same soul passes on, such a recompense is

"_Karma_" said Buddha, "is the most essential property of all beings; it
is inherited from previous births, it is the cause of all good and evil,
and the reason why some are mean and some exalted when they come into the
world. It is like the shadow which always accompanies the body." Buddha
himself obtained all his elevation by means of the Karma obtained in
previous states. No one can obtain Karma or merit, but those who hear the
discourses of Buddha.

There has been much discussion among scholars concerning the true meaning
of Nirvana, the end of all Buddhist expectation. Is it annihilation? Or is
it absorption in God? The weight of authority, no doubt, is in favor of
the first view. Burnouf's conclusion is: "For Buddhist theists, it is the
absorption of the individual life in God; for atheists, absorption of this
individual life in the nothing. But for both, it is deliverance from all
evil, it is supreme affranchisement." In the opinion that it is
annihilation agree Max Müller, Tumour, Schmidt, and Hardy. And M.
Saint-Hilaire, while calling it "a hideous faith," nevertheless assigns it
to a third part of the human race.

But, on the other hand, scholars of the highest rank deny this view. In
particular, Bunsen (_Gott in der Geschichte_) calls attention to the fact
that, in the oldest monuments of this religion, the earliest Sutras,
Nirvana is spoken of as a condition attained in the present life. How then
can it mean annihilation? It is a state in which all desires cease, all
passions die. Bunsen believes that the Buddha never denied or questioned
God or immortality.

The following account of NIRVANA is taken from the Pali Sacred Books:--

   "Again the king of Ságal said to Nágaséna: 'Is the joy of Nirvana
   unmixed, or is it associated with sorrow?' The priest replied that it
   is unmixed satisfaction, entirely free from sorrow.

   "Again the king of Ságal said to Nágaséna: 'Is Nirvana in the east,
   west, south, or north; above or below? Is there such a place as
   Nirvana? If so, where is it?' Nágaséna: 'Neither in the east, south,
   west, nor north, neither in the sky above, nor in the earth below, nor
   in any of the infinite sakwalas, is there such a place as Nirvana.'
   Milinda: 'Then if Nirvana have no locality, there can be no such thing;
   and when it is said that any one attains Nirvana, the declaration is
   false.' Nágaséna: 'There is no such place as Nirvana, and yet it
   exists; the priest who seeks it in the right manner will attain it.'
   'When Nirvana is attained, is there such a place?' Nágaséna: 'When a
   priest attains Nirvana there is such a place.' Milinda: 'Where is that
   place?' Nágaséna: 'Wherever the precepts can be observed; it may be
   anywhere; just as he who has two eyes can see the sky from any or all
   places; or as all places may have an eastern side.'"

The Buddhist asserts Nirvana as the object of all his hope, yet, if you
ask him what it is, may reply, "Nothing." But this cannot mean that the
highest good of man is annihilation. No pessimism could be more extreme
than such a doctrine. Such a belief is not in accordance with human
nature. Tennyson is wiser when he writes:--

    "Whatever crazy sorrow saith,
    No life that breathes with human breath
    Has ever truly longed for death.

    "'T is LIFE, whereof our nerves are scant,
    O life, not death, for which we pant;
    More life, and fuller, that I want."

The Buddhist, when he says that Nirvana is _nothing,_ means simply that it
is _no thing_; that it is nothing to our present conceptions; that it is
the opposite of all we know, the contradiction, of what we call life now,
a state so sublime, so wholly different from anything we know or can know
now, that it is the same thing as nothing to us. All present life is
change; _that_ is permanence: all present life is going up and down;
_that_ is stability: all present life is the life of sense; _that_ is

The Buddhist denies God in the same way. He is the unknowable. He is the
impossible to be conceived of.

    "Who shall name Him
    And dare to say,
    '_I believe in Him_'?
    Who shall deny Him,
    And venture to affirm,
    '_I believe in Him not?_'"[106]

To the Buddhist, in short, the element of time and the finite is all, as
to the Brahman the element of eternity is all. It is the most absolute
contradiction of Brahmanism which we can conceive.

It seems impossible for the Eastern mind to hold at the same time the two
conceptions of God and nature, the infinite and the finite, eternity and
time. The Brahmaus accept the reality of God, the infinite and the
eternal, and omit the reality of the finite, of nature, history, time, and
the world. The Buddhist accepts the last, and ignores the first.

This question has been fully discussed by Mr. Alger in his very able work,
"Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life," and his conclusion is
wholly opposed to the view which makes Nirvana equivalent to annihilation.

§ 8. Good and Evil of Buddhism.

The good and the evil of Buddhism are thus summed up by M. Saint-Hilaire.

He remarks that the first peculiarity of Buddhism is the wholly practical
direction taken by its founder. He proposes to himself the salvation of
mankind. He abstains from the subtle philosophy of the Brahmans, and takes
the most direct and simple way to his end. But he does not offer low and
sensual rewards; he does not, like so many lawgivers, promise to his
followers riches, pleasures, conquests, power. He invites them to
salvation by means of virtue, knowledge, and self-denial. Not in the
Vedas, nor the books which proceed from it, do we find such noble appeals,
though they too look at the infinite as their end. But the indisputable
glory of Buddha is the boundless charity to man with which his soul was
filled. He lived to instruct and guide man aright. He says in so many
words, "My law is a law of grace for all" (Burnouf, Introduction, etc., p.
198). We may add to M. Saint-Hilaire's statement, that in these words the
Buddha plainly aims at what we have called a catholic religion. In his
view of man's sorrowful life, all distinctions of rank and class fall
away; all are poor and needy together; and here, too, he comes in contact
with that Christianity which says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and
are heavy-laden." Buddha also wished to cure the sicknesses, not only of
the Hindoo life, but of the life of mankind.

M. Saint-Hilaire adds, that, in seeking thus to help man, the means of the
Buddha are pure, like his ends. He tries to convince and to persuade: he
does not wish to compel. He allows confession, and helps the weak and
simple by explanations and parables. He also tries to guard man against
evil, by establishing habits of chastity, temperance, and self-control. He
goes forward into the Christian graces of patience, humility, and
forgiveness of injuries. He has a horror of falsehood, a reverence for
truth; he forbids slander and gossip; he teaches respect for parents,
family, life, home.

Yet Saint-Hilaire declares that, with all these merits, Buddhism has not
been able to found a tolerable social state or a single good government.
It failed in India, the land of its birth. Nothing like the progress and
the development of Christian civilization appears in Buddhism. Something
in the heart of the system makes it sterile, notwithstanding its excellent
intentions. What is it?

The fact is, that, notwithstanding its benevolent purposes, its radical
thought is a selfish one. It rests on pure individualism,--each man's
object is to save his own soul. All the faults of Buddhism, according to
M. Saint-Hilaire, spring from this root of egotism in the heart of the

No doubt the same idea is found in Christianity. Personal salvation is
herein included. But Christianity _starts_ from a very different point: it
is the "kingdom of Heaven." "Thy kingdom come: thy will be done on earth."
It is not going on away from time to find an unknown eternity. It is God
with us, eternity here, eternal life abiding in us now. If some narrow
Protestant sects make Christianity to consist essentially in the salvation
of our own soul hereafter, they fall into the condemnation of Buddhism.
But that is not the Christianity of Christ. Christ accepts the great
prophetic idea of a Messiah who brings down God's reign into this life. It
is the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. It is the earth
full of the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea. It is all
mankind laboring together for this general good.

This solitary preoccupation with one's own salvation causes the religious
teachers of Buddhism to live apart, outside of society, and take no
interest in it. There is in the Catholic and Protestant world, beside the
monk, a secular priesthood, which labors to save other men's bodies and
souls. No such priesthood exists in Buddhism.

Moreover, not the idea of salvation from evil,--which keeps before us evil
as the object of contemplation,--but the idea of good, is the true motive
for the human conscience. This leads us up at once to God; this alone can
create love. We can only love by seeing something lovely. God must seem,
not terrible, but lovely, in order to be loved. Man must seem, not mean
and poor, but noble and beautiful, before we can love him. This idea of
the good does not appear in Buddhism, says M. Saint-Hilaire. Not a spark
of this divine flame--that which to see and show has given immortal glory
to Plato and to Socrates--has descended on Sakya-muni. The notion of
rewards, substituted for that of the infinite beauty, has perverted
everything in his system.

Duty itself becomes corrupted, as soon as the idea of the good disappears.
It becomes then a blind submission to mere law. It is an outward
constraint, not an inward inspiration. Scepticism follows. "The world is
empty, the heart is dead surely," is its language. Nihilism arrives sooner
or later. God is nothing; man is nothing; life is nothing; death is
nothing; eternity is nothing. Hence the profound sadness of Buddhism. To
its eye all existence is evil, and the only hope is to escape from time
into eternity,--or into nothing,--as you may choose to interpret Nirvana.
While Buddhism makes God, or the good, and heaven, to be equivalent to
nothing, it intensifies and exaggerates evil. Though heaven is a blank,
hell is a very solid reality. It is present and future too. Everything in
the thousand hells of Buddhism is painted as vividly as in the hell of
Dante. God has disappeared from the universe, and in his place is only the
inexorable law, which grinds on forever. It punishes and rewards, but has
no love in it. It is only dead, cold, hard, cruel, unrelenting law. Yet
Buddhists are not atheists, any more than a child who has never heard of
God is an atheist. A child is neither deist nor atheist: he has _no_

The only emancipation from self-love is in the perception of an infinite
love. Buddhism, ignoring this infinite love, incapable of communion with
God, aiming at morality without religion, at humanity without piety,
becomes at last a prey to the sadness of a selfish isolation. We do not
say that this is always the case, for in all systems the heart often
redeems the errors of the head. But this is the logical drift of the
system and its usual outcome.

§ 9. Relation of Buddhism to Christianity.

In closing this chapter, let us ask what relation this great system
sustains to Christianity.

The fundamental doctrine and central idea of Buddhism is personal
salvation, or _the salvation of the soul by personal acts of faith and
obedience_. This we maintain, notwithstanding the opinion that some
schools of Buddhists teach that the soul itself is not a constant element
or a special substance, but the mere result of past merit or demerit. For
if there be no soul, there can be no transmigration. Now it is certain
that the doctrine of transmigration is the very basis of Buddhism, the
corner-stone of the system. Thus M. Saint-Hilaire says: "The chief and
most immovable fact of Buddhist metaphysics is the doctrine of
transmigration." Without a soul to migrate, there can be no migration.
Moreover, the whole ethics of the system would fall with its metaphysics,
on this theory; for why urge men to right conduct, in order to attain
happiness, or Nirvana, hereafter, if they are not to exist hereafter. No,
the soul's immortality is a radical doctrine in Buddhism, and this
doctrine is one of its points of contact with Christianity.

Another point of contact is its doctrine of reward and punishment,--a
doctrine incompatible with the supposition that the soul does not pass on
from world to world. But this is the essence of all its ethics, the
immutable, inevitable, unalterable consequences of good and evil. In this
also it agrees with Christianity, which teaches that "whatsoever a man
soweth that shall he also reap"; that he who turns his pound into five
will he set over five cities, he who turns it into ten, over ten cities.

A third point of contact with Christianity, however singular it may at
first appear to say so, is the doctrine of Nirvana. Nirvana, to the
Buddhist, means the absolute, eternal world, beyond time and space; that
which is nothing to us now, but will be everything hereafter. Incapable of
cognizing both time and eternity, it makes them absolute negations of each

The peculiarity of Plato, according to Mr. Emerson and other Platonists
was, that he was able to grasp and hold intellectually both
conceptions,--of God and man, the infinite and finite, the eternal and the
temporal. The merit of Christianity is, in like manner, that it is able to
take up and keep, not primarily as dogma, but as life, both these
antagonistic ideas. Christianity recognizes God as the infinite and
eternal, but recognizes also the world of time and space as real. Man
exists as well as God: we love God, we must love man too. Brahmanism loves
God, but not man; it has piety, but not humanity. Buddhism loves man, but
not God; it has humanity, but not piety; or if it has piety, it is by a
beautiful want of logic, its heart being wiser than its head. That which
seems an impossibility in these Eastern systems is a fact of daily life to
the Christian child, to the ignorant and simple Christian man or woman,
who, amid daily duty and trial, find joy in both heavenly and earthly

There is a reason for this in the inmost nature of Christianity as
compared with Buddhism. Why is it that Buddhism is a religion without God?
Sakya-muni did not ignore God. The object of his life was to attain
Nirvana, that is, to attain a union with God, the Infinite Being. He
became Buddha by this divine experience. Why, then, is not this religious
experience a constituent element in Buddhism, as it is in Christianity?
Because in Buddhism man struggles upward to find God, while in
Christianity God comes down to find man. To speak in the language of
technical theology, Buddhism is a doctrine of works, and Christianity of
grace. That which God gives all men may receive, and be united by this
community of grace in one fellowship. But the results attained by effort
alone, divide men; because some do more and receive more than others. The
saint attained Buddha, but that was because of his superhuman efforts and
sacrifices; it does not encourage others to hope for the same result.

We see, then, that here, as elsewhere, the superiority of Christianity is
to be found in its quantity, in its fulness of life. It touches Buddhism
at all its good points, in all its truths. It accepts the Buddhistic
doctrine of rewards and punishments, of law, progress, self-denial,
self-control, humanity, charity, equality of man with man, and pity for
human sorrow; but to all this it adds--how much more! It fills up the
dreary void of Buddhism with a living God; with a life of God in man's
soul, a heaven here as well as hereafter. It gives us, in addition to the
struggle of the soul to find God, a God coming down to find the soul. It
gives a divine as real as the human, an infinite as solid as the finite.
And this it does, not by a system of thought, but by a fountain and stream
of life. If all Christian works, the New Testament included, were
destroyed, we should lose a vast deal no doubt; but we should not lose
Christianity; for that is not a book, but a life. Out of that stream of
life would be again developed the conception of Christianity, as a thought
and a belief. We should be like the people living on the banks of the
Nile, ignorant for five thousand years of its sources; not knowing whence
its beneficent inundations were derived; not knowing by what miracle its
great stream could flow on and on amid the intense heats, where no rain
falls, and fed during a course of twelve hundred miles by no single
affluent, yet not absorbed in the sand, nor evaporated by the ever-burning
sun. But though ignorant of its source, they know it has a source, and can
enjoy all its benefits and blessings. So Christianity is a full river of
life, containing truths apparently the most antagonistic, filling the soul
and heart of man and the social state of nations with its impulses and
its ideas. We should lose much in losing our positive knowledge of its
history; but if all the books were gone, the tablets of the human heart
would remain, and on these would be written the everlasting Gospel of
Jesus, in living letters which no years could efface and no changes

Chapter V.

Zoroaster and the Zend Avesta.

  § 1. Ruins of the Palace of Xerxes at Persepolis.
  § 2. Greek Accounts of Zoroaster. Plutarch's Description of his Religion.
  § 3. Anquetil du Perron and his Discovery of the Zend Avesta.
  § 4. Epoch of Zoroaster. What do we know of him?
  § 5. Spirit of Zoroaster and of his Religion.
  § 6. Character of the Zend Avesta.
  § 7. Later Development of the System in the Bundehesch.
  § 8. Relation of the Religion of the Zend Avesta to that of the Vedas.
  § 9. Is Monotheism or pure Dualism the Doctrine taught in the Zend
  § 10. Relation of this System to Christianity. The Kingdom of Heaven.

§ 1. Ruins of the Palace of Xerxes at Persepolis.

In the southwestern part of Persia is the lovely valley of Schiraz, in the
province of Farsistan, which is the ancient Persis. Through the long
spring and summer the plains are covered with flowers, the air is laden
with perfume, and the melody of birds, winds, and waters fills the ear.
The fields are covered with grain, which ripens in May; the grapes,
apricots, and peaches are finer than those of Europe. The nightingale (or
bulbul) sings more sweetly than elsewhere, and the rose-bush, the national
emblem of Persia, grows to the size of a tree, and is weighed down by its
luxuriant blossoms. The beauty of this region, and the loveliness of the
women of Schiraz awakened the genius of Hafiz and of Saadi, the two great
lyric poets of the East, both of whom resided here.

At one extremity of this valley, in the hollow of a crescent formed by
rocky hills, thirty miles northwest of Schiraz, stands an immense
platform, fifty feet high above the plain, hewn partly out of the mountain
itself, and partly built up with gray marble blocks from twenty to sixty
feet long, so nicely fitted together that the joints can scarcely be
detected. This platform is about fourteen hundred feet long by nine
hundred broad, and its faces front the four quarters of the heavens. You
rise from the plain by flights of marble steps, so broad and easy that a
procession on horseback could ascend them. By these you reach a landing,
where stand as sentinels two colossal figures sculptured from great blocks
of marble. The one horn in the forehead seems to Heeren to indicate the
Unicorn; the mighty limbs, whose muscles are carved with the precision of
the Grecian chisel, induced Sir Robert Porter to believe that they
represented the sacred bulls of the Magian religion; while the solemn,
half-human repose of the features suggests some symbolic and supernatural
meaning. Passing these sentinels, who have kept their solitary watch for
centuries, you ascend by other flights of steps to the top of the terrace.
There stand, lonely and beautiful, a few gigantic columns, whose lofty
fluted shafts and elegantly carved capitals belong to an unknown order of
architecture. Fifty or sixty feet high, twelve or fifteen feet in
circumference, they, with a multitude of others, once supported the roof
of cedar, now fallen, whose beams stretched from capital to capital, and
which protected the assembled multitudes from the hot sun of Southern
Asia. Along the noble upper stairway are carved rows of figures, which
seem to be ascending by your side. They represent warriors, courtiers,
captives, men of every nation, among whom may be easily distinguished the
negro from the centre of Africa. Inscriptions abound, in that strange
arrow-headed or wedge-shaped character,--one of the most ancient and
difficult of all,--which, after long baffling the learning of Europe, has
at last begun yielded to the science and acuteness of the present century.
One of the inscriptions copied from these walls was read by Grotefend as

   "Darius the King, King of Kings, son of Hystaspes, successor of the
   Ruler of the World, Djemchid."


   "Xerxes the King, King of Kings, son of Darius the King, successor of
   the Ruler of the World."

More recently, other inscriptions have been deciphered, one of which is
thus given by another German Orientalist, Benfey:--[107]

   "Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd) is a mighty God; who has created the earth, the
   heaven, and men; who has given glory to men; who has made Xerxes king,
   the ruler of many. I, Xerxes, King of Kings, king of the earth near and
   far, son of Darius, an Achæmenid. What I have done here, and what I
   have done elsewhere, I have done by the grace of Ahura-Mazda."

In another place:--

   "Artaxerxes the King has declared that this great work is done by me.
   May Ahura-Mazda and Mithra protect me, my building, and my

Here, then, was the palace of Darius and his successors, Xerxes and
Artaxerxes, famous for their conquests,--some of which are recorded on
these walls,--who carried their victorious arms into India on the east,
Syria and Asia Minor on the west, but even more famous for being defeated
at Marathon and Thermopylæ. By the side of these columns sat the great
kings of Persia, giving audience to ambassadors from distant lands. Here,
perhaps, sat Cyrus himself, the founder of the Persian monarchy, and
issued orders to rebuild Jerusalem. Here the son of Xerxes, the Ahasuerus
of Scripture, may have brought from Susa the fair Esther. For this is the
famous Persepolis, and on those loftier platforms, where only ruinous
heaps of stones now remain, stood that other palace, which Alexander
burned in his intoxication three hundred and thirty years before Christ.
"Solitary in their situation, peculiar in their character," says Heeren,
"these ruins rise above the deluge of years which has overwhelmed all the
records of human grandeur around them, and buried all traces of Susa and
Babylon. Their venerable antiquity and majestic proportions do not more
command our reverence, than the mystery which involves their construction
awakens the curiosity of the most unobservant spectator. Pillars which
belong to no known order of architecture, inscriptions in an alphabet
which continues an enigma, fabulous animals which stand as guards at the
entrance, the multiplicity of allegorical figures which decorate the
walls,--all conspire to carry us back to ages of the most remote
antiquity, over which the traditions of the East shed a doubtful and
wavering light."

Diodorus Siculus says that at Persepolis, on the face of the mountain,
were the tombs of the kings of Persia, and that the coffins had to be
lifted up to them along the wall of rock by cords. And Ctesias tells us
that "Darius, the son of Hystaspes, had a tomb prepared for himself in the
double mountain during his lifetime, and that his parents were drawn up
with cords to see it, but fell and were killed." These very tombs are
still to be seen on the face of the mountain behind the ruins. The figures
of the kings are carved over them. One stands before an altar on which a
fire is burning. A ball representing the sun is above the altar. Over the
effigy of the king hangs in the air a winged half-length figure in fainter
lines, and resembling him. In other places he is seen contending with a
winged animal like a griffin.

All this points at the great Iranic religion, the religion of Persia and
its monarchs for many centuries, the religion of which Zoroaster was the
great prophet, and the Avesta the sacred book. The king, as servant of
Ormazd, is worshipping the fire and the sun,--symbols of the god; he
resists the impure griffin, the creature of Ahriman; and the half-length
figure over his head is the surest evidence of the religion of Zoroaster.
For, according to the Avesta, every created being has its archetype or
Fereuer (Ferver, Fravashis), which is its ideal essence, first created by
the thought of Ormazd. Even Ormazd himself has his Fravashis,[109] and
these angelic essences are everywhere objects of worship to the disciple
of Zoroaster. We have thus found in Persepolis, not only the palace of the
great kings of Persia, but the home of that most ancient system of
Dualism, the system of Zoroaster.

§ 2. Greek Accounts of Zoroaster. Plutarch's Description of his Religion.

But who was Zoroaster, and what do we know of him? He is mentioned by
Plato, about four hundred years before Christ. In speaking of the
education of a Persian prince he says that "one teacher instructs him in
the magic of Zoroaster, the son (or priest) of Ormazd (or Oromazes), in
which is comprehended all the worship of the gods." He is also spoken of
by Diodorus, Plutarch, the elder Pliny, and many writers of the first
centuries after Christ. The worship of the Magians is described by
Herodotus before Plato. Herodotus gives very minute accounts of the
ritual, priests, sacrifices, purifications, and mode of burial used by the
Persian Magi in his time, four hundred and fifty years before Christ; and
his account closely corresponds with the practices of the Pârsîs, or
fire-worshippers, still remaining in one or two places in Persia and India
at the present day. "The Persians," he says, "have no altars, no temples
nor images; they worship on the tops of the mountains. They adore the
heavens, and sacrifice to the sun, moon, earth, fire, water, and
winds."[110] "They do not erect altars, nor use libations, fillets, or
cakes. One of the Magi sings an ode concerning the origin of the gods,
over the sacrifice, which is laid on a bed of tender grass." "They pay
great reverence to all rivers, and must do nothing to defile them; in
burying they never put the body in the ground till it has been torn by
some bird or dog; they cover the body with wax, and then put it in the
ground." "The Magi think they do a meritorious act when they kill ants,
snakes, reptiles."[111]

Plutarch's account of Zoroaster[112] and his precepts, is very
remarkable. It is as follows:--

"Some believe that there are two Gods,--as it were, two rival workmen; the
one whereof they make to be the maker of good things, and the other bad.
And some call the better of these God, and the other Dæmon; as doth
Zoroastres, the Magee, whom they report to be five thousand years elder
than the Trojan times. This Zoroastres therefore called the one of these
Oromazes, and the other Arimanius; and affirmed, moreover, that the one of
them did, of anything sensible, the most resemble light, and the other
darkness and ignorance; but that Mithras was in the middle betwixt them.
For which cause, the Persians called Mithras the mediator. And they tell
us that he first taught mankind to make vows and offerings of thanksgiving
to the one, and to offer averting and feral sacrifice to the other. For
they beat a certain plant called homomy[113] in a mortar, and call upon
Pluto and the dark; and then mix it with the blood of a sacrificed wolf,
and convey it to a certain place where the sun never shines, and there
cast it away. For of plants they believe, that some pertain to the good
God, and others again to the evil Dæmon; and likewise they think that such
animals as dogs, fowls, and urchins belong to the good; but water animals
to the bad, for which reason they account him happy that kills most of
them. These men, moreover, tell us a great many romantic things about
these gods, whereof these are some: They say that Oromazes, springing from
purest light, and Arimanius, on the other hand, from pitchy darkness,
these two are therefore at war with one another. And that Oromazes made
six gods[114], whereof the first was the author of benevolence, the second
of truth, the third of justice, and the rest, one of wisdom, one of
wealth, and a third of that pleasure which accrues from good actions; and
that Arimanius likewise made the like number of contrary operations to
confront them. After this, Oromazes, having first trebled his own
magnitude, mounted up aloft, so far above the sun as the sun itself above
the earth, and so bespangled the heavens with stars. But one star (called
Sirius or the Dog) he set as a kind of sentinel or scout before all the
rest. And after he had made four-and-twenty gods more, he placed them all
in an egg-shell. But those that were made by Arimanius (being themselves
also of the like number) breaking a hole in this beauteous and glazed
egg-shell, bad things came by this means to be intermixed with good. But
the fatal time is now approaching, in which Arimanius, who by means of
this brings plagues and famines upon the earth, must of necessity be
himself utterly extinguished and destroyed; at which time, the earth,
being made plain and level, there will be one life, and one society of
mankind, made all happy, and one speech. But Theopompus saith, that,
according to the opinion of the Magees, each of these gods subdues, and is
subdued by turns, for the space of three thousand years apiece, and that
for three thousand years more they quarrel and fight and destroy each
other's works; but that at last Pluto shall fail, and mankind shall be
happy, and neither need food, nor yield a shadow.[115] And that the god
who projects these things doth, for some time, take his repose and rest;
but yet this time is not so much to him although it seems so to man, whose
sleep is but short. Such, then, is the mythology of the Magees."

We shall see presently how nearly this account corresponds with the
religion of the Pârsis, as it was developed out of the primitive doctrine
of Zoroaster.[116]

Besides what was known through the Greeks, and some accounts contained in
Arabian and Persian writers, there was, until the middle of the last
century, no certain information concerning Zoroaster and his teachings.
But the enterprise, energy, and scientific devotion of a young Frenchman
changed the whole aspect of the subject, and we are now enabled to speak
with some degree of certainty concerning this great teacher and his

§ 3. Anquetil du Perron and his Discovery of the Zend Avesta.

Anquetil du Perron, born at Paris in 1731, devoted himself early to the
study of Oriental literature. He mastered the Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian
languages, and by his ardor in these studies attracted the attention of
Oriental scholars. Meeting one day in the Royal Library with a fragment of
the Zend Avesta, he was seized with the desire of visiting India, to
recover the lost books of Zoroaster, "and to learn the Zend language in
which they were written, and also the Sanskrit, so as to be able to read
the manuscripts in the _Bibliothèque du Roi_, which no one in Paris
understood."[117] His friends endeavored to procure him a situation in an
expedition just about to sail; but their efforts not succeeding, Du Perron
enlisted as a private soldier, telling no one of his intention till the
day before setting out, lest he should be prevented from going. He then
sent for his brother and took leave of him with many tears, resisting all
the efforts made to dissuade him from his purpose. His baggage consisted
of a little linen, a Hebrew Bible, a case of mathematical instruments, and
the works of Montaigne and Charron. A ten days' march, with other
recruits, through wet and cold, brought him to the port from whence the
expedition was to sail. Here he found that the government, struck with his
extraordinary zeal for science, had directed that he should have his
discharge and a small salary of five hundred livres. The East India
Company (French) gave him a passage gratis, and he set sail for India,
February 7, 1755, being then twenty-four years old. The first two years in
India were almost lost to him for purposes of science, on account of his
sicknesses, travels, and the state of the country disturbed by war between
England and France[118]. He travelled afoot and on horseback over a great
part of Hindostan, saw the worship of Juggernaut and the monumental caves
of Ellora, and, in 1759, arrived at Surat, where was the Pârsî community
from which he hoped for help in obtaining the object of his pursuit. By
perseverance and patience he succeeded in persuading the Destours, or
priests, of these fire-worshippers, to teach him the Zend language and to
furnish him with manuscripts of the Avesta. With one hundred and eighty
valuable manuscripts he returned to Europe, and published, in 1771, his
great work,--the Avesta translated into French, with notes and
dissertations. He lived through the French Revolution, shut up with his
books, and immersed in his Oriental studies, and died, after a life of
continued labor, in 1805. Immense erudition and indomitable industry were
joined in Anquetil du Perron to a pure love of truth and an excellent

For many years after the publication of the Avesta its genuineness and
authenticity were a matter of dispute among the learned men of Europe; Sir
William Jones especially denying it to be an ancient work, or the
production of Zoroaster. But almost all modern writers of eminence now
admit both. Already in 1826 Heeren said that these books had "stood the
fiery ordeal of criticism." "Few remains of antiquity," he remarks, "have
undergone such attentive examination as the books of the Zend Avesta. This
criticism has turned out to their advantage; the genuineness of the
principal compositions, especially of the Vendidad and Izeschne (Yaçna),
has been demonstrated; and we may consider as completely ascertained all
that regards the rank of each book of the Zend Avesta."

Rhode (one of the first of scholars of his day in this department) says:
"There is not the least doubt that these are the books ascribed in the
most ancient times to Zoroaster." Of the Vendidad he says: "It has both
the inward and outward marks of the highest antiquity, so that we fear not
to say that only prejudice or ignorance could doubt it[119]."

§ 4. Epoch of Zoroaster. What do we know of him?

As to the age of these books, however, and the period at which Zoroaster
lived, there is the greatest difference of opinion. He is mentioned by
Plato (Alcibiades, I. 37), who speaks of "the magic (or religious
doctrines) of Zoroaster the Ormazdian" (_magedan Zoroastran ton
Oromazon_[120]). As Plato speaks of his religion as something established
in the form of Magism, or the system of the Medes, in West Iran, while the
Avesta appears to have originated in Bactria, or East Iran[121], this
already carries the age of Zoroaster back to at least the sixth or seventh
century before Christ. When the Avesta was written, Bactria was an
independent monarchy. Zoroaster is represented as teaching under King
Vistaçpa. But the Assyrians conquered Bactria B.C. 1200, which was the
last of the Iranic kingdoms, they having previously vanquished the Medes,
Hyrcanians, Parthians, Persians, etc. As Zoroaster must have lived before
this conquest, his period is taken back to a still more remote time, about
B.C. 1300 or B.C. 1250[122] It is difficult to be more precise than this.
Bunsen indeed[123] suggests that "the date of Zoroaster, as fixed by
Aristotle, cannot be said to be so very irrational. He and Eudoxus,
according to Pliny, place him six thousand years before the death of
Plato; Hermippus, five thousand years before the Trojan war," or about
B.C. 6300 or B.C. 6350. But Bunsen adds: "At the present stage of the
inquiry the question whether this date is set too high cannot be answered
either in the negative or affirmative." Spiegel, in one of his latest
works,[124] considers Zoroaster as a neighbor and contemporary of Abraham,
therefore as living B.C. 2000 instead of B.C. 6350. Professor Whitney of
New Haven places the epoch of Zoroaster at "least B.C. 1000," and adds
that all attempts to reconstruct Persian chronology or history prior to
the reign of the first Sassanid have been relinquished as futile.[125]
Döllinger[126] thinks he may have been "somewhat later than Moses, perhaps
about B.C. 1300," but says, "it is impossible to fix precisely" when he
lived. Rawlinson[127]| merely remarks that Berosus places him anterior to
B.C. 2234. Haug is inclined to date the Gâthâs, the oldest songs of the
Avesta, as early as the time of Moses.[128] Rapp,[129] after a thorough
comparison of ancient writers, concludes that Zoroaster lived B.C. 1200 or
1300. In this he agrees with Duncker, who, as we have seen, decided upon
the same date. It is not far from the period given by the oldest Greek
writer who speaks of Zoroaster,--Xanthus of Sardis, a contemporary of
Darius. It is the period given by Cephalion, a writer of the second
century, who takes it from three independent sources. We have no sources
now open to us which enable us to come nearer than this to the time in
which he lived.

Nor is anything known with certainty of the place where he lived or the
events of his life. Most modern writers suppose that he resided in
Bactria. Haug maintains that the language of the Zend books is
Bactrian[130]. A highly mythological and fabulous life of Zoroaster,
translated by Anquetil du Perron, called the Zartusht-Namah[131],
describes him as going to Iran in his thirtieth year, spending twenty
years in the desert, working miracles during ten years, and giving lessons
of philosophy in Babylon, with Pythagoras as his pupil. All this is based
on the theory (now proved to be false) of his living in the time of
Darius. "The language of the Avesta," says Max Müller, "is so much more
primitive than the inscriptions of Darius, that many centuries must have
passed between the two periods represented by these two strata of
language[132]." These inscriptions are in the Achæmenian dialect, which is
the Zend in a later stage of linguistic growth.

§ 5. Spirit of Zoroaster and of his Religion

It is not likely that Zoroaster ever saw Pythagoras or even Abraham. But
though absolutely nothing is known of the events of his life, there is not
the least doubt of his existence nor of his character. He has left the
impress of his commanding genius on great regions, various races, and long
periods of time. His religion, like that of the Buddha, is essentially a
moral religion. Each of them was a revolt from the Pantheism of India, in
the interest of morality, human freedom, and the progress of the race.
They differ in this, that each takes hold of one side of morality, and
lets go the opposite. Zoroaster bases his law on the eternal distinction
between right and wrong; Sakya-muni, on the natural laws and their
consequences, either good or evil. Zoroaster's law is, therefore, the law
of justice; Sakya-muni's, the law of mercy. The one makes the supreme good
to consist in truth, duty, right; the other, in love, benevolence, and
kindness. Zoroaster teaches providence: the monk of India teaches
prudence. Zoroaster aims at holiness, the Buddha at merit. Zoroaster
teaches and emphasizes creation: the Buddha knows nothing of creation, but
only nature or law. All these oppositions run back to a single root. Both
are moral reformers; but the one moralizes according to the method of
Bishop Butler, the other after that of Archdeacon Paley. Zoroaster
cognizes all morality as having its root within, in the eternal
distinction between right and wrong motive, therefore in God; but
Sakya-muni finds it outside of the soul, in the results of good and evil
action, therefore in the nature of things. The method of salvation,
therefore, according to Zoroaster, is that of an eternal battle for good
against evil; but according to the Buddha, it is that of self-culture and
virtuous activity.

Both of these systems, as being essentially moral systems in the interest
of humanity, proceed from persons. For it is a curious fact, that, while
the essentially spiritualistic religions are ignorant of their founders,
all the moral creeds of the world proceed from a moral source, i.e. a
human will. Brahmanism, Gnosticism, the Sufism of Persia, the Mysteries of
Egypt and Greece, Neo-Platonism, the Christian Mysticism of the Middle
Ages,--these have, strictly speaking, no founder. Every tendency to the
abstract, to the infinite, ignores personality.[133] Individual mystics we
know, but never the founder of any such system. The religions in which the
moral element is depressed, as those of Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Greece,
Rome, are also without personal founders. But moral religions are the
religions of persons, and so we have the systems of Confucius, Buddha,
Zoroaster, Moses, Mohammed.[134] The Protestant Reformation was a protest
of the moral nature against a religion which had become divorced from
morality. Accordingly we have Luther as the founder of Protestantism; but
mediæval Christianity grew up with no personal leader.

The whole religion of the Avesta revolves around the person of Zoroaster,
or Zarathustra. In the oldest part of the sacred books, the Gâthâs of the
Yaçna, he is called the _pure_ Zarathustra, good in thought, speech, and
work. It is said that Zarathustra alone knows the precepts of Ahura-Mazda
(Ormazd), and that he shall be made skilful in speech. In one of the
Gâthâs he expresses the desire of bringing knowledge to the pure, in the
power of Ormazd, so as to be to them strong joy (Spiegel, Gâthâ Ustvaiti,
XLII. 8), or, as Haug translates the same passage (Die Gâthâs des
Zarathustra, II. 8): "I will swear hostility to the liars, but be a strong
help to the truthful." He prays for truth, declares himself the most
faithful servant in the world of Ormazd the Wise One, and therefore begs
to know the best thing to do. As the Jewish prophets tried to escape their
mission, and called it a burden, and went to it "in the heat and
bitterness of their spirit," so Zoroaster says (according to Spiegel):
"When it came to me through your prayer, I thought that the spreading
abroad of your law through men was something difficult."

Zoroaster was one of those who was oppressed with the sight of evil. But
it was not outward evil which most tormented him, but spiritual
evil,--evil having its origin in a depraved heart and a will turned away
from goodness. His meditations led him to the conviction that all the woe
of the world had its root in sin, and that the origin of sin was to be
found in the demonic world. He might have used the language of the Apostle
Paul and said, "We wrestle not with flesh and blood,"--that is, our
struggle is not with man, but with principles of evil, rulers of darkness,
spirits of wickedness in the supernatural world. Deeply convinced that a
great struggle was going on between the powers of light and darkness, he
called on all good men to take part in the war, and battle for the good
God against the dark and foul tempter.

Great physical calamities added to the intensity of this conviction. It
appears that about the period of Zoroaster, some geological convulsions
had changed the climate of Northern Asia, and very suddenly produced
severe cold where before there had been an almost tropical temperature.
The first Fargard of the Vendidad has been lately translated by both
Spiegel and Haug, and begins by speaking of a good country, Aryana-Vaêjo,
which was created a region of delight by Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd). Then it
adds that the "evil being, Angra-Mainyus (Ahriman), full of death, created
a mighty serpent, and winter, the work of the Devas. Ten months of winter
are there, two months of summer." Then follows, in the original document,
this statement: "Seven months of summer are (were?) there; five months of
winter were there. The latter are cold as to water, cold as to earth, cold
as to trees. There is the heart of winter; there all around falls deep
snow. There is the worst of evils." This passage has been set aside as an
interpolation by both Spiegel and Haug. But they give no reason for
supposing it such, except the difficulty of reconciling it with the
preceding passage. This difficulty, however, disappears, if we suppose it
intended to describe a great climatic change, by which the original home
of the Aryans, Aryana-Vaêjo, became suddenly very much colder than before.
Such a change, if it took place, was probably the cause of the emigration
which transferred this people from Aryana-Vaêjo (Old Iran) to New Iran, or
Persia. Such a history of emigration Bunsen and Haug suppose to be
contained in this first Fargard (or chapter) of the Vendidad. If so, it
takes us back further than the oldest part of the Veda, and gives the
progress of the Aryan stream to the south from its original source on the
great plains of Central Asia, till it divided into two branches, one
flowing into Persia, the other into India. The first verse of this
venerable document introduces Ormazd as saying that he had created new
regions, desirable as homes; for had he not done so, all human beings
would have crowded into this Aryana-Vaêjo. Thus in the very first verse of
the Vendidad appears the affectionate recollection of these emigrant races
for their fatherland in Central Asia, and the Zoroasterian faith in a
creative and protective Providence. The awful convulsion which turned
their summer climate into the present Siberian winter of ten months'
duration was part of a divine plan. Old Iran would have been too
attractive, and all mankind would have crowded into that Eden. So the
evil Ahriman was permitted to glide into it, a new serpent of destruction,
and its seven months of summer and five of winter were changed to ten of
winter and two of summer.[135]

This Aryana-Vaêjo, Old Iran, the primeval seat of the great Indo-European
race, is supposed by Haug and Bunsen to be situated on the high plains
northeast of Samarcand, between the thirty-seventh and fortieth degrees of
north latitude, and the eighty-sixth and ninetieth of east longitude. This
region has exactly the climate described,--ten months of winter and two of
summer. The same is true of Western Thibet and most of Central Siberia.
Malte-Brun says: "The winter is nine or ten months long through almost the
whole of Siberia." June and July are the only months wholly free from
snow. On the parallel of 60°, the earth on the 28th of June was found
frozen, at a depth of three feet.

But is there reason to think that the climate was ever different?
Geologists assure us that "great oscillations of climate have occurred in
times immediately antecedent to the peopling of the earth by man."[136]
But in Central and Northern Asia there is evidence of such fluctuations of
temperature in a much more recent period. In 1803, on the banks of the
Lena, in latitude 70°, the entire body of a mammoth fell from a mass of
ice in which it had been entombed perhaps for thousands of years, but with
the flesh so perfectly preserved that it was immediately devoured by
wolves. Since then these frozen elephants have been found in great
numbers, in so perfect a condition that the bulb of an eye of one of them
is in the Museum at Moscow.[137] They have been found as far north as 75°.
Hence Lyell thinks it "reasonable to believe that a large region in
Central Asia, including perhaps the southern half of Siberia, enjoyed at
no very remote period in the earth's history a temperate climate,
sufficiently mild to afford food for numerous herds of elephants and

Amid these terrible convulsions of the air and ground, these antagonisms
of outward good and evil, Zoroaster developed his belief in the dualism of
all things. To his mind, as to that of the Hebrew poet, God had placed all
things against each other, two and two. No Pantheistic optimism, like that
of India, could satisfy his thought. He could not say, "Whatever is, is
right"; some things seemed fatally wrong. The world was a scene of war,
not of peace and rest. Life to the good man was not sleep, but battle. If
there was a good God over all, as he devoutly believed, there was also a
spirit of evil, of awful power, to whom we were not to yield, but with
whom we should do battle. In the far distance he saw the triumph of good;
but that triumph could only come by fighting the good fight now. But his
weapons were not carnal. "Pure thoughts" going out into "true words" and
resulting in "right actions"; this was the whole duty of man.

§ 6. Character of the Zend Avesta.

A few passages, taken from different parts of the Zend Avesta, will best
illustrate these tendencies, and show how unlike it is, in its whole
spirit, to its sister, the Vedic liturgy. Twin children of the old Aryan
stock, they must have struggled together like Esau and Jacob, before they
were born. In such cases we see how superficial is the philosophy which,
beginning with synthesis instead of analysis, declares the unity of all
religions before it has seen their differences. There _is_ indeed, what
Cudworth has called "the symphony of all religions," but it cannot be
demonstrated by the easy process of gathering a few similar texts from
Confucius, the Vedas, and the Gospels, and then announcing that they all
teach the same thing. We must first find the specific idea of each, and we
may then be able to show how each of these may take its place in the
harmonious working of universal religion.

If, in taking up the Zend Avesta, we expect to find a system of theology
or philosophy, we shall be disappointed. It is a liturgy,--a collection of
hymns, prayers, invocations, thanksgivings. It contains prayers to a
multitude of deities, among whom Ormazd is always counted supreme, and the
rest only his servants.

"I worship and adore," says Zarathustra (Zoroaster), "the Creator of all
things, Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd), full of light! I worship the Amĕsha-çpentas
(Amshaspands, the seven archangels, or protecting spirits)! I worship the
body of the primal Bull, the soul of the Bull! I invoke thee, O Fire, thou
son of Ormazd, most rapid of the Immortals! I invoke Mithra, the lofty,
the immortal, the pure, the sun, the ruler, the quick Horse, the eye of
Ormazd! I invoke the holy Sraosha, gifted with holiness, and Racnçu
(spirit of justice), and Arstat (spirit of truth)! I invoke the Fravashi
of good men, the Fravashi of Ormazd, the Fravashi of my own soul! I praise
the good men and women of the whole world of purity! I praise the Haŏma,
health-bringing, golden, with moist stalks. I praise Sraosha, whom four
horses carry, spotless, bright-shining, swifter than the storms, who,
without sleeping, protects the world in the darkness."

The following passages are from the oldest part of the Avesta, the

   "Good is the thought, good the speech, good the work of the pure

   "I desire by my prayer with uplifted hands this joy,--the pure works of
   the Holy Spirit, Mazda,.... a disposition to perform good actions,....
   and pure gifts for both worlds, the bodily and spiritual."

   "I have intrusted my soul to Heaven.....and I will teach what is pure
   so long as I can."

   "I keep forever purity and good-mindedness. Teach thou me, Ahura-Mazda,
   out of thyself; from heaven, by thy mouth, whereby the world first

   "Thee have I thought, O Mazda, as the first, to praise with the
   soul,.... active Creator,.... Lord of the worlds,.... Lord of good
   things,.... the first fashioner,.... who made the pure creation,....
   who upholds the best soul with his understanding."

   "I praise Ahura-Mazda, who has created the cattle, created the water
   and good trees, the splendor of light, the earth and all good. We
   praise the Fravashis of the pure men and women,--whatever is fairest,
   purest, immortal."

   "We honor the good spirit, the good kingdom, the good law,--all that is

   "Here we praise the soul and body of the Bull, then our own souls, the
   souls of the cattle which desire to maintain us in life,.... the good
   men and women,.... the abode of the water,.... the meeting and parting
   of the ways,.... the mountains which make the waters flow,.... the
   strong wind created by Ahura-Mazda,.... the Haŏma, giver of increase,
   far from death."

   "Now give ear to me, and hear! the Wise Ones have created all. Evil
   doctrine shall not again destroy the world."

   "In the beginning, the two heavenly Ones spoke--the Good to the
   Evil--thus; 'Our souls, doctrines, words, works, do not unite

   "How shall I satisfy thee, O Mazda, I, who have little wealth, few men?
   How may I exalt thee according to my wish!.... I will be contented with
   your desires; this is the decision of my understanding and of my soul."

The following is from the Khordah Avesta:--

   "In the name of God, the giver, forgiver, rich in love, praise be to
   the name of Ormazd, the God with the name, 'Who always was, always is,
   and always will be'; the heavenly amongst the heavenly, with the name
   'From whom alone is derived rule.' Ormazd is the greatest ruler,
   mighty, wise, creator, supporter, refuge, defender, completer of good
   works, overseer, pure, good, and just.

   "With all strength (bring I) thanks; to the great among beings, who
   created and destroyed, and through his own determination of time,
   strength, wisdom, is higher than the six Amshaspands, the circumference
   of heaven, the shining sun, the brilliant moon, the wind, the water,
   the fire, the earth, the trees, the cattle, the metals, mankind.

   "Offering and praise to that Lord, the completer of good works, who
   made men greater than all earthly beings, and through the gift of
   speech created them to rule the creatures, as warriors against the

   "Praise the omniscience of God, who hath sent through the holy
   Zarathustra peace for the creatures, the wisdom of the law,--the
   enlightening derived from the heavenly understanding, and heard with
   the ears,--wisdom and guidance for all beings who are, were, and will
   be, (and) the wisdom of wisdoms; which effects freedom from hell for
   the soul at the bridge, and leads it over to that Paradise, the
   brilliant, sweet-smelling of the pure.

   "All good do I accept at thy command, O God, and think, speak, and do
   it. I believe in the pure law; by every good work seek I forgiveness
   for all sins. I keep pure for myself the serviceable work and
   abstinence from the unprofitable. I keep pure the six powers,--thought,
   speech, work, memory, mind, and understanding. According to thy will am
   I able to accomplish, O accomplisher of good, thy honor, with good
   thoughts, good words, good works.

   "I enter on the shining way to Paradise; may the fearful terror of hell
   not overcome me! May I step over the bridge Chinevat, may I attain
   Paradise, with much perfume, and all enjoyments, and all brightness.

   "Praise to the Overseer, the Lord, who rewards those who accomplish
   good deeds according to his own wish, purifies at last the obedient,
   and at last purifies even the wicked one of hell. All praise be to the
   creator, Ormazd, the all-wise, mighty, rich in might; to the seven
   Amshaspands; to Ized Bahrâm, the victorious annihilator of foes."


   "The star Tistrya praise we, the shining, majestic, with pleasant good
   dwelling, light, shining, conspicuous, going around, healthful,
   bestowing joy, great, going round about from afar, with shining beams,
   the pure, and the water which makes broad seas, good, far-famed, the
   name of the bull created by Mazda, the strong kingly majesty, and the
   Fravashi of the holy pure, Zarathustra.

   "For his brightness, for his majesty, will I praise him, the star
   Tistrya, with audible praise. We praise the star Tistrya, the
   brilliant, majestic, with offerings, with Haŏma bound with flesh, with
   Maúthra which gives wisdom to the tongue, with word and deed, with
   offerings with right-spoken speech."

   "The star Tistrya, the brilliant, majestic, we praise, who glides so
   softly to the sea like an arrow, who follows the heavenly will, who is
   a terrible pliant arrow, a very pliant arrow, worthy of honor among
   those worthy of honor, who comes from the damp mountain to the shining


   "Mithra, whose long arms grasp forwards here with Mithra-strength; that
   which is in Eastern India he seizes, and that which [is] in the Western
   he smites, and what is on the steppes of Raúha, and what is at the ends
   of this earth.

   "Thou, O Mithra, dost seize these, reaching out thy arms. The
   unrighteous destroyed through the just is gloomy in soul. Thus thinks
   the unrighteous: Mithra, the artless, does not see all these evil
   deeds, all these lies.

   "But I think in my soul: No earthly man with a hundred-fold strength
   thinks so much evil as Mithra with heavenly strength thinks good. No
   earthly man with a hundred-fold strength speaks so much evil as Mithra
   with heavenly strength speaks good. No earthly man with a hundred-fold
   strength does so much evil as Mithra with heavenly strength does good.

   "With no earthly man is the hundred-fold greater heavenly understanding
   allied as the heavenly understanding allies itself to the heavenly
   Mithra, the heavenly. No earthly man with a hundred-fold strength hears
   with the ears as the heavenly Mithra, who possesses a hundred
   strengths, sees every liar. Mightily goes forward Mithra, powerful in
   rule marches he onwards; fair visual power, shining from afar, gives he
   to the eyes."


   "I repent of all sins. All wicked thoughts, words, and works which I
   have meditated in the world, corporeal, spiritual, earthly, and
   heavenly, I repent of, in your presence, ye believers. O Lord, pardon
   through the three words.

   "I confess myself a Mazdayaçnian, a Zarathustrian, an opponent of the
   Daêvas, devoted to belief in Ahura, for praise, adoration,
   satisfaction, and laud. As it is the will of God, let the Zaŏta say to
   me, Thus announces the Lord, the Pure out of Holiness, let the wise

   "I praise all good thoughts, words, and works, through thought, word,
   and deed. I curse all evil thoughts, words, and works away from
   thought, word, and deed. I lay hold on all good thoughts, words, and
   works, with thoughts, words, and works, i.e. I perform good actions, I
   dismiss all evil thoughts, words, and works, from thoughts, words, and
   works, i.e. I commit no sins.

   "I give to you, ye who are Amshaspands, offering and praise, with the
   heart, with the body, with my own vital powers, body and soul. The
   whole powers which I possess I possess in dependence on the Yazatas. To
   possess in dependence upon the Yazatas means (as much as) this: if
   anything happens so that it behoves to give the body for the sake of
   the soul, I give it to them.

   "I praise the best purity, I hunt away the Dévs, I am thankful for the
   good of the Creator Ormazd, with the opposition and unrighteousness
   which come from Ganâ-mainyo, am I contented and agreed in the hope of
   the resurrection. The Zarathustrian law created by Ormazd I take as a
   plummet. For the sake of this way I repent of all sins.

   "I repent of the sins which can lay hold of the character of men, or
   which have laid hold of my character, small and great which are
   committed amongst men, the meanest sins as much as is (and) can be, yet
   more than this, namely, all evil thoughts, words, and works which (I
   have committed) for the sake of others, or others for my sake, or if
   the hard sin has seized the character of an evil-doer on my
   account,--such sins, thoughts, words, and works, corporeal, mental,
   earthly, heavenly, I repent of with the three words: pardon, O Lord, I
   repent of the sins with Patet.

   "The sins against father, mother, sister, brother, wife, child, against
   spouses, against the superiors, against my own relations, against those
   living with me, against those who possess equal property, against the
   neighbors, against the inhabitants of the same town, against servants,
   every unrighteousness through which I have been amongst sinners,--of
   these sins repent I with thoughts, words, and works, corporeal as
   spiritual, earthly as heavenly, with the three words: pardon, O Lord, I
   repent of sins.

   "The defilement with dirt and corpses, the bringing of dirt and corpses
   to the water and fire, or the bringing of fire and water to dirt and
   corpses; the omission of reciting the Avesta in mind, of strewing about
   hair, nails, and toothpicks, of not washing the hands, all the rest
   which belongs to the category of dirt and corpses, if I have thereby
   come among the sinners, so repent I of all these sins with thoughts,
   words, and works, corporeal as spiritual, earthly as heavenly, with the
   three words: pardon, O Lord, I repent of sin.

   "That which was the wish of Ormazd the Creator, and I ought to have
   thought, and have not thought, what I ought to have spoken and have not
   spoken, what I ought to have done and have not done; of these sins
   repent I with thoughts, words, and works," etc.

   "That which was the wish of Ahriman, and I ought not to have thought
   and yet have thought, what I ought not to have spoken and yet have
   spoken, what I ought not to have done and yet have done; of these sins
   I repent," etc.

   "Of all and every kind of sin which I have committed against the
   creatures of Ormazd, as stars, moon, sun, and the red burning fire, the
   dog, the birds, the five kinds of animals, the other good creatures
   which are the property of Ormazd, between earth and heaven, if I have
   become a sinner against any of these, I repent," etc.

   "Of pride, haughtiness, covetousness, slandering the dead, anger, envy,
   the evil eye, shamelessness, looking at with evil intent, looking at
   with evil concupiscence, stiff-neckedness, discontent with the godly
   arrangements, self-willedness, sloth, despising others, mixing in
   strange matters, unbelief, opposing the Divine powers, false witness,
   false judgment, idol-worship, running naked, running with one shoe, the
   breaking of the low (midday) prayer, the omission of the (midday)
   prayer, theft, robbery, whoredom, witchcraft, worshipping with
   sorcerers, unchastity, tearing the hair, as well as all other kinds of
   sin which are enumerated in this Patet, or not enumerated, which I am
   aware of, or not aware of, which are appointed or not appointed, which
   I should have bewailed with obedience before the Lord, and have not
   bewailed,--of these sins repent I with thoughts, words, and works,
   corporeal as spiritual, earthly as heavenly. O Lord, pardon, I repent
   with the three words, with Patet.

   "If I have taken on myself the Patet for any one and have not performed
   it, and misfortune has thereby come upon his soul or his descendants, I
   repent of the sin for every one with thoughts," etc.

   "With all good deeds am I in agreement, with all sins am I not in
   agreement, for the good am I thankful, with iniquity am I contented.
   With the punishment at the bridge, with the bonds and tormentings and
   chastisements of the mighty of the law, with the punishment of the
   three nights (after) the fifty-seven years am I contented and

The Avesta, then, is not a system of dogmatics, but a book of worship. It
is to be read in private by the laity, or to be recited by the priests in
public. Nevertheless, just such a book may be the best help to the
knowledge of the religious opinions of an age. The deepest convictions
come to light in such a collection, not indeed in a systematic statement,
but in sincerest utterance. It will contain the faith of the heart rather
than the speculations of the intellect. Such a work can hardly be other
than authentic; for men do not forge liturgies, and, if they did, could
hardly introduce them into the worship of a religious community.

The Avesta consists of the Vendidad, of which twenty-two Fargards, or
chapters, have been preserved; the Vispered, in twenty-seven; the Yaçna,
in seventy; and the Khordah Avesta, or Little-Avesta, which contains the
Yashts, Patets, and other prayers for the use of the laity. Of these,
Spiegel considers the Gâthâs of the Yaçna to be the oldest, next the
Vendidad, lastly, the first part of the Yaçna, and the Khordah Avesta.

§ 7. Later Development of the System in the Bundehesch.

The Bundehesch is a book later than these, and yet, in its contents,
running back to a very early period. Windischmann,[140] who has recently
given us a new translation of this book, says: "In regard to the
Bundehesch, I am confident that closer study of this remarkable book, and
a more exact comparison of it with the original texts, will change the
unfavorable opinion hitherto held concerning it into one of great
confidence. I am justified in believing that its author has given us
mainly only the ancient doctrine, taken by him from original texts, most
of which are now lost. The more thoroughly it is examined the more
trustworthy it will be found to be."

The following summary of the Pârsî system is mostly derived from the
Bundehesch, and the later writings of the Pârsîs. We have abridged it from
Rhode. In the time of Zoroaster himself, it was probably far from being so
fully elaborated. Only the germs of it are to be found in the elder books
of the Avesta. It has been doubted if the doctrine of Zerâna-Akerana, or
the Monad behind the Duad, is to be found in the Avesta; though important
texts in the Vendidad[141] seem indeed to imply a Supreme and Infinite
Being, the creator both of Ormazd and Ahriman.

In the beginning, the Eternal or Absolute Being (Zerâna-Akerana) produced
two other great divine, beings. The first, who remained true to him, was
Ahura-Mazda, King of Light. The other was Ahriman (Angra-Mainyus), King of
Darkness. Ormazd found himself in a world of light and Ahriman in
boundless darkness, and the two became antagonists.

The Infinite Being (Zerana-Akerana) now determined, in order to destroy
the evil which Ahriman had caused, to create the visible world by Ormazd;
and he fixed its duration at twelve thousand years. This was divided into
four periods of three thousand years each. In the first period Ormazd
should rule alone; in the second Ahriman should begin to operate, but
still be subordinate; in the third they should both rule together; and in
the fourth Ahriman should have the ascendency.

Ormazd began the creation by bringing forth the Fereuers (Fravashi).
Everything which has been created, or which is to be created, has its
Fravashi, which contains the reason and basis of its existence. Even
Ormazd has his Fravashi in relation to Zerâna-Akerana (the Infinite). A
spiritual and invisible world preceded, therefore, this visible material
world as its prototype.

In creating the material world, which was in reality only an incorporation
of the spiritual world of Fravashis, Ormazd first created the firm vault
of heaven, and the earth on which it rests. On the earth he created the
high mountain Albordj[142] which soared upward through all the spheres of
the heaven, till it reached the primal light, and Ormazd made this summit
his abode. From this summit the bridge Chinevat stretches to the vault of
heaven, and to Gorodman, which is the opening in the vault above Albordj.
Gorodman is the dwelling of the Fravashis and of the blessed, and the
bridge leading to it is precisely above the abyss Duzahk,--the monstrous
gulf, the home of Ahriman beneath the earth.

Ormazd, who knew that after the first period his battle with Ahriman would
begin, armed himself, and created for his aid the whole shining host of
heaven,--sun, moon, and stars,--mighty beings of light, wholly submissive
to him. First he created "the heroic runner, who never dies, the sun," and
made him king and ruler of the material world. From Albordj he sets out on
his course, he circles the earth in the highest spheres of heaven, and at
evening returns. Then he created the moon, which "has its own light,"
which, departing from Albordj, circles the earth in a lower sphere, and
returns; then the five smaller planets, and the whole host of fixed stars,
in the lowest circle of the heavens. The space between the earth and the
firm vault of heaven is therefore divided into three spheres, that of the
sun, of the moon, and of the stars.

The host of stars--common soldiers in the war with Ahriman--was divided
into four troops, with each its appointed leader. Twelve companies were
arranged in the twelve signs of the zodiac. All these were grouped into
four great divisions, in the east, west, north, and south. The planet
Tistrya (Jupiter) presides over and watches that in the east, and is named
Prince of the Stars; Sitavisa (Saturn) presides over the western division;
Vanant (or Mercury) over that of the south; and Hapto-iringa (Mars) over
the stars of the north. In the middle of the heavens is the great star
Mesch, Meschgah (Venus). He leads them against Ahriman.

The dog Sirius (Sura) is another watchman of the heavens; but he is fixed
to one place, at the bridge Chinevat, keeping guard over the abyss out of
which Ahriman comes.

When Ormazd had completed these preparations in the heavens, the first of
the four ages drew to an end, and Ahriman saw, from the gloomy depths of
his kingdom, what Ormazd had done. In opposition to this light creation,
he created a world of darkness, a terrible community, equal in number and
power to the beings of light. Ormazd, knowing all the misery that Ahriman
would cause, yet knowing that the victory would remain with himself,
offered to Ahriman peace; but Ahriman chose war. But, blinded by Ormazd's
majesty, and terrified by the sight of the pure Fravashis of holy men, he
was conquered by Ormazd's strong word, and sank back into the abyss of
darkness, where he lay fettered during the three thousand years of the
second period.

Ormazd now completed his creation upon the earth. Sapandomad was guardian
spirit of the earth, and the earth, as Hethra, was mother of all living.
Khordad was chief of the seasons, years, months, and days, and also
protector of the water which flowed from the fountain Anduisur, from
Albordj. The planet Tistrya was commissioned to raise the water in vapor,
collect it in clouds, and let it fall in rain, with the aid of the planet
Sitavisa. These cloud-compellers were highly reverenced. Amerdad was
general deity of vegetation; but the great Mithra was the god of
fructification and reproduction in the whole organic world; his work was
to lead the Fravashis to the bodies they were to occupy.

Everything earthly in the light-world of Ormazd had its protecting deity.
These guardian spirits were divided into series and groups, had their
captains and their associated assistants. The seven Amshaspands (in Zend,
Amĕsha-çpentas) were the chief among these, of whom Ormazd was first. The
other six were Bahman, King of Heaven; Ardibehescht, King of Fire;
Schariver, King of the Metals; Sapandomad, Queen of the Earth; Amerdad,
King of Vegetables; and Khordad, King of Water.

So ended the second age. In it Ormazd had also produced the great
primitive Bull, in which, as the representative of the animal world, the
seeds of all living creatures were deposited.

While Ormazd was thus completing his light-creation, Ahriman, in his dark
abyss, was effecting a corresponding creation of darkness,--making a
corresponding evil being for every good being created by Ormazd. These
spirits of night stood in their ranks and orders, with their seven
presiding evil spirits, or Daêvas, corresponding to the Amshaspands.

The vast preparations for this great war being completed, and the end of
the second age now coming, Ahriman was urged by one of his Daêvas to begin
the conflict. He counted his host; but as he found nothing therein to
oppose to the Fravashis of good men, he sank back in dejection. Finally
the second age expired, and Ahriman now sprang aloft without fear, for he
knew that his time was come. His host followed him, but he alone succeeded
in reaching the heavens; his troops remained behind. A shudder ran over
him, and he sprang from heaven upon the earth in the form of a serpent,
penetrated to its centre, and entered into everything which he found upon
it. He passed into the primal Bull, and even into fire, the visible symbol
of Ormazd, defiling it with smoke and vapor. Then he assailed the heavens,
and a part of the stars were already in his power, and veiled in smoke and
mist, when he was attacked by Ormazd, aided by the Fravashis of holy men;
and after ninety days and ninety nights he was completely defeated, and
driven back with his troops into the abyss of Duzahk.

But he did not remain there, for through the middle of the earth he built
a way for himself and his companions, and is now living on the earth
together with Ormazd,--according to the decree of the Infinite.

The destruction which he produced in the world was terrible. Nevertheless,
the more evil he tried to do, the more he ignorantly fulfilled the
counsels of the Infinite, and hastened the development of good. Thus he
entered the Bull, the original animal, and injured him so that he died.
But when he died, Kaiomarts, the first man, came out of his right
shoulder, and from his left Goshurun, the soul of the Bull, who now became
the guardian spirit of the animal race. Also the whole realm of clean
animals and plants came from the Bull's body. Full of rage, Ahriman now
created the unclean animals,--for every clean beast an unclean. Thus
Ormazd created the dog, Ahriman the wolf; Ormazd all useful animals,
Ahriman all noxious ones; and so of plants.

But to Kaiomarts, the original man, Ahriman had nothing to oppose, and so
he determined to kill him. Kaiomarts was both man and woman, but through
his death there came from him the first human pair; a tree grew from his
body, and bore ten pair of men and women. Meschia and Meschiane were the
first. They were originally innocent and made for heaven, and worshipped
Ormazd as their creator. But Ahriman tempted them. They drank milk from a
goat and so injured themselves. Then Ahriman brought them fruit, they ate
it, and lost a hundred parts of their happiness, so that only one
remained. The woman was the first to sacrifice to the Daêvas. After fifty
years they had two children, Siamak and Veschak, and died a hundred years
old. For their sins they remain in hell until the resurrection.

The human race, which had thus become mortal and miserable by the sin of
its first parents, assumed nevertheless a highly interesting position. The
man stands in the middle between the two worlds of light and darkness,
left to his own free will. As a creature of Ormazd he can and ought to
honor him, and assist him in the war with evil; but Ahriman and his Daêvas
surround him night and day, and seek to mislead him, in order to increase
thereby the power of darkness. He would not be able at all to resist these
temptations, to which his first parents had already yielded, had not
Ormazd taken pity on him, and sent him a revelation of his will in the law
of Zoroaster. If he obeys these precepts he is safe from the Daêvas, under
the immediate protection of Ormazd. The substance of the law is the
command, "THINK PURELY, SPEAK PURELY, ACT PURELY." All that comes from
Ormazd is pure, from Ahriman impure; and bodily purity has a like worth
with moral purity. Hence the multitude and minuteness of precepts
concerning bodily cleanliness. In fact the whole liturgic worship turns
greatly on this point.

The Fravashis of men originally created by Ormazd are preserved in heaven,
in Ormazd's realm of light. But they must come from heaven, to be united
with a human body, and to go on a path of probation in this world, called
the "Way of the Two Destinies." Those who have chosen the good in this
world are received after death by good spirits, and guided, under the
protection of the dog Sura, to the bridge Chinevat; the wicked are dragged
thither by the Daêvas. Here Ormazd holds a tribunal and decides the fate
of the souls. The good pass the bridge into the mansions of the blessed,
where they are welcomed with rejoicing by the Amshaspands; the bad fall
over into the Gulf of Duzahk, where they are tormented by the Daêvas. The
duration of the punishment is fixed by Ormazd, and some are redeemed
earlier by means of the prayers and intercessions of their friends, but
many must remain till the resurrection of the dead.

Ahriman himself effects this consummation, after having exercised great
power over men during the last three thousand years. He created seven
comets (in opposition to the seven planets), and they went on their
destructive paths through the heavens, filling all things with danger, and
all men with terror. But Ormazd placed them under the control of his
planets to restrain them. They will do so, till by the decree of the
Infinite, at the close of the last period, one of the comets will break
from his watchman, the moon, and plunge upon the earth, producing a
general conflagration. But before this Ormazd will send his Prophet
Sosioçh and bring about the conversion of mankind, to be followed by the
general resurrection.

Ormazd will clothe anew with flesh the bones of men, and relatives and
friends will recognize each other again. Then comes the great division of
the just from the sinners.

When Ahriman shall cause the comet to fall on the earth to gratify his
destructive propensities, he will be really serving the Infinite Being
against his own will. For the conflagration caused by this comet will
change the whole earth into a stream like melted iron, which will pour
impetuously down into the realm of Ahriman. All beings must now pass
through this stream: to the righteous it will feel like warm milk, and
they will pass through to the dwellings of the just; but all the sinners
shall be borne along by the stream into the abyss of Duzahk. Here they
will burn three days and nights, then, being purified, they will invoke
Ormazd, and be received into heaven.

Afterward Ahriman himself and all in the Duzahk shall be purified by this
fire, all evil be consumed, and all darkness banished.

From the extinct fire there will come a more beautiful earth, pure and
perfect, and destined to be eternal.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having given this account of the Pârsî system, in its later development,
let us say that it was not an _invention_ of Zoroaster, nor of any one
else. Religions are not invented: they grow. Even the religion of Mohammed
grew out of pre-existent beliefs. The founder of a religion does not
invent it, but gives it form. It crystallizes around his own deeper
thought. So, in the time of Zoroaster, the popular imagination had filled
nature with powers and presences, and given them names, and placed them in
the heavens. For, as Schiller says:--

                          "'Tis not merely
    The human being's pride which peoples space
    With life and mystical predominance;
    For also for the stricken heart of Love,
    This visible nature and this lower world
    Are all too common."

Zoroaster organized into clearer thought the pre-existing myths, and
inspired them with moral ideas and vital power.

§ 8. Relation of the Religion of the Zend Avesta to that of the Vedas.

That the Vedic religion and that of the Avesta arose out of an earlier
Aryan religion, monotheistic in its central element, but with a tendency
to immerse the Deity in nature, seems evident from the investigations of
Pictet and other scholars. This primitive religion of the Aryan race
diverged early in two directions, represented by the Veda and the Avesta.
Yet each retains much in common with the other. The names of the powers,
Indra, Sura, Naoghaithya, are in both systems. In the Veda they are gods,
in the Avesta evil spirits. Indra, worshipped throughout the Rig-Veda as
one of the highest deities, appears in the Avesta as an evil being.[143]
Sura (Çura), one of the most ancient names of Shiva, is also denounced and
opposed in the Avesta[144] as a Daêva, or Dew. And the third (Nâoghaithya,
Nâouhaiti), also an evil spirit in the Avesta, is the Nâsatya of the
Veda,[145] one of the Açvinas or twins who precede the Dawn. The Dews or
Daêvas of the Avesta are demons, in the Vedas they are gods. On the other
hand, the Ahuras, or gods, of the Avesta are Asuras, or demons, in the
Vedic belief. The original land of the race is called Aryavesta in the
Laws of Manu (II. 22), and Aryana-Vaêjo in the Avesta. The God of the Sun
is named Mithra, or Mitra, in both religions. The Yima of the Pârsî system
is a happy king; the Yama of the Hindoos is a stern judge in the realms of
death. The dog is hateful in the Indian system, an object of reverence in
that of Zoroaster. Both the religions dread defilement through the touch
of dead bodies. In both systems fire is regarded as divine. But the most
striking analogy perhaps is to be found in the worship paid by both to the
intoxicating fermented juice of the plant _Asclepias acida_, called Soma
in the Sanskrit and Haŏma in the Zend. The identity of the Haŏma with the
Indian Soma has long been proved.[146] The whole of the Sáma-Veda is
devoted to this moon-plant worship; an important part of the Avesta is
occupied with hymns to Haŏma. This great reverence paid to the same plant,
on account of its intoxicating qualities, carries us back to a region
where the vine was unknown, and to a race to whom intoxication was so new
an experience as to seem a gift of the gods. Wisdom appeared to come from
it, health, increased power of body and soul, long life, victory in
battle, brilliant children. What Bacchus was to the Greeks, this divine
Haŏma, or Soma, was to the primitive Aryans.[147]

It would seem, therefore, that the two religions setting out from the
same point, and having a common stock of primitive traditions, at last
said each to the other, "Your gods are my demons." The opposition was
mutual. The dualism of the Persian was odious to the Hindoo, while the
absence of a deep moral element in the Vedic system shocked the solemn
puritanism of Zoroaster. The religion of the Hindoo was to dream, that of
the Persian to fight. There could be no more fellowship between them than
there is between a Quaker and a Calvinist.

