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Title: An analysis of religious belief
Author: Amberley, John Russell
Language: English
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                          Transcriber's Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. The
many variations in the transcriptions from the Chinese have been
standardised on the basis of the most frequent occurrence. Variations
in hyphenation and accents have also been standardised but all other
spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

In the quotation:
 "If then this man says, 'Try to make friends with an old woman and
 inquire of her; if then this girl does 'not' make friends with an old
 woman, and inquire of her, and this old woman brings Baga, or Shaêta,
 or Ghnâna, or Fraçpâta, or any of the vegetable purgatives, saying,
 'Try to kill this child;' if then the girl does try to kill the child,
 then the girl, the man, and the old woman are equally criminal."
the 'not' destroys the sense of the passage and has been removed.

Italics are indicated thus _italics_ and superscripts thus ^character.

Footnotes are placed at the end of the book.

                              AN ANALYSIS
                           RELIGIOUS BELIEF.

                          VISCOUNT AMBERLEY.

    "_Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you Free._"

                From the late London Edition. Complete.

                            D. M. BENNETT:
                     141 EIGHTH STREET, NEW YORK.

                     AMERICAN PUBLISHER'S PREFACE.

The appearance, a few months ago, of THE ANALYSIS OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF
caused not a little excitement in England, and its introduction into
our country had much the same effect here. While many were more or less
shocked by the Viscount's boldness of language in examining the sources
of the religious creeds of the world, and at the freedom with which he
removed the sacred mask from many antique myths and superstitions, the
thoughtful and the enquiring were furnished with a fund of material for
new thought, and largely-increased facilities for investigating and
comparing the creeds and dogmas which have made up the ruling religious
faiths of mankind.

When the Viscount's high birth is remembered; that he was the son of
Lord John Russell, one of the first and oldest Peers of England; that
he was thus closely connected with the aristocracy of that country;
that he had been carefully nurtured within the fold of the Christian
Church; that he had received the instruction of a pious Christian
mother, from the days of his early childhood, that the influence of
his parents and his early companions was to draw him under the control
of the popular system of religion which rules in his country, it is
not a little remarkable that he had the independence and moral bravery
to come out in opposition to all his near friends, and to avow his
unbelief in a code of ethics and opinions unlike those taught him in
his childhood and youth, an unusual interest attaches to the work which
he produced.

When it is borne in mind that his amiable and sympathetic wife toiled
with him and rendered him essential service in collecting and arranging
the matter for his two volumes; that she was taken from him by the hand
of death before his work was completed; that he also sank under the
hand of disease and passed away while his work was still in the hands
of the printer, it is indeed invested with peculiar interest.

When it is remembered that after his death urgent efforts were made—and
from high sources too—to suppress his work; that the powerful Duke
of Bedford, backed by Lord John Russell himself, tried to buy up the
entire edition issued; it is enough to make every sympathetic and
enquiring person anxious to read the results of his labor of years.

If some of the advanced thinkers of the day find that Viscount
Amberly—as evinced in some of the later chapters of this volume—had not
in all respects evolved in the line of Free-thought so far as they have
done they should remember that he had at least made rapid progress for
the time he had devoted to the pursuit of truth. He was still a young
man at the time of his death, and had it been his lot to have scored
a greater number of years, with the advantage of the experience which
they give, it is very possible his views might have undergone other

The London edition was issued in two volumes, 8vo and was necessarily
sold at a large price. This American edition contains the entire work
in one volume and is presented to the public at about one-fifth the
price at which the English edition was sold. It is hoped this feature
will be duly appreciated by the American public.

                                                              D. M. B.
 NEW YORK, March 20th, 1877.

                        ADDRESS TO THE READER.

Ere the pages now given to the public had left the press, the hand that
had written them was cold, the heart—of which few could know the loving
depth—had ceased to beat, the far-ranging mind was forever still, the
fervent spirit was at rest.

Let this be remembered by those who read, and add solemnity to the
solemn purpose of the book.

May those who find in it their most cherished beliefs questioned or
contemned, their surest consolations set at naught, remember that he
had not shrunk from pain and anguish to himself, as one by one he
parted with portions of that faith which in boyhood and early youth had
been the mainspring of his life.

Let them remember that, however many the years granted to him on earth
might have been, his search after truth would have ended only with his
existence; that he would have been the first to call for unsparing
examination of his own opinions, arguments, and conclusions; the first
to welcome any new lights thrown by other workers in the same field on
the mysteries of our being and of the universe.

Let them remember that while he assails much which they reckon
unassailable, he does so in what to him is the cause of goodness,
nobleness, love, truth, and of the mental progress of mankind.

Let them remember that the utterance of that which, after earnest and
laborious thought he deemed to be the truth, was to him a sacred duty;
and may they feel, as he would have felt, the justness of these words
of a good man and unswerving Christian lately passed away: "A man's
charity to those who differ from him upon great and difficult questions
will be in the ratio of his own knowledge of them: the more knowledge,
the more charity."
                                                                F. R.


_With all reverence and all affection, to the memory of the
ever-lamented wife whose hearty interest in this book was, during
many years of preparatory toil, my best support; whose judgment as to
its merits or its faults would have been my most trusted guide; whose
sympathy my truest encouragement; whose joyous welcome of the completed
work I had long looked forward to as my one great reward: whose nature,
combining in rare union scientific dearness with spiritual depth, may
in some slight degree have left its impress on the page, though far too
faintly to convey an adequate conception of one whose religious zeal in
the cause of truth was rivaled only by the ardor of her humanity and
the abundance of her love._

  _November 1875_.

                          TABLE OF CONTENTS.

  GENERAL INTRODUCTION                                                19

                               _BOOK I._


  INTRODUCTION TO BOOK I.                                             27

                              FIRST PART.


  I. CONSECRATED ACTIONS                                              31
  II. CONSECRATED PLACES                                              82
  III. CONSECRATED OBJECTS                                            84
  IV. CONSECRATED PERSONS                                             88
  V. CONSECRATED MEDIATORS                                            99

                             SECOND PART.


  CLASSIFICATION                                                     104
  I. HOLY EVENTS                                                     106
  II. HOLY PLACES                                                    126
  III. HOLY OBJECTS                                                  132
  IV. HOLY ORDERS                                                    136
  V. HOLY PERSONS OR PROPHETS                                        154
    SECT. 1. Confucius                                               157
      "   2. Laò-tsé                                                 168
      "   3. Gautama Buddha                                          170
        SUBDIVISION 1. The Historical Buddha                         170
             "      2. The Mythical Buddha                           175
      "   4. Zarathustra                                             182
      "   5. Mahomet                                                 186
      "   6. Jesus Christ                                            199
        SUBDIV'N 1. The Historical Jesus                             201
             "   2. The Mythical Jesus                               216
             "   3. The Ideal Jesus                                  277
             "   4. What did the Jews think of him?                  287
             "   5. What did he think of himself?                    316
             "   6. What did his Disciples think of him?             326
             "   7. What are we to think of him?                     329

  VI. HOLY BOOKS, OR BIBLES                                          369
    SECT. 1. The Thirteen King                                       390
        SUBDIVISION 1. The Lun Yu                                    392
             "      2. The Ta Hëo                                    393
             "      3. The Chung Yung                                394
             "      4. The Works of Măng-tsze                        396
             "      5. The Shoo King                                 403
             "      6. The She King                                  407
             "      7. The Ch'un Ts'ëw                               410
      "   2. Taò-tĕ-Kīng                                             413
             APPENDIX.—Translations of the Taò-tĕ-Kīng, Chapter XXV  423
      "   3. The Veda                                                425
        SUBDIVISION 1. The Sanhitâ                                   430
             "      2. The Brâhmanas                                 443

    SECT. 4. The Tripitaka                                           448
        SUBDIVISION 1. The Vinaya-Pitaka                             451
             "      2. The Sûtra-Pitaka                              467
             "      3. The Abhidharma-Pitaka                         473
             "      4. Theology and Ethics of the Tripitaka          476
      "   5. The Zend-Avesta                                         482
        SUBDIVISION 1. The Five Gâthâs                               484
             "      2. The Yaçna of Seven Chapters                   488
             "      3. Yaçna, Chapter XII                            490
             "      4. The Younger Yaçna, and Vispored               491
             "      5. Vendidad                                      496
             "      6. The Khorda-Avesta, with the Homa Yasht        502
      "   6. The Koran                                               510
      "   7. The Old Testament                                       518
        SUBDIVISION 1. The Historical Books                          530
             "      2. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes       563
             "      3. The Song of Solomon                           569
             "      4. The Prophets                                  569
             "      5. The God of Israel                             590
      "   8. The New Testament                                       604
        SUBDIVISION 1. The Acts of the Apostles                      604
             "      2. The Epistles                                  617
             "      3. The Apocalypse                                634
             "      4. The God of Christendom                        636


  VII. THE ULTIMATE ELEMENTS                                         643

  VIII. THE OBJECTIVE ELEMENT                                        649

  IX. THE SUBJECTIVE ELEMENT                                         684


  INDEX                                                              729

                     EXPLANATION OF SHORT TITLES.

In order to avoid encumbering the pages with notes containing the names
of books, many of which would require to be frequently repeated, I
have adopted, in referring to the under-mentioned works, the following

 A. B....The Aitareya Brâhmanam of the Rig-Veda. Edited, translated,
 and explained by MARTIN HAUG, Ph.D. Vol. i. Sanscrit text. Vol. ii.
 Translation, with notes. Bombay, 1863.

 A. I. C....An Account of the Island of Ceylon, by ROBERT PERCIVAL,
 Esq., of His Majesty's 19th Regiment of Foot. London, 1803.

 A. M....Antiquities of Mexico (LORD KINGSBOROUGH'S), comprising fac
 similes of Ancient Mexican paintings and hieroglyphics. Together with
 the Monuments of New Spain, by MONS. DUPAIX; with their respective
 scales of measurement and accompanying descriptions. The whole
 illustrated by many valuable inedited manuscripts, by AUGUSTINE AGLIO.
 In 9 vols. London, 1831-48.

 A. N. L....Ante-Nicene Christian Library; translations of the
 Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. Edinburgh: T. & T. CLARK,
 1870, &c.

 A. R....Algic Researches, comprising inquiries respecting the mental
 characteristics of the North American Indians. First Series. Indian
 Tales and Legends. In 2 vols. By HENRY ROWE SCHOOLCRAFT. New York,

 Asha....Ashantee and the Gold Coast, by JOHN BEECHAM. London, 1841.

 A. S. L....History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, by MAX MÜLLER.
 London, 1859.

 As. Re....Researches of the Asiatic Society in Bengal. Calcutta,

 Av....Avesta, die Heiligen Schriften der Parsen. Aus dem Grundtexte
 übersetzt, mit steter Rücksicht auf die Tradition. Von Dr. FRIED.
 SPIEGEL. Erster Band. Der Vendidad Leipzig, 1852. Zweiter Band.
 Vispered und Yaçna. Leipzig, 1859. Dritter Band. Khorda-Avesta.
 Leipzig, 1863.

 B. A. U....Bibliotheca Indica. Vol. ii. part iii. The Brihad Âranyaka
 Upanishad, with the Commentary of Sánkara A'cha'rya. Translated from
 the Original Sanskrit by Dr. E. ROER. Calcutta, 1856.

 Bergeron....Voyages faits principalement en Asie, dans les XII^e,
 XIII^e, XIV^e, et XV^e siècles, par Benjamin de Tudèle, Jean du
 Plan-Carpin, N. Ascelin, Guil. de Rubruquis, Marc-Paul, Haiton, Jean
 de Mandeville et Ambroise Contarini; accompagnés de l'Histoire des
 Sarrazins et des Tartares, par P. Bergeron. A la Haye, 1735.

 Bernard....Recueil des Voyages au Nord. Amsterdam, chez JEAN FRÉDÉRIC
 BERNARD, 1727.

 Bh. G.....The Bhagavat-Gíta; or a Discourse between Krishna and Arjuna
 on Divine Matters. A Sanskrit Philosophical Poem; translated, with
 copious notes, an Introduction on Sanskrit Philosophy, and other
 matters, by J. COCKBURN THOMSON. Hertford, 1855.

 Bib....APOLLODORI Bibliotheca.

 B. T....Buddhism in Tibet, by EMIL SCHLAGINTWEIT, LL.D. Leipzig and
 London, 1863.

 C. B. A....A Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese, by SAM'L
 BEAL. London, 1871.

 C. C....The Chinese Classics, with a translation, critical and
 exegetical notes, prolegomena, and copious indexes, by JAMES LEGGE,
 D.D. In 7 vols. Vol. i. Confucian Analects, the Great Learning, and
 the Doctrine of the Mean. Vol. ii. Works of Mencius. Vol. iii. 2
 parts, The Shoo King. Vol. iv. 2 parts, The She King. Vol. v. the
 Ch'un Ts'ëw. London, 1861, &c. (In course of publication.)

 Ceylon....Ceylon, an Account of the Island, physical, historical,
 and topographical, with notices of its natural history, antiquities,
 and productions, by Sir JAMES EMERSON TENNENT, K.C.S., LL.D., &c.
 London, 1859.

 C. G....A new and accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea,
 divided into the Gold, the Slave, and the Ivory Coasts. Written
 originally in Dutch, by WILLIAM BOSMAN. The 2d edition. London, 1721.

 Chan. Up....Bibliotheca Indica, Nos. 78 and 181. The Chándogya
 Upanishad of the Săma Veda, with extracts from the Commentary of
 Sákara A'cha'rya. Translated from the original Sanskrit by RÁJENDRÁLA
 MITRA. Calcutta. 1862.

 Chinese....The Chinese: a general Description of China and its
 Inhabitants, by JOHN FRANCIS DAVIS, Esq., F.R.S. A new edition.
 London, 1844.

 Chips....Chips from a German Workshop, by MAX MÜLLER, M.A. 4 vols.
 London, 1867-75.

 C. N. E....Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España, que en doce
 libros y dos volumes escribió el R. P. FR. BERNARDINO DE SAHAGUN, de
 la Observancia de San Francisco, y uno de los primeros predicadores
 del Santo Evangelio en aquellas regiones. Dala a luz con notas y
 supplementos, CARLOS MARIA DE BUSTAMANTE. Mexico, 1829.

 C. O.....China Opened, by the Rev. CHARLES GÜTZLAFF, revised by the
 Rev. ANDREW REID, D.D. In 2 vols. London, 1838.

 C. R....Primera Parte de los "Commentaries Reales, que tratan del
 Origen de los Yncas," Reyes que fueron del Peru, de su idolatria,
 leyes, y govierno en paz y en guerra; de sus vidas y conquistas, y de
 toto lo que fue aquel Imperio y su Republica, antes que los Españoles
 passan a el. Escrito por el Ynca GARCILASSO DE LA VEGA, natural del
 Cozco, y Capitan de su Magestad. Lisbon, 1609.

 Dervishes...The Dervishes; or Oriental Spiritualism, by JOHN P.
 BROWN. London, 1868.

 E. M....Eastern Monachism, by ROBERT SPENCE HARDY. London, 1850.

 E. Y....Eleven Years in Ceylon, by Major FORBES, 78th Highlanders.
 London, 1840.

 F. G....Die fünf Gâthâ's, oder Sammlungen von Liedern und Sprüchen
 ZARATHUSTRA'S, seiner Jünger und Nachfolger. Herausgegeben, übersetzt
 und erklärt von Dr. MARTIN HAUG. Erste Abtheilung. Die erste Sammlung
 (Gâthâ ahunavaiti) enthaltend. Leipzig, 1858. Zweite Abtheilung. Die
 vier übrigen Sammlungen enthaltend. Nebst einer Schlussabhandlung.
 Leipzig, 1860.

 Gaudama....The Life, or Legend of Gaudama, the Buddha of the Burmese,
 with annotations. The ways to Neibban, and notice on the Phongyies, or
 Burmese Monks, by the Rt. Rev. P. BIGANDET. Rangoon, 1866.

 G. d. M....C. G. A. OLDENDORP'S Geschichte der Mission der
 evangelischen Brüder auf den Caraibischen Inseln St. Thomas, St.
 Croix, und St. Jean. Barby, 1777.

 H. B. I....Introduction a l'Histoire du Buddhisme Indien, par E.
 BURNOUF. Tome premier. Paris, 1844.

 H. G....DAVID CRANZ. Histoire von Grönland. Nürnberg und Leipzig,

 H. I....Historia natural y moral de las Indias, en que se tratan las
 cosas notables del ciclo, y elementos, metales, plantas, y animales
 dellas; y los ritos, y ceremonias, leyes, y govierno, y guerras de los
 Indios. Compuesta por el Pardre JOSEPH DE ACOSTA, Religioso de la
 Compañia de Jesus. Madrid, 1608.

 H. N. S....Histoire naturelle et politique du Royaume de Siam, par

 H. R. C....An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon in the East
 Indies, together with an account of the detaining in captivity the
 Author and divers other Englishmen now living there, and of the
 Author's miraculous escape, by ROBERT KNOX, a captive there nearly
 twenty years. London, 1681.

 Ic. Ch....Iconographie Chrétienne. Histoire de Diau, par M. DIDRON.
 Paris, 1843.

 K.....The Koran, translated from the Arabic, the Suras arranged in
 chronological order; with notes and index, by the Rev. J. M. RODWELL,
 M.A. London and Edinburgh, 1871.

 Kamtschatka....GEORGE WILHELM STELLER'S Beschreibung von dem Lande
 Kamtschatka, dessen Einwohnern, deren Sitten, Namen, Lebensart und
 verchiedenen Gewohnheiten. Frankfurt und Leipzig, 1774.

 K. N....The Kafirs of Natal, by J. SHOOTER. London and Guildford,

 L. L. M....Das Leben und die Lehre des Mohammad, nach bisher
 grösstentheils unbenutzten Quellen. Bearbeitet von A. SPRENGER. 3
 vols. Berlin, 1869.

 Lotos....Le Lotus de la Bonne Loi, traduit du Sanskrit, accompagné
 d'un commentaire, et de vingt-et-un mémoires relatifs au Buddhisme,
 par M. E. BURNOUF. Paris, 1852.

 L. T....LAÒ-TSÉ Taò-tĕ-Kīng. Der Weg zur Tugend. Aus dem Chinesischen
 übersetzt und erklärt von REINHOLD VON PLÄNCKNER. Leipzig, 1870.

 Manu....Institutes of Hindu Law, or the Ordinances of MENU, according
 to the Gloss of CULLÚCA. Comprising the Indian system of duties,
 religious and civil. Verbally translated from the original, with
 a preface, by Sir WILLIAM JONES. A new edition, collated with the
 Sanskrit text, by GRAVES CHAMNEY HAUGHTON, M.A., F.R.S., &c. London,

 M. B....Manual of Buddhism, by R. SPENCE HARDY. London, 1860.

 M. d'O....Les Moines d'Occident depuis Saint Benoit jusqu'a Saint
 Bernard. Par le Comte de MONTALEMBERT. In 5 vols. Paris et Lyon, 1868.

 Misc. Essays....Miscellaneous Essays, by H. T. COLEBROOKE. 2 vols.
 London, 1837. (The only complete edition, however, is the one
 published in 3 vols., London, 1873.)

 M. N. W....The Myths of the New World; a Treatise on the Symbolism
 and Mythology of the red race of America, by DANIEL G. BRINTON, A.M.,
 M.D. New York, 1868.

 N. A....An Account of the Native Africans in the neighborhood of
 Sierra Leone, by THOMAS WINTERBOTTOM. 2 vols. London, 1803.

 N. F....Histoire et Description générale de la Nouvelle France,
 avec le journal historique d'un voyage fait par ordre du Roi dans
 l'Amérique Septentrionale. Par le P. DE CHARLEVOIX, de la Compagnie de
 Jésus 3 Vols. Paris, 1744.

 N. M. E....A Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea
 Islands, with remarks upon the natural history of the Islands, origin,
 languages, traditions, and usages of the inhabitants, by the Rev. JOHN
 WILLIAMS. London. 1837.

 N. S. W....An account of the English Colony in New South Wales,
 from its first settlement in January, 1788, to August, 1801, by
 Lieutenant-Colonel COLLINS, of the Royal Marines. London, 1804.

 N. Y....Nineteen years in Polynesia: Missionary Life, Travels, and
 Researches in the Islands of the Pacific, by the Rev. GEORGE TURNER.
 London, 1861.

 N. Z....New Zealand and its Aborigines, by WILLIAM BROWN. London,

 O-kee-pa.... O-kee-pa: A Religious Ceremony; and other customs of the
 Mandans, by GEORGE CATLIN. London, 1867.

 O. P....The Speculations on Metaphysics, Polity, and Morality of
 "the Old Philosopher," LAU-TSZE, translated from the Chinese, with an
 Introduction, by JOHN CHALMERS, A. M. London, 1868.

 O. S. T....Original Sanskrit Texts on the origin and history of
 the people of India, their Religion and Institutions. Collected,
 translated, and illustrated by J. MUIR, D.C.L., LL.D. Volume First.
 Mythical and Legendary Accounts of the Origin of Caste, with an
 inquiry into its existence in the Vedic age. 2d edition. London, 1868.
 Volume Second. Inquiry whether the Hindus are of Trans-Himalayan
 Origin, and akin to the Western branches of the Indo-European Race.
 2d edition. London, 1871. Volume Third. The Vedas: opinions of their
 authors and of later Indian writers on their origin, inspiration, and
 authority. 2d edition. London, 1868. Volume Fourth. Comparison of the
 Vedic with the later representations of the principal Indian deities.
 2d edition. London, 1873. Volume Fifth. Contributions to a Cosmogony,
 Mythology, Religious Ideas, Life and Manners of the Indians in the
 Vedic age. London, 1870.

 P. A....An Examination of the Pali Buddhistical Annals, by the
 Honorable GEORGE TURNOUR, of the Ceylon Civil Service. [From the
 Journal of the Asiatic Society for July 1837.]

 P. A. B....Die Propheten des Alten Bundes, erklärt von HEINRICH
 EWALD. Zweite Ausgabe in drei Bänden. Erster Band. Jesaja mit den
 übrigen älteren Propheten. Göttingen, 1867. Zweiter Band. Jermja und
 Hezequiel mit ihren Zeitgenossen. Göttingen, 1868. Dritter Band. Die
 jüngsten Propheten des Alten Bundes mit den Büchern Barukh und Daniel.
 Göttingen, 1868.

 Parsees....Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, and Religion of
 the Parsees, by MARTIN HAUG, Ph.D. Bombay, 1862.

 Picard....The Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the various Nations
 of the known World, by Mr. BERNARD PICARD. Faithfully translated into
 English by a gentleman. London, 1733.

 Popol Vuh....Popol Vuh.—Le Livre Sacré et les Mythes de l'Antiquité
 Américaine, avec les livres héroiques et historiques des Quichés.
 Texte Quiché et traduction Française en regard &c., &c. Composé sur
 des documents originaux et inédits, par l'Abbé BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG.
 Paris, 1861.

 R. B....Die Religion des Buddha und ihre Entstehung, von KARL
 FRIEDRICH KÖPPON. Erster Band. Die Religion des Buddha und ihre
 Entstehung. Berlin, 1857. Zweiter Band. Die Lamaische Hierarchie und
 Kirche. Berlin, 1859.

 Rel. of Jews....The Book of the Religion, Ceremonies, and Prayers
 of the Jews, as practiced in their synagogues and Families on all
 Occasions; on their Sabbath and other Holidays throughout the year.
 Translated immediately from the Hebrew, by GAMALIEL BEN PEDAZUR, Gent.
 London, 1738.

 R. I....Die Religiösen, Politischen, und Socialen Ideen der
 Asiatischen Culturvölker und der Aegypter, in ihrer historischen
 Entwickelung, dargestellt von CARL TWESTEN. Herausgegeben von Prof.
 Dr. M. LAZARUS. 2 vols. Berlin, 1872.

 Roer....Bibliotheca Indica, Nos. 1 to 4. The first two Lectures of
 the Rig-Veda-Sanhitâ. Edited by Dr. E. ROER. Calcutta, 1848.

 R. S. A....The Religious System of the Amazulu, by the Rev. Canon
 CALLAWAY, M.D. Part i. Unkulunkulu; or the Tradition of Creation
 as existing among the Amazulu and other tribes of South Africa, in
 their own words, with a translation into English, and notes. Part
 ii. Amatongo, or Ancestor-Worship. Part iii. Izinyanga Zokubula, or
 Divination. Natal, &c., 1868-70.

 R. T. R. P....Rgya Tehér Rol Pa, ou Développement des Jeux, contenant
 l'histoire du Bouddha Cakya-Mouni, traduit sur la version Tibétaine du
 Bkah Hgyour, et revu sur l'original Sanscrit (Lalitavistara) par PH.
 ED. FOUCAUX. Première Partie. Texte Tibétain. Paris, 1847. Deuxième
 Partie. Traduction Française. Paris, 1848.

 R. V. S....Rig-Veda-Sanhitâ. The Sacred Hymns of the Brahmans,
 translated and explained by F. MAX MÜLLER, M.A., LL.D. Vol. i. Hymns
 to the Maruts or the Storm-Gods. London, 1869.

 S. A....Savage Africa; the Narrative of a Tour in Equatorial,
 South-Western, and North-Western Africa, by W. WINWOOD READE. London,

 Sale....The Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of MOHAMMED;
 translated into English immediately from the original Arabic. With
 explanatory notes, taken from the most approved Commentators. To which
 is prefixed a preliminary discourse, by GEORGE SALE, Gent. A new
 edition, with a memoir of the translator, and with various readings
 and illustrative notes from Savary's version of the Koran. London,

 S. L....A Voyage to the River Sierra Leone, on the Coast of Africa.
 by JOHN MATTHEWS, Lieutenant in the Royal Navy; during his residence
 in that country in the years 1785, 1786, and 1787. London, 1791.

 S. L. A....Savage Life and Scenes in Australia and New Zealand, by

 Ssabismus....Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, von Dr D. CHWOLSOHN.
 Band I. Die Entwickelung der Begriffe Ssabier und Ssabismus und die
 Geschichte der harrânischen Ssabier, oder der Syro-hellenistischen
 Heiden im nördlichen Mesopotamien und in Bagdâd, zur Zeit des
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 S. V....Die Hymen des Sâma-Veda, herausgegeben, übersetzt und mit
 Glossar versehen, von THEODORE BENFEY. Leipzig, 1848.

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 T. T. K....Laò-tsé's Taò Tĕ Kīng. Aus dem Chinesischen ins Deutsche
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                        _GENERAL INTRODUCTION._

Human nature, among all the phenomena it offers to the curious
inquiries of the student, presents none of more transcendent interest
than the phenomenon of Religion. Pervading the whole history of mankind
from the very earliest ages of which we have any authentic knowledge up
to the present day; exercising on the wild and wandering tribes, which
seem to have divided the earth among them in those primitive times, an
influence scarcely less profound than it has ever exercised on the most
polite and cultivated nations of the modern world; leading now to peace
and now to war; now to the firmest of alliances, now to the bitterest
enmities; uniting some in the bonds of a love so enduring as to outlast
and put to shame the fleeting unions of earthly passion; separating
others, even when every motive of interest and natural affection
conspired to unite them, so completely as to impel them to deliver
each other up to the ghastliest tortures; Religion deserves a foremost
place—if not the foremost place of all—among the emotions which have in
their several ways affected, modified, and controlled the current of
human events.

Forming, as it does, so large an element in the constitution of our
complex nature; and playing so vast a part in guiding our actions,
Religion must well deserve to be made the subject of philosophical
inquiry. If we can by any scientific means discover its origin, lay
bare its true character to the gaze of students, and estimate the
value of its pretensions to be in possession of truths of equal, if
not superior, authority to those of either natural or moral science,
we shall have performed a task which may not be wholly useless or
altogether uninstructive.

Our first business, in such an inquiry as this, should be to
determine the method on which it ought to be conducted. In analyzing
the religious systems of the world, the question of method is
all-important. Indeed, it will be abundantly evident in the course of
the ensuing investigations that the conclusions reached by those who
have cultivated this field of knowledge have often been unsound, simply
because they have failed to pursue the only proper method. Nothing
can be easier, for instance, than to construct elaborate systems of
religious philosophy, the several parts of which hang so well together
that we find it; difficult to urge any solid objection against them,
while yet the whole edifice rests upon so insecure a foundation that
at the least touch of its lowest stones it will fall in ruins to the
ground. This too common mistake arises from the fact that the first
principles of the system are assumed without adequate warrant, and will
not bear examination. Half, if not many more than half, the common
errors of believers in the various current creeds are due to a similar
cause. These persons start from some principle which they conceive to
be indisputable, and proceed to draw inferences from it with the most
complete confidence. An extreme instance of this is mentioned by Dr.
Sprenger, who was asked by a Musselman how he could disbelieve the
religion of Islam, seeing that Mahomet's name was written on the gates
of paradise. In a less palpable form, the same mode of reasoning is
constantly adopted among ourselves. Either we do not take the trouble
to submit the evidence of the facts upon which we erect our arguments
to a sufficiently rigorous scrutiny, or we fail to perceive that the
axioms we take for granted are in reality neither self-evident, as our
system requires, nor capable of any satisfactory demonstration.

Another and perhaps scarcely a less common kind of error arising
from defective method is a failure to distinguish between adequate
and inadequate evidence of religious truth. A sound and exhaustive
method would not fail to disclose, if not what kind of evidence is
sufficient, at least what kind of evidence is insufficient, to prove
our doctrines. It is plain that if we should find arguments of the
same character used by the adherents of different creeds to prove
contradictory propositions, we should be forced to dismiss such
arguments as of comparatively little value. Supposing, for example,
that a Hebrew, desirous of proving the preëminence of the Jews over
the Gentiles, should rely for his justification on the miraculous
deliverance of the ancient Israelites from the Egyptians, and on their
subsequent special protection by the Deity, his argument, however
apparently conclusive, would be considerably weakened if it were found
that the annals of other nations contained similar tales evincing a
similar exclusive care for their welfare on the part of their local
divinities. Or if we should claim for our own school the advantage
of being supported by the authority of a long succession of able,
wise, and virtuous men, fully competent to judge of its truth, yet if
our adversaries can produce an equally imposing list of authorities
against us, we shall have gained but little by our mode of reasoning.
These one-sided ways of proving the exclusive claims of a particular
creed are as if a person should maintain the vast superiority of
his countrymen over foreigners by a reference to the battles they
had won, the territory they had conquered, and the bravery they had
displayed; forgetful to inquire whether there were not other nations
which had gained victories equally transcendent, made conquests equally
extensive, and evinced a heroism equally admirable.

These blunders, it may be objected, do not arise exclusively from a
faulty method. It is true that they have a deeper source, yet, if a
correct method were pursued they would be avoided. Hence the paramount
importance of fixing upon one which shall not be likely to lead us

Now, the method which in the natural sciences, and in the science of
language, has led to such vast results, may be, and ought to be pursued
here. This method is that of comparison.

When the philologist is desirous of discovering what elements, if
any, a group of languages possesses in common, and what therefore may
be considered as its fundamental stock, or essence, he compares them
with one another. When the naturalist wishes to arrive at an accurate
knowledge of the conformation, habits, or character of any class of
animals, he can only do so by a comparison of different members of that
class. How misleading our conclusions frequently are in matters like
these when they are not based upon a sufficiently wide comparison, will
be familiar to all. And though the analogy between these sciences and
religion is far from precise, yet no good reason can be assigned why
a method, which has been so successful in one case, should be totally
neglected in the latter. Nor is it enough to say that this method is
capable of application to the subject in hand. Religion, owing to
certain characteristics which will now be explained, lends itself with
peculiar facility to an inquiry thus conducted.

A merely superficial and passing glance at the phenomena presented to
us by the history and actual condition of the world brings clearly to
light two facts:

1. The absolute, or all but absolute universality of some kind of
religious perception or religious feeling.

2. The countless variety of forms under which that feeling has made its

History and the works of travelers, amply prove that no considerable
nation has ever been without religion, and that if it has ever been
wanting, it has only been among the rudest savages, whose mental and
moral condition was too low to be capable of any but the most obvious
impressions of sense. Equally indubitable is the second proposition. We
are acquainted with no period in which each country did not possess its
own special variety of religious doctrine; we are acquainted with none
in which there were not many and wide divergences within the bosom of
each country among individuals, among sects, and among churches.

In this universality of a certain sentiment, accompanied by this
variety of modes, we have at least a possible distinction between
the Substance and the Form, between the universal emotion known as
Religion, and the local or temporary coloring it may happen to assume.

It will be convenient if we call the substance by the name of FAITH,
and the form by that of BELIEF. The use of these terms in these senses
is no doubt slightly arbitrary, yet the shade of difference in their
ordinary meaning is sufficient to justify it. Faith is a term of large
and general signification, referring rather to the feelings than the
reason; whereas Belief generally implies the intellectual adoption of
some definite proposition, capable of distinct statement in words.

The importance of the comparative method in the process of sifting,
classifying, and ordering the elements of these respective spheres
will now be apparent. For it is only by a comparison of the varieties
of Belief that we can hope to arrive at an acquaintance with Faith.
Setting one system beside another, carefully observing wherein they
differ and wherein they agree, we may at length hope to discover what
elements, if any, are to be set down to the account of Faith, and what
other elements to that of Belief. Even after a full comparison there
will still be considerable danger that we may mistake tenets which are
widely held, but not universal, for primordial conceptions of the human
mind. Without such a comparison, we should most undoubtedly do so, for
we are ever unwilling to recognize how wide are the limits of variation
of which the opinions and sentiments of men are capable.

Should we, however, succeed in eliminating by our analysis all that is
local, and all that is temporary, we shall possess, in what remains to
us after this process, a universal truth of human nature. Observe that
I speak here of a truth of human nature as distinguished from a truth
of external nature. The one does not of necessity imply the other, for
it is conceivable that men might universally entertain certain hopes,
fears, aspirations, or convictions which were wholly groundless; the
supposed objects of which had no existence whatever beyond the mind
that entertained them. In the present case, then, all that the most
exhaustive comparison could do would be to lead us up to the scientific
fact, that there is in human beings an irresistible tendency towards
certain sentiments of a spiritual kind. Whether those sentiments can be
the foundation of any rational conviction it is unable to tell us.