§ 9. Is Monotheism or pure Dualism the Doctrine of the Zend Avesta?

We find in the Avesta, and in the oldest portion of it, the tendencies
which resulted afterward in the elaborate theories of the Bundehesch. We
find the Zeârna-Akerana, in the Vendidad (XIX. 33,44,55),--"The Infinite
Time," or "All-embracing Time,"--as the creator of Ahriman, according to
some translations. Spiegel, indeed, considers this supreme being, above
both Ormazd and Ahriman, as not belonging to the original Persian
religion, but as borrowed from Semitic sources. But if so, then Ormazd is
the supreme and uncreated being, and creator of all things. Why, then, has
Ormazd a Fravashi, or archetype? And in that case, he must either himself
have created Ahriman, or else Ahriman is as eternal as he; which latter
supposition presents us with an absolute, irreconcilable dualism. The
better opinion seems, therefore, to be, that behind the two opposing
powers of good and evil, the thesis and antithesis of moral life, remains
the obscure background of original being, the identity of both, from which
both have proceeded, and into whose abyss both shall return.

This great consummation is also intimated by the fact that in the same
Fargard of the Vendidad (XIX. 18) the future restorer or saviour is
mentioned, Sosioçh (Çaoshyanç), who is expected by the Pârsîs to come at
the end of all things, and accomplish the resurrection, and introduce a
kingdom of untroubled happiness.[148] Whether the resurrection belongs to
the primitive form of the religion remains as doubtful, but also as
probable, as when Mr. Alger discussed the whole question in his admirable
monograph on the Doctrine of the Future Life. Our remaining fragments of
the Zend Avesta say nothing of the periods of three thousand years'
duration. Two or three passages in the Avesta refer to the
resurrection.[149] But the conflict between Ormazd and Ahriman, the
present struggle between good and evil, the ideal world of the Fravashis
and good spirits,--these unquestionably belong to the original belief.

§ 10. Relation of this System to Christianity. The Kingdom of Heaven.

Of this system we will say, in conclusion, that in some respects it comes
nearer to Christianity than any other. Moreover, though so long dead, like
the great nation of which it was the inspiration and life,--though swept
away by Mohammedanism,--its influence remains, and has permeated both
Judaism and Christianity. Christianity has probably received from it,
through Judaism, its doctrine of angels and devils, and its tendency to
establish evil in the world as the permanent and equal adversary of good.
Such a picture as that by Retzsch of the Devil playing chess with the
young man for his soul, such a picture as that by Guido of the conflict
between Michael and Satan, such poems as Milton's Paradise Lost and
Goethe's Faust, could perhaps never have appeared in Christendom, had it
not been for the influence of the system of Zoroaster on Jewish, and,
through Jewish, on Christian thought. It was after the return from Babylon
that the Devil and demons, in conflict with man, became a part of the
company of spiritual beings in the Jewish mythology. Angels there were
before, as messengers of God, but devils there were not; for till then an
absolute Providence ruled the world, excluding all interference of
antagonistic powers. Satan, in Job, is an angel of God, not a devil; doing
a low kind of work, indeed, a sort of critical business, fault-finding,
and looking for flaws in the saints, but still an angel, and no devil. But
after the captivity the horizon of the Jewish mind enlarged, and it took
in the conception of God as allowing freedom to man and angels, and so
permitting bad as well as good to have its way. And then came in also the
conception of a future life, and a resurrection for ultimate judgment.
These doctrines have been supposed, with good reason, to have come to the
Jews from the influence of the great system of Zoroaster.

There is no doubt, however, that the Jewish prophets had already prepared
a point of contact and attachment for this system, and developed
affinities therewith, by their great battle-cry to the nation for right
against wrong, and their undying conviction of an ultimate restoration of
all good things. But the Jews found also in the Persian faith the one
among all religions most like their own, in this, that it had no idols,
and no worship but that addressed to the Unseen. Sun and fire were his
symbols, but he himself was hidden behind the glorious veil of being. And
it seems as if the Jews needed this support of finding another nation also
hating idolatry, before they could really rise above their tendency to
backslide into it. "In the mouth of two witnesses," the spiritual worship
of God was established; and not till Zoroaster took the hand of Moses did
the Jews cease to be idolaters. After the return from the captivity that
tendency wholly disappears.

But a deeper and more essential point of agreement is to be found in the
special practical character of the two systems, regarding life as a battle
between right and wrong, waged by a communion of good men fighting against
bad men and bad principles.

Perhaps, in reading the New Testament, we do not always see how much
Christianity turns around the phrase, and the idea behind it, of a
"kingdom of Heaven." The Beatitudes begin "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." Both John the Baptist and Christ
announce that the _kingdom of Heaven_ is at hand. The parables revolve
round the same idea of "the kingdom." which is likened first to this, and
then to that; and so, passing on into the Epistles, we have the "kingdom
of Heaven" still as the leading conception of Christianity. "The kingdom
of God is not meat nor drink";--such are common expressions.

The peculiar conception of the Messiah also is of the King, the Anointed
one, the Head of this divine Monarchy. When we call Jesus the Christ, we
repeat this ancient notion of the kingdom of God among men. He himself
accepted it; he called himself the Christ. "Thou sayest," said he, to
Pilate, "that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came
I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth."

All through antiquity there ran the longing for a communion or association
of the wise and good, in order to establish truth and justice in the
world. The tendency of error is to divide; the tendency of selfishness is
to separation. Only goodness and truth are capable of real communion,
interpenetration, and so of organic life and growth. This is their
strength, power, and hope. Hence all the efforts at associated action in
antiquity, such as the College of Pythagoras, the ideal Republic of Plato,
the Spartan Commonwealth, the communities of the Essenes, the monastic
institutions of Asia and Europe; and hence, too, the modern attempts, in
Protestantism, by Fourier, the Moravians, the Shakers, Saint-Simon, Robert
Owen, and others.

But among the Jews this desire appeared, first in their national
organization, as a theosophic and theocratic community, and afterward,
when this broke down and the nation was divided, in a larger prophetic
hope of the Messianic times. There is a tendency in the human mind, when
it sees a great work to be done, to look for a leader. So the Jewish hope
looked for a leader. Their true King was to come, and under him peace and
righteousness were to reign, and the kingdom of heaven begin on earth. It
was to be on earth. It was to be here and now. And so they waited and

Meantime, in the Persian religion, the seed of the same hope was sown.
There also the work of life was, to unite together a community of good men
and good angels, against bad men and devils, and so make a kingdom of
heaven. Long and sore should the conflict be; but the victory at last
would be sure. And they also looked for a Sosioch, or Mediator, who was to
be what the Messiah was to be to the Jews. And here was the deep and real
point of union between the two religions; and this makes the profound
meaning of the story of the Star which was seen in the East and which
guided the Magi of Zoroaster to the cradle of Christ.

Jesus came to be the Messiah. He fulfilled that great hope as he did
others. It was not fulfilled, in the sense of the letter of a prophecy
being acted out, but in the sense of the prophecy being carried up and on
to its highest point, and so being filled full of truth and value. The
first and chief purpose of Christianity was, not to save the souls of men
hereafter, as the Church has often taught, but to found a kingdom of
heaven here, on earth and in time. It was not to say, "Lo here!" or "Lo
there!" but to say, "_Now_ is the accepted time"; "the kingdom of God is
among you." In thus continuing and developing to its highest point the
central idea of his national religion, Jesus made himself the true Christ
and fulfilled all the prophecies. Perhaps what we need now is to come back
to that notion of the kingdom of heaven here below, and of Jesus the
present king,--present, because still bearing witness to the truth.
Christians must give up thinking about Christianity as only a means of
escaping a future hell and arriving at a future heaven. They must show
now, more than ever, that, by a union of loving and truthful hearts, God
comes here, immortality begins here, and heaven lies about us. To fight
the good fight of justice and truth, as the disciples of Zoroaster tried
to fight it,--this is still the true work of man; and to make a union of
those who wish thus to fight for good against evil,--this is still the
true church of Christ.

The old religion of Zoroaster died, Taut as the corn of wheat, which, if
it die, brings forth much fruit.

A small body of Pârsîs remain to-day in Persia, and another in
India,--disciples of this venerable faith. They are a good, moral,
industrious people. Some of them are very wealthy and very generous. Until
Mr. George Peabody's large donations, no one had bestowed so much on
public objects as Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeeboy, who had given to hospitals,
schools, and charities, some years since, a million and a half of dollars.
During our Rebellion, some of the Pârsîs sent gifts to the Sanitary
Commission, out of sympathy with the cause of freedom and Union.

Who can estimate the power of a single life? Of Zoroaster we do not know
the true name, nor when he lived, nor where he lived, nor exactly what he
taught. But the current from that fountain has flowed on for thousands of
years, fertilizing the souls of men out of its hidden sources, and helping
on, by the decree of Divine Providence, the ultimate triumph of good over
evil, right over wrong.

Chapter VI.

The Gods of Egypt.

  § 1. Antiquity and Extent of Egyptian Civilization.
  § 2. Religious Character of the Egyptians. Their Ritual.
  § 3. Theology of Egypt. Sources of our Knowledge concerning it.
  § 4. Central Idea of Egyptian Theology and Religion. Animal Worship.
  § 5. Sources of Egyptian Theology. Age of the Empire and Affinities of
         the Race.
  § 6. The Three Orders of Gods.
  § 7. Influence of Egypt upon Judaism and Christianity.

§ 1. Antiquity and Extent of Egyptian Civilization.

The ancient Egyptians have been the object of interest to the civilized
world in all ages; for Egypt was the favorite home of civilization,
science, and religion. It was a little country, the gift of the river
Nile; a little strip of land not more than seven miles wide, but
containing innumerable cities and towns, and in ancient times supporting
seven millions of inhabitants. Renowned for its discoveries in art and
science, it was the world's university; where Moses and Pythagoras,
Herodotus and Plato, all philosophers and lawgivers, went to school. The
Egyptians knew the length of the year and the form of the earth; they
could calculate eclipses of the sun and moon; were partially acquainted
with geometry, music, chemistry, the arts of design, medicine, anatomy,
architecture, agriculture, and mining. In architecture, in the qualities
of grandeur and massive proportions, they are yet to be surpassed. The
largest buildings elsewhere erected by man are smaller than their
pyramids; which are also the oldest human works still remaining, the
beauty of whose masonry, says Wilkinson, has not been surpassed in any
subsequent age. An obelisk of a single stone now standing in Egypt weighs
three hundred tons, and a colossus of Ramses II. nearly nine hundred. But
Herodotus describes a monolithic temple, which must have weighed five
thousand tons, and which was carried the whole length of the Nile, to the
Delta. And there is a roof of a doorway at Karnak, covered with sandstone
blocks forty feet long. Sculpture and bas-reliefs three thousand five
hundred years old, where the granite is cut with exquisite delicacy, are
still to be seen throughout Egypt. Many inventions, hitherto supposed to
be modern, such as glass, mosaics, false gems, glazed tiles, enamelling,
were well known to the Egyptians. But, for us, the most fortunate
circumstance in their taste was their fondness for writing. No nation has
ever equalled them in their love for recording all human events and
transactions. They wrote down all the details of private life with
wonderful zeal, method, and regularity. Every year, month, and day had its
record, and thus Egypt is the monumental land of the earth. Bunsen says
that "the genuine Egyptian writing is at least as old as Menes, the
founder of the Empire; perhaps three thousand years before Christ." No
other human records, whether of India or China, go back so far. Lepsius
saw the hieroglyph of the reed and inkstand on the monuments of the fourth
dynasty, and the sign of the papyrus roll on that of the twelfth dynasty,
which was the last but one of the old Empire. "No Egyptian," says
Herodotus, "omits taking accurate note of extraordinary and striking
events." Everything was written down. Scribes are seen everywhere on the
monuments, taking accounts of the products of the farms, even to every
single egg and chicken. "In spite of the ravages of time, and though
systematic excavation has scarcely yet commenced," says Bunsen, "we
possess chronological records of a date anterior to any period of which
manuscripts are preserved, or the art of writing existed in any other
quarter." Because they were thus fond of recording everything, both in
pictures and in three different kinds of writing; because they were also
fond of building and excavating temples and tombs in the imperishable
granite; because, lastly, the dryness of the air has preserved for us
these paintings, and the sand which has buried the monuments has prevented
their destruction,--we have wonderfully preserved, over an interval of
forty-five centuries, the daily habits, the opinions, and the religious
faith of that ancient time.

The oldest mural paintings disclose a state of the arts of civilization so
advanced as to surprise even those who have made archæology a study, and
who consequently know how few new things there are under the sun. It is
_not_ astonishing to find houses with doors and windows, with verandas,
with barns for grain, vineyards, gardens, fruit-trees, etc. We might also
expect, since man is a fighting animal, to see, as we do, pictures of
marching troops, armed with spears and shields, bows, slings, daggers,
axes, maces, and the boomerang; or to notice coats of mail, standards,
war-chariots; or to find the assault of forts by means of scaling-ladders.
But these ancient tombs also exhibit to us scenes of domestic life and
manners which would seem to belong to the nineteenth century after our
era, rather than to the fifteenth century before it. Thus we see monkeys
trained to gather fruit from the trees in an orchard; houses furnished
with a great variety of chairs, tables, ottomans, carpets, couches, as
elegant and elaborate as any used now. There are comic and _genre_
pictures of parties, where the gentlemen and ladies are sometimes
represented as being the worse for wine; of dances where ballet-girls in
short dresses perform very modern-looking pirouettes; of exercises in
wrestling, games of ball, games of chance like chess or checkers, of
throwing knives at a mark, of the modern thimblerig, wooden dolls for
children, curiously carved wooden boxes, dice, and toy-balls. There are
men and women playing on harps, flutes, pipes, cymbals, trumpets, drums,
guitars, and tambourines. Glass was, till recently, believed to be a
modern invention, unknown to the ancients. But we find it commonly used as
early as the age of Osertasen I., more than three thousand eight hundred
years ago; and we have pictures of glass-blowing and of glass bottles as
far back as the fourth dynasty. The best Venetian glass-workers are unable
to rival some of the old Egyptian work; for the Egyptians could combine
all colors in one cup, introduce gold between two surfaces of glass, and
finish in glass details of feathers, etc., which it now requires a
microscope to make out. It is evident, therefore, that they understood the
use of the magnifying-glass. The Egyptians also imitated successfully the
colors of precious stones, and could even make statues thirteen feet high,
closely resembling an emerald. They also made mosaics in glass, of
wonderfully brilliant colors. They could cut glass, at the most remote
periods. Chinese bottles have also been found in previously unopened tombs
of the eighteenth dynasty, indicating commercial intercourse reaching as
far back as that epoch. They were able to spin and weave, and color cloth;
and were acquainted with the use of mordants, the wonder in modern
calico-printing. Pliny describes this process as used in Egypt, but
evidently without understanding its nature. Writing-paper made of the
papyrus is as old as the Pyramids. The Egyptians tanned leather and made
shoes; and the shoemakers on their benches are represented working exactly
like ours. Their carpenters used axes, saws, chisels, drills, planes,
rulers, plummets, squares, hammers, nails, and hones for sharpening. They
also understood the use of glue in cabinet-making, and there are paintings
of veneering, in which a piece of thin dark wood is fastened by glue to a
coarser piece of light wood. Their boats were propelled by sails on yards
and masts, as well as by oars. They used the blow-pipe in the manufacture
of gold chains and other ornaments. They had rings of gold and silver for
money, and weighed it in scales of a careful construction. Their
hieroglyphics are carved on the hardest granite with a delicacy and
accuracy which indicates the use of some metallic cutting instrument,
probably harder than our best steel. The siphon was known in the fifteenth
century before Christ. The most singular part of their costume was the
wig, worn by all the higher classes, who constantly shaved their heads, as
well as their chins,--which shaving of the head is supposed by Herodotus
to be the reason of the thickness of the Egyptian skull. They frequently
wore false beards. Sandals, shoes, and low boots, some very elegant, are
found in the tombs. Women wore loose robes, ear-rings, finger-rings,
bracelets, armlets, anklets, gold necklaces. In the tombs are found vases
for ointment, mirrors, combs, needles. Doctors and drugs were not unknown
to them; and the passport system is no modern invention, for their deeds
contain careful descriptions of the person, exactly in the style with
which European travellers are familiar. We have only mentioned a small
part of the customs and arts with which the tombs of the Egyptians show
them to have been familiar. These instances are mostly taken from
Wilkinson, whose works contain numerous engravings from the monuments
which more than verify all we have said.

The celebrated French Egyptologist, M. Mariette, has very much enlarged
our knowledge of the more ancient dynasties, by his explorations, first
under a mission from the French government, and afterward from that of
Egypt. The immense temples and palaces of Thebes are all of a date at
least B.C. 1000. We know the history of Egypt very well as far back as the
time of the Hyksôs, or to the eighteenth dynasty. M. Mariette has
discovered statues and Sphinxes which he believes to have been the work of
the Hyksôs, the features being wholly different from that of the typical
Egyptian. Four of these Sphinxes, found by Mariette on the site of the old
Tanis, have the regular body of a lion, according to the canon of Egyptian
art, but the human heads are wholly un-Egyptian. Mariette, in describing
them, says that in the true Egyptian Sphinx there is always a quiet
majesty, the eye calm and wide open, a smile on the lips, a round face,
and a peculiar coiffure with wide open wings. Nothing of this is to be
found in these Sphinxes. Their eyes are small, the nose aquiline, the
cheeks hard, the mouth drawn down with a grave expression.

These Shepherd Kings, the Hyksôs, ruled Lower Egypt, according to Manetho,
five hundred and eleven years, which, according to Renan,[150] brings the
preceding dynasty (the fourteenth of Manetho) as early as B.C. 2000.
Monuments of the twelfth and thirteenth dynasties are common. The oldest
obelisk dates B.C. 2800. Thanks to the excavations of M. Mariette, we now
have a large quantity of sculptures and statues of a still earlier epoch.
M. Renan describes[151] tombs visited by himself, which he considers to be
the oldest known, and which he regards as being B.C. 4000,[152] where were
represented all the details of domestic life. The tone of these pictures
was glad and gay; and, what is remarkable, they had no trace of the
funeral ritual or the god Osiris. These were not like tombs, but rather
like homes. To secure the body from all profanation, it was concealed in a
pit, carefully hidden in the solid masonry. These tombs belong to the six
first dynasties.

The great antiquity of Egyptian civilization is universally admitted; but
to fix its chronology and precise age becomes very difficult, from the
fact that the Egyptians had no era from which to date forward or backward.
This question we shall return to in a subsequent section of this chapter.

§ 2. Religious Character of the Egyptians. Their Ritual.

But, wonderful as was the civilization of Egypt, it is not this which now
chiefly interests us. They were prominent among all ancient nations for
their interest in religion, especially of the ceremonial part of religion,
or worship. Herodotus says: "They are of all men the most excessively
attentive to the worship of the gods." And beside his statement to that
effect, there is evidence that the origin of much of the theology,
mythology, and ceremonies of the Hebrews and Greeks was in Egypt. "The
names of almost all the gods," says Herodotus, "came from Egypt into
Greece" (Euterpe, 50). The Greek oracles, especially that of Dodona, he
also states to have been brought from Egypt (II. 54-57), and adds,
moreover, that the Egyptians were the first who introduced public
festivals, processions, and solemn supplications, which the Greeks learned
from them. "The Egyptians, then," says he, "are beyond measure scrupulous
in matters of religion (§ 64). They invented the calendar, and connected
astrology therewith." "Each month and day," says Herodotus (II. 82), "is
assigned to some particular god, and each person's birthday determines his
fate." He testifies (II. 123) that "the Egyptians were also the first to
say that the soul of man is immortal, and that when the body perishes it
transmigrates through every variety of animal." It seems apparent, also,
that the Greek mysteries of Eleusis were taken from those of Isis; the
story of the wanderings of Ceres in pursuit of Proserpine being manifestly
borrowed from those of Isis in search of the body of Osiris. With this
testimony of Herodotus modern writers agree. "The Egyptians," says
Wilkinson, "were unquestionably the most pious nation of all antiquity.
The oldest monuments show their belief in a future life. And Osiris, the
Judge, is mentioned in tombs erected two thousand years before Christ."
Bunsen tells us that "it has at last been ascertained that all the great
gods of Egypt are on the oldest monuments," and says: "It is a great and
astounding fact, established beyond the possibility of doubt, that the
empire of Menes on its first appearance in history possessed an
established mythology, that is, a series of gods. Before the empire of
Menes, the separate Egyptian states had their temple worship regularly

Everything among the Egyptians, says M. Maury,[153] took the stamp of
religion. Their writing was so full of sacred symbols that it could
scarcely be used for any purely secular purpose. Literature and science
were only branches of theology. Art labored only in the service of worship
and to glorify the gods. Religious observances were so numerous and so
imperative, that the most common labors of daily life could not be
performed without a perpetual reference to some priestly regulation. The
Egyptian only lived to worship. His fate in the future life was constantly
present to him. The sun, when it set, seemed to him to die; and when it
rose the next morning, and tricking its beams flamed once more in the
forehead of the sky, it was a perpetual symbol of a future resurrection.
Religion penetrated so deeply into the habits of the land, that it almost
made a part of the intellectual and physical organization of its
inhabitants. Habits continued during many generations at last become
instincts, and are transmitted with the blood.[154] So religion in Egypt
became an instinct. Unaltered by the dominion of the Persians, the
Ptolemies, and Romans, it was, of all polytheisms, the most obstinate in
its resistance to Christianity, and retained its devotees down to the
sixth century of our era.[155]

There were more festivals in Egypt than among any other ancient people,
the Greeks not excepted. Every month and day was governed by a god. There
were two feasts of the New-Year, twelve of the first days of the months,
one of the rising of the dog-star (Sirius, called Sothis), and others to
the great gods, to seed-time and harvest, to the rise and fall of the
Nile. The feast of lamps at Sais was in honor of Neith, and was kept
throughout Egypt.[156] The feast of the death of Osiris; the feast of his
resurrection (when people called out, "We have found him! Good luck!");
feasts of Isis (one of which lasted four days); the great feast at
Bubastis, greatest of all,--these were festivals belonging to all Egypt.
On one of them as many as seven hundred thousand persons sailed on the
Nile with music. At another, the image of the god was carried to the
temple by armed men, who were resisted by armed priests in a battle in
which many were often killed.

The history of the gods was embodied in the daily life of the people. In
an old papyrus described by De Rougé,[157] it is said: "On the twelfth of
Chorak no one is to go out of doors, for on that day the transformation
of Osiris into the bird Wennu took place; on the fourteenth of Toby no
voluptuous songs must be listened to, for Isis and Nepthys bewail Osiris
on that day. On the third of Mechir no one can go on a journey, because
Set then began a war." On another day no one must go out. Another was
lucky, because on it the gods conquered Set; and a child born on that day
was supposed to live to a great age.

Every temple had its own body of priests. They did not constitute an
exclusive caste, though they were continued in families. Priests might be
military commanders, governors of provinces, judges, and architects.
Soldiers had priests for sons, and the daughters of priests married
soldiers. Of three brothers, one was a priest, another a soldier, and a
third held a civil employment.[158] Joseph, a stranger, though naturalized
in the country, received as a wife the daughter of the High-Priest of On,
or Heliopolis.

The priests in Egypt were of various grades, as the chief priests or
pontiffs, prophets, judges, scribes, those who examined the victims,
keepers of the robes, of the sacred animals, etc.

Women also held offices in the temple and performed duties there, though
not as priestesses.

The priests were exempt from taxes, and were provided for out of the
public stores. They superintended sacrifices, processions, funerals, and
were initiated into the greater and lesser mysteries; they were also
instructed in surveying. They were particular in diet, both as to quantity
and quality. Flesh of swine was particularly forbidden, and also that of
fish. Beans were held in utter abhorrence, also peas, onions, and garlic,
which, however, were offered on the altar. They bathed twice a day and
twice in the night, and shaved the head and body every three days. A great
purification took place before their fasts, which lasted from seven to
forty-two days.

They offered prayers for the dead.

The dress of the priests was simple, chiefly of linen, consisting of an
under-garment and a loose upper robe, with full sleeves, and the
leopard-skin above; sometimes one or two feathers in the head.

Chaplets and flowers were laid upon the altars, such as the lotus and
papyrus, also grapes and figs in baskets, and ointment in alabaster vases.
Also necklaces, bracelets, and jewelry, were offered as thanksgivings and

Oxen and other animals were sacrificed, and the blood allowed to flow over
the altar. Libations of wine were poured on the altar. Incense was offered
to all the gods in censers.

Processions were usual with the Egyptians; in one, shrines were carried on
the shoulders by long staves passed through rings. In others the statues
of the gods were carried, and arks like those of the Jews, overshadowed by
the wings of the goddess of truth spread above the sacred beetle.

The prophets were the most highly honored of the priestly order. They
studied the ten hieratical books. The business of the stolists[159] was to
dress and undress the images, to attend to the vestments of the priests,
and to mark the beasts selected for sacrifice. The scribes were to search
for the Apis, or sacred bull, and were required to possess great learning.

The priests had no sinecure; their life was full of minute duties and
restrictions. They seldom appeared in public, were married to one wife,
were circumcised like other Egyptians, and their whole time was occupied
either in study or the service of their gods. There was a gloomy tone to
the religion of Egypt, which struck the Greeks, whose worship was usually
cheerful. Apuleius says "the gods of Egypt rejoice in lamentations, those
of Greece in dances." Another Greek writer says, "The Egyptians offer
their gods tears."

Until Swedenborg[160] arrived, and gave his disciples the precise measure
and form of the life to come, no religion has ever taught an immortality
as distinct in its outline and as solid in its substance as that of the
Egyptians. The Greek and Roman hereafter was shadowy and vague; that of
Buddhism remote; and the Hebrew Beyond was wholly eclipsed and overborne
by the sense of a Divine presence and power immanent in space and time. To
the Egyptian, this life was but the first step, and a very short one, of
an immense career. The sun (Ra) alternately setting and rising, was the
perpetually present type of the progress of the soul, and the Sothiac
period (symbolized by the Phoenix) of 1421 years from one heliacal rising
of Sirius at the beginning of the fixed Egyptian year to the next, was
also made to define the cycle of human transmigrations. Two Sothiac
periods correspond nearly to the three thousand years spoken of by
Herodotus, during which the soul transmigrates through animal forms before
returning to its human body. Then, to use the Egyptian language, the soul
arrived at the ship of the sun and was received by Ra into his solar
splendor. On some sarcophagi the soul is symbolized by a hawk with a human
head, carrying in his claws two rings, which probably signify the two
Sothiac cycles of its transmigrations.

The doctrine of the immortality of the soul, says Mr. Birch,[161] is as
old as the inscriptions of the twelfth dynasty, many of which contain
extracts from the Ritual of the Dead. One hundred and forty-six chapters
of this Ritual have been translated by Mr. Birch from the text of the
Turin papyrus, the most complete in Europe. Chapters of it are found on
mummy-cases, on the wraps of mummies, on the walls of tombs, and within
the coffins on papyri. This Ritual is all that remains of the Hermetic
Books which constituted the library of the priesthood. Two antagonist
classes of deities appear in this liturgy as contending for the soul of
the deceased,--Osiris and his triad, Set and his devils. The Sun-God,
source of life, is also present.

An interesting chapter of the Ritual is the one hundred and twenty-fifth,
called the Hall of the Two Truths. It is the process of "separating a
person from his sins," not by confession and repentance, as is usual in
other religions, but by denying them. Forty-two deities are said to be
present to feed on the blood of the wicked. The soul addresses the Lords
of Truth, and declares that it has not done evil privily, and proceeds to
specifications. He says: "I have not afflicted any. I have not told
falsehoods. I have not made the laboring man do more than his task. I have
not been idle. I have not murdered. I have not committed fraud. I have not
injured the images of the gods. I have not taken scraps of the bandages of
the dead. I have not committed adultery. I have not cheated by false
weights. I have not kept milk from sucklings. I have not caught the sacred
birds." Then, addressing each god by name, he declares: "I have not been
idle. I have not boasted. I have not stolen. I have not counterfeited, nor
killed sacred beasts, nor blasphemed, nor refused to hear the truth, nor
despised God in my heart." According to some texts, he declares,
positively, that he has loved God, that he has given bread to the hungry,
water to the thirsty, garments to the naked, and an asylum to the

Funeral ceremonies among the Egyptians were often very imposing. The cost
of embalming, and the size and strength of the tomb, varied with the
position of the deceased. When the seventy days of mourning had elapsed,
the body in its case was ferried across the lake in front of the temple,
which represented the passage of the soul over the infernal stream. Then
came a dramatic representation of the trial of the soul before Osiris. The
priests, in masks, represented the gods of the underworld. Typhon accuses
the dead man, and demands his punishment. The intercessors plead for him.
A large pair of scales is set up, and in one scale his conduct is placed
in a bottle, and in the other an image of truth. These proceedings are
represented on the funeral papyri. One of these, twenty-two feet in
length, is in Dr. Abbott's collection of Egyptian antiquities, in New
York. It is beautifully written, and illustrated with careful drawings.
One represents the Hall of the Two Truths, and Osiris sitting in
judgment, with the scales of judgment before him.[162]

Many of the virtues which we are apt to suppose a monopoly of Christian
culture appear as the ideal of these old Egyptians. Brugsch says a
thousand voices from the tombs of Egypt declare this. One inscription in
Upper Egypt says: "He loved his father, he honored his mother, he loved
his brethren, and never went from his home in bad-temper. He never
preferred the great man to the low one." Another says: "I was a wise man,
my soul loved God. I was a brother to the great men and a father to the
humble ones, and never was a mischief-maker." An inscription at Sais, on a
priest who lived in the sad days of Cambyses, says: "I honored my father,
I esteemed my mother, I loved my brothers. I found graves for the unburied
dead. I instructed little children. I took care of orphans as though they
were my own children. For great misfortunes were on Egypt in my time, and
on this city of Sais."

Some of these declarations, in their "self-pleasing pride" of virtue,
remind one of the noble justification of himself by the Patriarch
Job.[163] Here is one of them, from the tombs of Ben-Hassan, over a Nomad

"What I have done I will say. My goodness and my kindness were ample. I
never oppressed the fatherless nor the widow. I did not treat cruelly the
fishermen, the shepherds, or the poor laborers. There was nowhere in my
time hunger or want. For I cultivated all my fields, far and near, in
order that their inhabitants might have food. I never preferred the great
and powerful to the humble and poor, but did equal justice to all."

A king's tomb at Thebes gives us in few words the religious creed of a

"I lived in truth, and fed my soul with justice. What I did to men was
done in peace, and how I loved God, God and my heart well know. I have
given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked,
and a shelter to the stranger. I honored the gods with sacrifices, and the
dead with offerings."

A rock at Lycopolis pleads for an ancient ruler thus: "I never took the
child from its mother's bosom, nor the poor man from the side of his
wife." Hundreds of stones in Egypt announce as the best gifts which the
gods can bestow on their favorites, "the respect of men, and the love of
women."[164] Religion, therefore, in Egypt, connected itself with morality
and the duties of daily life. But kings and conquerors were not above the
laws of their religion. They were obliged to recognize their power and
triumphs as not their own work, but that of the great gods of their
country. Thus, on a monumental stele discovered at Karnak by M. Mariette,
and translated by De Rougé,[165] is an inscription recording the triumphs
of Thothmes III., of the eighteenth dynasty (about B.C. 1600), which
sounds like the song of Miriam or the Hymn of Deborah. We give some
stanzas in which the god Amun addresses Thothmes:--

    "I am come: to thee have I given to strike down Syrian princes;
    Under thy feet they lie throughout the breadth of their country,
    Like to the Lord of Light, I made them see thy glory,
    Blinding their eyes with light, O earthly image of Amun!

    "I am come: to thee have I given to strike down Asian peoples;
    Captive now thou hast led the proud Assyrian chieftains;
    Decked in royal robes, I made them see thy glory;
    In glittering arms and fighting, high in thy lofty chariot.

    "I am come: to thee have I given to strike down western nations;
    Cyprus and the Ases have both heard thy name with terror;
    Like a strong-horned bull I made them see thy glory;
    Strong with piercing horns, so that none can stand before him.

    "I am come: to thee have I given to strike down Lybian archers;
    All the isles of the Greeks submit to the force of thy spirit;
    Like a regal lion, I made them see thy glory;
    Couched by the corpse he has made, down in the rocky valley.

    "I am come: to thee have I given to strike down the ends of the ocean.
    In the grasp of thy hand is the circling zone of the waters;
    Like the soaring eagle, I have made them see thy glory,
    Whose far-seeing eye there is none can hope to escape from."

A similar strain of religious poetry is in the Papyrus of Sallier, in the
British Museum.[166] This is an epic by an Egyptian poet named Pentaour,
celebrating the campaigns of Ramses II., the Sesostris of the Greeks, of
the nineteenth dynasty. This great king had been called into Syria to put
down a formidable revolt of the Kheta (the Hittites of the Old Testament).
The poem seems to have been a famous one, for it had the honor of being
carved in full on the walls at Karnak, a kind of immortality which no
other epic poet has ever attained. It particularly describes an incident
in the war, when, by a stratagem of the enemy, King Ramses found himself
separated from the main body of his army and attacked by the enemy in full
force. Pentaour describes him in this situation as calling on Amun, God of
Thebes, for help, recounting the sacrifices he had offered to him, and
asking whether he would let him die in this extremity by the ignoble hands
of these Syrian tribes. "Have I not erected to thee great temples? Have I
not sacrificed to thee thirty thousand oxen? I have brought from
Elephantina obelisks to set up to thy name. I invoke thee, O my father,
Amun. I am in the midst of a throng of unknown tribes, and alone. But Amun
is better to me than thousands of archers and millions of horsemen. Amun
will prevail over the enemy." And, after defeating his foes, in his song
of triumph, the king says, "Amun-Ra has been at my right and my left in
the battles; his mind has inspired my own, and has prepared the downfall
of my enemies. Amun-Ra, my father, has brought the whole world to my

Thus universal and thus profound was the religious sentiment among the

§ 3. Theology of Egypt. Sources of our Knowledge concerning it.

As regards the theology of the Egyptians and their system of ideas, we
meet with difficulty from the law of secrecy which was their habit of
mind. The Egyptian priesthood enveloped with mystery every opinion, just
as they swathed the mummies, fold above fold, in preparing them for the
tomb. The names and number of their gods we learn from the monuments.
Their legends concerning them come to us through Plutarch, Herodotus,
Diodorus, and other Greek writers. Their doctrine of a future life and
future judgment is apparent in their ceremonies, the pictures on the
tombs, and the papyrus Book of the Dead. But what these gods _mean_, what
are their offices, how they stand related to each other and to mankind,
what is the ethical bearing of the religion, it is not so easy to learn.

Nevertheless, we may find a clew to a knowledge of this system, if in no
other way, at least by ascertaining its central, ruling idea, and pursuing
this into its details. The moment that we take this course, light will
begin to dawn upon us. But before going further, let us briefly inquire
into the sources of our knowledge of Egyptian mythology.

The first and most important place is occupied by the monuments, which
contain the names and tablets of the gods of the three orders. Then come
the sacred books of the Egyptians, known to us by Clemens Alexandrinus.
From him we learn that the Egyptians in his time had forty-two sacred
books in five classes. The first class, containing songs or hymns in
praise of the gods, were very old, dating perhaps from the time of Menes.
The other books treated of morals, astronomy, hieroglyphics, geography,
ceremonies, the deities, the education of priests, and medicine. Of these
sacred Hermaic books, one is still extant, and perhaps it is as
interesting as any of them. We have two copies of it, both on papyrus, one
found by the French at Thebes, the other by Champollion in Turin. And
Lepsius considers this last papyrus to be wholly of the date of the
eighteenth or nineteenth dynasty, consequently fifteen hundred or sixteen
hundred years before Christ, and the only example of an Egyptian book
transmitted from the times of the Pharaohs. Bunsen believes it to belong
to the fourth class of Hermaic books, containing Ordinances as to the
First Fruits, Sacrifices, Hymns, and Prayers. In this book the deceased
is the person who officiates. His soul journeying on gives utterance to
prayers, confessions, invocations. The first fifteen chapters, which make
a connected whole, are headed, "Here begins the Sections of the
Glorification in the Light of Osiris." It is illustrated by a picture of a
procession, in which the deceased soul follows his own corpse as chief
mourner, offering prayers to the Sun-God. Another part of the book is
headed, "The Book of Deliverance, in the Hall of twofold Justice," and
contains the divine judgments on the deceased. Forty-two gods occupy the
judgment-seat. Osiris, their president, bears on his breast the small
tablet of chief judge, containing a figure of Justice. Before him are seen
the scales of divine judgment. In one is placed the statue of Justice, and
in the other the heart of the deceased, who stands in person by the
balance containing his heart, while Anubis watches the other scale. Horus
examines the plummet indicating which way the beam inclines. Thoth, the
Justifier the Lord of the Divine Word, records the sentence.[168]

§ 4. Central Idea of Egyptian Theology and Religion. Animal Worship.

We now proceed to ask what is the IDEA of Egyptian mythology and theology?

We have seen that the idea of the religion of India was Spirit; the One,
the Infinite, the Eternal; a pure spiritual Pantheism, from which the
elements of time and space are quite excluded. The religion of Egypt
stands at the opposite pole of thought as its antagonist. Instead of
Spirit, it accepts Body; instead of Unity, Variety; instead of Substance,
Form. It is the physical reaction from Brahmanism. Instead of the worship
of abstract Deity, it gives us the most concrete divinity, wholly
incarnated in space and time. Instead of abstract contemplation, it gives
us ceremonial worship. Instead of the absorption of man into God, it gives
us transmigration through all bodily forms.[169] It so completely
incarnates God, as to make every type of animal existence divine; hence
the worship of animals. It makes body so sacred, that the human body must
not be allowed to perish. As the Brahman, contemplating eternity, forgot
time, and had no history, so on the other hand the Egyptian priest, to
whom every moment of time is sacred, records everything and turns every
event into history; and as it enshrines the past time historically on
monuments, so it takes hold of future time prophetically through oracles.

The chief peculiarity about the religion of Egypt, and that which has
always caused the greatest astonishment to foreigners, was the worship of
animals. Herodotus says (Book II. § 65), "That all animals in Egypt, wild
and tame, are accounted sacred, and that if any one kills these animals
wilfully he is put to death." He is, however, mistaken in asserting that
_all_ animals are sacred; for many were not so, though the majority were.
Wilkinson gives a list of the animals of Egypt to the number of over one
hundred, more than half of which were sacred, and the others not. As
hunting and fishing were favorite sports of the Egyptians, it is apparent
that there must have been animals whom it was lawful to kill.
Nevertheless, it is certain that animal worship is a striking peculiarity
of the Egyptian system. Cows were sacred to Isis, and Isis was represented
in the form of a cow. The gods often wore the heads of animals; and Kneph,
or Amun, with the ram's head, is one of the highest of the gods, known
among the Greeks as Jupiter Ammon. The worship of Apis, the sacred bull of
Memphis, the representative of Osiris, was very important among the
Egyptian ceremonies. Plutarch says that he was a fair and beautiful image
of the soul of Osiris. He was a bull with black hair, a white spot on his
forehead, and some other special marks. He was kept at Memphis in a
splendid temple. His festival lasted seven days, when a great concourse of
people assembled. When he died his body was embalmed and buried with great
pomp, and the priests went in search of another Apis, who, when discovered
by the marks, was carried to Memphis, carefully fed and exercised, and
consulted as an oracle. The burial-place of the Apis bulls was, a few
years ago, discovered near Memphis. It consists of an arched gallery hewn
in the rock, two thousand feet long and twenty feet in height and breadth.
On each side is a series of recesses, each containing a large sarcophagus
of granite, fifteen by eight feet, in which the body of a sacred bull was
deposited. In 1852 thirty of these had been already found. Before this
tomb is a paved road with lions ranged on each side, and before this a
temple with a vestibule.

In different parts of Egypt different animals were held sacred. The animal
sacred in one place was not so regarded in another district. These sacred
animals were embalmed by the priests and buried, and the mummies of dogs,
wolves, birds, and crocodiles are found by thousands in the tombs. The
origin and motive of this worship is differently explained. It is certain
that animals were not worshipped in the same way as the great gods, but
were held sacred and treated with reverence as containing a divine
element. So, in the East, an insane person is accounted sacred, but is not
worshipped. So the Roman Catholics distinguish between Dulia and Latria,
between the worship of gods and reverence of saints. So, too, Protestants
consider the Bible a holy book and the Sabbath a holy day, but without
worshipping them. It is only just to make a similar distinction on behalf
of the Egyptians. The motives usually assigned for this worship--motives
of utility--seem no adequate explanation. "The Egyptians," says Wilkinson,
"may have deified some animals to insure their preservation, some to
prevent their unwholesome meat being used as food." But no religion was
ever established in this way. Man does not worship from utilitarian
considerations, but from an instinct of reverence. It is possible, indeed,
that such a reverential instinct may have been awakened towards certain
animals, by seeing their vast importance arising from their special
instincts and faculties. The cow and the ox, the dog, the ibis, and the
cat, may thus have appeared to the Egyptians, from their indispensable
utility, to be endowed with supernatural gifts. But this feeling itself
must have had its root in a yet deeper tendency of the Egyptian mind. They
reverenced the mysterious manifestation of God in all outward nature. No
one can look at an animal, before custom blinds our sense of strangeness,
without a feeling of wonder at the law of instinct, and the special,
distinct peculiarity which belongs to it. Every variety of animals is a
manifestation of a divine thought, and yet a thought hinted rather than
expressed. Each must mean something, must symbolize something. But what
does it mean? what does it symbolize? Continually we seem just on the
point of penetrating the secret; we almost touch the explanation, but are
baffled. A dog, a cat, a snake, a crocodile, a spider,--what does each
mean? why were they made? why this infinite variety of form, color,
faculty, character? Animals thus in their unconscious being, as
expressions of God's thoughts, are mysteries, and divine mysteries.[170]

Now every part of the religion of Egypt shows how much they were attracted
toward _variety_, toward nature, toward the outward manifestations of the
Divine Spirit. These tendencies reached their utmost point in their
reverence for animal life. The shallow Romans, who reverenced only
themselves, and the Greeks, who worshipped nothing but human nature more
or less idealized, laughed at this Egyptian worship of animals and plants.
"O sacred nation! whose gods grow in gardens!" says Juvenal. But it
certainly shows a deeper wisdom to see something divine in nature, and to
find God in nature, than to call it common and unclean. And there is more
of truth in the Egyptian reverence for animal individuality, than in the
unfeeling indifference to the welfare of these poor relations which
Christians often display. When Jesus said that "not a sparrow falls to the
ground without your Father," he showed all these creatures to be under the
protection of their Maker. It may be foolish to worship animals, but it is
still more foolish to despise them.

That the belief in transmigration is the explanation of animal worship is
the opinion of Bunsen. The human soul and animal soul, according to this
view, are essentially the same,--therefore the animal was considered as
sacred as man. Still, we do not _worship_ man. Animal worship, then, must
have had a still deeper root in the sense of awe before the mystery of
organized life.

§ 5. Sources of Egyptian Theology. Age of the Empire and Affinities of the

But whence came this tendency in the human mind? Did it inhere in the
race, or was it the growth of external circumstances? Something, perhaps,
may be granted to each of these causes. The narrow belt of fertile land in
Egypt, fed by the overflowing Nile, quickened by the tropical sun, teeming
with inexhaustible powers of life, continually called the mind anew to the
active, creative powers of nature. And yet it may be suspected that the
law of movement by means of antagonism and reaction may have had its
influence also here. The opinion is now almost universal, that the impulse
of Egyptian civilization proceeded from Asia. This is the conclusion of
Bunsen at the end of his first volume. "The cradle of the mythology and
language of Egypt," says he, "is Asia. This result is arrived at by the
various ethnological proofs of language which finds Sanskrit words and
forms in Egypt, and of comparative anatomy, which shows the oldest
Egyptian skulls to have belonged to Caucasian races." If, then, Egyptian
civilization proceeded from Central Asia, Egyptian mythology and religion
probably came as a quite natural reaction from the extreme spiritualism of
the Hindoos. The question which remains is, whether they arrived at their
nature-worship directly or indirectly; whether, beginning with Fetichism,
they ascended to their higher conceptions of the immortal gods; or,
beginning with spiritual existence, they traced it downward into its
material manifestations; whether, in short, their system was one of
evolution or emanation. For every ancient theogony, cosmogony, or ontogony
is of one kind or the other. According to the systems of India and of
Platonism, the generation of beings is by the method of emanation.
Creation is a falling away, or an emanation from the absolute. But the
systems of Greek and Scandinavian mythology are of the opposite sort. In
these, spirit is evolved from matter; matter up to spirit works. They
begin with the lowest form of being,--night, chaos, a mundane egg,--and
evolve the higher gods therefrom.

It is probable that we find in Egypt a double tendency. One is the Asiatic
spiritualism, the other the African naturalism. The union of the ideal and
the real, of thought and passion, of the aspirations of the soul and the
fire of a passionate nature, of abstract meditation and concrete life, had
for its result the mysterious theology and philosophy which, twenty
centuries after its burial under the desert sands, still rouses our
curiosity to penetrate the secret of this Sphinx of the Nile.

We have seen in a former section that the institutions of Egypt, based on
a theocratic monarchy, reach back into a dim and doubtful antiquity.
Monuments, extending through thirty-five centuries, attest an age
preceding all written history. These monuments, so far as deciphered by
modern Egyptologists, have confirmed the accuracy of the lists of kings
which have come to us from Manetho. We have no monument anterior to the
fourth dynasty, but at that epoch we find the theocracy fully
organized.[171] The general accuracy of Manetho's list has been
demonstrated by the latest discoveries of M. Mariette, and has rendered
doubtful the idea of any of the dynasties being contemporaneous.

The main chronological points, however, are by no means as yet fixed.
Thus, the beginning of the first dynasty is placed by Böckh at B.C. 5702,
by Lepsius B.C. 3892, by Bunsen B.C. 3623, by Brugsch B.C. 4455, by Lauth
B.C. 4157, by Duncker 3233.[172] The period of the builders of the great
Pyramids is fixed by Bunsen at B.C. 3229, by Lepsius at B.C. 3124, by
Brugsch at B.C. 3686, by Lauth at B.C. 3450, and by Böckh at B.C.

The Egyptian priests told Herodotus that there were three hundred and
thirty-one kings, from Menes to Moeris, whose names they read out of a
book. After him came eleven others, of whom Sethos was the last. From
Osiris to Amasis they counted fifteen thousand years, though Herodotus did
not believe this statement. If the three hundred and forty-two kings
really existed, it would make Menes come B.C. 9150,--at an average of
twenty-five years' reign to each king. Diodorus saw in Egypt a list of
four hundred and seventy-nine kings. But he says in another place that
Menes lived about four thousand seven hundred years before his time.
Manetho tells us that from Menes there were thirty dynasties, who reigned
five thousand three hundred and sixty-six years. But he gives a list of
four hundred and seventy-two kings in these dynasties, to the time of
Cambyses. The contradictions are so great, and the modes of reconciling
Manetho, Herodotus, Diodorus, Eratosthenes, and the monuments are so
inadequate, that we must regard the whole question of the duration of the
monarchy as unsettled. But from the time when the calendar must have been
fixed, from the skill displayed in the Pyramids, and other reasons
independent of any chronology, Duncker considers the reign of Menes as old
as B.C. 3500.

The history of Egypt is divided into three periods, that of the old, the
middle, and the new monarchy. The first extends from the foundation of the
united kingdom by Menes to the conquest of the country by the Hyksôs. The
second is from this conquest by the Hyksôs till their expulsion. The
third, from the re-establishment of the monarchy by Amosis to its final
conquest by Persia. The old monarchy contained twelve dynasties; the
Hyksôs or middle monarchy, five; the new monarchy, thirteen: in all,

The Hyksôs, or Shepherd Kings, were at first supposed to be the Hebrews:
but this hypothesis adapted itself to none of the facts. A recent treatise
by M. Chabas[174] shows that the Hyksôs were an Asiatic people, occupying
the country to the northeast of Egypt. After conquering Lower Egypt,
Apapi was king of the Hyksôs and Tekenen-Ra ruled over the native
Egyptians of the South. A papyrus, as interpreted by M. Chabas, narrates
that King Apapi worshipped only the god Sutech (Set), and refused to allow
the Egyptian gods to be adored. This added to the war of races a war of
religion, which resulted in the final expulsion of the Shepherds, about
B.C. 1700. The Hyksôs are designated on the monuments and in the papyri as
the "Scourge" or "Plague," equivalent in Hebrew to the _Tzir'ah,_ commonly
translated "hornet," but evidently the same as the Hebrew _tzavaath_,
"plague," and the Arabic _tzeria_, "scourge," or "plague."[175]

According to the learned Egyptologist, Dr. Brugsch, the Hebrew slaves in
Egypt are referred to in a papyrus in the British Museum of the date of
Ramses II. (B.C. 1400), in a description by a scribe named Pinebsa of the
new city of Ramses. He tells how the slaves throng around him to present
petitions against their overseers. Another papyrus reads (Lesley, "Man's
Origin and Destiny"): "The people have erected twelve buildings. They made
their tale of bricks daily, till they were finished." The first
corroboration of the biblical narrative which the Egyptian monuments
afford, and the first synchronism between Jewish and Egyptian history,
appear in the reign of Ramses II., about B.C. 1400, in the nineteenth

It appears from the monuments and from the historians that somewhere about
B.C. 2000, or earlier, this great movement of warlike nomadic tribes
occurred, which resulted in the conquest of Lower Egypt by the pastoral
people known as Hyksôs. It was perhaps a movement of Semitic races, the
Bedouins of the desert, like that which nearly three thousand years after
united them as warriors of Islam to overflow North Africa, Syria, Persia,
and Spain. They oppressed Egypt for five hundred years (Brugsch), and
appear on the monuments under the name of Amu (the herdsmen) or of Aadu
(the hated ones). Their kings resided at Tanis (in Egyptian Avaris), in
the Delta. That their conquests had a religious motive, and were made,
like that of Mohammed, in the interest of monotheism, seems possible. At
all events, we find one of them, Apapi, erecting a temple to Sutech (the
Semitic Baal), and refusing to allow the worship of other deities.[176]

The majority of Egyptologists believe that the Hebrews entered Egypt while
these Hyksôs kings, men of the same Semitic family and monotheistic
tendencies, were ruling in Lower Egypt. The bare subterranean temple
discovered by M. Mariette, with the well near it filled with broken
statues of the Egyptian gods, is an indication of those tendencies. The
"other king, who knew not Joseph," was a king of the eighteenth dynasty,
who conquered the Hyksôs and drove them out of Egypt. Apparently the
course of events was like that which many centuries later occurred in
Spain. In both cases, the original rulers of the land, driven to the
mountains, gradually reconquered their country step by step. The result of
this reconquest of the country would also be in Egypt, as it was in Spain,
that the Semitic remnants left in the land would be subject to a severe
and oppressive rule. The Jews in Egypt, like the Moors in Spain, were
victims of a cruel bondage. Then began the most splendid period of
Egyptian history, during the seventeenth, sixteenth, fifteenth, and
fourteenth centuries before Christ. The Egyptian armies overran Syria,
Asia Minor, and Armenia as far as the Tigris.

Ramses II., the most powerful monarch of this epoch, is probably the king
whose history is given by Herodotus and other Greek writers under the name
of Sesostris.[177] M. de Rougé believes himself able to establish this
identity. He found in the Museum at Vienna a stone covered with
inscriptions, and dedicated by a person whose name is given as Ramses
Mei-Amoun, exactly in the hieroglyphics of the great king. But this
person's name is also written elsewhere on the stone _Ses_, and a third
time as _Ses Mei-amoun,_ showing that _Ses_ was a common abbreviation of
Ramses. It is also written _Sesu_, or _Sesesu_, which is very like the
form in which Diodorus writes Sesostris, namely, _Sesoosis_.[178] Now
Ramses II., whose reign falls about B.C. 1400, erected a chain of
fortresses to defend the northeastern border of Egypt against the Syrian
nomads. One of these fortresses was named from the King Ramses, and
another Pachtum. The papyri contain accounts of these cities. One papyrus,
in the British Museum,[179] is a description by a scribe named Pinebsa, of
the aspect of the city Ramses, and of the petitions of the laborers for
relief against their overseers. These laborers are called _Apuru_,
Hebrews. In a papyrus of the Leyden Museum, an officer reports to his
superior thus: "May my lord be pleased. I have distributed food to the
soldiers and to the Hebrews, dragging stones for the great city Ramses
Meia-moum. I gave them food monthly." This corresponds with the passage
(Exodus i. 11): "They built for Pharaoh treasure-cities, Pithom and

The birth of Moses fell under the reign of Ramses II. The Exodus was under
that of his successor, Menepthes. This king had fallen on evil times; his
power was much inferior to that of his great predecessor; and he even
condescended to propitiate the anti-Egyptian element, by worshipping its
gods. He has left his inscription on the monuments with the title,
"Worshipper of Sutech-Baal in Tanis." The name of Moses is Egyptian, and
signifies "the child."

"Joseph," says Brugsch, "was never at the court of an Egyptian Pharaoh,
but found his place with the Semitic monarchs, who reigned at Avaris-Tanis
in the Delta, and whose power extended from this point as far as Memphis
and Heliopolis." The "king who knew not Joseph" was evidently the
restored Egyptian dynasty of Thebes. These monarchs would be naturally
averse to all the Palestinian inhabitants of the land. And the monuments
of their reigns represent the labors of subject people, under
task-masters, cutting, carrying, and laying stones for the walls of

To what race do the Egyptians belong? The only historic document which
takes us back so far as this is the list of nations in the tenth chapter
of Genesis. We cannot, indeed, determine the time when it was written. But
Bunsen, Ebers,[181] and other ethnologists are satisfied that the author
of this chapter had a knowledge of the subject derived either from the
Phoenicians or the Egyptians. Ewald places his epoch with that of the
early Jewish kings. According to this table the Egyptians were descended
from Ham, the son of Noah, and were consequently of the same original
stock with the Japhetic and Semitic nations. They were not negroes, though
their skin was black, or at least dark.[182] According to Herodotus they
came from the heart of Africa; according to Genesis (chap. x.) from Asia.
Which is the correct view?

The Egyptians themselves recognized no relationship with the negroes, who
only appear on the monuments as captives or slaves.

History, therefore, helps us little in this question of race. How is it
with Comparative Philology and Comparative Anatomy?

The Coptic language is an idiom of the old Egyptian tongue, which seems to
belong to no known linguistic group. It is related to other African
languages only through the lexicon, and similarly with the Indo-European.
Some traces of grammatic likeness to the Semitic may be found in it; yet
the view of Bunsen and Schwartz, that in very ancient times it arose from
the union of Semitic and Indo-European languages, remains only a
hypothesis.[183] Merx (in Schenkel's Bibel-Lexicon) says this view "rests
upon a wish formed in the interest of the Philosophy of History; and the
belief of a connection between these tongues is not justified by any
scientific study of philology. No such ethnological affinity can be
granted,--a proof of which is that all facts in its favor are derived from
common roots, none from common grammar." Benfey, however, assumed two
great branches of Semitic nationalities, one flowing into Africa, the
other into Western Asia.[184] Ebers[185] gives some striking resemblances
between Egyptian and Chaldaic words, and says he possesses more than three
hundred examples of this kind; and in Bunsen's fifth volume are
comparative tables which give as their result that a third part of the old
Egyptian words in Coptic literature are Semitic, and a tenth part
Indo-European. If these statements are confirmed, they may indicate some
close early relations between these races.

The anatomy of the mummies seems to show a wide departure from negro
characteristics. The skull, chin, forehead, bony system, facial angle,
hair, limbs, are all different. The chief resemblances are in the flat
nose, and form of the backbone.[186] Scientific ethnologists have
therefore usually decided that the old Egyptians were an Asiatic people
who had become partially amalgamated with the surrounding African tribes.
Max Duncker comes to this conclusion,[187] and says that the Berber
languages are the existing representatives of the old Egyptian. This is
certainly true as concerns the Copts, whose very name is almost identical
with the word "Gupti," the old name from which the Greeks formed the term
Ægypti.[188] Alfred Maury (Revue d. D. Mondes, September, 1867) says that,
"according to all appearances, Egypt was peopled from Asia by that Hamitic
race which comprised the tribes of Palestine, Arabia, and Ethiopia. Its
ancient civilization was, consequently, the sister of that which built
Babylon and Nineveh. In the valley of the Nile, as in those of the
Euphrates and the Tigris, religion gave the motive to civilization, and in
all the three nations there was a priesthood in close alliance with an
absolute monarchy." M. de Rougé is of the same opinion. In his examination
of the monuments of the oldest dynasties, he finds the name given to the
Egyptians by themselves to be merely "the Men" (Rut),--a word which by the
usual interchange of R with L, and of T with D, is identical with the
Hebrew Lud (plural Ludim), whom the Book of Genesis declares to have been
a son of Misraim. This term was applied by the Israelites to all the races
on the southeast shore of the Mediterranean. It is, therefore, believed by
M. de Rougé that the Egyptians were of the same family with these Asiatic
tribes on the shores of Syria. Here, then, as in so many other cases, a
new civilization may have come from the union of two different races,--one
Asiatic, the other African. Asia furnished the brain, Africa the fire, and
from the immense vital force of the latter and the intellectual vigor of
the former sprang that wonderful civilization which illuminated the world
during at least five thousand years.

§ 6. The Three Orders of Gods.

The Egyptian theology, or doctrine of the gods, was of two
kinds,--esoteric and exoteric, that is, an interior theology for the
initiated, and an exterior theology for the uninitiated. The exterior
theology, which was for the whole people, consisted of the mythological
accounts of Isis and Osiris, the judgments of the dead, the transmigration
of the soul, and all matters connected with the ceremonial worship of the
gods. But the interior, hidden theology is supposed to have related to the
unity and spirituality of the Deity.

Herodotus informs us that the gods of the Egyptians were in three orders;
and Bunsen believes that he has succeeded in restoring them from the
monuments. There are eight gods of the first order, twelve gods of the
second order, and seven gods of the third order. The gods of the third
order are those of the popular worship, but those of the first seem to be
of a higher and more spiritual class. The third class of gods were
representative of the elements of nature, the sun, fire, water, earth,
air. But the gods of the first order were the gods of the priesthood,
understood by them alone, and expressing ideas which they shrank from
communicating to the people. The spiritual and ideal part of their
religion the priests kept to themselves as something which the people were
incapable of understanding. The first eight gods seem to have been a
representation of a process of divine development or emanation, and
constituted a transition from the absolute spiritualism of the Hindoos to
the religion of nature and humanity in the West. The Hindoo gods were
emanations of spirit: the gods of Greece are idealizations of Nature. But
the Egyptian gods represent spirit passing into matter and form.

Accordingly, if we examine in detail the gods of the first order, who are
eight, we find them to possess the general principle of self-revelation,
and to constitute, taken together, a process of divine development. These
eight, according to Bunsen, are Amn, or Ammon; Khem, or Chemmis; Mut, the
Mother Goddess; Num, or Kneph; Seti, or Sate; Phtah, the Artist God; Net,
or Neith, the Goddess of Sais; and Ra, the Sun, the God of Heliopolis. But
according to Wilkinson they stand in a little different order: 1. Neph, or
Kneph; 2. Amun, or Ammon; 3. Pthah; 4. Khem; 5. Sate; 6. Maut, or Mut; 7.
Pasht, or Diana; and 8. Neith, or Minerva, in which list Pasht, the
Goddess of Bubastis, is promoted out of the second order and takes the
place of Ra, the Sun, who is degraded.

Supposing these lists to be substantially correct, we have, as the root of
the series, Ammon, the Concealed God, or Absolute Spirit. His titles
indicate this dignity. The Greeks recognized him as corresponding to their
Zeus. He is styled King of the Gods, the Ruler, the Lord of Heaven, the
Lord of the Thrones, the Horus or God of the Two Egypts. Thebes was his
city. According to Manetho, his name means concealment; and the root "Amn"
also means to veil or conceal. His original name was Amn; thus it stands
in the rings of the twelfth dynasty. But after the eighteenth dynasty it
is Amn-Ra, meaning the Sun. "Incontestably," says Bunsen, "he stands in
Egypt as the head of the great cosmogonic development."

Next comes Kneph, or God as Spirit,--the Spirit of God, often confounded
with Amn, also called Cnubis and Num. Both Plutarch and Diodorus tell us
that his name signifies Spirit, the Num having an evident relation with
the Greek πνεῦμα, and the Coptic word "Nef," meaning also to blow. So too
the Arabic "Nef" means breath, the Hebrew "Nuf," to flow, and the Greek
πνέω, to breathe. At Esneh he is called the Breath of those in the
Firmament; at Elephantina, Lord of the Inundations. He wears the ram's
head with double horns (by mistake of the Greeks attributed to Ammon), and
his worship was universal in Ethiopia. The sheep are sacred to him, of
which there were large flocks in the Thebaid, kept for their wool. And the
serpent or asp, a sign of kingly dominion,--hence called basilisk,--is
sacred to Kneph. As Creator, he appears under the figure of a potter with
a wheel. In Philæ he is so represented, forming on his wheel a figure of
Osiris, with the inscription, "Num, who forms on his wheel the Divine
Limbs of Osiris." He is also called the Sculptor of all men, also the god
who made the sun and moon to revolve. Porphyry says that Pthah sprang from
an egg which came from the mouth of Kneph, in which he is supported by
high monumental authority.

The result of this seems to be that Kneph represents the absolute Being as
Spirit, the Spirit of God moving on the face of the waters,--a moving
spirit pervading the formless chaos of matter.

Perhaps the next god in the series is Pthah, by the Greeks called
Hephæstus, or Vulcan, representing formation, creation by the truth,
stability; called in the inscriptions, Lord of Truth, Lord of the
Beautiful Face, Father of the Beginnings, moving the Egg of the Sun and
Moon. With Horapollo and Plutarch, we may consider the Scarabeus, or
Beetle, which is his sign, as an emblem of the world and its creation. An
inscription calls him Creator of all things in the world. Iamblicus says,
"The God who creates with truth is Pthah." He was also connected with the
sun, as having thirty fingers,--the number of days in a month. He is
represented sometimes as a deformed dwarf.

The next god in the series is Khem, the Greek Pan,--the principle of
generation, sometimes holding the ploughshare.

Then come the feminine principles corresponding with these three latter
gods. Amun has naturally no companion. Mut, the mother, is the consort of
Khem the father. Seti,--the Ray or Arrow,--a female figure, with the horns
of a cow, is the companion of Kneph. And Neith, or Net, the goddess of
Sais, belongs to Pthah. The Greek Minerva Athênê is thought to be derived
from Neith by an inversion of the letters,[189]--the Greeks writing from
left to right and the Egyptians from right to left. Her name means, "I
came from myself." Clemens says that her great shrine at Sais has an open
roof with the inscription, "I am all that was and is and is to be, and no
mortal has lifted my garment, and the fruit I bore is Helios." This would
seem to identify her with Nature.

For the eighth god of the first order we may take either Helios or Ra or
Phra, the Sun-God; from whence came the name of the Pharaohs, or we may
take Pasht, Bubastis, the equivalent of the Greek Diana. On some accounts
it would seem that Ra was the true termination of this cycle. We should
then have, proceeding from the hidden abyss of pure Spirit, first a
breathing forth, or spirit in motion; then creation, by the word of truth;
then generation, giving life and growth; and then the female qualities of
production, wisdom, and light, completed by the Sun-God, last of the
series. Amn, or Ammon, the Concealed God, is the root, then the creative
power in Kneph, then the generative power in Khem, the Demiurgic power in
Ptah, the feminine creative principle of Nature in Neith, the productive
principle in Mut, or perhaps the nourishing principle, and then the living
stimulus of growth, which carries all forward in Ra.

But we must now remember that two races meet in Egypt,--an Asiatic race,
which brings the ideas of the East; and an Ethiopian, inhabitants of the
land, who were already there. The first race brought the spiritual ideas
which were embodied in the higher order of gods. The Africans were filled
with the instinct of nature-worship. These two tendencies were to be
reconciled in the religion of Egypt. The first order of gods was for the
initiated, and taught them the unity, spirituality, and creative power of
God.[190] The third order--the circle of Isis and Osiris--were for the
people, and were representative of the forms and forces of outward
nature. Between the two come the second series,--a transition from the one
to the other,--children of the higher gods, parents of the lower,--neither
so abstract as the one nor so concrete as the other,--representing neither
purely divine qualities on the one side, nor merely natural forces on the
other, but rather the faculties and powers of man. Most of this series
were therefore adopted by the Greeks, whose religion was one essentially
based on human nature, and whose gods were all, or nearly all, the ideal
representations of human qualities. Hence they found in Khunsu, child of
Ammon, their Hercules, God of Strength; in Thoth, child of Kneph, they
found Hermes, God of Knowledge; in Pecht, child of Pthah, they found their
Artemis, or Diana, the Goddess of Birth, protector of women; in Athor, or
Hathor, they found their Aphroditê, Goddess of Love. Seb was Chronos, or
Time; and Nutpe was Rhea, wife of Chronos.

The third order of gods are the children of the second series, and are
manifestations of the Divine in the outward universe. But though standing
lowest in the scale, they were the most popular gods of the Pantheon; had
more individuality and personal character than the others; were more
universally worshipped throughout Egypt, and that from the oldest times.
"The Osiris deities," says Herodotus, "are the only gods worshipped
throughout Egypt." "They stand on the oldest monuments, are the centre of
all Egyptian worship, and are perhaps the oldest original objects of
reverence," says Bunsen. How can this be if they belong to a lower order
of Deities, and what is the explanation of it? There is another historical
fact also to be explained. Down to the time of Ramses, thirteen hundred
years before Christ, Typhon, or Seth, the God of Destruction, was the
chief of this third order, and the most venerated of all the gods. After
that time a revolution occurred in the worship, which overthrew Seth, and
his name was chiselled out of the monuments, and the name of Amun inserted
in its place. This was the only change which occurred in the Egyptian
religion, so far as we know, from its commencement until the time of the
Cæsars.[191] An explanation of both these facts may be given, founded on
the supposed amalgamation in Egypt of two races with their religions.
Supposing that the gods of the higher orders represented the religious
ideas of a Semitic or Aryan race entering Egypt from Asia, and that the
Osiris group were the gods of the African nature-worship, which they found
prevailing on their arrival, it is quite natural that the priests should
in their classification place their own gods highest, while they should
have allowed the external worship to go on as formerly, at least for a
time. But, after a time, as the tone of thought became more elevated, they
may have succeeded in substituting for the God of Terror and Destruction a
higher conception in the popular worship.

The myth of Isis and Osiris, preserved for us by Plutarch, gives the most
light in relation to this order of deities.

Seb and Nutpe, or Nut, called by the Greeks Chronos and Rhea, were the
parents of this group. Seb is therefore Time, and Nut is Motion or perhaps
Space. The Sun pronounced a curse on them, namely, that she should not be
delivered, on any day of the year. This perhaps implies the difficulty of
the thought of Creation. But Hermes, or Wisdom, who loved Rhea, won, at
dice, of the Moon, five days, the seventieth part of all her
illuminations, which he added to the three hundred and sixty days, or
twelve months. Here we have a hint of a correction of the calendar, the
necessity of which awakened a feeling of irregularity in the processes of
nature, admitting thereby the notion of change and a new creation. These
five days were the birthdays of the gods. On the first Osiris is born, and
a voice was heard saying, "The Lord of all things is now born." On the
second day, Arueris-Apollo, or the elder Horus; on the third, Typhon, who
broke through a hole in his mother's side; on the fourth, Isis; and on the
fifth, Nepthys-Venus, or Victory. Osiris and Arueris are children of the
Sun, Isis of Hermes, Typhon and Nepthys of Saturn.

Isis became the wife of Osiris, who went through the world taming it by
means of oratory, poetry, and music. When he returned, Typhon took
seventy-two men and also a queen of Ethiopia, and made an ark the size of
Osiris's body, and at a feast proposed to give it to the one whom it
should fit. Osiris got into it, and they fastened down the lid and
soldered it and threw it into the Nile. Then Isis put on mourning and went
to search for it, and directed her inquiries to little children, who were
hence held by the Egyptians to have the faculty of divination. Then she
found Anubis, child of Osiris, by Nepthys, wife of Typhon, who told her
how the ark was entangled in a tree which grew up around it and hid it.
The king had made of this tree a pillar to support his house. Isis sat
down weeping; the women of the queen came to her, she stroked their hair,
and fragrance passed into it. She was made nurse to the queen's child, fed
him with her finger, and in the night-time, by means of a lambent flame,
burned away his impurities. She then turned herself into a swallow and
flew around the house, bewailing her fate. The queen watched her
operations, and being alarmed cried out, and so robbed her child of
immortality. Isis then begged the pillar, took it down, took out the
chest, and cried so loud that the younger son of the king died of fright.
She then took the ark and the elder son and set sail. The cold air of the
river chilled her, and she became angry and cursed it, and so dried it up.
She opened the chest, put her cheek to that of Osiris and wept bitterly.
The little boy came and peeped in; she gave him a terrible look, and he
died of fright. Isis then came to her son Horus, who was at nurse at Buto.
Typhon, hunting by moonlight, saw the ark, with the body of Osiris, which
he tore into fourteen parts and threw them about. Isis went to look for
them in a boat made of papyrus, and buried each part in a separate place.

After this the soul of Osiris returned out of Hades to train up his son.
Then came a battle between Horus and Typhon, in which Typhon was
vanquished, but Isis allowed him to escape. There are other less important
incidents in the story, among them that Isis had another son by the soul
of Osiris after his death, who is the god called Harpocrates, represented
as lame and with his finger on his mouth.[192]

Plutarch declares that this story is symbolical, and mentions various
explanations of the allegory. He rejects, at once, the rationalistic
explanation, which turns these gods into eminent men,--sea-captains, etc.
"I fear," says he, "this would be to stir things that are not to be
stirred, and to declare war (as Simonides says), not only against length
of time, but also against many nations and families of mankind, whom a
religious reverence towards these gods holds fast bound like men
astonished and amazed, and would be no other than going about to remove so
great and venerable names from heaven to earth, and thereby shaking and
dissolving that worship and persuasion that hath entered almost all men's
constitutions from their very birth, and opening vast doors to the
atheists' faction, who convert all divine matters into human." "Others,"
he says, "consider these beings as demons intermediate between gods and
men. And Osiris afterwards became Serapis, the Pluto of the under-world."