This question, however, is fully as important as the other, and I do
not propose to pass it over in silence. It will be one object of our
investigation to discover how far we are entitled to treat truths of
human nature as identical with objective truths. If we are obliged to
confess that no inference can be drawn from the one to the other,
then it will be plain that Faith, however profoundly implanted in our
hearts, does not convey to us any assurance of a single religious
truth; for the impressions which we call our Faith may be as purely
illusory as the fancies of delirium, or the images of our dreams.
If, on the other hand, an internal sentiment may be accepted, not so
much as a basis for truth, but as itself true; as leading, and not
misleading us; then we must further examine what are the truths which
are in a manner contained in Faith, and of which Faith is the warrant.

The first Book, therefore, will deal mainly with Belief. Its object
will be, by a comparison of some of the various creeds that are, or
have been, accepted by men, to discover the general characteristics of
Belief, and to separate these from the more special and distinctive
elements peculiar to given times, districts, and races. These general
characteristics will, however, belong exclusively to the region of
Belief, and not to that of Faith. In other words, they will have no
title to a place in a Universal Religion.

In the second Book we shall proceed to investigate the nature of Faith.
We shall endeavor to lay bare the foundation of the vast superstructure
of Theology and Ritual erected by the piety of the human race. We
shall seek to discover, if that be possible, the element of unity amid
so much variety, of permanence amid so much change. And should we be
successful in the search, we shall be in a position, if not absolutely
to solve, at least to attempt the solution of the great problem which
ever has interested, and ever must interest mankind: Is there any such
thing as positive truth in the sphere of Religion? And if so, what
is it? Or are the human faculties strictly limited to that species
of knowledge which is acquired through the medium of the senses, and
doomed, in all spiritual things, to be the victims of endless longings
for which there is no satisfaction, and of perpetual questionings to
which there is no response?


Religious Feeling, like all other human emotions, makes itself
objectively known to us by its manifestations. With its subjective
character we are not concerned, our business in the present book being
to treat it merely as an objective phenomenon. Thus regarded, its
manifestations appear extremely various, but on closer examination they
will be found to spring from a common principle. This principle is the
desire felt by the human race in general to establish a relationship
between itself and those superhuman or supernatural powers upon whose
will it supposes the course of nature and the well-being of men to be
dependent. Were it not for this desire, the Religious Idea—if I may
venture by this term to denominate the original sentiment which is
the beginning of positive religion—might remain locked up for ever
in the breast of each individual who felt it. But there is innate in
human beings—arriving like wanderers in the midst of a world they
cannot understand—an overpowering wish to enter into some sort of
communication with the mysterious agencies of whose extraordinary force
they are continually conscious, but which appear to be hidden from
their observation in impenetrable darkness.

Any man who seems able to give information as to the nature of these
agencies; who can declare their wishes with regard to the conduct of
men; who can assert, with apparent authority, their determination to
reward certain kinds of actions, and to punish others, is listened to
with avidity; and if he is believed to speak truly his counsels are
followed. Any tradition which is held to make known the proper manner
of approaching these great powers is devoutly conserved, and becomes
the foundation of the conduct of many generations. Any writing which is
consecrated by popular belief as either emanating directly from these
powers, or as having been composed under their authority and at their
dictation, is regarded with profound reverence; and no one is allowed
to question either its statements of fact or its injunctions. What are
the particular characteristics which enable either men, traditions, or
writings to acquire so extraordinary an authority, it is difficult, if
not impossible, to say. Some approach to a reply may be made in the
course of the inquiry, but much will still remain unaccounted for: one
of those ultimate secrets of our nature which admit of no complete
discovery. Certain it is, however, that this passionate longing
to enter into some kind of relation with the unknown receives its
satisfaction in the earliest stages of human society.

Man, isolated, fearful, struck with wonder at his own existence, craves
to become acquainted with the Divine will, to hear the accents of the
Divine voice, to offer up his petitions to those higher beings who are
able to grant them, and to offer them up in such a manner that they may
be willing as well as able. Impelled by this craving, the Religious
Idea passes out of its condition of vague emotion into that of positive
opinion. It becomes manifest, or, if I may use an appropriate image,

The means by which the wished-for intercourse between man and the
higher powers is effected are obviously twofold: such as convey
information from the worshipers to their deities, and such as convey it
from the deities back to their worshipers. In other words they might
be described as serving for communication upwards, or communication
downwards; from mankind to God, or from God to mankind. In the former
case human beings are the agents; in the latter the patients. In
the former, they consciously and intentionally place themselves, or
endeavor to place themselves, in correspondence with the unseen powers;
in the latter, they simply receive the injunctions, reproofs, or other
intimations with which those powers may think fit to favor them.

The methods by which this correspondence is sought to be effected are
very various. Let us take first those which carry the thoughts of men's
hearts upwards.

1. The earliest, simplest, and most universal method is the performance
of certain solemnities of a regularly recurrent kind, which, as
expressive of their object, I will term _consecrated actions_. Such
actions are prayer, praise, sacrifice, ceremonies and rites, offerings,
and, in short, all the numerous external acts comprehended under the
term Worship.

2. The second is the consecration of distinct places for the purpose
of carrying on such worship, or otherwise approaching the Deity more
closely and solemnly than can be done on common and unsanctified
ground. These I term _consecrated places_.

3. Thirdly, we have a large class of objects dedicated expressly to
religious purposes. Such are votive offerings of all kinds; pictures,
statues, vestments, gifts bestowed on the priesthood for employment in
Divine worship, or whatever else the piety of the devotees of any deity
may induce them to withdraw from their own consumption, and set apart
for his service. These are _consecrated objects_.

4. Devoutly disposed persons seek to enter into a more than commonly
direct relation with their god by dedication of their own persons to
him, such dedication being signified by some special characteristics
in their mode of life. Such are ascetics of all descriptions, whether
they be known as Essenes, Nazarites, Bonzes, monks, or any other term.
I describe them henceforward as _consecrated persons_.

5. Lastly, we have a class of men who are also consecrated, but who
differ from the preceding in that the object of their consecration
is not personal but social. They are devoted to the service of the
deity not in order that they individually may enter into more intimate
relations with him, but that they may carry on the needful intercourse
between the community at large and its gods. To emphasize this
distinction, I call them _consecrated mediators_.

The second great division of our subject is that which treats of the
several modes by which divine ideas are carried downwards. And here we
will follow a classification corresponding as nearly as possible to
that adopted in the preceding section.

1. First, then, the Deity conveys his will or his intention through
events; such as omens, auguries, miracles, dreams, and many other
phenomena. All these may be termed _holy events_.

2. Secondly, there are certain spots which are either favorable to the
reception of supernatural communications, or have on some occasion
been the scene of such a communication, which we will call _holy

3. Thirdly, certain objects are held to possess mysterious powers, as
that of healing disease. Relics, articles that have been used by holy
men, and such like remains, come within this category. They may be
described as _holy objects_.

4. All communities above the very lowest employ professional persons
for the express object of conveying to them the will of their Deity, or
discovering his intentions as to the future. The most usual name for
such functionaries is that of Priest, and for the sake of embracing all
ecclesiastical or quasi-ecclesiastical classes under one designation I
shall call them _holy orders_.

5. The possession of a professional character distinguishes them from
the next class, who serve as the fifth channel between God and man, but
who differ from the fourth in the circumstance of being self-appointed.
Prophets (for it is of these I am speaking) receive no regular
consecration; nevertheless the part they have played in the religious
history of mankind has been of such transcendent importance that they
deserve to be placed in a class apart under the title of _holy persons_.

6. Sixthly, there remains a mode of communication from God to man to
which there is nothing corresponding on our side; it is that of written
documents. Man has never (so far as I am aware) imagined himself
capable of sending a letter or written composition of any kind to God;
but God is supposed, through the medium of human instruments, to have
embodied his thoughts in writing for the benefit of the human race. The
result is the very important category of _holy books_.


                              FIRST PART.


                              CHAPTER I.

                         CONSECRATED ACTIONS.

Adoration, or worship, is a direct result of one of the most universal
of human instincts. After the instincts which impel us to provide for
the necessities of the body, and to satisfy the passion of love, there
is perhaps none more potent or more general. Men are driven to pray by
an irresistible impulse. Differing widely as to the object of worship;
differing not less widely as to its mode; differing in a minor degree
as to the blessings it secures; they are agreed as to the fundamental
ideas which it involves. In the first place it presupposes a power
superior to, or at any rate different from, the power of man; in the
second place it assumes a belief that this superhuman or non-human
power can be approached by his worshipers; can be induced to listen to
their desires, and to grant their petitions.

Of the first of the two elements thus implied in prayer, this is
not the appropriate place to speak at length. In a very early and
primitive stage of man's existence, he begins to feel his dependence
upon powers invisible to his mortal eyes, whose mode of action he
can but imperfectly comprehend. His way of conceiving these beings
will depend upon his mental elevation, upon historical influences,
upon local conditions, and other causes. Among very rude nations,
the commonest and apparently most unimpressive objects will serve as
fetishes, or incarnations of the mysterious force. Pieces of wood,
stones, ornaments worn on the person, or almost anything, may under
some circumstances do duty in this capacity. It is a further stage of
progress when the more conspicuous objects of nature, lofty mountains,
rivers, trees, fountains, and so forth, are deified, to the exclusion
of more insignificant things. Still higher is the adoration of bodies
which do not belong to this earth at all, and whose nature is,
therefore, more mysterious—the sun, the moon, the planets or the stars,
the clouds and tempests, the winds, and similar imposing phenomena.
And this stage passes naturally into one where the gods, at first
merely forces of nature personified, lose their character of forces,
and become exclusively persons. They are then conceived as beings in
human form, but endowed with much more than human faculties. Actual
persons, especially the ancestors of the living generation, are also
the frequent recipients of religious adoration. By other races, or
by the same races at a later period, the numerous gods of polytheism
are merged in one supreme god, to whom the others are subordinated as
agents of his will, or before whose grandeur they disappear altogether;
while this worship of powers conceived as beneficent is very frequently
accompanied, more or less avowedly, by a parallel worship of powers
conceived as malevolent, and whom, by reason of that very malevolence,
it is occasionally deemed the more needful to conciliate.

The second element—the conviction that these deities are accessible to
human requests—is shown both by the fact of worship being offered and
by the mode in which it is conducted. In the first place, it is plain
that prayer would not be offered at all but for the belief that it
exercises some influence on the beings prayed to. But the theory does
not require that they should be equally amenable to it at all times,
from all persons, or in whatever way it is uttered. On the contrary,
accessibility to prayer implies in these who receive it an inclination
to listen with attention to the language in which they are addressed,
and to be more or less moved by it according to its nature.

Reasoning from the authorities of earth whom he knows, to those of
heaven whom he does not know, the primitive man concludes that the best
way of obtaining the satisfaction of his wishes from the latter will
be to address them in a tone of humble supplication, intermingled with
such laudatory epithets as he deems most suitable to the deity invoked,
or most likely to be agreeable to his ear. Hence we have the two
devotional acts of prayer and praise, which in all religions constantly
accompany one another, and constitute the simplest, most natural,
and most ancient expression on the part of human beings of their
consciousness of an overruling power, and of their desire to enter into
relations with that dreaded and venerated agency.

Prayer in its original form is simply a request for some personal
advantage addressed by the worshipers to their god. Whatever loftier
associations it may afterwards acquire, its intention at the outset
is unquestionably this, as may be proved by reference to innumerable
instances, quoted by travelers or scholars, of savage prayer, where
the benefit expected from the deity is demanded in the most barefaced
manner. But even after men have long ceased to be savages, the primary
object of prayer may easily be discerned; sometimes plainly avowed by
the persons praying, sometimes cloaked under complimentary phrases or
devotional utterances. However disguised, the fact remains, that prayer
was originally designed, and to a large extent is designed still, to
obtain certain advantages for ourselves, either as individuals, or as a
community. Private prayer, partaking to some extent of the character of
a meditation, may, and no doubt often does, form an exception to this
rule; but even this very frequently falls under it, and of the prayer
offered by tribes or nations it always holds good.

Two excellent specimens of primitive prayer are given by Brinton in his
"Myths of the New World." According to that writer, the Nootka Indian,
on preparing for war, thus expresses his wishes:—"Great Quahootzee, let
me live, not be sick, find the enemy, not fear him, find him asleep,
and kill a great many of him."

The next instance, quoted by him from Father Breboeuf, is equally
apposite. It is the prayer of a Huron:—"Oki, thou who livest in this
spot, I offer thee tobacco. Help us, save us from shipwreck, defend
us from our enemies, give us a good trade, and bring us back safe and
sound to our villages" (M. N. W., p. 297).

The Kafirs, according to Shooter, address the "spirits" whom they
worship in the following style: "Take care of me, take care of my
children, take care of my wives, take care of all my people. Remove the
sickness, and let my child recover. Give me plenty of children—many
boys and a few girls. Give me abundance of food and cattle. Make right
all my people" (K. N., p. 163).

Of the negroes on the Caribbean Islands, Oldendorp says, "Their
concerns which they lay before God in their prayers, even on their
knees, have reference only to the body, to health, fine weather, a good
harvest, victory over their enemies, and so forth" (G. d. M., p. 325).

The Samoans, on taking their evening "cup of ava," would thus express
their petitions to the gods: "Here is ava for you, O gods! Look kindly
towards this family: let it prosper and increase; and let us all be
kept in health. Let our plantations be productive, let fruit grow, and
may there be abundance of food for us, your creatures. Here is ava for
you, our war-gods! Let there be a strong and numerous people for you in
this land. Here is ava for you, O sailing gods! Do not come on shore
at this place; but be pleased to depart along the ocean to some other
land" (N. Y., p. 200).

Mr. Turner, to whom I am indebted for the above prayer, remarks that
in Tanna, another of the Polynesian islands, the chief of a village
repeats a short prayer at the evening meal, "asking health, long life,
good crops, and success in battle" (Ibid., p. 85).

The authors of the Vedic hymns, though standing on a far higher level
of civilization, do not differ essentially from these rude people in
the character of the objects for which they pray. The several deities
are continually invoked to grant health, wealth, prosperity, posterity,
and other temporal blessings. Thus (to quote one instance among
many) in Mandala 1, Sûkta 64, translated by Max Müller, the Maruts
are requested to grant "strength, glorious, invincible in battle,
brilliant, wealth-conferring, praiseworthy, known to all men;" and
again, "wealth, durable, rich in men, defying all onslaughts; wealth
a hundred and a thousandfold, always increasing" (R. V. S., i. 64, 14,
15,—Vol. i. p. 93). The liturgies of the Zend-Avesta, while sometimes
assuming a loftier strain, frequently move upon the same level. The
same tone is to be observed in the Hebrew Scriptures. Solomon's
prayer, for instance, at the dedication of the temple, may be taken as
an enumeration of the objects commonly prayed for among the ancient
Hebrews. It specifies among the objects to be obtained at the hands of
Jehovah, the prevention of famine, of pestilence, blasting, mildew,
locust or caterpillar, plague or sickness (1 Kings viii. 37). Christian
liturgies contain the same universal elements, though intermingled with
many others, and not in general put forward with the same crudity of

Besides these general objects, there are others of an ephemeral and
special kind which are generally drawn within the sphere of prayer.
Rain is a common object of prayer, and other changes of weather are
equally prayed for if they are held to be important. Callaway, for
example, was informed by a "very old man" in South Africa that "if it
does not rain, the heads of villages and petty chiefs assemble and go
to a black chief; they converse and pray for rain" (R. S. A., vol.
i. p. 59). Another native described the mode of supplication more
particularly. A certain chieftain named Utshaka "came and made his
prayers greater than those who preceded him." When he desired rain,
he sang the following song, which "consists of musical sounds merely,
without any meaning:"—

"_One Part_—I ya wu; a wu; o ye i ye."

"_Second Part or Response_—I ya wo."

And this prayer, so touching in its simplicity, was as successful as
the most elaborate composition of Jewish prophet or Christian bishop;
for the narrator states that Utshaka "Sang a song and prayed to the
Lord of heaven; and asked his forefathers to pray for rain to the Lord
of heaven. _And it rained_" (R. S. A., vol. i. p. 92). The efficacy of
prayer is plainly independent of the creed of him who offers it.

The Mexicans held an important annual festival in the month of May,
of which the main purpose was to entreat for water from the sky, this
being the season at which there was the greatest need of rain (H. I.,
b. v. ch. 28). They used to address an elaborate prayer to a god named
Tlaloc, the king of the terrestrial paradise, to obtain deliverance
from drought. They entreated him not to visit the offenses they had
committed with such severity as to continue the privation under which
they were laboring.[1] The Tannese, when put to much inconvenience by
the dust falling from a certain volcano, "were in the habit of praying
to their gods for a change of wind" (N. Y., p. 75). Certain other South
Sea Islanders used to pray to their gods to avert the supposed calamity
of a lunar eclipse. "As the eclipse passes off, they think it is all
owing to their prayers," a mode of reasoning which presents an exact
parallel to that employed by many Christians.

Sir John Davis gives a very interesting specimen of a prayer for rain
employed by Taou-Kuâng, the Emperor of China, in 1832, on the occasion
of a long drought in that country (Chinese, vol. ii. p. 75). As may
be expected from so civilized a people, this prayer rises far above
the outspoken begging of savage petitions, yet it has in substance
precisely the same end. The emperor describes himself as "scorched
with grief," and pathetically inquires whether he has been remiss in
sacrifice, has been proud or prodigal, irreverent, unjust, or wanting
in discretion in the exercise of patronage. Here we see the intrusion
of the theological idea that calamities are sent as punishments for
sin, which plays no small part in Christian theology; but this only
serves to veil, without effacing, the essential character of the
prayer. The very same notion, that sin is visited by unfavorable
weather, is found in the prayer of Solomon, whose mind upon this
question seems to have been in the same stage of thought as that
attained by the Chinese emperor. "When heaven is shut up, and there
is no rain, because they have sinned against thee" (1 Kings viii.
35), is the language of Solomon: "My sins are so numerous that it is
hopeless to escape their consequences," so runs the penitent confession
of Taou-Kuâng. But whatever may be the cause to which the drought
is attributed, the prayer, whether uttered by Chinaman, Jew, or
Christian, is still simply the petition to the Amazulu, the South Sea
Islander, or the native American—a request that God will so influence
the phenomena of the skies as to suit our convenience. The notion that
this object may sometimes be attained by our prayers is not extinct
even among ourselves.

Other special occasions are sometimes held to call for prayer. Such are
national calamities; as a pestilence among men or cattle, the illness
of some eminent person, and other similar misfortunes. A good harvest
is very generally prayed for; so is victory in time of war. The ancient
Aryans, who composed the Vedic hymns one thousand years or more before
Christ, continually prayed for this last blessing; and we ourselves,
when engaged in warfare, piously continue the same custom.

Very frequently the notion of a bargain between the god and his
worshiper appears in prayer. The worshiper claims to have rendered some
service for which the god ought in equity to reward him; or he holds
out the discontinuance of his former devotion as a motive to induce
the concession of his desires. The constant conjunction of praise with
prayer is explicable on this principle of a reciprocity of benefits. If
the worshiper gains much from the god, yet the god gains something from
him, being addressed in a strain of unbounded eulogy. His power, his
greatness, his goodness, his excellences of all kinds are vaunted in
glowing terms, no doubt sincerely used by the worshiper, but repeated
and accumulated to satiety from an impression that they are pleasing to
their object, and may dispose him to beneficence. Titles thus bestowed
upon their deities are aptly described by the Amazulus as "laud-giving
names" (R. S. A., vol. i. p. 72, and vol. ii. p. 149). In the Vedic
hymns and in the Psalms, the deities spoken of are constantly addressed
by such complimentary epithets. One of the hymns to the Maruts begins
by announcing the poet's intention to praise "their ancient greatness."
And at the conclusion, after he has done so, he says, "May this praise,
O Maruts, ... approach you (asking) for offspring to our body, together
with food. May we find food, and a camp with running water" (R. V. S.,
vol. i. pp. 197, 201). The Psalmists were never weary of exalting the
extraordinary might and majesty of Jehovah, mingling petitions with
panegyric; and a large portion of the worship of Christians consists
in expressions of pious admiration at the extraordinary goodness of
their God, especially for his redemption of the world which he had
himself condemned. All these extravagant eulogies betray a latent
impression that the Deity is, after all, a very arbitrary personage,
and may be moved to more merciful conduct than he would otherwise
pursue by large doses of flattery.

Still more clearly does the idea of a commercial relationship with
the gods make its appearance in a poet who stands on a higher
intellectual and moral level than the writers of the Hebrew Psalms,
namely Aischylos. In the Seven against Thebes, Eteokles implores Zeus,
the Earth, and the tutelar deities of the city to protect Thebes; and
subjoins as a motive for compliance, "And I trust that what I say is
our common interest; for a prosperous city honors the gods" (Aisch.
Sept. c. Th. 76, 77—Dindorf). And there is a similar appeal to the
divine selfishness further on in the same play, where the chorus
inquires of the gods what better plain they can expect to obtain in
exchange for this one, if they shall suffer it to pass into the enemy's
hands (Aisch., Sept. c. Th. 304).

In the Choephoræ, Zeus is distinctly asked in the prayer of Agamemnon's
children whence he can expect to obtain the sacrifice and honors which
have been paid him by Orestes and Electra if he should suffer them to
perish (Aisch., Choeph., 255). While in the Electra of Sophocles the
converse motive of gratitude is appealed to: the god Apollon being
desired to remember not what he may get, but what he already has got,
from the piety of his supplicant (Soph. El., 1376—Schneidewin). And
Jacob, who was a good hand at a bargain, makes his terms with Jehovah
in a thoroughly business-like spirit. "_If_ God will be with me, and
will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and
raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace;
_then_ shall the Lord be my God: and this stone, which I have set up
for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me
I will surely give the tenth unto thee." The adoption of Jehovah as
Jacob's God being thus entirely dependent on the performance by that
Deity of his share in the contract (Gen. xxviii. 20-22).

Sometimes it is quaintly suggested that were the worshiper in the
place of the god, _he_ would not neglect the interests of his devotee.
Thus, the author of a hymn in the Rig-Veda-Sanhitâ, addressing the Gods
of Tempest, exclaims: "If you, sons of Prisni, were mortals, and your
worshiper an immortal, then never should your praiser be unwelcome,
like a deer in pasture grass, nor should he go on the path of Yama"
(R. V. S., vol. i. p. 65). Another unsophisticated poet gives the
following hint to the god Indra, the Hindu Jupiter: "Were I, Indra,
like thee, the sole lord of wealth, the singer of my praises should be
rich in cattle" (S. V., i. 2. i. 3. p. 218). And the same god is asked
elsewhere in the Veda: "When wilt thou make us happy? for it is just
this that is desired" (S. V., i. 5. i. 3. p. 233). With equal plainness
is the expectation of a _quid pro quo_ enunciated in one of the most
ancient hymns, contained in the sacred books of the Parsees:—"Every
adoration, O True One, consists in actions whereby one may obtain good
possessions, full of security, and happiness round about" (F. G. vol.
ii. p. 54.—Yama 51. i).

More emphatically still is this conception of a reciprocity of benefits
expressed in another consecrated action, that of Sacrifice. Sacrifice
holds a most important place in all religions. It originates in a
stage of the human mind which, if not quite as primitive as that which
gives rise to prayer, is nevertheless so early as to be practicably
inseparable from it. Wherever we find prayer, we find sacrifice; but
as the latter is generally found organized under definite forms,
and confined to certain specified objects, we may conclude that in
the state in which we recognize it, it implies a certain degree of
regulation and forethought on the part of religious authorities which
we do not meet with in the simplest types of prayer. Prayer is often
the mere natural outpouring of our wants before a power which is
considered capable of fulfilling them: sacrifice, though doubtless
in the first instance an equally artless offering of gifts to beings
who are regarded with veneration and gratitude, is soon converted
into a formal presentation of acknowledged dues, performed under
ecclesiastical supervision. No doubt prayer also tends to assume this
formal character; but we have hitherto considered it in its uncorrupted
aspect; its treatment in its later developments belongs to another
portion of this chapter.

The idea which presides over sacrifice is obvious. The sacrificer
argues that if he can make acceptable presents to the gods, they will
smile upon him and be disposed to promote his ends; whereas if he keeps
the whole of his possessions for worldly purposes, they will regard him
with indignation, and refuse him their assistance when he may happen
to stand in need of it. There is also involved in sacrifice a sense of
gratitude: the gods having given us the fruits of the earth, behooves
us to make some acknowledgment of their bounty.

Such notions, once propounded, were certain to be fertile. Every motive
of piety and of interest would combine to support them. The piety
of the worshipers, coupled with their hopes of advantage, would be
stimulated by the self-interest of the priests, who generally share
in the sacrifices offered. If any piece of good fortune occurred to
one who was devout and liberal in sacrificing, it would be attributed
to the satisfaction felt by the gods at his exemplary conduct. If ill
fortune befell those who had neglected to sacrifice, this would be
an equally manifest indication of their high displeasure. As soon,
therefore, as the step was taken—and it was one of the earliest in
the religious history of man—of instituting sacrifices to idols or to
deities, the worshipers vied with one another in the liberality of
their offerings. Adopted as a mode of propitiating the celestial beings
by spontaneous gifts, it became, among all nations whose religious
belief had arrived at a state of flexity and consolidation, a positive
duty; much as monarchs have frequently exacted large and burdensome
contributions under the guise of voluntary presents.

Illustrations of this conception, that sacrifice is a sort of payment
for services rendered or to be rendered, might be found abundantly in
many quarters. Perhaps it is seldom more quaintly expressed than by
the Amazulus, who, when going to battle, sacrifice to the Amatongo, or
manes of their ancestors, in order that these, in their own language,
"may have no cause of complaint, because they have made amends to them,
and made them bright." On reaching the enemy, they say, "Can it be,
since we have made amends to the Amadhlozi, that they will say we have
wronged them by anything?" And when it comes to fighting, they are
filled with valor, observing that "the Amatongo will turn their backs
on us without cause" (R. S. A., vol. ii. p. 133).

The objects of sacrifice are very various, but it is noticeable that
they are almost invariably things held in esteem among men, and either
possessing a considerable value as commodities, or capable by their
properties of ministering to their pleasure. All sacrifices of meat and
corn or other edibles belong to the former class; those of flowers to
the latter, for these, though of little value in the market yet give
great pleasure, and are much esteemed. An exception is indeed presented
by the wild hordes in Kamtschatka, who, according to Steller, offer
nothing to their gods but what is valueless to themselves (Kamtschatka,
p. 265). If this statement does not originate in a misunderstanding of
the traveler, the fact must be due to the singularly low religiosity of
those people, who seem to have little reverence for the very objects of
their worship.

The most valuable sacrifice that can possibly be made—that of human
beings—has always been common among savage or uncivilized nations.
Thus, in some of the South Sea Islands, human sacrifices were
"fearfully common" (N. M. E., p. 547). They prevailed among some of the
negro tribes known to the missionary Oldendorp (G. d. M., p. 329).

In Mexico, where the natives had arrived at a far higher condition,
human sacrifices still prevailed, though the original brutality of the
rite was modified by the fact of the victims being enemies. Indeed,
Montezuma, when at the height of his power, expressly refused to
conquer a certain province which he might easily have added to his
dominions; assigning as his first reason, that he desired to keep the
Mexican youth in practice; as his second and principal one, that he
might reserve a province for the supply of victims to sacrifice to the
gods (H. I., b. v. ch. 20).

At the great Mexican festival of the Jubilee, however, it was not an
enemy, but a slave, who was offered. This slave had represented the
idol during the period of a year, and had received the greatest honor
during his term of office, at the end of which his head was severed
from his body by the priest, who then held it as high as he could, and
showed it to the Sun and to the idol (H. I., b. v. ch. 28).

Next in value to the human race are cattle, and these too are
frequently immolated in honor of the gods. Thus among the Kafirs, "the
animals offered are exclusively cattle and goats. The largest ox in
a herd is specially reserved for sacrifices on important occasions;
it is called the Ox of the Spirits, and is never sold except in cases
of extreme necessity" (Kafirs, p. 165). Here we find it expressly
stated that it is the best ox, in other words, the most valuable
portion of the sacrificer's property, which is devoted to the gods.
And the principle which leads in Natal to this reservation of the best
will be found predominating over sacrifice throughout the world. The
Soosoos, a people inhabiting the west coast of Africa, are so careful
to propitiate their deity, that they "never undertake any affair of
importance until they have sacrificed to him a bullock" (N. A., vol. i.
p. 230).

Other domestic and edible animals, being of great importance to
mankind, are held worthy of the honor of sacrifice. The same writer
to whom I owe the last quotation tells us of the Western Africans,
that "before they begin to sow their plantations, they sacrifice a
sheep, goat, fowl, or fish to the ay-min, to beg that their crop may
abound; for were this neglected, they are persuaded that nothing would
grow there" (Ibid., vol. i. p. 223). Oldendorp, who was particularly
familiar with the Caribbean Islands, describes the sacrifices of the
negroes as consisting of "oxen, cows, sheep, goats, hens, palm-oil,
brandy, yams, &c." (G. d. M., p. 329).

Besides porcelain collars, tobacco, maize, and skins, the American
Indians used to offer "entire animals, especially dogs, on the borders
of difficult or dangerous roads or rocks, or by the side of rapids."
These offerings were made to the spirits who presided in these places.
The great value attached by the natives of America to the dog is well
known, and it is deserving of remark that the dog was the commonest
victim, and that at the war-festival, which was a sort of sacrifice, it
was always dogs that were offered.

In China, the animals slain are "bullocks, heifers, sheep, and
pigs," which are duly purified for a certain period beforehand (C.
O., vol. ii. p. 192). Among the Jews, pigs, whose flesh was regarded
as impure, were not offered; bullocks, goats, and sheep were the
chief sacrificial animals; and extreme care was taken in their law
that they should be entirely without blemish; that is, that, like
the ox of the Kafirs, they should be the best obtainable (Lev. xxii.
17-25). This is a remarkable illustration of the tendency to offer
only articles of value in human estimation to God; for here that
which would be good enough for men is treated as unfit for Jehovah.
Animals of lesser magnitude are sometimes offered; as, for instance,
the quails which the Mexicans used to sacrifice (H. I., b. v. ch.
18). Birds are not unfrequently chosen as fitting objects to present
to the gods. Among the Ibos, a negro tribe, it is the custom for
women, six weeks after childbirth, to present a pair of hens as an
offering, which, however, are not killed, but liberated after certain
ceremonies. In like manner the Hebrew woman after her delivery was
enjoined to bring a lamb and a pigeon or turtle-dove; or, if she
were unable to bring the lamb, two young pigeons or two turtle-doves
(Lev. xii. 6-8). In addition to animals, a considerable variety of
objects is sacrificed, generally the fruits of the earth or flowers.
There is, however, no limit to the number of things which may be held
suitable for presentation to the gods. Thus, in Samoa (in Polynesia),
the offerings were "principally cooked food" (N. Y. p. 241). In other
Islands "the first fruits are presented to the gods" (Ibid., p. 327),
a practice which corresponds, as the missionary who records it justly
remarks, to that of the ancient Israelites. The Red Indians used to
offer to their spirits "petun, tobacco, or birds." In honor of the
Sun, and even of subordinate spirits, they would throw into the fire
everything they were in the habit of using, and which they acknowledged
as received from them (N. F., vol. iii. pp. 347, 348). Acosta divides
the sacrifices of the Mexicans and Peruvians into three classes: the
first, of inanimate objects; the second, of animals; the third, of
men. In the first class are included cocoa, maize, colored feathers,
seashells, gold and silver, and fine linen (H. I., b. v. ch. 18). Among
the sacrifices offered by the Incas to the sun, the most esteemed,
according to Garcilasso de la Vega, were lambs, then sheep, then barren
ewes. Besides these, they sacrificed tame rabbits, all _edible_ birds
(remark the limitation), and fat of beasts, as well as all the grains
and vegetables up to cocoa, and the finest linen (observe again the
care that it should be fine) (C. R., b. ii. ch. 8). At a certain
Hindu festival described by Wilson, a goddess named Varadá Chaturthi
"is worshipped with offerings of flowers, of incense, or of lights,
with platters of sugar and ginger, or milk or salt, with scarlet or
saffron-tinted strings and golden bracelets" (W. W., vol. ii. pp.
184, 185). Among the Parsees the sacrifices consist of little loaves
of bread, and of Haoma, the sacred plant. The Indian Parsees send
from time to time to Kirman to obtain Haoma-branches from this holy
territory (Z. A., vol. ii. p. 535). The Parsees also offer flowers,
fruits, rice, odoriferous grains, perfumes, milk, roots of certain
trees, and meat. The Jews, like them, offered the productions of the
soil in sacrifice.