Other explanations of the myth are given by Plutarch. First, the
geographical explanation. According to this, Osiris is Water, especially
the Nile. Isis is Earth, especially the land of Egypt adjoining the Nile,
and overflowed by it. Horus, their son, is the Air, especially the moist,
mild air of Egypt. Typhon is Fire, especially the summer heat which dries
up the Nile and parches the land. His seventy-two associates are the
seventy-two days of greatest heat, according to the Egyptian opinion.
Nepthys, his wife, sister of Isis, is the Desert outside of Egypt, but
which in a higher inundation of the Nile being sometimes overflowed,
becomes productive, and has a child by Osiris, named Anubis. When Typhon
shuts Osiris into the ark, it is the summer heat drying up the Nile and
confining it to its channel. This ark, entangled in a tree, is where the
Nile divides into many mouths at the Delta and is overhung by the wood.
Isis, nursing the child of the king, the fragrance, etc., represent the
earth nourishing plants and animals. The body of Osiris, torn by Typhon
into fourteen parts, signifies either the division of the Nile at its
mouths or the pools of water left after the drying up of the inundation.

There is so much in this account which accords with the facts, that there
can be no doubt of its correctness so far as it goes. At the same time it
is evidently an incomplete explanation. The story means this, but
something more. Beside the geographical view, Plutarch therefore adds a
scientific and an astronomical explanation, as well as others more
philosophical. According to these, Osiris is in general the productive,
the creative power in nature; Isis, the female property of nature, hence
called by Plato the nurse; and Typhon the destructive property in nature;
while Horus is the mediator between creation and destruction. And thus we
have the triad of Osiris, Typhon, and Horus, essentially corresponding to
the Hindoo triad, Brahma, Siva, and Vishnu, and also to the Persian triad,
Ormazd, Ahriman, and Mithra. And so this myth will express the Egyptian
view of the conflict of good and evil in the natural world.

But it seems very likely that it was the object of the priests to elevate
this Osiris worship to a still higher meaning, making it an allegory of
the struggles, sorrows, and self-recovery of the human soul. Every human
soul after death took the name and symbols of Osiris, and then went into
the under-world to be judged by him. Connected with this was the doctrine
of transmigration, or the passage of the soul through various bodies,--a
doctrine brought out of Egypt by Pythagoras. These higher doctrines were
taught in the mysteries. "I know them," says Herodotus, "but must not tell
them." Iamblicus professes to explain them in his work on the Mysteries.
But it is not easy to say how much of his own Platonism he has mingled
therewith. According to him, they taught in the mysteries that before all
things was one God immovable in the solitude of unity. The One was to be
venerated in silence. Then Emeph, or Neph, was god in his
self-consciousness. After this in Amun, his intellect became truth,
shedding light. Truth working by art is Pthah, and art producing good is

Another remarkable fact must be at least alluded to. Bunsen says, that,
according to the whole testimony of the monuments, Isis and Osiris not
only have their roots in the second order, but are also themselves the
first and the second order. Isis, Osiris, and Horus comprise all Egyptian
mythology, with the exception of Amun and Neph. Of this fact I have seen
no explanation and know of none, unless it be a sign of the purpose of the
priests to unite the two systems of spiritualism and nature-worship into
one, and to elevate and spiritualize the lower order of gods.

One reason for thinking that the religious system of the priests was a
compromise between several different original tendencies is to be found in
the local worship of special deities in various places. In Lower Egypt the
highest god was Pthah, whom the Greeks identified with Vulcan; the god of
fire or heat, father of the sun. He was in this region the chief god,
corresponding to Ammon in Upper Egypt. Manetho says that Pthah reigned
nine thousand years before the other gods,--which must mean that this was
by far the oldest worship in Egypt. As Ammon is the head of a cosmogony
which proceeds according to emanation from spirit down to matter, so Pthah
is at the beginning of a cosmogony which ascends by a process of evolution
from matter working up to spirit. For from Pthah (heat) comes light, from
light proceeds life, from life arise gods, men, plants, animals, and all
organic existence. The inscriptions call Pthah, "Father of the Father of
the Gods," "King of both Worlds," the "God of all Beginnings," the "Former
of Things." The egg is one of his symbols, as containing a germ of life.
The scarabæus, or beetle, which rolls its ball of earth, supposed to
contain its egg, is dedicated to Pthah. His sacred city was Memphis, in
Lower Egypt. His son, Ra, the Sun-God, had his temple at On, near by,
which the Greeks called Heliopolis, or City of the Sun. The cat is sacred
to Ra. As Pthah is the god of all beginnings in Lower Egypt, so Ra is the
vitalizing god, the active ruler of the world, holding a sceptre in one
hand and the sign of life in the other.

The goddesses of Lower Egypt were Neith at Sais, Leto, the goddess whose
temple was at Buto, and Pacht at Babastis. In Upper Egypt, as we have
seen, the chief deity was Amun, or Ammon, the Concealed God, and Kneph, or
Knubis. With them belonged the goddess Mut[193] (the mother) and Khonso.
The two oldest gods were Mentu, the rising sun, and Atmu, the setting sun.

We therefore find traces of the same course of religious thought in Egypt
as we shall afterward find in Greece. The earlier worship is of local
deities, who are afterwards united in a Pantheon. As Zeus was at first
worshipped in Dodona and Arcadia, Apollo in Crete and Delos, Aphroditê in
Cyprus, Athênê at Athens, and afterward these tribal and provincial
deities were united in one company as the twelve gods of Olympus, so in
Egypt the various early theologies were united in the three orders, of
which Ammon was made the head. But, in both countries, each city and
province persevered in the worship of its particular deity. As Athênê
continued to be the protector of Athens, and Aphroditê of Cyprus, so, in
Egypt, Set continued to be the god of Ombos, Leto of Buto, Horus of Edfu,
Khem of Coptos.

Before concluding this section, we must say a word of the practical
morality connected with this theology. We have seen, above, the stress
laid on works of justice and mercy. There is a papyrus in the Imperial
library at Paris, which M. Chabas considers the oldest book in the world.
It is an autograph manuscript written B.C. 2200, or four thousand years
ago, by one who calls himself the son of a king. It contains practical
philosophy like that of Solomon in his proverbs. It glorifies, like the
Proverbs, wisdom. It says that "man's heart rules the man," that "the bad
man's life is what the wise know to be death," that "what we say in secret
is known to him who made our interior nature," that "he who made us is
present with us though we are alone."

Is not the human race one, when this Egyptian four thousand years ago,
talks of life as Solomon spoke one thousand years after, in Judæa; and as
Benjamin Franklin spoke, three thousand years after Solomon, in America?

§ 7. Influence of Egypt on Judaism and Christianity.

How much of the doctrine and ritual of Egypt were imported into Judaism by
Moses is a question by no means easy to settle. Of Egyptian theology
proper, or the doctrine of the gods, we find no trace in the Pentateuch.
Instead of the three orders of deities we have Jehovah; instead of the
images and pictures of the gods, we have a rigorous prohibition of
idolatry; instead of Osiris and Isis, we have a Deity above all worlds and
behind all time, with no history, no adventures, no earthly life. But it
is perhaps more strange not to find any trace of the doctrine of a future
life in Mosaism, when this was so prominent among the Egyptians. Moses
gives no account of the judgment of souls after death; he tells nothing of
the long journey and multiform experiences of the next life according to
the Egyptians, nothing of a future resurrection and return to the body.
His severe monotheism was very different from the minute characterization
of gods in the Egyptian Pantheon. The personal character of Jehovah, with
its awful authority, its stern retribution and impartial justice, was
quite another thing from the symbolic ideal type of the gods of Egypt.
Nothing of the popular myth of Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Typhon is found in
the Pentateuch, nothing of the transmigration of souls, nothing of the
worship of animals; nothing of the future life and judgment to come;
nothing of the embalming of bodies and ornamenting of tombs. The cherubim
among the Jews may resemble the Egyptian Sphinx; the priests' dress in
both are of white linen; the Urim and Thummim, symbolic jewels of the
priests, are in both; a quasi-hereditary priesthood is in each; and both
have a temple worship. But here the parallels cease. Moses left behind
Egyptian theology, and took only some hints for his ritual from the Nile.

There may perhaps be a single exception to this statement. According to
Brugsch[194] and other writers, the Papyrus buried with the mummy
contained the doctrine of the Divine unity. The name of God was not
given, but instead the words NUK PU NUK, "I am the I am," corresponding
to the name given in Exodus iii. 14, Jahveh (in a corrupt form Jehovah).
This name, Jahveh, has the same meaning with the Egyptian Nuk pu Nuk, "I
am the I am." At least so say Egyptologists. If this is so, the
coincidence is certainly very striking.

That some of the ritualism to which the Jews were accustomed in Egypt
should have been imported into their new ceremonial, is quite in
accordance with human nature. Christianity, also, has taken up many of the
customs of heathenism.[195] The rite of circumcision was probably adopted
by the Jews from the Egyptians, who received it from the natives of
Africa. Livingstone has found it among the tribes south of the Zambesi,
and thinks this custom there cannot be traced to any Mohammedan source.
Prichard believes it, in Egypt, to have been a relic of ancient African
customs. It still exists in Ethiopia and Abyssinia. In Egypt it existed
far earlier than the time of Abraham, as appears by ancient mummies.
Wilkinson affirms it to have been "as early as the fourth dynasty, and
probably earlier, long before the time of Abraham." Herodotus tells us
that the custom existed from the earliest times among the Egyptians and
Ethiopians, and was adopted from them by the Syrians of Palestine. Those
who regard this rite as instituted by a Divine command may still believe
that it already existed among the Jews, just as baptism existed among them
before Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize. Both in Egypt and among
the Jews it was connected with a feeling of superiority. The circumcised
were distinguished from others by a higher religious position. It is
difficult to trace the origin of sentiments so alien to our own ways of
thought; but the hygienic explanation seems hardly adequate. It may have
been a sign of the devotion of the generative power to the service of God,
and have been the first step out of the untamed license of the passions,
among the Africans.

It has been supposed that the figure of the Cherubim among the Jews was
derived from that of the Sphinx. There were three kinds of Sphinxes in
Egypt,--the _andro-sphinx_, with the head of a man and the body of a lion;
the _crio-sphinx_, with the head of a ram and the body of a lion; and the
_hieraco-sphinx_, with the head of a hawk and a lion's body. The first was
a symbol of the union of wisdom and strength. The Sphinx was the solemn
sentinel, placed to watch the temple and the tomb, as the Cherubim watched
the gates of Paradise after the expulsion of Adam. In the Cherubim were
joined portions of the figure of a man with those of the lion, the ox, and
the eagle. In the Temple the Cherubim spread their wings above the ark;
and Wilkinson gives a picture from the Egyptian tombs of two kneeling
figures with wings spread above the scarabæus. The Persians and the Greeks
had similar symbolic figures, meant to represent the various powers of
these separate creatures combined in one being; but the Hebrew figure was
probably imported from Egypt.

The Egyptians had in their temples a special interior sanctuary, more holy
than the rest. So the Jews had their Holy of Holies, into which only the
high-priest went, separated by a veil from the other parts of the Temple.
The Jews were commanded on the Day of Atonement to provide a scapegoat, to
carry away the sins of the people, and the high-priest was to lay his
hands on the head of the goat and confess the national sins, "putting them
upon the head of the goat" (Lev. xvi. 21, 22), and it was said that "the
goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited."
So, among the Egyptians, whenever a victim was offered, a prayer was
repeated over its head, "that if any calamity were about to befall either
the sacrifices or the land of Egypt, it might be averted on this

Such facts as these make it highly probable that Moses allowed in his
ritual many ceremonies borrowed from the Egyptian worship.

That Egyptian Christianity had a great influence on the development of the
system of Christian doctrine is not improbable.[197] The religion of
ancient Egypt was very tenacious and not easily effaced. Successive waves
of Syrian, Persian, Greek, and Roman conquest rolled over the land,
scarcely producing any change in her religion or worship. Christianity
conquered Egypt, but was itself deeply tinged with the faith of the
conquered. Many customs found in Christendom may be traced back to Egypt.
The Egyptian at his marriage put a gold ring on his wife's finger, as a
token that he intrusted her with all his property, just as in the Church
of England service the bridegroom does the same, saying, "With all my
worldly goods I thee endow." Clemens tells us that this custom was derived
by the Christians from the Egyptians. The priests at Philæ threw a piece
of gold into the Nile once a year, as the Venetian Doge did into the
Adriatic. The Feast of Candles at Sais is still marked in the Christian
calendar as Candlemas Day. The Catholic priest shaves his head as the
Egyptian priest did before him. The Episcopal minister's linen surplice
for reading the Liturgy is taken from the dress of obligation, made of
linen, worn by the priest in Egypt. Two thousand years before the Pope
assumed to hold the keys, there was an Egyptian priest at Thebes with the
title of "Keeper of the two doors of Heaven."[198]

In the space which we have here at command we are unable to examine the
question of doctrinal influences from Egypt upon orthodox Christianity.
Four doctrines, however, are stated by the learned Egyptologist, Samuel
Sharpe, to be common to Egyptian mythology and church orthodoxy. They are

   1. That the creation and government of the world is not the work of one
   simple and undivided Being, but of one God made up of several persons.
   This is the doctrine of plural unity.

   2. That salvation cannot be expected from the justice or mercy of the
   Supreme Judge, unless an atoning sacrifice is made to him by a divine

   3. That among the persons who compose the godhead, one, though a god,
   could yet suffer pain and be put to death.

   4. That a god or man, or a being half god and half a man once lived on
   earth, born of an earthly mother but without an earthly father.

The gods of Egypt generally appear in triads, and sometimes as three gods
in one. The triad of Thebes was Amun-Ra, Athor, and Chonso,--or father,
mother, and son. In Nubia it was Pthah, Amun-Ra, and Horus-Ra. At Philæ it
was Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Other groups were Isis, Nephthys, and Horus;
Isis, Nephthys, and Osiris; Osiris, Athor, and Ra. In later times Horus
became the supreme being, and appears united with Ra and Osiris in one
figure, holding the two sceptres of Osiris, and having the hawk's head of
Horus and the sun of Ra. Eusebius says of this god that he declared
himself to be Apollo, Lord, and Bacchus. A porcelain idol worn as a charm
combines Pthah the Supreme God of Nature, with Horus the Son-God, and
Kneph the Spirit-God. The body is that of Pthah, God of Nature, with the
hawk's wings of Horus, and the ram's head of Kneph. It is curious that
Isis the mother, with Horus the child in her arms, as the merciful gods
who would save their worshippers from the vengeance of Osiris the stern
judge, became as popular a worship in Egypt in the time of Augustus, as
that of the Virgin and Child is in Italy to-day. Juvenal says that the
painters of Rome almost lived by painting the goddess Isis, the Madonna of
Egypt, which had been imported into Italy, and which was very popular

In the trial of the soul before Osiris, as represented on tablets and
papyri, are seen the images of gods interceding as mediators and offering
sacrifices on its behalf. There are four of these mediatorial gods, and
there is a tablet in the British Museum in which the deceased is shown as
placing the gods themselves on the altar as his sin-offering, and pleading
their merits.[199]

The death of Osiris, the supreme god of all Egypt, was a central fact in
this mythology. He was killed by Typhon, the Egyptian Satan, and after
the fragments of his body had been collected by "the sad Isis," he
returned to life as king of the dead and their judge.[200]

In connection with these facts it is deserving of notice that the doctrine
of the trinity and that of the atonement began to take shape in the hands
of the Christian theologians of Egypt. The Trinity and its symbols were
already familiar to the Egyptian mind. Plutarch says that the Egyptians
worshipped Osiris, Isis, and Horus under the form of a triangle. He adds
that they considered everything perfect to have three parts, and that
therefore their good god made himself threefold, while their god of evil
remained single. Egypt, which had exercised so powerful an influence on
the old religion of Rome, was destined also greatly to influence
Christianity. Alexandria was the head-quarters of learning and profound
religious speculations in the first centuries. Clemens, Origen, Dionysius,
Athanasius, were eminent teachers in that school. Its doctrines were[201]
that God had revealed himself to all nations by his Logos, or Word.
Christianity is its highest revelation. The common Christian lives by
faith, but the more advanced believer has gnosis, or philosophic insight
of Christianity as the eternal law of the soul. This doctrine soon
substituted speculation in place of the simplicity of early Christianity.
The influence of Alexandrian thought was increased by the high culture
which prevailed there, and by the book-trade of this Egyptian city. All
the oldest manuscripts of the Bible now extant were transcribed by
Alexandrian penmen. The oldest versions were made in Alexandria. Finally
the intense fervor of the Egyptian mind exercised its natural influence on
Christianity, as it did on Judaism and Heathenism. The Oriental
speculative element of Egyptian life was reinforced by the African fire;
and in Christianity, as before in the old religion, we find both working
together. By the side of the Alexandrian speculations on the nature of God
and the Trinity appear the maniacal devotion of the monks of the Thebaid.
The ardor of belief which had overcome even the tenacity of Judaism, and
modified it into its two Egyptian forms of the speculations of Philo and
the monastic devotion of the Therapeutæ, reappeared in a like action upon
Christian belief and Christian practice. How large a part of our present
Christianity is due to these two influences we may not be able to say. But
palpable traces of Egyptian speculation appear in the Church doctrines of
the Trinity and atonement, and the material resurrection[202] of the same
particles which constitute the earthly body. And an equally evident
influence from Egyptian asceticism is found in the long history of
Christian monasticism, no trace of which appears in the New Testament, and
no authority for which can be found in any teaching or example of Christ.
The mystical theology and mystical devotion of Egypt are yet at work in
the Christian Church. But beside the _doctrines_ directly derived from
Egypt, there has probably come into Christianity another and more
important element from this source. The _spirit_ of a race, a nation, a
civilization, a religion is more indestructible than its forms, more
pervasive than its opinions, and will exercise an interior influence long
after its outward forms have disappeared. The spirit of the Egyptian
religion was reverence for the divine mystery of organic life, the worship
of God in creation, of unity in variety, of each in all. Through the
Christian Church in Egypt, the schools of Alexandria, the monks of the
Thebaid, these elements filtered into the mind of Christendom. They gave a
materialistic tone to the conceptions of the early Church, concerning God,
Satan, the angels and devils, Heaven, Hell, the judgment, and the
resurrection. They prevented thereby the triumph of a misty Oriental
spiritualism. Too gross indeed in themselves, they yet were better than
the Donatism which would have turned every spiritual fact into a ghost or
a shadow. The African spirit, in the fiery words of a Tertullian and an
Augustine, ran into a materialism, which, opposed to the opposite extreme
of idealism, saved to the Church its healthy realism.

The elaborate work of Bunsen on "Egypt's Place in Universal History" does
not aid us much in finding the place of Egyptian religion in universal
religion. It was strictly an ethnic religion, never dreaming of extending
itself beyond the borders of the Nile, until long after the conquest of
Egypt by the Romans. Then, indeed, Egyptian temples were welcomed by the
large hospitality of Rome, and any traveller may see the ruins of the
temple of Serapis[203] at Pozzuoli, and that of Isis at Pompeii. The gods
of Greece, as we have seen, took some hints from Egypt, but the Greek
Olympus, with its bright forms, was very different from the mysterious
sombre worship of Egypt.

The worship of variety, the recognition of the Divine in nature, the
sentiment of wonder before the mystery of the world, the feeling that the
Deity is in all life, in all form, in all change as well as in what is
permanent and stable,--this is the best element and the most original part
of the Egyptian religion. So much we can learn from it positively; and
negatively, by its entire dissolution, its passing away forever, leaving
no knowledge of itself behind, we can learn how empty is any system of
faith which is based on concealment and mystery. All the vast range of
Egyptian wisdom has gone, and disappeared from the surface of the earth,
for it was only a religion of the priests, who kept the truth to
themselves and did not venture to communicate it to the people. It was
only priestcraft, and priestcraft, like all other craft, carries in itself
the principle of death. Only truth is immortal,--open, frank, manly truth.
Confucius was true; he did not know much, but he told all he knew. Buddha
told all he knew. Moses told all he heard. So they and their works
continue, being built on faith in men. But the vast fabric of Egyptian
wisdom,--its deep theologies, its mysterious symbolism, its majestic art,
its wonderful science,--remain only as its mummies remain and as its tombs
remain, an enigma exciting and baffling our curiosity, but not adding to
our real life.

Chapter VII.

The Gods of Greece.

  § 1. The Land and the Race.
  § 2. Idea and General Character of Greek Religion.
  § 3. The Gods of Greece before Homer.
  § 4. The Gods of the Poets.
  § 5. The Gods of the Artists.
  § 6. The Gods of the Philosophers.
  § 7. The Worship of Greece.
  § 8. The Mysteries. Orphism.
  § 9. Relation of Greek Religion to Christianity.

§ 1. The Land and the Race.

The little promontory and peninsula, famous in the history of mankind as
Greece, or Hellas, projects into the Mediterranean Sea from the South of
Europe. It is insignificant on the map, its area being only two thirds as
large as that of the State of Maine. But never was a country better
situated in order to develop a new civilization. A temperate climate,
where the vine, olive, and fig ripened with wheat, barley, and flax; a
rich alluvial soil, resting on limestone, and contained in a series of
valleys, each surrounded by mountains; a position equally remote from
excesses of heat and cold, dryness and moisture; and finally, the
ever-present neighborhood of the sea,--constituted a home well fitted for
the physical culture of a perfect race of men.

Comparative Geography, which has pointed out so many relations between the
terrestrial conditions of nations and their moral attainments, has laid
great stress on the connection between the extent of sea-coast and a
country's civilization. The sea line of Europe, compared with its area, is
more extensive than that of any other continent, and Europe has had a more
various and complete intellectual development than elsewhere. Africa,
which has the shortest sea line compared with its area, has been most
tardy in mental activity. The sea is the highway of nations and the
promoter of commerce; and commerce, which brings different races together,
awakens the intellect by the contact of different languages, religions,
arts, and manners. Material civilization, it is true, does not commence on
the sea-shore, but in river intervals. The arts of life were invented in
the valleys of the Indus and Ganges, of the Yellow and Blue Rivers of
China, of the Euphrates and the Nile. But the Phoenician navigators in the
Mediterranean brought to the shores of Greece the knowledge of the arts of
Egypt, the manufactures of Tyre, and the products of India and Africa.
Every part of the coast of Greece is indented with bays and harbors. The
Mediterranean, large enough to separate the nations on its shores, and so
permit independent and distinct evolution of character, is not so large as
to divide them. Coasting vessels, running within sight of land, could
easily traverse its shores. All this tempted to navigation, and so the
Greeks learned to be a race of sailors. What the shore line of Europe was
to that of the other continents, that the shore line of Greece was to the
rest of Europe. Only long after, in the Baltic, the Northern
Mediterranean, did a similar land-locked sea create a similar love of
navigation among the Scandinavians.[204]

Another feature in the physical geography of Greece must be noticed as
having an effect on the psychical condition of its inhabitants. Mountains
intersected every part, dividing its tribes from each other. In numerous
valleys, separated by these mountain walls, each clan, left to itself,
formed a special character of its own. The great chain of Pindus with its
many branches, the lofty ridges of the Peloponnesus, allowed the people of
Thessaly, Boeotia, Attica, Phocis, Locris, Argolis, Arcadia, Laconia, to
attain those individual traits which distinguish them during all the
course of Greek history.

Such physical conditions as we have described are eminently favorable to
a free and full development of national character. But this word
"development," so familiar to modern thought, implies not only outward
circumstances to educate, but a special germ to be educated. So long as
the human being is regarded as a lump of dough, to be moulded into any
shape by external influences, no such term as "development" was needed.
But philosophical historians now admit national character to be the result
of two factors,--the original ethnic germ in the race, and the terrestrial
influences which unfold it.[205] A question, therefore, of grave moment
concerns the origin of the Hellenic people. Whence are they derived? what
are their affinities? and from what region did they come?

The science of Comparative Philology, one of the great triumphs of modern
scholarship, has enabled us now, for the first time, to answer this
question. What no Greek knew, what neither Herodotus, Plato, nor Aristotle
could tell us, we are now able to state with certainty. The Greek
language, both in its grammar and its vocabulary, belongs to the family of
Indo-European languages, of which the Sanskrit is the elder sister. Out of
eleven thousand six hundred and thirty-three Greek words, some two
thousand are found to be Sanskrit, and three thousand more to belong to
other branches of the Indo-European tongues. As the words common to the
Greek and the Sanskrit must have been in use by both races before their
separation, while living together in Central Asia, we have a clew to the
degree of civilization attained by the Greeks before they arrived in
Europe. Thus it appears that they brought from Asia a familiarity with
oxen and cows, horses, dogs, swine, goats, geese; that they could work in
metals; that they built houses, and were acquainted with the elements of
agriculture, especially with farinaceous grains; they used salt; they had
boats propelled by oars, but not sails; they divided the year by moons,
and had a decimal notation.[206]

The Greeks, as a race, came from Asia later than the Latin races. They
belonged to that powerful Indo-European race, to which Europe owes its
civilization, and whose chief branches are the Hindoos, the Persians, the
Greeks, the Latins, the Kelts, the Teutonic tribes, and the Slavi. The
original site of the race was, as we have seen in our chapter on
Brahmanism, in Bactria; and the earliest division of this people could not
have been later than three thousand or four thousand years before the
Christian era. When the Hellenic branch entered Europe we have now no
means of saying. It was so long anterior to Greek history that all
knowledge of the time was lost, and only the faintest traditions of an
Asiatic origin of their nation are to be found in Greek writers.

The Hellenic tribes, at the beginning of the seventh century before
Christ, were divided into four groups,--the Achaians, Æolians, Dorians,
and Ionians,--with outlying tribes more or less akin. But this Hellenic
people had been preceded in Greece by another race known as Pelasgians. It
is so difficult to say who these were, that Mr. Grote, in despair,
pronounces them unknowable, and relinquishes the problem. Some facts
concerning them may, however, be considered as established. Their
existence in Greece is pronounced by Thirwall to be "the first
unquestionable fact in Greek history." Homer speaks (Iliad, II. 681) of
"Pelasgian Argos," and of "spear-skilled Pelasgians," "noble Pelasgians,"
"Pelasgians inhabiting fertile Larissa" (II. 840; X. 429). Herodotus
frequently speaks of the Pelasgians. He says that the Dorians were a
Hellenic nation, the Ionians were Pelasgic; he does not profess to know
what language the Pelasgians used, but says that those who in his time
inhabited Crestona, Placia, and other regions, spoke a barbarous language,
and that the people of Attica were formerly Pelasgic. He mentions the
Pelasgians as remaining to his time in Arcadia, after the Dorians had
expelled them from the rest of the Peloponnesus; says that the
Samothracians adopted the mysteries of the Kabiri from the Pelasgians;
that the Pelasgians sacrificed victims to unknown gods at Dodona, and
asked that oracle advice about what names they should give their gods.
These names, taken from Egypt, the Grecians received from them. Hellas was
formerly called Pelasgia. The Athenians expelled the Pelasgians from
Attica (whether justly or unjustly, Herodotus does not undertake to say),
where they were living under Mount Hymettus; whereupon the Pelasgians of
Lemnos, in revenge, carried off a number of Athenian women, and afterward
murdered them; as an expiation of which crime they were finally commanded
by the oracle at Delphi to surrender that island to Miltiades and the
Athenians. Herodotus repeatedly informs us that nearly the whole Ionian
race were formerly called Pelasgians.[207]

From all this it appears that the Pelasgians were the ancient occupants of
nearly all Greece; that they were probably of the same stock as their
Hellenic successors, but of another branch; that their language was
somewhat different, and contained words of barbaric (that is Phoenician or
Egyptian) origin, but not so different as to remain distinct after the
conquest. From the Pelasgian names which remain, it is highly probable
that this people was of the same family with the old Italians.[208] They
must have constituted the main stem of the Greek people. The Ionians of
Attica, the most brilliant portion of the Greeks, were of Pelasgic origin.
It may be therefore assumed, without much improbability, that while the
Dorian element gave the nation its strength and vital force, the Pelasgic
was the source of its intellectual activity and success in literature and
art. Ottfried Muller remarks that "there is no doubt that most of the
ancient religions of Greece owed their origin to this race. The Zeus and
Diônê of Dodona, Zeus and Hêrê of Argos, Hêphæstos and Athênê of Athens,
Dêmetêr and Cora of Eleusis, Hermês and Artemis of Arcadia, together with
Cadmus and the Cabiri of Thebes, cannot properly be referred to any other

Welcker[210] thinks that the ethnological conceptions of Aeschylus, in his
"Suppliants," are invaluable helps in the study of the Pelasgic relations
to the Greeks. The poet makes Pelasgos the king of Argos, and represents
him as ruling over the largest part of Greece. His subjects he calls
Greeks, and they vote in public assembly by holding up their hands, so
distinguishing them from the Dorians, among whom no such democracy
prevailed.[211] He protects the suppliant women against their Egyptian
persecutors, who claimed them as fugitives from slavery. The character
assigned by Aeschylus to this representative of the Pelasgian race is that
of a just, wise, and religious king, who judged that it was best to obey
God, even at the risk of displeasing man.

It is evident, therefore, that from the earliest times there were in
Greece two distinct elements, either two different races or two very
distinct branches of a common race. First known as Pelasgians and
Hellênes, they afterwards took form as the Ionian and Dorian peoples. And
it is evident also that the Greek character, so strong yet so flexible, so
mighty to act and so open to receive, with its stern virtues and its
tender sensibilities, was the result of the mingling of these antagonist
tendencies. Two continents may have met in Greece, if to the genius of
that wonderful people Asia lent her intellect and Africa her fire. It was
the marriage of soul and body, of nature and spirit, of abstract
speculation and passionate interest in this life. Darkness rests on the
period when this national life was being created; the Greeks themselves
have preserved no record of it.

That some powerful influence from Egypt was acting on Greece during this
forming period, and contributing its share to the great result, there can
hardly be a question. All the legends and traditions hint at such a
relation, and if this were otherwise, we might be sure that it must have
existed. Egypt was in all her power and splendor when Greece was being
settled by the Aryans from Asia. They were only a few hundred miles apart,
and the ships of Phoenicia were continually sailing to and fro between

The testimony of Greek writers to the early influence of Egypt on their
country and its religion is very full. Creuzer[212] says that the Greek
writers differed in regard to the connection of Attic and Egyptian
culture, only as to How it was, not as to Whether it was. Herodotus says
distinctly and positively[213] that most of the names of the Greek gods
came from Egypt, except some whose names came from the Pelasgians. The
Pelasgians themselves, he adds, gave these Egyptian names to the unnamed
powers of nature whom they before ignorantly worshipped, being directed by
the oracle at Dodona so to do. By "name" here, Herodotus plainly intends
more than a mere appellation. He includes also something of the
personality and character.[214] Before they were impersonal beings, powers
of nature; afterwards, under Egyptian influence, they became persons. He
particularly insists on having heard this from the priestesses of Dodona,
who also told him a story of the black pigeon from Egypt, who first
directed the oracle to be established, which he interpreted, according to
what he had heard in Egypt, to be a black Egyptian woman. He adds that the
Greeks received, not only their oracles, but their public processions,
festivals, and solemn prayers from the Egyptians. M. Maury admits the
influence of Egypt on the worship and ceremonies of Greece, and thinks it
added to their religion a more serious tone and a sentiment of veneration
for the gods, which were eminently beneficial. He doubts the story of
Herodotus concerning the derivation of gods from Egypt, giving as a
sufficient proof the fact that Homer's knowledge of Egyptian geography was
very imperfect.[215] But religious influences and geographical knowledge
are very different things. Because the mediæval Christian writers had an
imperfect knowledge of Palestine, it does not follow that their
Christianity was not influenced in its source by Judaism. The objection to
the derivation of the Greek gods from Egypt, on account of the names on
the monuments being different from those of the Hellenic deities, is
sufficiently answered by Creuzer, who shows that the Greeks translated the
Egyptian word into an equivalent in their own language. Orphic ideas came
from Egypt into Greece, through the colonies in Thrace and
Samothrace.[216] The story of the Argive colony from Egypt, with their
leader Danaus, connects some Egyptian immigration with the old Pelasgic
ruler of that city, the walls of which contained Pelasgic masonry. The
legends concerning Cecrops, Io, and Lelex, as leading colonies from Egypt
to Athens and Megara, are too doubtful to add much to our argument. The
influence of Egypt on Greek religion in later times is universally

§ 2. Idea and General Character of Greek Religion.

The idea of Greek religion, which specially distinguishes it from all
others, is the human character of its gods. The gods of Greece are men and
women, idealized men and women, men and women on a larger scale, but still
intensely human. The gods of India, as they appear in the Sacred Books,
are vast abstractions; and as they appear in sculpture, hideous and
grotesque idols. The gods of Egypt seem to pass away into mere symbols and
intellectual generalizations. But the gods of Greece are persons, warm
with life, radiant with beauty, having their human adventures, wars,
loves. The symbolical meaning of each god disappears in his personal

These beings do not keep to their own particular sphere nor confine
themselves to their special parts, but, like men and women, have many
different interests and occupations. If we suppose a number of human
beings, young and healthy and perfectly organized, to be gifted with an
immortal life and miraculous endowments of strength, wisdom, and beauty,
we shall have the gods of Olympus.

Greek religion differs from Brahmanism in this, that its gods are not
abstract spirit, but human beings. It differs also from Buddhism, the god
in which is also a man, in this, that the gods of Greece are far less
moral than Buddha, but far more interesting. They are not trying to save
their souls, they are by no means ascetic, they have no intention of
making progress through the universe by obeying the laws of nature, but
they are bent on having a good time. Fighting, feasting, and making love
are their usual occupations. If they can be considered as governing the
world, it is in a very loose way and on a very irregular system. They
interfere with human affairs from time to time, but merely from whim or
from passion. With the common relations of life they have little to do.
They announce no moral law, and neither by precept nor example undertake
to guide men's consciences.

The Greek religion differs from many other religions also in having no one
great founder or restorer, in having no sacred books and no priestly
caste. It was not established by the labors of a Zoroaster, Gautama,
Confucius, or Mohammed. It has no Avesta, no Vedas, no Koran. Every
religion which we have thus far considered has its sacred books, but that
of Greece has none, unless we accept the works of Homer and Hesiod as its
Bible. Still more remarkable is the fact of its having no priestly caste.
Brahmanism and Egypt have an hereditary priesthood; and in all other
religions, though the priesthood might not be hereditary, it always
constituted a distinct caste. But in Greece kings and generals and common
people offer sacrifices and prayers, as well as the priests. Priests
obtained their office, not by inheritance, but by appointment or election;
and they were often chosen for a limited time.

Another peculiarity of the Greek religion was that its gods were not
manifestations of a supreme spirit, but were natural growths. They did not
come down from above, but came up from below. They did not emanate, they
were evolved. The Greek Pantheon is a gradual and steady development of
the national mind. And it is still more remarkable that it has three
distinct sources,--the poets, the artists, and the philosophers. Jupiter,
or Zeus in Homer, is oftenest a man of immense strength, so strong that if
he has hold of one end of a chain and all the gods hold the other, with
the earth fastened to it beside, he will be able to move them all. Far
more grand is the conception of Jupiter as it came from the chisel of
Phidias, of which Quintilian says that it added a new religious sentiment
to the religion of Greece. Then came the philosophers and gave an entirely
different and higher view of the gods. Jupiter becomes with them the
Supreme Being, father of gods and of men, omnipotent and omnipresent.

One striking consequence of the absence of sacred books, of a sacred
priesthood, and an inspired founder of their religion, was the extreme
freedom of the whole system. The religion of Hellas was hardly a restraint
either to the mind or to the conscience. It allowed the Greeks to think
what they would and to do what they chose. They made their gods to suit
themselves, and regarded them rather as companions than as objects of
reverence. The gods lived close to them on Olympus, a precipitous and
snow-capped range full of vast cliffs, deep glens, and extensive forests,
less than ten thousand feet in height, though covered with snow on the top
even in the middle of July.

According to the Jewish religion, man was made in the image of God; but
according to the Greek religion the gods were made in the image of men.
Heraclitus says, "Men are mortal gods, and the gods immortal men." The
Greek fancied the gods to be close to him on the summit of the mountain
which he saw among the clouds, often mingling in disguise with mankind; a
race of stronger and brighter Greeks, but not very much wiser or better.
All their own tendencies they beheld reflected in their deities. They
projected themselves upon the heavens, and saw with pleasure a race of
divine Greeks in the skies above, corresponding with the Greeks below. A
delicious religion; without austerity, asceticism, or terror; a religion
filled with forms of beauty and nobleness, kindred to their own; with gods
who were capricious indeed, but never stern, and seldom jealous or very
cruel. It was a heaven so near at hand, that their own heroes had climbed
into it, and become demigods. It was a heaven peopled with such a variety
of noble forms, that they could choose among them the protector whom they
liked best, and possibly themselves be selected as favorites by some
guardian deity. The fortunate hunter, of a moonlight night, might even
behold the graceful figure of Diana flashing through the woods in pursuit
of game, and the happy inhabitant of Cyprus come suddenly on the fair form
of Venus resting in a laurel-grove. The Dryads could be seen glancing
among the trees, the Oreads heard shouting on the mountains, and the
Naiads found asleep by the side of their streams. If the Greek chose, he
could take his gods from the poets; if he liked it better, he could find
them among the artists; or if neither of these suited him, he might go to
the philosophers for his deities.

The Greek religion, therefore, did not guide or restrain, it only
stimulated. The Greek, by intercourse with Greek gods, became more a Greek
than ever. Every Hellenic feeling and tendency was personified and took a
divine form; which divine form reacted on the tendency to develop it still
further. All this contributed unquestionably to that wonderful phenomenon,
Greek development. Nowhere on the earth, before or since, has the human
being been educated into such a wonderful perfection, such an entire and
total unfolding of itself, as in Greece. There, every human tendency and
faculty of soul and body opened in symmetrical proportion. That small
country, so insignificant on the map of Europe, so invisible on the map of
the world, carried to perfection in a few short centuries every human art.
Everything in Greece is art; because everything is finished, done
perfectly well. In that garden of the world ripened the masterpieces of
epic, tragic, comic, lyric, didactic poetry; the masterpieces in every
school of philosophic investigation; the masterpieces of history, of
oratory, of mathematics; the masterpieces of architecture, sculpture, and
painting. Greece developed every form of human government, and in Greece
were fought and won the great battles of the world. Before Greece,
everything in human literature and art was a rude and imperfect attempt;
since Greece, everything has been a rude and imperfect imitation.

§ 3. The Gods of Greece before Homer.

The Theogony of Hesiod, or Book of Genesis of the Greek gods, gives us the
history of three generations of deities. First come the Uranids; secondly,
the Titans; and thirdly, the gods of Olympus. Beginning as powers of
nature, they end as persons.[218]

The substance of Hesiod's charming account of these three groups of gods
is as follows:--

First of all things was Chaos. Next was broad-bosomed Earth, or Gaia. Then
was Tartarus, dark and dim, below the earth. Next appears Eros, or Love,
most beautiful among the Immortals. From Chaos came Erebus and black
Night, and then sprang forth Ether and Day, children of Erebus and Night.
Then Earth brought forth the starry Heaven, Uranos, like to herself in
size, that he might shelter her around. Gaia, or Earth, also bore the
mountains, and Pontus or the barren Sea.

Then Gaia intermarried with Uranos, and produced the Titans and Titanides,
namely, Ocean, Koeos, Krios, Hyperion, Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis,
Mnêmosynê, Phoebe with golden coronet, and lovely Thethys. Lastly came
Kronos, or Time; with the Cyclôpes and the hundred-headed giants. All
these children were hid in the earth by Uranos, who dreaded them, till by
a contrivance of Gaia and Kronos, Uranos was dethroned, and the first age
of the gods was terminated by the birth from the sea of the last and
sweetest of the children of the Heaven, Aphroditê, or Immortal
Beauty,--the only one of this second generation who continued to reign on
Olympus; an awful, beauteous goddess, says Hesiod, beneath whose delicate
feet the verdure throve around, born in wave-washed Cyprus, but floating
past divine Cythera. Her Eros accompanied, and fair Desire followed.

Thus was completed the second generation of gods, the children of Heaven
and Earth, called Titans. These had many children. The children of Ocean
and Tethys were the nymphs of Ocean. Hyperion and Theia had, as children,
Helios, Selênê and Eôs, or Sun, Moon, and Dawn. Koeos and Phoebê had Lêtô
and Asteria. One of the children of Krios was Pallas; those of Iapetus
were Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Atlas. Kronos married his sister Rhea,
and their children were Hestia, Dêmêtêr and Hêrê; Hadês, Poseidôn, and
Zeus,--all, except Hadês or Pluto, belonging to the subsequent Olympian

The Olympian gods, with their cousins of the same generation, have grown
into persons, ceasing to be abstract ideas, or powers of nature. Five were
the children of Kronos, namely, Zeus, Poseidôn, Hêrê, Hestia, and Dêmêtêr;
six were children of Zeus, Apollo and Artemis, Hephæstos and Arês, Hermês
and Athênê. The twelfth of the Olympian group, Aphroditê, belonged to the
second generation, being daughter of Uranos and of the Ocean. Beauty,
divine child of Sky and Sea, was conceived of as older than Power.

These are the three successive groups of deities; the second supplanting
the first, the third displacing the second. The earlier gods we must needs
consider, not as persons, but as powers of nature, not yet humanized.[219]
The last, seated on Olympus, are "fair humanities."

But now, it is remarkable that there must have been, in point of fact,
three stages of religious development, and three successive actual
theologies in Greece, corresponding very nearly to these three legendary
generations of gods.

When the ancestors of the Hellenic race came from Asia, they must have
brought with them a nature-worship, akin to that which subsequently
appeared in India in the earliest hymns of the Vedas. Comparative
Philology, as we have before seen, has established the rule, that whatever
words are common to all the seven Indo-European families must have been
used in Central Asia before their dispersion. From this rule Pictet[220]
has inferred that the original Aryan tribes all worshipped the Heaven, the
Earth, Sun, Fire, Water, and Wind. The ancestors of the Greeks must have
brought with them into Hellas the worship of some of these elementary
deities. And we find at least two of them, Heaven and Earth, represented
in Hesiod's first class of the oldest deities. Water is there in the form
of Pontus, the Sea, and the other Uranids have the same elementary

The oldest hymns in the Vedas mark the second development of the Aryan
deities in India. The chief gods of this period are Indra, Varuna, Agni,
Savitri, Soma. Indra is the god of the air, directing the storm, the
lightning, the clouds, the rain; Varuna is the all-embracing circle of the
heavens, earth, and sea; Savitri or Surja is the Sun, King of Day, also
called Mitra; Agni is Fire; and Soma is the sacred fermented juice of the
moon-plant, often indeed the moon itself.

As in India, so in Greece, there was a second development of gods. They
correspond in this, that the powers of nature began, in both cases, to
assume a more distinct personality. Moreover, Indra, the god of the
atmosphere, he who wields the lightning, the thunderer, the god of storms
and rain, was the chief god in the Vedic period. So also in Greece, the
chief god in this second period was Zeus. He also was the god of the
atmosphere, the thunderer, the wielder of lightning. In the name "Zeus" is
a reminiscence of Asia. Literally it means "the god," and so was not at
first a proper name. Its root is the Sanskrit _Div_, meaning "to shine."
Hence the word _Deva_, God, in the Vedic Hymns, from which comes Θεος and
Δις, Διος in Greek, Deus in Latin. Ζευς Πατερ in Greek is Jupiter in
Latin, coming from the Sanskrit _Djaus-piter._ Our English words "divine,"
"divinity," go back for their origin to the same Sanskrit root, _Div_. So
marvellously do the wrecks of old beliefs come drifting down the stream of
time, borne up in those frail canoes which men call words. In how many
senses, higher and lower, is it true that "in the beginning was _the

This most ancient deity, god of storms, ruler of the atmosphere, favorite
divinity of the Aryan race in all its branches, became Indra when he
reached India, Jupiter when he arrived in Italy, Zeus when in Epirus he
became the chief god of the Pelasgi, and was worshipped at that most
ancient oracular temple of all Greece, Dodona. To him in the Iliad (XVI.
235) does Achilles pray, saying: "O King Jove, Dodonean, Pelasgian,
dwelling afar off, presiding over wintry Dodona." A reminiscence of this
old Pelasgian god long remained both in the Latin and Greek conversation,
when, speaking of the weather, they called it Zeus, or Jupiter. Horace
speaks of "cold Jupiter" and "bad Jupiter," as we should speak of a cold
or rainy day. We also find in Horace (Odes III. 2: 29) the archaic form of
the word "Jupiter," _Diespiter_, which, according to Lassen (I. 755),
means "Ruler of Heaven"; being derived from Djaus-piter. _Piter_, in
Sanskrit, originally meant, says Lassen, Ruler or Lord, as well as Father.

In Arcadia and Boeotia the Pelasgi declared that their old deities were
born. By this is no doubt conveyed the historic consciousness that these
deities were not brought to them from abroad, but developed gradually
among themselves out of nameless powers of nature into humanized and
personal deities. In the old days it was hardly more than a fetich
worship. Hêrê was worshipped as a plank at Samos; Athênê, as a beam at
Lindus; the Pallas of Attica, as a stake; Jupiter, in one place, as a
rock; Apollo, as a triangle.

Together with Jupiter or Zeus, the Pelasgi worshipped Gaia or Mother
Earth, in Athens, Sparta, Olympia, and other places. One of her names was
Diônê; another was Rhea. In Asia she was Cybele; but everywhere she
typified the great productive power of nature.

Another Pelasgic god was Hêlios, the Sun-God, worshipped with his sister
Sêlêne, the Moon. The Pelasgi also adored the darker divinities of the
lower world. At Pylos and Elis, the king of Hades was worshipped as the
awful Aïdoneus; and Persephonê, his wife, was not the fair Kora of
subsequent times, but the fearful Queen of Death, the murderess,
homologous to the savage wife of Çiva, in the Hindoo Pantheon. To this age
also belongs the worship of the Kabiri, nameless powers, perhaps of
Phoenician origin, connected with the worship of fire in Lemnos and

The Doric race, the second great source of the Hellenic family, entered
Greece many hundreds of years after[221] the first great Pelasgic
migration had spread itself through Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy. It
brought with it another class of gods and a different tone of worship.
Their principal deities were Apollo and Artemis, though with these they
also worshipped, as secondary deities, the Pelasgic gods whose homes they
had invaded. The chief difference between the Pelasgic and Dorian
conception of religion was, that with the first it was more emotional,
with the second more moral; the first was a mystic natural religion, the
second an intellectual human religion. Ottfried Müller[222] says that the
Dorian piety was strong, cheerful, and bright. They worshipped Daylight
and Moonlight, while the Pelasgians also reverenced Night, Darkness, and
Storm. Funeral solemnities and enthusiastic orgies did not suit the Dorian
character. The Spartans had no splendid processions like the Athenians,
but they prayed the gods "to give them what was honorable and good"; and
Zeus Ammon declared that the "calm solemnity of the prayers of the
Spartans was dearer to him than all the sacrifices of the Greeks."[223]

Two facts are to be noticed in connection with this primitive religion.
One is the local distribution of the different deities and modes of
worship through Greece. Every tribe had its own god and its own worship.
In one place it was Zeus and Gaia; in another, Zeus and Cybele; in a
third, Apollo and Artemis. At Samothrace prevailed the worship of the
Heaven and the Earth.[224] Dione was worshipped with Zeus at Dodona.[225]
The Ionians were devoted to Poseidôn, god of the sea. In Arcadia, Athênê
was worshipped as Tritonia. Hermês was adored on Mount Cyllene; Erôs, in
Boeotia; Pan, in Arcadia. These local deities long remained as secondary
gods, after the Pan-Hellenic worship of Olympus had overthrown their
supremacy. But one peculiarity of the Pre-Homeric religion was, that it
consisted in the adoration of different gods in different places. The
religion of Hellas, after Homer, was the worship of the twelve great
deities united on Mount Olympus.

The second fact to be observed in this early mythology is the change of
name and of character through which each deity proceeds. Zeus alone
retains the same name from the first.[226]

Among all Indo-European nations, the Heaven and the Earth were the two
primordial divinities. The Rig-Veda calls them "the two great parents of
the world." At Dodona, Samothrace, and Sparta they were worshipped
together. But while in India, Varuna, the Heavens, continued to be an
object of adoration in the Vedic or second period, in Greece it faded
early from the popular thought. This already shows the opposite genius of
the two nations. To the Hindoos the infinite was all important, to the
Greeks the finite. The former, therefore, retain the adoration of the
Heavens, the latter that of the Earth.

The Earth, Gaia, became more and more important to the Hellenic mind.
Passing through various stages of development, she became, successively,
Gaia in the first generation, Rhea in the second, and Dêmêtêr (Γή μήτηρ),
Mother Earth, in the third. In like manner the Sun is successively
Hyperiôn, son of Heaven and Earth; Hêlios, son of Hyperiôn and Theia; and
Phoebus-Apollo, son of Zeus and Latona. The Moon is first Phoebe, sister
of Hyperiôn; then Selênê, sister of Hêlios; and lastly Artemis, sister of
Apollo. Pallas, probably meaning at first "the virgin," became afterward
identified with Athênê, daughter of Zeus, as Pallas-Athênê. The Urania
Pontus, the salt sea, became the Titan Oceanos, or Ocean, and in another
generation Poseidôn, or Neptune.

The early gods are symbolical, the later are personal. The turning-point
is reached when Kronos, Time, arrives. The children of Time and Earth are
no longer vast shadowy abstractions, but become historical characters,
with biographies and personal qualities. Neither Time nor History existed
before Homer; when Time came, History began.

The three male children of Time were Zeus, Poseidôn, and Hadês;
representing the three dimensions of space. Height, Breadth, and Depth;
Heaven, Ocean, and Hell. They also represented the threefold progress of
the human soul: its aspiration and ascent to what is noble and good, its
descent to what is profound, and its sympathy with all that is various: in
other words, its religion, its intelligence, and its affection.

The fable of Time devouring his children, and then reproducing them,
evidently means the vicissitudes of customs and the departure and return
of fashions. Whatever is born must die; but what has been will be again.
That Erôs, Love, should be at the origin of things from chaos, indicates
the primeval attraction with which the order of the universe begins. The
mutilation of Uranos, Heaven, so that he ceased to produce children,
suggests the change of the system of emanation, by which the gods descend
from the infinite, into that of evolution, by which they arise out of the
finite. It is, in fact, the end of Asia, and the beginning of Europe; for
emanation is the law of the theologies of Asia, evolution that of Europe.
Aphroditê, Beauty, was the last child of the Heavens, and yet born from
the Ocean. Beauty is not the daughter of the Heavens and the Earth, but of
the Heavens and the Ocean. The lights and shadows of the sky, the tints of
dawn, the tenderness of clouds, unite with the toss and curve of the wave
in creating Beauty. The beauty of outline appears in the sea, that of
light and color in the sky.[227]

§ 4. The Gods of the Poets.

Herodotus says (II. 53), "I am of opinion that Hesiod and Homer lived four
hundred years before my time, and not more, and these were they who framed
a theogony for the Greeks, and gave names to the gods, and assigned to
them honors and arts, and declared their several forms. But the poets,
said to be before them, in my opinion, were after them."

That two poets should create a theology and a worship for a great people,
and so unite its separate tribes into a commonwealth of united states,
seems to modern minds an absurdity. But the poets of Greece were its
prophets. They received, intensified, concentrated, the tendencies of
thought already in the air. All the drift was toward Pan-Hellenic worship
and to a humanized theology, when the Homeric writers sang their song.

The Greeks must be conceived of as a nation of poets; hence all their
mythology was poetry. Poetry was their life and joy, written or unwritten,
sung or spoken. They were poets in the deeper sense of the word; not by
writing verses, but by looking at all nature and all life from its poetic
side. Their exquisite mythology arose out of these spontaneous instincts.
The tendency of the Greek mind was to vitalize and harmonize nature.[228]

All the phenomena of nature, all the powers of the human soul, and all the
events of life, became a marvellous tissue of divine story. They walked
the earth, surrounded and overshadowed by heavenly attendants and
supernatural powers. But a striking peculiarity of this immense
spiritualism was that it was almost without superstition. Their gods were
not their terror, but their delight. Even the great gods of Olympus were
around them as invisible companions. Fate itself, the dark Moira, supreme
power, mistress of gods and men, was met manfully and not timorously. So
strong was the human element, the sense of personal dignity and freedom,
that the Greek lived in the midst of a supernatural world on equal terms.

No doubt the elements of mythology are in all nations the same, consisting
of the facts of nature and the facts of life. The heavens and the earth,
day and night, the sun and moon, storms, fire, ocean, and rivers, love and
beauty, life and progress, war, wisdom, doom, and chance,--these, among
all nations, supply the material for myths. But while, with some races,
these powers remain solemn abstractions, above and behind nature, among
the Greeks they descended into nature and turned to poetry, illuminating
all of life.

Let us imagine a Greek, possessed by the spirit of his nation and
acquainted with its legendary history, visiting the holy places of that
ideal land. On the northern boundary he sees the towering summit of
Olympus, on whose solemn heights reside the twelve great gods of his
country. When the dark clouds roll along its defiles, and the lightning
flashes from their black depths, it is Zeus, striking with his thunderbolt
some impious offender. There was held the great council of the Immortals.
When the ocean was quiet, Poseidôn had left it to visit Olympus. There
came Hephæstos, quitting his subterranean fires and gloomy laborers, to
jest and be jested with, sitting by his beautiful queen. There, while the
sun hung motionless in mid-heaven, Apollo descended from his burning
chariot to join the feast. Artemis and Dêmêtêr came from the woods and
fields to unite in the high assembly, and war was suspended while Arês
made love to the goddess of Beauty. The Greek looked at Parnassus,
"soaring snow-clad through its native sky," with its Delphic cave and its
Castalian fount, or at the neighboring summits of Helicon, where Pegasus
struck his hoof and Hippocrênê gushed forth, and believed that hidden in
these sunny woods might perhaps be found the muses who inspired Herodotus,
Homer, Aeschylus, and Pindar. He could go nowhere without finding some
spot over which hung the charm of romantic or tender association. Within
every brook was hidden a Naiad; by the side of every tree lurked a Dryad;
if you listen, you may hear the Oreads calling among the mountains; if you
come cautiously around that bending hill, you may catch a glimpse of the
great Pan himself. When the moonlight showers filled the forests with a
magical light, one might see the untouched Artemis gliding rapidly among
the mossy trunks. Beneath, in the deep abysses of earth, reigned the
gloomy Pluto with the sad Persephonê, home-sick for the upper air. By the
sea-shore Proteus wound his horn, the Sirens sang their fatal song among
the rocks, the Nereids and Oceanides gleamed beneath the green waters, the
vast Amphitrite stretched her wide-embracing arms, and Thetis with her
water-nymphs lived in their submarine grottos. When the morning dawned,
Eôs, or Aurora, went before the chariot of the Sun, dropping flowers upon
the earth. Every breeze which stirred the tree-tops was a god, going on
some errand for Aeolus. The joy of inspired thought was breathed into the
soul by Phoebus; the genial glow of life, the festal mirth, and the glad
revel were the gift of Dionysos. All nature was alive with some touch of a
divine presence. So, too, every spot of Hellas was made interesting by
some legend of Hercules, of Theseus, of Promêtheus, of the great Dioscuri,
of Minos, or Dædalus, of Jason and the Argonauts. The Greeks extended
their own bright life backward through history, and upward through heroes
and demigods to Zeus himself.

In Homer, the gods are very human. They have few traits of divinity,
scarcely of dignity. Their ridicule of Vulcan is certainly coarse; the
threats of Zeus are brutal.

As a family, they live together on Olympus, feasting, talking, making
love, making war, deceiving each other, angry, and reconciled. They feed
on nectar and ambrosia, which makes them immortal; just as the Amrita
makes the Hindoo gods so. So in the Iliad we see them at their feast, with
Vulcan handing each the cup, pouring out nectar for them all. "And then
inextinguishable laughter arose among the immortal gods, when they saw
Vulcan bustling through the mansion. So they feasted all day till sundown;
nor did the soul want anything of the equal feast, nor of the beautiful
harp which Apollo held, nor of the Muses, who accompanied him, responding
in turn with delicious voice."

"But when the splendid light of the sun was sunk, they retired to repose,
each one to his house, which renowned Vulcan, lame of both legs, had
built. But Olympian Zeus went to his couch, and laid down to rest beside
white-armed Hêrê."[229]

Or sometimes they fight together, or with mortals; instances of both
appear in the Iliad. It must be admitted that they do not appear to
advantage in these conflicts. They usually get the worst of it, and go
back to Zeus to complain. In the Twenty-first Book they fight together,
Arês against Athênê, Athênê also against his helper, Aphroditê; Poseidôn
and Hêrê against Apollo and Artemis, Vulcan against the river god,
Scamander. Arês called Athênê impudent, and threatened to chastise her.
She seized a stone and struck him on the neck, and relaxed his knees.
Seven acres he covered falling, and his back was defiled with dust; but
Pallas-Athênê jeered at him; and when Aphroditê led him away groaning
frequently, Pallas-Athênê sprang after, and smote her with her hand,
dissolving her knees and dear heart. Apollo was afraid of Poseidôn, and
declined fighting with him when challenged, for which Artemis rebuked him.
On this, Hêrê tells her that she can kill stags on the mountains, but is
afraid to fight with her betters, and then proceeds to punish her, holding
both the hands of Artemis in one of hers, and beating her over the head
with her own bow. A disgraceful scene altogether, we must confess, and it
is no wonder that Plato was scandalized by such stories.

Thus purely human were these gods; spending the summer's day in feasting
beneath the open sky; going home at sundown to sleep, like a parcel of
great boys and girls. They are immortal indeed, and can make men so
sometimes, but cannot always prevent the death of a favorite. Above them
all broods a terrible power, mightier than themselves, the dark Fate and
irresistible Necessity. For, after all, as human gods they were like men,
subject to the laws of nature. Yet as men, they are free, and in the
feeling of their freedom sometimes resist and defy fate.

The Homeric gods move through the air like birds, like wind, like
lightning. They are stronger than men, and larger. Arês, overthrown by
Pallas, covers seven acres of ground; when wounded by Diomêdês he bellowed
as loud as nine or ten thousand men, says the accurate Homer. The bodies
of the gods, inexpressibly beautiful, and commonly invisible, are,
whenever seen by men, in an aureola of light. In Homer, Apollo is the god
of archery, prophecy, and music. He is the far-darter. He shoots his
arrows at the Greeks, because his prophet had been ill-treated. "He
descended from Olympus," says Homer, "enraged in heart, having his bow and
quiver on his shoulders. But as he moved the shafts rattled on the
shoulders of him enraged; and he went onward like the night. Then he sat
near the ships, and sent an arrow, and dreadful was the clangor of the
silver bow."

Later in the Iliad he appears again, defending the Trojans and deceiving
Achilles. In the Homeric Hymn his birth on Delos is sweetly told; and how,
when he was born, Earth smiled around, and all the goddesses shouted.
Themis fed him on nectar and ambrosia; then he sprang up, called for a
lyre and bow, and said he would declare henceforth to men the will of
Jove; and Delos, exulting, became covered with flowers.[230]

The Second Book of the Iliad begins thus: "The rest, both gods and
horse-arraying men, slept all the night; but Jove sweet sleep possessed
not; but he pondered how he might destroy many at the Greek ships, and
honor Achilles. But this device appeared best to his mind, to send a fatal
dream to Agamemnon. And he said, 'Haste, pernicious dream, to the swift
ships, and bid Agamemnon arm the Achæans to take wide-streeted Troy, since
Juno has persuaded all the gods to her will.'"

This was simply a lie, sent for the destruction of the Greeks.

In the First Book, Jupiter complains to Thetis that Juno is always
scolding him, and good right had she to do so. Presently she comes in and
accuses him of plotting something secretly with Thetis, and never letting
her know his plans. He answers her by accusations of perversity: "Thou art
always suspecting; but thou shalt produce no effect, but be further from
my heart." He then is so ungentlemanly as to threaten her with corporal
punishment. The gods murmur; but Vulcan interposes as a peacemaker,
saying, "There will be no enjoyment in our delightful banquet if you twain
thus contend." Then he arose and placed the double cup in her hands and
said, "Be patient, my mother, lest I again behold thee beaten, and cannot
help thee."

He here refers to a time when Jupiter hung his wife up in mid-heaven with
anvils tied to her heels; and when Vulcan untied them he was pitched from
Olympus down into the island of Lemnos, whence came his lameness. A rude
and brutal head of a household was the poetic Zeus.

No doubt other and much more sublime views of the gods are to be found in
Homer. Thus (Il. XV. 80) he compares the motion of Juno to the rapid
thought of a traveller, who, having visited many countries, says, "I was
here," "I was there." Such also is the description (Il. XIII. 17) of
Neptune descending from the top of Samothrace, with the hills and forests
trembling beneath his immortal feet. Infinite power, infinite faculty, the
gods of Homer possessed; but these were only human faculty and power
pushed to the utmost. Nothing is more beautiful than the description of
the sleep of Jupiter and Juno, "imparadised in each other's arms" (Il.
XIV. 350), while the divine earth produced beneath them a bed of flowers,
softly lifting them from the ground. But the picture is eminently human;
quite as much so as that which Milton has imitated from it.

After Homer and Hesiod, among the Greek poets, come the lyrists. Callinus,
the Ephesian, made a religion of patriotism. Tyrtæus (B.C. 660), somewhat
later, of Sparta, was devoted to the same theme. Pindar, the Theban, began
his career (B.C. 494) in the time of the conquests of Darius, and composed
one of his Pythian odes in the year of the battle of Marathon. He taught a
divine retribution on good and evil; taught that "the bitterest end awaits
the pleasure that is contrary to right,"[231] taught moderation, and that
"a man should always keep in view the bounds and limits of things."[232]
He declared that "Law was the ruler of gods and men." Moreover, he
proclaimed that gods and men were of one family, and though the gods were
far higher, yet that something divine was in all men.[233] And in a
famous fragment (quoted by Bunsen[234]) he calls mankind the majestic
offspring of earth; mankind, "a gentle race, beloved of heaven."

The tragic poet, Aeschylus, is a figure like that of Michael Angelo in
Italian art, grand, sombre, and possessed by his ideas. The one which
rules him and runs darkly through all his tragedies is the supreme power
of Nemesis, the terrible destiny which is behind and above gods and men.
The favorite theme of Greek tragedy is the conflict of fate and freedom,
of the inflexible laws of nature with the passionate longings of man, of
"the emergency of the case with the despotism of the rule." This conflict
appears most vividly in the story of Promêtheus, or Forethought; he,
"whose godlike crime was to be kind"; he who resisted the torments and
terrors of Zeus, relying on his own fierce mind.[235] In this respect,
Prometheus in his suffering is like Job in his sufferings. Each refuses to
say he is wrong, merely to pacify God, when he does not see that he is
wrong. As Promêtheus maintains his inflexible purpose, so Job holds fast
his integrity.

Sophocles is the most devout of the Greek tragedians, and reverence for
the gods is constantly enjoined in his tragedies. One striking passage is
where Antigonê is asked if she had disobeyed the laws of the country, and
replies, "Yes; for they were not the laws of God. They did not proceed
from Justice, who dwells with the Immortals. Nor dared I, in obeying the
laws of mortal man, disobey those of the undying gods. For the gods live
from eternity, and their beginning no man knows. I know that I must die
for this offence, and I die willingly. I must have died at some time, and
a premature death I account a gain, as finishing a life filled with
sorrows."[236] This argument reminds us of the higher-law discussions of
the antislavery conflict, and the religious defiance of the fugitive slave
law by all honest men.

Euripides represents the reaction against the religious tragedy. His is
the anti-religious tragedy. It is a sneering defiance of the religious
sentiment, a direct teaching of pessimism. Bunsen ("God in History") goes
at length into the proof of this statement, showing that in Euripides the
theology of the poets encountered and submitted to the same sceptical
reaction which followed in philosophy the divine teachings of Plato.[237]
After this time Greek poetry ceased to be the organ of Greek religion. It
is true that we have subsequent outbreaks of devout song, as in the hymn
of Cleauthes, the stoic, who followed Zeno as teacher in the Porch (B.C.
260). Though this belongs rather to philosophy than to poetry, yet on
account of its truly monotheistic and also devout quality, I add a
translation here:[238]--

    Greatest of the gods, God with many names, God ever-ruling and ruling all things!
    Zeus, origin of nature, governing the universe by law,
    All hail! For it is right for mortals to address thee;
    Since we are thy offspring, and we alone of all
    That live and creep on earth have the power of imitative speech.
    Therefore will I praise thee, and hymn forever thy power.
    Thee the wide heaven, which surrounds the earth, obeys;
    Following where thou wilt, willingly obeying thy law.
    Thou holdest at thy service, in thy mighty hands,
    The two-edged, flaming, immortal thunderbolt,
    Before whose flash all nature trembles.
    Thou rulest in the common reason, which goes through all,
    And appears mingled in all things, great or small,
    Which, filling all nature, is king of all existences.
    Nor without thee, O Deity, does anything happen in the world,
    From the divine ethereal pole to the great ocean,
    Except only the evil preferred by the senseless wicked.
    But thou also art able to bring to order that which is chaotic,
    Giving form to what is formless, and making the discordant friendly;
    So reducing all variety to unity, and even making good out of evil.
    Thus, through all nature is one great law,
    Which only the wicked seek to disobey,--
    Poor fools! who long for happiness,
    But will not see nor hear the divine commands.

           *       *       *       *       *

    But do thou, O Zeus, all-bestower, cloud-compeller!
    Ruler of thunder! guard men from sad error.
    Father! dispel the clouds of the soul, and let us follow
    The laws of thy great and just reign!
    That we may be honored, let us honor thee again,
    Chanting thy great deeds, as is proper for mortals.
    For nothing can be better for gods or men
    Than to adore with perpetual hymns the law common to all.

The result of our investigation thus far is, that beside all the
polytheistic and anthropomorphic tendencies of the old religion, there yet
lingered a faith in one supreme God, ruler of all things. This is the
general opinion of the best writers. For example, Welcker thus speaks of
the original substance of Greek religion:[239]--

   "In the remotest period of Greek antiquity, we meet the words θεός and
   δαίμων, and the names Ζεός and Κρονίων; anything older than which is
   not to be found in this religion. Accordingly, the gods of these tribes
   were from the first generally, if not universally, heavenly and
   spiritual beings. Zeus was the immortal king of heaven, in opposition
   to everything visible and temporal. This affords us a permanent
   background of universal ideas, behind all special conceptions or local
   appellations. We recognize as present in the beginnings of Greek
   history the highest mental aspirations belonging to man. We can thus
   avoid the mistaken doubts concerning this religion, which came from the
   influence of the subsequent manifestations, going back to the deep root
   from which they have sprung. The Divine Spirit has always been
   manifested in the feelings even of the most uncultivated peoples.
   Afterwards, in trying to bring this feeling into distinct
   consciousness, the various childish conceptions and imperfect views of
   religious things arise."

§ 5. The Gods of the Artists.

The artists, following the poets, developed still further the divinely
human character of the gods. The architects of the temples gave, in their
pure and harmonious forms, the conception of religious beauty and majesty.
Standing in some open elevated position, their snowy surface bathed in
sunshine, they stood in serene strength, the types of a bright and joyful
religion. A superstitious worship seeks caves and darkness; the noble
majesty of the Greek temples said plainly that they belonged to a religion
of light and peace.

The sculptor worked originally in company with the architect. The statues
were meant to adorn the temples, the temples were made as frames and
pedestals for the statues. The marble forms stood and walked on the
pediments and gave life to the frieze. They animated the exterior, or sat,
calm and strong, in the central shrine.

The poets, in giving a moral and human character to the gods, never quite
forgot their origin as powers of nature. Jupiter Olympus is still the god
of the sky, the thunderer. Neptune is the ruler of the ocean, the
earth-shaker. Phoebus-Apollo is the sun-god. Artemis is the moonlight,
pure, chaste, and cold. But the sculptors finally leave behind these
reminiscences, and in their hands the deities become purely moral beings.
On the brow of Jupiter sits a majestic calm; he is no angry wielder of the
thunderbolt, but the gracious and powerful ruler of the three worlds. This
conception grew up gradually, until it was fully realized by Phidias in
his statues at Olympia and Elis. Tranquil power and victorious repose
appear even in the standing Jupiters, in which last the god appears as
more youthful and active.

The conception of Jupiter by Phidias was a great advance on that of Homer.
He, to be sure, professed to take his idea from the famous passage of the
Iliad where Jove shakes his ambrosial curls and bends his awful brows;
and, nodding, shakes heaven and earth. That might be his text, but the
sermon which he preached was far higher than it. This was the great statue
of Jupiter, his masterpiece, made of ivory and gold for the temple at
Olympia, where the games were celebrated by the united Hellenic race.
These famous games, which occurred every fifth year, lasting five days,
calling together all Greece, were to this race what the Passover was to
the Jewish nation, sacred, venerable, blending divine worship and human
joy. These games were a chronology, a constitution, and a church to the
Pan-Hellenic race. All epochs were reckoned from them; as events occurring
in such or such an Olympiad. The first Olympiad was seven hundred and
seventy-six years before Christ; and a large part of our present knowledge
of ancient chronology depends on these festivals. They bound Greece
together as by a constitution; no persons unless of genuine Hellenic blood
being allowed to contend at them, and a truce being proclaimed for all
Greece while they lasted.

Here at Olympia, while the games continued, all Greece came together; the
poets and historians declaimed their compositions to the grand audience;
opinions were interchanged, knowledge communicated, and the national life
received both stimulus and unity.