Beauty, and even utility, when not accompanied by considerable value in
exchange, do not suffice to constitute fitness for religious sacrifice.
Common plants and shrubs, branches of trees, wild birds or insects,
are some of them among the most beautiful productions of nature; yet
they are not sacrificed. Stones and wood are both useful, but they
are obtained, as a rule, at little cost; and they are not sacrificed.
Flowers, which certainly have no high value, were sometimes offered to
idols in the form of wreaths and garlands: they scarcely constitute an
exception to the rule, for they are prized as ornaments by men, and the
process of plucking and weaving them into appropriate shapes imposes
trouble—the equivalent of cost—on the devotee. It is plainly not owing
to any accidental circumstance that highly valuable objects have been
selected by all the nations of the earth as alone appropriate for
religious sacrifice. Two reasons may be assigned for this selection. In
the first place, the general assimilation of deities to mankind goes
far to account for it. Everywhere, and at all times—as we shall have
occasion frequently to observe in this work—men have reasoned as to the
divine nature from their knowledge of their own. A noteworthy instance
of this is to be seen in Malachi, who does not scruple to tell the Jews
that their God feels the same kind of offense at the poverty of their
offerings as a human governor would do. "And if," says that prophet,
"ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer
the lame and sick, is it not evil? _offer it now unto thy governor_;
will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of
hosts." A few verses later he recurs to the sorrow felt by Jehovah at
such insults. "And ye bring that which is robbed, and the lame, and the
sick; thus ye bring an offering: should I accept this of your hand?
saith the Lord. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a
male, and voweth and sacrificeth unto the Lord a bad female." It would
be difficult to find the theory of God's resemblance to man expressed
in a cruder form. Even as a governor will show the greatest favor to
those who approach him with the costliest gifts, so the mouthpiece of
the Hebrew deity declares in his name that he must have the pick of his
servant's flocks—the males, not the females, the sound and the perfect,
not the sickly or the maimed. In a precisely similar spirit, it is
enjoined in one of the sacred books of the Buddhists that no spoilt
victuals or drinks may be used in sacrifice (Wassiljew, p. 211).

Men's notion of their god was often derived, like Malachi's, not
only from human nature, but from those who were by no means the best
specimens of human nature,—the rulers. The religious emotion, imbued
with this conception of its deities, shrank through a sense of piety
from the irreverent, and, as it seemed, sacrilegious act of presenting
them with anything but the best. But there was another reason which,
doubtless, had its weight. Not only must the offering be of a kind
acceptable to the god to whom it was given; it must also impose some
cost upon the worshiper. Religious sentiment imperatively required
that there should be an actual sacrifice of something which the owner
valued, and the surrender of which imposed a burden upon him. This
seemed to be involved in the very notion of sacrifice. Its sense and
purpose was, that the devotee, coming to his god, and desiring to
obtain some favor from him, should show the high importance he attached
to it by parting with some portion of his possessions. And plainly
this portion must be such as to indicate by its character the esteem
and reverence felt by the worshiper for the being whom he worshiped.
To indicate this, it must be something which he would unwillingly
resign but for his religious feelings. Hence a special part of the
fruits of the soil would be an appropriate offering. It would involve
a real diminution in the wealth of the worshiper, a real surrender
of something useful and valuable to mankind. To these two reasons may
be added a third, which, no doubt, must have had its weight. In many
cases, a portion of the sacrifices was the property of the priests.
As will be more fully shown hereafter, the priesthood frequently
contrived to transfer to themselves the piety which was felt towards
the gods. Hence the sacrifices, originally given to the divine beings,
were in part appropriated by their ministers; and it was obviously of
importance to them that the thing sacrificed should be such as they
could profit by and enjoy.

It sometimes happens that the sacrifice, or a portion of it, is
consumed either by the worshipers in general, or by their priests. A
case of the former kind is mentioned by Oldendorp. When the young men
among the Tembus (negroes) are going to battle, the old men offer sheep
and hens to their god Zioo for their success; the blood and bowels they
bestow upon Zioo, and the flesh they eat themselves (G. d. M., p. 330).
Sometimes the thing sacrificed is itself regarded as an idol or god,
and is eaten religiously, under a belief that it is a food of peculiar
efficacy. Such is the case with the Christian sacrament; and such was
the case, too, with the remarkable custom observed among the Mexicans
at the feast of Vitziliputzli, where an idol composed of corn and honey
used to be solemnly consecrated, and afterwards distributed to be eaten
by the people, who received it with extreme reverence, awe, and tears,
as the flesh and bones of the god himself (H. I., b. v. ch. 24). It
is an exception, however, when the laity partake in the consumption
of the sacrifices; they are generally reserved for the priests. Among
the Jews, it was the privilege of the priests to eat certain portions
of the animals brought for sacrifice; and in like manner the Parsee
priest, or Zaota, eats the bread and drinks the Haoma (Av., vol. ii. p.
lxxii). And it deserves especial mention, that the Haoma, a plant of
which the juice is thus drunk in certain rites both in the Indian and
the Parsee religions, is in both considered a god as well as a plant;
just as the wine of the Christian sacrament is both the juice of the
grape and the blood of the Redeemer (Av., vol. i. p. 8).

In the above cases, food consecrated to the gods is eaten by men. The
converse practice, that of bestowing a portion of the ordinary food
of men upon the gods, is also common. The habit of the ancients of
making libations is well known. But the same practice has prevailed,
or prevails still, in many distinct parts of the world. A traveler
who visited Tartary in the thirteenth century states that it was the
custom of the Tartar chiefs of one thousand or one hundred men, before
they ate or drank anything, to offer some of it to an idol which they
always kept in the middle of their dwelling place (Bergeron, Voyage de
Carpin, art. iii., p. 30). In Samoa, when a family feast was held in
honor of the household gods, "a cup of their intoxicating ava draught
was poured out as a drink-offering" (N. Y., p. 239). Among the Soosoos,
on the west coast of Africa, a custom prevails "which resembles the
ancient practice of pouring out a libation: they seldom or never drink
spirits, wine, etc., without spilling a little of it upon the ground,
and wetting the gree-gree or fetish hung round the neck: at the same
time they mutter a kind of short prayer" (N. A., p. 123). Again, in
Sierra Leone, "when they want to render their devil propitious to any
undertaking, they generally provide liquor: a very small libation is
made to him, and the rest they drink before his altar" (S. L., p. 66).
While in Thibet, "the execution by a Lama is not required for the
usual libations to the personal genii, nor to those of the house, the
country, etc., in whose honor it is the custom to pour out upon the
ground some drink or food, and to fill one of the offering vessels
ranged before their images before eating or drinking one's self" (B.
T., p. 247).

Great importance is in all religions attached to sacrifice. It is
universally supposed to conciliate, to soften, or to appease the
deity in whose honor it is offered. Sometimes it is even conceived
to have an actual material power of its own, the spirits deriving a
positive benefit from the food presented to them. Spiegel states that
the subordinate genii in the Parsee hierarchy of angels derive from
the sacrifices strength and vigor to fulfil their duties (Av., vol.
ii. p. lxiii). Generally, however, the conception of the influence
of sacrifice is less materialistic. The Amazulus naively express the
general sentiment by saying, that, in prospect of a battle, they
sacrifice to their ancestors in order that they "may have no cause
of complaint." Much more mystical were the views entertained on this
point by the ancient Hindus, among whom the theory of sacrifice
was probably more highly elaborated than in any other nation. Of a
certain sacrificial ceremony it is stated, that the gods, after having
performed it, "gained the celestial world. Likewise a sacrificer,
after having done the same, gains the celestial world" (A. B., vol.
ii. p. 22). And it is added, that the sacrificer who performs this
rite "succeeds in both worlds, and obtains a firm footing in both
worlds" (A. B., vol. ii. p. 25). While to another rite the following
promise is attached: "He who, knowing this, sacrifices according to
this rite, is born (anew) from the womb of Agni and the offerings,
and participates in the nature of the Rik, Yajus, and Sâman, the Veda
(sacred knowledge), the Brahma (sacred element), and immortality, and
is absorbed in the deity" (A. B., vol. ii. p. 51). Often it is the
forgiveness of some offense that is sought to be obtained by pacifying
the indignant deity with a gift. In the Jewish law a large portion of
the sacrifices enjoined have this object. They are termed sin-offerings
or trespass-offerings.

The general idea which leads to sacrifice is in all religions the
same. Respect is intended to be shown to the deity in whose honor the
sacrifice is made by depriving ourselves of some valuable possession,
and bestowing it on him. The pleasure supposed to be felt by God
on receiving such presents is somewhat coarsely but emphatically
expressed in the Hebrew Bible by the statement that when Aaron had
made a sacrifice in the wilderness there came a fire from the Lord and
consumed the meat which had been laid upon the altar (Lev. ix. 24).

Christianity offers only an apparent exception to the rule of the
universal predominance of this idea. We do not, indeed, find among
Christians the periodical and stated offerings, either of animals or
of the products of the soil, which exist elsewhere. Nevertheless, the
idea of sacrifice subsists among them in all its force. Indeed, it is
the fundamental conception of the Christian religion itself, in which
the sacrifice of the founder upon the cross embodies all those notions
which are held to legitimate the custom of sacrificing among heathen
nations. We have first the notion of an angry and exacting deity, who
can only be rendered placable towards mankind by the surrender to him
of some valuable thing; we have, consequently, the sacrifice of the
most valuable thing that can possibly be offered, namely, the life of
a human being; we have, lastly, the belief that this sacrifice was
accepted, and that promises of mercy were in consequence held out to
the human race. By a peculiar exaltation of the idea, the life thus
given up is declared to be that of his own son—a conception by which
the value of the sacrifice, and consequently the advantages it is
capable of procuring, are indefinitely heightened.

Thus the idea of sacrifice is carried to its extreme limits in the
religion of Christendom. Had it not been for the absolute necessity
of some sacrifice being offered to God, there would—according to the
theory of the Christian faith—have been absolutely no reason for the
execution of Christ. He might have taught every doctrine associated
with his name, performed every miracle related in the Gospels, have
drawn to himself every disciple named in them, and yet have died, like
the Buddha, in the calm of a venerated and untroubled old age. He was
obliged to undergo this painful and melancholy death, if we accept the
general belief of Christendom, solely because God required a sacrifice,
and because without that sacrifice he could not forgive the offenses of

Simple prayer and sacrifice are, then, the most primitive and most
general methods by which man approaches those whom his nature impels
him to worship. But as these acts are repeated from time to time,
and as their frequent repetition is supposed to be highly agreeable
to their objects, it naturally happens that some particular mode of
performing them comes to be preferred to others. By and by, the mode of
worship usually adopted will become habitual; and a habit once formed
will be strengthened by every repetition of the acts in question. Not
only will certain forms of prayer, certain ways of sacrificing, certain
postures, certain gestures, and a certain order of proceeding become
established as usual and regular, but they will be regarded as the only
appropriate and respectful forms, every attempt to depart from them
being treated as a sacrilegious innovation. The form will be deemed no
less essential than the substance.

Hence Ritual, which we do not find in the most primitive religions,
but which is discovered in all of those that have advanced to
a higher type. Even in the earliest Vedic hymns—those of the
Rig-Veda-Sanhitâ—we perceive clear traces of an established ritual
from the manner in which the sacrifices are spoken of as having been
duly offered. In the Zend-Avesta, elaborate ritualistic directions
are given for certain specified purposes, especially for that of
purification after any defilement. The oldest books of the Jewish
Bible are in like manner full of instructions for the due observance
of ritual. Both the Buddhists, who broke off from Brahminism, and the
Christians, who made a schism from Judaism, established a ritual of
their own; and this ritual was soon regarded as no less sacred than
that which they had abandoned. Everywhere, when religion has passed
out of its first unsettled condition, we find a fixed ritual, and its
fixity is one of its most striking features. Dogmas, in spite of the
efforts of sacerdotal orders, inevitably change. If the words in which
they are expressed remain unaltered, yet the meaning attached to them
continually varies. But ritual does not change, or changes only when
some great convulsion uproots the settled institutions of the country.
From age to age the same forms and the same prayers remain, sometimes
long after their original meaning has been forgotten.

Thus prayer, ceasing to be spontaneous and irregular, becomes formal,
ceremonial, and regular. And as there are many occasions besides
sacrifice on which men desire to pray, so there will be many besides
this on which the craving for order, and the readiness to believe that
God is better pleased with one form of devotion than another, will lead
to the establishment of ritual.

Rites may be performed daily, weekly, or at any other interval.
Sometimes, indeed, they are still more frequent, haunting the every-day
life of the devotee, and intruding upon his commonest actions. Thus
the Parsees are required to repeat certain prayers on rising, before
and after eating, on going to bed, on cutting their nails or their
hair, and on several other natural occasions, besides praying to the
sun three times a day (Z. A., vol. ii. p. 564-567). The Jews are
encompassed with obligations which, if less minute, are of a like
burdensome character. A devout Jew has to repeat a certain prayer on
rising; he has to wear garments of a particular kind, and to wash and
dress in a particular order (Rel. of Jews, p. 1-8). Mussulmans are
commanded to pray five times a day, turning their faces towards Mecca
(Sale, prel. discourse, pp. 76, 77).

Ritual, however, is not always of this purely personal nature, but
is generally performed by a congregation to whose needs it refers,
or by priests on their behalf. And in this case, again, a longer or
shorter interval may elapse between the recurrence of the rites. In
the Mexican temples, for instance, the ministering priests were in
the habit of performing a service before their idols four times a day
(H. I., b. v. ch. p. 14). "The perpetual exercise of the priests,"
says Acosta, speaking of these temples, "is to offer incense to the
idols." The ritual of the Catholic Church, like that of the ancient
Mexicans, is repeated every day. The morning and evening services of
the Church of England were framed with the same intention; and the
Ritualistic clergy, rightly conceiving the teaching of their Church,
have introduced the practice of so employing them. Weekly or bi-monthly
observances prevail among Hindus, Singhalese, Jews, and Christians.
With the Hindus, the seventh lunar day, both during the fortnight of
the moon's waxing and during that of her waning, is a festival, the
first seventh day in the month being peculiarly holy, and observed with
very special rites. More than this, the weekly period is known to them;
for, according to Wilson, "a sort of sanctity is, or was, attached even
to Sunday, and fasting on it was considered obligatory or meritorious"
(W. W., vol. ii. p. 199). In Ceylon the people attend divine service
twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays; besides which, there are
in each month four days devoted to religious acts—the 8th, 15th, 23d,
and 30th (A. I. C., pp. 222, 223; H. R. C., p. 76). The Jewish ritual
differs on the Sabbath-day from that used on week-days; and such is
the solemnity attached to this festival, that a quasi-personality
is attributed to the day itself, which is exalted in the service
for Friday evening as the bride of God, and which the congregation
is invited to go in quest of, and to meet (Rel. of Jews, p. 128). A
similar sanctity is considered by many Christians to pertain to the
Sunday, while all of them observe it as an important festival, and
mark it by peculiar rites. Friday, too, is regarded by the majority of
Christians as a day to be observed with distinctive rites, of which
fasting is the principal.

When the interval observed between the performance of certain rites
exceeds some very short period—as a day or week—it is generally a year.
In this case, the time, whether it be a month, a week, a few days, or
any other period, set apart for their performance assumes the character
of a Festival. Under the general term Festival I include any annually
recurrent season, whether it be one of mourning or rejoicing, of
fasting or feasting, which is consecrated by the observance of special
ceremonies of a religious order. In all religions above the lowest
stage such festivals occur. The time of their occurrence is generally
marked out by the seasons of the year. Mid-winter, or the season of
sowing; spring, or the time when the seed is in the ground or beginning
to spring up; and autumn, when the harvest has been gathered in,—are
the most natural seasons for festivals; and it is at these that they
usually take place. For instance, Oldendorp states that nearly all
the Guinea nations have an annual harvest-festival, at which solemn
thank-offerings are presented to the Gods (G. d. M., p. 332). In China,
this reference to the seasons is obvious. "At every new moon, and
the change of the season, there are festivals." Of these, "the most
imposing" is "the emperor's plowing the sacred field. This takes place
when the sun enters the fifteenth degree of Aquarius." But the precise
day is determined by astrologers. This is the winter festival, or that
of sowing. The "Leih-chun, at the commencement of the spring, continues
for ten days." And in autumn the feast of harvest is celebrated with
great merriment (C. O., vol. ii. p. 195-199). The Parsees have numerous
festivals, which it would be tedious to enumerate in detail (Z. A.,
vol. ii. p. 574-581.). After the Gahanbars, which refer to creation,
the two principal ones are the No rouz and the Meherdjan, and of
these Anquetil du Perron expressly states that the first originally
corresponded to spring, and the second to Autumn (Ibid., vol. ii. p.
603). Of the Hindu festivals described by Wilson, by far the greatest
are the Pongol, at the beginning of the year, and the Holi, in the
middle of March (W. W., vol. ii. p. 151). Compared with these, the
rest are insignificant; and these plainly refer to the processes of
nature. That the great festivals of the Jews had the same reference,
needs no proof; for the passover took place in spring, and the feast
of Pentecost, as well as the feast of tabernacles, after harvest. Our
Christmas and Easter correspond to the Pongol and Holi of the Hindus
in point of time; and even the observances usual at Christmas have, as
Wilson has pointed out, much resemblance to those of the Pongol.

There are in Ceylon five annual festivals, of which one, occurring at
the commencement of the year (in April), is marked by the singular
circumstance that "before New Year's day every individual procures from
an astrologer a writing, fixing the fortunate hours of the approaching
year on which to commence duties or ceremonies." Of the five festivals
the most important was the Paraherra, which lasted from the new moon to
the full moon in July, and consisted mainly in a series of religious
processions, concluding with one in which the casket containing the
Dalada, or tooth of Buddha, was borne upon an elephant. The fifth
festival, called that of "New Rice," was held at the commencement of
the great harvest, and was the occasion of offerings made with a view
to good crops (E. Y., vol. i. p. 314-318).

The consecrated actions by which men seek to recommend themselves
to their gods at these special seasons are very various. It would
be useless to attempt to enumerate them at length. Of the manner in
which New Year's day is observed among the Chinese (C. O., vol. ii.
pp. 194, 195), the commencement of the year among Hindus (W. W., vol.
ii. p. 158 ff.), and Christmas among ourselves, it will be unnecessary
to speak at all, for there is little of a religious character in
these festivals. Indeed, New Year's day in China seems to be a merely
secular festival; while the Christmas season in European countries,
though varnished over with a religious gloss, is in reality palpably
one of popular rejoicing, handed down from our pagan ancestors, and
placed in a legendary relation to the birth of Christ. The religious
rites which may accompany this festival have therefore a secondary
importance. Those observed at other times bear reference either
to the frame of mind induced by the season, or to the particular
legend commemorated; or they may be purely arbitrary and enjoined by
ecclesiastical authority. An example of the first kind is the Jewish
feast of tabernacles, when the harvest had been gathered in, and the
Jews were enjoined to carry boughs of trees and rejoice seven days
(Lev. xxiii. 40). Examples of the second class are common. Legends are
frequently related in order to account for festivals, while sometimes
festivals may be instituted in consequence of a legend. Thus, the
extraordinary story of the manifestation of Siva as an interminable
Linga, is told by the Hindus to account for their worship of that organ
on the twenty-seventh of February (W. W., vol. ii. p. 211). In this
case, the rites have reference to the legend; the setting up a Linga in
their houses, consecrating, and offering to it, are ceremonies which
refer to the event present in the minds of the worshipers; but it is
more natural to suppose that the existence of the rites led to the
invention of the legend, than that the legend induced the establishment
of the rites. "The three essential observances," says Wilson, "are
fasting during the whole Tithi, or lunar day, and holding a vigil and
worshiping the Linga during the night; but the ritual is loaded with a
vast number of directions, not only for the presentation of offerings
of various kinds to the Linga, but for gesticulations to be employed,
and prayers to be addressed to various subordinate divinities connected
with Siva, and to Siva himself in a variety of forms" (Ibid., vol.
ii. p. 212). At another of the Hindu festivals, the effigy of Kama
is burnt, to commemorate the fact of that god having been reduced to
ashes by flames from Siva, and having been subsequently restored to
life at the intercession of Siva's bride (W. W., vol. ii. p. 231). In
like manner the jesting of the Greek woman at the Thesmophoria was
explained by reference to the laughter of Demeter (Bib., i. 5. 1.). The
Jewish passover was eaten with rites which were symbolical of the state
of the nation just before its escape from Egypt, the time to which
their tradition assigned the original passover; and the ritual in use
among Christians at Easter bears reference to the story of Christ's
resurrection, which in this case no doubt preceded the institution of
the festival. The third class of rites—those which are purely arbitrary
or have a merely theological significance—are the most usual of all.
These, as will be obvious at once, may vary indefinitely. Fasting is
one of the most usual of such observances. It is practiced by the
Hindus at many of their festivals, by Mussulmans during the month of
Ramadan, and by Christians in Lent. Bathing is also a common religious
practice of the Hindus at their festivals. The use of holy water by
Catholics on entering their churches is a ceremony of a similar kind,
and no doubt having the same intention, that of purification. The Jews
were to sacrifice at all their festivals, and on one of them to afflict
their souls (Lev. xxiii. 27). Christians, among whom there are very
numerous festivals, vary their ritual according to the character of the

One or two specimens of the rites observed on festival days will
suffice as an illustration. The Peruvians, in their pagan days, used
to have festivals every month: the greatest of these was that of the
Trinity, celebrated in December. "In this feast," says Acosta, "they
sacrificed a great number of sheep and lambs, and they burnt them with
worked and odoriferous wood; and some sheep carried gold and silver,
and they placed on them the three statues of the Sun, and the three
of Thunder; father, brother, and son, whom they said that the Sun and
Thunder had. In this feast they dedicated the Inca children, and placed
the Guacas, or ensigns on them, and the old men whipped them with
slings, and anointed their faces with blood, all in token that they
should be loyal knights of the Inca. No stranger might remain during
this month and feast at Cuzco, and at the end all those from without
entered; and they gave them those pieces of maize with the blood of the
sacrifice, which they eat, in token of confederation with the Inca"
(H. I., b. 5. ch. 27). Equally curious are the rites prescribed by
the Catholic Church for Holy Saturday. They are much too long to be
described in full, but the following extract will convey a notion of
their character: "At a proper hour the altars are covered over, and the
hours are said, the candles being extinguished on the altar until the
beginning of mass. In the meanwhile, fire is struck from a stone at
the church-door, and coals kindled with it. The none being said, the
priest, putting on his amice, alb, girdle, stole, and violet pluvial,
or without his capsula, the attendants standing by him with the cross,
with the blessed water and incense, before the gate of the church, if
convenient, or in the porch of the church, he blesses the new fire,
saying, The Lord be with you; and the attendants reply, And with thy
spirit." Prayers follow. "Then he blesses five grains of incense to be
placed on the wax, saying his prayer." After the prayer, incense is put
in the censer, and sprinkled with water. "Meanwhile, all the lights of
the church are extinguished, that they may be afterwards kindled from
the blessed fire." The candles are lighted with many ceremonies. The
incense having been previously blessed, "the deacon fixes five grains
of the blessed incense on the wax in the form of a cross." This wax is
then lighted. When "the blessing of the wax taper" is finished, the
prophets are read, and the catechumens during the reading are prepared
for baptism.[2] These proceedings, in which the notion of the sanctity
of fire—a notion shared by Roman Catholics with Parsees and others—is
apparent, are particularly interesting, as showing the community
of sentiment and of rites between the Church of Rome and her pagan

In the instances hitherto given, the consecrated actions have been
performed by the whole body of believers for the benefit of all.
They are means by which their religious union among each other is
strengthened, as well as their relation to the deity they worship
solemnly expressed. But there is another class of consecrated actions
which benefit, not the congregation or sect at large, but a particular
individual for whose advantage they are performed. There are certain
moments in the life of the individual at which he seems peculiarly
to need the protection of God. Were these moments suffered to pass
unobserved in a single case, it would appear as if he whose life had
been thus untouched by religion stood outside the pale of the common
faith, unhallowed and unblessed. And a total neglect of all these
periods, even among savages, is, if not altogether unknown, at least so
rare as to demand no special notice in a general analysis of religious
systems. With extraordinary unanimity, those systems have pitched upon
four epochs as demanding consecration by the observance of special
rites. Two of them are thus consecrated wherever a definite religion
exists at all. The other two are generally consecrated, though in
their case exceptions more frequently occur. The four moments, or
periods of life to which I refer, are

  1. Birth.
  2. Puberty.
  3. Matrimony.
  4. Death.

Of these, the first and fourth are never suffered to pass without
religious observances, or at least, observances which, by their
solemnity and indispensable obligation, approach to a religious
character. The second is usually marked by some kind of rite in
the case of males; in that of females it is often suffered to pass
unobserved. The third is always placed under a religious sanction,
except among savages of a very low order.

Let us proceed to illustrate these propositions in the case of
birth. The ceremonies attendant upon this event need not take place
immediately after it; they may be deferred some days, weeks, or
months; they will still fall under the same category, as designed to
mark the child's entry into the world. Their form will naturally vary
according to the state of civilization of the nation observing them;
but notwithstanding this there is a strange similarity among them. In
Samoa, for instance, "if the little stranger was a boy, the umbilicus
was cut on a club, that he might grow up to be brave in war. If of
the other sex, it was done on the board on which they beat out the
bark of which they make their native cloth. Cloth-making is the work
of women; and their wish was, that the little girl should grow up and
prove useful to the family in her proper occupation" (N. Y., p. 175).
I have added Mr. Turner's observation to render the nature of this
ceremony plainer. It appears hardly religious; yet when we consider
the symbolical means by which the end is sought to be attained, and
that among savages so rude as those of Polynesia religion would have
no higher practical aims than to make the boys good warriors, and the
women industrious cloth-makers, we may admit that even this elementary
rite has in it something of a religious consecration. When secular
objects are attained by mystical ceremonials, which have no direct
tendency to produce the desired result, we may generally conclude that
religious belief is at the bottom of them. In the present instance
this conclusion is still further strengthened by the description
given by the same author of a similar ceremony in another island
of the Polynesian group. There, when a boy is born, "a priest cuts
the umbilicus on a particular stone from Lifu, that the youth may
be _stone_-hearted in battle. The priest, too, at the moment of the
operation, must have a vessel of water before him, dyed black as
ink, that the boy when he grows up, may be courageous to go anywhere
to battle on a pitch-dark night, and thus, from his very birth, the
little fellow is consecrated to war" (N. Y., pp. 423, 424). Here the
religious nature of the operation is explicitly proved by the presence
of the priest, the inevitable agent in such communications between
God and man. Another missionary to the same race—the Polynesian
islanders—informs us that among these people mothers dedicated their
offspring to various deities, but principally to Hiro, the god of
thieves, and Oro, the god of war. "Most parents, however, were anxious
that their children should become brave and renowned warriors," and
with this end they dedicated them, by means of ceremonies beginning
before parturition, and ending after it, to the god Oro. The principal
ceremony after birth consisted in the priest catching the spirit of the
god, by a peculiar process, and imparting it to the child. Here again
the presence of the priest, and the formal dedication to a god—even
though he be a god of questionable morality—render the religious
element in the natal ceremonies of these very primitive savages
abundantly plain (N. M. E., p. 543).

Baptism, or washing at birth, is a common process, and is found in
countries the most widely separated on the face of the earth, and the
most unconnected in religious genealogy. Asia, America, and Europe
alike present us with examples of this rite. It seems to be a rude form
of it which prevails in Fantee in Africa, where the father, on the
eighth day after birth, after thanking the gods for the birth of his
child, squirts some ardent spirits upon him from his mouth, and then
pronounces his name, at the same time praying for his future welfare,
and "that he may live to be old, and become a stay and support to his
family," and if his namesake be living, that he may prove worthy of the
name he has received (Asha, p. 226). A rite of baptism at birth, says
Brinton, "was of immemorial antiquity among the Cherokees, Aztecs,
Mayas, and Peruvians," and this rite was "connected with the imposing
of a name, done avowedly for the purpose of freeing from inherent sin,
believed to produce a spiritual regeneration, nay, in more than one
instance, called by an indigenous word signifying 'to be born again'"
(M. N. W., p. 128). Mexico possessed elaborate rites to consecrate
nativity. When the Mexican infant was four days old it was carried
naked by the midwife into the court of the mother's house. Here it
was bathed in a vessel prepared for the purpose, and three boys, who
were engaged in eating a special food, were desired by the midwife
to pronounce its name aloud, this name being prescribed to them by
her. The infant, if a boy, carried with it the symbol of its father's
profession; if a girl, a spinning-wheel and distaff, with a small
basket and a handful of brooms, to indicate its future occupation. The
umbilical cord was then offered with the symbols; and in case of a male
infant, these objects were buried in the place where war was likely to
occur; in case of a female infant, beneath the stone where meal was
ground.[3] The above statements rest on the authority of Mendoza's
collection. A still more complete narrative of these baptismal
ceremonies is given by Bernardino de Sahagun, who records the terms
of the prayers habitually employed by the officiating midwife. Their
extreme interest to the study of comparative religion will justify me
in extracting some of them, the more so as they have never (so far as I
am aware) been published in English.[4]

Suppose that the infant to be baptized was a boy. After the symbolical
military apparatus had been prepared, and all the relatives assembled
in the court of the parents' house, the midwife placed it with the head
to the East, and prayed for a blessing from the god Quetzalcoatl and
the goddess of the water, Chalchivitlycue. She then gave it water to
taste by moistening the fingers, and spoke as follows: "Take, receive;
thou seest here that with which thou hast to live on earth, that thou
mayest grow and flourish: this it is to which we owe the necessaries of
life, that we may live on earth: receive it." Hereupon, having touched
its breast with the fingers dipped in water, she continued: "Omictomx!
O my child! receive the water of the Lord of the world, which is our
life, and by which our body grows and flourishes: it is to wash and
to purify; may this sky-blue and light-blue water enter thy body and
there live. May it destroy and separate from thee all the evil that was
beginning in thee before the beginning of the world, since all of us
men are subject to its power, for our mother is Chalchivitlycue." After
this she washed the child's whole body with water, and proceeded to
request all things that might injure him to depart from him, "that now
he may live again, and be born again: now a second time he is purified
and cleansed, and a second time our mother Chalchivitlycue forms and
begets him." Then lifting the child in both hands towards the sky, she
said: "O Lord, thou seest here thy child whom thou hast sent to this
world of pain, affliction, and penitence: give him, O Lord, thy gifts
and thy inspiration, for thou art the great God, and great is the
goddess also." After this she deposited the infant on the ground, and
then raising it a second time towards the sky, implored the "mother of
heaven" to endow it with her virtue. Next, having again laid it down,
and a third time lifted it up, she offered this prayer: "O Lords, the
gods of heaven! here is this child; be pleased to inspire him with
your grace and your spirit, that he may live on earth." After a final
depositing she raised him a fourth time towards the sky, and in a
prayer, addressed to the sun, solemnly placed him under the protection
of that deity. Taking the weapons she proceeded further to implore
the sun on his behalf for military virtues: "Grant him the gift that
thou art wont to give thy soldiers, that he may go full of joy to thy
house, where valiant soldiers who die in war rest and are happy." While
all this was going on, a large torch of candlewood was kept burning;
and on conclusion of the prayers the midwife gave the infant some
ancestral name. Let it be Yautl (which means _valiant man_): then she
addressed him thus: "Yautl! take thou the shield! take the dart! for
those are thy recreation, and the joys of the sun." The completion of
the religious office was signalized by the youths of the village coming
in a body to the house and seizing the food prepared for them, which
they called "the child's umbilicus." As they went along with this food
they shouted out a sort of military exhortation to the new-born boy,
and called upon the soldiers to come and eat the (so-called) umbilicus.
All being over, the infant was carried back to the house, preceded
by the blazing torch. Much the same was the process of baptizing a
girl, except that the clothes and implements were suited to her sex.
In her case, certain formularies were muttered by the midwife during
the washing, in a low, inaudible tone, to the several parts of her
body: thus she charged the hands not to steal, the secret parts not to
be carnal, and so forth with each member as she washed it. Moreover,
a prayer to the cradle, which seems in a manner to personify the
universal mother earth, was introduced in the baptism of females (C. N.
E. b. 6, chs. 37, 38).

If from heathen America we turn to Asia, we find that in the vast
domain of the Buddhist faith the birth of children is regularly the
occasion of a ceremony at which the priest is present (R. B. vol. i. p.
584,) and that in Mongolia and Thibet this ceremony assumes the special
form of baptism. Candles burn, and incense is offered on the domestic
altar; the priest reads the prescribed prayers, dips the child three
times, and imposes on it a name (R. B. vol. ii. p. 320). A species
of baptism prevails also among the Parsees, and was even enjoined by
the Parsee Leviticus, the Vendidad. This very ancient code required
that the child's hands should be washed first, and then its whole body
(Av. vol. ii. p. xix—Vendidad, xvi. 18-20). The modern practice goes
further. Before putting it to the breast, the Parsee mother sends to a
Mobed (or priest), to obtain some Haoma juice; she steeps some cotton
in it, and presses this into the child's mouth. After this, it must
be washed three times in cow's urine, and once in water, the reason
assigned being that it is impure. If the washing be omitted, it is the
parents, not the child, who bear the sin (Z. A., vol. ii. p. 551).

Slightly different in form, but altogether similar in essence, is the
rite administered by the Christian Church to its new-born members. Like
those which have been just described, it consists in baptism; but it
offers a more remarkable instance than any of them of the tenacity with
which the human mind, under the influence of religious belief, insists
upon the performance of some kind of ceremony immediately after, or,
at the most, at no great interval after birth. Christian baptism was
not originally intended to be administered to unconscious infants,
but to persons in full possession of their faculties, and responsible
for their actions. Moreover, it was performed, as is well known, not
by merely sprinkling the forehead, but by causing the candidate to
descend naked into the water, the priest joining him there, and pouring
the water over his head. The catechumen could not receive baptism
until after he understood something of the nature of the faith he was
embracing, and was prepared to assume its obligations. A rite more
totally unfitted for administration to infants could hardly have been
found. Yet such was the need that was felt for a solemn recognition
by religion of the entrance of the child into the world, that this
rite, in course of time, completely lost its original nature. Infancy
took the place of maturity; sprinkling of immersion. But while the
age and manner of baptism were altered, the ritual remained under the
influence of the primitive idea with which it had been instituted. The
obligations could no longer be undertaken by the persons baptized;
hence they must be undertaken for them. Thus was the Christian Church
landed in the absurdity—unparalleled, I believe, in any other natal
ceremony—of requiring the most solemn promises to be made, not by those
who were thereafter to fulfil them, but by others in their name; these
others having no power to enforce their fulfillment, and neither those
actually assuming the engagement, nor those on whose behalf it was
assumed, being morally responsible in case it should be broken. Yet
this strange incongruity was forced upon the Church by an imperious
want of human nature itself; and the insignificant sects who have
adopted the baptism of adults have failed, in their zeal for historical
consistency, to recognize a sentiment whose roots lie far deeper than
the chronological foundation of Christian rites, and stretch far wider
than the geographical boundaries of the Christian faith.