And here, over all, presided the great Jupiter of Phidias, within a Doric
temple, sixty-eight feet high, ninety-five wide, and two hundred and
thirty long, covered with sculptures of Pentelic marble. The god was
seated on his throne, made of gold, ebony, and ivory, studded with
precious stones. He was so colossal that, though seated, his head nearly
reached the roof, and it seemed as if he would bear it away if he rose.
There sat the monarch, his head, neck, breast, and arms in massive
proportions; the lower part of the body veiled in a flowing mantle;
bearing in his right hand a statue of Victory, in his left a sceptre with
his eagle on the top; the Hours, the Seasons, and the Graces around him;
his feet on the mysterious Sphinx; and on his face that marvellous
expression of blended majesty and sweetness, which we know not only by the
accounts of eyewitnesses, but by the numerous imitations and copies in
marble which have come down to us. One cannot fail to see, even in these
copies, a wonderful expression of power, wisdom, and goodness. The head,
with leonine locks of hair and thickly rolling beard, expresses power, the
broad brow and fixed gaze of the eyes, wisdom; while the sweet smile of
the lips indicates goodness. The throne was of cedar, ornamented with
gold, ivory, ebony, and precious stones. The sceptre was composed of
every kind of metal. The statue was forty feet high, on a pedestal of
twelve feet. To die without having seen this statue was regarded by the
Greeks as almost as great a calamity as not to have been initiated into
the mysteries.[240]

In like manner the poetic conception of Apollo was inferior to that of the
sculptor. In the mind of the latter Phoebus is not merely an archer, not
merely a prophet and a singer, but the entire manifestation of genius. He
is inspiration; he radiates poetry, music, eloquence from his sublime
figure. The Phidian Jupiter is lost to us, except in copies, but in the
Belvedere Apollo we see how the sculptor could interpret the highest
thought of the Hellenic mind. He who visits this statue by night in the
Vatican Palace at Rome, seeing it by torchlight, has, perhaps, the most
wonderful impression left on his imagination which art can give. After
passing through the long galleries of the Vatican, where, as the torches
advance, armies of statues emerge from the darkness before you, gaze on
you with marble countenance, and sink back into the darkness behind, you
reach at last the small circular hall which contains the Apollo. The
effect of torchlight is to make the statue seem more alive. One limb, one
feature, one expression after another, is brought out as the torches move;
and the wonderful form becomes at last instinct with life. Milman has
described the statue in a few glowing but unexaggerated lines:--

    "For mild he seemed, as in Elysian towers,
    Wasting, in careless ease, the joyous hours;
    Haughty, as bards have sung, with princely sway
    Curbing the fierce flame-breathing steeds of day;
    Beauteous, as vision seen in dreamy sleep
    By holy maid, on Delphi's haunted steep."

           *       *       *       *       *

    All, all divine; no struggling muscle glows,
    Through heaving vein no mantling life-blood flows,
    But, animate with Deity alone,
    In deathless glory lives the breathing stone."[241]

In such a statue we see the human creative genius idealized. It is a
magnificent representation of the mind of Greece, that fountain of
original thought from which came the Songs of Homer and the Dialogues of
Plato, that unfailing source of history, tragedy, lyric poetry, scientific
investigation. In the Belvedere Apollo we see expressed at once the genius
of Homer, Aristotle, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Pindar, Thales, and Plato.

With Apollo is associated his sister Artemis, or Diana, another exquisite
conception of Greek thought. Not the cold and cruel Diana of the poets;
not she who, in her prudish anger, turned Actæon into a stag, who slew
Orion, who slew the children of Niobe, and demanded the death of
Iphigenia. Very different is the beautiful Diana of the sculptors, the
Artemis, or untouched one, chaste as moonlight, a wild girl, pure, free,
noble; the ideal of youthful womanhood, who can share with man manly
exercises and open-air sports, and add to manly strength a womanly grace.
So she seems in the statue; in swift motion, the air lifting her tunic
from her noble limbs, while she draws a shaft from the quiver to kill a
hind. No Greek could look at such a statue, and not learn to reverence the
purity and nobleness of womanhood.

Pallas-Athênê was the goddess of all the liberal arts and sciences. In
battle she proves too strong for Arês or Mars, as scientific war is always
too strong for that wild, furious war which Mars represented. She was the
civilizer of mankind. Her name Pallas means "virgin," and her name Athênê
was supposed to be the same as the Egyptian Neith, reversed; though modern
scholars deny this etymology.

The Parthenon, standing on the summit of Athens, built of white marble,
was surrounded by columns 34 feet high. It was 230 feet long, 102 feet
wide, and 68 high, and was perhaps the most perfect building ever raised
by man. Every part of its exterior was adorned with Phidian sculpture; and
within stood the statue of Athênê herself, in ivory and gold, by the same
master hand. Another colossal statue of the great goddess stood on the
summit of the Acropolis, and her polished brazen helmet and shield,
flashing in the sun, could be seen far out at sea by vessels approaching

The Greek sculptors, in creating these wonderful ideals, were always
feeling after God; but for God incarnate, God in man. They sought for and
represented each divine element in human nature. They were prophets of the
future development of humanity. They showed how man is a partaker of the
divine nature. If they humanized Deity, they divinized humanity.

§ 6. The Gods of the Philosophers.

The problem which the Greek philosophers set themselves to solve was the
origin of things. As we have found a double element of race and religion
running through the history of Greece, so we find a similar dualism in its
philosophy. An element of realism and another of idealism are in
opposition until the time of Plato, and are first reconciled by that great
master of thought. Realism appears in the Ionic nature-philosophy;
idealism in Orphism, the schools of Pythagoras, and the Eleatic school of
Southern Italy.

Both these classes of thinkers sought for some central unity beneath the
outward phenomena. Thales the Milesian (B.C. 600) said it was water. His
disciple, Anaximander, called it a chaotic matter, containing in itself a
motive-power which would take the universe through successive creations
and destructions. His successor, Anaximenes, concluded the infinite
substance to be air. Heraclitus of Ephesus (B.C. 500) declared it to be
fire; by which he meant, not physical fire, but the principle of
antagonism. So, by _water_, Thales must have intended the fluid element in
things. For that Thales was not a mere materialist appears from the
sayings which have been reported as coming from him, such as this: "Of all
things, the oldest is God; the most beautiful is the world; the swiftest
is thought; the wisest is time." Or that other, that, "Death does not
differ at all from life." Thales also taught that a Divine power was in
all things. The successor of Heraclitus, Anaxagoras (B.C. 494), first
distinguished God from the world, mind from matter, leaving to each an
independent existence.

While the Greek colonies in Asia Minor developed thus the Asiatic form of
philosophy, the colonies in Magna Græcia unfolded the Italian or ideal
side. Of these, Pythagoras was the earliest and most conspicuous. Born at
Samos (B.C. 584), he was a contemporary of Thales of Miletus. He taught
that God was one; yet not outside of the world, but in it, wholly in every
part, overseeing the beginnings of all things and their combinations.[242]

The head of the Italian school, known as Eleatics, was Xenophanes (born
B.C. 600), who, says Zeller,[243] both a philosopher and a poet, taught
first of all a perfect monotheism. He declared God to be the one and all,
eternal, almighty, and perfect being, being all sight, feeling, and
perception. He is both infinite and finite. If he were only finite, he
could not _be_; if he were only infinite, he could not _exist_. He lives
in eternity, and exists in time.[244]

Parmenides, scholar and successor of Xenophanes at Elea, taught that God,
as pure thought, pervaded all nature. Empedocles (about B.C. 460)[245]
followed Xenophanes, though introducing a certain dualism into his
physics. In theology he was a pure monotheist, declaring God to be the
Absolute Being, sufficient for himself, and related to the world as unity
to variety, or love to discord. We can only recognize God by the divine
element in ourselves. The bad is what is separate from God, and out of
harmony with him.

After this came a sceptical movement, in which Gorgias, a disciple of
Empedocles (B.C. 404) and Protagoras the Abderite, taught the doctrine of
nescience. The latter said: "Whether there are gods or not we cannot say,
and life is too short to find out."[246] Prodicus explained religion as
founded in utility, Critias derived it from statecraft. They argued that
if religion was founded in human nature, all men would worship the same
gods. This view became popular in Greece at the time of the Peloponnesian
War. Euripides, as we have seen, was a sceptic. Those who denied the
popular gods were persecuted by the Athenians, but the sceptical spirit
was not checked by this course.[247] Anaxagoras escaped with his life only
through the powerful protection of Pericles. Protagoras was sentenced to
death, and his writings were burned. Diogenes was denounced as an atheist,
and a reward of a talent was offered to any one who should kill him. For
an unbelieving age is apt to be a persecuting one. When the kernel of
religion is gone, more stress is laid on keeping the shell untouched.

It was in the midst of these dilapidated opinions that Socrates came, that
wonderful phenomenon in human history. A marvellous vision, glorifying
humanity! He may be considered as having created the science of ethics. He
first taught the doctrine of divine providence, declaring that we can only
know God in his works. He placed religion on the basis of humanity,
proclaiming the well-being of man to be the end of the universe. He
preferred the study of final causes to that of efficient causes. He did
not deny the inferior deities, but regarded them only as we regard angels
and archangels, saints and prophets; as finite beings, above man, but
infinitely below the Supreme Being. Reverence for such beings is quite
consistent with the purest monotheism.

In Plato, says Rixner[248] the two polar tendencies of Greek philosophy
were harmonized, and realism and idealism brought into accord. The school
of realism recognized time, variety, motion, multiplicity, and nature; but
lost substance, unity, eternity, and spirit. The other, the ideal Eleatic
school, recognized unity, but lost variety, saw eternity, but ignored
time, accepted being, but omitted life and movement.

The three views may be thus compared:--

    Italian Philosophy,    Plato.              Ionian or Asiatic Atomic.
        or Eleatic.
      The One.          The One in All.                The All.
      Unity.            Unity and Variety.             Variety.
      Being.            Life.                          Motion.
      Pantheism.        Divine in Nature.              Naturalism.
      Substance.        Substance and Manifestation.   Phenomena.

The philosophy of Plato was the scientific completion of that of Socrates.
Socrates took his intellectual departure from man, and inferred nature and
God. Plato assumed God, and inferred nature and man. He made goodness and
nature godlike, by making God the substance in each. His was a divine
philosophy, since he referred all facts theoretically and practically to
God as the ground of their being.

The style of Plato singularly combined analysis and synthesis, exact
definition with poetic life. His magnificent intellect aimed at uniting
precision in details with universal comprehension.[249]

Plato, as regards his method of thought, was a strict and determined
transcendentalist. He declared philosophy to be the science of
unconditioned being, and asserted that this was known to the soul by its
intuitive reason, which is the organ of all philosophic insight. The
reason perceives substance, the understanding only phenomena. Being το όν,
which is the reality in all actuality, is in the ideas or thoughts of God;
and nothing exists or appears outwardly, except by the force of this
indwelling idea. The WORD is the true expression of the nature of every
object; for each has its divine and natural name, beside its accidental
human appellation. Philosophy is the recollection of what the soul has
seen of things and their names.

The life and essence of all things is from God. Plato's idea of God is of
the purest and highest kind. God is one, he is Spirit, he is the supreme
and only real being, he is the creator of all things, his providence is
over all events. He avoids pantheism on one side, by making God a distinct
personal intelligent will; and polytheism on the other, by making him
absolute, and therefore one. Plato's theology is pure theism.[250]

Ackermann, in "The Christian Element in Plato,"[251] says: The Platonic
theology is strikingly near that of Christianity in regard to God's being,
existence, name, and attributes. As regards the existence of God, he
argues from the movements of nature for the necessity of an original
principle of motion.[252] But the real Platonic faith in God, like that of
the Bible, rests on immediate knowledge. He gives no definition of the
essence of God, but says,[253] "To find the Maker and Father of this All
is hard, and having found him it is impossible to utter him." But the idea
of Goodness is the best expression, as is also that of Being, though
neither is adequate. The visible Sun is the image and child of the Good
Being. Just so the Scripture calls God the Father of light. Yet the idea
of God was the object and aim of his whole philosophy; therefore he calls
God the Beginning and the End;[254] and "the Measure of all things, much
more than _man_, as some people have said" (referring to Protagoras, who
taught that "man was the measure of all things"). So even Aristotle
declared that "since God is the ground of all being, the first philosophy
is theology"; and Eusebius mentions that Plato thought that no one could
understand human things who did not first look at divine things; and tells
a story of an Indian who met Socrates in Athens and asked him how he must
begin to philosophize. He replied that he must reflect on human life;
whereupon the Indian laughed and said that as long as one did not
understand divine things he could know nothing about human things.

There is no doubt that Plato was a monotheist, and believed in one God,
and when he spoke of gods in the plural, was only using the common form of
speech. That many educated heathen were monotheists has been sufficiently
proved; and even Augustine admits that the mere use of the word "gods"
proved nothing against it, since the Hebrew Bible said, "the God of gods
has spoken."

Aristotle (B.C. 384), the first philologian and naturalist of antiquity,
scholar of Plato, called "the Scribe of Nature," and "a reversed Plato,"
differing diametrically from his master in his methods, arrived at nearly
the same theological result. He taught that there were first truths, known
by their own evidence. He comprised all notions of existence in that of
the κόσμος, in which were the two spheres of the earthly and heavenly. The
earthly sphere contained the changeable in the transient; the heavenly
sphere contained the changeable in the permanent. Above both spheres is
God, who is unchangeable, permanent, and unalterable. Aristotle, however,
omits God as Providence, and conceives him less personally than is done by

In the Stoical system, theism becomes pantheism.[255] There is one Being,
who is the substance of all things, from whom the universe flows forth,
and into whom it returns in regular cycles.

Zeller[256] sums up his statements on this point thus: "From all that has
been said it appears that the Stoics did not think of God and the world as
different beings. Their system was therefore strictly pantheistic. The sum
of all real existence is originally contained in God, who is at once
universal matter and the creative force which fashions matter into the
particular materials of which things are made. We can, therefore, think of
nothing which is not either God or a manifestation of God. In point of
being, God and the world are the same, the two conceptions being declared
by the Stoics to be absolutely identical."

The Stoic philosophy was materialism as regards the nature of things, and
necessity as regards the nature of the human will. The Stoics denied the
everlasting existence of souls as individuals, believing that at the end
of a certain cycle they would be resolved into the Divine Being.
Nevertheless, till that period arrives, they conceived the soul as
existing in a future state higher and better than this. Seneca calls the
day of death the birthday into this better world. In that world there
would be a judgment on the conduct and character of each one; there
friends would recognize each other, and renew their friendship and

While the Epicureans considered religion in all its usual forms to be a
curse to mankind, while they believed it impious to accept the popular
opinions concerning the gods, while they denied any Divine Providence or
care for man, while they rejected prayer, prophecy, divination, and
regarded fear as the foundation of religion, they yet believed, as their
master Epicurus had believed, in the existence of the immortal gods. These
beings he regarded as possessing all human attributes, except those of
weakness and pain. They are immortal and perfectly happy; exempt from
disease and change, living in celestial dwellings, clothed with bodies of
a higher kind than ours, they converse together in a sweet society of
peace and content.

Such were the principal theological views of the Greek philosophers. With
the exception of the last, and that of the Sceptics, they were either
monotheistic or consistent with monotheism. They were, on the whole, far
higher than the legends of the poets or the visions of the artists. They
were, as the Christian Fathers were fond of saying, a preparation for
Christianity. No doubt one cause of the success of this monotheistic
religion among the Greek-speaking nations was that Greek philosophy had
undermined faith in Greek polytheism.

This we shall consider in another section.

§ 7. The Worship of Greece.

The public worship of Greece, as of other ancient nations, consisted of
sacrifices, prayers, and public festivals. The sacrifices were for
victories over their enemies, for plentiful harvests, to avert the anger
of some offended deity, for success in any enterprise, and those specially
commanded by the oracles.

In the earliest times fruits and plants were all that were offered.
Afterward the sacrifices were libations, incense, and victims. The
libation consisted of a cup brimming with wine, which was emptied upon the
altars. The incense, at first, was merely fragrant leaves or wood, burnt
upon the altar; afterward myrrh and frankincense were used. The victims
were sheep, oxen, or other animals. To Hecate they offered a dog, to Venus
a dove, to Mars some wild animal, to Ceres the sow, because it rooted up
the corn. But it was forbidden to sacrifice the ploughing ox. The
sacrifices of men, which were common among barbarous nations, were very
rare in Greece.

On great occasions large sacrifices were offered of numerous victims,--as
the hecatomb, which means a hundred oxen. It is a curious fact that they
had a vessel of holy water at the entrance of the temples, consecrated by
putting into it a burning torch from the altar, with which or with a
branch of laurel the worshippers were sprinkled on entering. The
worshippers were also expected to wash their bodies, or at least their
hands and feet, before going into the temple; a custom common also among
the Jews and other nations. So Ezekiel says: "I will sprinkle you with
clean water and you shall be clean." And the Apostle Paul says, in
allusion to this custom: "Let us draw near, having our hearts sprinkled
from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."

All these customs had a natural origin. The natural offering to the gods
is that which we like best ourselves. The Greeks, eminently a social
people, in the enjoyment of their feasts, wished to give a part of
everything to the gods. Loving wine, perfumes, and animal food, they
offered these. As it was proper to wash before feasting with each other,
it seemed only proper to do the same before offering the feast to the

The essential part of the sacrifice was catching and pouring out the
blood of the victim; for, in the view of the ancients, blood was the seat
of life. Part of the victim was burned, and this was the portion supposed
to be consumed by the god. Another part was eaten by the worshippers, who
thus sat at table with the deity as his friends and companions. The joyful
character of Greek worship also appeared in the use of garlands of
flowers, religious dances and songs.

All the festivals of the Greeks were religious. Some were of the seasons,
as one in February to Zeus, the giver of good weather; and another in
November to Zeus, the god of storms. There were festivals in honor of the
plough, of the threshing-floor; festivals commemorating the victories at
Marathon, Salamis, etc.; of the restoration of democracy by Thrasybulus;
feasts of the clothing of the images, on which occasion it was not lawful
to work; feasts in commemoration of those who perished in the flood of
Deucalion; feasts of nurses, feasts of youth, of women, of trades. Then
there were the great national festivals, celebrated every four years at
Olympia and Delphi, and every three and five years at Nemea and the
isthmus of Corinth. The Panathenæic festival at Athens was held every five
years in honor of Athênê, with magnificent processions, cavalcades of
horsemen, gymnastic games, military dances, recitations of the Homeric
poems, and competition in music. On the frieze of the Parthenon was
represented by the scholars of Phidias the procession of the Peplos. This
was a new dress made for the statue of Athênê by young girls of Athens,
between the ages of seven and eleven years. These girls, selected at a
special ceremony, lived a year on the Acropolis, engaged in their sacred
work, and fed on a special diet. Captives were liberated on this occasion,
that all might share in the festival.

Such festivals constituted the acme of Greek life. They were celebrated in
the open air with pomp and splendor, and visitors came from far to assist
on these occasions. Prizes were given for foot and chariot races; for
boxing, leaping, music, and even for kissing. The temples, therefore, were
not intended for worship, but chiefly to contain the image of the god.
The _cella_, or _adytum_, was small and often dark; but along the
magnificent portico or peristyle, which surrounded the four sides of the
Doric temples, the splendid processions could circulate in full view of
the multitude.[257] The temple was therefore essentially an out-door
building, with its beauty, like that of a flower, exposed to light and
air. It was covered everywhere, but not crowded, with sculpture, which was
an essential part of the building. The pediments, the pedestals on the
roofs, the metopes between the triglyphs, are as unmeaning without the
sculpture as a picture-frame without its picture. So says Mr.
Fergusson;[258] and adds that, without question, color was also everywhere
used as an integral part of the structure.

Priesthood was sometimes hereditary, but was not confined to a class.
Kings, generals, and the heads of a family acted as priests and offered
sacrifices. It was a temporary office, and Plato recommends that there
should be an annual rotation, no man acting as priest for more than one
year. Such a state of opinion excludes the danger of priestcraft, and is
opposed to all hierarchal pretensions. The same, however, cannot be said
of the diviners and soothsayers, who were so much consulted, and whose
opinions determined so often the course of public affairs. They were often
in the pay of ambitious men. Alcibiades had augurs and oracles devoted to
his interests, who could induce the Athenians to agree to such a course as
he desired. For the Greeks were extremely anxious to penetrate the future,
and the power and influence of their oracles is, says Döllinger, a
phenomenon unique in history.

Among these oracles, Delphi, as is well known, took the highest rank. It
was considered the centre of the earth, and was revered by the
Pan-Hellenic race. It was a supreme religious court, whose decisions were
believed to be infallible. The despotism of the Pythian decisions was,
however, tempered by their ambiguity. Their predictions, if they failed,
seldom destroyed the faith of the believers; for always some explanation
could be devised to save the credit of the oracle. Thus, the Pythian
promised the Athenians that they would take all the Syracusans prisoners.
They did not take them; but as a muster-roll of the Syracusan army fell
into their hands, this was considered to fulfil the promise.[259]
Aristides, the rhetorician, was told that the "white maidens" would take
care of him; and receiving a letter which was of advantage, he was fully
convinced that this was the "white maiden." But neither imposition nor
delusion will satisfactorily explain the phenomena connected with oracles.
The foundation of them seems to have been a state allied to the modern
manifestations of magnetic sleep and clairvoyance.

"As the whole life of the Greeks," says Döllinger, "was penetrated by
religion," they instinctively and naturally prayed on all occasions. They
prayed at sunrise and sunset, at meal-times, for outward blessings of all
kinds, and also for virtue and wisdom. They prayed standing, with a loud
voice, and hands lifted to the heavens. They threw kisses to the gods with
their hands.

So we see that the Greek worship, like their theology, was natural and
human, a cheerful and hopeful worship, free from superstition. This
element only arrives with the mysteries, and the worship of the Cthonic
gods. To the Olympic gods supplications were addressed as to free moral
agents, who might be persuaded or convinced, but could not be compelled.
To the under-world deities prayer took the form of adjuration, and
degenerated into magic formulas, which were supposed to force these
deities to do what was asked by the worshipper.

§ 8. The Mysteries. Orphism.

The early gods of most nations are local and tribal. They belong only to
limited regions, or to small clans, and have no supposed authority or
influence beyond. This was eminently the case in Greece; and after the
great Hellenic worship had arrived, the local and family gods retained
also their position, and continued to be reverenced. In Athens, down to
the time of Alexander, each tribe in the city kept its own divinities and
sacrifices. It also happened that the supreme god of one state would be
adored as a subordinate power in another. Every place had its favorite
protector. As different cities in Italy have their different Madonnas,
whom they consider more powerful than the Madonna of their neighbors, so
in Greece the same god was invoked in various localities under different
surnames. The Arcadian Zeus had the surname of Lycæus, derived, probably,
from Λυξ, Lux, light. The Cretan Jupiter was called Asterios. At Karia he
was Stratios. Iolaus in Euripides (the Herakleidæ, 347) says: "We have
gods as our allies not inferior to those of the Argives, O king; for Juno,
the wife of Jove, is their champion, but Minerva ours; and I say, to have
the best gods tends to success, for Pallas will not endure to be
conquered."[260] So, in the "Suppliants" of Aeschylus, the Egyptian Herald
says (838): "By no means do I dread the deities of this place; for they
have not nourished me nor preserved me to old age."[261]

Two modes of worship met in Greece, together with two classes of gods. The
Pelasgi, as we have seen, worshipped unnamed impersonal powers of the
universe, without image or temple. But to this was added a worship which
probably came through Thrace, from Asia and Egypt. This element introduced
religious poetry and music, the adoration of the muses, the rites and
mysteries of Dêmêtêr, and the reverence for the Kabiri, or dark divinities
of the lower world.

Of these, the MYSTERIES were the most significant and important. Their
origin must be referred to a great antiquity, and they continued to be
practised down to the times of the Roman Emperors. They seem not to belong
to the genuine Greek religion, but to be an alien element introduced into
it. The gods of the Mysteries are not the beings of light, but of
darkness, not the gods of Olympus, but of the under-world. Everything
connected with the Mysteries is foreign to the Hellenic mind. This
worship is secret; its spirit is of awe, terror, remorse; its object is
expiation of sin. Finally, it is a hieratic worship, in the hands of

All this suggests Egypt as the origin of the Mysteries. The oldest were
those celebrated in the island of Samothrace, near the coast of Asia
Minor. Here Orpheus is reputed to have come and founded the Bacchic
Mysteries; while another legend reports him to have been killed by the
Bacchantes for wishing to substitute the worship of Apollo for that of
Dionysos. This latter story, taken in connection with the civilizing
influence ascribed to Orpheus, indicates his introducing a purer form of
worship. He reformed the licentious drunken rites, and established in
place of them a more serious religion. He died a martyr to this purer
faith, killed by the women, who were incited to this, no doubt, by the
priests of the old Bacchic worship.

The worship of Dionysos Zagreus, which was the Orphic form of Bacchism,
contained the doctrines of retribution in another life,--a doctrine common
to all the Greek Mysteries.

It would seem probable, from an investigation of this subject, that two
elements of worship are to be found in the Greek religion, which were
never quite harmonized. One is the worship of the Olympian deities, gods
of light and day, gods of this world, and interested in our present human
life. This worship tended to promote a free development of character; it
was self-possessed, cheerful, and public; it left the worshipper unalarmed
by any dread of the future, or any anxiety about his soul. For the Olympic
gods cared little about the moral character of their worshippers; and the
dark Fate which lay behind gods and men could not be propitiated by any
rites, and must be encountered manfully, as one meets the inevitable.

The other worship, running parallel with this, was of the Cthonic gods,
deities of earth and the under-world, rulers of the night-side of nature,
and monarchs of the world to come. Their worship was solemn, mysterious,
secret, and concerned expiation of sin, and the salvation of the soul

Now, when we consider that the Egyptian popular worship delighted in just
such mysteries as these; that it related to the judgment of the soul
hereafter; that its solemnities were secret and wrapped in dark symbols;
and that the same awful Cthonic deities were the objects of its
reverence;--when we also remember that Herodotus and the other Greek
writers state that the early religion of the Pelasgi was derived from
Egypt, and that Orpheus, the Thracian, brought thence his doctrine,--there
seems no good reason for denying such a source. On the other hand, nothing
can be more probable than an immense influence on Pelasgic worship,
derived through Thrace, from Egypt. This view is full of explanations, and
makes much in the Greek mythology clear which would otherwise be obscure.

The Greek myth of Dêmêtêr and Persephonê, for example, seems to be an
adaptation to the Hellenic mind and land of the Egyptian myth of Osiris
and Isis. Both are symbols, first, of natural phenomena; and, secondly, of
the progress of the human soul. The sad Isis seeking Osiris, and the sad
Dêmêtêr seeking Persephonê constitute evidently the same legend; only
Osiris is the Nile, evaporated into scattered pools by the burning heat,
while Persephonê is the seed, the treasure of the plant, which sinks into
the earth, but is allowed to come up again as the stalk, and pass a part
of its life in the upper air. But both these nature-myths were
spiritualized in the Mysteries, and made to denote the wanderings of the
soul in its search for truth. Similar to these legends was that of
Dionysos Zagreus, belonging to Crete, according to Euripides and other
writers. Zagreus was the son of the Cretan Zeus and Persephonê, and was
hewn in pieces by the Titans, his heart alone being preserved by Athênê,
who gave it to Zeus. Zeus killed the Titans, and enclosed the heart in a
plaster image of his child. According to another form of the story, Zeus
swallowed the heart, and from it reproduced another Dionysos. Apollo
collected the rest of the members, and they were reunited, and restored to

The principal mysteries were those of Bacchus and Ceres. The Bacchic
mysteries were very generally celebrated throughout Greece, and were a
wild nature-worship; partaking of that frenzy which has in all nations
been considered a method of gaining a supernatural and inspired state, or
else as the result of it. The Siva worship in India, the Pythoness at
Delphi, the Schamaism of the North, the whirling dervishes of the
Mohammedans; and some of the scenes at the camp-meetings in the Western
States, belong to the same class as the Bacchic orgies.

The Eleusinian mysteries were very different. These were in honor of
Ceres; they were imported from Egypt. The wanderings of Isis in search of
Osiris were changed to those of Ceres or Dêmêtêr (the mother-earth = Isis)
in search of Persephonê. Both represented in a secondary symbolism the
wanderings of the soul, seeking God and truth. This was the same idea as
that of Apuleius in the beautiful story of Psyche.

These mysteries were celebrated at Eleusis by the Athenians every fourth
year. They were said to have been introduced B.C. 1356, and were very
sacred. All persons were required to be initiated. If they refused it they
were supposed to be irreligious. "Have you been initiated?" was asked in
dangerous situations. The initiated were said to be calm in view of death.
It was the personal religion of the Greeks.

In the greater mysteries at Eleusis the candidates were crowned with
myrtle, and admitted by night into a vast temple, where they were purified
and instructed, and assisted at certain grand solemnities. The doctrines
taught are unknown, but are supposed to have been the unity of God and the
immortality of the soul. But this is only conjecture.

Bacchus is believed to have been originally an Indian god, naturalized in
Greece, and his mysteries to be Indian in their character. The genial life
of nature is the essential character of Bacchus. One of the names of the
Indian Siva is Dionichi, which very nearly resembles the Greek name of
Bacchus, Dionysos. He was taken from the Meros, or thigh of Jupiter. Now
Mount Meru, in India, is the home of the gods; by a common etymological
error the Greeks may have thought it the Greek word for _thigh_, and so
translated it.

The Bacchic worship, in its Thracian form, was always distasteful to the
best of the Greeks; it was suspected and disliked by the enlightened,
proscribed by kings, and rejected by communities. It was an interpolated
system, foreign to the cheerful nature of Greek thought.

As to the value of the mysteries themselves, there was a great difference
of opinion among the Greeks. The people, the orators, and many of the
poets praised them; but the philosophers either disapproved them openly,
or passed them by in silence. Socrates says no word in their favor in all
his reported conversations. Plato complains of the immoral influence
derived from believing that sin could be expiated by such ceremonies.[262]
They seem to have contained, in reality, little direct instruction, but to
have taught merely by a dramatic representation and symbolic pictures.

Who Orpheus was, and when he lived, can never be known. But the
probabilities are that he brought from Egypt into Greece, what Moses took
from Egypt into Palestine, the Egyptian ideas of culture, law, and
civilization. He reformed the Bacchic mysteries, giving them a more
elevated and noble character, and for this he lost his life. No better
account of his work can be given than in the words of Lord Bacon.

   "The merits of learning," says he, "in repressing the inconveniences
   which grow from man to man, was lively set forth by the ancients in
   that feigned relation of Orpheus' theatre, where all beasts and birds
   assembled; and, forgetting their several appetites, some of prey, some
   of game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably together, listening to the
   airs and accords of the harp; the sound thereof no sooner ceased or was
   drowned by some louder noise, but every beast returned to his own
   nature; wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men, who
   are full of savage and unreclaimed desires of profit, of lust, of
   revenge, which, as long as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to
   religion, sweetly touched by eloquence and persuasion of books, of
   sermons, of harangues, so long is society and peace maintained; but if
   these instruments be silent, or that sedition and tumult make them not
   audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and confusion."[263]

Of the Orphic doctrines we are able to give a somewhat better account. As
far back as the sixth century before Christ, there were scattered through
Greece hymns, lyrical poems, and prose treatises, treating of theological
questions, and called Orphic writings. These works continued to be
produced through many centuries, and evidently met an appetite in the
Greek mind. They were not philosophy, they were not myths nor legends, but
contained a mystic and pantheistic theology.[264] The views of the
Pythagoreans entered largely into this system. The Orphic writings
develop, by degrees, a system of cosmogony, in which Time was the first
principle of things, from which came chaos and ether. Then came the
primitive egg, from which was born Phanes, or Manifestation. This being is
the expression of intelligence, and creates the heavens and the earth. The
soul is but the breath which comes from the whole universe, thus
organized, and is imprisoned in the body as in a tomb, for sins committed
in a former existence. Life is therefore not joy, but punishment and
sorrow. At death the soul escapes from this prison, to pass through many
changes, by which it will be gradually purified. All these notions are
alien to the Greek mind, and are plainly a foreign importation. The true
Greek was neither pantheist nor introspective. He did not torment himself
about the origin of evil or the beginning of the universe, but took life
as it came, cheerfully.

The pantheism of the Orphic theology is constantly apparent. Thus, in a
poem preserved by Proclus and Eusebius it is said:[265]--

    "Zeus, the mighty thunderer, is first, Zeus is last,
    Zeus is the head, Zeus the middle of all things.
    From Zeus were all things produced. He is both man and woman;
    Zeus is the depth of the earth, and the height of the starry heavens;
    He is the breath of all things, the force of untamed fire;
    The bottom of the sea; sun, moon, and stars;
    Origin of all; king of all;
    One Power, one God, one great Ruler."

And another says, still more plainly:--

    "There is one royal body, in which all things are enclosed,
    Fire and Water, Earth, Ether, Night and Day,
    And Counsel, the first producer, and delightful Love,
    For all these are contained in the great body of Zeus."

§ 9. Relation of Greek Religion to Christianity.

One of the greatest events in the history of man, as well as one of the
most picturesque situations, was when Paul stood on the Areopagus at
Athens, carrying Christianity into Europe, offering a Semitic religion to
an Aryan race, the culmination of monotheism to one of the most elaborate
and magnificent polytheisms of the world. A strange and marvellous scene!
From the place where he stood he saw all the grandest works of human
art,--the Acropolis rose before him, a lofty precipitous rock, seeming
like a stone pedestal erected by nature as an appropriate platform for the
perfect marble temples with which man should adorn it. On this noble base
rose the Parthenon, temple of Minerva; and the temple of Neptune, with its
sacred fountain. The olive-tree of Pallas-Athênê was there, and her
colossal statue. On the plain below were the temples of Theseus and
Jupiter Olympus, and innumerable others. He stood where Socrates had stood
four hundred years before, defending himself against the charge of
atheism; where Demosthenes had pleaded in immortal strains of eloquence in
behalf of Hellenic freedom; where the most solemn and venerable court of
justice known among men was wont to assemble. There he made the memorable
discourse, a few fragments only of which have come to us in the Book of
Acts, but a sketch significant of his argument. He did not begin, as in
our translation, by insulting the religion of the Greeks, and calling it
a superstition; but by praising them for their reverence and piety. Paul
respected all manifestations of awe and love toward those mysteries and
glories of the universe, in which the invisible things of God have been
clearly seen from the foundation of the world. Then he mentions his
finding the altar to the unknown God, mentioned also by Pausanias and
other Greek writers, one of whom, Diogenes Lærtius, says that in a time of
plague, not knowing to what god to appeal, they let loose a number of
black and white sheep, and whereever any one laid down they erected an
altar to an unknown god, and offered sacrifices thereon. Then he announced
as his central and main theme the Most High God, maker of heaven and
earth, spiritual, not needing to receive anything from man, but giving him
all things. Next, he proclaimed the doctrine of universal human
brotherhood. God had made all men of one blood; their varieties and
differences, as well as their essential unity, being determined by a
Divine Providence. But all were equally made to seek him, and in their
various ways to find him, who is yet always near to all, since all are his
children. God is immanent in all men, says Paul, as their life. Having
thus stated the great unities of faith and points of agreement, he
proceeds only in the next instance to the oppositions and criticisms; in
which he opposes, not polytheism, but idolatry; though not blaming them
severely even for that. Lastly, he speaks of Jesus, as a man ordained by
God to judge the world and govern it in righteousness, and proved by his
resurrection from the dead to be so chosen.

Here we observe, in this speech, monotheism came in contact with
polytheism, and the two forms of human religion met,--that which makes man
the child of God, and that which made the gods the children of men.

The result we know. The cry was heard on the sandy shore of Eurotas and in
green Cythnus.--"Great Pan is dead." The Greek humanities, noble and
beautiful as they were, faded away before the advancing steps of the
Jewish peasant, who had dared to call God his Father and man his brother.
The parables of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan were stronger
than Homer's divine song and Pindar's lofty hymns. This was the religion
for man. And so it happened as Jesus had said: "My sheep hear my voice and
follow me." Those who felt in their hearts that Jesus was their true
leader followed him.

The gods of Greece, being purely human, were so far related to
Christianity. That, too, is a human religion; a religion which makes it
its object to unfold man, and to cause all to come to the stature of
perfect men. Christianity also showed them God in the form of man; God
dwelling on the earth; God manifest in the flesh. It also taught that the
world was full of God, and that all places and persons were instinct with
a secret divinity. Schiller (as translated by Coleridge) declares that
LOVE was the source of these Greek creations:--

                          "'Tis not merely
    The human being's pride that peoples space
    With life and mystical predominance,
    Since likewise for the stricken heart of Love
    This visible nature, and this common world
    Is all too narrow; yea, a deeper import
    Lurks in the legend told my infant years
    That lies upon that truth, we live to learn.
    For fable is Love's world, his home, his birthplace;
    Delightedly dwells he 'mong fays and talismans,
    And spirits, and delightedly believes
    Divinities, being himself divine.
    The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
    The fair humanities of Old Religion,
    The Power, the Beauty, and the Majesty,
    That had their haunts in dale or piny mountain,
    Or forest by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
    Or chasms or wat'ry depths;--all these have vanished.
    They live no longer in the faith of Reason.
    But still the heart doth need a language; still
    Doth the old instinct bring back the old names."

    _The Piccolomini_, Act II. Scene 4.

As a matter of fact we find the believers in the Greek religion more ready
to receive Christianity than were the Jews. All through Asia Minor and
Greece Christian churches were planted by Paul; a fact which shows that
the ground was somehow prepared for Christianity. It was ready for the
monotheism which Paul substituted for their multitude of gods, and for
their idolatry and image-worship. The statues had ceased to be symbols,
and the minds of the Greeks rested in the image itself. This idolatrous
worship Paul condemned, and the people heard him willingly, as he called
them up to a more spiritual worship. We think, therefore, that the Greek
religion was a real preparation for Christianity. We have seen that it was
itself in constant transition; the system of the poets passing into that
of the artists, and that of the artists into that of the philosophers; so
that the philosophic religion, in turn, was ready to change into a
Christian monotheism.

It may be said, since philosophy had undermined the old religion and
substituted for it more noble ideas, why did it not take the seat of the
dethroned faith, and sufficiently supply its place? If it taught a pure
monotheism and profound ethics, if it threw ample and adequate light on
the problem of God, duty, and immortality, what more was needed? If ideas
are all that we want, nothing more. That Greek philosophy gave way before
Christianity shows that it did not satisfy all the cravings of the soul;
shows that man needs a religion as well as a religious philosophy, a faith
as well as an intellectual system. A religion is one thing, a speculation
is a very different thing. The old Greek religion, so long as it was a
living faith, was enough. When men really believed in the existence of
Olympian Jove, Pallas-Athênê, and Phoebus-Apollo, they had something above
them to which to look up. When this faith was disintegrated, no system of
opinions, however pure and profound, could replace it. Another faith was
needed, but a faith not in conflict with the philosophy which had
destroyed polytheism; and Christianity met the want, and therefore became
the religion of the Greek-speaking world.

Religion is a life, philosophy is thought; religion looks up, philosophy
looks in. We need both thought and life, and we need that the two shall be
in harmony. The moment they come in conflict, both suffer. Philosophy had
destroyed the ancient simple faith of the Hellenic race in their deities,
and had given them instead only the abstractions of thought. Then came
the Apostles of Christianity, teaching a religion in harmony with the
highest thought of the age, and yet preaching it out of a living faith.
Christianity did not come as a speculation about the universe, but as a
testimony. Its heralds bore witness to the facts of God's presence and
providence, of his fatherly love, of the brotherhood of man, of a rising
to a higher life, of a universal judgment hereafter on all good and evil,
and of Jesus as the inspired and ascended revealer of these truths. These
facts were accepted as realities; and once more the human mind had
something above itself solid enough to support it.

Some of the early Christian Fathers called on the heathen poets and
philosophers to bear witness to the truth. Clement of Alexandria[266]
after quoting this passage of Plato, "around the king of all are all
things, and he is the cause of all good things," says that others, through
God's inspiration, have declared the only true God to be God. He quotes
Antisthenes to this effect: "God is not like to any; wherefore no one can
know him from an image." He quotes Cleanthes the Stoic:--

    "If you ask me what is the nature of the good, listen:
    That which is regular, just, holy, pious,
    Self-governing, useful, fair, fitting,
    Grave, independent, always beneficial,
    That feels no fear or grief; profitable, painless,
    Helpful, pleasant, safe, friendly."

"Nor," says Clement, "must we keep the Pythagoreans in the background, who
say, 'God is one; and he is not, as some suppose, outside of this frame of
things, but within it; in all the entireness of his being he pervades the
whole circle of existence, surveying all nature, and blending in
harmonious union the whole; the author of his own forces and works, the
giver of light in heaven, and father of all; the mind and vital power of
the whole world, the mover of all things.'"

Clement quotes Aratus the poet:--

    "That all may be secure
    Him ever they propitiate first and last.
    Hail, Father! great marvel, great gain to man."

"Thus also," says Clement, "the Ascræan Hesiod dimly speaks of God:--

    'For he is the king of all, and monarch
    Of the immortals, and there is none that can vie with him in power.'

"And Sophocles, the son of Sophilus, says:--

    'One, in truth, one is God,
    Who made both heaven and the far-stretching earth;
    And ocean's blue wave, and the mighty winds;
    But many of us mortals, deceived in heart,
    Have set up for ourselves, as a consolation in our afflictions,
    Images of the gods, of stone, or wood, or brass,
    Or gold, or ivory;
    And, appointing to these sacrifices and vain festivals,
    Are accustomed thus to practise religion.'

"But the Thracian Orpheus, the son of Oeagrus, hierophant and poet, at
once, after his exposition of the orgies and his theology of idols,
introduces a palinode of truth with solemnity, though tardily singing the

    'I shall utter to whom it is lawful; but let the doors be closed,
    Nevertheless, against all the profane. But do thou hear,
    O Musæus, for I will declare what is true.'

"He then proceeds:--

    'He is one, self-proceeding; and from him alone all things proceed,
    And in them he himself exerts his activity; no mortal
    Beholds him, but he beholds all.'"

Professor Cocker, in his work on "Christianity and Greek Philosophy," has
devoted much thought to show that philosophy was a preparation for
Christianity, and that Greek civilization was an essential condition to
the progress of the Gospel. He points out how Greek intelligence and
culture, literature and art, trade and colonization, the universal spread
of the Greek language, and especially the results of Greek philosophy,
were "schoolmasters to bring men to Christ." He quotes a striking passage
from Pressensé to this effect. Philosophy in Greece, says Pressensé, had
its place in the divine plan. It dethroned the false gods. It purified the
idea of divinity.

Cocker sums up this work of preparation done by Greek philosophy, as

   "1. In the release of the popular mind from polytheistic notions, and
   the purifying and spiritualizing of the theistic idea.

   "2. In the development of the theistic argument in a logical form.

   "3. In the awakening and enthronement of conscience as a law of duty,
   and in the elevation and purification of the moral idea.

   "4. In the fact that, by an experiment conducted on the largest scale,
   it demonstrated the insufficiency of reason to elaborate a perfect
   ideal of moral excellence, and develop the moral forces necessary to
   secure its realization.

   "5. It awakened and deepened the consciousness of guilt and the desire
   for redemption."[267]

The large culture of Greece was evidently adapted to Christianity. The
Jewish mind recognized no such need as that of universal culture, and this
tendency of Christianity could only have found room and opportunity among
those who had received the influence of Hellenic culture.

The points of contact between Christianity and Greek civilization are
therefore these:--

1. The character of God, considered in both as an immanent, ever-working
presence, and not merely as a creating and governing will outside the

2. The character of man, as capable of education and development, who is
not merely to obey as a servant, but to co-operate as a friend, with the
divine will, and grow up in all things.

3. The idea of duty, as a reasonable service, and not a yoke.

4. God's revelations, as coming, not only in nature, but also in inspired
men, and in the intuitions of the soul; a conception which resulted in the
Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

The good of polytheism was that it saw something divine in nature. By
dividing God into numberless deities, it was able to conceive of some
divine power in all earthly objects. Hence Wordsworth, complaining that
we can see little of this divinity now in nature, cries out:--

            "Good God! I'd rather be
    A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
    So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
    Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
    Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathéd horn."

Chapter VIII.

The Religion of Rome.

  § 1. Origin and essential Character of the Religion of Rome.
  § 2. The Gods of Rome.
  § 3. Worship and Ritual.
  § 4. The Decay of the Roman Religion.
  § 5. Relation of the Roman Religion to Christianity.

§ 1. Origin and essential Character of the Religion of Rome.

In the Roman state nothing grew, everything was made. The practical
understanding was the despotic faculty in the genius of this people.
Fancy, imagination, humor, seem to have been omitted in the character of
the Latin race. The only form of wit which appeared among them was satire,
that is, wit used for a serious purpose, to punish crimes not amenable to
other laws, to remove abuses not to be reached by the ordinary police. The
gay, light-hearted Greek must have felt in Rome very much as a Frenchman
feels in England. The Romans did not know how to amuse themselves; they
pursued their recreations with ferocious earnestness, making always a
labor of their pleasure. They said, indeed, that it was well _sometimes_
to unbend, _Dulce est desipere in locis_; but a Roman when unbent was like
an unbent bow, almost as stiff as before.

In other words, all spontaneity was absent from the Roman mind. Everything
done was done on purpose, with a deliberate intention. This also appears
in their religion. Their religion was not an inspiration, but an
intention. It was all regular, precise, exact. The Roman cultus, like the
Roman state, was a compact mass, in which all varieties were merged into a
stern unity. All forms of religion might come to Rome and take their
places in its pantheon, but they must come as servants and soldiers of
the state. Rome opened a hospitable asylum to them, just as Rome had
established a refuge on the Capitoline Hill to which all outlaws might
come and be safe, on the condition of serving the community.

As everything in Rome must serve the state, so the religion of Rome was a
state institution, an established church. But as the state can only
command and forbid outward actions, and has no control over the heart, so
the religion of Rome was essentially external. It was a system of worship,
a ritual, a ceremony. If the externals were properly attended to, it took
no notice of opinions or of sentiments. Thus we find in Cicero ("De Natura
Deorum") the chief pontiff arguing against the existence of the gods and
the use of divination. He claims to believe in religion as a pontifex,
while he argues against it as a philosopher. The toleration of Rome
consisted in this, that as long as there was outward conformity to
prescribed observances, it troubled itself very little about opinions. It
said to all religions what Gallio said to the Jews: "If it be a question
of words and names and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge
of such matters." Gallio was a genuine representative of Roman sentiment.
With religion, as long as it remained within the limits of opinion or
feeling, the magistrate had nothing to do; only when it became an act of
disobedience to the public law it was to be punished. Indeed, the very
respect for national law in the Roman mind caused it to legalize in Rome
the worship of national gods. They considered it the duty of the Jews, in
Rome, to worship the Jewish God; of Egyptians, in Rome, to worship the
gods of Egypt. "Men of a thousand nations," says Dionysius of
Halicarnassus, "come to the city, and must worship the gods of their
country, according to their laws at home." As long as the Christians in
Rome were regarded as a Jewish sect, their faith was a _religio licita_,
when it was understood to be a departure from Judaism, it was then a
criminal rebellion against a national faith[268].

The Roman religion has often been considered as a mere copy of that of
Greece, and has therefore been confounded with it, as very nearly the same
system. No doubt the Romans were imitators; they had no creative
imagination. They borrowed and begged their stories about the gods, from
Greece or elsewhere. But Hegel has long ago remarked that the resemblance
between the two religions is superficial. The gods of Rome, he says, are
practical gods, not theoretic; prosaic, not poetic. The religion of Rome
is serious and earnest, while that of Greece is gay. Dionysius of
Halicarnassus thinks the Roman religion the better of the two, because it
rejected the blasphemous myths concerning the loves and quarrels of the
heavenly powers. But, on the other hand, the deities of Greece were more
living and real persons, with characters of their own. The deities of Rome
were working gods, who had each a task assigned to him. They all had some
official duty to perform; while the gods of Olympus could amuse themselves
as they pleased. While the Zeus of Greece spent his time in adventures,
many of which were disreputable, the Jupiter Capitolinus remained at home,
attending to his sole business, which was to make Rome the mistress of the
world. The gods of Rome, says Hegel, are not human beings, like those of
Greece, but soulless machines, gods made by the understanding, even when
borrowed from Greek story. They were worshipped also in the interest of
the practical understanding, as givers of earthly fortune. The Romans had
no real reverence for their gods; they worshipped them in no spirit of
adoring love, but always for some useful object. It was a utilitarian
worship. Accordingly the practical faculties, engaged in useful arts, were
deified. There was a Jupiter Pistor, presiding over bakers. There was a
goddess of ovens; and a Juno Moneta, who took care of the coin. There was
a goddess who presided over doing nothing, Tranquillitas Vacuna; and even
the plague had an altar erected to it. But, after all, no deities were so
great, in the opinion of the Romans, as Rome itself. The chief distinction
of these deities was that they belonged to the Roman state[269].

Cicero considers the Romans to be the most religious of all nations,
because they carried their religion into all the details of life. This is
true; but one might as well consider himself a devout worshipper of iron
or of wood, because he is always using these materials, in doors and out,
in his parlor, kitchen, and stable.

As the religion of Rome had no doctrinal system, its truths were
communicated mostly by spectacles and ceremonies, which chiefly consisted
in the wholesale slaughter of men and animals. There was something
frightful in the extent to which this was carried; for when cruelty
proceeds from a principle and purpose, it is far worse than when arising
from brutal passion. An angry man may beat his wife; but the deliberate,
repeated, and ingenious torments of the Inquisition, the massacre of
thousands of gladiators in a Roman amphitheatre, or the torture of
prisoners by the North American Indians, are all parts of a system, and
reinforced by considerations of propriety, duty, and religious reverence.

Mommsen remarks[270], that the Roman religion in all its details was a
reflection of the Roman state. When the constitution and institutions of
Rome changed, their religion changed with them. One illustration of this
correspondence he finds in the fact that when the Romans admitted the
people of a conquered state to become citizens of Rome, their gods were
admitted with them; but in both cases the new citizens _(novensides_)
occupied a subordinate position to the old settlers _(indigites[271]_).

That the races of Italy, among whom the Latin language originated, were of
the same great Asiatic stock as the Greeks, Germans, Kelts, and Slavic
tribes, is sufficiently proved by the unimpeachable evidence of language.
The old Latin roots and grammatic forms all retain the analogies of the
Aryan families. Their gods and their religion bear marks of the same
origin, yet with a special and marked development. For the Roman nation
was derived from at least three secondary sources,--the Latins, Sabines,
and Etruscans. To these may be added the Pelasgian settlers on the western
coast (unless these are included in the Etruscan element), and the very
ancient race of Siculi or Sikels, whose name suggests, by its phonetic
analogy, a branch of that widely wandering race, the Kelts[272]. But the
obscure and confused traditions of these Italian races help us very little
in our present inquiry. That some of the oldest Roman deities were Latin,
others Sabine, and others Etruscan, is, however, well ascertained. From
the Latin towns Alba and Lavinium came the worship of Vesta, Jupiter,
Juno, Saturn and Tellus, Diana and Mars. Niebuhr thinks that the Sabine
ritual was adopted by the Romans, and that Varro found the real remains of
Sabine chapels on the Quirinal. From Etruria came the system of
divination. Some of the oldest portions of the Roman religion were derived
from agriculture. The god Saturn took his name from sowing. Picus and
Faunus were agricultural gods. Pales, the goddess of herbage, had
offerings of milk on her festivals. The Romans, says Döllinger, had no
cosmogony of their own; a practical people, they took the world as they
found it, and did not trouble themselves about its origin. Nor had they
any favorite deities; they worshipped according to what was proper, every
one in turn at the right time. Though the most polytheistic of religions,
there ran through their system an obscure conception of one supreme being,
Jupiter Optimus-Maximus, of whom all the other deities were but qualities
and attributes. But they carried furthest of all nations this
personifying and deifying of every separate power, this minute subdivision
of the deity. Heffter[273] says this was carried to an extent which was
almost comic. They had divinities who presided over talkativeness and
silence, over beginnings and endings, over the manuring of the fields, and
over all household transactions. And as the number increased, it became
always more difficult to recollect which was the right god to appeal to
under any special circumstances. So that often they were obliged to call
on the gods in general, and, dismissing the whole polytheistic pantheon,
to invoke some unknown god, or the supreme being. Sometimes, however, in
these emergencies, new deities were created for the occasion. Thus they
came to invoke the pestilence, defeat in battle, blight, etc., as
dangerous beings whose hostility must be placated by sacrifices. A better
part of their mythology was the worship of Modesty (Pudicitia), Faith or
Fidelity (Fides), Concord (Concordia), and the gods of home. It was the
business of the pontiffs to see to the creation of new divinities. So the
Romans had a goddess Pecunia, money (from Pecus, cattle), dating from the
time when the circulating medium consisted in cows and sheep. But when
copper money came, a god of copper was added, Æsculanus; and when silver
money was invented, a god Argentarius arrived.

§ 2. The Gods of Rome.

Creuzer, in speaking of the Italian worship, says that "one fact which
emerges more prominently than any other is the concourse of Oriental,
Pelasgic, Samothracian, and Hellenic elements in the religion of Rome." In
like manner the Roman deities bear traces of very different sources. We
have found reason to believe, in our previous chapters, that the religion
of Egypt had a twofold origin, from Asiatic and African elements, and that
the religion of Greece, in like manner, was derived from Egyptian and
Pelasgic sources. So, too, we find the institutions and people of Rome
partaking of a Keltic and Pelasgic origin. Let us now see what was the
character of the Roman deities.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the oldest and also most original of the gods of Rome was the
Sabine god JANUS. He was the deity who presided over beginnings and
endings, over the act of opening and shutting. Hence the month which
opened the year, January, received its name from this god, who also gave
his name to Janua, a gate or door[274], and probably to the hill

The Romans laid great stress on all beginnings; believing that the
commencement of any course of conduct determined, by a sort of magical
necessity, its results. Bad success in an enterprise they attributed to a
wrong beginning, and the only remedy, therefore, was to begin anew. Ovid
(Fasti, I. 179) makes Janus say, "All depends on the beginning." When
other gods were worshipped, Janus was invoked first of all. He was god of
the year. His temple had four sides for the four seasons, and each side
had three windows for the months. That his temple was open in war, but
closed in peace, indicated that the character of Rome in times of war was
to attack and not to defend. She then opened her gates to send her troops
forth against the enemy; while in seasons of peace she shut them in at
home. This symbol accords well with the haughty courage of the Republic,
which commanded victory, by not admitting the possibility of defeat[276].

This deity is believed by Creuzer and others to have had an Indian origin,
and his name to have been derived from the Sanskrit "Jan," _to be born_.
He resembles no Greek god, and very probably travelled all the way from
Bactria to Rome.

On the Kalends of January, which was the chief feast of Janus, it was the
duty of every Roman citizen to be careful that all he thought, said, or
did should be pure and true, because this day determined the character of
the year. All dressed themselves in holiday garb, avoided oaths, abusive
words, and quarrels, gave presents, and wished each other a happy year.
The presents were little coins with a Janus-head, and sweetmeats. It was
customary to sacrifice to Janus at the beginning of all important

Janus was the great god of the Sabines, and his most ancient temple
appears to have been on Mount Janiculum[277]. The altar of Fontus, son of
Janus, and the tomb of Numa, a Sabine king, were both supposed to be
there. Ovid also[278] makes Janus say that the Janiculum was his citadel.
Ampère remarks as a curious coincidence, that this god, represented with a
key in his hand, as the heavenly gate-keeper, should have his home on the
hill close to the Vatican, where is the tomb of Peter, who also bears a
key with the same significance. The same writer regards the Sabines as
inhabiting the hills of Rome before the Pelasgi came and gave this name of
Roma (meaning "strength") to their small fortress on one side of the

In every important city of Etruria there were temples to the three gods,
JUPITER, JUNO, and MINERVA. In like manner, the magnificent temple of the
Capitol at Rome consisted of three parts,--a nave, sacred to Jupiter; and
two wings or aisles, one dedicated to Juno and the other to Minerva. This
temple was nearly square, being two hundred and fifteen feet long and two
hundred feet wide; and the wealth accumulated in it was immense. The walls
and roof were of marble, covered with gold and silver.

JUPITER, the chief god of Rome, according to most philologists, derives
his name (like the Greek Ζεὸς) from the far-away Sanskrit word "Div" or
"Diu," indicating the splendor of heaven or of day. Ju-piter is from
"Djaus-Pitar," which is the Sanskrit for _Father of Heaven_, or else from
"Diu-pitar," _Father of Light_. He is, at all events, the equivalent of
the Olympian Zeus. He carries the lightning, and, under many appellations,
is the supreme god of the skies. Many temples were erected to him in Rome,
under various designations. He was called Pluvius, Fulgurator, Tonans,
Fulminator, Imbricitor, Serenator,--from the substantives designating
rain, lightning, thunder, and the serene sky. Anything struck with
lightning became sacred, and was consecrated to Jupiter. As the supreme
being he was called Optimus Maximus, also Imperator, Victor, Invictus,
Stator, Prædator, Triumphator, and Urbis Custos. And temples or shrines
were erected to him under all these names, as the head of the armies, and
commander-in-chief of the legions; as Conqueror, as Invincible, as the
Turner of Flight, as the God of Booty, and as the Guardian of the City.
There is said to have been in Rome three hundred Jupiters, which must mean
that Jupiter was worshipped under three hundred different attributes.
Another name of this god was Elicius, from the belief that a method
existed of eliciting or drawing down the lightning; which belief probably
arose from an accidental anticipation of Dr. Franklin's famous experiment.
There were no such myths told about Jupiter as concerning the Greek Zeus.
The Latin deity was a much more solemn person, his whole time occupied
with the care of the city and state. But traces of his origin as a ruler
of the atmosphere remained rooted in language; and the Romans, in the time
of Augustus, spoke familiarly of "a cold Jupiter," for a cold sky, and of
a "bad Jupiter," for stormy weather.

The Juno of the Capitol was the Queen of Heaven, and in this sense was the
female Jupiter. But Juno was also the goddess of womanhood, and had the
epithets of Virginensis, Matrona, and Opigena; that is, the friend of
virgins, of matrons, and the daughter of help. Her chief festival was the
Matronalia, on the first of March, hence called the "Women's Kalends." On
this day presents were given to women by their husbands and friends. Juno
was the patroness of marriage, and her month of June was believed to be
very favorable for wedlock. As Juno Lucina she presided over birth; as
Mater Matuta,[279] over children; as Juno Moneta, over the mint.

The name of Minerva, the Roman Athênê, is said to be derived from an old
Etruscan word signifying mental action.[280] In the songs of the Sabians
the word "promenervet" is used for "monet." The first syllable evidently
contains the root, which in all Aryan languages implies thought. The
Trinity of the Capitol, therefore, united Power, Wisdom, and Affection, as
Jupiter, Minerva, and Juno. The statue of Minerva was placed in schools.
She had many temples and festivals, and one of the former was dedicated to
her as Minerva Medica.

The Roman pantheon contained three classes of gods and goddesses. First,
the old Italian divinities, Etruscan, Latin, and Sabine, naturalized and
adopted by the state. Secondly, the pale abstractions of the
understanding, invented by the College of Pontiffs for moral and political
purposes. And thirdly, the gods of Greece, imported, with a change of
name, by the literary admirers and imitators of Hellas.

The genuine deities of the Roman religion were all of the first order.
Some of them, like Janus, Vertumnus, Faunus, Vesta, retained their
original character; others were deliberately confounded with some Greek
deity. Thus Venus, an old Latin or Sabine goddess to whom Titus Tatius
erected a temple as Venus Cloacina, and Servius Tullius another as Venus
Libertina,[281] was afterward transformed into the Greek Aphroditê,
goddess of love. If it be true, as is asserted by Nævius and Plautus, that
she was the goddess of gardens, as Venus Hortensis and Venus Fruti, then
she may have been originally the female Vertumnus. So Diana was originally
Diva Jana, and was simply the female Janus, until she was transformed into
the Greek Artemis.

The second class of Roman divinities were those manufactured by the
pontiffs for utilitarian purposes,--almost the only instance in the
history of religion of such a deliberate piece of god-making. The purpose
of the pontiffs was excellent; but the result, naturally, was small. The
worship of such abstractions as Hope (Spes), Fear (Pallor), Concord
(Concordia), Courage (Virtus), Justice (Æquitas), Clemency (Clementia),
could have little influence, since it must have been apparent to the
worshipper himself that these were not real beings, but only his own
conceptions, thrown heavenward.

The third class of deities were those adopted from Greece. New deities,
like Apollo, were imported, and the old ones Hellenized. The Romans had no
statues of their gods in early times; this custom they learned from
Greece. "A full river of influence," says Cicero, "and not a little brook,
has flowed into Rome out of Greece[282]." They sent to Delphi to inquire
of the Greek oracle. In a few decades, says Hartung, the Roman religion
was wholly transformed by this Greek influence; and that happened while
the senate and priests were taking the utmost care that not an iota of the
old ceremonies should be altered. Meantime the object was to identify the
objects of worship in other countries with those worshipped at home. This
was done in an arbitrary and superficial way, and caused great confusion
in the mythologies[283]. Accidental resemblances, slight coincidences of
names, were sufficient for the identification of two gods. As long as the
service of the temple was unaltered, the priests troubled themselves very
little about such changes. In this way, the twelve gods of Olympus--Zeus,
Poseidôn, Apollo, Arês, Hêphæstos, Hermes, Hêrê, Athênê, Artemis,
Aphroditê, Hestia, and Dêmêtêr--were naturalized or identified as Jupiter,
Neptune, Apollo, Mars, Vulcan, Mercury, Juno, Minerva, Diana, Venus,
Vesta, and Ceres, Dionysos became Liber or Bacchus; Persephonê,
Proserpina; and the Muses were accepted as the Greeks had imagined them.

To find the true Roman worship, therefore, we must divest their deities of
these Greek habiliments, and go back to their original Etruscan or Latin

Among the Etruscans we find one doctrine unknown to the Greeks and not
adopted by the Romans; that, namely, of the higher "veiled deities,"[284]
superior to Jupiter. They also had a dodecad of six male and six female
deities, the Consentes and Complices, making a council of gods, whom
Jupiter consulted in important cases. Vertumnus was an Etruscan; so,
according to Ottfried Müller, was the Genius. So are the Lares, or
household protectors, and Charun, or Charon, a power of the under-world.
The minute system of worship was derived by Rome from Etruria. The whole
system of omens, especially by lightning, came from the same source.

After Janus, and three Capitoline gods (Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva), above
mentioned, the Romans worshipped a series of deities who may be classed as

I. Gods representing the powers of nature:--

1. SOL, the Sun. A Sabine deity. In later times the poets attributed to
him all the characters of Helios; but as a Roman god, he never emerged
into his own daylight.

2. LUNA, the Moon. Also regarded as of Sabine origin.

3. MATER MATUTA. Mother of Day, that is, the dawn. Worshipped at the
Matronalia in June, as the possessor of all motherly qualities, and
especially as the protector of children from ill-treatment. As the storms
were apt to go down at morning, she was appealed to to protect mariners
from shipwreck. The consul Tib. Semp. Gracchus dedicated a temple to her
B.C. 176.

4. TEMPESTATES, the tempests. A temple was dedicated to the storms, B.C.

5. VULCANUS. This name is supposed to be from the same root as "fulgeo,"
_to shine_. He was an old Italian deity. His temple is mentioned as
existing B.C. 491.

6. FONTUS, the god of fountains. The Romans valued water so highly, that
they erected altars and temples to this divinity, and had a feast of
fountains (Fontinalia) on October 13th. There were also goddesses of
fountains, as Lynapha Juturna, the goddess of mineral springs. Egeria is
the only nymph of a fountain mentioned in Roman mythology.

7. DIVUS PATER TIBERINUS, or Father Tiber, was of course the chief river
god. The augurs called him Coluber, the snake, from his meandering and
bending current.

8. NEPTUNUS. The origin of this word has been a great puzzle to the
learned, who, however, connect it with nebula, a cloud, as the clouds come
from the sea. He had his temple and his festivals at Rome.

Other deities connected with the powers of nature were PORTUNUS, the god
of harbors; SALACIA, a goddess of the salt sea; TRANQUILLITAS, the goddess
of calm weather.

II. Gods of human relations:--

1. VESTA, an ancient Latin goddess, and one of the oldest and most
revered. She was the queen of the hearth and of the household fire. She
was also the protector of the house, associated with the Lares and
Penates. Some offering was due to her at every meal. She sanctified the

Afterward, when all Rome became one vast family, Vesta became the goddess
of this public home, and her temple was the fireside of the city, in which
burned always the sacred fire, watched by the vestal virgins. In this
worship, and its associations, we find the best side of Roman
manners,--the love of home, the respect for family life, the hatred of
impurity and immodesty. She was also called "the mother," and qualified as
Mater Stata, that is, the immovable mother.

2. The PENATES and LARES. These deities were also peculiarly Roman. The
Lar, or Lares, were supposed to be the souls of ancestors which resided in
the home and guarded it. Their images were kept in an oratory or domestic
chapel, called a Lararium, and were crowned by the master of the house to
make them propitious. The paterfamilias conducted all the domestic worship
of the household, whether of prayers or sacrifices, according to the maxim
of Cato, "Scito dominum pro tota familia rem divinam facere[285]." The
Penates were beings of a higher order than the Lares, but having much the
same offices. Their name was from the words denoting the interior of the
mansion (Penetralia, Penitus). They took part in all the joys and sorrows
of the family. To go home was "to return to one's Penates." In the same
way, "Lar meus" meant "my house "; "Lar conductus," "a hired house ";
"Larem mutare" meant to change one's house. Thus the Roman in his home
felt himself surrounded by invisible friends and guardians. No other
nation, except the Chinese, have carried this religion of home so far.
This is the tender side of the stern Roman character. Very little of
pathos or sentiment appears in Roman poetry, but the lines by Catullus to
his home are as tender as anything in modern literature. The little
peninsula of Sirmio on the Lago di Garda has been glorified by these few

3. The GENIUS. The worship of the genius of a person or place was also
peculiarly Italian. Each man had his genius, from whom his living power
and vital force came. Tertullian speaks of the genius of places. On coins
are found the Genius of Rome. Almost everything had its genius,--nations,
colonies, princes, the senate, sleep, the theatre. The marriage-bed is
called genial, because guarded by a genius. All this reminds us of the
Fravashi of the Avesta and of the Persian monuments. Yet the Genius also
takes his place among the highest gods.

III. Deities of the human soul:--

1. MENS, Mind, Intellect.

2. PUDICITIA, Chastity.

3. PIETAS, Piety, Reverence for Parents.

4 FIDES, Fidelity.

5. CONCORDIA, Concord.

6. VIRTUS, Courage.

7. SPES, Hope.

8. PALLOR or PAVOR, Fear.

9. VOLUPTAS, Pleasure.

IV. Deities of rural and other occupations:--

1. TELLUS, the Earth.

2. SATURNUS, Saturn. The root of this name is SAO = SERO, _to sow_. Saturn
is the god of planting and sowing.

3. OPS, goddess of the harvest.

4. MARS. Originally an agricultural god, dangerous to crops; afterwards
god of war.

5. SILVANUS, the wood god.

6. FAUNUS, an old Italian deity, the patron of agriculture.

7. TERMINUS, an old Italian deity, the guardian of limits and boundaries.

8. CERES, goddess of the cereal grasses.

9. LIBER, god of the vine, and of wine.

10. BONA DEA, the good goddess. The worship of the good goddess was
imported from Greece in later times; and perhaps its basis was the worship
of Dêmêtêr. The temple of the good goddess was on Mount Aventine. At her
feast on the 1st of May all suggestions of the male sex were banished from
the house; no wine must be drunk; the myrtle, as a symbol of love, was
removed. The idea of the feast was of a chaste marriage, as helping to
preserve the human race.

11. MAGNA MATER, or Cybele. This was a foreign worship, but early
introduced at Rome.

12. FLORA. She was an original goddess of Italy, presiding over flowers
and blossoms. Great license was practised at her worship.

13. VERTUMNUS, the god of gardens, was an old Italian deity, existing
before the foundation of Rome.

14. POMONA, goddess of the harvest.

18. PALES. A rural god, protecting cattle. At his feast men and cattle
were purified.

The Romans had many other deities, whose worship was more or less
popular. But those now mentioned were the principal ones. This list shows
that the powers of earth were more objects of reverence than the heavenly
bodies. The sun and stars attracted this agricultural people less than the
spring and summer, seedtime and harvest. Among the Italians the country
was before the city, and Rome was founded by country people.

§ 3. Worship and Ritual.

The Roman ceremonial worship was very elaborate and minute, applying to
every part of daily life. It consisted in sacrifices, prayers, festivals,
and the investigation by augurs and haruspices of the will of the gods and
the course of future events. The Romans accounted themselves an
exceedingly religious people, because their religion was so intimately
connected with the affairs of home and state.

The Romans distinguished carefully between things sacred and profane. This
word "profane" comes from the root "fari," _to speak_; because the gods
were supposed to speak to men by symbolic events. A _fane_ is a place thus
consecrated by some divine event; a _profane_ place, one not
consecrated.[286] But that which man dedicates to the gods (_dedicat_ or
_dicat_) is sacred, or consecrated.[287] Every place which was to be
dedicated was first "liberated" by the augur from common uses; then
"consecrated" to divine uses by the pontiff. A "temple" is a place thus
separated, or cut off from other places; for the root of this word, like
that of "tempus" (time) is the same as the Greek τέμνω, _to cut_.

The Roman year was full of festivals (_feriæ_) set apart for religious
uses. It was declared by the pontiffs a sin to do any common work on these
days, but works of necessity were allowed. These festivals were for
particular gods, in honor of great events in the history of Rome, or of
rural occurrences, days of purification and atonement, family feasts, or
feasts in honor of the dead. The old Roman calendar[288] was as carefully
arranged as that of modern Rome. The day began at midnight. The following
is a view of the Roman year in its relation to festivals:--


   1. Feast of _Janus_, the god of beginnings.
   9. _Agonalia_.
  11. _Carmentalia_. In honor of the nymph Carmenta, a woman's
  16. Dedication of the _Temple of Concord_.
  31. Feast of the _Penates_.