The intention of all these forms of baptism—that of Ashantee perhaps
excepted—is identical. Water, as the natural means of physical
cleansing, is the universal symbol of spiritual purification. Hence
immersion, or washing, or sprinkling, implies the deliverance of the
infant from the stain of original sin. The Mexican and Christian
rituals are perfectly clear on this head. In both, the avowed intention
is to wash away the sinful nature common to humanity; in both the
infant is declared to be born again by the agency of water.

Another ceremony very frequently practised at the birth of children
is circumcision. The wide-spread existence of this rite is one of
the most remarkable facts in comparative religious history. We know
from Herodotus, that it was practised by the Colchians, Egyptians,
Ethiopians, and Phœnicians (Herod., ii. 104). It has been found in
modern times, not only in many parts of Africa—to which it may have
come from Egypt—but in the South Sea Islands and on the American
continent. Thus, according to Beecham, there are "some people," among
the Gold Coast Africans, who circumcise their children (Asha, p. 225),
though what proportion these circumcisers bear to the rest of the
population, he does not inform us. Another traveler describes the mode
of circumcising infants in the Negro kingdom of Fida or Juda, a country
to which he believes that Islamism has not penetrated (V. G. vol. ii.
p. 159). The operation is very simple, and appears to be done without
any religious ceremony; but the natives, when pressed as to the reason
of the custom, can only reply that their ancestors observed it—an
answer which would properly apply to a rite of religious origin whose
meaning has been forgotten. Acosta, in his account of Mexican baptism,
adds that a ceremony which in some sort imitated the circumcision of
the Jews, was occasionally performed by the Mexicans in their baptism,
principally on the children of kings and noblemen. It consisted in
cutting the ears and private members of male infants (H. I., b. 5, ch.
26 No. 2). That the Jews circumcise their male children on the eighth
day I need not state. The rite is performed with much solemnity, and
is connected, as is common in these ceremonies, with the bestowal of
a name on the child, the name being given by the father after the
operation is over. Although circumcision is a ceremony which usually
applies only to boys, and although it sometimes happens that the birth
of girls is not marked like that of boys by any religious rite, yet the
Jews do not omit to consecrate their female children as well as those
of the stronger sex, though with less solemnity. "The first Saturday
after the end of the month" of the mother's lying-in, she goes to the
synagogue with her friends, where "the father of the girl is called
up to the law on the altar, and there after a chapter hath been read
to him as usual on the Sabbath morning, he orders the reader to say a
Mee-Shabeyrach," or a prayer for a blessing (Rel. of Jews, p. 27 1st

It is unnecessary, after these instances, to describe the various
modes of consecrating the commencement of life which are in use in
other countries. Enough has been said to show how general, if not how
universal, such consecrating usages are; how religion, supported by
the sentiment of mankind, seizes upon the life of the individual from
the first moments of his existence; and demands, as one of the very
earliest actions to be performed on his behalf, a solemn recognition of
the fact that he stands under the influence, and needs the protection,
of an invisible and superhuman power.

After birth, the next marked epoch in life is the arrival at manhood or
at womanhood. The transition from infancy to maturity, from dependence
on others to self-dependence, from an unsexual to a sexual physical and
mental condition, has, like the actual entrance upon life and departure
from it, been appropriated by religion with a view to its consecration
by fitting rites. Since there is no precise time at which the boy can
be said to become a youth, or the girl a maiden, the age at which the
ceremonies attending puberty are performed varies very considerably in
different countries. The range of variation is from eight to sixteen,
though there are exceptional cases both of earlier and later initiation
into the new stage of existence. Generally speaking, however, these
ages are the limits within which the religious solemnities of puberty
are confined.

More clearly, perhaps, than any of those occurring at the other crises
of our lives, these solemnities are pervaded by common characteristics.
Primitive man in Australia, in America, and in Africa, marks the advent
of puberty in a manner which is essentially the same. When we rise
to the higher class of religions, we find ceremonies of a different
kind from which the ruder symbolism of the savage creeds is absent.
But from the uniformity of the types of initiation into manhood among
uncivilized people, it is highly probable that the progenitors of
the Aryan and Semitic races also, at some period of their history,
employed similar methods of rendering this epoch in life impressive
and remarkable. Two distinguishing features characterize the rites of
puberty—cruelty and mystery. There is always some painful ordeal to be
undergone by the young men or boys who have attained the requisite age;
and this ordeal is to be passed through in extreme secrecy as regards
the opposite sex, and with a ceremonial of an unknown character, which
is hidden from all but the initiated performers. Sometimes the puberty
of women is also sanctified by religious ceremonies, and these follow
the same rules, except that the female sex are not required to undergo
such severe suffering as is often inflicted upon men. While, however,
the cruelty is less, the mystery is the same. Men are not admitted
to witness the performances gone through, and these are conducted in
secluded places to which no access is allowed.

The meaning of these two features of the rites of puberty is not
difficult to divine. Young men enter at that age on a period of their
lives in which they are expected to display courage in danger and
firmness under pain. Hence the infliction of some kind of suffering
is an appropriate symbolical preparation for their future careers.
Moreover, the manner in which they endure their agony serves as a test
of their fortitude, and may influence the position to be assigned to
them in the warlike expeditions of the tribe. But the primary motive,
no doubt, is the apparent fitness of the infliction of pain at an age
when the necessary pains of manhood are about to begin.

The explanation of the secrecy observed is equally simple. A mysterious
change takes place in the physical condition at puberty, the generative
functions, which are to play so large a part in the life of the
individual, making their appearance then. It is this natural process to
which the religious process bears reference. Without doubt the rites
performed stand in symbolical relation to the new class of actions
of which their subject is, or will be, capable. It is this allusion
to the sexual instinct—a subject always tending to be shrouded in
mystery—which is the origin of the jealous exclusion of women from the
rites undergone by men, and of men from those undergone by women. The
members of each sex are, so to speak, prepared alone for the pleasures
they are afterwards to enjoy together. Religion, ever ready to seize on
the more solemn moments of our existence, seeks to consecrate the time
at which the two sexes are ready to enter towards one another on a new
and deeply important relationship.

Bearing these characteristics in mind, we may proceed to notice a few
of the ceremonies performed at puberty. Let us begin with the most
barbarous of all, those witnessed by Mr. Catlin among the Mandans, a
tribe of North American Indians now happily extinct. The usual secrecy
was observed about the "O-kee-pa," as this great Mandan ceremony
is termed, and it was only by a favor, never before accorded to a
stranger, that Mr. Catlin was enabled to be present in the "Medicine
Lodge," where the operations were conducted. In the first place a
mysterious personage, supposed to represent a white man, appeared from
the west and opened the lodge. At his approach all women and children
were ordered to retire within their wigwams. Next day the young men
who had arrived at maturity during the last year were summoned to come
forth, the rest of the villagers remaining shut up. After committing
the conduct of the ceremonies to a "medicine man," this personage
returned to the west with the same mystery with which he had come.
The young men were now kept without food, drink, or sleep, for four
days and four nights. In the middle of the fourth day two men began
to operate upon them, the one making incisions with a knife in their
flesh, and the other passing splints through the wounds, from which
the blood trickled over their naked, but painted bodies. The parts
through which the knife was passed were on each arm, above and below
the elbow; on each leg, above and below the knee; on each breast, and
each shoulder. The young men not only did not wince, but smiled at
their civilized observer during this process. "When these incisions
were all made, and the splints passed through, a cord of raw hide was
lowered down through the top of the wigwam, and fastened to the splints
on the breasts or shoulders, by which the young man was to be raised up
and suspended, by men placed on the top of the lodge for the purpose.
These cords having been attached to the splints on the breast or the
shoulders, each one had his shield hung to some one of the splints:
his _medicine bag_ was held in his left hand, and a dried buffalo
skull was attached to the splint of each lower leg and each lower
arm, that its weight might prevent him from struggling." At a signal,
the men were drawn up three or four feet above the ground, and turned
round with gradually increasing velocity, by a man with a pole, until
they fainted. Although they had never groaned before, they uttered a
heart-rending cry, a sort of prayer to the Great Spirit, during the
turning. Having ceased to cry, they were let down apparently dead. Left
entirely to themselves, they in time were able "_partly_ to rise," and
no sooner could they do thus much than they moved to another part of
the lodge, where the little finger of the left hand was cut off with a
hatchet. But their tortures were not over. The rest of them took place
in public, and were perhaps more frightful than any. The victims were
taken out of the lodge, and, being each placed between two athletic
men, were dragged along, the men holding them with thongs and running
with them as fast as they could, until all the buffalo skulls and
weights hanging to the splints were left behind. These weights must
be dragged out through the flesh, the candidates having the option
of running in the race described, or of wandering about the prairies
without food until suppuration took place, and the weights came off by
decay of the flesh. These horrors concluded, the young men were left
alone to recover as best they might. Mr. Catlin could only hear of
one who had died "in the extreme part of this ceremony," and his fate
was considered rather a happy one: "the Great Spirit had so willed it
for some especial purpose, and no doubt for the young man's benefit"
(O-kee-pa, p. 9-32).

Nor were the Mandans alone on the American continent in marking the
entrance upon manhood by distinctive observances. On the contrary, a
writer of the highest authority on Red Indian subjects, states that
no young man among the native tribes was considered fit to begin the
career of life until he had accomplished his great fast. Seven days
were considered the maximum time during which a young man could fast,
and the success of the devotee was inferred from the length of his
abstinence. These fasts, says Mr. Schoolcraft, "are awaited with
interest, prepared for with solemnity, and endured with a self-devotion
bordering on the heroic.... It is at this period that the young men and
young women 'see visions and dream dreams,' and fortune or misfortune
is predicted from the guardian spirit chosen during this, to them,
religious ordeal. The hallucinations of the mind are taken for divine
inspiration. The effect is deeply felt and strongly impressed on the
mind; too deeply, indeed, ever to be obliterated in after life." It
appears that they always in after life trust to, and meditate on, the
guardian spirit whom they have chosen at this critical moment; but that
"the _name_ is never uttered, and every circumstance connected with
its selection, and the devotion paid to it, are most studiously and
professedly concealed, even from their nearest friends" (A. R., vol. i.
pp. 149, 150). Mystery is certainly pushed to its highest point, when
the name of the spirit chosen at puberty, and the very circumstances of
the choice, are preserved as an inviolable secret within the breast of
the devotee.

New South Wales is distinguished by a ceremony which, though far less
severe than that of the Mandans, is nevertheless sufficiently painful.
"Between the ages of eight and sixteen the males and females undergo
the operation which they term Gnanoong; viz., that of having the septum
of the nose bored to receive a bone or reed.... Between the same years,
also, the males receive the qualifications which are given to them by
losing one front tooth." The loss of a tooth is not in itself a very
serious matter, but the intention of the extraction being religious,
the natives contrive to get rid of it in the most barbarous mode. The
final event is led up to by a series of performances of a more or less
emblematic nature. One of them, for instance, is supposed to give
power over the dog; another refers to the hunting of the kangaroo.
There is the usual mystery about some part of the proceedings. When
the boys were being arranged for the removal of the tooth "the author
[Collins] was not permitted to witness this part of the business,
about which they appeared to observe a greater degree of mystery and
preparation than he had noticed in either of the preceding ceremonies."
After this, some of the performers in the rite went through a number
of extraordinary motions, and made strange noises. "A particular
name, _boo-roo-moo-roong_, was given to this scene; but of its import
very little could be learned. To the inquiries made respecting it no
answer could be obtained, but that it was very good; that the boys
would now become brave men; that they would see well and fight well."
When the tooth was to be taken out, the gum was first prepared by a
sharply-pointed bone; and a throwing-stick, cut for the purpose with
"much ceremony," was then applied to the tooth, and knocked against
it by means of a stone in the hand of the operator. The tooth was
thus struck out of the gum, the operation taking ten minutes in the
case of the first boy on whom the author witnessed this process being
performed. After the tooth was gone, "the gum was closed by his
friends, who now equipped him in the style that he was to appear in
for some days. A girdle was tied round his waist, in which was stuck a
wooden sword; a ligature was bound round his head, in which were stuck
slips of the grass-gum tree." The boy "was on no account to speak, and
for that day he was not to eat." The sufferers in this ceremonial did
not long remain quiescent. In the evening they had fresh duties to
discharge. "Suddenly, on a signal being given, they all started up, and
rushed into the town, driving before them men, women, and children,
who were glad to get out of their way. They were now received into the
class of men; were privileged to wield the sword and the club, and to
oppose their persons in combat; and might now seize such females as
they chose for wives." The sexual import of the ceremony is clearly
brought into view by the last words of the writer. He adds that, having
expressed a wish to possess some of the teeth, they were given him by
two men with extreme secrecy, and injunctions not to betray them (N. S.
W., p. 364-374).

Another observer has described the same rite as performed in a somewhat
different manner, "by the tribes of the Macquarrie district" farther
north. When these tribes assemble "to celebrate the mysteries of
Kebarrah," as it is termed, all hostility which may exist at the time
is laid aside for the nonce. "When the cooi or cowack sounds the note
of preparation, the women and children in haste make their way towards
the ravines and gulleys, and there remain concealed." The dentistry
of these tribes is less scientific than that of New South Wales. The
tooth is knocked out "by boring a hole in a tree, and inserting into
it a small hard twig; the tooth is then brought into contact with the
end, and one individual holds the candidate's head in a firm position
against it, whilst another, exerting all his strength, pushes the
boy's head forwards; the concussion causes the tooth, with frequently
a portion of the gum adhering to it, to fall out." But this is not
all the poor boy has to endure, for while "some men stand over him,
brandishing their waddies, menacing him with instant death if he utters
any complaint," others cut his back in stripes, and make incisions
on his shoulders with flints. It is an interesting part of these
ceremonies, that the least groan or indication of pain is summarily
punished by the utterance, on the part of the operators, of three yells
to proclaim the fact, and by the transfer of the boy to the care of the
women, who are summoned to receive him. If he does not shrink, "he is
admitted to the rank of a huntsman and a warrior" (S. L. A., vol. ii.
p. 216-224).

In other parts of Australia, different ceremonies prevail. Thus, in one
of the districts visited by Mr. Angas, when boys arrive at the age of
fourteen or sixteen, they are "selected and caught by stealth," and the
hairs of their body are plucked out, and green gum-bushes are placed
"under the arm-pits and over the _os pubis_." Among the privileges
conferred on those who have undergone this treatment, is that of
wearing "two kangaroo teeth, and a bunch of emu feathers in their
hair." More significant still is the permission to "possess themselves
of wives," which the young men now obtain. The "scrub-natives" vary
the initiation again. Among them the boy, brought by an old man, is
laid upon his back in the midst of five fires which are lighted around
him. An instrument, called a _wittoo wittoo_, is whirled round over the
fires, with the intention of keeping off evil spirits. Lastly, "with a
sharp flint, the old man cuts off the foreskin, and places it on the
third finger of the boy's left hand, who then gets up, and with another
native, selected for the purpose, goes away into the hills to avoid the
sight of women for some time. No women are allowed to be present at
this rite" (S. L. A., vol. i. pp. 98, 99).

Elsewhere on the same continent, there are three stages to be passed
on the road from boyhood to manhood. At the age of twelve or fifteen
the boys are removed to a place apart from the women, whom they are not
permitted to see, and then blindfolded. Among some other ceremonies
their faces are blackened, and they are told to whisper, an injunction
peculiarly characteristic of the mysteriousness which is so constant
a feature of the rites of puberty. For several months this whispering
continues, and it is noteworthy, as a sign of the sexual nature of
these proceedings, that the place where the whispers have been "is
carefully avoided by the women and children." In the second ceremony,
which occurs two or three years later, "the _glans penis_ is slit open
underneath, from the extremity to the scrotum, and circumcision is also
performed." After this second stage, the _Partnapas_, as the youths are
now styled, "are permitted to take a wife." In the third ceremony each
man has a sponsor, by whom he is tatooed with a sharp quartz. These
sponsors, moreover, bestow on each lad a new name, which he retains
during the remainder of his life. Certain other performances are gone
through, such as putting an instrument termed a _witarna_ round the
lads' necks, and then "the ceremony concludes by the men all clustering
round the initiated ones, enjoining them again to whisper for some
months, and bestowing upon them their advice as regards hunting,
fighting, and contempt of pain. All these ceremonies are carefully kept
from the sight of the women and the children; who, when they hear the
sound of the _witarna_, hide their heads and exhibit every outward sign
of terror" (S. L. A., vol. i. p. 113-116).