   1. Feast of _Juno Sospita_, the Savior: an old goddess.
  13. _Faunalia_, dedicated to Faunus and the rural gods.
  15. _Lupercalia_. Feast of fruitfulness.
  17. _Fornacalia_. Feast of the oven goddess Fornax.
  18 to 28. The _Februatio_, or feast of purification and atonement,
        and the _Feralia_, or feast of the dead. Februus was an old
        Etrurian god of the under-world. Also, the _Charistia_, a family
        festival for putting an end to quarrels among relations.
  23. Feast of _Terminus_, god of boundaries. Boundary-stones anointed
        and crowned.


   1. Feast of _Mars_. Also, the _Matronalia_. The Salii, priests
        of Mars, go their rounds, singing old hymns.
   6. Feast of _Vesta_.
   7. Feast of _Vejovis_ or _Vedius_, i.e. the boy Jupiter.
  14. _Equiria_, or horse-races in honor of Mars.
  15. Feast of _Anna-Perenna_, goddess of health.
  17. _Liberalia_, Feast of Bacchus. Young men invested with the
        Toga-Virilis on this day.
  19 to 23. Feast of _Minerva_, for five days. Offerings made to her
        by all mechanics, artists, and scholars.


   1. Feast of _Venus_, to whom the month is sacred.
   4. _Megalesia_. Feast of Cybele and Altys. It lasted six days, and
        was the Roman analogue of the feast of Ceres in Greece and of Isis
        in Egypt.
  12. _Cerealia_. Feast of Ceres. Games in the circus.
  15. _Fordicicia_. Feast of cows.
  21. _Palililia_. Feast of Pales, and of the founding of Rome.
  23. _Vinalia_. Feast of new wine.
  25. _Robigalia_. Feast of the goddess of blight, Robigo.
  28. _Floralia_. Feast of the goddess Flora; very licentious.


   1. Feast of the _Bona Dea_, the good goddess; otherwise Maia, Ops,
        Tellus, or the Earth. This was the feast held by women secretly in
        the house of the pontiff.
   9. _Lemuralia_. Feast of the departed spirits or ghosts.
  12. Games to _Mars_.
  23. _Tubilustria_, to consecrate wind instruments.


   1. Feast of _Carna_, goddess of the internal organs of the body,
        and of _Juno Moneta_.
   4. Feast of _Bellona_.
   5. Feast of _Deus Fidius_.
   7 to 15. Feast of _Vesta_.
  19. _Matralia_. Feast of Mater Matuta.

Other lesser festivals in this month to _Summanus, Fortuna, Fortis,
Jupiter Stator_, etc.


   1. Day devoted to changing residences, like the 1st of May in New York.
   4. _Fortuna Muliebris_.
   5. _Populifuga_. In memory of the people's flight, on some
        occasion, afterward forgotten.
   7. Feast of _Juno Caprotina_.
  15. Feast of _Castor and Pollux_.

Other festivals in this month were the _Lucaria, Neptunalia_, and


   1. Games to _Mars_.
  17. Feast of the god _Portumnus_.
  18. _Consualia_, feast of Consus. Rape of the Sabines.
  23. _Vulcanalia_, to avert fires.
  25. _Opeconsivia_. Feast of Ops Consiva.


The chief feasts in this month were the games (_Ludi Magni_ or _Romani_)
in honor of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.


  13. _Fontinalia_. Feast of fountains, when the springs were strewed
        with flowers.
  15. Sacrifice of a horse to _Mars_.

The feasts in November are unimportant.


   5. _Faunalia_, in honor of Faunus.
  19. _Saturnalia_, sacred to Saturn. A Roman thanksgiving for the
        harvest. It lasted seven days, during which the slaves had their
        liberty, in memory of the age of Saturn, when all were equal. The
        rich kept open table to all comers, and themselves waited on the
        slaves. Presents were interchanged, schools were closed. The Senate
        did not sit.

Thus religion everywhere met the public life of the Roman by its
festivals, and laid an equal yoke on his private life by its requisition
of sacrifices, prayers, and auguries. All pursuits must be conducted
according to a system, carefully laid down by the College of Pontiffs.
Sacrifices and prayers of one or another kind were demanded during most of
the occasions of life. Hidden in our word "inaugurate" is the record of
the fact that nothing could be properly begun without the assistance of
the augurs. Sacrifices of lustration and expiation were very common, not
so much for moral offences as for ceremonial mistakes. The doctrine of the
_opus operatum_ was supreme in Roman religion. The intention was of little
importance; the question was whether the ceremony had been performed
exactly in accordance with rule. If not, it must be done again. Sometimes
fifty or a hundred victims were killed before the priestly etiquette was
contented. Sometimes magistrates must resign because the college of augurs
suspected some informality in the ceremonies of their election. Laws were
annulled and judicial proceedings revoked for the same reason. If the
augurs declared the signs unfavorable, a public meeting must be adjourned
and no business done. A single mistake in the form of a prayer would make
it ineffectual. If a man went out to walk, there was a form to be recited;
if he mounted his chariot, another. All these religious acts were of the
nature of _charms_, which acted on the gods by an inherent power, and
compelled them to be favorable, whatever their own wishes might be. The
gods were, therefore, as much the slaves of external mechanical laws as
the Romans themselves. In reality, the supreme god of Rome was law, in the
form of rule. But these rules afterward expanded, as the Roman
civilization increased, into a more generous jurisprudence. Regularity
broadened into justice.[289] But for a long period the whole of the Roman
organic law was a system of hard external method. And the rise of law as
justice and reason was the decline of religion as mere prescription and
rule. This one change is the key to the dissolution of the Roman system of
religious practices.

The seat of Roman worship in the oldest times was the Regia in the Via
Sacra, near the Forum. This was the house of the chief pontiff, and here
the sacrifices were performed[290] by the Rex Sacrorum. Near by was the
temple of Vesta. The Palatine Hill was regarded as the home of the Latin
gods, while the Quirinal was that of the Sabine deities. But the Penates
of Rome remained at Lavinium, the old metropolis of the Latin
Confederation, and mother of the later city. Every one of the highest
officers of Rome was obliged to go and sacrifice to the ancient gods, at
this mother city of Lavinium, before entering on his office.

The old worship of Rome was free from idolatry. Jupiter, Juno, Janus, Ops,
Vesta, were not represented by idols. This feature was subsequently
imported by means of Hellenic influences coming through Cuma and other
cities of Magna Græcia. By the same channels came the Sibylline books.
There were ten Sibyls,--the Persian, Libyan, Delphian, Cumæan, Erythræan,
Samian, Amalthæan, Hellespontine, Phrygian, and Tiburtine. The Sibylline
books authorized or commanded the worship of various Greek gods; they were
intrusted to the Decemviri.

Roman worship was at first administered by certain patrician families, and
this was continued till B.C. 300, when plebeians were allowed to enter the
sacred colleges. A plebeian became Pontifex Maximus, for the first time,
B.C. 253.

The pontiffs (Pontifices) derived their name (bridge-builders) from a
bridge over the Tiber, which it was their duty to build and repair in
order to sacrifice on either bank. They possessed the supreme authority in
all matters of worship, and decided questions concerning marriage,
inheritance, public games.

The Flamens were the priests of particular deities. The office was for
life, and there were fifteen Flamens in all. The Flamen Dialis, or priest
of Jupiter, had a life burdened with etiquette. He must not take an oath,
ride, have anything tied with knots on his person, see armed men, look at
a prisoner, see any one at work on a Festa, touch a goat, or dog, or raw
flesh, or yeast. He must not bathe in the open air, pass a night outside
the city, and he could only resign his office on the death of his wife.
This office is Pelasgic, and very ancient.

The Salii were from early times priests of Mars, who danced in armor, and
sang old hymns. The Luperci were another body of priests, also of very
ancient origin. Other colleges of priests were the Epulones, Curiones,

The Vestal virgins were highly honored and very sacred. Their work was to
tend the fire of Vesta, and prevent the evil omen of its extinction. They
were appointed by the Pontifex Maximus. They were selected when very
young, and could resign their office after thirty years of service. They
had a large revenue, enjoyed the highest honors, and to strike them was a
capital offence. If a criminal about to be executed met them, his life was
spared. Consuls and prætors must give way to them in the streets. They
assisted at the theatres and at all public entertainments. They could go
out to visit and to dine with their relations. Their very presence
protected any one from assault, and their intercession must not be
neglected. They prepared the sacred cakes, took part in many sacrifices,
and had the charge of a holy serpent, keeping his table supplied with

The duty of the augurs was to inquire into the divine will; and they could
prevent any public business by declaring the omens unfavorable. The name
is probably derived from an old Aryan word, meaning "sight" or "eye,"
which has come to us in the Greek αὐγή, and the German _auge_. Our words
"auspicious" and "auspicate" are derived from the "auspices," or outlook
on nature which these seers practised. For they were in truth the Roman
_seers_. Their business was to look, at midnight, into the starry heavens;
to observe thunder, lightning, meteors; the chirping or flying of birds;
the habits of the sacred chickens; the appearance of quadrupeds; or
casualties of various kinds, as sneezing, stumbling, spilling salt or
wine. The last relics of these superstitions are to be found in the little
books sold in Rome, in which the fortunate number in a lottery is
indicated by such accidents and events of common life.

The Romans, when at prayer, were in the habit of covering their heads, so
that no sound of evil augury might be heard. The suppliant was to kiss his
right hand, and then turn round in a circle and sit down. Many formulæ of
prayers were prescribed to be used on all occasions of life. They must be
repeated three times, at least, to insure success. Different animals were
sacrificed to different gods,--white cattle with gilded horns to Jupiter,
a bull to Apollo, a horse to Mars. Sometimes the number of victims was
enormous. On Caligula's accession, one hundred and sixty thousand victims
were killed in the Roman Empire.

Lustrations were great acts of atonement or purification, and are often
described by ancient writers. The city was lustrated by a grand procession
of the four colleges of Augurs, Pontifices, Quindecemviri, and Septemviri.
Lucan, in his Pharsalia, describes such a lustration.[291] Tacitus gives a
like description, in his History,[292] of the ceremonies attending the
rebuilding the Capitol. On an auspicious day, beneath a serene sky, the
ground chosen for the foundation was surrounded with ribbons and flowers.
Soldiers, selected for their auspicious names, brought into the enclosure
branches from the trees sacred to the gods. The Vestal virgins, followed
by a band of children, sprinkled the place with water drawn from three
fountains and three rivers. The prætor and the pontiff next sacrificed a
swine, a sheep, and a bull, and besought Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva to
favor the undertaking. The magistrates, priests, senators, and knights
then drew the corner-stone to its place, throwing in ingots of gold and

The Romans, ever anxious about the will of the gods, naturalized among
themselves the Etruscan institution of the Haruspices. The prodigies
observed were in the entrails of animals and the phenomena of nature. The
parts of the entrails observed were the tongue, lungs, heart, liver, gall
bladder, spleen, kidneys, and caul. If the head of the right lobe of the
liver was absent, it was considered a very bad omen. If certain fissures
existed, or were absent, it was a portent of the first importance. But the
Romans were a very practical people, and not easily deterred from their
purpose. So if one sacrifice failed they would try another and another,
until the portents were favorable. But sceptical persons were naturally
led to ask some puzzling questions, such as these, which Cicero puts in
his work on Divination:[293] How can a cleft in a liver be connected, by
any natural law, with my acquisition of a property? If it is so connected,
what would be the result, if some one else, who was about to _lose_ his
property, had examined the same victim? If you answer that the divine
energy, which extends through the universe, directs each man in the choice
of a victim, then how happens it that a man having first had an
unfavorable omen, by trying again should get a good one? How happens it
that a sacrifice to one deity gives a favorable sign, and that to another
the opposite? But these criticisms only arrived after the old Roman faith
had begun to decline.

Funeral solemnities were held with great care and pomp, and festivals for
the dead were regularly celebrated. The dead father or mother was
accounted a god, and yet a certain terror of ancestral spectres was shown
by a practice of driving them out of the house by lustrations. For it was
uncertain whether the paternal Manes were good spirits, Lares, or evil
spirits, and Lemures. Consequently in May there was the Lemuria, or feast
for exorcising the evil spirits from houses and homes, conducted with
great solemnity.

§ 4. The Decay of the Roman Religion.

"The more distinguished a Roman became," says Mommsen, "the less was he a
free man. The omnipotence of law, the despotism of the rule, drove him
into a narrow circle of thought and action, and his credit and influence
depended on the sad austerity of his life. The whole duty of man, with the
humblest and greatest of the Romans, was to keep his house in order, and
be the obedient servant of the state." While each individual could be
nothing more than a member of the community, a single link in the iron
chain of Roman power; he, on the other hand, shared the glory and might of
all-conquering Rome. Never was such _esprit de corps_ developed, never
such intense patriotism, never such absolute subservience and sacrifice
of the individual to the community. But as man is manifold and cannot be
forever confined to a single form of life, a reaction against this narrow
patriotism was to be expected in the interest of personal freedom, and it
came very naturally from Greek influences. The Roman could not contemplate
the exuberant development of Greek thought, art, literature, society,
without bitterly feeling how confined was his own range, how meagre and
empty his own life. Hence, very early, Roman society began to be
Hellenized, but especially after the unification of Italy. To quote
Mommsen once more: "The Greek civilization was grandly human and
cosmopolitan; and Rome not only was stimulated by this influence, but was
penetrated by it to its very centre." Even in politics there was a new
school, whose fixed idea was the consolidation and propagandism of
republicanism; but this Philhellenism showed itself especially in the
realm of thought and faith. As the old faith died, more ceremonies were
added; for as life goes out, forms come in. As the winter of unbelief
lowers the stream of piety, the ice of ritualism accumulates along its
banks. In addition to the three colleges of Pontiffs, Haruspices, and
Quindecemviri, another of Epulones, whose business was to attend to the
religious feasts, was instituted in A.U. 558 (B.C. 196). Contributions and
tithes of all sorts were demanded from the people. Hercules, especially,
as is more than once intimated in the plays of Plautus, became very rich
by his tithes.[294] Religion became more and more a charm, on the exact
performance of which the favor of the gods depended; so that ceremonies
were sometimes performed thirty times before the essential accuracy was

The gods were now changed, in the hands of Greek statuaries, into
ornaments for a rich man's home. Greek myths were imported and connected
with the story of Roman deities, as Ennius made Saturn the son of Coelus,
in imitation of the genealogy of Kronos. That form of rationalism called
Euhemerism, which explains every god into a mythical king or hero, became
popular. So, too, was the doctrine of Epicharmos, who considered the
divinities as powers of nature symbolized. According to the usual course
of events, superstition and unbelief went hand in hand. As the old faith
died out, new forms of worship, like those of Cybele and Bacchus, came in.
Stern conservatives like Cato opposed all these innovations and
scepticisms, but ineffectually.

Gibbon says that "the admirable work of Cicero,'De Naturâ Deorum,' is the
best clew we have to guide us through this dark abyss" (the moral and
religious teachings of the philosophers).[295] After, in the first two
books, the arguments for the existence and providence of the gods have
been set forth and denied, by Velleius the Epicurean, Cotta the
academician, and Balbus the Stoic; in the third book, Cotta, the head of
the priesthood, the Pontifex Maximus, proceeds to refute the stoical
opinion that there are gods who govern the universe and provide for the
welfare of mankind. To be sure, he says, as Pontifex, he of course
believes in the gods, but he feels free as a philosopher to deny their
existence. "I believe in the gods," says he, "on the authority and
tradition of our ancestors; but if we reason, I shall reason against their
existence." "Of course," he says, "I believe in divination, as I have
always been taught to do. But who knows whence it comes? As to the voice
of the Fauns, I never heard it; and I do not know what a Faun is. You say
that the regular course of nature proves the existence of some ordering
power. But what more regular than a tertian or quartan fever? The world
subsists by the power of nature." Cotta goes on to criticise the Roman
pantheon, ridiculing the idea of such gods as "Love, Deceit, Fear, Labor,
Envy, Old Age, Death, Darkness, Misery, Lamentation, Favor, Fraud,
Obstinacy," etc. He shows that there are many gods of the same name;
several Jupiters, Vulcans, Apollos, and Venuses. He then denies
providence, by showing that the wicked succeed and the good are
unfortunate. Finally, all was left in doubt, and the dialogue ends with a
tone of triumphant uncertainty. This was Cicero's contribution to
theology; and Cicero was far more religious than most men of his period.

Many writers, and more recently Merivale,[296] have referred to the
remarkable debate which took place in the Roman Senate, on the occasion of
Catiline's conspiracy. Cæsar, at that time chief pontiff, the highest
religious authority in the state, gave his opinion against putting the
conspirators to death; for death, says he, "is the end of all suffering.
After death there is neither pain nor pleasure (_ultra neque curæ, neque
gaudii locum_)." Cato, the Stoic, remarked that Cæsar had spoken well
concerning life and death. "I take it," says he, "that he regards as false
what we are told about the sufferings of the wicked hereafter," but does
not object to that statement. These speeches are reported by Sallust, and
are confirmed by Cicero's fourth Catiline Oration. The remarkable fact is,
not that such things were said, but that they were heard with total
indifference. No one seemed to think it was of any consequence one way or
the other. Suppose that when the question of the execution of Charles I.
was before Parliament, it had been opposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury
(had he been there) on the ground that after death all pain and pleasure
ceased. The absurdity of the supposition shows the different position of
the human mind at the two epochs.

In fact, an impassable gulf yawned between the old Roman religion and
modern Roman thought. It was out of the question for an educated Roman,
who read Plato and Zeno, who listened to Cicero and Hortensius, to believe
in Janus and the Penates. "All very well for the people," said they. "The
people must be kept in order by these superstitions."[297] But the secret
could not be kept. Sincere men, like Lucretius, who saw all the evil of
these superstitions, and who had no strong religious sense, _would_ speak
out, and proclaim _all_ religion to be priestcraft and an unmitigated
evil. The poem of Lucretius, "De Rerum Naturâ," declares faith in the gods
to have been the curse of the human race, and immortality to be a silly
delusion. He denies the gods, providence, the human soul, and any moral
purpose in the universe. But as religion is an instinct, which will break
out in some form, and when expelled from the soul returns in disguise,
Lucretius, denying all the gods, pours out a lovely hymn to Venus, goddess
of beauty and love.

The last philosophic protest, in behalf of a pure and authoritative faith,
came from the Stoics. The names of Seneca, Epictetus, and Aurelius
Antoninus gave dignity, if they could not bring safety, to the declining
religion of Rome.

Seneca, indeed, was inferior to the other two in personal character, and
was more of a rhetorician than a philosopher. But noble thoughts occur in
his writings. "A sacred spirit sits in every heart," he says, "and treats
us as we treat it." He opposed idolatry, he condemned animal sacrifices.
The moral element is very marked in his brilliant pages. Philosophy, he
says, is an effort to be wise and good.[298] Physical studies he condemns
as useless.[299] Goodness is that which harmonizes with the natural
movements of the soul.[300] God and matter are the two principles of all
being; God is the active principle, matter the passive. God is spirit, and
all souls are part of this spirit.[301] Reason is the bond which unites
God and other souls, and so God dwells in all souls.[302]

One of the best sayings of Epictetus is that "the wise man does not merely
know by tradition and hearsay that Jupiter is the father of gods and men;
but is inwardly convinced of it in his soul, and therefore cannot help
acting and feeling according to this conviction."[303]

Epictetus declared that the philosopher could have no will but that of the
deity; he never blames fate or fortune, for he knows that no real evil can
befall the just man. The life of Epictetus was as true as his thoughts
were noble, but he had fallen on an evil age, which needed for its reform,
not a new philosophy, but a new inspiration of divine life. This steady
current downward darkened the pure soul of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, of
whom Niebuhr says,[304] "If there is any sublime human virtue, it is his."
He adds: "He was certainly the noblest character of his time; and I know
no other man who combined such unaffected kindness, mildness, and humility
with such conscientiousness and severity towards himself." "If there is
anywhere an expression of virtue, it is in the heavenly features of M.
Aurelius. His 'Meditations' are a golden book, though there are things in
it which cannot be read without deep grief, for there we find this purest
of men without happiness." Though absolute monarch of the Empire, and rich
in the universal love of his people, he was not powerful enough to resist
the steady tendency to decay in society. Nor did he know that the power
that was to renew the life of the world was already present in
Christianity. He himself was in soul almost a Christian, though he did not
know it, and though the Christian element of faith and hope was wanting.
But he expressed a thought worthy of the Gospel, when he said: "The man of
disciplined mind reverently bids Nature, who bestows all things and
resumes them again to herself, 'Give what thou wilt, and take what thou

Although we have seen that Seneca speaks of a sacred, spirit which dwells
in us, other passages in his works (quoted by Zeller) show that he was,
like other Stoics, a pantheist, and meant the soul of the world. He says
(Nat. Qu., II. 45, and Prolog. 13): "Will you call God the world? You may
do so without mistake. For he is all that you see around you." "What is
God? The mind of the universe. What is God? All that you see, and all that
you do not see."[306]

It was not philosophy which destroyed religion in Rome. Philosophy, no
doubt, weakened faith in the national gods, and made the national worship
seem absurd. But it was the general tendency downward; it was the loss of
the old Roman simplicity and purity; it was the curse of Cæsarism, which,
destroying all other human life, destroyed also the life of religion. What
it came to at last, in well-endowed minds, may be seen in this extract
from the elder Pliny:--

   "All religion is the offspring of necessity, weakness, and fear. _What_
   God is, if in truth he be anything distinct from the world, it is
   beyond the compass of man's understanding to know. But it is a foolish
   delusion, which has sprung from human weakness and human pride, to
   imagine that such an infinite spirit would concern himself with the
   petty affairs of men. It is difficult to say, whether it might not be
   better for men to be wholly without religion, than to have one of this
   kind, which is a reproach to its object. The vanity of man, and his
   insatiable longing after existence, have led him also to dream of a
   life after death. A being full of contradictions, he is the most
   wretched of creatures; since the other creatures have no wants
   transcending the bounds of their nature. Man is full of desires and
   wants that reach to infinity, and can never be satisfied. His nature is
   a lie, uniting the greatest poverty with the greatest pride. Among
   these so great evils, the best thing God has bestowed on man is the
   power to take his own life."[307]

The system of the Stoics was exactly adapted to the Roman character; but,
naturally, it exaggerated its faults instead of correcting them. It
supplanted all other systems in the esteem of leading minds; but the
narrowness of the Roman intellect reacted on the philosophy, and made that
much more narrow than it was in the Greek thought. It became simple
ethics, omitting both the physical and metaphysical side.

Turning to literature, we find in Horace a gay epicureanism, which always
says: "Enjoy this life, for it will be soon over, and after death there is
nothing left for us." Virgil tells us that those are happy who know the
causes of things, and so escape the terrors of Acheron. The serious
Tacitus, a man always in earnest, a penetrating mind, is by Bunsen called
"the last Roman prophet, but a prophet of death and judgment. He saw that
Rome hastened to ruin, and that Cæsarism was an unmixed evil, but an evil
not to be remedied."[308] He declares that the gods had to mingle in Roman
affairs as protectors; they now appeared only for vengeance.[309] Tacitus
in one passage speaks of human freedom as superior to fate,[310] but in
another expresses his uncertainty on the whole question.[311] Equally
uncertain was he concerning the future life, though inclined to believe
that the soul is not extinguished with the body.[312]

But the tone of the sepulchral monuments of that period is not so hopeful.
Here are some which are quoted by Döllinger,[313] from Muratori and
Fabretti: "Reader, enjoy thy life; for, after death, there is neither
laughter nor play, nor any kind of enjoyment." "Friend, I advise thee to
mix a goblet of wine and drink, crowning thy head with flowers. Earth and
fire consume all that remains at death." "Pilgrim, stop and listen. In
Hades is no boat and no Charon; no Eacus and no Cerberus. Once dead, we
are all alike." Another says: "Hold all a mockery, reader; nothing is our

       *       *       *       *       *

So ended the Roman religion; in superstition among the ignorant, in
unbelief among the wise. It was time that something should come to renew
hope. This was the gift which the Gospel brought to the Romans,--hope for
time, hope beyond time. This was the prayer for the Romans of the Apostle
Paul: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."[314] A
remarkable fact, that a Jewish writer should exhort Romans to hope and

§ 5. Relation of the Roman Religion to Christianity.

The idea of Rome is law, that of Christianity is love. In Roman worship
law took the form of iron rules; in Roman theology it appeared as a stern
fate; in both as a slavery. Christianity came as freedom, in a worship
free from forms, in a view of God which left freedom to man. Christianity
came to the Roman world, not as a new theory, but as a new life. As,
during the early spring, the power of the returning sun penetrates the
soil, silently touching the springs of life; so Christianity during two
hundred years moved silently in the heart of Roman society, creating a new
faith, hope, and love. And as, at last, in the spring the grass shoots,
the buds open, the leaves appear, the flowers bloom; so, at last,
Christianity, long working in silence and shadow, suddenly became
apparent, and showed that it had been transforming the whole tone and
temper of Roman civilization.

But wherever there is action there is also reaction, and no power or force
can wholly escape this law. So Roman thought, acted on by Christianity,
reacted and modified in many respects the Gospel. Not always in a bad way,
sometimes it helped its developments. For the Providence which made the
Gospel for the Romans made the Romans for the Gospel.

The great legacy bequeathed to mankind by ancient Rome was law. Other
nations, it is true, had codes of law, like the Institutes of Manu in
India, or the jurisprudence of Solon and the enactments of Lycurgus. But
Roman law from the beginning was sanctified by the conviction that it was
founded on justice, and not merely on expediency or prudence. In
submitting to the laws, even when they were cruel and oppressive, the
Roman was obeying, not force, but conscience. The view which Plato gave as
an ideal in Crito was realized in Roman society from the first. Consider
the cruel enactments which made the debtors the slaves of the creditor,
and the fact that when the plebeians were ground to the earth by that
oppression, they did not attempt to resist the law, but in their despair
fled from their homes, beyond the jurisdiction of Rome, to establish a new
city where these enactments could not reach them. Only when the laws are
thus enforced by the public conscience as something sacred, does society
become possible; and this sense of the divinity which hedges a code of
laws has been transmitted from ancient Rome into the civilization of

Cicero, in his admirable treatise on the laws, which unfortunately we have
in an imperfect condition, devotes the whole of the first book to
establishing eternal justice as the basis of all jurisprudence. No better
text-book could have been found for the defence of what was called "the
higher law," in the great American antislavery struggle, than this work of
Cicero. "Let us establish," he says, "the principles of justice on that
supreme law which has existed from all ages before any legislative
enactments were written, or any political governments formed." "Among all
questions, there is none more important to understand than this, _that man
is born for justice_; and that law and equity have not been established by
opinion, but by nature." "It is an absurd extravagance in some
philosophers to assert that all things are necessarily just which are
established by the laws and institutions of nations." "Justice does not
consist in submission to written laws." "If the will of the people, the
decrees of the senate, the decisions of magistrates, were sufficient to
establish rights, then it might become right to rob, to commit adultery,
to forge wills, if this was sanctioned by the votes or decrees of the
majority." "The sum of all is, that what is right should be sought for its
own sake, because it is right, and not because it is enacted."

Law appears from the very beginnings of the Roman state. The oldest
traditions make Romulus, Numa, and Servius to be legislators. From that
time, after the expulsion of the Tarquins, Rome was governed by laws. Even
the despotism of the Cæsars did not interfere with the general
administration of the laws in civil affairs; for the one-man power, though
it may corrupt and degrade a state, does not immediately and directly
affect many persons in their private lives. Law continued to rule in
common affairs, and this legacy of a society organized by law was the gift
of Rome to modern Europe. How great a blessing it has been may be seen by
comparing the worst Christian government with the best of the despotic
governments of Asia. Mohammedan society is ruled by a hierarchy of
tyranny, each little tyrant being in turn the victim of the one above him.

The feudal system, introduced by the Teutonic races, attempted to organize
Europe on the basis of military despotism; but Roman law was too strong
for feudal law, and happily for mankind overcame it and at last expelled

Christianity, in its ready hospitality for all the truth and good which it
encounters, accepted Roman jurisprudence and gave to it a new lease of
life.[315] Christian emperors and Christian lawyers codified the long line
of decrees and enactments reaching back to the Twelve Tables, and
established them as the laws of the Christian world. But the spirit of
Roman law acted on Christianity in a more subtle manner. It reproduced the
organic character of the Roman state in the Western Latin Church, and it
reproduced the soul of Roman law in the Western Latin theology.

It has not always been sufficiently considered how much the Latin Church
was a reproduction, on a higher plane, of the old Roman Commonwealth. The
resemblance between the Roman Catholic ceremonies and those of Pagan Rome
has been often noticed. The Roman Catholic Church has borrowed from
Paganism saints' days, incense, lustrations, consecrations of sacred
places, votive-offerings, relics; winking, nodding, sweating, and bleeding
images; holy water, vestments, etc. But the Church of Rome itself, in its
central idea of authority, is a reproduction of the Roman state religion,
which was a part of the Roman state. The Eastern churches were sacerdotal
and religious; the Church of Rome added to these elements that of an
organized political authority. It was the resurrection of Rome,--Roman
ideas rising into a higher life. The Roman Catholic Church, at first an
aristocratic republic, like the Roman state, afterwards became, like the
Roman state, a disguised despotism. The Papal Church is therefore a legacy
of ancient Rome.[316]

And just as the Roman state was first a help and then a hindrance to the
progress of humanity, so it has been with the Roman Catholic Church.
Ancient Rome gradually bound together into a vast political unity the
divided tribes and states of Europe, and so infused into them the
civilization which she had developed or received. And so the Papal Church
united Europe again, and once more permeated it with the elements of law,
of order, of Christian faith. All intelligent Protestants admit the good
done in this way by the mediæval church.

For example, Milman[317] says, speaking of Gregory the Great and his work,
that it was necessary that there should be some central power like the
Papacy to resist the dissolution of society at the downfall of the Roman
Empire. "The life and death of Christianity" depended, he says, "on the
rise of such a power." "It is impossible to conceive what had been the
confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages, without
the mediæval Papacy."

The whole history of Rome had infused into the minds of Western nations a
conviction of the importance of centralization in order to union. From
Rome, as a centre, had proceeded government, law, civilization.
Christianity therefore seemed to need a like centre, in order to retain
its unity. Hence the supremacy early yielded to the Bishop of Rome. His
primacy was accepted, because it was useful. The Papal Church would never
have existed, if Rome and its organizing ideas had not existed before
Christianity was born.

In like manner the ideas developed in the Roman mind determined the course
of Western theology, as differing from that of the East. It is well known
that Eastern theological speculation was occupied with the nature of God
and the person of Christ, but that Western theology discussed sin and
salvation. Mr. Maine, in his work on "Ancient Law," considers this
difference to have been occasioned by habits of thought produced by Roman
jurisprudence. I quote his language at some length:--

"What has to be determined is whether jurisprudence has ever served as the
medium through which theological principles have been viewed; whether, by
supplying a peculiar language, a peculiar mode of reasoning, and a
peculiar solution of many of the problems of life, it has ever opened new
channels in which theological speculation could flow out and expand

"On all questions," continues Mr. Maine, quoting Dean Milman, "which
concerned the person of Christ and the nature of the Trinity, the Western
world accepted passively the dogmatic system of the East." "But as soon as
the Latin-speaking empire began to live an intellectual life of its own,
its deference to the East was at once exchanged for the agitation of a
number of questions entirely foreign to Eastern speculation." "The nature
of sin and its transmission by inheritance, the debt owed by man and its
vicarious satisfaction, and like theological problems, relating not to the
divinity but to human nature, immediately began to be agitated." "I
affirm," says Mr. Maine, "without hesitation, that the difference between
the two theological systems is accounted for by the fact that, in passing
from the East to the West, theological speculation had passed from a
climate of Greek metaphysics to a climate of Roman law. For some centuries
before these controversies rose into overwhelming importance, all the
intellectual activity of the Western Romans had been expended on
jurisprudence exclusively. They had been occupied in applying a peculiar
set of principles to all combinations in which the circumstances of life
are capable of being arranged. No foreign pursuit or taste called off
their attention from this engrossing occupation, and for carrying it on
they possessed a vocabulary as accurate as it was copious, a strict method
of reasoning, a stock of general propositions on conduct more or less
verified by experience, and a rigid moral philosophy. It was impossible
that they should not select from the questions indicated by the Christian
records those which had some affinity with the order of speculations to
which they were accustomed, and that their manner of dealing with them
should not borrow something from their forensic habits. Almost every one
who has knowledge enough of Roman law to appreciate the Roman penal
system, the Roman theory of the obligations established by contract or
delict, the Roman view of debts, etc., the Roman notion of the continuance
of individual existence by universal succession, may be trusted to say
whence arose the frame of mind to which the problems of Western theology
proved so congenial, whence came the phraseology in which these problems
were stated, and whence the description of reasoning employed in their
solution." "As soon as they (the Western Church) ceased to sit at the feet
of the Greeks and began to ponder out a theology of their own, the
theology proved to be permeated with forensic ideas and couched in a
forensic phraseology. It is certain that this substratum of law in Western
theology lies exceedingly deep."[318]

The theory of the atonement, developed by the scholastic writers,
illustrates this view. In the East, for a thousand years, the atoning work
of Christ had been viewed mainly as redemption, as a ransom paid to
obtain the freedom of mankind, enslaved by the Devil in consequence of
their sins. It was not a legal theory, or one based on notions of
jurisprudence, but it was founded on warlike notions. Men were captives
taken in war, and, like all captives in those times, destined to slavery.
Their captor was Satan, and the ransom must be paid to him, as he held
them prisoners by the law of battle. Now as Christ had committed no sin,
the Devil had no just power over him; in putting Christ to death he had
lost his rights over his other captives, and Christ could justly claim
their freedom as a compensation for this injury. Christ, therefore,
strictly and literally, according to the ancient view, "gave his life a
ransom for many."

But the mind of Anselm, educated by notions derived from Roman
jurisprudence, substituted for this original theory of the atonement one
based upon legal ideas. All, in this theory, turns on the law of debt and
penalty. Sin he defines as "not paying to God what we owe him."[319] But
we owe God constant and entire obedience, and every sin deserves either
penalty or satisfaction. We are unable to make it good, for at every
moment we owe God all that we can do. Christ, as God-man, can satisfy God
for our omissions; his death, as offered freely, when he did not deserve
death on account of any sin of his own, is sufficient satisfaction. It
will easily be seen how entirely this argument has substituted a legal
basis for the atonement in place of the old warlike foundation.

This, therefore, has been the legacy of ancient Rome to Christianity:
firstly, the organization of the Latin Church; secondly, the scholastic
theology, founded on notions of jurisprudence introduced into man's
relations to God. In turn, Christianity has bestowed on Western Europe
what the old Romans never knew,--a religion of love and inspiration. In
place of the hard and cold Roman life, modern Europe has sentiment and
heart united with thought and force. With Roman strength it has joined a
Christian tenderness, romance, and personal freedom. Humanity now is
greater than the social organization; the state, according to our view, is
made for man, not man for the state. We are outgrowing the hard and dry
theology which we have inherited from Roman law through the scholastic
teachers; but we shall not outgrow our inheritance from Rome of unity in
the Church, definite thought in our theology, and society organized by

Chapter IX.

The Teutonic and Scandinavian Religion.

  § 1. The Land and the Race.
  § 2. Idea of the Scandinavian Religion.
  § 3. The Eddas and their Contents.
  § 4. The Gods of Scandinavia.
  § 5. Resemblance of the Scandinavian Mythology to that of Zoroaster.
  § 6. Scandinavian Worship.
  § 7. Social Character, Maritime Discoveries, and Political Institutions
         of the Scandinavians.
  § 8. Relation of this System to Christianity.

§ 1. The Land and the Race.

The great Teutonic or German division of the Indo-European family entered
Europe subsequently to the Keltic tribes, and before the Slavic
immigration. This people overspread and occupied a large part of Northern
Central Europe, from which the attempts of the Romans to dispossess them
proved futile. Of their early history we know very little. Bishop Percy
contrasts their love of making records, as shown by the Runic
inscriptions, with the Keltic law of secrecy. The Druids forbade any
communication of their mysteries by writing; but the German Scalds put all
their belief into popular songs, and reverenced literature as a gift of
the gods. Yet we have received very little information concerning these
tribes before the days of Cæsar and Tacitus. Cæsar describes them as
warlike, huge in stature; having reverence for women, who were their
augurs and diviners; worshipping the Sun, the Moon, and Fire; having no
regular priests, and paying little regard to sacrifices. He says that they
occupied their lives in hunting and war, devoting themselves from
childhood to severe labors. They reverenced chastity, and considered it as
conducive to health and strength. They were rather a pastoral than
agricultural people; no one owning land, but each having it assigned to
him temporarily. The object of this provision was said to be to prevent
accumulation of wealth and the loss of warlike habits. They fought with
cavalry supported by infantry. In the time of Augustus all attempts at
conquering Germany were relinquished, and war was maintained only in the
hope of revenging the destruction of Varus and his three legions by the
famous German chief Arminius, or Herrman[320].

Tacitus freely admits that the Germans were as warlike as the Romans, and
were only inferior in weapons and discipline. He pays a generous tribute
to Arminius, whom he declares to have been "beyond all question the
liberator of Germany," dying at thirty-seven, unconquered in war.[321]
Tacitus quotes from some ancient German ballads or hymns ("the only
historic monuments," says he, "that they possess") the names of Tuisto, a
god born from the earth, and Mannus, his son. Tacitus was much struck with
the physical characteristics of the race, as being so uniform. There was a
family likeness, he says, among them all,--stern blue eyes, yellow hair,
large bodies. Their wealth was in their flocks and herds. "Gold and silver
are kept from them by the anger, or perhaps by the favor, of Heaven."
Their rulers were elective, and their power was limited. Their judges were
the priests. They saw something divine in woman, and her judgments were
accepted as oracles. Such women as Veleda and Aurinia were reverenced as
prophets; "but not adored or made into goddesses," says Tacitus, with a
side-glance at some events at home. Their gods, Tacitus chooses to call
Mercury, Hercules, and Mars; but he distinctly says that the Germans had
neither idols nor temples, but worshipped in sacred groves[322]. He also
says that the Germans divined future events by pieces of sticks, by the
duel, and by the movements of sacred horses. Their leaders might decide
the less important matters, but the principal questions were settled at
public meetings. These assemblies were held at regular intervals, were
opened by the priest, were presided over by the chief, and decided all
public affairs. Tacitus remarks that the spirit of liberty goes to such
an extreme among the Germans as to destroy regularity and order. They will
not be punctual at their meetings, lest it should seem as if they attended
because commanded to come.[323] Marriage was sacred, and, unlike other
heathen nations, they were contented with one wife. They were affectionate
and constant to the marriage vow, which meant to the pure German woman one
husband, one life, one body, and one soul. The ancient Germans, like their
modern descendants, drank beer and Rhenish wine, and were divided into
numerous tribes, who afterward reappeared for the destruction of the Roman
Empire, as the Goths, Vandals, Lombards, and Franks.

The Scandinavians were a branch of the great German family. Their
language, the old Norse, was distinguished from the Alemannic, or High
German tongue, and from the Saxonic, or Low German tongue. From the Norse
have been derived the languages of Iceland, of the Ferroe Isles, of
Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. From the Germanic branch have come German,
Dutch, Anglo-Saxon, Mæso-Gothic, and English. It was in Scandinavia that
the Teutonic race developed its special civilization and religion. Cut off
from the rest of the world by stormy seas, the people could there unfold
their ideas, and become themselves. It is therefore to Scandinavia that we
must go to study the German religion, and to find the influence exercised
on modern civilization and the present character of Europe. This influence
has been freely acknowledged by great historians.

Montesquieu says:[324]--

   "The great prerogative of Scandinavia is, that it afforded the great
   resource to the liberty of Europe, that is, to almost all of liberty
   there is among men. The Goth Jornandes calls the North of Europe the
   forge of mankind. I would rather call it the forge of those instruments
   which broke the fetters manufactured in the South."

Geijer, in his Swedish History, tells us:--

   "The recollections which Scandinavia has to add to those of the
   Germanic race are yet the most antique in character and comparatively
   the most original. They offer the completest remaining example of a
   social state existing previously to the reception of influences from
   Rome, and in duration stretching onward so as to come within the sphere
   of historical light."

We do not know how much of those old Northern ideas may be still mingled
with our ways of thought. The names of their gods we retain in those of
our weekdays,--Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Their popular
assemblies, or Things, were the origin of our Parliament, our Congress,
and our general assemblies. If from the South came the romantic admiration
of woman, from the North came a better respect for her rights and the
sense of her equality. Our trial by jury was immediately derived from
Scandinavia; and, according to Montesquieu, as we have seen, we owe to the
North, as the greatest inheritance of all, that desire for freedom which
is so chief an element in Christian civilization.

Scandinavia proper consists of those regions now occupied by the kingdoms
of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The geographical peculiarity of this
country is its proximity everywhere to the sea, and the great extent of
its coast line. The great peninsula of Sweden and Norway, with the
Northern Ocean on its west, the Baltic and Gulf of Bothnia on its east,
penetrated everywhere by creeks, friths, and arms of the sea, surrounded
with innumerable islands, studded with lakes, and cleft with rivers, is
also unrivalled, except by Switzerland, in the sublime and picturesque
beauty of its mountains. The other peninsula, that of Denmark, surrounded
and penetrated also everywhere by the sea, differs in being almost level;
rising nowhere, at its highest point, more than a thousand feet above the
ocean. Containing an area of only twenty-two thousand square miles, it is
so penetrated with bays and creeks as to have four thousand miles of
coast. Like the northern peninsula, it is also surrounded with a multitude
of islands, which are so crowded together, especially on its eastern
coast, as to make an archipelago. It is impossible to look at the map of
Europe, and not be struck with the resemblance in these particulars
between its northern and southern geography. The Baltic Sea is the
Mediterranean of Northern Europe. The peninsula of Denmark, with its
multitudinous bays and islands, corresponds to Greece, the Morea, and its
archipelago. We have shown in our chapter on Greece that modern geography
teaches that the extent of coast line, when compared with the superficial
area of a country, is one of the essential conditions of civilization. Who
can fail to see the hand of Providence in the adaptation of races to the
countries they are to inhabit? The great tide of human life, flowing
westward from Central Asia, was divided into currents by the Caspian and
Black Seas, and by the lofty range of mountains which, under the name of
the Caucasus, Carpathian Mountains, and Alps, extends almost in an
unbroken line from the western coast of the Caspian to the northern limits
of Germany. The Teutonic races, Germans, Saxons, Franks, and Northmen,
were thus determined to the north, and spread themselves along the coast
and peninsulas of the Northern Mediterranean. The other branch of the
great Indo-European variety was distributed through Syria, Asia Minor,
Greece, Southern France, Italy, and Spain. Each of these vast European
families, stimulated to mental and moral activity by its proximity to
water, developed its own peculiar forms of national character, which were
afterwards united in modern European society. The North developed
individual freedom, the South social organization. The North gave force,
the South culture. From Southern Europe came literature, philosophy, laws,
arts; from the North, that respect for individual rights, that sense of
personal dignity, that energy of the single soul, which is the essential
equipoise of a high social culture. These two elements, of freedom and
civilization, always antagonist, have been in most ages hostile. The
individual freedom of the North has been equivalent to barbarism, and from
time to time has rolled down a destroying deluge over the South, almost
sweeping away its civilization, and overwhelming in a common ruin arts,
literature, and laws. On the other hand, civilization at the South has
passed into luxury, has produced effeminacy, till individual freedom has
been lost under grinding despotism. But in modern civilization a third
element has been added, which has brought these two powers of Northern
freedom and Southern culture into equipoise and harmony. This new element
is Christianity, which develops, at the same time, the sense of personal
responsibility, by teaching the individual destiny and worth of every
soul, and also the mutual dependence and interlacing brotherhood of all
human society. This Christian element in modern civilization saves it from
the double danger of a relapse into barbarism on the one hand, and a too
refined luxury on the other. The nations of Europe, to-day, which are the
most advanced in civilization, literature, and art, are also the most
deeply pervaded with the love of freedom; and the most civilized nations
on the globe, instead of being the most effeminate, are also the most

The Scandinavian people, destined to play so important a part in the
history of the world, were, as we have said, a branch of the great
Indo-European variety. We have seen that modern ethnology teaches that all
the races which inhabit Europe, with some trifling exceptions, belong to
one family, which originated in Central Asia. This has appeared and is
proved by means of glossology, or the science of language. The closest
resemblance exists between the seven linguistic families of Hindostan,
Persia, Greece, Rome, Germany, the Kelts, and the Slavi; and it is a most
striking fact of human history, that from the earliest period of recorded
time down to the present day a powerful people, speaking a language
belonging to one or other of these races, should have in a great measure
swayed the destinies of the world.

Before the birth of Christ the peninsula of Denmark was called by the
Romans the Cimbric Chersonesus, or Cimbric peninsula. This name came from
the Cimbri, a people who, one hundred and eleven years before Christ,
almost overthrew the Roman Republic, exciting more terror than any event
since the days of Hannibal. More than three hundred thousand men, issuing
from the peninsula of Denmark and the adjacent regions, poured like a
torrent over Gaul and Southern Germany. They met and overthrew in
succession four Roman armies; until, finally, they were conquered by the
military skill and genius of Marius. After this eruption was checked, the
great northern volcano slumbered for centuries. Other tribes from
Asia--Goths, Vandals, Huns--combined in the overthrow of the Roman Empire.
At last the inhabitants of Scandinavia appear again under the name of
Northmen, invading and conquering England in the fifth century as Saxons,
in the ninth century as Danes, and in the eleventh as Normans again
overrunning England and France. But the peculiarity of the Scandinavian
invasions was their maritime character. Daring and skilful navigators,
they encountered the tempests of the Northern Ocean and the heavy roll of
the Atlantic in vessels so small and slight that they floated like
eggshells on the surface of the waves, and ran up the rivers of France and
England, hundreds of miles, without check from shallows or rocks. In these
fragile barks they made also the most extraordinary maritime discoveries.
The sea-kings of Norway discovered Iceland, and settled it A.D. 860 and
A.D. 874. They discovered and settled Greenland A.D. 982 and A.D. 986. On
the western coast of Greenland they planted colonies, where churches were
built, and diocesan bishoprics established, which lasted between four and
five hundred years. Finally, in A.D. 1000, they discovered, by sailing
from Greenland, the coast of Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Massachusetts Bay;
and, five hundred years before the discovery of Columbus, gathered grapes
and built houses on the southern side of Cape Cod. These facts, long
considered mythical, have been established, to the satisfaction of
European scholars, by the publication of Icelandic contemporaneous annals.
This remarkable people have furnished nearly the whole population of
England by means of the successive conquests of Saxon, Danes, and Normans,
driving the Keltic races into the mountainous regions of Wales and North
Scotland, where their descendants still remain. Colonizing themselves also
everywhere in Northern Europe, and even in Italy and Greece, they have
left the familiar stamp of their ideas and habits in all our modern

§ 2. Idea of the Scandinavian Religion.

The central idea of the Scandinavian belief was the free struggle of soul
against material obstacles, the freedom of the Divine will in its conflict
with the opposing forces of nature. The gods of the Scandinavians were
always at war. It was a system of dualism, in which sunshine, summer, and
growth were waging perpetual battle with storm, snow, winter, ocean, and
terrestrial fire. As the gods, so the people. War was their business,
courage their duty, fortitude their virtue. The conflict of life with
death, of freedom with fate, of choice with necessity, of good with evil,
made up their history and destiny.

This conflict in the natural world was especially apparent in the
struggle, annually renewed, between summer and winter. Therefore the light
and heat gods were their friends, those of darkness and cold their
enemies. For the same reason that the burning heat of summer, Typhon, was
the Satan of Egypt; so in the North the Jotuns, ice-giants, were the
Scandinavian devils.

There are some virtues which are naturally associated together, such as
the love of truth, the sense of justice, courage, and personal
independence. There is an opposite class of virtues in like manner
naturally grouped together,--sympathy, mutual helpfulness, and a tendency
to social organization. The serious antagonism in the moral world is that
of truth and love. Most cases of conscience which present a real
difficulty resolve themselves into a conflict of truth and love. It is
hard to be true without hurting the feelings of others; it is hard to
sympathize with others and not yield a little of our inward truth. The
same antagonism is found in the religions of the world. The religions in
which truth, justice, freedom, are developed tend to isolation, coldness,
and hardness. On the other hand, the religions of brotherhood and human
sympathy tend to weakness, luxury, and slavery.

The religion of the German races, which was the natural growth of their
organization and moral character, belonged to the first class. It was a
religion in which truth, justice, self-respect, courage, freedom, were the
essential elements. The gods were human, as in the Hellenic system, with
moral attributes. They were finite beings and limited in their powers.
They carried on a warfare with hostile and destructive agents, in which at
last they were to be vanquished and destroyed, though a restoration of the
world and the gods would follow that destruction.

Such was the idea in all the faith of the Teutonic race. The chief virtue
of man was courage, his unpardonable sin was cowardice. "To fight a good
fight," this was the way to Valhalla. Odin sent his Choosers to every
battlefield to select the brave dead to become his companions in the joys
of heaven.

§ 3. The Eddas and their Contents.

We have observed that Iceland was settled from Norway in the ninth
century. A remarkable social life grew up there, which preserved the
ideas, manners, and religion of the Teutonic people in their purity for
many hundred years, and whose Eddas and Sagas are the chief source of our
knowledge of the race. In this ultimate and barren region of the earth,
where seas of ice make thousands of square miles desolate and
impenetrable, where icy masses, elsewhere glaciers, are here mountains,
where volcanoes with terrible eruptions destroy whole regions of inhabited
country in a few days with lava, volcanic sand, and boiling water, was
developed to its highest degree the purest form of Scandinavian life.

The religion of the Scandinavians is contained in the Eddas, which are
two,--the poetic, or elder Edda, consisting of thirty-seven poems, first
collected and published at the end of the eleventh century; and the
younger, or prose Edda, ascribed to the celebrated Snorro Sturleson, born
of a distinguished Icelandic family in the twelfth century, who, after
leading a turbulent and ambitious life, and being twice chosen supreme
magistrate, was killed A.D. 1241. The principal part of the prose Edda is
a complete synopsis of Scandinavian mythology.

The elder Edda, which is the fountain of the mythology, consists of old
songs and ballads, which had come down from an immemorial past in the
mouths of the people, but were first collected and committed to writing by
Sæmund, a Christian priest of Iceland in the eleventh century. He was a
Bard, or Scald, as well as a priest, and one of his own poems, "The
Sun-Song," is in his Edda. This word "Edda" means "great-grandmother," the
ancient mother of Scandinavian knowledge. Or perhaps this name was given
to the legends, repeated by grandmothers to their grandchildren by the
vast firesides of the old farm-houses in Iceland.

This rhythmical Edda consists of thirty-seven poems[326]. It is in two
parts,--the first containing mythical poems concerning the gods and the
creation; the second, the legends of the heroes of Scandinavian history.
This latter portion of the Edda has the original and ancient fragments
from which the German Nibelungen-lied was afterward derived. These songs
are to the German poem what the ante-Homeric ballad literature of Greece
about Troy and Ulysses was to the Iliad and Odyssey as reduced to unity by

The first poem in the first part of the poetic Edda is the Voluspa, or
Wisdom of Vala. The Vala was a prophetess, possessing vast supernatural
knowledge. Some antiquarians consider the Vala to be the same as the
Nornor, or Fates. They were dark beings, whose wisdom was fearful even to
the gods, resembling in this the Greek Prometheus. The Voluspa describes
the universe before the creation, in the morning of time, before the great
Ymir lived, when there was neither sea nor shore nor heaven. It begins
thus, Vala speaking:--

    "I command the devout attention of all noble souls,
    Of all the high and the low of the race of Heimdall;
    I tell the doings of the All-Father,
    In the most ancient Sagas which come to my mind.

    "There was an age in which Ymir lived,
    When was no sea, nor shore, nor salt waves;
    No earth below, nor heaven above,
    No yawning abyss and no grassy land.

    "Till the sons of Bors lifted the dome of heaven,
    And created the vast Midgard (earth) below;
    Then the sun of the south rose above the mountains,
    And green grasses made the ground verdant.

    "The sun of the south, companion of the moon,
    Held the horses of heaven with his right hand;
    The sun knew not what its course should be,
    The moon knew not what her power should be,
    The stars knew not where their places were.

    "Then the counsellors went into the hall of judgment,
    And the all-holy gods held a council.
    They gave names to the night and new moon;
    They called to the morning and to midday,
    To the afternoon and evening, arranging the times."

The Voluspa goes on to describe how the gods assembled on the field of
Ida, and proceeded to create metals and vegetables; after that the race of
dwarfs, who preside over the powers of nature and the mineral world. Then
Vala narrates how the three gods, Odin, Honir, and Lodur, "the mighty and
mild Aser," found Ask and Embla, the Adam and Eve of the Northern legends,
lying without soul, sense, motion, or color. Odin gave them their souls,
Honir their intellects, Lodur their blood and colored flesh. Then comes
the description of the ash-tree Yggdrasil, of the three Norns, or sisters
of destiny, who tell the Aser their doom, and the end and renewal of the
world; and how, at last, one being mightier than all shall arrive:--

    "Then comes the mighty one to the council of the gods,
    He with strength from on high who guides all things,
    He decides the strife, he puts an end to struggle,
    He ordains eternal laws."

In the same way, in the Song of Hyndla, another of the poems of this Edda,
is a prediction of one who shall come, mightier than all the gods, and put
an end to the strife between Aser and the giants. The song begins:--

    "Wake, maid of maidens! Awake, my friend!
    Hyndla, sister, dwelling in the glens!
    It is night, it is cloudy; let us ride together
    To the sacred place, to Valhalla."

Hyndla sings, after describing the heroes and princes born of the gods:--

    "One shall be born higher than all,
    Who grows strong with the strength of the earth;
    He is famed as the greatest of rulers,
    United with all nations as brethren.

    "But one day there shall come another mightier than he;
    But I dare not name his name.
    Few are able to see beyond
    The great battle of Odin and the Wolf."

Among the poems of the elder Edda is a Book of Proverbs, like those of
Solomon in their sagacious observations on human life and manners. It is
called the Havamal. At first we should hardly expect to find these maxims
of worldly wisdom among a people whose chief business was war. But war
develops cunning as well as courage, and battles are won by craft no less
than by daring. Consequently, among a warlike people, sagacity is
naturally cultivated.

The Havamal contains (in its proverbial section) one hundred and ten
stanzas, mostly quatrains. The following are specimens:--

    1. "Carefully consider the end
    Before you go to do anything,
    For all is uncertain, when the enemy
    Lies in wait in the house.

    4. "The guest who enters
    Needs water, a towel, and hospitality.
    A kind reception secures a return
    In word and in deed.

    7. "The wise man, on coming in,
    Is silent and observes,
    Hears with his ears, looks with his eyes,
    And carefully reflects on every event.

    11. "No worse a companion can a man take on his journey
    Than drunkenness.
    Not as good as many believe
    Is beer to the sons of men.
    The more one drinks, the less he knows,
    And less power has he over himself.

    26. "A foolish man, in company, had better be silent.
    Until he speaks no one observes his folly.
    But he who knows little does not know this,
    When he had better be silent.

    29. "Do not mock at the stranger
    Who comes trusting in your kindness;
    For when he has warmed himself at your fire,
    He may easily prove a wise man.

    34. "It is better to depart betimes,
    And not to go too often to the same house.
    Love tires and turns to sadness
    When one sits too often at another man's table.

    35. "One's own house, though small, is better,
    For there thou art the master.
    It makes a man's heart bleed to ask
    For a midday meal at the house of another.

    36. "One's own house, though small, is better;
    At home thou art the master.
    Two goats and a thatched roof
    Are better than begging.

    38. "It is hard to find a man so rich
    As to refuse a gift.
    It is hard to find a man so generous
    As to be always glad to lend.

    42. "Is there a man whom you distrust,
    And who yet can help you?
    Be smooth in words and false in thought,
    And pay back his deceit with cunning.

    48. "I hung my garments on two scarecrows,
    And, when dressed, they seemed
    Ready for the battle.
    Unclothed they were jeered at by all.

    52. "Small as a grain of sand
    Is the small sense of a fool;
    Very unequal is human wisdom.
    The world is made of two unequal halves.

    53. "It is well to be wise; it is not well
    To be too wise.
    He has the happiest life
    Who knows well what he knows.

    54. "It is well to be wise; not well
    To be too wise.
    The wise man's heart is not glad
    When he knows too much.

    55. "Two burning sticks placed together
    Will burn entirely away.
    Man grows bright by the side of man;
    Alone, he remains stupid."

Such are the proverbs of the Havamal. This sort of proverbial wisdom may
have come down from the days when the ancestors of the Scandinavians left
Central Asia. It is like the fables and maxims of the Hitopadesá.[327]

Another of these poems is called Odin's Song of Runes. Runes were the
Scandinavian alphabet, used for lapidary inscriptions, a thousand of which
have been discovered in Sweden, and three or four hundred in Denmark and
Norway, mostly on tombstones. This alphabet consists of sixteen letters,
with the powers of F, U, TH, O, R, K, H, N, I, A, S, T, B, L, M, Y. The
letters R, I, T, and B very nearly resemble the Roman letters of the same
values. A magical power was ascribed to these Runes, and they were carved
on sticks and then scraped off, and used as charms. These rune-charms were
of different kinds, eighteen different sorts are mentioned in this song.

A song of Brynhilda speaks of different runes which she will teach Sigurd.
"_Runes of victory_ must those know, to conquer thine enemies. They must
be carved on the blade of thy sword. _Drink-Runes_ must thou know to make
maidens love thee. Thou must carve them on thy drinking horn. _Runes of
freedom_ must thou know to deliver the captives. _Storm-Runes_ must thou
know, to make thy vessel go safely over the waves. Carve them on the mast
and the rudder. _Herb-Runes_ thou must know to cure disease. Carve them on
the bark of the tree. _Speech-Runes_ must thou know to defeat thine enemy
in council of words, in the Thing. _Mind-Runes_ must thou know to have
good and wise thoughts. These are the Book-Runes, and Help-Runes, and
Drink-Runes, and Power-Runes, precious for whoever can use them."

The second part of the poetic Edda contains the stories of the old heroes,
especially of Sigurd, the Achilles of Northern romance. There is also the
Song of Volund, the Northern Smith, the German Vulcan, able to make swords
of powerful temper. These songs and ballads are all serious and grave, and
sometimes tender, having in them something of the solemn tone of the old
Greek tragedy.

The prose Edda, as we have said, was the work of Snorro Sturleson, born in
Iceland in 1178[328]. He probably transcribed most of it from the
manuscripts in his hands, or which were accessible to him, and from the
oral traditions which had been preserved in the memory of the Skalds. His
other chief work was the Heimskringla, or collection of Saga concerning
the history of the Scandinavians. In his preface to this last book he says
he "wrote it down from old stories told by intelligent people"; or from
"ancient family registers containing the pedigrees of kings," or from "old
songs and ballads which our fathers had for their amusement"

The prose Edda begins with "The deluding of Gylfi," an ancient king of
Sweden. He was renowned for his wisdom and love of knowledge, and
determined to visit Asgard, the home of the Æsir, to learn something of
the wisdom of the gods. They, however, foreseeing his coming, prepared
various illusions to deceive him. Among other things, he saw three
thrones raised one above another.

   "He afterwards beheld three thrones raised one above another, with a
   man sitting on each of them. Upon his asking what the names of these
   lords might be, his guide answered: 'He who sits on the lowest throne
   is a king; his name is Har (the High or Lofty One); the second is
   Jafnhar (i.e. equal to the High); but he who sitteth on the highest
   throne is called Thridi (the Third).' Har, perceiving the stranger,
   asked him what his errand was, adding that he should be welcome to eat
   and drink without cost, as were all those who remained in Háva Hall.
   Gangler said he desired first to ascertain whether there was any person
   present renowned for his wisdom.

   "'If thou art not the most knowing,' replied Har, 'I fear thou wilt
   hardly return safe. But go, stand there below, and propose thy
   questions; here sits one who will be able to answer them.'

   "Gangler thus began his discourse: 'Who is the first, or eldest of the

   "'In our language,' replied Har, 'he is called Alfadir (All-Father, or
   the Father of All); but in the old Asgard he had twelve names.'

   "'Where is this God?' said Gangler; 'what is his power? and what hath
   he done to display his glory?'

   "'He liveth,' replied Har, 'from all ages, he governeth all realms, and
   swayeth all things great and small.'

   "'He hath formed,' added Jafnhar, 'heaven and earth, and the air, and
   all things thereunto belonging.'

   "'And what is more,' continued Thridi, 'he hath made man, and given him
   a soul which shall live and never perish, though the body shall have
   mouldered away, or have been burnt to ashes. And all that are righteous
   shall dwell with him in the place called Gimli, or Vingólf; but the
   wicked shall go to Hel, and thence to Niflhel, which is below, in the
   ninth world.'"

Of the creation of the world the Eddas thus speak: In the day-spring of
the ages there was neither seas nor shore nor refreshing breeze; there was
neither earth below nor heaven above. The whole was only one vast abyss,
without herb and without seas. The sun had no palace, the stars no place,
the moon no power. After this there was a bright shining world of flame to
the South, and another, a cloudy and dark one, toward the North. Torrents
of venom flowed from the last into the abyss, and froze, and filled it
full of ice. But the air oozed up through it in icy vapors, which were
melted into living drops by a warm breath from the South; and from these
came the giant Ymir. From him came a race of wicked giants. Afterward,
from these same drops of fluid seeds, children of heat and cold, came the
mundane cow, whose milk fed the giants. Then arose also, in a mysterious
manner, Bor, the father of three sons, Odin, Vili, and Ve, who, after
several adventures,--having killed the giant Ymir, and made out of his
body Heaven and Earth,--proceeded to form a man and woman named Ask and
Embla. Chaos having thus disappeared, Odin became the All-Father, creator
of gods and men, with Earth for his wife, and the powerful Thor for his
oldest son. So much for the cosmogony of the Edda.

On this cosmogony, we may remark that it belongs to the class of
development, or evolution, but combined with a creation. The Hindoo,
Gnostic, and Platonic theories suppose the visible world to have emanated
from God, by a succession of fallings, from the most abstract spirit to
the most concrete matter. The Greeks and Romans, on the contrary, suppose
all things to have come by a process of evolution, or development from an
original formless and chaotic matter. The resemblance between the Greek
account of the origin of gods and men and that of the Scandinavians is
striking. Both systems begin in materialism, and are radically opposed to
the spiritualism of the other theory; and in its account of the origin of
all things from nebulous vapors and heat the Edda reminds us of the modern
scientific theories on the same subject.

After giving this account of the formation of the world, of the gods, and
the first pair of mortals, the Edda next speaks of night and day, of the
sun and moon, of the rainbow bridge from earth to heaven, and of the great
Ash-tree where the gods sit in council. Night was the daughter of a
giant, and, like all her race, of a dark complexion. She married one of
the Æsir, or children of Odin, and their son was Day, a child light and
beautiful, like its father. The Sun and Moon were two children, the Moon
being the boy, and the Sun the girl; which peculiarity of gender still
holds in the German language. The Edda gives them chariot and horses with
which to drive daily round the heavens, and supposes their speed to be
occasioned by their fear of two gigantic wolves, from Jotunheim, or the
world of darkness, which pursue them. The rainbow is named Bifrost, woven
of three hues, and by this, as a bridge, the gods ride up every day to
heaven from the holy fountain below the earth. Near this fountain dwell
three maidens, below the great Ash-tree, who decide every man's fate.
These Fates, or Norns, are named Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld,--three words
meaning "past," "present," and "future." From Urd comes our word "weird,"
and the weird sisters of Shakespeare. The red in the rainbow is burning
fire, which prevents the frost-giants of Jotunheim from going up to
heaven, which they otherwise might do. This region of the gods is called
Asgard, and contains Valhalla, where they feast every day, with all heroes
who have died in battle; drinking mead, but not out of their enemies'
skulls, as has been so often said. This mistake modern scholars have
attributed to a mistranslation of a word in the original, which means
"curved horns," the passage being, "Soon shall we drink ale out of the
curved branches of the skull," that is, of an animal. Their food is the
flesh of a boar, which is renewed every day.

It is not to be supposed that Odin and the other gods lived quietly on
their Olympus without adventures. Many entertaining ones are narrated in
the Edda, had we room to tell them. One of these describes the death of
Baldur the Good, whom all beings loved. Having been tormented with bad
dreams, indicating that his life was in danger, he told them to the
assembled gods, who made all creatures and things, living or dead, take an
oath to do him no harm. This oath was taken by fire and water, iron and
all other metals, stones, earths, diseases, poisons, beasts, birds, and
creeping things. After this, they amused themselves at their meeting in
setting Baldur up as a mark; some hurling darts or shooting arrows at him,
and some cutting at him with swords and axes; and as nothing hurt him, it
was accounted a great honor done to Baldur. But wicked Loki, or Loke, was
envious at this; and, assuming the form of a woman, he inquired of the
goddess who had administered the oath, whether all things had taken it.
She said everything except one little shrub called mistletoe, which she
thought too young and feeble to do any harm. Therefore Loki got the
mistletoe, and, bringing it to one of the gods, persuaded him to throw it
at Baldur, who, pierced to the heart, fell dead. The grief was immense. An
especial messenger was despatched to Queen Hela, in Hell, to inquire if,
on any terms, Baldur might be ransomed. For nine days and nights he rode
through dark chasms till he crossed the river of Death, and entering the
kingdom of Hela, made known his request. Hela replied that it should now
be discovered whether Baldur was so universally loved as was represented;
for that she would permit him to return to Asgard if all creatures and all
things, without exception, would weep for him. The gods then despatched
messengers through the world to beg all things to weep for Baldur, which
they immediately did. Then you might have seen, not only crocodiles but
the most ferocious beasts dissolved in tears. Fishes wept in the water,
and birds in the air. Stones and trees were covered with pellucid
dew-drops, and, for all we know, this general grief may have been the
occasion of some of the deluges reported by geology. The messengers
returned, thinking the work done, when they found an old hag sitting in a
cavern, and begged her to weep Baldur out of Hell. But she declared that
she could gain nothing by so doing, and that Baldur might stay where he
was, like other people as good as he; planting herself apparently on the
great but somewhat selfish principle of non-intervention. So Baldur
remains in the halls of Hela. But this old woman did not go unpunished.
She was shrewdly suspected to be Loki himself in disguise, and on inquiry
so it turned out. Whereupon a hot pursuit of Loki took place, who, after
changing himself into many forms, was caught, and chained under
sharp-pointed rocks below the earth.

The adventures of Thor are very numerous. The pleasantest, perhaps, is the
account of his journey to Jotunheim, to visit his enemies, the giants of
Cold and Darkness. On his way, being obliged to pass the night in the
forest, he came to a spacious hall, with an open door, reaching from one
side to the other. In this he went to sleep, but being aroused by an awful
earthquake, Thor and his companions crept into a chamber which opened out
of the hall. When day came they found, sleeping near them, an enormous
giant, so large, that, as it appeared, they had passed the night in the
thumb of his glove. They travelled with him all day; and the next night
Thor considered himself justified in killing this giant, who was one of
their enemies. Three times he launched his mallet with fearful force at
the giant's head, and three times the giant awoke to inquire whether it
was a leaf or an acorn which had fallen on his face. After taking leave of
their enormous and invulnerable companion, they arrived at the abodes of
Jotunheim, and the city of Utgard, and entered the city of the king,
Utgard Loki. This king inquired what great feat Thor and his companions
could do. One professed to be a great eater; on which the king of giants
called one of his servants named Logi, and placed between them a trough
filled with meat. Thor's companion ate his share, but Logi ate meat and
bone too, and the trough into the bargain, and was considered to have
conquered. Thor's other companion was a great runner, and was set to run
with a young man named Hugi, who so outstripped him that he reached the
goal before the other had gone half-way. Then Thor was asked what he could
do himself. He said he would engage in a drinking-match, and was presented
with a large horn, and was requested to empty it at a single draught,
which he expected easily to do, but on looking in the liquor seemed
scarcely diminished. The second time he tried, and lowered it slightly. A
third, and it was still only sunk half an inch. Whereupon he was laughed
at, and called for some new feat. "We have a trifling game here,"
answered the king, "in which we exercise none but children. It is merely
to lift my cat from the ground." Thor put forth his whole might, but could
only lift up one foot, and was laughed at again. Angry at this, he called
for some one to wrestle with him. "My men," said King Utgard, "would think
it beneath them to wrestle with thee, but let some one call my old nurse
Eld, and let Thor wrestle with her." A toothless old woman entered the
hall, and after a violent struggle Thor began to lose his footing, and
went home excessively mortified. But it turned out afterward that all this
was illusion. The three blows of the mallet, instead of striking the
giant's head, had fallen on a mountain, which he had dexterously put
between, and made three deep ravines in it, which remain to this day. The
triumphant eater was Fire itself, disguised as a man. The successful
runner was Thought. The horn out of which Thor tried to drink was
connected with the ocean, which was lowered a few inches by his tremendous
draughts. The cat was the great Midgard Serpent, which goes round the
world, and Thor had actually pulled the earth a little way out of its
place; and the old woman was Old Age itself[329].

According to this mythology, there is coming a time in which the world
will be destroyed by fire and afterward renewed. This will be, preceded by
awful disasters; dreadful winters; wars, and desolations on earth; cruelty
and deceit; the sun and moon will be devoured, the stars hurled from the
sky, and the earth violently shaken. The Wolf (Fenrir), the awful Midgard
Serpent, Loki, and Hela come to battle with the gods. The great Ash-tree
will shake with fear. The Wolf (Fenrir) breaks loose, and opens his
enormous mouth. The lower jaw reaches to the earth, and the upper to
heaven. The Midgard Serpent, by the side of the Wolf, vomits forth floods
of poison. Heaven is rent in twain, and Surtur and the sons of Muspell
ride through the breach. These are the children of Light and Fire, who
dwell in the South, and who seem to belong neither to the race of gods nor
to that of giants, but to a third party, who only interfere at the close
of the conflict. While the battle goes on between the gods and the giants
they keep their effulgent bands apart on the field of battle. Meantime
Heimdall--doorkeeper of the gods--sounds his mighty trumpet, which is
heard through the whole universe, to summon the gods to conflict. The
gods, or Æsir, and all the heroes of Valhalla, arm themselves and go to
the field. Odin fights with the Wolf; Thor with the Midgard Serpent, whom
he kills, but being suffocated with the floods of venom dies himself. The
Wolf swallows Odin, but at that instant Vidar sets his foot on its lower
jaw, and laying hold of the upper jaw tears it apart. He accomplishes this
because he has on the famous shoe, the materials of which have been
collecting for ages, it being made of the shreds of shoe-leather which are
cut off in making shoes, and which, on this account, the religious
Scandinavians were careful to throw away. Loki and Heimdall fight and kill
each other. After this Surtur darts fire over the whole earth, and the
whole universe is consumed. But then comes the restitution of all things.
There will rise out of the sea a new heaven and a new earth. Two gods,
Vidar and Vali, and two human beings, a man and woman, survive the
conflagration, and with their descendants occupy the heavens and earth.
The suns of Thor come with their father's hammer and put an end to war.
Baldur, and Hodur, the blind god, come up from Hell, and the daughter of
the Sun, more beautiful than its mother, occupies its place in the skies.

§ 4. The Gods of Scandinavia.

We can give no better account of the Norse pantheon than by extracting the
passages from the prose Edda, which describe the gods. We take the
translation in Mallet's Northern Antiquities:--

   "OF ODIN.

   "'I must now ask thee,' said Gangler, 'who are the gods that men are
   bound to believe in?'

   "'There are twelve gods,' replied Har, 'to whom divine honors ought to
   be rendered.'

   "'Nor are the goddesses,' added Jafhhar, 'less divine and mighty.'

   "'The first and eldest of the Æsir,' continued Thridi, 'is Odin. He
   governs all things, and although the other deities are powerful, they
   all serve and obey him as children do their father. Frigga is his wife.
   She foresees the destinies of men, but never reveals what is to come.
   For thus it is said that Odin himself told Loki, "Senseless Loki, why
   wilt thou pry into futurity? Frigga alone knoweth the destinies of all,
   though she telleth them never."'

   "'Odin is named Alfadir (All-father), because he is the father of all
   the gods, and also Valfadir (Choosing Father), because he chooses for
   his sons all those who fall in combat. For their abode he has prepared
   Valhalla and Vingólf, where they are called Einherjar (Heroes or
   Champions). Odin is also called Hangagud, Haptagud, and Farmagud, and,
   besides these, was named in many ways when he went to King

   "OF THOR.

   "'I now ask thee,' said Gangler, 'what are the names of the other gods?
   What are their functions, and what have they brought to pass?'

   "'The mightiest of them,' replied Har, 'is Thor. He is called Asa-Thor
   and Auku-Thor, and is the strongest of gods and men. His realm is named
   Thrúdváng, and his mansion Bilskirnir, in which are five hundred and
   forty halls. It is the largest house ever built. Thus it is called in
   the Grímnismál:--

       "Fire hundred halls
       And forty more,
       Methinketh, hath
       Bowed Bilskirnir.
       Of houses roofed
       There's none I know
       My son's surpassing."

   "'Thor has a car drawn by two goats called Tanngnióst and Tanngrisnir.
   From his driving about in this car he is called Auku-Thor
   (Charioteer-Thor). He likewise possesses three very precious things.
   The first is a mallet called Mjölnir, which both the Frost and Mountain
   Giants know to their cost when they see it hurled against them in the
   air; and no wonder, for it has split many a skull of their fathers and
   kindred. The second rare thing he possesses is called the belt of
   strength or prowess (Megingjardir). When he girds it about him his
   divine might is doubly augmented; the third, also very precious, being
   his iron gauntlets, which he is obliged to put on whenever he would lay
   hold of the handle of his mallet. There is no one so wise as to be able
   to relate all Thor's marvellous exploits, yet I could tell thee so many
   myself that hours would be whiled away ere all that I know had been


   "'I would rather,' said Gangler, 'hear something about the other Æsir.'

   "'The second son of Odin,' replied Har, 'is Baldur, and it may be truly
   said of him that he is the best, and that all mankind are loud in his
   praise. So fair and dazzling is he in form and features, that rays of
   light seem to issue from him; and thou mayst have some idea of the
   beauty of his hair when I tell thee that the whitest of all plants is
   called Baldur's brow. Baldur is the mildest, the wisest, and the most
   eloquent of all the Æsir, yet such is his nature that the judgment he
   has pronounced can never be altered. He dwells in the heavenly mansion
   called Breidablik, in which nothing unclean can enter. As it is said,--

       "'T is Breidablik called,
       "Where Baldur the Fair
       Hath built him a bower,
       In that land where I know
       The least loathliness lieth."'


   "'The third god,' continued Har, 'is Njörd, who dwells in the heavenly
   region called Noátún. He rules over the winds, and checks the fury of
   the sea and of fire, and is therefore invoked by seafarers and
   fishermen. He is so wealthy that he can give possessions and treasures
   to those who call on him for them. Yet Njörd is not of the lineage of
   the Æsir, for he was born and bred in Vanaheim. But the Vanir gave him
   as hostage to the Æsir, receiving from them in his stead Hoenir. By
   this means was peace re-established between the Æsir and Vanir. Njörd
   took to wife Skadi, the daughter of the giant Thjassi. She preferred
   dwelling in the abode formerly belonging to her father, which is
   situated among rocky mountains, in the region called Thrymheim, but
   Njörd loved to reside near the sea. They at last agreed that they
   should pass together nine nights in Thrymheim, and then three in
   Noátún. One day, when Njörd came back from the mountains to Noatun, he
   thus sang:--

       "Of mountains I'm weary,
       Not long was I there,
       Not more than nine nights;
       But the howl of the wolf
       Methought sounded ill
       To the song of the swan-bird."

   '"To which Skadi sang in reply:--

       "Ne'er can I sleep
       In my couch on the strand,
       For the screams of the sea-fowl.
       The mew as he comes
       Every morn from the main
       Is sure to awake me."

   "'Skadi then returned to the rocky mountains, and abode in Thrymheim.
   There, fastening on her snow-skates and taking her bow, she passes her
   time in the chase of savage beasts, and is called the Ondur goddess, or


   "'Njörd had afterwards, at his residence at Nóatún, two children, a son
   named Frey, and a daughter called Freyja, both of them beauteous and
   mighty. Frey is one of the most celebrated of the gods. He presides
   over rain and sunshine, and all the fruits of the earth, and should be
   invoked in order to obtain good harvests, and also for peace. He,
   moreover, dispenses wealth among men. Freyja is the most propitious of
   the goddesses; her abode in heaven is called Fólkváng. To whatever
   field of battle she rides, she asserts her right to one half of the
   slain, the other half belonging to Odin.....'

   "OF TYR.

   "'There is Tyr, who is the most daring and intrepid of all the gods. 'T
   is he who dispenses valor in war, hence warriors do well to invoke him.
   It has become proverbial to say of a man who surpasses all others in
   valor that he is _Tyr-strong_, or valiant as Tyr. A man noted for his
   wisdom is also said to be "wise as Tyr." Let me give thee a proof of
   his intrepidity. When the Æsir were trying to persuade the wolf,
   Fenrir, to let himself be bound up with the chain, Gleipnir, he,
   fearing that they would never afterwards unloose him, only consented on
   the condition that while they were chaining him he should keep Tyr's
   right hand between his jaws. Tyr did not hesitate to put his hand in
   the monster's mouth, but when Fenrir perceived that the Æsir had no
   intention to unchain him, he bit the hand off at that point, which has
   ever since been called the wolf's joint (úlflidr). From that time Tyr
   has had but one hand. He is not regarded as a peacemaker among men.'


   "'There is another god,' continued Har, 'named Bragi, who is celebrated
   for his wisdom, and more especially for his eloquence and correct forms
   of speech. He is not only eminently skilled in poetry, but the art
   itself is called from his name _Bragr_, which epithet is also applied
   to denote a distinguished poet or poetess. His wife is named Iduna. She
   keeps in a box the apples which the gods, when they feel old age
   approaching, have only to taste of to become young again. It is in this
   manner that they will be kept in renovated youth until Ragnarök.....

   "'One of the gods is Heimdall, called also the White God. He is the son
   of nine virgins, who were sisters, and is a very sacred and powerful
   deity. He also bears the appellation of the Gold-toothed, on account of
   his teeth being of pure gold, and also that of Hallinskithi. His horse
   is called Gulltopp, and he dwells in Himinbjörg at the end of Bifröst.
   He is the warder of the gods, and is therefore placed on the borders of
   heaven, to prevent the giants from forcing their way over the bridge.
   He requires less sleep than a bird, and sees by night, as well as by
   day, a hundred miles around him. So acute is his ear that no sound
   escapes him, for he can even hear the grass growing on the earth, and
   the wool on a sheep's back. He has a horn called the Gjallar-horn,
   which is heard throughout the universe.....

   "'Among the Æsir,' continued Har,'we also reckon Hödur, who is blind,
   but extremely strong. Both gods and men would be very glad if they
   never had occasion to pronounce his name, for they will long have cause
   to remember the deed perpetrated by his hand.

   "'Another god is Vidar, surnamed the Silent, who wears very thick
   shoes. He is almost as strong as Thor himself, and the gods place great
   reliance on him in all critical conjunctures.

   "'Vali, another god, is the son of Odin and Rinda; he is bold in war,
   and an excellent archer.

   "'Another is called Ullur, who is the son of Sif, and stepson of Thor.
   He is so well skilled in the use of the bow, and can go so fast on his
   snow-skates, that in these arts no one can contend with him. He is also
   very handsome in his person, and possesses every quality of a warrior,
   wherefore it is befitting to invoke him in single combats.

   "'The name of another god is Forseti, who is the son of Baldur and
   Nanna, the daughter of Nef. He possesses the heavenly mansion called
   Glitnir, and all disputants at law who bring their cases before him go
   away perfectly reconciled.....'


   "'There is another deity,' continued Har, 'reckoned in the number of
   the Æsir, whom some call the calumniator of the gods, the contriver of
   all fraud and mischief, and the disgrace of gods and men. His name is
   Loki or Loptur. He is the son of the giant Farbauti.....Loki is
   handsome and well made, but of a very fickle mood, and most evil
   disposition. He surpasses all beings in those arts called Cunning and
   Perfidy. Many a time has he exposed the gods to very great perils, and
   often extricated them again by his artifices.....

   "'Loki,' continued Har, 'has likewise had three children by Angurbodi,
   a giantess of Jötunheim. The first is the wolf Fenrir; the second
   Jormungand, the Midgard serpent; the third Hela (Death). The gods were
   not long ignorant that these monsters continued to be bred up in
   Jötunheim, and, having had recourse to divination, became aware of all
   the evils they would have to suffer from them; their being sprung from
   such a mother was a bad presage, and from such a sire, one still worse.
   All-father therefore deemed it advisable to send one of the gods to
   bring them to him. When they came he threw the serpent into that deep
   ocean by which the earth is engirdled. But the monster has grown to
   such an enormous size that, holding his tail in his mouth, he encircles
   the whole earth. Hela he cast into Niflheim, and gave her power over
   nine worlds (regions), into which she distributes those who are sent to
   her, that is to say, all who die through sickness or old age. Here she
   possesses a habitation protected by exceedingly high walls and strongly
   barred gates. Her hall is called Elvidnir; Hunger is her table;
   Starvation, her knife; Delay, her man; Slowness, her maid; Precipice,
   her threshold; Care, her bed; and Burning Anguish forms the hangings of
   her apartments. The one half of her body is livid, the other half the
   color of human flesh. She may therefore easily be recognized; the more
   so, as she has a dreadfully stern and grim countenance.

   "'The wolf Fenrir was bred up among the gods; but Tyr alone had the
   daring to go and feed him. Nevertheless, when the gods perceived that
   he every day increased prodigiously in size, and that the oracles
   warned them that he would one day become fatal to them, they determined
   to make a very strong iron fetter for him, which they called Læding.
   Taking this fetter to the wolf, they bade him try his strength on it.
   Fenrir, perceiving that the enterprise would not be very difficult for
   him, let them do what they pleased, and then, by great muscular
   exertion, burst the chain, and set himself at liberty. The gods, having
   seen this, made another fetter, half as strong again as the former,
   which they called Drómi, and prevailed on the wolf to put it on,
   assuring him that, by breaking this, he would give an undeniable proof
   of his vigor.

   "'The wolf saw well enough that it would not be so easy to break this
   fetter, but finding at the same time that his strength had increased
   since he broke Læding, and thinking that he could never become famous
   without running some risk, voluntarily submitted to be chained. When
   the gods told him that they had finished their task, Fenrir shook
   himself violently, stretched his limbs, rolled on the ground, and at
   last burst his chains, which flew in pieces all around him. He thus
   freed himself from Drómi, which gave rise to the proverb "_at leysa or
   læðingi eða at drepa or dróma_" (to get loose out of Læding, or to dash
   out of Drómi), when anything is to be accomplished by strong efforts.'

   "'After this, the gods despaired of ever being able to bind the wolf;
   wherefore All-father sent Skirnir, the messenger of Frey, into the
   country of the Dark Elves (Svartálfaheim) to engage certain dwarfs to
   make the fetter called Gleipnir. It was fashioned out of six things; to
   wit, the noise made by the footfall of a cat; the beards of women; the
   roots of stones; the sinews of bears; the breath of fish; and the
   spittle of birds. Though thou mayest not have heard of these things
   before, thou mayest easily convince thyself that we have not been
   telling thee lies. Thou must have seen that women have no beards, that
   cats make no noise when they run, and that there are no roots under
   stones. Now I know what has been told thee to be equally true, although
   there may be some things thou art not able to furnish a proof of.'

   "'I believe what thou hast told me to be true,' replied Gangler, 'for
   what thou hast adduced in corroboratiou of thy statement is
   conceivable. But how was the fetter smithied?'

   "'This I can tell thee,' replied Har, 'that the fetter was as smooth
   and soft as a silken string, and yet, as thou wilt presently hear, of
   very great strength. When it was brought to the gods they were profuse
   in their thanks to the messenger for the trouble he had given himself;
   and taking the wolf with them to the island called Lyngvi, in the Lake
   Amsvartnir, they showed him the cord, and expressed their wish that he
   would try to break it, assuring him at the same time that it was
   somewhat stronger than its thinness would warrant a person in supposing
   it to be. They took it themselves, one after another, in their hands,
   and after attempting in vain to break it, said, "Thou alone, Fenrir,
   art able to accomplish such a feat."

   "'"Methinks," replied the wolf, "that I shall acquire no fame in
   breaking such a slender cord; but if any artifice has been employed in
   making it, slender though it seems, it shall never come on my feet."

   "'The gods assured him that he would easily break a limber silken cord,
   since he had already burst asunder iron fetters of the most solid
   construction. "But if thou shouldst not succeed in breaking it," they
   added, "thou wilt show that thou art too weak to cause the gods any
   fear, and we will not hesitate to set thee at liberty without delay."

   "'"I fear me much," replied the wolf, "that if ye once bind me so fast
   that I shall be unable to free myself by my own efforts, ye will be in
   no haste to unloose me. Loath am I, therefore, to have this cord wound
   round me; but in order that ye may not doubt my courage, I will
   consent, provided one of you put his hand into my mouth as a pledge
   that ye intend me no deceit."

   "'The gods wistfully looked at each other, and found that they had only
   the choice of two evils, until Tyr stepped forward and intrepidly put
   his right hand between the monster's jaws. Hereupon the gods, having
   tied up the wolf, he forcibly stretched himself, as he had formerly
   done, and used all his might to disengage himself, but the more efforts
   he made, the tighter became the cord, until all the gods, except Tyr,
   who lost his hand, burst into laughter at the sight.

   "'When the gods saw that the wolf was effectually bound, they took the
   chain called Gelgja, which was fixed to the fetter, and drew it through
   the middle of a large rock named Gjöll, which they sank very deep into
   the earth; afterwards, to make it still more secure, they fastened the
   end of the cord to a massive stone called Thviti, which they sank still
   deeper. The wolf made in vain the most violent efforts to break loose,
   and, opening his tremendous jaws, endeavored to bite them. The gods,
   seeing this, thrust a sword into his mouth, which pierced his under jaw
   up to the hilt, so that the point touched the palate. He then began to
   howl horribly, and since that time the foam flows continually from his
   mouth in such abundance that it forms the river called Von. There will
   he remain until Ragnarök.'"

There are also goddesses in the Valhalla, of whom the Edda mentions
Frigga, Saga, and many others.

§ 5. Resemblance of the Scandinavian Mythology to that of Zoroaster.

These are the main points of the Scandinavian mythology, the resemblance
of which to that of Zoroaster has been often remarked. Each is a dualism,
having its good and evil gods, its worlds of light and darkness, in
opposition to each other. Each has behind this dualism a dim presence, a
vague monotheism, a supreme God, infinite and eternal. In each the evil
powers are for the present conquered and bound in some subterranean
prisons, but are hereafter to break out, to battle with the gods and
overcome them, but to be destroyed themselves at the same time. Each
system speaks of a great conflagration, in which all things will be
destroyed; to be followed by the creation of a new earth, more beautiful
than the other, to be the abode of peace and joy. The duty of man in each
system is war, though this war in the Avesta is viewed rather as moral
conflict, while in the Edda it is taken more grossly for physical
struggle. The tone of the theology of Zoroaster is throughout higher and
more moral than that of the Scandinavians. Its doctrine of creation is not
a mere development by a dark, unintelligent process, nor, on the other
hand, is it a Hindoo or Gnostic system of emanation. It is neither pure
materialism on the one hand nor pantheism on the other; but a true
doctrine of creation, for an intelligent and moral purpose, by the
conscious and free act of the Creator. But in many of the details, again,
we find a singular correspondence between these two systems. Odin
corresponds to Ormazd, Loki to Ahriman, the Æsir to the Amschaspands, the
giants of Jótunheim to the Daêvas. So too the ox (Adudab) is the
equivalent of the giant Ymir, and the creation of the man and woman,
Meshia and Meshiane, is correlated to Ask and Embla. Baldur resembles the
Redeemer Sosiosh. The bridge, Bifrost, which goes up to heaven, is the
bridge Chinevat, which goes from the top of Albordj to heaven. The dog
Sirius (Sura), the watchman who keeps guard over the abyss, seems also to
correspond to Surtur, the watchman of the luminous world at the South. The
earth, in the Avesta, is called Hethra, and by the ancient Germans and
Scandinavians, Hertha,--the name given by Tacitus to this goddess,
signifying the earth, in all the Teutonic languages. In like manner, the
German name for heaven, Himmel, is derived from the Sanskrit word
"Himmala," the name of the Himmalah Mountains in Central Asia, believed by
the ancient inhabitants of Asia to be the residence of their gods[330].

§ 6. Scandinavian Worship.

The religious ceremonies of the Scandinavians were simple. Their worship,
like that of the followers of Zoroaster, was at first held in the open
air; but in later times they erected temples, some of which were quite
splendid. There were three great festivals in the year. The first was at
the winter solstice, and on the longest night of the year, which was
called the Mother Night, as that which produced the rest. This great feast
was called Yul, whence comes the English Yule, the old name for Christmas,
which festival took its place when the Scandinavians became Christians.
Their festival was in honor of the sun, and was held with sacrifices,
feasting, and great mirth. The second festival was in spring, in honor of
the earth, to supplicate fruitful crops. The third was also in the spring,
in honor of Odin. The sacrifices were of fruits, afterward animals, and
occasionally, in later times, human beings. The people believed in divine
interposition, and also in a fixed destiny, but especially in themselves,
in their own force and courage. Some of them laughed at the gods, some
challenged them to fight with them, and professed to believe in nothing
but their own might and main. One warrior calls for Odin, as a foeman
alone worthy of his steel, and it was considered lawful to fight the gods.
The quicken-tree, or mountain-ash, was believed to possess great virtues,
on account of the aid it afforded to Thor on one occasion.

Beside the priests, the Northern nations had their soothsayers. They also
believed that by the power of runes the dead could be made to speak. These
runes were called galder, and another kind of magic, mostly practised by
women, was called seid. It was thought that these wise women possessed the
power of raising and allaying storms, and of hardening the body so that
the sword could not cut it. Some charms could give preternatural strength,
others the power of crossing the sea without a ship, of creating and
destroying love, of assuming different forms, of becoming invisible, of
giving the evil eye. Garments could be charmed to protect or to destroy
the wearer. A horse's head, set on a stake, with certain imprecations,
produced fearful mischief to a foe.[331]

Very few remains of temples have been found in the North. But (as Laing
remarks in his "Sea-Kings of Norway") the most permanent remains of the
religion of Odin are found in the usages and languages of the descendants
of those who worshipped him. These descendants all retain, in the names of
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the recollections of the chief gods of
this mythology. Mara (the nightmare) still torments the sleep of the
English-speaking people; and the Evil One, Nokke (so says Laing), is the
ancestor of Old Nick.

Every ninth year solemn sacrifices were held in the great temple at Upsal
in Sweden. The king and all citizens of importance must appear in person
and bring offerings. Crowds came together on these occasions, and no one
was excluded, except for some base or cowardly action. Nine human beings
were sacrificed, usually captives or slaves, but in times of great
calamity even a king was made a victim. Earl Hakon, of Norway, offered his
son in sacrifice to obtain a victory over some pirates. The bodies were
buried in groves, which thence were regarded as very sacred. One, called
Odin's grove, near the temple of Upsal, was sacred in every twig and leaf.

§ 7. Social Character, Maritime Discoveries, and Political Institutions of
the Scandinavians.

Of the manners, customs, and habits of the Scandinavians, we cannot speak
at length. Society among them was divided into two classes,--the
landholder or bondsmen, and the thralls or slaves. The duty of the last
was to perform domestic service and till the ground, and they consisted of
prisoners taken in war and their children. The business of the landholder
or bondsman was war, and his chief virtue courage. His maxim was, to
conquer a single opponent, to attack two, not to yield to three, and only
to give way to four. To die in battle was their high ambition; then they
believed that they should pass to the halls of Odin. King Ragnar died
singing the pleasure of receiving death in battle, saying, "The hours of
my life have passed away; I shall die laughing." Saxo, describing a duel,
said that one of the champions fell, laughed, and died. Rather than die in
their bed, some, when sick, leaped from a rock into the sea. Others, when
dying, would be carried into a field of battle. Others induced their
friends to kill them. The Icelandic Sagas are filled with stories of
single combats, or _holm-gangs_. When not fighting they were fond of
feasting; and the man who could drink the most beer was counted the best.
The custom of drinking toasts came from the North. As the English give the
Queen, and we the President, as the first health on public occasions, so
they begin with a cup, first to Odin, and afterward to other deities, and
then to the memory of the dead, in what was called grave-beer. Their
institutions were patriarchal; the head of the family was the chief of the
tribe and also its priest. But all the freemen in a neighborhood met in
the Thing, where they decided disputes, laid down social regulations, and
determined on public measures. The Thing was, therefore, legislature,
court of justice, and executive council in one; and once a year, in some
central place, there was held a similar meeting to settle the affairs of
the whole country, called the Land-Thing or All-Thing. At this the king
was chosen for the whole community, who sometimes appointed subordinate
officers called Yarls, or earls, to preside over large districts. Respect
for women was a marked trait among the Scandinavians, as Tacitus has
noticed of their congeners, the Germans. They were admired for their
modesty, sense, and force of character, rather than for the fascinations
which the nations of the South prefer. When Thor described his battle with
the sorceress, the answer was, "Shame, Thor! to strike a woman!" The wife
was expected to be industrious and domestic. She carried the keys of the
house; and the Sagas frequently mention wives who divorced their husbands
for some offence, and took back their dowry. The Skalds, or Bards, had a
high place and great distinction among this people. Their songs
constituted the literature and history of the Scandinavians, and the
people listened, not as to the inspiration of an individual mind, but to
the pulsation of its own past life. Their praises were desired, their
satire feared, by the greatest heroes and kings. Their style was
figurative, sometimes bombastic, often obscure.

Of the maritime expeditions of the Northmen we have already spoken. For
many centuries they were the terror of Europe, North and South. The
sea-kings of Norway appeared before Constantinople in 866, and afterward a
body-guard of the emperors of the East was composed of these pirates, who
were called the Varangians. Even before the death of Charlemagne their
depredations brought tears to his eyes; and after his death they pillaged
and burnt the principal cities of France, and even his own palace at
Aix-la-Chapelle. They carried their arms into Spain, Italy, and Greece. In
844 a band of these sea-rovers sailed up the Guadalquiver and attacked
Seville, then in possession of the Moors, and took it, and afterward
fought a battle with the troops of Abderahman II. The followers of
Mohammed and the worshippers of Odin, the turbaned Moors and the
fair-haired Norwegians, here met, each far from his original home, each
having pursued a line of conquest, which thus came in contact at their
furthest extremes.

The Northmen in Italy sold their swords to different princes, and under
Count Rainalf built the city of Aversa in 1029[332]. In Sicily the
Northern knights defeated the Saracens, and enabled the Greek Emperor to
reconquer the island. Afterward they established themselves in Southern
Italy, and took possession of Apulia. A league formed against them by the
Greek and German Emperors and the Pope ended in the utter defeat of the
Papal and German army by three thousand Normans, and they afterward
received and held Apulia as a Papal fief. In 1060 Robert Guiscard became
Duke of Apulia and Calabria, and at last of the whole kingdom of Naples.
Sicily was conquered by his brother, Count Roger, who, with a few
Northmen, routed vast numbers of the Saracens and completed the subjection
of the island, after thirty years of war. Meantime his brother Robert
crossed the Adriatic and besieged and took Durazzo, after a fierce battle,
in which the Scandinavian soldiers of the Greek Emperor fought with the
Normans descended from the same Scandinavian ancestors.

§ 8. Relation of this System to Christianity.

The first German nation converted to Christianity was that of the Goths,
whose teacher was Ulphilas, born 318, consecrated a bishop in 348. Having
made many converts to Christianity among his people, a persecution arose
against them from the pagan Goths; and in 355, in consequence of this
persecution, he sought and obtained leave to settle his converts in Mæsia.
He preached with fervor, studied the Scripture in Greek and Latin, and
made the first translation of the Bible into any German language.
Fragments of his Gothic version are preserved at Upsal. This copy, called
the "Codex Argenteus," was captured by the Swedes at Prague during the
Thirty Years' War. This manuscript is of the sixth century, and, together
with some palimpsests, is the only source of our knowledge of this ancient

Ulphilas was an Arian, and died confessing his faith in that form of
Unitarianism. Neander says it is to the credit of the orthodox historians
that they do not on that account abate anything of their praise of
Ulphilas for his great labors as a missionary, confessor, and doctor. His
translation was, for a long time, used all over Europe by the various
tribes of German descent.

Ulphilas, therefore, led the way in that work which resulted in one of the
greatest events of modern history; namely, the conversion of the German
race to Christianity. It was by various families of this Teutonic
stem--Goths, Vandals, Saxons, Lombards, Burgundians, Franks--that the
Roman Empire was overthrown. If they had not been converted to
Christianity before and during these conquests, what would have been the
fate of European civilization? The only bond uniting the modern and
ancient world was the Christian faith, and this faith was so adapted to
the German character that it was everywhere accepted by them[334]. The
conversion of the Anglo-Saxons by Augustin (A.D. 597), of the Germans by
Boniface (A.D. 718-755), of the Saxons (A.D. 803), and the universal
downfall of German heathenism, was a condition _sine qua non_ of that
union of Latin and Greek culture with the German vitality, which was at
the root of modern European civilization. Previous to this the Visigoths
were converted, as we have seen; then the Ostrogoths; then the Vandals and
Gepidæ,--all in the fourth century. The Franks became Christians in the
fifth century, the Alemanni and Lombards in the sixth. All of these tribes
were converted by Arian missionaries, except the Franks. But the records
of these missions have perished, for the historians were Catholics, "who,"
says Milman[335], "perhaps destroyed, or disdained to preserve, the fame
of Arian conquests to a common Christianity." "It was a surprising
spectacle," says he, "to behold the Teutonic nations melting gradually
into the general mass of Christian worshippers. In every other respect
they were still distinct races. The conquering Ostrogoth or Visigoth, the
Vandal, the Burgundian, the Frank, stood apart from the subjugated Roman
population, as an armed or territorial aristocracy. They maintain, in
great part at least, their laws, their language, their habits, their
character; in religion alone they are blended into one society, constitute
one church, worship at the same altar, and render allegiance to the same
hierarchy. This is the single bond of their common humanity."

The German races also established everywhere the feudal system, that
curious institution, which has been the subject of so much discussion, and
has perplexed the readers of history by its incongruities. These
perplexities, however, may perhaps be relieved if we see that the
essential character of this institution was this, that it was an army
permanently quartered on a subject people. This definition contains the
explanation of the whole system. The Germans had overrun and conquered the
Roman Empire. They intended to possess and retain it. But being much fewer
in numbers than the conquered people, how could they do this? Suppose that
when the Confederate States had been conquered by the Union Army it had
been determined to hold them permanently as a conquered territory. It
could be done thus. First, the original inhabitants must be disarmed and
put under stringent laws, like that of the curfew, etc. Then to every
private soldier in the Union Army a farm, say of fifty acres, would be
assigned, on condition that whenever summoned by the captain of his
company he would present himself armed to do military duty. In like manner
the captain would receive, say a hundred acres, on condition of appearing
with his company when summoned by his colonel. Then the colonel would
receive five hundred acres, on condition of appearing with his regiment
when summoned by the general. The general (_dux_, duke) must appear with
his brigade when summoned by the commander-in-chief (_imperator_,
emperor), and he would hold perhaps a thousand acres on this condition.
All this land, thus held on condition of military service, would be held
in fee, and would exemplify the actual foundation of the whole feudal
system, which was simply an arrangement by which a conquering army could
hold down the conquered nation.

Of course, such a system as this was one of tyranny and cruelty, and
during several centuries it was tempered and softened only by the
mediatorial influence of the Christian Church. This was the only power
strong enough to shield the oppressed and to hold back the arm of the
tyrant. Feudalism served, no doubt, some useful purposes. It was a method
of riveting together, with iron nails, the conquerors and conquered, until
they could come into a union of a better kind.

It was about the year 1000 that the people of the North were converted to
Christianity. This process of conversion was a long time going on, and
there were several relapses into paganism; so that no precise time can be
fixed for the conversion of a single nation, much less for that of the
different branches of the Scandinavian stock separately situated in Sweden
and Denmark, Iceland and Greenland, and colonized in England and Normandy.
A mission was established in Denmark, A.D. 822, and the king was baptized;
but the overthrow of this Christian king restricted the labors of the
missionary. An attempt was made in Sweden in 829, and the missionary,
Anschar, remained there a year and a half; but the mission there
established was soon overthrown. Uniting wisdom with his ardor, Anschar
established at Hamburg schools where he educated Danish and Swedish boys
to preach Christianity in their own language to their countrymen. But the
Normans laid waste this city, and the Christian schools and churches were
destroyed. About 850 a new attempt was made in Sweden, and there the
subject was laid by the king before his council or parliament, consisting
of two assemblies, and they decided to allow Christianity to be preached
and practised, apparently on the ground that this new god, Christ, might
help them in their dangers at sea, when the other gods could not. And
thus, according to the independent character of this people, Christianity
was neither allowed to be imposed upon them by their king against their
will, nor excluded from the use of those who chose to adopt it. It took
its chance with the old systems, and many of the Danes and Normans
believed in worshipping both Odin and Christ at the same time. King Harold
in Denmark, during the last half of the tenth century, favored the spread
of Christianity, and was himself baptized with his wife and son, believing
at first that the Christian God was more powerful than the heathen gods,
but finally coming to the conclusion that these last were only evil
spirits. On the other hand, some of the Danes believed that Christ was a
god, and to be worshipped; but that he was a less powerful god than Odin
or Thor. The son of King Harold, in 990, returned to paganism and drove
out the Christian priests; but his son, Canute the Great, who began to
reign in 1014, was converted to Christianity in England, and became its
zealous friend. But these fierce warriors made rather poor Christians.
Adam of Bremen says: "They so abominate tears and lamentations, and all
other signs of penitence which we think so salubrious, that they will
neither weep for their own sins nor at the death of their best friends."
Thus, in these Northern regions, Christianity grew through one or two
centuries, not like the mustard-seed, but like the leaven, infusing itself
more and more into their national life. According to the testimony of an
eye-witness, Adam of Bremen, the Swedes were very susceptible to religious
impressions. "They receive the preachers of the truth with great
kindness," says he, "if they are modest, wise, and able; and our bishops
are even allowed to preach in their great public assemblies." In Norway,
Prince Hacon, in the middle of the tenth century, attempted to establish
Christianity, which he had learned in England. He proposed to the great
national assembly that the whole nation should renounce idolatry, worship
God and Christ, keep Sundays as festivals, and Fridays as fasts. Great
opposition was made, and there was danger of universal insurrection, so
that the king had to yield, and even himself drink a toast to Odin and eat
horse-flesh, which was a heathen practice. Subsequent kings of Norway
introduced Christianity again; but the people, though willing to be
baptized, frequently continued Pagans, and only by degrees renounced, with
their old worship, their habits of piracy. The Icelanders embraced
Christianity at their All-Thing in the year 1000, but with the condition
that they might also continue their old worship, and be permitted the
eating of horse-flesh and exposition of infants. When the All-Thing broke
up, the assembled multitudes went to the hot-baths to be baptized,
preferring for this rite hot water to cold. The Scandinavians seem at this
period to have lost their faith in their old religion, and to have been in
a transition state. One warrior says that he relies more on his own
strength and arms than upon Thor. Another says, "I would have thee know
that I believe neither in idols nor spirits, but only in my own force and
courage." A warrior told King Olaff in Norway, "I am neither Christian nor
Pagan. My companions and I have no other religion than confidence in our
own strength and good success." Evidently Christianity for a long time sat
very lightly on these nations. They were willing to be baptized and accept
some of the outward ceremonies and festivals of the Catholic Church, which
were considerately made to resemble their old ones.

Nevertheless Christianity met many of the wants of this noble race of men;
and, on the other hand, their instincts as a race were as well adapted to
promote an equal development of every side of Christian life. The Southern
races of Europe received Christianity as a religion of order; the Northern
races, as a religion of freedom. In the South of Europe the Catholic
Church, by its ingenious organization and its complex arrangements,
introduced into life discipline and culture. In the North of Europe
Protestant Christianity, by its appeals to the individual soul, awakens
conscience and stimulates to individual and national progress. The nations
of Southern Europe accepted Christianity mainly as a religion of sentiment
and feeling; the nations of Northern Europe, as a religion of truth and
principle. God adapted Christianity to the needs of these Northern races;
but he also adapted these races, with their original instincts and their
primitive religion, to the needs of Christianity. Without them, we do not
see how there could be such a thing in Europe to-day as Protestantism. It
was no accident which made the founder of the Reformation a Saxon monk,
and the cradle of the Reformation Germany. It was no accident which
brought the great Gustavus Adolphus from the northern peninsula, at the
head of his Swedish Protestants, to turn the tide of war in favor of
Protestantism and to die on the field of Lutzen, fighting for freedom of
spirit. It is no accident which makes the Scandinavian races to-day, in
Sweden and Norway, in Denmark and North Germany and Holland, in England
and the United States, almost the only Protestant nations of the world.
The old instincts still run in the blood, and cause these races to ask of
their religion, not so much the luxury of emotion or the satisfaction of
repose, in having all opinions settled for them and all actions
prescribed, as, much rather, light, freedom, and progress. To them
to-day, as to their ancestors,

    "Is life a simple art
      Of duties to be done,
    A game where each man takes his part,
      A race where all must run;
    A battle whose great scheme and scope
      They little care to know;
    Content, as men at arms, to cope
      Each with his fronting foe."

Chapter X.

The Jewish Religion.

  § 1. Palestine, and the Semitic Races.
  § 2. Abraham; or, Judaism as the family Worship of a Supreme Being.
  § 3. Moses; or, Judaism as the national Worship of a just and holy King.
  § 4. David; or, Judaism as the personal Worship of a Father and Friend.
  § 5. Solomon; or, the Religious Relapse.
  § 6. The Prophets; or, Judaism as the Hope of a spiritual and universal
         Kingdom of God.
  § 7. Judaism as a Preparation for Christianity.

§ 1. Palestine, and the Semitic Races.

Palestine is a word equivalent to Philistia, or the land of the
Philistines. A similar name for the coast region of Syria has been found
on a monument in Nineveh,[336] and at Karnak in Egypt.[337] Josephus and
Philo use the term "Palestine," as applying to the Philistines; and the
accurate learning of Milton appears in his using it in the same
sense.[338] "The land of Canaan," "The land of Israel," and "Judæa" were
the names afterward given to the territory of the children of Israel. It
is a small country, like others as famous; for it is only about one
hundred and forty English miles in length, and forty in width. It
resembles Greece and Switzerland, not only in its small dimensions, but by
being composed of valleys, separated by chains of mountains and by ranges
of hills. It was isolated by the great sea of sand on the east, and the
Mediterranean on the west. Sharply defined on the east, west, and south,
it stretches indefinitely into Syria on the north. It is a hilly,
high-lying region, having all the characters of Greece except proximity to
the sea, and all those of Switzerland except the height of the mountains.
Its valleys were well watered and fertile. They mostly ran north and
south; none opened a way across, Judæa to the Mediterranean. This
geographical fact assisted in the isolation of the country. Two great
routes of travel passed by its borders without entering its hills. On the
west the plains of Philistia were the highway of the Assyrian and Egyptian
armies. On the north the valley of the Orontes, separated by the chain of
Lebanon from Palestine, allowed the people of Asia a free passage to the
sea. So, though surrounded by five great nations, all idolatrous,--the
Babylonians, Medes, Assyrians, Phoenicians, and Egyptians,--the people of
Judæa were enabled to develop their own character and institutions without
much interference from without. Inaccessible from the sea, and surrounded,
like the Swiss, by the natural fortifications of their hills, like the
Swiss they were also protected by their poverty from spoilers. But being
at the point of contact of three continents, they had (like the
Mahommedans afterwards) great facilities for communicating their religious
ideas to other nations.

Palestine is so small a country that from many points the whole of it may
be overlooked[339]. Toward the east, from all points, may be seen the high
plateau of Moab and the mountains of Gilead. Snow-capped Hermon is always
visible on the north. In the heart of the land rises the beautiful
mountain Tabor, clothed with vegetation to its summit. It is almost a
perfect cone, and commands the most interesting view in all directions.
From its top, to which you ascend from Nazareth by a path which Jesus may
have trod, you see to the northeast the lofty chain of Hermon (Jebel es
Sheikh = the Captain) rising into the blue sky to the height of ten
thousand feet, covered with eternal snow. West of this appears the chain
of Lebanon. At the foot of Tabor the plain of Esdraelon extends northerly,
dotted with hills, and animated with the camps of the Arabs[340]. The Lake
of Galilee gleams, a silver line, on the east, with Bashan and the
mountains of Gilead in the distance, and farther to the southeast the
great plateau of Moab rises like a mountain wall beyond the Jordan. The
valley of the Jordan itself, sunk far below the level of the
Mediterranean, is out of sight in its deep valley; nor is anything seen of
the Dead Sea. To the northwest rises rocky Carmel, overhanging the Bay of
Accha (or Acre), on the Mediterranean.

The whole country stands high. Hebron, at the south, is three thousand
feet above the level of the sea; Jerusalem is twenty-six hundred; the
Mount of Olives, twenty-seven hundred; and Ebal and Gerizim in Samaria,
the same. The valley in which Nazareth stands is eight hundred and twenty
feet above the sea; that at the foot of Tabor, four hundred and
thirty-nine; while the summit of Tabor itself is seventeen hundred and
fifty. From Judæa the land plunges downward very rapidly toward the east
into the valley of Jordan. The surface of Lake Galilee is already five
hundred and thirty-five feet below that of the Mediterranean, and that of
the Dead Sea is five hundred feet lower down.[341] Palestine is therefore
a mountain fastness, and most of the waves of war swept by, leaving it
untouched and unassailed. From Jerusalem to Jericho the distance is only
thirteen miles, but the latter place is a thousand feet lower than the
former, so that it was very proper to speak of a man's "going down from
Jerusalem to Jericho."

The Jews belonged to what has been called the Semitic race. This family,
the only historic rival of the Japhetic (or Aryan) race, is ethnologically
composed of the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Phoenicians, the Hebrews
and other Syrian tribes, the Arabs and the Carthaginians. It is a race
which has been great on land and at sea. In the valley of the Euphrates
and that of the Tigris its sons carried all the arts of social life to the
highest perfection, and became mighty conquerors and warlike soldiers. On
the Mediterranean their ships, containing Phoenician navigators, explored
the coasts, made settlements at Carthage and Cadiz, and sailing out of the
Straits of Gibraltar went as far north as Great Britain, and
circumnavigated Africa two thousand years before Vasco da Gama. This race
has given to man the alphabet, the Bible, the Koran, commerce, and in
Hannibal the greatest military genius of all time.

That the different nations inhabiting the region around the Euphrates and
Tigris, Syria and Arabia, belonged to one great race, is proved by the
unimpeachable testimony of language. The Bible genealogies trace them to
Shem, the son of Noah. Ewald,[342] who believes that this region was
inhabited by an aboriginal people long before the days of Abraham,--a
people who were driven out by the Canaanites,--nevertheless says that they
no doubt were a Semitic people. The languages of all these nations is
closely related, being almost dialects of a single tongue, the differences
between them being hardly greater than between the subdivisions of the
German group of languages.[343] That which has contributed to preserve the
close homogeneity among these tongues is, that they have little power of
growth or development. As M. Renan says, "they have less lived than

The Phoenicians used a language almost identical with the Hebrew. A
sarcophagus of Ezmunazar, king of Sidon, dating from the fifth century
before Christ, was discovered a few years since, and is now in the Museum
of the Louvre. It contains some thirty sentences of the length of an
average verse in the Bible, and is in pure Hebrew.[345] In a play of
Plautus[346] a Carthaginian is made to speak a long passage in his native
language, the Punic tongue; this is also very readable Hebrew. The black
basalt stele, lately discovered in the land of Moab, contains an
inscription of Mesha, king of Moab, addressed to his god, Chemosh,
describing his victory over the Israelites. This is also in a Hebrew
dialect. From such facts it appears that the Hebrews, Phoenicians, and
Canaanites were all congeners with each other, and with the Babylonians
and Assyrians.

But now the striking fact appears that the Hebrew _religion_ differed
widely from that of these other nations of the same family. The Assyrians,
Babylonians, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians all possessed a nearly
identical religion. They all believed in a supreme god, called by the
different names of Ilu, Bel, Set, Hadad, Moloch, Chemosh, Jaoh, El, Adon,
Asshur. All believed in subordinate and secondary beings, emanations from
this supreme being, his manifestations to the world, rulers of the
planets. Like other pantheistic religions, the custom prevailed among the
Semitic nations of promoting first one and then another deity to be the
supreme object of worship. Among the Assyrians, as among the Egyptians,
the gods were often arranged in triads, as that of Ann, Bel, and Ao. Anu,
or Cannes, wore the head of a fish; Bel wore the horns of a bull; Ao was
represented by a serpent. These religions represented the gods as the
spirit within nature, and behind natural objects and forces,--powers
within the world, rather than above the world. Their worship combined
cruelty and licentiousness, and was perhaps as debasing a superstition as
the world has witnessed. The Greeks, who were not puritans themselves in
their religion, were shocked at the impure orgies of this worship, and
horrified at the sacrifice of children among the Canaanites and

How then did the Hebrews, under Moses and the later prophets, originate a
system so widely different? Their God was above nature, not in it. He
stood alone, unaccompanied by secondary deities; he made no part of a
triad; he was not associated with a female representative. His worship
required purity, not pollution; its aim was holiness, and its spirit
humane, not cruel. Monotheistic in its spirit from the first, it became an
absolute monotheism in its development. Whence this wide departure in the
Hebrews from the religious tendencies and belief of the surrounding
nations, who spoke the same language and belonged to the same stock?

M. Renan considers this a question of race.[347] He says: "The
Indo-European race, distracted by the variety of the universe, never by
itself arrived at monotheism. The Semitic race, on the other hand, guided
by its firm and sure sight, instantly unmasked Divinity, and without
reflection or reasoning attained the purest form of religion that humanity
has known." But the Assyrians, Babylonians, Arabians before Mohammed,
Phoenicians, and Carthaginians, and perhaps the Egyptians, belonged to the
Semitic race. Yet none of these nations attained to any monotheism purer
than that of the Veda or the Avesta. The Arabs, near relations of the
Hebrews, were divided between a worship like that of Babylon and Sabæism,
or star-worship. No doubt in all these Semitic families the idea of one
supreme god lay behind that of the secondary deities; but this was also
the case in the Aryan races. And in both this primitive monotheism receded
instead of becoming more distinct, with the single exception of the
Hebrews. M. Renan's view is not, therefore, supported by the facts. We
must look further to find the true cause, and therefore are obliged to
examine somewhat in detail the main points of Hebrew history. It would be
easy, but would not accord with our plan, to accept the common Christian
explanation, and say, "Monotheism was a direct revelation to Moses." For
we are now not able to assume such a revelation, and are obliged to
consider the subject from the outside, from the stand-point of pure

§ 2. Abraham; or, Judaism as the family Worship of a Supreme Being.

We have been so accustomed to regard the Jewish religion as a part of our
own, and so to look at it from within, that it is hard to take the
historic position, and to look at it from without. But to compare it with
other religions, and to see what it really is and is not, this is
necessary. It becomes more difficult to assume the attitude of an
impartial observer, because of the doctrine of verbal inspiration, so
universally taught in the Protestant Church. From childhood we have looked
on the Old Testament as inspired throughout, and all on the same level of
absolute infallibility. There is no high, no low, no degrees of certitude
or probability, where every word is assumed to be the very word of God.
But those who still hold to the plenary inspiration of the Old Testament
must consent, for our present purpose, to suspend their faith in this
doctrine, and provisionally to look at the Old Testament with the same
impartial though friendly scrutiny with which we have regarded the sacred
books of other nations. Not a little will be gained for the Jewish
Scriptures by this position. If they lose the authority which attaches to
the Word of God, they will gain the interest which belongs to the
utterance of man.

While M. Renan finds the source of Hebrew monotheism in a like tendency in
the whole Semitic race,--a supposition which we have seen to be
contradicted by the facts,--Max Müller regards the true origin of this
tendency to be in Abraham himself, the friend of God, and Father of the
Faithful. He calls attention to the fact that both Moses and Christ, and
subsequently Mohammed, preached no new God, but the God of Abraham.
"Thus," says he, "the faith in the one living God, which seemed to require
the admission of a monotheistic instinct grafted in every member of the
Semitic family, is traced back to one man." He adds his belief that this
faith of Abraham in one supreme God came to him by a special revelation.

And if, by a special revelation, is meant a grand profound insight, an
inspired vision of truth, so deep and so living as to make it a reality
like that of the outward world, then we see no better explanation of the
monotheism of the Hebrews than this conviction transmitted from Abraham
through father and son, from generation to generation.

For the most curious fact about this Jewish people is, that every one of
them[348] is a child of Abraham. All looked back with the same ancestral
pride to their great progenitor, the friend of God. This has never been
the case with any other nation, for the Arabs are not a nation. One can
hardly imagine a greater spur to patriotism than this union of pride of
descent with pride in one's nation and its institutions. The proudest and
poorest Jew shared it together. There was one distinction, and that the
most honorable, which belonged equally to all.

We have seen that, in all the Semitic nations, behind the numerous divine
beings representing the powers of nature, there was dimly visible one
Supreme Being, of whom all these were emanations. The tendency to lose
sight of this First Great Cause, so common in the race, was reversed in
Abraham. His soul rose to the contemplation of the Perfect Being, above
all, and the source of all. With passionate love he adored this Most High
God, Maker of heaven and earth. Such was his devotion to this Almighty
Being, that men, wondering, said, "Abraham is the friend of the Most High
God!" He desired to find a home where he could bring up his children in
this pure faith, undisturbed and unperverted by the gross and low worship
around him. In some "deep dream or solemn vision" it was borne in on his
mind that he must go and find such a home.

We are not to suppose, however, that the mind of Abraham rose to a clear
conception of the unity of God, as excluding all other divine beings. The
idea of local, tribal, family gods was too deeply rooted to be at once
relinquished. Abraham, as described in Genesis, is a great Arab chief, a
type of patriarchal life, in which all authority is paternal. The religion
of such a period is filial, and God is viewed as the protector and friend
of the family or tribe. Only the family God of Abraham was the highest of
all gods, the Almighty (Gen. xvii. 1), who was also the God of Isaac (Gen.
xxviii. 3) and of Jacob (Gen. xxxv. 11).

Stanley[349] expresses his satisfaction that the time has past in which
the most fastidious believer can object to hearing Abraham called a
Bedouin sheik. The type has remained unchanged through all the centuries,
and the picture in the Bible of Abraham in his tent, of his hospitality,
his self-respect, his courage, and also of his less noble traits,
occasional cunning and falsehood, and cruelty toward Hagar and
Ishmael,--these qualities, good and bad, are still those of the desert.
Only in Abraham something higher and exceptional was joined with them.

In the Book of Genesis Abraham enters quite abruptly upon the scene. His
genealogy is given in Genesis (chap, xi.), he being the ninth in descent
from Shem, each generation occupying a little more than thirty years. The
birth of Abraham is usually placed somewhere about two thousand years
before Christ. His father's name was Terah, whom the Jewish and Mohammedan
traditions describe as an idolater and maker of idols. He had two
brothers, Nahor and Haran; the latter being the father of Lot, and the
other, Nahor, being the grandfather of Rebecca, wife of Isaac. Abraham's
father, Terah, lived in Ur of the Chaldees (called in Scripture Casdim).
The Chaldees, who subsequently inhabited the region about the Persian
Gulf, seemed at first to have lived among the mountains of Armenia, at the
source of the Tigris; and this was the region where Abraham was born, a
region now occupied by the people called Curds, who are perhaps
descendants of the old Chaldees, the inhabitants of Ur. The Curds are
Mohammedans and robbers, and quite independent, never paying taxes to the
Porte. The Chaldees are frequently mentioned in Scripture and in ancient
writers. Xenophon speaks of the Carduchi as inhabitants of the mountains
of Armenia, and as making incursions thence to plunder the country, just
as the Curds do now. He says they were found there by the younger Cyrus,
and by the ten thousand Greeks. The Greeks, in their retreat, were obliged
to fight their way through them, and found them very skilful archers. So
did the Romans under Crassus and Mark Antony. And so are they described by
the Prophet Habakkuk (chap, i. 6-9):--

    "For lo, I raise up the Chaldeans,
    A bitter and hasty nation,
    Which marches far and wide in the earth,
    To possess the dwellings that are not theirs.
    They are terrible and dreadful,
    Their decrees and their judgments proceed only from themselves.
    Swifter than leopards are their horses,
    And fiercer than the evening wolves.
    Their horsemen prance proudly around;
    And their horsemen shall come from afar and fly,
    Like the eagle when he pounces on his prey.
    They all shall come for violence,
    In troops,--their glance is ever forward!
    They gather captives like the sand!"

As they were in the time of Habakkuk, so are they to-day. Shut up on every
side in the Persian Empire, their ancestors, the Carduchi, refused
obedience to the great king and his satraps, just as the Curds refuse to
obey the grand seignior and his pashas. They can raise a hundred and forty
thousand armed men. They are capable of any undertaking. Mohammed himself
said, "They would yet revolutionize the world."

The ancient Chaldees seem to have been fire-worshippers, like the
Persians. They were renowned for the study of the heavens and the worship
of the stars, and some remains of Persian dualism still linger among their
descendants, who are accused of Devil-worship by their neighbors.

That Abraham was a real person, and that his story is historically
reliable, can hardly be doubted by those who have the historic sense. Such
pictures, painted in detail with a Pre-Raphaelite minuteness, are not of
the nature of legends. Stories which are discreditable to his character,
and which place him in a humiliating position towards Pharaoh and
Abimelech, would not have appeared in a fictitious narrative. The mythical
accounts of Abraham, as found among the Mohammedans and in the
Talmud,[350] show, by their contrast, the difference between fable and

The events in the life of Abraham are so well known that it is not
necessary even to allude to them. We will only refer to one, as showing
that others among the tribes in Palestine, besides Abraham, had a faith in
God similar to his. This is the account of his meeting with Melchisedek.
This mysterious person has been so treated by typologists that all human
meaning has gone out of him, and he has become, to most minds, a very
vapory character.[351] But this is doing him great injustice.

One mistake often made about him is, to assume that "Melchisedek, King of
Salem," gives us the name and residence of the man, whereas both are his
official titles. His name we do not know; his office and title had
swallowed it up. "King of Justice and King of Peace,"--this is his
designation. His office, as we believe, was to be umpire among the chiefs
of neighboring tribes. By deciding the questions which arose among them,
according to equity, he received his title of "King of Justice." By thus
preventing the bloody arbitrament of war, he gained the other name, "King
of Peace." All questions, therefore, as to where "Salem" was, fall to the
ground. Salem means "peace"; it does not mean the place of his abode.

But in order to settle such intertribal disputes, two things were
necessary: first, that the surrounding Bedouin chiefs should agree to take
him as their arbiter; and, secondly, that some sacredness should attach to
his character, and give authority to his decisions. Like others in those
days, he was both king and priest; but he was priest "of the Most High
God,"--not of the local gods of the separate tribes, but of the highest
God, above all the rest. That he was the acknowledged arbiter of
surrounding tribes appears from the fact that Abraham paid to him tithes
out of the spoils. It is not likely that Abraham did this if there were no
precedent for it; for he regarded the spoils as belonging, not to himself,
but to the confederates in whose cause he fought. No doubt it was the
custom, as in the case of Delphi, to pay tithes to this supreme arbiter;
and in doing so Abraham was simply following the custom. The Jewish
traveller, Wolff, states that in Mesopotamia a similar custom prevails at
the present time. One sheik is selected from the rest, on account of his
superior probity and piety, and becomes their "King of Peace and
Righteousness." A similar custom, I am told, prevails among some American
tribes. Indeed, where society is organized by clans, subject to local
chiefs, some such arrangement seems necessary to prevent perpetual feuds.

This "King of Justice and Peace" gave refreshments to Abraham and his
followers after the battle, blessing him in the name of the Most High God.
As he came from no one knows where, and has no official status or descent,
the fact that Abraham recognized him as a true priest is used in the Book
of Psalms and the Epistle to the Hebrews to prove there is a true
priesthood beside that of the house of Levi. A priest after the order of
Melchisedek is one who becomes so by having in him the true faith, though
he has "no father nor mother, beginning of days nor end of life," that is,
no genealogical position in an hereditary priesthood.

The God of Abraham was "The Most High." He was the family God of Abraham's
tribe and of Abraham's descendants. Those who should worship other gods
would be disloyal to their tribe, false to their ancestors, and must be
regarded as outlaws. Thus the faith in a Supreme Being was first
established in the minds of the descendants of Abraham by family pride,
reverence for ancestors, and patriotic feeling. The faith of Abraham, that
his God would give to his descendants the land of Palestine, and multiply
them till they should be as numerous as the stars or the sand, was that
which made him the Father of the Faithful.

The faith of Abraham, as we gather it from Genesis, was in God as a
Supreme Being. Though almighty, God was willing to be Abraham's personal
protector and friend. He talks with Abraham face to face. He comes to him,
and agrees to give to him and to his posterity the land of Canaan, and in
this promise Abraham has entire faith. His monotheism was indeed of an
imperfect kind. It did not exclude a belief in other gods, though they
were regarded as inferior to his own. His family God, though almighty, was
not omnipresent. He came down to learn whether the rumors concerning the
sinfulness of Sodom were correct or not. He was not quite sure of
Abraham's faith, and so he tested it by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac,
in whom alone the promise to Abraham's descendants could be fulfilled. But
though the monotheism of Abraham was of so imperfect a kind, it had in it
the root of the better kind which was to come. It was imperfect, but not
false. It was entire faith in the supreme power of Jehovah to do what he
would, and in his disposition to be a friend to the patriarch and his
posterity. It was, therefore, trust in the divine power, wisdom, and
goodness. The difference between the religion of Abraham and that of the
polytheistic nations was, that while they descended from the idea of a
Supreme Being into that of subordinate ones, he went back to that of the
Supreme, and clung to this with his whole soul.

§ 3. Moses; or, Judaism as the national Worship of a just and holy King.

In speaking of Moses and of his law, it may be thought necessary to begin
by showing that such a man as Moses really existed; for modern criticism
has greatly employed itself in questioning the existence of great men. As
the telescope resolves stars into double, triple, and quadruple stars, and
finally into star-dust, so the critics, turning their optical tubes toward
that mighty orb which men call Homer, have declared that they have
resolved him into a great number of little Homers. The same process has
been attempted in regard to Shakespeare. Some have tried to show that
there never was any Shakespeare, but only many Shakespeare writers. In
like manner, the critics have sought to dissolve Moses with their powerful
analysis, and, instead of Moses, to give us a number of fragmentary
writings from different times and hands, skilfully joined together; in
fact, instead of Moses, to give us a mosaic. Criticism substitutes human
tendencies in the place of great men, does not love to believe in genius,
and often appears to think that a number of mediocrities added together
can accomplish more than one man of genius.

Certainly this is a mistake. The easiest and most natural solution of
wonderful results is the supposition of genius, inspiration, heroism, as
their cause. Great men explain history. Napoleon explains the history of
Europe during a quarter of a century. Suppose a critic, a thousand years
hence, should resolve Napoleon into half a dozen Napoleons; would they
explain the history of Europe as well? Given a man like Napoleon, and we
can understand the French campaigns in Italy and Germany, the overthrow of
Austria, the annihilation of Prussia, the splendid host of field-marshals,
the Bonaparte circle of kings, the Codex, the Simplon Road, and the many
changes of states and governments on the map of Europe. One man of genius
explains it all. But take away the man of genius, and substitute a group
of small men in his place, and the thing is much more obscure and
unintelligible. So, given Moses, the man of genius and inspiration, and we
can understand the Exodus, understand the Jewish laws, understand the
Pentateuch, and understand the strange phenomenon of Judaism. But, instead
of Moses, given a mosaic, however skilfully put together, and the thing is
more difficult. Therefore, Moses is to be preferred to the mosaic, as the
more reasonable and probable of the two, just as Homer is preferable to
the Homerids, and Shakespeare to the Shakespeare Club.[352]

We find in Moses the three elements of genius, inspiration, and
knowledge. Perhaps it is not difficult to distinguish them. We see the
natural genius and temperament of Moses breaking out again and again
throughout his career, as the rocky strata underlying the soil crop out in
the midst of gardens, orchards, and fields of corn. The basis of his
nature was the hardest kind of rock, with a surging subterranean fire of
passion beneath it. An awful soul, stem and terrible as Michael Angelo
conceived him, the sublime genius carving the sublime lawgiver in
congenial marble. The statue is as stern as law itself. It sits in one of
the Roman churches, between two columns, the right hand grasping the
tables of the law, the symbolic horns of power protruding from the brow,
and the austere look of the judge bent upon those on the left hand. A
fiery nature, an iron will, a rooted sense of justice, were strangely
overflowed and softened by a tenderness toward his race, which was not so
much the feeling of a brother for brethren as of a parent for children.

Educated in the house of Pharaoh, and adopted by his daughter as her
child, taken by the powerful and learned priesthood of Egypt into their
ranks, and sharing for many years their honors and privileges, his heart
yearned toward his brethren in the land of Goshen, and he went out to see
them in their sufferings and slavery. His impetuous nature broke out in
sudden indignation at the sight of some act of cruelty, and he smote the
overseer who was torturing the Jewish slave. That act made him an exile,
and sent him to live in Arabia Petrea, as a shepherd. If he had thought
only of his own prospects and position, he would not have gone near the
Israelites at all, but lived quietly as an Egyptian priest in the palace
of Pharaoh. But, as the writer to the Hebrews says, he "refused, to be
called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction
with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a
season."[353] Another instance of his generous and tender feelings toward
his nation is seen in his behavior when the people made the golden calf.
First, his anger broke out against them, and all the sternness of the
lawgiver appeared in his command to the people to cut down their
idolatrous brethren; then the bitter tide of anger withdrew, and that of
tenderness took its place, and he returned into the mountain to the Lord
and said, "O, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods
of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I
pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." Moses did not make
much account of human life. He struck dead the Egyptian who was
ill-treating a Jew; he slew the Jews who turned to idolatry; he slew the
Midianites who tempted them; but then he was ready to give up his own life
too for the sake of his people and for the sake of the cause. This spirit
of Moses pervades his law, this same inconsistency went from his character
into his legislation; his relentless severity and his tender sympathy both
appear in it. He knows no mercy toward the transgressor, but toward the
unfortunate he is full of compassion. His law says, "Eye for eye, tooth
for tooth, hand for hand, burning for burning, stripe for stripe." But it
also says, "Ye shall neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him, for ye were
strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow or
fatherless child." "If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by
thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer." "If thou at all take thy
neighbor's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the
sun goeth down, for that is his covering." "If thou meet thine enemy's ox
or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again."

Such severities joined with such humanities we find in the character of
Moses, and such we find to have passed from his character into his laws.
But perhaps the deepest spring of character, and its most essential trait,
was his sense of justice as embodied in law. The great idea of a just law,
freely chosen, under its various aspects of Divine command, ceremonial
regulations, political order, and moral duty, distinguished his policy and
legislation from that of other founders of states. His laws rested on no
basis of mere temporal expediency, but on the two pivots of an absolute
Divine will and a deliberate national choice. It had the double sanction
of religion and justice; it was at once a revelation and a contract. There
was a third idea which it was the object of his whole system, and
especially of his ceremonial system, to teach and to cultivate,--that of
holiness. God is a holy God, his law is a holy law, the place of his
worship is a holy place, and the Jewish nation as his worshippers are a
holy people. This belief appears in the first revelation which he received
at the burning bush in the land of Midian. It explains many things in the
Levitical law, which without this would seem trivial and unmeaning. The
ceremonial purifications, clean and unclean meats, the arrangements of the
tabernacle, with its holy place, and its Holy of Holies, the Sabbath, the
dresses of the priests, the ointment with which the altar was anointed,
are all intended to develop in the minds of the people the idea of
holiness.[354] And there never was a people on whose souls this notion was
so fully impressed as it was upon the Jews. Examined, it means the eternal
distinction between right and wrong, between good and evil, and the
essential hostility which exists between them. Applied to God, it shows
him to have a nature essentially moral, and a true moral character. He
loves good and hates evil. He does not regard them with exactly the same
feeling. He cannot treat the good man and the bad man in exactly the same
way. More than monotheism, this perhaps is the characteristic of the
theology of Moses.

The character of Moses had very marked deficiencies, it had its weakness
as well as its strength. He was impetuous, impatient, wanting in
self-possession and self-control. There is a verse in the Book of Numbers
(believed by Eichhorn and Eosenmuller to be an interpolation) which calls
him the meekest of men. Such a view of his character is not confirmed by
such actions as his killing the Egyptian, his breaking the stone tables,
and the like. He declares of himself that he had no power as a speaker,
being deficient probably in the organ of language. His military skill
seems small, since he appointed Joshua for the military commander, when
the people were attacked by the Amalekites. Nor did he have, what seems
more important in a legislator, the practical tact of organizing the
administration of affairs. His father-in-law, Jethro, showed him how to
delegate the details of government to subordinates, and to reserve for
himself the general superintendence. Up to that time he had tried to do
everything by himself. That great art, in administration, of selecting
proper tools to work with, Moses did not seem to have.

Having thus briefly sketched some of the qualities of his natural genius
and character, let us see what were the essential elements of his
legislation; and first, of his theology, or teachings concerning God.

Monotheism, as we all know, lay at the foundation of the law of Moses. But
there are different kinds of monotheism. In one sense we have seen almost
all ancient religions to have been monotheisms. All taught the existence
of a Supreme Being. But usually this Supreme Being was not the object of
worship, but had receded into the background, while subordinate gods were
those really reverenced. Moses taught that the Supreme Being who made
heaven and earth, the Most High God, was also the only object of worship.
It does not appear that Moses denied the existence of the gods who were
adored by the other nations; but he maintained that they were all inferior
and subordinate, and far beneath Jehovah, and also that Jehovah alone was
to be worshipped by the Jews. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me"
(Exod. xx. 3; Deut. v. 7). "Ye shall not go after other gods" (Deut. vi.
14). "Ye shall make no mention of the name of other gods" (Exod. xxiii.
13). "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords" (Deut. x.
17). The first great peculiarity of the theology of Moses was therefore
this, that it taught that the Infinite and Supreme Being, who in most
religions was the hidden God, was to the Jews the revealed and
ever-present God, the object of worship, obedience, trust, and love. His
name was Jahveh, the "I am," the Being of beings.[355]

In a certain sense Moses taught the strict unity of God. "Hear, O Israel;
the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. vi. 4), is a statement which Jesus
calls the chief of the commandments (Mark xii. 29, 30). For when God is
conceived of as the Supreme Being he becomes at once separated by an
infinite distance from all other deities, and they cease to be gods in the
sense in which he is God. Now as Moses gave to Jehovah infinite
attributes, and taught that he was the maker and Lord of heaven and earth,
eternal (Deut. xxxiii. 27), a living God, it followed that there was no
God with him (Deut. xxxii. 39), which the prophets afterwards wrought out
into a simple monotheism. "I am God, and there is no other God beside me"
(Isaiah xliv. 8). Therefore, though Moses did not assert in terms a simple
monotheism, he taught what contained the essential germ of that idea.

This one God, supreme and infinite, was also so spiritual that no idol, no
statue, was to be made as his symbol. He was a God of truth and stern
justice, visiting the sins of parents on the children to the third and
fourth generation of those who hated him, but showing mercy to thousands
of those who loved and obeyed him. He was a God who was merciful,
long-suffering, gracious, repenting him of the evil, and seeking still to
pardon and to bless his people. No doubt there is anthropomorphism in
Moses. But if man is made in God's image, then God is in man's image too,
and we _must_, if we think of him as a living and real God, think of him
as possessing emotions like our human emotions of love, pity, sorrow,
anger, only purified from their grossness and narrowness.

Human actions and human passions are no doubt ascribed by Moses to God. A
good deal of criticism has been expended upon the Jewish Scriptures by
those who think that philosophy consists in making God as different and
distant from man as possible, and so prefer to speak of him as Deity,
Providence, and Nature. But it is only because man is made in the image of
God that he can revere God at all. Jacobi says that, "God, in creating,
_theo_morphizes man; man, therefore, necessarily _anthropo_morphizes God."
And Swedenborg teaches that God is a man, since man was made in the image
of God. Whenever we think of God as present and living, when we ascribe to
him pleasure and displeasure, liking and disliking, thinking, feeling, and
willing, we make him like a man. And _not_ to do this may be speculative
theism, but is practical atheism. Moses forbade the Jews to make any image
or likeness of God, yet the Pentateuch speaks of his jealousy, wrath,
repentance; he hardens Pharaoh's heart, changes his mind about Balaam, and
comes down from heaven in order to see if the people of Sodom were as
wicked as they were represented to be. These views are limitations to the
perfections of the Deity, and so far the views of Moses were limited. But
this is also the strong language of poetry, which expresses in a striking
and practical way the personality, holiness, and constant providence of

But Moses was not merely a man of genius, he was also a man of knowledge
and learning. During forty years he lived in Egypt, where all the learning
of the world was collected; and, being brought up by the daughter of
Pharaoh as her son, was in the closest relations with the priesthood. The
Egyptian priests were those to whom Pythagoras, Herodotus, and Plato went
for instruction. Their sacred books, as we have seen, taught the doctrine
of the unity and spirituality of God, of the immortality of the soul, and
its judgment in the future world, beside teaching the arts and sciences.
Moses probably knew all that these books could teach, and there is no
doubt that he made use of this knowledge afterward in writing his law.
Like the Egyptian priests he believed in one God; but, unlike them, he
taught that doctrine openly. Like them he established a priesthood,
sacrifices, festivals, and a temple service; but, unlike them, he allowed
no images or idols, no visible representations of the Unseen Being, and
instead of mystery and a hidden deity gave them revelation and a present,
open Deity. Concerning the future life, about which the Egyptians had so
much to say, Moses taught nothing. His rewards and punishments were
inflicted in this world. Retribution, individual and national, took place
here. As this could not have been from ignorance or accident, it must have
had a purpose, it must have been intentional. The silence of the
Pentateuch respecting immortality is one of the most remarkable features
in the Jewish religion. It has been often objected to. It has been
asserted that a religion without the doctrine of immortality and future
retribution is no religion. But in our time philosophy takes a different
view, declaring that there is nothing necessarily religious in the belief
of immortality, and that to do right from fear of future punishment or
hope of future reward is selfish, and therefore irreligious and immoral.
Moreover it asserts that belief in immortality is a matter of instinct,
and something to be assumed, not to be proved; and that we believe in
immortality just in proportion as the soul is full of life. Therefore,
though Moses did not teach the doctrine of immortality, he yet made it
necessary that the Jews should believe in it by the awakening influence of
his law, which roused the soul into the fullest activity.

But beside genius, beside knowledge, did not Moses also possess that which
he claimed, a special inspiration? And if so, what was his inspiration
and what is its evidence? The evidence of his inspiration is in that which
he said and did. His inspiration, like that of Abraham, consisted in his
inward vision of God, in his sight of the divine unity and holiness, in
his feeling of the personal presence and power of the Supreme Being, in
his perception of his will and of his law. He was inwardly placed by the
Divine Providence where he could see these truths, and become the medium
of communicating them to a nation. His inspiration was deeper than that of
the greatest of subsequent prophets. It was perhaps not so large, nor so
full, nor so high, but it was more entire; and therefore the power that
went forth from the word and life of Moses was not surpassed afterward.
"There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord
knew face to face." No prophet afterward till the time of Jesus did such a
work as he did. Purity, simplicity, and strength characterized his whole
conduct. His theology, his liturgy, his moral code, and his civil code
were admirable in their design and their execution.

We are, indeed, not able to say how much of the Pentateuch came from
Moses. Many parts of it were probably the work of other writers and of
subsequent times. But we cannot doubt that the essential ideas of the law
proceeded from him.

We have regarded Moses and his laws on the side of religion and also on
that of morals; it remains to consider them on that of politics. What was
the form of government established by Moses? Was it despotism or freedom?
Was it monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, or republicanism? Were the Jews a
free people or an enslaved people?

Certainly the Jews were not enslaved. They had one great protection from
despotism,--a constitution. The Mosaic law was their constitution. It was
a written constitution, and could therefore be appealed to. It was a
published constitution, and was therefore known by all the people. It was
a sacred constitution; given on the authority of God, and therefore could
not be modified, except by the same authority. This constitution therefore
was a protection against despotism. A constitution like this excludes all
arbitrary and despotic authority. We can therefore safely say that the law
of Moses saved the nation from despotism. Thus he gave them an important
element of political freedom. No matter how oppressive laws are, a
government of fixed law involves in the long run much more real freedom
than the government, however kind, which is arbitrary, and therefore
uncertain and changeable.

But were these laws oppressive? Let us look at them in a few obvious
points of view.

What did they exact in regard to taxation? We know that in Eastern
governments the people have been ground to the earth by taxation, and that
agriculture has been destroyed, the fruitful field become a wilderness,
and populous countries depopulated, by this one form of oppression. It is
because there has been no fixed rate of taxation. Each governor is allowed
to take as much as he can from his subordinates, and each of the
subordinates as much as he can get from his inferiors, and so on, till the
people are finally reached, out of whom it must all come. But under the
Mosaic constitution the taxes were fixed and certain. They consisted in a
poll-tax, in the first-fruits, and the tithes. The poll-tax was a
half-shekel paid every year at the Temple, by every adult Jew. The
first-fruits were rather an expression of gratitude than a tax. The tithes
were a tenth part of the annual produce of the soil, and went for the
support of the Levites and the general expenses of the government.

Another important point relates to trials and punishments. What security
has one of a fair trial, in case he is accused of crime, or what assurance
of justice in a civil cause? Now we know that in Eastern countries
everything depends on bribery. This Moses forbade in his law. "Thou shalt
take no gift, for the gift blindeth the eyes; thou shalt not wrest the
judgment of the poor, but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor."

Again, the accuser and accused were to appear together before the judge.
The witnesses were sworn, and were examined separately. The people had
cheap justice and near at hand. "Judges and officers shalt thou make thee
in all thy gates, throughout thy tribes; and they shall judge the people
with just judgment."

There were courts of appeal from these local judges.

There seems to have been no legislative body, since the laws of Moses were
not only a constitution but also a code. No doubt a common law grew up
under the decisions of the local courts and courts of appeal. But
provision was made by Moses for any necessary amendment of his laws by the
reference which he made to any prophet like himself who might afterward
arise, whom the people were to obey.[356]

There was no provision in the Jewish constitution for a supreme executive.
But the law foretold that the time would come in which they would desire a
king, and it defined his authority. He should be a constitutional king.
(Deut. xvii. 14-20.)

We have already said that one great object and purpose of the ceremonial
law of Moses was to develop in the minds of the people the idea of
holiness. This is expressed (Lev. xix. 2), "Speak unto all the
congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be
holy; for I the Lord your God am holy."

Another object of the ceremonial law was to surround the whole nation with
an impenetrable hedge of peculiarities, and so to keep them separate from
surrounding nations. The ceremonial law was like a shell which protected
the kernel within till it was ripe. The ritual was the thorny husk, the
theology and morality were the sacred included fruit. In this point of
view the strangest peculiarities of the ritual find an easy explanation.
The more strange they are, the better they serve their purpose. These
peculiarities produced bitter prejudice between the Jews and the
surrounding nations. Despised by their neighbors, they despised them again
in turn; and this mutual contempt has produced the result desired. The
Jews, in the very heart of the world, surrounded by great nations far more
powerful than themselves, conquered and overrun by Assyrians, Medes,
Persians, Syrians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, have been more entirely
separated from other nations than the Chinese or the people of Japan.
Dispersed as they are, they are still a distinct people, a nation within
other nations. Like drops of oil floating on the water but never mingling
with it, so the Jews are found everywhere, floating drops of national life
in the midst of other nationalities. In Leviticus (xviii. 3) we find the
command, "After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall
ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring
you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their ordinances." They
have not obeyed this command in its letter, but continue to obey its
spirit in its unwritten continuation: "After the doings of the English and
French and Americans shall ye not do, nor walk in their ordinances, but
shall still continue a peculiar people."

§ 4. David; or, Judaism as the personal Worship of a Father and friend.

Many disasters befell the Jews after their settlement in Palestine, which
we should allude to were we writing the heads of their history rather than
giving an account of their religion. Among these were their long conflict
with the Philistines, and their subjection by that people during twenty
years. The Philistines, it has been recently discovered, were not a
Semitic nation, and were not in the land in the time of Moses. They are
not mentioned as a powerful people in the Pentateuch or the Book of
Joshua, but suddenly appear as invaders in the time of the Judges,
completely defeating and subduing the Canaanites along the shore. In fact,
the Philistines were probably an Indo-European or Aryan people, and their
name is now believed to be the same as that of the Pelasgi. They were
probably a body of Pelasgi from the island of Crete, who, by successive
invasions, overran Palestine, and gave their name to it.[357] They were
finally reduced by David; and as his reign is the culminating period of
Judaism, we will devote some space to his character and influence.

The life of David makes an epoch in Jewish history and human history.
Nations, like plants, have their period of flowers and of fruit. They have
their springtime, their summer, autumn, and winter. The age of David among
the Jews was like the age of Pericles among the Greeks, of Augustus among
the Romans, of Louis XIV. in France, of Charles V. in Spain. Such periods
separate themselves from those which went before and from those which
follow. The period of David seems a thousand years removed from that of
the Judges, and yet it follows it almost immediately. As a few weeks in
spring turn the brown earth to a glad green, load the trees with foliage,
and fill the air with the perfume of blossoms and the song of birds, so a
few years in the life of a nation will change barbarism into civilization,
and pour the light of literature and knowledge over a sleeping land. Arts
flourish, external enemies are conquered, inward discontents are pacified,
wealth pours in, luxury increases, genius accomplishes its triumphs.
Summer, with its flowers and fruits, has arrived.

When a nation is ripe for such a change, the advent of a man of genius
will accomplish it. Around him the particles crystallize and take form and
beauty. Such a man was David,--a brave soldier, a great captain, a
sagacious adventurer, an artist, musician, and poet, a man of profound
religious experience; he was, more than all these, a statesman. By his
great organizing ability he made a powerful nation out of that which, when
he came to the throne, consisted of a few discordant and half-conquered
tribes. In the time of Saul the Israelites were invaded by all the
surrounding nations; by the Syrians on the north, the Ammonites and
Moabites on the east, the Amalekites and Edomites on the south, and the
Philistines on the west. In the time of David all these nations were
completely subdued, their cities garrisoned, and the power of the
Israelites submitted to from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean.

Most great men are contented to be distinguished in one thing, and to lead
a single life; but David led three lives, each distinct from the
other,--the life of a soldier and statesman, the life of a poet and
artist, the life of deep religious experience. We will look at his
character in each of these three directions.

We have already said that David found the Israelites divided and half
conquered, and left them united and conquerors. By means of his personal
qualities he had made himself popular among the tribes. He was known as a
brave and cautious guerilla chief. His native generosity and
open-heartedness won him the love of the people. His religious tendencies
gained for him the friendship of the priests, and the great influence of
Samuel was always exerted in his favor. He was thus enabled to unite the
people, and gain their confidence till he could make use of them in larger
enterprises. The Jews were not naturally a military nation, and were never
meant to be such. Yet when their strength was united they were capable, by
their determination and tenacity of purpose, of extraordinary military
exploits. Everything depended on their _morale_. Demoralized and weakened
by doubts and scruples, or when conscious that they were disobeying the
laws of Moses, they were easily defeated by any invader. The first duty of
their general was to bring them back from their idolatries and
backslidings to the service of God. Under Joshua it only needed two great
battles to conquer the whole land of Palestine. So, reunited under David,
a few campaigns made them victorious over the surrounding nations.

The early part of David's life was a perpetual discipline in prudence. He
was continually beset with dangers. He had to fly from the presence and
ferocious jealousy of Saul again and again, and even to take refuge with
the Philistines, who had reason enough to be his enemies. He fled from
Saul to Samuel, and took shelter under his protection. Pursued to this
retreat by the king, he had no resource but to throw himself on the mercy
of the Philistines, and he went to Gath. When he saw himself in danger
there, he pretended to be insane; insanity being throughout the East a
protection from injury. His next step was to go to the cave Adullam, and
to collect around him a body of partisans, with whom to protect himself.
Saul watched his opportunity, and when David had left the fastnesses of
the mountain, and came into the city Keilah to defend it from the
Philistines, Saul went down with a detachment of troops to besiege him, so
that he had to fly again to the mountains. Betrayed by the Ziphites, as he
had been before betrayed by the men of Keilah, he went to another
wilderness and escaped. The king continued to pursue him whenever he could
get any tidings of his position, and again David was obliged to take
refuge among the Philistines. But throughout this whole period he never
permitted himself any hostile measures against Saul, his implacable enemy.
In this he showed great wisdom, for the result of such a course would have
been a civil war, in which part of the nation would have taken sides with
one and part with the other, and David never could have ascended the
throne with the consent of the whole people. But the consequence of his
forbearance was, that when by the death of Saul the throne became vacant,
David succeeded to it with scarcely any opposition. His subsequent course
showed always the same prudence. He disarmed his enemies by kindness and
clemency. He understood the policy of making a bridge of gold for a flying
enemy. When Abner, the most influential man of his opponents, offered to
submit to him, David received him with kindness and made him a friend. And
when Abner was treacherously killed by Joab, David publicly mourned for
him, following the bier, and weeping at the grave. The historian says
concerning this: "And all the people took notice of it and it pleased
them: as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people. For all the
people understood that day that it was not of the king to slay Abner the
son of Ner." His policy was to conciliate and unite. When Saul's son was
slain by his own servants, who thought to please David by that act, he
immediately put them to death. Equally cautious and judicious was his
course in transferring the Ark and its worship to Jerusalem. He did this
only gradually, and as he saw that the people were prepared for it.

We next will look at David in his character as man of genius, musician,
artist, poet. It is not often that an eminent statesman and soldier is, at
the same time, a distinguished poet and writer. Sometimes they can write
history or annals, like Cæsar and Frederick the Great; but the imaginative
and poetic element is rarely found connected with the determined will and
practical intellect of a great commander. Alexander the Great had a taste
for good poetry, for he carried Homer with him through his campaigns; but
the taste of Napoleon went no higher than a liking for Ossian.

But David was a poet, in whom the tender, lyrical, personal element rose
to the highest point. The daring soldier, when he took his harp, became
another man. He consoled himself and sought comfort in trial, and sang his
thankfulness in his hours of joy. The Book of Psalms, so far as it is the
work of David, is the record of his life. As Horace says of Lucilius and
his book of Odes, that the whole of the old man's life hangs suspended
therein in votive pictures; and as Goethe says that his Lyrics are a book
of confessions, in which joy and sorrow turn to song; so the Book of
Psalms can only be understood when we consider it as David's poetical
autobiography. In this he anticipates the Koran, which was the private
journal of Mohammed.

"The harp of David," says Herder, "was his comforter and friend. In his
youth he sang to its music while tending his flocks as a shepherd on the
mountains of Judæa. By its means he had access to Saul, and could sooth
with it the dark mood of the king. In his days of exile he confided to it
his sorrows. When he triumphed over his enemies the harp became in his
royal hands a thank-offering to the deity. Afterward he organized on a
magnificent scale music and poetry in the worship of God. Four thousand
Levites, distinguished by a peculiar dress, were arranged in classes and
choirs under master-singers, of whom the three most distinguished, Asaph,
Heman, and Jeduthun, are known to us by specimens of their art. In his
Psalms his whole kingdom lives."

We speak of the inspiration of genius, and distinguish it from the
inspiration of the religious teacher. But in ancient times the prophet and
poet were often the same, and one word (as, in Latin, "vates") was used
for both. In the case of David the two inspirations were perfectly at one.
His religion was poetry, and his poetry was religion. The genius of his
poetry is not grandeur, but beauty. Sometimes it expresses a single
thought or sentiment, as that (Psalm cxxxiii.) describing the beauty of
brotherly union, or as that (Psalm xxiii.) which paints trust in God like
that of a sheep in his shepherd. Of the same sort is the fifteenth Psalm,
"Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?" the twenty-ninth, a description
of a thunderstorm; the sixty-seventh, "O God, be merciful to us and bless
us"; the eighty-fourth, "How lovely are thy tabernacles"; and the last
Psalm, calling on mankind to praise God in all ways.

It is a striking fact that these Hebrew lyrics, written long before the
foundation of Rome, and before the time of Homer, should be used to-day in
Christian worship and for private devotion all over the world.

In speaking of the Vedas and the Avesta we said that in such hymns and
liturgies the truest belief of a nation can be found. What men say to God
in their prayers may be assumed to express their practical convictions.
The Jewish religion is not to be found so surely in its Levitical code as
in these national lyrics, which were the liturgy of the people.[358]

What then do they say concerning God? They teach his universal dominion.
They declare that none in the heaven can be compared to him (Psalm
lxxxix.); that he is to be feared above all gods (Psalm xcvi.). They teach
his eternity; declaring that he is God from everlasting to everlasting;
that a thousand years in his sight are as yesterday; that he laid the
foundations of the earth and made the heavens, and that when these perish
he will endure; that at some period they shall be changed like a garment,
but that God will always be the same (Psalm xc., cii.). They teach in
numerous places that God is the Creator of all things. They adore and
bless his fatherly love and kindness, which heals all our diseases and
redeems our life, crowning us with loving-kindness, pitying us, and
forgiving our sins (Psalm ciii.). They teach that he is in all nature
(Psalm civ.), that he searches and knows all our thoughts, and that we can
go nowhere from his presence (Psalm cxxxix.). They declare that he
protects all who trust in him (Psalm xci., cxxi.), and that he purifies
the heart and life (Psalm cxix.), creating in us a clean heart, and not
asking for sacrifice, but for a broken spirit (Psalm li.).

These Psalms express the highest and best moments of Jewish life, and rise
in certain points to the level of Christianity. They do not contain the
Christian spirit of forgiveness, nor that of love to one's enemy. They are
still narrowed to the range of the Jewish land and nation, and do not
embrace humanity. They are mountain summits of faith, rising into the pure
air and light of day from hidden depths, and appearing as islands in the
ocean. They reach, here and there, the level of the vast continent, though
not broad enough themselves to become the home of all races and nations.

There is nothing in the Vedas, nothing in the Avesta, nothing in the
sacred books of Egypt, or the philosophy of Greece and Rome, which so
unites the grandeur of omnipotence with the tenderness of a father toward
his child.

§ 5. Solomon; or, the Religious Relapse.

We have seen how the religion of Abraham, as the family worship of the
Supreme Being, was developed into that of Moses, as the national worship
of a just and holy King. We have seen it going onward from that, ascending
in the inspirations of David into trust in an infinite God as a friend,
and love to him as a father. We now come to a period of relapse. Under
Solomon and his successors, this religion became corrupted and degraded.
Its faith was changed into doubt, its lofty courage into the fear of kings
and tyrants, its worship of the Most High into adoration of the idols of
its neighbors. The great increase of power and wealth in the hands of
Solomon corrupted his own heart and that of his people. Luxury came in;
and, as in Rome the old puritanic virtues were dissolved by the desire for
wealth and pleasure, so it happened among the Jews. Then came the
retribution, in the long captivity in Babylon, and the beginning of a new
and better life under this hard discipline. And then comes the age of the
Prophets, who gradually became the teachers of a higher and broader faith.
So, when the Jews returned to Jerusalem, they came back purified, and
prepared to become once more loyal subjects of Jehovah.

The principle of hereditary succession, but not of primogeniture, had been
established by an agreement between David and the people when he proposed
erecting a Temple at Jerusalem. He had appointed his son Solomon as his
successor before his own death. With the entrance of Solomon we have an
entirely different personality from any whom we have thus far met. With
him also is inaugurated a new period and a different age. The age of Moses
was distinguished as that of law,--on the side of God absolute authority,
commanding and forbidding; on the side of man the only question was
between obedience and disobedience. Moses was the Law-giver, and his age
was the age of law. In the time of the Judges the question concerned
national existence and national independence. The age of the Judges was
the heroic age of the Jewish nation. The Judges were men combining
religious faith with patriotism; they were religious heroes. Then came the
time of David, in which the nation, having become independent, became also
powerful and wealthy. After his time the religion, instead of being a law
to be obeyed or an impulse to action, became ceremony and pageant. Going
one step further, it passed into reflection and meditation. In the age of
Solomon the inspiration of the national religion had already gone. A great
intellectual development had taken the place of inspiration. So that the
Jewish nation seems to have passed through a fourfold religious
experience. Religion was first law, then action, next inspiration and
sentiment, afterward ceremony, and lastly opinion and intellectual

It is the belief of Herder and other scholars that the age of Solomon gave
birth to a copious literature, born of peace, tranquillity, and
prosperity, which has all passed away except a few Psalms, the Book of
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

Solomon is personally a much less interesting character than David; for
policy is never so interesting as impulse, and the crimes of policy seem
worse than those of passion. The first act of Solomon was of this sort. He
put his brother Adonijah to death for his attempt to seize the throne.
Joab, who supported Adonijah against Solomon, was also put to death, for
which we do not grieve, when we remember his assassination of Abner and
Amasa, shedding the blood of war in peace. But the cold, unscrupulous
character of Solomon is seen in his ordering Joab to be slain in the
tabernacle while holding the horns of the altar, and causing Adonijah to
be taken by force from the same place of refuge. No religious
consideration or superstitious fear could prevent Solomon from doing what
he thought necessary for his own security. He had given Adonijah a
conditional pardon, limited to good behavior on his part. But after his
establishment on the throne Adonijah requested the mother of Solomon,
Bathsheba, to ask her son to give him for a wife the beautiful Abishag,
the last wife of David. Solomon understood this to mean, what his mother
did not understand, that his brother was still intriguing to supplant him
on the throne, and with cool policy he ordered him to immediate execution.
Solomon could pardon a criminal, but not a dangerous rival. He deposed the
high-priest for the same reason, considering him to be also dangerous.
Shimei, who seems to have been wealthy and influential as well as a
determined character, was ordered not to leave Jerusalem under penalty of
death. He did so, and Solomon put him to death. David, before his death,
had warned Solomon to keep an eye both on Joab and on Shimei, for David
could forgive his own enemies, but not those of his cause; he was not
afraid on his own account, but was afraid for the safety of his son.

By the death of Joab and Shimei, Solomon's kingdom was established, and
the glory and power of David was carried to a still higher point of
magnificence. Supported by the prophets on the one hand and by the priests
on the other, his authority was almost unlimited. We are told that "Judah
and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating
and drinking and making merry. And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from
the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt;
they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life. And
Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and
threescore measures of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the
pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallow
deer, and fatted fowl." The wars of David were ended. Solomon's was a
reign of peace. "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his
vine and under his fig-tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of
Solomon. And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots,
and twelve thousand horsemen." "And God gave Solomon wisdom and
understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand
that is on the sea-shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all
the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was
wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and
Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was in all nations round about."
"And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all
kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom." The great power and
wealth of the Jewish court at this period are historically verified by the
traditions still extant among the Arabs of Solomon's superhuman splendor.

The story (1 Kings iii. 5) of Solomon's dream, in which he chose an
understanding heart and wisdom, rather than riches and honor, reminds us
of the choice of Hercules. It is not unlikely that he had such a dream, it
is quite probable that he always preferred wisdom to anything else, and it
is certain that his wisdom came from God. This is the only connection we
can trace between the dream and its fulfilment.

Solomon inaugurated a new policy by entering into alliances and making
treaties with his powerful neighbors. He formed an alliance with the king
of Egypt, and married his daughter. He also made a treaty of commerce and
friendship with the king of Tyre on the north, and procured from him cedar
with which to build the Temple and his own palace. He received an embassy
also from the queen of Sheba, who resided in the south of Arabia. By means
of the Tyrian ships he traded to the west as far as the coasts of Spain
and Africa, and his own vessels made a coasting voyage of three years'
duration to Tarshish, from which they brought ivory, gold, silver, apes,
and peacocks. This voyage seems to have been through the Red Sea to
India.[359] He also traded in Asia, overland, with caravans. And for their
accommodation and defence he built Tadmor in the desert (afterward called
Palmyra), as a great stopping-place. This city in later days became famous
as the capital of Zenobia, and the remains of the Temple of the Sun,
standing by itself in the midst of the Great Desert, are among the most
interesting ruins in the world.[360]

The great work of Solomon was building the Temple at Jerusalem in the
year B.C. 1005. This Temple was destroyed, and rebuilt by Nehemiah B.C.
445. It was rebuilt by Herod B.C. 17. Little remains from the time of
Solomon, except some stones in the walls of the substructions; and the
mosque of Omar now stands on the old foundation. No building of antiquity
so much resembles the Temple of Solomon as the palace of Darius at
Persepolis. In both buildings the porch opened into the large hall, both
had small chambers on the side, square masses on both sides of the porch,
and the same form of pillars. The parts of Solomon's Temple were, first, a
porch thirty feet wide and fifteen feet deep; second a large hall sixty by
thirty; and then the holy of holies, which was thirty feet cube. The whole
external dimensions of the building were only sixty feet by one hundred
and twenty, or less than many an ordinary parish church. The explanation
is that it was copied from the Tabernacle, which was a small building, and
was necessarily somewhat related to it in size. The walls were of stone,
on extensive stone foundations. Inside it was lined with cedar, with
floors of cypress, highly ornamented with carvings and gold. The brass
work consisted of two ornamented pillars called Jachin and Boaz, a brazen
tank supported by twelve brass oxen, and ten baths of brass, ornamented
with figures of lions, oxen, and cherubim.

The Book of Kings says of Solomon (1 Kings iv. 32) that "he spake three
thousand proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of
trees, from the cedar-tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that
springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl and of
creeping things, and of fishes." He was, according to this account, a
voluminous writer on natural history, as well as an eminent poet and
moralist. Of all his compositions there remains but one, the Book of
Proverbs, which was probably in great part composed by him. It is true
that three books in the Old Testament bear his name,--Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. But of these Ecclesiastes was
probably written afterward, and though the Song of Songs may have been
written by Solomon, it was probably the work of another, living at or
near his time.

But of the Book of Proverbs there cannot be much doubt. It contains some
of the three thousand of which Solomon was the reputed author. It shows
his style of mind very clearly,--the cool understanding, the calculating
prudence, the continual reference to results, knowledge of the world as
distinguished from knowledge of human nature, or of individual character.
The Book of Proverbs contains little heroism or poetry, few large ideas,
not much enthusiasm or sentiment. It is emphatically a book of wisdom. It
has good, hard, practical sense. It is the "Poor Richard's Almanac" of
Hebrew literature. We can conceive of King Solomon and Benjamin Franklin
consulting together, and comparing notes of their observations on human
life, with much mutual satisfaction. It is curious to meet with such a
thoroughly Western intellect, a thousand years before Christ, on the
throne of the heroic David.

Among these proverbs there are many of a kindly character. Some are
semi-Christian in their wise benevolence. Many show great shrewdness of
observation, and have an epigrammatic wit. We will give examples of each


    "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread;
    If thirsty, give him water to drink,
    For thou wilt heap coals of fire on his head,
    And Jehovah will reward thee."

    "To deliver those that are dragged to death,
    Those that totter to the slaughter,
    Spare thyself not.
    If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not,
    Doth not He that weighs the heart observe it?
    Yea, He that keeps thy soul knows it.
    And He will render to every man according to his works."

    "Put not thyself forth in the presence of the king,
    Nor station thyself in the place of great men.
    Far better it is that one should say to thee,
    Come up hither!
    Than that he should put thee in a lower place,
    In the presence of the prince."

    "The lip of truth shall be established forever,
    But the tongue of falsehood is but for a moment."


    "As one that takes a dog by the ears,
    So is he that passing by becomes enraged on account of another's

    "Where there is no wood the fire goes out;
    So where there is no talebearer contention ceases."

    "The rich rules over the poor,
    And the borrower is servant to the lender."

    "The slothful man says, There is a lion without,
    I shall be slain in the streets."

    "A reproof penetrates deeper into a wise man
    Than a hundred stripes into a fool."

    "Hope deferred makes the heart sick."

    "The way of transgressors is hard."

    "There is that scatters, and yet increases."

    "It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer,
    But when he goeth his way then he boasteth."


    "The legs of a lame man are not equal,
    So is a proverb in the mouth of fools."[361]

    "As a thorn runs into the hand of a drunkard,
    So is a proverb in the mouth of a fool."[362]

    "As clouds and wind without rain,
    So is a man who boasts falsely of giving."

    "A soft tongue breaks bones."

    "As vinegar to the teeth, and smoke to the eyes,
    So is the sluggard to him that sends him."

    "The destruction of the poor is their poverty."

    "A merry heart is a good medicine."

But what are human wisdom and glory? It seems that Solomon was to
illustrate its emptiness. See the king, in his old age, sinking into
idolatry and empty luxury, falling away from his God, and pointing the
moral of his own proverbs. He himself was the drunkard, into whose hand
the thorn of the proverb penetrated, without his heeding it. This prudent
and wise king, who understood so well all the snares of temptation and all
the arts of virtue, fell like the puppet of any Asiatic court. What a
contrast between the wise and great king as described in I Kings iv. 20-34
and the same king in his degenerate old age!

It was this last period in the life of Solomon which the writer of
Ecclesiastes took as the scene and subject of his story. With marvellous
penetration and consummate power he penetrates the mind of Solomon and
paints the blackness of desolation, the misery of satiety, the dreadful
darkness of a soul which has given itself to this world as its only

Never was such a picture painted of utter scepticism, of a mind wholly
darkened, and without any remaining faith in God or truth.

These three books mark the three periods of the life of Solomon.

The Song of Songs shows us his abounding youth, full of poetry, fire, and

The Proverbs give his ripened manhood, wise and full of all earthly
knowledge,--Aristotle, Bacon, Socrates, and Franklin, all in one.

And Ecclesiastes represents the darkened and gloomy scepticism of his old
age, when he sank as low down as he had before gone up. But though so sad
and dark, yet it is not without gleams of a higher and nobler joy to come.
Better than anything in Proverbs are some of the noble sentiments breaking
out in Ecclesiastes, especially at the end of the book.

The Book of Ecclesiastes is a wonderful description of a doubt so deep, a
despair so black, that nothing in all literature can be compared to it. It
describes, in the person of Solomon, utter scepticism born of unlimited
worldly enjoyment, knowledge, and power.

The book begins by declaring that all is vanity, that there is nothing
new under the sun, no progress in any direction, but all things revolving
in an endless circle, so that there is neither meaning nor use in the
world.[363] It declares that _work_ amounts to nothing, for one cannot do
any really good thing; that knowledge is of no use, but only produces
sorrow; that pleasure satiates.[364] Knowledge has only this advantage
over ignorance, that it enables us to see things as they are, but it does
not make them better, and the end of all is despair.[365] Sensual pleasure
is the only good.[366] Fate and necessity rule all things. Good and evil
both come at their appointed time. Men are cheated and do not see the
nullity of things, because they have the world in their heart, and are
absorbed in the present moment.[367]

Men are only a higher class of beasts. They die like beasts, and have no

In the fourth chapter the writer goes more deeply into this pessimism. He
says that to die is better than to live, and better still never to have
been born. A fool is better than a wise man, because he does nothing and
cares for nothing.[369]

Success is bad, progress is an evil; for these take us away from others,
and leave us lonely, because above them and hated by them.[370]

Worship is idle. Do not offer the sacrifice of fools, but stop when you
are going to the Temple, and return. Do not pray. It is of no use. God
does not hear you. Dreams do not come from God, but from what you were
doing before you went to sleep. Eat and drink, that is the best.[371] All
men go as they come.

So the dreary statement proceeds. Men are born for no end, and go no one
can tell where. Live a thousand years, it all comes to the same thing. Who
can tell what is good for a man in this shadowy, empty life?[372]

It is better to look on death than on life, wiser to be sad than to be
cheerful. If you say, "There _have been_ good times in the past," do not
be too sure of that. If you say, "We can be good, at least, if we cannot
be happy," there is such a thing as being _too_ good, and cheating
yourself out of pleasure.[373]

Women are worse than men. You may find one good man among a thousand, but
not one good woman.[374]

It is best to be on the right side of the powers that be, for they can do
what they please. Speedy and certain punishment alone can keep men from
doing evil. The same thing happens to the good and to the wicked. All
things come alike to all. This life is, in short, an inexplicable puzzle.
The perpetual refrain is, eat, drink, and be merry.[375]

It is best to do what you can, and think nothing about it. Cast your bread
on the waters, very likely you will get it again. Sow your seed either in
the morning or at night; it makes no difference.[376]

Death is coming to all. All is vanity. I continue to preach, because I see
the truth, and may as well say it, though there is no end to talking and
writing. You may sum up all wisdom in six words: "Fear God and keep his

The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches a great truth in an unexampled strain of
pathetic eloquence. It teaches what a black scepticism descends on the
wisest, most fortunate, most favored of mankind, when he looks only to
this world and its joys. It could, however, only have been written by one
who had gone through this dreadful experience. The intellect alone never
sounded such depths as these. Moreover, it could hardly have been written
unless in a time when such scepticism prevailed, nor by one who, having
lived it all, had not also lived _through_ it all, and found the cure for
this misery in pure unselfish obedience to truth and right. It seems,
therefore, like a Book of Confessions, or the Record of an Experience,
and as such well deserves its place in the Bible and Jewish literature.

The Book of Job is a still more wonderful production, but in a wholly
different tone. It is full of manly faith in truth and right. It has no
jot of scepticism in it. It is a noble protest against all hypocrisies and
all shams. Job does not know why he is afflicted, but he will never
confess that he is a sinner till he sees it. The Pharisaic friends tell
him his sufferings are judgments for his sins, and advise him to admit it
to be so. But Job refuses, and declares he will utter no "words of wind"
to the Almighty. The grandest thought is here expressed in the noblest
language which the human tongue has ever uttered.

§ 6. The Prophets; or, Judaism as the Hope of a spiritual and universal
Kingdom of God.

Before we proceed to examine the prophetic writings of the Old Testament,
it is desirable to make some remarks upon prophecy in general, and on the
character of the Hebrew prophets.

Prophecy in general is a modification of inspiration. Inspiration is
sight, or rather it is insight. _All_ our knowledge comes to us through
the intellectual power which may be called sight, which is of two
kinds,--the sight of external things, or outsight; and the sight of
internal things, which is insight, or intuition. The senses constitute the
organization by which we see external things; consciousness is the
organization by which we perceive internal things. Now the organs of sense
are the same in kind, but differ in degree in all men. All human beings,
as such, have the power of perceiving an external world, by means of the
five senses. But though all have these five senses, all do not perceive
the same external phenomena by means of them. For, in the first place,
their senses differ in degrees of power. Some men's eyes are telescopic,
some microscopic, and some are blind. Some men can but partially
distinguish colors, others not at all. Some have acute hearing, others
are deaf. And secondly, what men perceive through the senses differs
according to what is about them. A man living in China cannot see Mont
Blanc or the city of New York; a man on the other side of the moon can
never see the earth. A man living in the year 1871 cannot see Alexander
the Great or the Apostle Paul. And thirdly, two persons may be looking at
the same thing, and with senses of the same degree of power, and yet one
may be able to see what the other is not able to see. Three men, one a
geologist, one a botanist, and one a painter, may look at the same
landscape, and one will see the stratification, the second will see the
flora, and the third the picturesque qualities of the scene. As regards
outsight then, though men in general have the same senses to see with,
what they see depends (1) on their quality of sense, (2) on their position
in space and time, (3) and on their state of mental culture.

That which is true of the perception of external phenomena is also true of
the perception of internal things.

Insight, or intuition, has the same limitations as outsight. These are (1)
the quality of the faculty of intuition; (2) the inward circumstances or
position of the soul; (3) the soul's culture or development. Those who
deny the existence of an intuitive faculty, teaching that all knowledge
comes from without through the senses, sometimes say that if there were
such a faculty as intuition, men would all possess intuitively the same
knowledge of moral and spiritual truth. They might as well say that, as
all men have eyes, all must see the same external objects.

All men have more or less of the intuitive faculty, but some have much
more than others. Those who have the most are called, by way of eminence,
inspired men. But among these there is a difference as regards the objects
which are presented by God, in the order of his providence, to their
intuitive faculty. Some he places inwardly among visions of beauty, and
they are inspired poets and artists. Others he places inwardly amid
visions of temporal and human life, and they become inspired discoverers
and inventors. And others he places amid visions of religious truth, and
they are inspired prophets, lawgivers, and evangelists. But these again
differ in their own spiritual culture and growth. Moses and the Apostle
Paul were both inspired men, but the Apostle Paul saw truths which Moses
did not see, because the Apostle Paul had reached a higher degree of
spiritual culture. Christ alone possessed the fulness of spiritual
inspiration, because he alone had attained the fulness of spiritual life.

Now the inspired man may look inwardly either at the past, the present, or
the future. If he look at the past he is an inspired historian; if at the
present, an inspired lawgiver, or religious teacher; if at the future, an
inspired prophet. The inspired faculty may be the same, and the difference
may be in the object inwardly present to its contemplation. The seer may
look from things past to things present, from things present to things to
come, and his inspiration be the same. He fixes his mind on the past, and
it grows clear before him, and he sees how events were and what they mean.
He looks at the present, and sees how things ought to be. He looks at the
future, and sees how things shall be.

The Prophets of the Old Testament were not, as is commonly supposed, men
who only uttered predictions of the future. They were men of action more
than of contemplation. Strange as it may seem to us, who are accustomed to
consider their office as confined to religious prediction, their chief
duty was that of active politicians. They mixed religion and politics.
They interfered with public measures, rebuked the despotism of the kings
and the political errors of the people. Moreover, they were the
constitutional lawyers and publicists of the Hebrews, inspired to look
backward and explain the meaning of the Mosaic law as well as to look
forward to its spiritual development in the reign of the Messiah.
Prediction, therefore, of future events, was a very small part of the work
of the Prophets. Their main duty was to warn, rebuke, teach, exhort, and

The Hebrew prophets were under the law. They were loyal to Moses and to
his institutions. But it was to the spirit rather than to the letter, the
idea rather than the form. They differed from the priests in preferring
the moral part of the law to the ceremonial. They were great reformers in
bringing back the people from external formalism to vital obedience. They
constantly made the ceremonial part of the law subservient to the moral
part of the law. Thus Samuel said to Saul: "Hath the Lord as great delight
in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of
rams." And so afterward Isaiah declared in the name of the Lord, that the
sacrifices of a wicked people were vain, and their incense an abomination.

We read of the schools of the Prophets, where they studied the law of
Moses, and were taught the duties of their office. In these schools music
was made use of as a medium of inspiration.

But the office of a prophet was not limited by culture, sex, age, or
condition. Women, like Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Huldah, and Noadiah;
inexperienced youths, like Jeremiah; men of high standing in society, like
Isaiah and Daniel; humble men, like the ploughman Elisha and the herdsman
Amos; men married and unmarried, are numbered among the Prophets. Living
poorly, wearing sackcloth, feeding on vegetables, imprisoned or
assassinated by kings, stoned by the people, the most unpopular of men,
sometimes so possessed by the spirit as to rave like madmen, obliged to
denounce judgments and woes against kings and people, it is no wonder that
they often shrank from their terrible office. Jonah ran to hide in a ship
of Tarshish. They have called their message a burden, like Isaiah; they
have cried out like Jeremiah, "Ah, Lord God, I cannot speak, for I am a
child"; like Ezekiel, they have been obliged to make their faces harder
than flints in order to deliver their message.

Dean Stanley, in speaking of the Prophets of the Old Testament, says that
their theology consisted in proclaiming the unity of God against all
polytheism, and the spirituality of God against all idolatry, in declaring
the superiority of moral to ceremonial duties, and in announcing the
supremacy of goodness above the letter, ceremony, or dogma. This makes
the contrast between the Prophets and all other sacred persons who have
existed in pagan and, he adds, even in Christian times. Dean Stanley says
the Prophets were religious teachers, without the usual faults of
religious teachers, and he proposes them as an example to the Christian
clergy. He says: "O, if the spirit of our profession, of our order, of our
body, were the spirit, or anything like the spirit, of the ancient
Prophets! If with us truth, charity, justice, fairness to opponents, were
a passion, a doctrine, a point of honor, to be upheld with the same energy
as that with which we uphold our own position and our own opinions!"

The spirit of the world asks first, Is it safe? secondly, Is it true? The
spirit of the Prophets asks first, Is it true? secondly, Is it safe? The
spirit of the world asks first, Is it prudent? secondly, Is it right? The
spirit of the Prophets asks first, Is it right? secondly, Is it prudent?
Taken as a whole, the prophetic order of the Jewish Church remains alone.
It stands like one of those vast monuments of ancient days, with ramparts
broken, with inscriptions defaced, but stretching from hill to hill,
conveying in its long line of arches the pure rill of living water over
deep valley and thirsty plain, far above all the puny modern buildings
which have grown up at its feet, and into the midst of which it strides
with its massive substructions, its gigantic height, its majestic
proportions, unrivalled by any erection of modern time.

The predictions of the future by the Prophets of Judæa were far higher in
their character than those which come occasionally to mankind through
dreams and presentiments. Yet no doubt they proceeded from the same
essentially Iranian faculty. This also is asserted by the Dean of
Westminster, who says that there is a power of divination granted in some
inexplicable manner to ordinary men, and he refers to such instances as
the prediction of the discovery of America by Seneca, that of the
Reformation by Dante, and the prediction of the twelve centuries of Roman
dominion by the apparition of twelve vultures to Romulus, which was so
understood four hundred years before its actual accomplishment. If such
presentiments are not always verified, neither were the predictions of
the Prophets always fulfilled. Jonah announced, in the most distinct and
absolute terms, that in forty days Nineveh should be destroyed. But the
people repented, and it was _not_ destroyed. Their predictions of the
Messiah are remarkable, especially because in speaking of him and his time
they went out of the law and the spirit of the law, and became partakers
of the spirit of the Gospel. The Prophets of the Jews, whatever else we
deny to their predictions, certainly foresaw Christianity. They describe
the coming of a time in which the law should be written in the heart, of a
king who should reign in righteousness, of a prince of peace, of one who
should rule by the power of truth, not by force, whose kingdom should be
universal and everlasting, and into which all nations of the earth should
flow. What the Prophets foresaw was not times nor seasons, not dates nor
names, not any minute particulars. But they saw a future age, they lived
out of their own time in another time, which had not yet arrived. They
left behind them Jewish ceremonialism, and entered into a moral and
spiritual religion. They dropped Jewish narrowness and called all mankind
brethren. In this they reach the highest form of foresight, which is not
simply to predict a coming event, but to live in the spirit of a future

Thus the Prophets developed the Jewish religion to its highest point. The
simple, childlike faith of Abraham became, in their higher vision, the
sight of a universal Father, and of an age in which all men and nations
should be united into one great moral kingdom. Further than this, it was
not possible to go in vision. The difference between the Prophets and
Jesus was, that he accomplished what they foresaw. His life, full of faith
in God and man, became the new seed of a higher kingdom than that of
David. He was the son of David, as inheriting the loving trust of David in
a heavenly Father; he was also the Lord of David, by fulfilling David's
love to God with his own love to man; making piety and charity one, faith
and freedom one, reason and religion one, this life and the life to come
one. He died to accomplish this union and to make this atoning sacrifice.

§ 7. Judaism as a Preparation for Christianity.

After the return from the captivity the Jewish nation remained loyal to
Jehovah. The dangers of polytheism and idolatry had passed. We no more
hear of either of these tendencies, but, on the contrary, a rigid and
almost bigoted monotheism was firmly established. Their sufferings, the
teaching of their Prophets, perhaps the influence of the Persian worship,
had confirmed them in the belief that Jehovah was one and alone, and that
the gods of the nations were idols. They had lost forever the sacred ark
of the covenant and the mysterious ornaments of the high-priest. Their
kings had disappeared, and a new form of theocracy took the place of a
royal government. The high-priest, with the great council, became the
supreme authority. The government was hierarchal.

Hellenic influences began to act on the Jewish mind, and a peculiar
dialect of Hebrew-Greek, called the Hellenistic, was formed. The
Septuagint, or Greek version of the Old Testament, was made in Alexandria
about B.C. 260. In Egypt, Greek philosophy began to affect the Jewish
mind, the final result of which was the system of Philo. Greek influences
spread to such an extent that a great religious revolution took place in
Palestine (B.C. 170), and the Temple at Jerusalem was turned into a temple
of Olympic Jupiter. Many of the priests and leading citizens accepted this
change, though the heart of the people rejected it with horror. Under
Antiochus the Temple was profaned, the sacrifices ceased, the keeping of
the Sabbath and use of the Scriptures were forbidden by a royal edict.
Then arose the Maccabees, and after a long and bitter struggle
re-established the worship of Jehovah, B.C. 141.

After this the mass of the people, in their zeal for the law and their old
institutions, fell in to the narrow bigotry of the Pharisees. The
Sadducees were Jewish Epicureans, but though wealthy were few, and had
little influence. The Essenes were Jewish monks, living in communities,
and as little influential as are the Shakers in Massachusetts to-day. They
were not only few, but their whole system was contrary to the tone of
Jewish thought, and was probably derived from Orphic Pythagoreanism.[378]

The Talmud, that mighty maze of Jewish thought, commencing after the
return from the captivity, contains the history of the gradual progress
and development of the national mind. The study of the Talmud is necessary
to the full understanding of the rise of Christianity. Many of the
parables and precepts of Jesus may have had their origin in these
traditions and teachings. For the Talmud contains much that is excellent,
and the originality of Jesus was not in saying what never had been thought
before, but in vitalizing all old truth out of a central spiritual life.
His originality was not novelty, but vitality. We have room here but for a
single extract.[379]

"'Six hundred and thirteen injunctions,' says the Talmud, 'was Moses
instructed to give to the people. David reduced them all to eleven, in the
fifteenth Psalm: Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle who shall dwell
on thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly,' &c.

"'The Prophet Isaiah reduced them to six (xxxiii. 15): He that walketh
righteously,' &c.

"'The Prophet Micah reduced them to three (vi. 8): What doth the Lord
require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly
with thy God?

"'Isaiah once more reduced them to two (lvi. 1): Keep ye judgment and do

"'Amos (v. 4) reduced them all to one: Seek ye me and ye shall live.

"'But lest it might be supposed from this that God could be found in the
fulfilment of his whole law only, Habakkuk said (ii. 4): The just shall
live by his faith.'"

Thus we have seen the Jewish religion gradually developed out of the
family worship of Abraham, through the national worship of the law to the
personal and filial trust of David, and the spiritual monotheism of Job
and the Prophets. Through all these changes there ran the one golden
thread of faith in a Supreme Being who was not hidden and apart from the
world, but who came to man as to his child.

At first this belief was narrow and like that of a child[380] We read
that when Noah went into the ark, "the Lord shut him in"; that when Babel
was built, "the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the
children of men had built"; that when Noah offered burnt-sacrifices, "the
Lord smelled a sweet savor"; that he told Moses to make him a sanctuary,
that he might dwell among the Israelites. We have seen, in our chapter on
Greece, that Homer makes Jupiter send a pernicious dream to Agamemnon, to
deceive him; in other words, makes Jupiter tell a lie to Agamemnon. But
how is the account in I Kings xxii. 20-23, any better?[381]

But how all this ignorance was enlightened, and this narrowness enlarged,
let the magnificent theism of the Psalms, of Job, and of Isaiah testify.
Solomon declares "The heaven of heavens cannot contain him, how much less
this house that I have builded." Job and the Psalms and Isaiah describe
the omniscience, omnipresence, and inscrutable perfections of the Deity in
language to which twenty centuries have been able to add nothing.[382]

Thus Judaism was monotheism, first as a seed, then as a blade, and then as
the ear which the sun of Christianity was to ripen into the full corn. The
highest truth was present, implicitly, in Judaism, and became explicit in
Christianity. The law was the schoolmaster to bring men to Christ. It
taught, however imperfectly, a supreme and living God; a Providence ruling
all things; a Judge rewarding good and punishing evil; a holy Being, of
purer eyes than to behold iniquity. It announced a moral law to be
obeyed, the substance of which was to love God with all the heart, and
one's neighbor as one's self.

Wherever the Apostles of Christ went they found that Judaism had prepared
the way. Usually, in every place, they first preached to the Jews, and
made converts of them. For Judaism, though so narrow and so alien to the
Greek and Latin thought, had nevertheless pervaded all parts of the Roman
Empire. Despised and satirized by philosophers and poets, it had yet won
its way by its strength of conviction. It offered to men, not a
philosophy, but a religion; not thought, but life. Too intolerant of
differences to convert the world to monotheism, it yet made a preparation
for its conversion. This was its power, and thus it went before the face
of the Master, to prepare his way.

Chapter XI.

Mohammed and Islam.

  § 1. Recent Works on the Life of Mohammed.
  § 2. The Arabs and Arabia.
  § 3. Early Life of Mohammed, to the Hegira.
  § 4. Change in the Character of Mohammed after the Hegira.
  § 5. Religious Doctrines and Practices among the Mohammedans.
  § 6. The Criticism of Mr. Palgrave on Mohammedan Theology.
  § 7. Mohammedanism a Relapse; the worst Form of Monotheism, and a
         retarding Element in Civilization.


§ 1. Recent Works on the Life of Mohammed.

Dr. Samuel Johnson once declared, "There are two objects of curiosity, the
Christian world and the Mohammedan world; all the rest may be considered
as barbarous." Since Dr. Johnson's time we have learned to be curious
about other forms of human thought, and regard the famous line of Terence
as expressing more accurately the proper frame of mind for a Christian
philosopher. Nevertheless, Mohammedanism still claims a special interest
and excites a peculiar curiosity. It is the only religion which has
threatened Christianity with a dangerous rivalry. It is the only other
religion, whose origin is in the broad daylight of history. Its author is
the only one among the great men of the world who has at the same time
founded a religion, formed a people, and established an empire. The
marvellous spread of this religion is a mystery which never ceases to
stimulate the mind to new inquiry. How was it that in the short space of a
century the Arab tribes, before always at war among themselves, should
have been united into an irresistible power, and have conquered Syria,
Persia, the whole of Northern Africa and Spain? And with this religious
outbreak, this great revival of monotheism in Asia, there came also as
remarkable a renaissance of learning, which made the Arabs the teachers of
philosophy and art to Europe during a long period. Arab Spain was a focus
of light while Christian Europe lay in mediæval darkness. And still more
interesting and perplexing is the character of Mohammed himself. What was
he,--an impostor or a prophet? Did his work advance or retard human
progress? What is his position in history? Such are some of the questions
on which we shall endeavor to throw light in the present chapter.

Within a few years new materials for this study have been made accessible
by the labors of Weil, Caussin de Perceval, Muir, Sprenger, Döllinger, and
Arnold. Dr. Gustav Weil published his work[383] in 1843. It was drawn from
Arabic manuscripts and the Koran. When Weil began his studies on Mohammed
in 1837, he found no book except that of Gagnier, published in 1732, from
which he could derive substantial aid. But Gagnier had only collected,
without any attempt at criticism, the traditions and statements concerning
Mohammed believed by orthodox Moslems. Satisfied that a literary want
existed at this point, Dr. Weil devoted himself to such studies as should
enable him to supply it; and the result was a work concerning which Milman
says that "nothing has escaped" the diligence of its author. But four
years after appeared the book of M. Caussin de Perceval,[384] a work of
which M. Saint-Hilaire says that it marks a new era in these studies, on
account of the abundance and novelty of its details, and the light thrown
on the period which in Arabia preceded the coming of Mohammed. Dr. A.
Sprenger, an eminent German scholar, early determined to devote himself to
the study of Oriental literature in the East. He spent a long time in
India, and was for twelve years principal of a Mohammedan school in Delhi,
where he established, in 1845, an illustrated penny magazine in the Hindoo
language. After returning to Europe with a vast number of Oriental
manuscripts, he composed his Life of Mohammed,[385] the result of
extensive studies. Among the preparations for this work we will cite only
one. Dr. Sprenger edited in Calcutta the first volume of the Içâba, which
contains the names and biographies of _eight thousand_ persons who were
personally acquainted with Mohammed.[386] But, as if to embarrass us with
riches, comes also Mr. Muir[387] and presents us with another life of the
prophet, likewise drawn from original sources, and written with learning
and candor. This work, in four volumes, goes over the whole ground of the
history of Arabia before the coming of the prophet, and then, from Arabic
sources, narrates the life of Mohammed himself, up to the era of the
Hegira. The result of these researches is that we know accurately what Mr.
Hallam in his time despaired of knowing,--all the main points of the
history of Mohammed. There is no legend, no myth, to trouble us. M.
Saint-Hilaire says that the French are far less acquainted with
Charlemagne than the Moslems are with their prophet, who came two
centuries earlier.

A Mohammedan writer, Syed Ahmed Khan Bahador, has lately published, in
English, a series of Essays on the life of Mohammed, Arabia, the Arabs,
Mohammedan traditions, and kindred topics, written from the stand-point of
a believer in Islam.[388] He is dissatisfied with all the recent works on
Mohammed, including those of Dr. Sprenger and Mr. Muir. He believes that
the Arabic sources from which these biographies are derived are not the
most authentic. The special objections, however, which this able
Mohammedan urges against these European biographies by Sprenger and Muir
do not affect any of the important points in the history, but only details
of small moment. Notwithstanding his criticisms, therefore, we may safely
assume that we are in a condition to understand the actual life and
character of Mohammed. All that the Syed says concerning the duty of an
impartial and friendly judgment of Islam and its author is, of course,
true. We shall endeavor in our treatment of Mohammed to follow this

Something, however, is always gained by hearing what the believers in a
system have to say in its behalf, and these essays of the Mohammedan
scholar may help us in this way. One of the most curious parts of the
volume is that in which he treats of the prophecies concerning Mohammed in
the Old and New Testament. Most of our readers will be surprised at
learning that any such prophecies exist; and yet some of them are quite as
striking as many of those commonly adduced by writers on prophecy as
referring to Jesus Christ. For example (Deut. xviii. 15, 18), when Moses
predicts that the Lord will raise up a prophet for the Jews, _from among
their brethren_; by emphasizing this latter clause, and arguing that the
Jews had no brethren except the Ishmaelites, from whom Mohammed was born,
an argument is derived that the latter was referred to. This is
strengthened by the declaration of Moses, that this prophet should be
"_like unto me_," since Deuteronomy xxxiv. 10 declares that "there arose
no prophet _in Israel_ like unto Moses."

Habakkuk iii. 3 says: "The Holy One came from Mount Paran." But Mount
Paran, argues our friend, is the mountain of Mecca.

The Hebrew word translated "desire" in Haggai ii. 7, "The desire of all
nations shall come," is said by Bahador to be the same word as the name
Mohammed. He is therefore predicted by his name in this passage.

When Isaiah says (xxi. 7), according to the Septuagint translation, that
he "saw two riders, one on an ass and one on a camel," Bahador argues that
the rider on the ass is Jesus, who so entered Jerusalem, and that the
rider on the camel is Mohammed.

When John the Baptist was asked if he were the Christ, or Elijah, or "that
prophet," Mohammedans say that "that prophet," so anticipated, was their

§ 2. The Arabs and Arabia.

The Arabs are a Semitic people, belonging to the same great ethnologic
family with the Babylonians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Ethiopians,
and Carthaginians. It is a race which has given to civilized man his
literature and his religion; for the alphabet came from the Phoenicians,
and the Bible from the Jews. In Hannibal, it produced perhaps the greatest
military genius the world has seen; and the Tyrian merchants,
circumnavigating Africa, discovering Great Britain, and trading with
India, ten centuries before Christ, had no equals on the ocean until the
time of the Portuguese discoveries, twenty-five centuries after. The Arabs
alone, of the seven Semitic families, remained undistinguished and unknown
till the days of Mohammed. Their claim of being descended from Abraham is
confirmed by the unerring evidence of language. The Arabic roots are, nine
tenths of them, identical with the Hebrew; and a similarity of grammatical
forms shows a plain glossological relation. But while the Jews have a
history from the days of Abraham, the Arabs had none till Mohammed. During
twenty centuries these nomads wandered to and fro, engaged in mutual wars,
verifying the prediction (Gen. xvi. 12) concerning Ishmael: "He will be a
wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against
him." Wherever such wandering races exist, whether in Arabia, Turkistan,
or Equatorial Africa, "darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the
people." The earth has no geography, and the people no history. During all
this long period, from the time of Abraham to that of Mohammed, the Arabs
were not a nation, but only a multitude of tribes, either stationary or
wandering. But of these two the nomad or Bedouin is the true type of the
race as it exists in Northern Arabia. The Arab of the South is
in many respects different,--in language, in manners, and in
character,--confirming the old opinion of a double origin. But the
Northern Arab in his tent has remained unchanged since the days of the
Bible. Proud of his pure blood, of his freedom, of his tribe, and of his
ancient customs, he desires no change. He is, in Asia, what the North
American Indian is upon the western continent. As the Indian's, his chief
virtues are courage in war, cunning, wild justice, hospitality, and
fortitude. He is, however, of a better race,--more reflective, more
religious, and with a thirst for knowledge. The pure air and the simple
food of the Arabian plains keep him in perfect health; and the necessity
of constant watchfulness against his foes, from whom he has no defence of
rock, forest, or fortification, quickens his perceptive faculties. But the
Arab has also a sense of spiritual things, which appears to have a root in
his organization. The Arabs say: "The children of Shem are prophets, the
children of Japhet are kings, and the children of Ham are slaves." Having
no temples, no priesthood, no religious forms, their religion is less
formal and more instinctive, like that of children. The Koran says: "Every
child is born into the religion of nature; its parents make it a Jew, a
Christian, or a Magian." But when Mohammed came, the religion of the Arabs
was a jumble of monotheism and polytheism,--Judaism, Christianity,
idolatry, and fetichism. At one time there had been a powerful and
intolerant Jewish kingdom in one region. In Yemen, at another period, the
king of Abyssinia had established Christianity. But neither Judaism nor
Christianity had ever been able to conquer the peninsula; and at the end
of the sixth century idolatry was the most prevailing form of worship.

At this time Mohammed appeared, and in a few years united in one faith all
the warring tribes of Arabia; consolidated them into a single nation, and
then wielded their mighty and enthusiastic forces against Syria, Persia,
and North Africa, triumphant wherever they moved. He, certainly, if ever
man possessed it, had the rare gift of natural empire. To him, more than
to any other of whom history makes mention, was given

    "The monarch mind, the mystery of commanding,
      The birth-hour gift, the art Napoleon,
    Of wielding, moulding, gathering, welding, banding,
      The hearts of thousands till they moved as one."

§ 3. Early Life of Mohammed, to the Hegira.

But it was not as a soldier or ambitious conqueror that Mohammed began his
career. The first forty years of his life were passed in the quiet
pursuits of trade, or taking care of the property of Khadîjah. Serious,
thoughtful, devout, he made friends of all about him. His youth was
unstained by vice, and his honorable character early obtained for him the
title, given him by common consent, of Al Amîn, "the faithful." At one
time he tended sheep and goats on the hills near Mecca. At Medina, after
he became distinguished he referred to this, saying, "Pick me the blackest
of those berries; they are such as I used to gather when I fed the flocks
at Mecca. Verily, no prophet has been raised up who has not performed the
work of a shepherd." When twenty-five years of age, he entered into the
service of Khadîjah, a rich widow, as her agent, to take charge of her
merchandise and to sell it at Damascus. When the caravan returned, and his
adventure had proved successful, Khadîjah, then forty years old, became
interested in the young man; she was wise, virtuous, and attractive; they
were married, and, till her death, Mohammed was a kind and loving husband.
Khadîjah sympathized with her husband in his religious tendencies, and was
his first convert. His habit was to retire to a cave on Mount Hira to pray
and to meditate. Sadness came over him in view of the evils in the world.
One of the Suras of the Koran, supposed to belong to this period, is as

    _Sura 103._

    "By the declining day I swear!
    Verily, man is in the way of ruin;
    Excepting such as possess faith,
    And do the things which be right,
    And stir up one another to truth and steadfastness."

About this time he began to have his visions of angels, especially of
Gabriel. He saw a light, and heard a voice, and had sentences like the
above put into his mind. These communications were accompanied by strong
convulsions (epilepsy, says Weil), in which he would fall to the ground
and foam at the mouth. Sprenger considers it to have been a form of
hysteria, with a mental origin, perhaps accompanied with catalepsy. The
prophet himself said: "Inspiration descends on me in two ways. Sometimes
Gabriel cometh and communicateth the revelation, as one man to another.
This is easy. But sometimes it is as the ringing of a bell, which rends me
in pieces, and grievously afflicts me." One day, when Abu Bakr and Omar
sat in the Mosque at Medina, Mohammed came suddenly upon them, lifting up
his beard and looking at it; and Abu Bakr said, "Ah thou, for whom I would
sacrifice father and mother; white hairs are hastening upon thee!" "Yes,"
said the prophet, "Hûd" (Sura 11) "and its sisters have hastened my white
hairs." "And who," asked Abu Bakr, "are its sisters?" "The _Inevitable_"
(Sura 56) "and the _Striking_" (Sura 101), replied Mohammed. These three
are called the "terrific Suras."

But these last Suras came later than the period now referred to. At this
time his visions and revelations possessed _him_; he did not possess nor
control _them_. In later years the spirit of the prophet was more subject
to the prophet. But the Koran is an unintelligible book unless we can
connect it with the biography of its writer. All the incidents of his life
took shape in some revelation. A separate revelation was given to
encourage or to rebuke him; and in his later years the too subservient
inspiration came to appease the jealousy of his wives when a new one was
added to their number. But, however it may have been afterward, in the
beginning his visions were as much a surprise to him as to others. A
careful distribution of the Suras, according to the events which befell
him, would make the Koran the best biography of the prophet. As we said of
David and his Psalms, so it may be said of Mohammed, that his life hangs
suspended in these hymns, as in votive pictures, each the record of some
grave experience.[389]

Now, it is impossible to read the detailed accounts of this part of the
life of Mohammed, and have any doubt of his profound sincerity. His
earliest converts were his bosom-friends and the people of his household,
who were intimately acquainted with his private life. Nor does a man
easily begin an ambitious course of deception at the age of forty; having
lived till that time as a quiet, peaceful, and unobtrusive citizen,[390]
what was he to gain by this career? Long years passed before he could make
more than a handful of converts. During these weary years he was the
object of contumely and hatred to the ruling tribe in Mecca. His life was
hardly safe from them. Nothing could be more hopeless than his position
during the first twelve years of his public preaching. Only a strong
conviction of the reality of his mission could have supported him through
this long period of failure, loneliness, and contempt. During all these
years the wildest imagination could not have pictured the success which
was to come. Here is a Sura in which he finds comfort in God and his

    _Sura 93._

      "By the rising sunshine!
      By the night when it darkeneth!
    Thy Lord hath not removed from thee, neither hath he been displeased.
    And verily the future shall be better than the past....
    What! did he not find thee an orphan, and give thee a home?
    And found thee astray, and directed thee?"

In this Sura, Mohammed refers to the fact of the death of his mother,
Amina, in his seventh year, his father having died a few months before. He
visited her tomb many years after, and lifted up his voice and wept. In
reply to the questions of his companions, he said: "This is the grave of
my mother; the Lord hath permitted me to visit it, and I asked leave to
pray for her, and it was not granted. So I called my mother to
remembrance, and the tender memory of her overcame me, and I wept." The
child had been taken by his grandfather, Abd al Mut-talib, then eighty
years old, who treated him with the greatest indulgence. At his death,
shortly after, Mohammed was adopted by his uncle, Abu Tâlib, the chief of
the tribe. Abu Tâlib brought him up like his own son, making him sleep by
his bed, eat by his side, and go with him wherever he went. And when
Mohammed, assuming his inspired position, declared himself a prophet, his
uncle, then aged and universally respected, protected him from his
enemies, though Abu himself never accepted his teaching. Mohammed
therefore had good reason to bless the Providence which had provided such
protectors for his orphaned infancy.

Among the earliest converts of Mohammed, after Khadîjah, were his two
adopted children, Ali and Zeid. Ali was the son of his guardian, Abu
Tâlib, who had become poor, and found it hard to support his family.
Mohammed, "prompted by his usual kindness and consideration," says Mr.
Muir, went to his rich uncle Abbas, and proposed that each of them should
adopt one of Abu Tâlib's children, which was done. His other adopted son,
Zeid, belonged to a Syrian tribe, and had been taken captive by marauders,
sold into slavery, and given to Khadîjah, who presented him to her
husband. After a while the father of Zeid heard where he was, and coming
to Mecca offered a large sum as ransom for his son. Mohammed had become
very fond of Zeid, but he called him, and gave him his choice to go or
stay. Zeid said, "I will not leave thee; thou art in the place to me of
father and mother." Then Mohammed took him to the Kaaba, and touching the
Black Stone said, "Bear witness, all here! Zeid is my son. I shall be his
heir, and he mine." So the father returned home contented, and Zeid was
henceforth known as "Zeid ibn Mohammed,"--Zeid, the son of Mohammed.

It is reported that when Ali was about thirteen years old Mohammed was one
day praying with him in one of the retired glens near Mecca, whither they
had gone to avoid the ridicule of their opponents. Abu Tâlib, passing by,
said, "My nephew! what is this new faith I see thee following?" "O my
uncle," replied Mohammed, "it is the religion of God, his angels and
prophets, the religion of Abraham. The Lord hath sent me as his apostle;
and thou, uncle, art most worthy to be invited to believe." Abu Tâlib
replied, "I am not able, my nephew, to separate from the customs of my
forefathers, but I swear that while I live no one shall trouble thee."
Then he said to Ali, "My son, he will not invite thee to anything which is
not good; wherefore thou art free to cleave to him."

Another early and important convert was Abu Bakr, father of Mohammed's
favorite wife, Ayesha, and afterward the prophet's successor. Ayesha said
she "could not remember the time when both her parents were not true
believers." Of Abu Bakr, the prophet said, "I never invited any to the
faith who did not show hesitation, except Abu Bakr. When I proposed Islam
to him he at once accepted it." He was thoughtful, calm, tender, and firm.
He is still known as "Al Sadîch," the true one. Another of his titles is
"the Second of the Two,"--from having been the only companion of Mohammed
in his flight from Mecca. Hassan, the poet of Medina, thus says of him:--

    "And the second of the two in the glorious cave, while the foes were
         searching around, and they two were in the mountain,--
    And the prophet of the Lord, they well knew, loved him more than all
        the world; he held no one equal unto him."[391]

Abu Bakr was at this time a successful merchant, and possessed some forty
thousand dirhems. But he spent most of it in purchasing and giving freedom
to Moslem slaves, who were persecuted by their masters for their religion.
He was an influential man among the Koreish. This powerful tribe, the
rulers of Mecca, who from the first treated Mohammed with contempt,
gradually became violent persecutors of him and his followers. Their main
wrath fell on the unprotected slaves, whom they exposed to the scorching
sun, and who, in their intolerable thirst, would sometimes recant, and
acknowledge the idols. Some of them remained firm, and afterward showed
with triumph their scars. Mohammed, Abu Bakr, Ali, and all who were
connected with powerful families, were for a long time safe. For the
principal protection in such a disorganized society was the principle that
each tribe must defend every one of its members, at all hazards. Of
course, Mohammed was very desirous to gain over members of the great
families, but he felt bound to take equal pains with the poor and
helpless, as appears from the following anecdote: "The prophet was engaged
in deep converse with the chief Walîd, for he greatly desired his
conversion. Then a blind man passed that way, and asked to hear the Koran.
But Mohammed was displeased with the interruption, and turned from him
roughly."[392] But he was afterward grieved to think he had slighted one
whom God had perhaps chosen, and had paid court to a reprobate. So his
remorse took the form of a divine message and embodied itself as

    "The prophet frowned and turned aside
    Because the blind man came to him.
    Who shall tell thee if he may not be purified?
    Or whether thy admonition might not profit him?
        The rich man
        Thou receivest graciously,
        Although he be not inwardly pure.
    But him who cometh earnestly inquiring,
    And trembling with anxiety,
        Him thou dost neglect."[393]

Mohammed did not encourage his followers to martyrdom. On the contrary, he
allowed them to dissemble to save themselves. He found one of his
disciples sobbing bitterly because he had been compelled by ill-treatment
to abuse his master and worship the idols. "But how dost thou find thy
heart?" said the prophet. "Steadfast in the faith," said he. "Then,"
answered Mohammed, "if they repeat their cruelty, thou mayest repeat thy
words." He also had himself an hour of vacillation. Tired of the severe
and seemingly hopeless struggle with the Koreish, and seeing no way of
overcoming their bitter hostility, he bethought himself of the method of
compromise, more than seven centuries before America was discovered. He
had been preaching Islam five years, and had only forty or fifty converts.
Those among them who had no protectors he had advised to fly to the
Christian kingdom of Abyssinia. "Yonder," said he, pointing to the west,
"lies a land wherein no one is wronged. Go there and remain until the Lord
shall open a way for you." Some fifteen or twenty had gone, and met with a
kind reception. This was the first "Hegira," and showed the strength of
faith in these exiles, who gave up their country rather than Islam. But
they heard, before long, that the Koreish had been converted by Mohammed,
and they returned to Mecca. The facts were these.

One day, when the chief citizens were sitting near the Kaaba, Mohammed
came, and began to recite in their hearing one of the Suras of the Koran.
In this Sura three of the goddesses worshipped by the Koreish were
mentioned. When he came to their names he added two lines in which he
conceded that their intercession might avail with God. The Koreish were so
delighted at this acknowledgment of their deities, that when he added
another line calling on them to worship Allah, they all prostrated
themselves on the ground and adored God. Then they rose, and expressed
their satisfaction, and agreed to be his followers, and receive Islam,
with this slight alteration, that their goddesses and favorite idols were
to be respected. Mohammed went home and began to be unhappy in his mind.
The compromise, it seems, lasted long enough for the Abyssinian exiles to
hear of it and to come home. But at last the prophet recovered himself,
and took back his concession. The verse of the Sura was cancelled, and
another inserted, declaring that these goddesses were only names, invented
by the idolaters. Ever after, the intercession of idols was condemned with
scorn. But Mohammed records his lapse thus in the seventeenth Sura of the

   "And truly, they were near tempting thee from what we taught thee, that
   thou shouldst invent a different revelation; and then they would have
   inclined unto thee.

   And if we had not strengthened thee, verily thou hadst inclined to them
   a little.

   Then thou shouldst not have found against us any helper."

After this, naturally, the persecution became hotter than ever. A second
body of exiles went to Abyssinia. Had not the venerable Abu Tâlib
protected Mohammed, his life might have been lost. As it was, the
persecutors threatened the old man with deadly enmity unless he gave up
Mohammed. But Abu Tâlib, though agreeing with them in their religion, and
worshipping their gods, refused to surrender his nephew to them. Once,
when Mohammed had disappeared, and his uncle suspected that the Koreish
had seized him, he armed a party of Hâshimite youths with dirks, and went
to the Kaaba, to the Koreish. But on the way he heard that Mohammed was
found. Then, in the presence of the Koreish, he told his young men to draw
their dirks, and said, "By the Lord! had ye killed him, not one of you had
remained alive." This boldness cowed their violence for a time. But as the
unpopularity of Mohammed increased, he and all his party were obliged to
take refuge with the Hâshimites in a secluded quarter of the city
belonging to Abu Tâlib. The conversion of Omar about this time only
increased their rage. They formed an alliance against the Hâshimites,
agreeing that they would neither buy nor sell, marry, nor have any
dealings with them. This oath was committed to writing, sealed, and hung
up in the Kaaba. For two or three years the Hâshimites remained shut up in
their fortress, and often deprived of the necessaries of life. Their
friends would sometimes secretly supply them with provisions; but the
cries of the hungry children would often be heard by those outside. They
were blockaded in their intrenchments. But many of the chief people in
Mecca began to be moved by pity, and at last it was suggested to Abu Tâlib
that the bond hung up in the Kaaba had been eaten by the ants, so as to be
no longer valid. This being found to be the case, it was decided that the
league was at an end, and the Hâshimites returned to their homes. But
other misfortunes were in store for Mohammed. The good Abu Tâlib soon
died, and, not long after, Khadîjah. His protector gone, what could
Mohammed do? He left the city, and went with only Zeid for a companion on
a mission to Tâyif, sixty or seventy miles east of Mecca, in hopes of
converting the inhabitants. Who can think of the prophet, in this lonely
journey, without sympathy? He was going to preach the doctrine of One God
to idolaters. But he made no impression on them, and, as he left the town,
was followed by a mob, hooting, and pelting him with stones. At last they
left him, and in the shadow of some trees he betook himself to prayer. His
words have been preserved, it is believed by the Moslems, and are as
follows: "O Lord! I make my complaint unto thee of the feebleness of my
strength, and the weakness of my plans. I am insignificant in the sight of
men. O thou most merciful! Lord of the weak! Thou art my Lord! Do not
abandon me. Leave me not a prey to these strangers, nor to my foes. If
thou art not offended, I am safe. I seek refuge in the light of thy
countenance, by which all darkness is dispersed, and peace comes. There is
no power, no help, but in thee." In that hour of prayer, the faith of
Mohammed was the same as that of Luther praying for protection against the
Pope. It was a part of the universal religion of human nature. Certainly
this man was no impostor. A man, going alone to summon an idolatrous city
to repentance, must at least have believed in his own doctrine.

But the hour of success was at hand. No amount of error, no bitterness of
prejudice, no vested interest in falsehood, can resist the determined
conviction of a single soul. Only believe a truth strongly enough to hold
it through good report and ill report, and at last the great world of
half-believers comes round to you. And usually the success comes suddenly
at last, after weary years of disappointment. The great tree, which seems
so solid and firm, has been secretly decaying within, and is hollow at
heart; at last it falls in a moment, filling the forest with the echoes of
its ruin. The dam, which seems strong enough to resist a torrent, has been
slowly undermined by a thousand minute rills of water; at last it is
suddenly swept away, and opens a yawning breach for the tumbling cataract.
And almost as suddenly came the triumph of Mohammed.

At Medina and in its neighborhood there had long been numerous and
powerful tribes of Jewish proselytes. In their conflicts with the
idolaters, they had often predicted the speedy coming of a prophet like
Moses. The Jewish influence was great at Medina, and that of the idolaters
was divided by bitter quarrels. Now it must be remembered that at this
time Mohammed taught a kind of modified Judaism. He came to revive the
religion of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He continually referred to the Old
Testament and the Talmud for authority. He was a prophet and inspired, but
not to teach anything new. He was to restore the universal religion which
God had taught to man in the beginning,--the religion of all true
patriarchs and prophets. Its essential doctrine was the unity of God, and
his supremacy and providence. Its one duty was Islam, or submission to the
Divine will. Its worship was prayer and almsgiving. At this time he did
not make belief in himself the main point; it was to profess the unity of
God, and to submit wholly to God. So that the semi-Judaized pilgrims from
Medina to Mecca were quite prepared to accept his teachings. Mohammed, at
the time of the pilgrimage, met with many of them, and they promised to
become his disciples. The pledge they took was as follows: "We will not
worship any but the one God; we will not steal, nor commit adultery, nor
kill our children (female): we will not slander at all, nor disobey the
prophet in anything that is right." This was afterward called the "Pledge
of Women," because it did not require them to fight for Islam. This faith
spread rapidly among the idolaters at Medina,--much more so than the
Jewish system. The Jews required too much of their proselytes; they
insisted on their becoming Jews. They demanded a change of all their
previous customs. But Mohammed only asked for submission.

About this time Mohammed had his famous dream or vision, in which he was
carried by Gabriel on a winged steed to Jerusalem, to meet all the
prophets of God and be welcomed by them to their number, and then to the
seventh heaven into the presence of God. It was so vivid that he deemed it
a reality, and maintained that he had been to Jerusalem and to heaven.
This, and the Koran itself, were the only miracles he ever claimed.

The Medina Moslems having entered into a second pledge, to receive
Mohammed and his friends, and to protect them, the prophet gave orders to
his followers to leave Mecca secretly in small parties, and repair to
Medina. As the stout sea-captain remains the last on a sinking vessel,
Mohammed stayed quietly at Mecca till all the others had gone. Only Abu
Bakr's family and his own remained. The rest of the believers, to the
number of about two hundred, had disappeared.

The Koreish, amazed at these events, knew not what to do. Why had the
Moslems gone? and why had Mohammed remained? How dared he to stay,
unprotected, in their midst? They might kill him;--but then his tribe
would take a bloody vengeance on his murderers. At last they proposed to
seize him, and that a number of men, one from each tribe and family,
should at the same moment drive their dirks into him. Or perhaps it might
be better to send an assassin to waylay him on his way to Medina. While
they were discussing these alternatives, news was brought to them that
Mohammed also had disappeared, and Abu Bakr with him. They immediately
went to their houses. In that of Mohammed they found the young Ali, who,
being asked where his father was, replied, "I do not know. I am not his
keeper. Did you not order him to go from the city? I suppose he is gone."
Getting no more information at the house of Abu Bakr, they sent out
parties of armed men, mounted on swift horses and camels, to search the
whole route to Medina, and bring the fugitives back. After a few days the
pursuers returned, saying that there were no signs of any persons having
gone in that direction. If they had gone that way they would certainly
have overtaken them.

Meantime where were the fugitives? Instead of going north to Medina, they
had hidden in a cave on a mountain, about five or six miles to the south
of Mecca. Here they remained concealed three days and nights, in imminent
danger from their pursuers, who once, it is said, came to the mouth of the
cave, but, seeing spiders' webs spun across the opening, concluded no one
could have gone in recently. There was a crevice in the roof through which
the morning light entered, and Abu Bakr said, "If one of them were to
look down, he would see us." "Think not so, Abu Bakr," said the prophet.
"We are two, but God is in the midst, a third."

The next day, satisfied that the heat of the pursuit had abated, they took
the camels which had privately been brought to them from the city by the
son of Abu Bakr, and set off for Medina, leaving Mecca on the right. By
the calculations of M. Caussin de Perceval, it was on the 20th of June,
A.D. 622.

§ 4. Change in the Character of Mohammed after the Hegira.

From the Hegira the Mohammedan era begins; and from that point of the
prophet's history his fortunes rise, but his character degenerates. He has
borne adversity and opposition with a faith and a patience almost sublime;
but prosperity he will not bear so well. Down to that time he had been a
prophet, teaching God's truth to those who would receive it, and by the
manifestation of that truth commending himself to every man's conscience.
Now he was to become a politician, the head of a party, contriving
expedients for its success. Before, his only weapon was truth; now, his
chief means was force. Instead of convincing his opponents, he now
compelled them to submit by the terror of his power. His revelations
changed their tone; they adapted themselves to his needs, and on all
occasions, even when he wanted to take an extra wife, inspiration came to
his aid.

What sadder tragedy is there than to see a great soul thus conquered by
success? "All these things," says Satan, "I will give thee, if thou wilt
fall down and worship me." When Jesus related his temptation to his
disciples he put it in the form of a parable. How could they, how can we,
understand the temptations of a nature like that of Christ! Perhaps he saw
that he could have a great apparent success by the use of worldly means.
He could bring the Jew and the Gentile to acknowledge and receive his
truth. Some slight concession to worldly wisdom, some little compromise
with existing errors, some hardly perceptible variation from perfect
truthfulness, and lo! the kingdom of God would come in that very hour,
instead of lingering through long centuries. What evils might not be
spared to the race, what woes to the world, if the divine gospel of love
to God and man were inaugurated by Christ himself! This, perhaps, was one
of the temptations. But Jesus said, "Get thee behind me, Satan." He would
use only good means for good ends. He would take God's way to do God's
work. He would die on the cross, but not vary from the perfect truth. The
same temptation came to Mohammed, and he yielded. Up to the Hegira,
Mohammed might also have said, "My kingdom is not of this world." But now
the sword and falsehood were to serve him, as his most faithful servants,
in building up Islam. His _ends_ were the same as before. His object was
still to establish the service of the one living and true God. But his
_means_, henceforth, are of the earth, earthy.

What a noble religion would Islam have been, if Mohammed could have gone
on as he began! He accepted all the essential truths of Judaism, he
recognized Moses and Christ as true teachers. He taught that there was one
universal religion, the substance of which was faith in one Supreme Being,
submission to his will, trust in his providence, and good-will to his
creatures. Prayer and alms were the only worship which God required. A
marvellous and mighty work, says Mr. Muir, had been wrought by these few
precepts. From time beyond memory Mecca and the whole peninsula had been
steeped in spiritual torpor. The influences of Judaism, Christianity, and
philosophy had been feeble and transient. Dark superstitions prevailed,
the mothers of dark vices. And now, in thirteen years of preaching, a body
of men and women had risen, who rejected idolatry; worshipped the one
great God; lived lives of prayer; practised chastity, benevolence, and
justice; and were ready to do and to bear everything for the truth. All
this came from the depth of conviction in the soul of this one man.

To the great qualities which Mohammed had shown as a prophet and
religious teacher were now added those of the captain and statesman. He
had at last obtained a position at Medina whence he could act on the Arabs
with other forces than those of eloquence and feeling. And now the man who
for forty years had been a simple citizen and led a quiet family life--who
afterward, for thirteen years, had been a patient but despised teacher of
the unity of God--passed the last ten years of his strange career in
building up a fanatical army of warriors, destined to conquer half the
civilized world. From this period the old solution of the Mohammedan
miracle is in order; from this time the sword leads, and the Koran
follows. To this familiar explanation of Mohammedan success, Mr. Carlyle
replies with the question: "Mohammedanism triumphed with the sword? But
where did it get its sword?" We can now answer that pithy inquiry. The
simple, earnest zeal of the original believers built up a power, which
then took the sword, and conquered with it. The reward of patient,
long-enduring faith is influence; with this influence ambition serves
itself for its own purpose. Such is, more or less, the history of every
religion, and, indeed, of every political party. Sects are founded, not by
politicians, but by men of faith, by men to whom ideas are realities, by
men who are willing to die for them. Such faith always triumphs at last;
it makes a multitude of converts; it becomes a great power. The deep and
strong convictions thus created are used by worldly men for their own
purposes. That the Mohammedan impulse was thus taken possession of by
worldly men is the judgment of M. Renan.[394] "From all sides," says he,
"we come to this singular result: that the Mussulman movement was started
almost without religious faith; that, setting aside a small number of
faithful disciples, Mahomet really wrought very little conviction in
Arabia." "The party of true Mussulmans had all their strength in Omar; but
after his assassination, that is to say, twelve years after the death of
the prophet, the opposite party triumphed by the election of Othman."
"The first generation of the Hegira was completely occupied in
exterminating the primitive Mussulmans, the true fathers of Islamism."
Perhaps it is bold to question the opinions of a Semitic scholar of the
force of M. Renan, but it seems to us that he goes too far in supposing
that such a movement as that of Islam could be _started_ without a
tremendous depth of conviction. At all events, supported by such writers
as Weil, Sprenger, and Muir, we will say that it was a powerful religious
movement founded on sincerest conviction, but gradually turned aside, and
used for worldly purposes and temporal triumphs. And, in thus diverting it
from divine objects to purely human ones, Mohammed himself led the way. He
adds another, and perhaps the greatest, illustration to the long list of
noble souls whose natures have become subdued to that which they worked
in; who have sought high ends by low means; who, talking of the noblest
truths, descend into the meanest prevarications, and so throw a doubt on
all sincerity, faith, and honor. Such was the judgment of a great
thinker--Goethe--concerning Mohammed. He believes him to have been at
first profoundly sincere, but he says of him that afterward "what in his
character is earthly increases and develops itself; the divine retires and
is obscured: his doctrine becomes a means rather than an end. All kinds of
practices are employed, nor are horrors wanting." Goethe intended to write
a drama upon Mohammed, to illustrate the sad fact that every man who
attempts to realize a great idea comes in contact with the lower world,
must place himself on its level in order to influence it, and thus often
compromises his higher aims, and at last forfeits them[395]. Such a man,
in modern times, was Lord Bacon in the political world; such a man, among
conquerors, was Cromwell; and among Christian sects how often do we see
the young enthusiast and saint end as the ambitious self-seeker and
Jesuit! Then we call him a hypocrite, because he continues to use the
familiar language of the time when his heart was true and simple, though
indulging himself in luxury and sin. It is curious, when we are all so
inconsistent, that we should find it so hard to understand inconsistency.
We, all of us, often say what is right and do what is wrong; but are we
deliberate hypocrites? No! we know that we are weak; we admit that we are
inconsistent; we say amen to the "video meliora, proboque,--deteriora
sequor," but we also know that we are not deliberate and intentional
hypocrites. Let us use the same large judgment in speaking of the faults
of Cromwell, Bacon, and Mohammed.

No one could have foreseen the cruelty of which Mohammed, hitherto always
a kind-hearted and affectionate man, was capable toward those who resisted
his purpose. This first showed itself in his treatment of the Jews. He
hoped to form an alliance with them, against the idolaters. He had
admitted the divine authority of their religion, and appealed to their
Scriptures as evidence of the truth of his own mission. He conformed to
their ritual and customs, and made Jerusalem his Kibla, toward which he
turned in prayer five times a day. In return for this he expected them to
receive him as a prophet; but this they refused to do. So he departed by
degrees from their customs, changed his Kibla to Mecca, and at last
denounced the Jews as stiff-necked unbelievers. The old quarrel between
Esau and Jacob could not be appeased, nor an alliance formed between them.

M. Saint-Hilaire[396] does not think that the character of Mohammed
changed when he became the founder of a state and head of a conquering
party. He thinks "that he only yielded to the political necessities of his
position." Granted; but yielding to those necessities was the cause of
this gradual change in his character. The man who lies and murders from
the necessity of his political position can hardly remain a saint.
Plunder, cold-blooded execution of prisoners, self-indulgence, became the
habit of the prophet henceforth, as we shall presently see.

The first battle against the Koreish, that of Badr, took place in January,
A.D. 624. When Mohammed had drawn up his army, he prayed earnestly for
the victory. After a desperate struggle, the Koreish fled. Mohammed
claimed, by a special revelation, the fifth part of the booty. As the
bodies of his old opponents were cast into a pit, he spoke to them
bitterly. When the prisoners were brought before him he looked fiercely at
one of them. "There is death in that glance," said the unhappy man, and
presently the prophet ordered him to be beheaded. Two days after, another
was ordered for execution. "Who will take care of my little girl?" said
he. "Hell-fire," replied Mohammed, and ordered him to be cut down. Shortly
after the battle, a Jewess who had written verses against Mohammed, was
assassinated by one of his followers; and the prophet praised him for the
deed in the public mosque. Another aged Jew, for the same offence, was
murdered by his express command. A quarrel between some Jews and Moslems
brought on an attack by Mohammed upon the Jewish tribe. They surrendered
after a siege of fifteen days, and Mohammed ordered all the prisoners to
be killed; but at last, at the urgent request of a powerful chief in
Medina, allowed them to go into exile, cursing them and their intercessor.
Mr. Muir mentions other cases of assassination of the Jews by the command
of the prophet. All these facts are derived from contemporaneous Moslem
historians, who glorify their prophet for this conduct. The worst action
perhaps of this kind was the deliberate execution of seven or eight
hundred Jewish prisoners, who had surrendered at discretion, and the sale
of their wives and children into slavery. Mohammed selected from among
these women one more beautiful than the rest, for his concubine. Whether
M. Saint-Hilaire considers all this as "yielding to the political
necessities of his position," we do not know. But this man, who could
stand by and see hundreds of captives slaughtered in cold blood, and then
retire to solace himself with the widow of one of his victims, seems to us
to have retained little of his early purity of soul.

About this time Mohammed began to multiply wives, and to receive
revelations allowing him to do so beyond the usual limit of his law. He
added one after another to his harem, until he had ten wives, besides his
slaves. His views on such subjects are illustrated by his presenting three
beautiful female slaves, taken in war, one to his father-in-law, and the
others to his two sons-in-law.

So, in a series of battles, with the Jewish tribes, the Koreish, the
Syrians, passed the stormy and triumphant years of the Pontiff King. Mecca
was conquered, and the Koreish submitted in A.D. 630. The tribes
throughout Arabia acquiesced, one by one, in the prophet's authority. All
paid tribute, or accepted Islam. His enemies were all under his feet; his
doctrines accepted; the rival prophets, Aswad and Museilama, overcome.
Then, in the sixty-third year of his age, death drew near. On the last day
of his life, he went into the mosque to attend morning prayer, then back
to the room of his favorite wife, Ayesha, and died in her arms. Wild with
grief, Omar declared he was not dead, but in a trance. The grave Abu Bakr
composed the excited multitude, and was chosen caliph, or successor to the
prophet. Mohammed died on June 8, A.D. 632, and was buried the next day,
amid the grief of his followers. Abu Bakr and Omar offered the prayer:
"Peace be unto thee, O prophet of God; and the mercy of the Lord, and his
blessing! We bear testimony that the prophet of God hath delivered the
message revealed to him; hath fought in the ways of the Lord until God
crowned his religion with victory; hath fulfilled his words commanding
that he alone is to be worshipped in unity; hath drawn us to himself, and
been kind and tender-hearted to believers; hath sought no recompense for
delivering to us the faith, neither hath sold it for a price at any time."
And all the people said, "Amen! Amen!"

Concerning the character of Mohammed, enough has been already said. He was
a great man, one of the greatest ever sent upon earth. He was a man of the
deepest convictions, and for many years of the purest purposes, and was
only drawn down at last by using low means for a good end. Of his visions
and revelations, the same explanation is to be given as of those received
by Joan of Arc, and other seers of that order. How far they had an
objective basis in reality, and how far they were the result of some
abnormal activity of the imagination, it is difficult with our present
knowledge to decide. But that these visionaries fully believed in their
own inspiration, there can be little doubt.

§ 5. Religious Doctrines and Practices among the Mohammedans.

As to the religion of Mohammed, and its effects on the world, it is easier
to come to an opinion than concerning his own character. Its essential
doctrine, as before indicated, is the absolute unity and supremacy of God,
as opposed to the old Arab Polytheism on the one hand and the Christian
Trinity on the other. It however admits of angels and genii. Gabriel and
Michael are the angels of power; Azriel, angel of death; Israfeel, angel
of the resurrection. Eblis, or Satan, plays an important part in this
mythology. The Koran also teaches the doctrine of Eternal Decrees, or
absolute Predestination; of prophets before Mohammed, of whom he is the
successor,--as Adam, Noah, Moses, and Jesus; of sacred books, of which all
that remain are the Pentateuch, Psalms, Gospels, and Koran; of an
intermediate state after death; of the resurrection and judgment. All
non-believers in Islam go into eternal fire. There are separate hells for
Christians, Jews, Sabians, Magians, idolaters, and the hypocrites of all
religions. The Moslem is judged by his actions. A balance is held by
Gabriel, one scale hanging over heaven and another over hell, and his good
deeds are placed in one and his bad ones in the other. According as his
scale inclines, he goes to heaven or hell. If he goes to heaven, he finds
there seventy-two Houris, more beautiful than angels, awaiting him, with
gardens, groves, marble palaces, and music. If women are true believers
and righteous, they will also go to heaven, but nothing is said about
husbands being provided for them. Stress is laid on prayer, ablution,
fasting, almsgiving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca. Wine and gaming are
forbidden. There is no recognition, in the Koran, of human brotherhood. It
is a prime duty to hate infidels and make war on them. Mohammed made it a
duty for Moslems to betray and kill their own brothers when they were
infidels; and he was obeyed in more cases than one. The Moslem sects are
as numerous as those of Christians. The Dabistan mentions seventy-three.
The two main divisions are into Sunnites and Shyites. The Persians are
mostly Shyites, and refuse to receive the Sunnite traditions. They accept
Ali, and denounce Omar. Terrible wars and cruelties have taken place
between these sects. Only a few of the Sunnite doctors acknowledge the
Shyites to be Moslems. They have a saying, "to destroy a Shyite is more
acceptable than to kill seventy other infidels of whatever sort."

The Turks are the most zealous of the Moslems. On Friday, which is the
Sabbath of Islam, all business is suspended. Prayers are read and sermons
preached in the mosques. No one is allowed to be absent. The Ramadan fast
is universally kept. Any one who breaks it twice is considered worthy of
death. The fast lasts from sunrise to sunset. But the rich feast in the
night, and sleep during the day. The Turks have no desire to make
proselytes, but have an intolerant hatred for all outside of Islam. The
Kalif is the Chief Pontiff. The Oulema, or Parliament, is composed of the
Imans, or religious teachers, the Muftis, or doctors of law, and Kadis, or
ministers of justice. The priests in Turkey are subordinate to the civil
magistrate, who is their diocesan, and can remove them at pleasure. The
priests in daily life are like the laity, engage in the same business, and
are no more austere than they.

Mr. Forster says, in regard to their devotion: "When I contrast the
silence of a Turkish mosque, at the hour of public prayer, with the noise
and tumult so frequent in Christian temples, I stand astonished at the
strange inversion, in the two religions, of the order of things which
might naturally be expected." "I have seen," says another, "a congregation
of at least two thousand souls assembled in the mosque of St. Sophia, with
silence so profound, that until I entered the body of the building I was
unaware that it contained a single worshipper."

Bishop Southgate, long a missionary bishop of the Episcopal Church of the
United States, says: "I have often met with Mussulmans who seem to possess
deep religious feeling, and with whom I could exercise something of a
religious communion. I have sometimes had my own mind quickened and
benefited by the reverence with which they spoke of the Deity, and have
sometimes mingled in harmonious converse with them on holy things. I have
heard them insist with much earnestness on the duty of prayer, when they
appeared to have some spiritual sense of its nature and importance. I have
sometimes found them entertaining elevated views of moral duty, and
looking with contempt on the pleasures of this world. These are indeed
rare characters, but I should do injustice to my own conviction if I did
not confess that I had found them. In these instances I have been
uniformly struck with a strong resemblance to patriarchal piety." He
continues: "When we sat down to eat, the old Turkish Bey implored a
blessing with great solemnity, and rendered his thanks when we arose.
Before he left us he spread his carpet, and offered his evening devotions
with apparent meekness and humility; and I could not but feel how
impressive are the Oriental forms of worship when I saw his aged head
bowed to the earth in religious homage."

Bishop Southgate adds further: "I have never known a Mussulman, sincere in
his faith and devout and punctilious in his religious duties, in whom
moral rectitude did not seem an active quality and a living principle."

In seasons of plague "the Turks appear perfectly fearless. They do not
avoid customary intercourse and contact with friends. They remain with and
minister to the sick, with unshrinking assiduity.... In truth, there is
something imposing in the unaffected calmness of the Turks at such times.
It is a spirit of resignation which becomes truly noble when exercised
upon calamities which have already befallen them. The fidelity with which
they remain by the bedside of a friend is at least as commendable as the
almost universal readiness among the Franks to forsake it."

Five times a day the Mezzuin proclaims the hour of prayer from the
minaret in these words: "There is no God but God. Mohammed is his prophet.
Come to prayer." In the morning call he adds, "Prayer is better than
sleep." Immediately every Mussulman leaves his occupation, and prostrates
himself on the floor or ground, wherever he may he. It is very
disreputable to omit this.

An interesting account is given of the domestic life of Moslem women in
Syria, by Miss Rogers, in her little book called "Domestic Life in
Palestine," published in 1862.

Miss Rogers travelled in Palestine with her brother, who was British
consul at Damascus. The following passage illustrates the character of the
women (Miss Rogers was obliged to sleep in the same room with the wives of
the governor of Arrabeh, near Naplous):--

"When I began to undress the women watched me with curiosity; and when I
put on my night-gown they were exceedingly astonished, and exclaimed,
'Where are you going? Why is your dress white?' They made no change for
sleeping, and there they were, in their bright-colored clothes, ready for
bed in a minute. But they stood round me till I said 'Good night,' and
then all kissed me, wishing me good dreams. Then I knelt down, and
presently, without speaking to them again, got into bed, and turned my
face to the wall, thinking over the strange day I had spent. I tried to
compose myself to sleep, though I heard the women whispering together.
When my head had rested about five minutes on the soft red silk pillow, I
felt a hand stroking my forehead, and heard a voice saying, very gently,
'Ya Habibi,' i.e. 'O beloved.' But I would not answer directly, as I did
not wish to be roused unnecessarily. I waited a little while, and my face
was touched again. I felt a kiss on my forehead, and a voice said,
'Miriam, speak to us; speak, Miriam, darling.' I could not resist any
longer; so I turned round and saw Helweh, Saleh Bek's prettiest wife,
leaning over me. I said, 'What is it, sweetness, what can I do for you?'
She answered, 'What did you do just now, when you knelt down and covered
your face with your hands?' I sat up, and said very solemnly, 'I spoke to
God, Helweh.' 'What did you say to him?' said Helweh. I replied, 'I wish
to sleep. God never sleeps. I have asked him to watch over me, and that I
may fall asleep, remembering that he never sleeps, and wake up remembering
his presence. I am very weak. God is all-powerful. I have asked him to
strengthen me with his strength.' By this time all the ladies were sitting
round me on the bed, and the slaves came and stood near. I told them I did
not know their language well enough to explain to them all I thought and
said. But as I had learned the Lord's Prayer, by heart, in Arabic, I
repeated it to them, sentence by sentence, slowly. When I began, 'Our
Father who art in heaven,' Helweh directly said, 'You told me your father
was in London.' I replied, 'I have two fathers, Helweh; one in London, who
does not know that I am here, and cannot know till I write and tell him;
and a Heavenly Father, who is here now, who is with me always, and sees
and hears us. He is your Father also. He teaches us to know good from
evil, if we listen to him and obey him.'

"For a moment there was perfect silence. They all looked startled, and as
if they felt that they were in the presence of some unseen power. Then
Helweh said, 'What more did you say?' I continued the Lord's Prayer, and
when I came to the words, 'Give us day by day our daily bread,' they said,
'Cannot you make bread yourself?' The passage, 'Forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,' is particularly forcible in
the Arabic language; and one of the elder women, who was particularly
severe and relentless-looking, said, 'Are you obliged to say that every
day?' as if she thought that sometimes it would be difficult to do so.
They said, 'Are you a Moslem?' I said, 'I am not called a Moslem. But I am
your sister, made by the same God, who is the one only God, the God of
all, my Father and your Father.' They asked me if I knew the Koran, and
were surprised to hear that I had read it. They handed a rosary to me,
saying, 'Do you know that?' I repeated a few of the most striking and
comprehensive attributes very carefully and slowly. Then they cried
out, 'Mashallah, the English girl is a true believer'; and the
impressionable, sensitive-looking Abyssinian slave-girls said, with one
accord, 'She is indeed an angel.'

"Moslems, men and women, have the name of Allah constantly on their lips,
but it seems to have become a mere form. This may explain why they were so
startled when I said, 'I was speaking to God.'" She adds that if she had
only said, "I was saying my prayers," or, "I was at my devotions," it
would not have impressed them.

Next morning, on awaking, Miss Rogers found the women from the
neighborhood had come in "to hear the English girl speak to God," and
Helweh said, "Now, Miriam, darling, will you speak to God?" At the
conclusion she asked them if they could say Amen, and after a moment of
hesitation they cried out, "Amên, amên!" Then one said, "Speak again, my
daughter, speak about _the bread_." So she repeated the Lord's Prayer with
explanations. When she left, they crowded around affectionately, saying,
"Return again, O Miriam, beloved!"

After this pleasant little picture, we may hear something on the other
side. Two recent travellers, Mr. Palgrave and Mr. Vambéry, have described
the present state of Mohammedanism in Central Arabia and Turkistan, or
Central Asia. Barth has described it as existing among the negroes in
North Africa. Count Gobineau has told us of Islam as it is in Persia at
the present day[397]. Mr. MacFarlane, in his book "Kismet, or the Doom of
Turkey," has pointed out the gradual decay of that power, and the utter
corruption of its administration. After reading such works as these,--and
among them let us not forget Mr. Lane's "Modern Egyptians,"--the
conclusion we must inevitably come to is, that the worst Christian
government, be it that of the Pope or the Czar, is very much better than
the best Mohammedan government. Everywhere we find arbitrary will taking
the place of law. In most places the people have no protection for life
or property, and know the government only through its tax-gatherers. And
all this is necessarily and logically derived from the fundamental
principle of Mohammedan theology. God is pure will, not justice, not
reason, not love. Christianity says, "God is love"; Mohammedanism says,
"God is will." Christianity says, "Trust in God"; Mohammedanism says,
"Submit to God." Hence the hardness, coldness, and cruelty of the system;
hence its utter inability to establish any good government. According to
Mr. MacFarlane, it would be a blessing to mankind to have the Turks driven
out of Europe and Asia Minor, and to have Constantinople become the
capital of Russia. The religion of Islam is an outward form, a hard shell
of authority, hollow at heart. It constantly tends to the two antagonistic
but related vices of luxury and cruelty. Under the profession of Islam,
polytheism and idolatry have always prevailed in Arabia. In Turkistan,
where slavery is an extremely cruel system, they make slaves of Moslems,
in defiance of the Koran. One chief being appealed to by Vambery (who
travelled as a Dervish), replied, "We buy and sell the Koran itself, which
is the holiest thing of all; why not buy and sell Mussulmans, who are less

§ 6. The Criticism of Mr. Palgrave on Mohammedan Theology.

Mr. Palgrave, who has given the latest and best account of the condition
of Central and Southern Arabia,[398] under the great Wahhabee revival,
sums up all Mohammedan theology as teaching a Divine unity of pure will.
God is the only force in the universe. Man is wholly passive and impotent.
He calls the system, "A pantheism of force." God has no rule but arbitrary
will. He is a tremendous unsympathizing autocrat, but is yet jealous of
his creatures, lest they should attribute to themselves something which
belongs to him. He delights in making all creatures feel that they are his
slaves. This, Mr. Palgrave asserts, is the main idea of Mohammedanism,
and of the Koran, and this was what lay in the mind of Mohammed. "Of
this," says he, "we have many authentic samples: the Saheeh, the
Commentaries of Beydāwee, the Mishkat-el-Mesabeeh, and fifty similar
works, afford ample testimony on this point. But for the benefit of my
readers in general, all of whom may not have drunk equally deep at the
fountain-heads of Islamitic dogma, I will subjoin a specimen, known
perhaps to many Orientalists, yet too characteristic to be here omitted, a
repetition of which I have endured times out of number from admiring and
approving Wahhabees in Nejed.

"Accordingly, when God--so runs the tradition,--I had better said the
blasphemy--resolved to create the human race, he took into his hands a
mass of earth, the same whence all mankind were to be formed, and in which
they after a manner pre-existed; and, having then divided the clod into
two equal portions, he threw the one half into hell, saying, 'These to
eternal fire, and I care not'; and projected the other half into heaven,
adding, 'And these to paradise, and I care not.'

"Commentary would here be superfluous. But in this we have before us the
adequate idea of predestination, or, to give it a truer name,
pre-damnation, held and taught in the school of the Koran. Paradise and
hell are at once totally independent of love and hatred on the part of the
Deity, and of merits and demerits, of good or evil conduct, on the part of
the creature; and, in the corresponding theory, rightly so, since the very
actions which we call good or ill deserving, right or wrong, wicked or
virtuous, are in their essence all one and of one, and accordingly merit
neither praise nor blame, punishment nor recompense, except and simply
after the arbitrary value which the all-regulating will of the great
despot may choose to assign or impute to them. In a word, he burns one
individual through all eternity, amid red-hot chains and seas of molten
fire, and seats another in the plenary enjoyment of an everlasting
brothel, between forty celestial concubines, just and equally for his own
good pleasure, and because he wills it.

"Men are thus all on one common level, here and hereafter, in their
physical, social, and moral light,--the level of slaves to one sole
master, of tools to one universal agent. But the equalizing process does
not stop here: beasts, birds, fishes, insects, all participate of the same
honor or debasement; all are, like man, the slaves of God, the tools and
automata of his will; and hence Mahomet is simply logical and
self-consistent when in the Koran he informs his followers that birds,
beasts, and the rest are 'nations' like themselves, nor does any intrinsic
distinction exist between them and the human species, except what
accidental diversity the 'King,' the 'Proud One,' the 'Mighty,' the
'Giant,' etc., as he styles his God, may have been pleased to make, just
as he willed it, and so long as he may will it."

"The Wahhabee reformer," continues Mr. Palgrave, "formed the design of
putting back the hour-hand of Islam to its starting-point; and so far he
did well, for that hand was from the first meant to be fixed. Islam is in
its essence stationary, and was framed thus to remain. Sterile like its
God, lifeless like its First Principle and Supreme Original, in all that
constitutes true life,--for life is love, participation, and progress, and
of these the Koranic Deity has none,--it justly repudiates all change, all
advance, all development. To borrow the forcible words of Lord Houghton,
the 'written book' is the 'dead man's hand,' stiff and motionless;
whatever savors of vitality is by that alone convicted of heresy and

"But Christianity, with its living and loving God, begetter and begotten,
spirit and movement; nay more,--a Creator made creature, the Maker and the
made existing in one; a Divinity communicating itself by uninterrupted
gradation and degree, from the most intimate union far off to the faintest
irradiation, through all that it has made for love and governs in love;
one who calls his creatures not slaves, not servants, but friends,--nay
sons,--nay gods: to sum up, a religion in whose seal and secret 'God in
man is one with man in God,' must also be necessarily a religion of
vitality, of progress, of advancement. The contrast between it and Islam
is that of movement with fixedness, of participation with sterility, of
development with barrenness, of life with petrifaction. The first vital
principle and the animating spirit of its birth must, indeed, abide ever
the same, but the outer form must change with the changing days, and new
offshoots of fresh sap and greenness be continually thrown out as
witnesses to the vitality within; else were the vine withered and the
branches dead. I have no intention here--it would be extremely out of
place--of entering on the maze of controversy, or discussing whether any
dogmatic attempt to reproduce the religious phase of a former age is
likely to succeed. I only say that life supposes movement and growth, and
both imply change; that to censure a living thing for growing and changing
is absurd; and that to attempt to hinder it from so doing by pinning it
down on a written label, or nailing it to a Procrustean framework, is
tantamount to killing it altogether. Now Christianity is living, and,
because living, must grow, must advance, must change, and was meant to do
so: onwards and forwards is a condition of its very existence; and I
cannot but think that those who do not recognize this show themselves so
far ignorant of its true nature and essence. On the other hand, Islam is
lifeless, and, because lifeless, cannot grow, cannot advance, cannot
change, and was never intended so to do; stand-still is its motto and its
most essential condition; and therefore the son of Abd-el-Wahhāb, in doing
his best to bring it back to its primal simplicity, and making its goal of
its starting-point, was so far in the right, and showed himself well
acquainted with the nature and first principles of his religion."

§ 7. Mohammedanism a Relapse; the worst Form of Monotheism, and a
retarding Element in Civilization.

According to this view, which is no doubt correct, the monotheism of
Mohammed is that which makes of God pure will; that is, which exaggerates
personality (since personality is in will), making the Divine One an
Infinite Free Will, or an Infinite I. But will divorced from reason and
love is wilfulness, or a purely arbitrary will.

Now the monotheism of the Jews differed from this, in that it combined
with the idea of will the idea of justice. God not only does what he
chooses, but he chooses to do only what is right. Righteousness is an
attribute of God, with which the Jewish books are saturated.

Still, both of these systems leave God outside of the world; _above_ all
as its Creator and Ruler, _above_ all as its Judge; but not _through_ all
and _in_ all. The idea of an Infinite Love must be added and made supreme,
in order to give us a Being who is not only above all, but also through
all and in all. This is the Christian monotheism.

Mohammed teaches not only the unity but also the spirituality of God, but
his idea of the divine Unity is of a numeric unity, not a moral unity; and
so his idea of divine spirituality is that of an abstract
spirituality,--God abstracted from matter, and so not to be represented by
pictures and images; God withdrawn out of the world, and above all,--in a
total separation.

Judaism also opposed idolatry and idol-worship, and taught that God was
above all, and the maker of the world; but it conceived of God as _with_
man, by his repeated miraculous coming down in prophets, judges, kings;
also _with_ his people, the Jews, mysteriously present in their tabernacle
and temple. Their spirituality was not quite as abstract then as that of
the Mohammedans.

But Christianity, as soon as it became the religion of a non-Semitic race,
as soon as it had converted the Greeks and Romans, not only imparted to
them its monotheism, but received from them their strong tendencies to
pantheism. They added to the God "above all," and the God "with all," the
God "in us all." True, this is also to be found in original Christianity
as proceeding from the life of Jesus. The New Testament is full of this
kind of pantheism,--God _in_ man, as well as God _with_ man. Jesus made
the step forward from God with man to God in man,--"I in them, thou in
me." The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is this idea, of God who is not only
will and power, not only wisdom and law, but also love; of a God who
desires communion and intercourse with his children, so coming and
dwelling in them. Mohammed teaches a God above us; Moses teaches a God
above us, and yet with us; Jesus teaches God above us, God with us, and
God in us.

According to this view, Mohammedanism is a relapse. It is going back to a
lower level. It is returning from the complex idea to the simple idea. But
the complex is higher than the simple. The seed-germ, and the germ-cell,
out of which organic life comes, is lower than the organizations which are
developed out of it. The Mollusks are more complex and so are higher than
the Radiata, the Vertebrata are more complex than the Mollusks. Man is the
most complex of all, in soul as well as body. The complex idea of God,
including will, thought, and love, in the perfect unity, is higher than
the simplistic unity of will which Mohammed teaches. But the higher ought
to come out of and conquer the lower. How, then, did Mohammedanism come
out of Christianity and Judaism?

The explanation is to be found in the law of reaction and relapse.
Reaction is going back to a lower ground, to pick up something which has
been dropped, forgotten, left behind, in the progress of man. The
condition of progress is that nothing shall be lost. The lower truth must
be preserved in the higher truth; the lower life taken up into the higher
life. Now Christianity, in going forward, had accepted from the
Indo-Germanic races that sense of God in nature, as well as God above
nature, which has always been native with those races. It took up natural
religion into monotheism. But in taking it up, it went so far as to lose
something of the true unity of God. Its doctrine of the Trinity, at least
in its Oriental forms, lost the pure personal monotheism of Judaism. No
doubt the doctrine of the Trinity embodies a great truth, but it has been
carried too far. So Mohammedanism came, as a protest against this tendency
to plurality in the godhead, as a demand for a purely personal God It is
the Unitarianism of the East. It was a new assertion of the simple unity
of God, against polytheism and against idolatry.

The merits and demerits, the good and evil, of Mohammedanism are to be
found in this, its central idea concerning God. It has taught submission,
obedience, patience; but it has fostered a wilful individualism. It has
made social life lower. Its governments are not governments. Its virtues
are stoical. It makes life barren and empty. It encourages a savage pride
and cruelty. It makes men tyrants or slaves, women puppets, religion the
submission to an infinite despotism. Time is that it came to an end. Its
work is done. It is a hard, cold, cruel, empty faith, which should give
way to the purer forms of a higher civilization.

No doubt, Mohammedanism was needed when it came, and has done good service
in its time. But its time is almost passed. In Europe it is an anachronism
and an anomaly, depending for its daily existence on the support received
from Christian powers, jealous of Russian advance on Constantinople. It
will be a blessing to mankind to have the capital of Russia on the
Bosphorus. A recent writer on Turkey thus speaks:--

   "The military strength of Mohammedanism was in its steady and
   remorseless bigotry. Socially, it won by the lofty ideality of its
   precepts, without pain or satiety. It accorded well, too, with the
   isolate and primitive character of the municipalities scattered over
   Asia. Resignation to God--a motto well according with Eastern
   indolence--was borne upon its banners, while in the profusion of
   delight hereafter was promised an element of endurance and courage. It
   had, too, one strikingly Arabic characteristic,--simplicity.

    "One God the Arabian prophet preached to man;
      One God the Orient still
    Adores, through many a realm of mighty span,--
      God of power and will.

    "A God that, shrouded in his lonely light,
      Rests utterly apart
    From all the vast creations of his might,
      From nature, man, and art.

    "A Power that at his pleasure doth create
      To save or to destroy;
    And to eternal pain predestinate,
      As to eternal joy.

   "It is the merit and the glory of Mohammed that, beside founding
   twenty spiritual empires and providing laws for the guidance through
   centuries of millions of men, he shook the foundations of the faith of
   heathendom. Mohammed was the impersonation of two principles that reign
   in the government of God,--destruction and salvation. He would receive
   nations to his favor if they accepted the faith, and utterly destroy
   them if they rejected it. Yet, in the end, the sapless tree must fall."

M. H. Blerzey,[399] in speaking of Mohammedanism in Northern Africa,

   "At bottom there is little difference between the human sacrifices
   demanded by fetichism and the contempt of life produced by the
   Mussulman religion. Between the social doctrines of these Mohammedan
   tribes and the sentiments of Christian communities there is an immense

And again:---

   "The military and fanatic despotism of the Arabs has vested during many
   centuries in the white autochthonic races of North Africa, without any
   fusion taking place between the conquering element and the conquered,
   without destroying at all the language and manners of the subject
   people, and, in a word, without creating anything durable. The Arab
   conquest was a triumph of brute force, and nothing further."

And M. Renan, a person well qualified to judge of the character of this
religion by the most extensive and impartial studies, gives this

   "Islamism, following as it did on ground that was none of the best,
   has, on the whole, done as much harm as good to the human race. It has
   stifled everything by its dry and desolating simplicity."


   "At the present time, the essential condition of a diffused
   civilization is the destruction of the peculiarly Semitic element, the
   destruction of the theocratic power of Islamism, consequently the
   destruction of Islamism itself."[401]


   "Islamism is evidently the product of an inferior, and, so to speak, of
   a meagre combination of human elements. For this reason its conquests
   have all been on the average plane of human nature. The savage races
   have been incapable of rising to it, and, on the other hand, it has not
   satisfied people who carried in themselves the seed of a stronger

Note to the Chapter on Mohammed.

We give in this note further extracts from Mr. Palgrave's description of
the doctrine of Islam.

"This keystone, this master thought, this parent idea, of which all the
rest is but the necessary and inevitable deduction, is contained in the
phrase far oftener repeated than understood, 'La Ilāh ílla Allāh,' 'There
is no God but God.' A literal translation, but much too narrow for the
Arab formula, and quite inadequate to render its true force in an Arab
mouth or mind.

"'There is no God but God' are words simply tantamount in English to the
negation of any deity save one alone; and thus much they certainly mean in
Arabic, but they imply much more also. Their full sense is, not only to
deny absolutely and unreservedly all plurality, whether of nature or of
person, in the Supreme Being, not only to establish the unity of the
Unbegetting and Unbegot, in all its simple and uncommunicable Oneness, but
besides this the words, in Arabic and among Arabs, imply that this one
Supreme Being is also the only Agent, the only Force, the only Act
existing throughout the universe, and leave to all beings else, matter or
spirit, instinct or intelligence, physical or moral, nothing but pure,
unconditional passiveness, alike in movement or in quiescence, in action
or in capacity. The sole power, the sole motor, movement, energy, and deed
is God; the rest is downright inertia and mere instrumentality, from the
highest archangel down to the simplest atom of creation. Hence, in this
one sentence,' La Ilāh illa Allāh,' is summed up a system which, for want
of a better name, I may be permitted to call the Pantheism of Force, or of
Act, thus exclusively assigned to God, who absorbs it all, exercises it
all, and to whom alone it can be ascribed, whether for preserving or for
destroying, for relative evil or for equally relative good. I say
'relative,' because it is clear that in such a theology no place is left
for absolute good or evil, reason or extravagance; all is abridged in the
autocratic will of the one great Agent: 'sic volo, sic jubeo, stet pro
ratione voluntas'; or, more significantly still, in Arabic, 'Kemā
yesha'o,' 'as he wills it,' to quote the constantly recurring expression
of the Koran.

"Thus immeasurably and eternally exalted above, and dissimilar from, all
creatures, which lie levelled before him on one common plane of
instrumentality and inertness, God is one in the totality of omnipotent
and omnipresent action, which acknowledges no rule, standard, or limit
save his own sole and absolute will. He communicates nothing to his
creatures, for their seeming power and act ever remain his alone, and in
return he receives nothing from them; for whatever they may be, that they
are in him, by him, and from him only. And secondly, no superiority, no
distinction, no pre-eminence, can be lawfully claimed by one creature over
its fellow, in the utter equalization of their unexceptional servitude and
abasement; all are alike tools of the one solitary Force which employs
them to crush or to benefit, to truth or to error, to honor or shame, to
happiness, or misery, quite independently of their individual fitness,
deserts, or advantage, and simply because he wills it, and as he wills it.

"One might at first think that this tremendous autocrat, this uncontrolled
and unsympathizing power, would be far above anything like passions,
desires, or inclinations. Yet such is not the case, for he has with
respect to his creatures one main feeling and source of action, namely,
jealousy of them lest they should perchance attribute to themselves
something of what is his alone, and thus encroach on his all-engrossing
kingdom. Hence he is ever more prone to punish than to reward, to inflict
than to bestow pleasure, to ruin than to build. It is his singular
satisfaction to let created beings continually feel that they are nothing
else than his slaves, his tools, and contemptible tools also, that thus
they may the better acknowledge his superiority, and know his power to be
above their power, his cunning above their cunning, his will above their
will, his pride above their pride; or rather, that there is no power,
cunning, will, or pride save his own.

"But he himself, sterile in his inaccessible height, neither loving nor
enjoying aught save his own and self-measured decree, without son,
companion, or counsellor, is no less barren for himself than for his
creatures, and his own barrenness and lone egoism in himself is the cause
and rule of his indifferent and unregarding despotism around. The first
note is the key of the whole tune, and the primal idea of God runs through
and modifies the whole system and creed that centres in him.

"That the notion here given of the Deity, monstrous and blasphemous as it
may appear, is exactly and literally that which the Koran conveys, or
intends to convey, I at present take for granted. But that it indeed is
so, no one who has attentively perused and thought over the Arabic text
(for mere cursory reading, especially in a translation, will not suffice)
can hesitate to allow. In fact, every phrase of the preceding sentences,
every touch in this odious portrait, has been taken, to the best of my
ability, word for word, or at least meaning for meaning, from the 'Book,'
the truest mirror of the mind and scope of its writer.

"And that such was in reality Mahomet's mind and idea is fully confirmed
by the witness-tongue of contemporary tradition."

Chapter XII.

The Ten Religions and Christianity.

  § 1. General Results of this Survey.
  § 2. Christianity a Pleroma, or Fulness of Life.
  § 3. Christianity, as a Pleroma, compared with Brahmanism, Confucianism,
         and Buddhism.
  § 4. Christianity compared with the Avesta and the Eddas. The Duad in
         all Religions.
  § 5. Christianity and the Religions of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
  § 6. Christianity in Relation to Judaism and Mohammedanism. The Monad in
         all Religions.
  § 7. The Fulness of Christianity is derived from the life of Jesus.
  § 8. Christianity as a Religion of Progress and of Universal Unity.

§ 1. General Results of this Survey.

We have now examined, as fully as our limits would allow, ten of the
chief religions which have enlisted the faith of mankind. We are prepared
to ask, in conclusion, what they teach us in regard to the prospects of
Christianity, and the religious future of our race.

First, this survey must have impressed on every mind the fact that man is
eminently a religious being. We have found religion to be his supreme and
engrossing interest on every continent, in every millennium of historic
time, and in every stage of human civilization. In some periods men are
found as hunters, as shepherds, as nomads, in others they are living
associated in cities, but in all these conditions they have their
religion. The tendency to worship some superhuman power is universal.

The opinion of the positivist school, that man passes from a theological
stage to one of metaphysics, and from that to one of science, from which
later and higher epoch both theology and philosophy are excluded, is not
in accordance with the facts we have been observing. Science and art, in
Egypt, went hand in hand with theology, during thousands of years. Science
in Greece preceded the latest forms of metaphysics, and both Greek science
and Greek philosophy were the preparation for Christian faith. In India
the Sankhya philosophy was the preparation for the Buddhist religion.
Theology and religion to-day, instead of disappearing in science, are as
vigorous as ever. Science, philosophy, and theology are all advancing
together, a noble sisterhood of thought. And, looking at facts, we may
ask, In what age or time was religion more of a living force, acting on
human affairs, than it is at present? To believe in things not seen, to
worship a power above visible nature, to look forward to an unknown
future, this is natural to man.

In the United States there is no established religion, yet in no country
in the world is more interest taken in religion than with us. In the
Protestant denominations it has dispensed with the gorgeous and imposing
ritual, which is so attractive to the common mind, and depends mainly on
the interest of the word of truth. Yet the Protestant denominations make
converts, build churches, and support their clergy with an ardor seemingly
undiminished by the progress of science. There are no symptoms that man is
losing his interest in religion in consequence of his increasing knowledge
of nature and its laws.

Secondly, we have seen that these religions vary exceedingly from each
other in their substance and in their forms. They have a great deal in
common, but a great deal that is different. Mr. Wentworth Higginson,[403]
in an excellent lecture, much of which has our cordial assent, says,
"Every race believes in a Creator and Governor of the world, in whom
devout souls recognize a Father also." But Buddhism, the most extensive
religion on the surface of the earth, explicitly denies creation, and
absolutely ignores any Ruler or Governor of the world. The Buddha neither
made the world nor preserves it, and the Buddha is the great object of
Buddhist worship. Mr. Higginson says: "Every race believes in
immortality." Though the Buddhists, as we have seen, believe in
immortality, it is in so obscure a form that many of the best scholars
declare that the highest aim and the last result of all progress in
Buddhism is annihilation. He continues, "Every race recognizes in its
religious precepts the brotherhood of man." The Koran teaches no such
doctrine, and it is notorious that the Brahmanical system of caste, which
has been despotic in India for twenty-five hundred years, excludes such
brotherhood. Mr. Higginson therefore is of opinion that caste has grown up
in defiance of the Vedas. The Vedas indeed are ignorant of caste, but they
are also ignorant of human brotherhood. The system of caste was not a
defiance of the Vedas.

Nothing is gained for humanity by such statements, which are refuted
immediately by the most evident facts. The true "sympathy of religions"
does not consist in their saying the same thing, any more than a true
concord in music consists in many performers striking the same note.
Variety is the condition of harmony. These religions may, and we believe
will, be all harmonized; but thus far it is only too plain that they have
been at war with each other. In order to find the resemblances we must
begin by seeing the differences.

Cudworth, in his great work, speaks of "the symphony of all religions," an
expression which we prefer to that of Mr. Higginson. It expresses
precisely what we conceive to be the fact, that these religions are all
capable of being brought into union, though so very different. They may

    "Are not we formed, as notes of music are,
    For one another, though dissimilar?
    Such difference, without discord, as shall make
    The sweetest sounds."

But this harmony can only be established among the ethnic religions by
means of a catholic religion which shall be able to take each of them up
into itself, and so finally merge them in a higher union. The Greek,
Roman, and Jewish religions could not unite with each other; but they were
united by being taken up into Christianity. Christianity has assimilated
the essential ideas of the religions of Persia, Judæa, Egypt, Greece,
Rome, and Scandinavia; and each of these religions, in turn, disappeared
as it was absorbed by this powerful solvent. In the case of Greece, Rome,
Germany, and Judæa, this fact of their passing into solution in
Christianity is a matter of history. Not all the Jews became Christians,
nor has Judaism ceased to exist. This is perhaps owing to the doctrines of
the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, which offend the simplistic
monotheism of the Jewish mind. Yet Christianity at first grew out of
Judaism, and took up into itself the best part of the Jews in and out of

The question therefore is this, Will Christianity be able to do for the
remaining religions of the world what it did for the Greeks, the Romans,
and the Teutonic nations? Is it capable of becoming a universal religion?

§ 2. Christianity a Pleroma, or Fulness of Life.

It is evident that Christianity can become the universal human religion
only by supplying the religious wants of all the races of men who dwell on
all the face of the earth. If it can continue to give them all the truth
their own religions contain, and add something more; if it can inspire
them with all the moral life which their own religions communicate, and
yet more; and, finally, if it can unite the races of men in one family,
one kingdom of heaven,--then it is fitted to be and will become the
universal religion. It will then not share the fate of those which have
preceded it. It will not have its rise, progress, decline, and fall. It
will not become, in its turn, antiquated, and be left behind by the
advance of humanity. It will not be swallowed up in something deeper and
broader than itself. But it will appear as the desire of all nations, and
Christ will reign until he has subdued all his enemies--error, war, sin,
selfishness, tyranny, cruelty--under his feet.

Now, as we have seen, Christianity differs from all other religions (on
the side of truth) in this, that it is a pleroma, or fulness of knowledge.
It does not differ, by teaching what has never been said or thought
before. Perhaps the substance of most of the statements of Jesus may be
found scattered through the ten religions of the world, some here and some
there. Jesus claims no monopoly of the truth. He says. "My doctrine is not
mine, but his who sent me." But he _does_ call himself "the Light of the
World," and says that though he does not come to destroy either the law or
the prophets, he comes to fulfil them in something higher. His work is to
fulfil all religions with something higher, broader, and deeper than what
they have,--accepting their truth, supplying their deficiencies.

If this is a fact, then it will appear that Christianity comes, not as an
exclusive, but as an inclusive system. It includes everything, it excludes
nothing but limitation and deficiency.

Whether Christianity be really such a pleroma of truth or not, must be
ascertained by a careful comparison of its teachings, and the ideas lying
back of them, with those of all other religions. We have attempted this,
to some extent, in our Introduction, and in our discussion of each
separate religion. We have seen that Christianity, in converting the
nations, always accepted something and gave something in return. Thus it
received from Egypt and Africa their powerful realism, as in the writings
of Tertullian, Origen, Augustine, and gave in return a spiritual doctrine.
It received God, as seen in nature and its organizations, and returned God
as above nature. Christianity took from Greece intellectual activity, and
returned moral life. It received from Rome organization, and returned
faith in a fatherly Providence. It took law, and gave love. From the
German races it accepted the love of individual freedom, and returned
union and brotherly love. From Judaism it accepted monotheism as the
worship of a Supreme Being, a Righteous Judge, a Holy King, and added to
this faith in God as in all nature and all life.

But we will proceed to examine some of these points a little more

§ 3. Christianity, as a Pleroma, compared with Brahmanism, Confucianism,
and Buddhism.

Christianity and Brahmanism. The essential value of Brahmanism is its
faith in spirit as distinct from matter, eternity as distinct from time,
the infinite as opposed to the finite, substance as opposed to form.

The essential defect of Brahmanism is its spiritual pantheism, which
denies all reality to this world, to finite souls, to time, space, matter.
In its vast unities all varieties are swallowed up, all differences come
to an end. It does not, therefore, explain the world, it denies it. It is
incapable of morality, for morality assumes the eternal distinction
between right and wrong, good and evil, and Brahmanism knows no such
difference. It is incapable of true worship, since its real God is spirit
in itself, abstracted from all attributes. Instead of immortality, it can
only teach absorption, or the disappearance of the soul in spirit, as
rain-drops disappear in the ocean.

Christianity teaches a Supreme Being who is pure spirit, "above all,
through all, and in all," "from whom, and through whom, and to whom are
all things," "in whom we live, and move, and have our being." It is a more
spiritual religion than Brahmanism, for the latter has passed on into
polytheism and idolatry, which Christianity has always escaped. Yet while
teaching faith in a Supreme Being, the foundation and substance below all
existence, it recognizes him as A LIVING GOD. He is not absorbed in
himself, nor apart from his world, but a perpetual Providence, a personal
Friend and Father. He dwells in eternity, but is manifested in time.

Christianity, therefore, meets the truth in Brahmanism by its doctrine of
God as Spirit, and supplies its deficiencies by its doctrine of God as a

Christianity and the system of Confucius. The good side in the teaching of
Confucius is his admirable morality, his wisdom of life in its temporal
limitations, his reverence for the past, his strenuous conservatism of all
useful institutions, and the uninterrupted order of the social system
resting on these ideas.

The evil in his teaching is the absence of the supernatural element,
which deprives the morality of China of enthusiasm, its social system of
vitality, its order of any progress, and its conservatism of any
improvement. It is a system without hope, and so has remained frozen in an
icy and stiff immobility for fifteen hundred years.

But Christianity has shown itself capable of uniting conservatism with
progress, in the civilization of Christendom. It respects order, reveres
the past, holds the family sacred, and yet is able also to make continual
progress in science, in art, in literature, in the comfort of the whole
community. It therefore accepts the good and the truth in the doctrines of
Confucius, and adds to these another element of new life.

Christianity and Buddhism. The truth in Buddhism is in its doctrine of the
relation of the soul to the laws of nature; its doctrine of consequences;
its assurance of a strict retribution for every human action; its promise
of an ultimate salvation in consequence of good works; and of a redemption
from all the woes of time by obedience to the truth.

The evil in the system is that belonging to all legalism. It does not
inspire faith in any living and present God, or any definite immortality.
The principle, therefore, of development is wanting, and it leaves the
Mongol races standing on a low plane of civilization, restraining them
from evil, but not inspiring them by the sight of good.

Christianity, like Buddhism, teaches that whatever a man sows that shall
he also reap; that those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for
glory, honor, and immortality shall receive eternal life; that the books
shall be opened in the last day, and every man be rewarded according to
his works; that he whose pound gains five pounds shall be ruler over five
cities. In short, Christianity, in its Scriptures and its practical
influence, has always taught salvation by works.

Yet, beside this, Christianity teaches justification by faith, as the root
and fountain of all real obedience. It inspires faith in a Heavenly Father
who has loved his every child from before the foundation of the world;
who welcomes the sinner back when he repents and returns; whose forgiving
love creates a new life in the heart. This faith evermore tends to awaken
the dormant energies in the soul of man; and so, under its influence, one
race after another has commenced a career of progress. Christianity,
therefore, can fulfil Buddhism also.

§ 4. Christianity compared with the Avesta and the Eddas. The Duad in all

The essential truth in the Avesta and the Eddas is the same. They both
recognize the evil in the world as real, and teach the duty of fighting
against it. They avoid the pantheistic indifference of Brahmanism, and the
absence of enthusiasm in the systems of Confucius and the Buddha, by the
doctrine of a present conflict between the powers of good and evil, of
light and of darkness. This gives dignity and moral earnestness to both
systems. By fully admitting the freedom of man, they make the sense of
responsibility possible, and so purify and feed morality at its roots.

The difficulty with both is, that they carry this dualistic view of nature
too far, leaving it an unreconciled dualism. The supreme Monad is lost
sight of in this ever-present Duad. Let us see how this view of evil, or
the dual element in life, appears in other systems.

As the Monad in religion is an expression of one infinite supreme
presence, pervading all nature and life, so the Duad shows the antagonism
and conflict between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil,
the infinite perfection and the finite imperfection. This is a conflict
actually existing in the world, and one which religion must accept and
account for. Brahmanism does not accept it, but ignores it. This whole
conflict is Maya, a deception and illusion. Yet, in this form of illusion,
it makes itself so far felt, that it must be met by sacrifices, prayers,
penances, and the law of transmigration; until all the apparent antagonism
shall be swallowed up in the Infinite One, the only substance in the

Buddhism recognizes the conflict more fully. It frankly accepts the Duad
as the true explanation of the actual universe. The ideal universe as
Nirvana may be one; but of this we know nothing. The actual world is a
twofold world, composed of souls and the natural laws. The battle of life
is with these laws. Every soul, by learning to obey them, is able to
conquer and use them, as steps in an ascent toward Nirvana.

But the belief of Zoroaster and that of Scandinavia regard the Duad as
still more deeply rooted in the essence of existing things. All life is
battle,--battle with moral or physical evil. Courage is therefore the
chief virtue in both systems. The Devil first appears in theology in these
two forms of faith. The Persian devil is Ahriman; the Scandinavian devil
is Loki. Judaism, with its absolute and supreme God, could never admit
such a rival to his power as the Persian Ahriman; yet as a being
permitted, for wise purposes, to tempt and try men, he comes into their
system as Satan. Satan, on his first appearance in the Book of Job, is one
of the angels of God. He is the heavenly critic; his business is to test
human virtue by trial, and see how deep it goes. His object in testing Job
was to find whether he loved virtue for its rewards, or for its own sake.
"Does Job serve God for naught?" According to this view, the man who is
good merely for the sake of reward is not good at all.

In the Egyptian system, as in the later faith of India, the evil principle
appears as a power of destruction. Siva and Typhon are the destroying
agencies from whom proceed all the mischief done in the world.
Nevertheless, they are gods, not devils, and have their worship and
worshippers among those whose religious nature is more imbued with fear
than with hope. The timid worshipped the deadly and destructive powers,
and their prayers were deprecations. The bolder worshipped the good gods.
Similarly, in Greece, the Chtonic deities had their shrines and
worshippers, as had the powers of Blight, Famine, and Pestilence at Rome.

Yet only in the Avesta is this great principle of evil set forth in full
antagonism against the powers of light and love. And probably from
Persia, after the captivity, this view of Satan entered into Jewish
theology. In the Old Testament, indeed, where Satan or the Devil as a
proper name only occurs four times[404], in all which cases he is a
subordinate angel, the true Devil does not appear. In the Apocrypha he is
said (Wisdom ii. 24) to have brought death into the world. The New
Testament does not teach a doctrine of Satan, or the Devil, as something
new and revealed then for the first time, but assumes a general though
vague belief in such a being. This belief evidently existed among the Jews
when Christ came. It as evidently was not taught in the Old Testament. The
inevitable inference is that it grew up in the Jewish mind from its
communication with the Persian dualism.

But though the doctrine of a Devil is no essential part of
Christianity[405], the reality and power of evil is fully recognized in
the New Testament and in the teachings of the Church. Indeed, in the
doctrine of everlasting punishment and of an eternal hell, it has been
carried to a dangerous extreme. The Divine sovereignty is seriously
infringed and invaded by such a view. If any outlying part of the universe
continues in a state of permanent rebellion, God is not the absolute
sovereign. But wickedness is rebellion. If any are to continue eternally
in hell, it is because they continue in perpetual wickedness; that is, the
rebellion against God will never be effectually suppressed. Only when
every knee bows, and every tongue confesses that Christ is Lord to the
glory of God the Father; only when truth and love have subdued all enemies
by converting them into friends, is redemption complete and the universe
at peace.

Now, Christianity (in spite of the illogical doctrine of everlasting
punishment) has always inspired a faith in the redeeming power of love to
conquer all evil. It has taught that evil can be overcome by good. It
asserts truth to be more powerful than error, right than wrong. It teaches
us in our daily prayer to expect that God's kingdom shall come, and his
will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven. It therefore fulfils the
truth in the great dualisms of the past by its untiring hope of a full
redemption from all sin and all evil.

§ 5. Christianity and the Religions of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

The Religion of Egypt. This system unfolded the truth of the Divine in
this world, of the sacredness of bodily organization, and the descent of
Deity into the ultimate parts of his creation. Its defect was its
inability to combine with this an open spiritualism. It had not the
courage of its opinions, so far as they related to the divine unity,
spirituality, and eternity.

Christianity also accepts the doctrine of God, present in nature, in man,
in the laws of matter, in the infinite variety of things. But it adds to
this the elevated spiritualism of a monotheistic religion, and so accepts
the one and the all, unity and variety, substance and form, eternity and
time, spirit and body, as filled with God and manifesting him.

The Religions of Greece and Rome. The beauty of nature, the charm of art,
the genius of man, were idealized and deified in the Greek pantheon. The
divinity of law, organizing human society according to universal rules of
justice, was the truth in the Roman religion. The defect of the Greek
theology was the absence of a central unity. Its polytheism carried
variety to the extreme of disorder and dissipation. The centrifugal force,
not being properly balanced by any centripetal power, inevitably ends in
dissolution. The defect of Roman worship was, that its oppressive rules
ended in killing out life. Law, in the form of a stiff external
organization, produced moral death at last in Rome, as it had produced
moral death in Judæa.

Now Christianity, though a monotheism, and a monotheism which has
destroyed forever both polytheism and idolatry wherever it has gone, is
not that of numerical unity. The God of Christianity differs in this from
the God of Judaism and Mohammedanism. He is an infinite will; but he is
more. Christianity cognizes God as not only above nature and the soul, but
also as in nature and in the soul. Thus nature and the soul are made
divine. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity expresses this enlargement
of the Jewish monotheism from a numerical to a moral unity. The God of
Christ is human in this respect, that he is conceived of in the image of
man. Man is essentially a unit through his will, in which lies the secret
of personal identity. But besides will he has intellect, by which he comes
into communion with the universe; and affection, by which he comes into
communion with his race. Christianity conceives of God in the same way. He
is an omnipresent will as the Father, Creator, and Euler of all things. He
is the Word, or manifested Truth in the Son, manifested through all
nature, manifested through all human life. He is the Spirit, or
inspiration of each individual soul. So he is Father, Son, and Spirit,
above all, through all, and in us all. By this larger view of Deity
Christianity was able to meet the wants of the Aryan races, in whom the
polytheistic tendency is so strong. That tendency was satisfied by this
view of God immanent in nature and immanent in human life.

Judaism and Mohammedanism, with their more concrete monotheism, have not
been able to convert the Aryan races. Mohammedanism has never affected the
mind of India, nor disturbed the ascendency of Brahmanism there. And
though it nominally possesses Persia, yet it holds it as a subject, not as
a convert. Persian Sufism is a proof of the utter discontent of the Aryan
intellect with any monotheism of pure will. Sufism is the mystic form of
Mohammedanism, recognizing communion with God, and not merely submission,
as being the essence of true religion. During the long Mohammedan dominion
in Turkey it has not penetrated the minds or won the love of the Greek
races. It is evident that Christianity succeeded in converting the Greeks
and Romans by means of its larger view of the Deity, of which the
doctrine of the Trinity, as it stands in the creeds, is a crude illogical

§ 6. Christianity in Relation to Judaism and Mohammedanism. The Monad in
all Religions.

There are three religions which teach the pure upity of God, or true
monotheism. These three Unitarian religions are Judaism, Christianity, and
Mohammedanism. They also all originated in a single race, the Semitic
race, that which has occupied the central region of the world, the centre
of three continents. It is the race which tends to a religious unity, as
that of our Aryan ancestors tended to variety.

But what is pure monotheism? It is the worship of one alone God, separated
by the vast abyss of the infinite from all finite beings. It is the
worship of God, not as the Supreme Being only, not as the chief among many
gods, as Jupiter was the president of the dynasty on Olympus, not merely
the Most High, but as the only God. It avoids the two extremes, one of
making the Supreme Being head of a council or synod of deities, and the
other of making him indeed infinite, but an infinite abstraction, or abyss
of darkness. These are the two impure forms of monotheism. The first
prevailed in Greece, Rome, Egypt, Scandinavia. In each of these religions
there was a supreme being,--Zeus, Jupiter, Ammon, Odin,--but this supreme
god was only _primus inter pares_, first among equals. The other impure
form of monotheism prevailed in the East,--in Brahmanism, Buddhism, and
the religion of Zoroaster. In the one Parabrahm, in the other
Zerana-Akerana, in the third Nirvana itself, is the Infinite Being or
substance, wholly separate from all that is finite. It is so wholly
separate as to cease to be an object of adoration and obedience. Not
Parabrahm, but Siva, Vischnu, and Brahma; not Zerana-Akerana, but Ormazd
and the Amschaspands; not the infinite world of Nirvana, nor the mighty
Adi-Buddha, but the Buddhas of Confession, the finite Sakya-Muni, are the
objects of worship in these systems.

Only from the Semitic race have arisen the pure monotheistic religions of
Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism. Each of these proclaims one only
God, and each makes this only God the object of all worship and service.
Judaism says, "Hear! O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord!" (Deut. vi.
4.) Originally among the Jews, God's name as the "Plural of Majesty"
indicated a unity formed from variety; but afterward it became in the word
Jahveh a unity of substance. "By my name Jehovah I was not known to them"
(i.e. to the Patriarchs).[406] That name indicates absolute Being, "I am
the I am."[407]

Ancient Gentile monotheism vibrated between a personal God, the object of
worship, who was limited and finite, and an infinite absolute Being who
was out of sight, "whose veil no one had lifted." The peculiarity of the
Mosaic religion was to make God truly the one alone, and at the same time
truly the object of worship.

In this respect Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism agree, and in
this they differ from all other religions. Individual thinkers, like
Socrates, Æschylus, Cicero, have reached the same conviction; but these
three are the only popular religions, in which God is at once the infinite
and absolute, and the only object of worship.

Now it is a remarkable fact that these three religions, which are the only
pure monotheistic religions, are at the same time the only religions which
have any claim to catholicity. Buddhism, though the religion of numerous
nations, seems to be the religion of only one race, namely, the Turanic
race, or Mongols. The people of India who remain Buddhists, the Singalese,
or inhabitants of Ceylon, belong to the aboriginal Tamul, or Mongol race.
With this exception then (which is no exception, as far as we know the
ethnology of Eastern Asia), the only religions which aim at Catholicism
are these three, which are also the only monotheistic religions. Judaism
aimed at catholicity and hoped for it. It had an instinct of universality,
as appeared in its numerous attempts at making proselytes of other
nations. It failed of catholicity when it refused to accept as its Christ
the man who had risen above its national limitations, and who considered
Roman tax-gatherers and Samaritans as already prepared to enter the
kingdom of the Messiah. The Jews required all their converts to become
Jews, and in doing this left the catholic ground. Christianity in the
mouth of Paul, who alone fully seized the true idea of his Master, said,
"Circumcision availeth nothing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."
In other words, he declared that it was _not_ necessary to become a Jew in
order to be a Christian.

The Jewish mind, so far forth as it was monotheistic, aimed at
catholicity. The unity of God carries with it, logically, the unity of
man. From one God as spirit we infer one human family. So Paul taught at
Athens. "God that made the world and all things therein, ... hath made of
one blood all races of men to dwell on all the face of the earth."

But the Jews, though catholic as monotheists, and as worshipping a
spiritual God, were limited by their ritual and their intense national
bigotry. Hereditary and ancestral pride separated them, and still separate
them, from the rest of mankind. "_We have Abraham to our Father_" is the
talisman which has kept them together, but kept them from union with

Christianity and Mohammedanism, therefore, remain the only two really
catholic religions. Each has overpassed all the boundaries of race.
Christianity, beginning among the Jews, a Semitic people, passed into
Europe, and has become the religion of Greeks, Romans, Kelts, Germans, and
the Slavic races of Russia, and has not found it impossible to convert the
Africans, the Mongols, and the American Indians. So too the Mohammedan
religion, also beginning among the Semitic race, has become the nominal
religion of Persia, Turkey, Northern Africa, and Central Asia. Monotheism,
therefore, includes a tendency to catholicity. But Islam has everywhere
made subjects rather than converts, and so has failed of entire success.
It has not assimilated its conquests.

The monotheism of Christianity, as we have already seen, while accepting
the absolute supremacy of the Infinite Being, so as to displace forever
all secondary or subordinate gods, yet conceives of him as the present
inspiration of all his children. It sees him coming down, to bless them in
the sunshine and the shower, as inspiring every good thought, as a
providence guiding all human lives. And by this view it fulfils both
Judaism and Mohammedanism, and takes a long step beyond them both.

§ 7. The Fulness of Christianity is derived from the Life of Jesus.

Christianity has thus shown itself to be a universal solvent, capable of
receiving into itself the existing truths of the ethnic religions, and
fulfilling them with something higher. Whenever it has come in contact
with natural religion, it has assimilated it and elevated it. This is one
evidence that it is intended to become the universal religion of mankind.

This pleroma, or fulness, integrity, all-sidedness, or by whatever name we
call it, is something deeper than thought. A system of thought might be
devised large enough to include all the truths in all the religions of the
world, putting each in its own place in relation to the rest. Such a
system might show how they all are related to each other, and all are in
harmony. But this would be a philosophy, not a religion. No such
philosophy appears in the original records of Christianity. The New
Testament does not present Jesus as a philosopher, nor Pau