Leaving Australia, let us pass to Africa, and call Mr. Reade as a
witness to some of the rites of puberty existing among the savages
of that continent. The following extract is doubly interesting, as
furnishing some account of the application to girls of the general
principles involved in these rites, and also as supplying, in the
author's opinion, that they are of a Phallic nature, a confirmation of
the conclusions we had reached from a survey of the evidence as a whole:

"Before they are permitted to wear clothes, marry, and rank in
society as men and women, the young have to be initiated into certain
mysteries. I received some information upon this head from Mongilomba,
after he had made me promise that I would not put it into a book:
a promise which I am compelled to break by the stern duties of my
vocation. He told me that he was taken into a fetich-house, stripped,
severely flogged, and plastered with goat-dung; this ceremony, like
those of Masonry, being conducted to the sound of music. Afterwards
there came from behind a kind of screen or shrine uncouth and terrible
sounds such as he had never heard before. These, he was told, emanated
from a spirit called _Ukuk_. He afterwards brought to me the instrument
with which the fetich-man makes this noise. It is a kind of whistle
made of hollowed mangrove wood, about two inches in length, and covered
at one end with a scrap of bat's wing. For a period of five days after
initiation the novice wears an apron of dry palm leaves, which I have
frequently seen.

"The initiation of the girls is performed by elderly females who call
themselves _Ngembi_. They go into the forest, clear a place, sweep the
ground carefully, come back to the town, and build a sacred hut which
no male may enter. They return to the clearing in the forest, taking
with them the _Igonji_, or novice. It is necessary that she should have
never been to that place before, and that she fast during the whole
of the ceremony, which lasts three days. All this time a fire is kept
burning in the wood. From morning to night, and from night to morning,
a _Ngembi_ sits beside it and feeds it, singing, with a cracked voice,
_The fire will never die out!_ The third night is passed in the sacred
hut; the _Igonji_ is rubbed with black, red, and white paints, and as
the men beat drums outside, she cries, _Okanda, yo! yo! yo!_ which
reminds one of the _Evohe!_ of the ancient Bacchantes. The ceremonies
which are performed in the hut and in the wood are kept secret from
the men, and I can say but little of them. Mongilomba had evidently
been playing the spy, but was very reserved upon the subject. Should it
be known, he said, that he had told me what he had missing, the women
would drag him into a fetich-house, and would flog him, perhaps till he
was dead.

"It is pretty certain, however, that these rites, like those of the
Bona Dea, are essentially of a Phallic nature; for Mongilomba once
confessed, that having peeped through the chinks of the hut, he saw a
ceremony like that which is described in Petronius Arbiter....

"During the novitiate which succeeds initiation, the girls are taught
religious dances—the men are instructed in science of fetich" (S. A.,
p. 245-247).

The Suzees and the Mandingoes, tribes of Western Africa, are
distinguished by a rite which, so far as I know, is peculiar—the
circumcision of women. Both sexes, indeed, are circumcised on reaching
puberty, and in the case of the girls it is done "by cutting off the
exterior part of the clitoris." With a view to this ceremony, "the
girls of each town who are judged marriageable are collected together,
and in the night preceding the day on which the ceremony takes place,
are conducted by the women of the village into the inmost recesses of a
wood." Surrounded by charms to guard every approach to the "consecrated
spot," they are kept here in entire seclusion for a month and a day,
visited only by the old woman who performs the operation. During this
close confinement they are instructed in the religion of their country,
which hitherto they have not been thought fit to learn. A most singular
scene is enacted at its close. They return to their homes by night,
"where they are received by all the women of the village, young and
old, quite naked." In this condition they go about till morning, with
music playing; and should any man be indiscreet enough to imitate
Peeping Tom, he is punished by death or the forfeiture of a slave.
After another month of parading and marching in procession (no longer
nude) the women are given to their destined husbands;—another plain
indication of the nature of these rites. In such veneration is this
ceremony held among the women of the country, that those who have come
from other parts, and are already in years, frequently submit to it
to avoid the reproaches to which uncircumcision exposes them. Indeed,
"the most vilifying term they can possibly use" is applied by the
circumcised female population to those who do not enjoy their religious
privileges (S. L., p. 70-83).

Puberty is recognized in much the same way among the South Sea
Islanders. Thus, in Tanna "circumcision is regularly practised about
the seventh year" (N. Y., p. 87). In Samoa "a modified form of
circumcision prevailed," which boys of their own accord, would get
performed upon themselves about the eighth or tenth year (Ib., p.
177). It may be a faint beginning of the religious ceremonies of
this period of life that, in the same island, when girls are entering
into womanhood, their parents invite all the unmarried women of the
settlement to a feast, at which presents are distributed among them.
At least it is worthy of remark that "none but females are present" on
these occasions (Ib., p. 184).

When we rise higher in the scale of culture, we no longer find the
painful rites by which savage nations mark the appearance of the sexual
instinct. The sacred ceremony of investiture with the thread, which
distinguished the twice-born classes among the Hindus, was performed at
this age. The code of Manu is explicit on the subject. "In the eighth
year from the conception of a Brahman, in the eleventh from that of
Kshatriya, and in the twelfth from that of a Vaisya, let the father
invest the child with the mark of his class." In the case of children
who desire to advance more rapidly than usual in their vocation,
"the investiture may be made in the fifth, sixth, or eighth years
respectively. The ceremony of investiture hallowed by the gayatri must
not be delayed, in the case of a priest, beyond the sixteenth year;
nor in that of a soldier beyond the twenty-second; nor in that of a
merchant beyond the twenty-fourth." Further postponement would render
those who were guilty of it outcasts, impure, and unfit to associate
with Brahmans (Manu, ii. 36-40).

Members of the kindred Parsee religion become responsible human beings
after they have been girt with the kosti, or sacred girdle. The age at
which this took place was formerly fifteen; and after they had once put
them on, the Parsees might not remove their girdles, except in bed,
without incurring serious guilt. This regulation applied equally to
both sexes. Modern usage has advanced the investiture with the kosti to
a much earlier period. It takes place in India at seven, and in Kirman
at nine. In India, the child is held responsible in the eighth or tenth
year for one half of its sins, the parents bearing the burden of the
other half (Av., vol. i. p. 9; vol. ii. pp. 21, 22).

The young Jew "is looked upon as a man" at the age of thirteen, and is
then bound "to observe all the commandments of the law." At this age he
becomes "Bar-mizva," or a son of the law; that is, he enters on his
spiritual majority (Picard, vol. i. ch. x. p. 82). Christian nations
signalize the advent of the corresponding epoch by admitting those who
attain it to the Sacrament of the Lord's supper, and to confirmation.
At puberty they are considered, like the young Parsees, responsible for
the sins which at their birth their sponsors took upon themselves, and
at puberty they are admitted, like the Jews, to the full privileges
of their faith, by being allowed to partake in the mystic benefits
conferred by the celebration of the death of Christ in the Holy

After puberty the two sexes enter on a new relation towards one
another; and though the instinct by which this relation is established
is extremely apt to break loose from the control of religion, yet the
latter always attempts more or less energetically to bring it within
its grasp. This it does by confining the irregular indulgences to which
the sexual passion is prone within the legalized forms of matrimony. To
matrimony, and matrimony alone, it gives its sanction; and accordingly
it confers a peculiar sacredness upon this form of cohabitation, by
the performance of ceremonies at its outset. Such ceremonies are not
indeed equally universal with those of birth and puberty. Among savage
and slightly civilized communities we do not find them. But in all the
great religions of the world they are firmly established.

Little of a distinctively religious character is perceptible in Major
Forbes's account of marriage rites in the island of Ceylon. Yet it is
plain that Singhalese marriages do stand under a religious sanction,
for in the first place an astrologer must examine the horoscopes of the
two parties, to discover whether they correspond, and then the same
functionary is called upon to name an auspicious time for the wedding.
On the day of its occurrence a feast is given at the bride's house, and
"on the astrologer notifying that the appointed moment is approaching,
a half-ripe cocoa-nut, previously placed near the board with some
mystical ceremonies, is cloven in two at one blow" (E. Y., vol. i. p.

Turning from southern to northern Buddhism, we find Köppen asserting
that in Thibet and the surrounding countries, marriage consists solely
in the private contract, yet adding that none the less the lamaist
clergy find business to do in regard to engagements and weddings.
The priests alone know whether the nativity of the bride stands in
a favorable relation to that of the bridegroom, and if not, by what
ceremonies and sacrifices misfortune may be averted; they alone know
the day that is most suitable and propitious for the wedding; they give
the bond its consecration and its blessing by burning incense and by
prayer (R. B., vol. ii. p. 321).

The Code of Manu is not very clear as to the sort of marriages
sanctioned by religion; some irregular connections apparently receiving
a formal recognition, though regarded with moral disapprobation. The
system of caste, moreover, introduces a confusing element, since the
nuptial rites are permitted, by some authorities, to become less and
less solemn as the grade of the contracting parties becomes lower. This
opinion having been mentioned, however, the legislator adds, that "in
this Code, three of the five last [forms of marriage] are held legal,
and two illegal: the ceremonies of Pisachas and Asuras must never
be performed." Of the two prohibited forms, the first is merely an
embrace when the damsel is asleep, drunk, or of disordered intellect;
the second is when the bride's family, and the bride herself, have
been enriched by large gifts on the part of the bridegroom. Strangely
enough, this regulation does not exclude the marriage called Gandharva,
which is "the reciprocal connection of a youth and a damsel, with
mutual desire," and is "contracted for the purpose of amorous embraces,
and proceeding from sexual inclination." Nor does it forbid forcible
capture. But a little further on, the code encourages the more regular
modes of marrying by promising intelligent, beautiful, and virtuous
sons to those who observe them; and threatening those who do not with
bad and cruel sons. It is then stated that "the ceremony of joining
hands is appointed for those who marry women of their own class, but
with women of a different class" certain ceremonies, enumerated in
the Code, are to be performed (Manu, iii. i. 44). It is probable that
this Code was never actually the law of any part of India; but it is
none the less interesting to see the legislator striving to bring the
lawless passions with which he is dealing under the supervision of

An elaborate blessing and exhortation, beginning with the words "In
the name of God," is appointed in the Zend-Avesta for the nuptial
ceremonial. While marriages among Jews and Christians are, as is well
known, inaugurated by solemn religious rites, and all unions not thus
consecrated are, at least by the formal judgment of their respective
creeds, pronounced unholy, sinful, and impure.

Death, like marriage, is held among all religions but the lowest to
call for the performance of befitting rites. In these it is usually
noticeable that much regard is paid to the manner in which the
deceased is placed in the grave, this circumstance indicating as a
general rule some form of the belief in his continued existence. Thus,
Lieut.-Colonel Collins, describing the burial of a boy in New South
Wales, observes that "on laying the body in the grave, great care was
taken so to place it that the sun might look at it as it passed, the
natives cutting down for that purpose every shrub that could obstruct
the view. He was placed on his right side, with his head to the N. W."
(N. S. W., p. 387-390).

If there is little trace among the rude population of this colony of a
religious ceremony at the interment, we find the position of religion
distinctly recognized by the natives of some parts of Africa. Oldendorp
tells us of the tribes with which he was acquainted, that the funeral
rites are performed by the priests, who are richly rewarded for the
service. Not only are animals sacrificed at the graves, but in the
case of men of rank their wives and servants are (as is well known)
slaughtered to attend them (G. d. M., p. 313-317). In Sierra Leone,
where "every town or village, which has been long inhabited, has a
common burial-place," there is the usual attention to position in the
grave. "The head of the corpse, if a man, lies either east or west;
if a woman, it is turned either to the north or south. An occasional
prayer is pronounced over the grave, importing a wish that God may
receive the deceased, and that no harm may happen to him." Moreover,
there is a ceremony which appears to be a sort of sacrifice to the
manes. "A fowl is fastened by the leg upon the grave, and a little rice
placed near it; if it refuse to eat the rice, it is not killed; but if
it eat, the head is cut off, and the blood sprinkled upon the grave;
after which it is cooked, and a part placed on the grave, the remainder
being eaten by the attendants." A tribe called the Soosoos "bury their
dead with their faces to the west" (S. L., vol. i. pp. 238, 239).

Sometimes we meet with the opinion that the entire removal of the
deceased from his accustomed place of abode on earth depends upon
due attention to the rites of interment. A primitive form of this
wide-spread belief—which lingers as a survival even in Christendom—is
observable in Polynesia. In Samoa, "in order to secure the admission of
a departed spirit to future joys, the corpse was dressed in the best
attire the relatives could provide, the head was wreathed with flowers,
and other decorations were added. A pig was then baked whole, and
placed upon the body of the deceased, surrounded by a pile of vegetable
food." The corpse is then addressed by a near relation, who desires it
with the property thus bestowed to make its way into "the palace of
Tiki," and not to return to alarm the survivors. If nothing happened
within a few days, the deceased was supposed to have got in; but a
cricket being heard on the premises was taken as an ill omen, and led
to the repetition of the offering.

Elsewhere in the same group of islands "more costly sacrifices"
were presented to the gods of the celestial regions. At least at
the interment of a chief it was customary for his wives to sit down
severally near his body, to be strangled, and then buried along with
him. "The reasons assigned for this are, that the spirit of the chief
may not be lonely in its passage to the invisible world, and that by
such an offering its happiness may be at once secured" (N. M. E., pp.
145, 146).

Funeral ceremonies in Mexico were performed by priests and monks, and
varied in splendor according to the rank of the deceased. Offices were
chanted at the graves, and at the burial of persons of quality slaves
were killed to serve them in the next world. Moreover, so sensible were
the Mexicans to the importance of religion in all states of being, that
even the domestic chaplain was not omitted; a priest being slaughtered
to accompany his lord in that capacity (H. I., b. v. ch. viii).

In Ceylon, a dying relative is taken to a detached apartment, where
he is placed with his head towards the East. After death the body is
turned with the head towards the West, and in the grave this position
is preserved. Bodies of priests, and persons of the highest rank, are
burned, and during the process of cremation the officiating priest
"repeats certain forms of prayer." The same functionary returns to
deliver "some moral admonitions" after seven days, when the friends
revisit the pyre to collect the ashes (E. Y., pp. 334, 335).

Notwithstanding the fact that in countries professing the lamaistic
form of Buddhism dead bodies are unceremoniously exposed to the open
air, and left as a prey to birds or dogs, the mortality of the laity
"forms, with their sicknesses, the richest source of income for
the priests." A great deal, says the author from whom we draw this
information, depends on the separation of soul and body taking place
according to rule; and it is important that the spirit should not
injure those who are left, and should meet with a happy re-birth. The
Lama therefore attends the death-bed, takes care to place the deceased
in the correct position, and observes the hour of departure. An
operation is then performed on the skin of the head, which is supposed
to liberate the soul. What rites are now to be performed, how the body
is to be disposed of, towards what quarter it is to be turned, and
various other details, depend on astrological combinations known only
to the clergy. But their most important and profitable business is the
repetition of masses, for the dead, which are designed to pacify the
avenging deities, and to help the soul towards as favorable a career as
is possible for it. The length of time during which these masses are
said varies with the wealth of the survivors; poor people obtaining
them for a few days only; the richer classes for seven weeks; and
princes being able to assist the spirits of their relations for a whole
year (R. B., vol. ii. p. 323-325).

Among the Parsees the cemeteries consist of desolate, open places, on
which the corpses are deposited and left exposed to the air. These
places are called Dakhmas, and are carefully consecrated by the priests
with an elaborate ceremonial. The position of the dead in the Dakhmas
is fixed by the religious law. Their dying moments and those that
succeed upon death are watched over by the Parsee faith, which has
determined the prayers to be repeated during the last hour of life;
before the body is placed upon the bier; when it is carried out;
on the way to the Dakhma, and at the Dakhma itself. The ceremonies
required on these occasions must be performed by the Maubads, or
priests. But the due disposal of the body by no means concludes the
duties of relations towards the dead. The welfare of the soul also
demands numerous prayers. Being supposed to linger for three days in
the immediate neighborhood of the corpse, it is the object during that
time of especial attention, and the rites then performed may be of use
to it in the judgment which takes place on the fourth day. Prayers are
to be recited, and offerings made on the 30th and 31st day after death,
and even then the ceremonies attending the close of mortal existence
are not concluded, for it is necessary after the lapse of a year again
to celebrate the memory of the departed. Moreover, the 26th chapter
of the Yasna, a hymn of praise and blessing, is to be said every day
during the year before eating (Av. vol. ii. p. xxxii-xlii).

Masses for the dead are no less common in Christian countries (save
where the Protestant faith is professed), than among Buddhists and
Parsees. Their object also is precisely the same; namely, the welfare
of the soul which has quitted its earthly home to enter on a new form
of being. And although no such prayers are repeated in Protestant
communities, yet there can be no doubt that interment in due form, and
with due solemnity, is held by the people, even in England, to benefit
the soul in some undefined way. Nor is any portion of the ritual of the
English Church more impressive than that passage in the Burial Service
where the officiating priest consigns "earth to earth, ashes to ashes,
dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal
life, through our Lord Jesus Christ."

But it is not only the due performance of these last rites which
popular opinion associates with the prospect of salvation in the world
to come. As in other religions, so in that of our own country, the
position of the body in the tomb is deemed to be of vast importance.
The head must be westward and the feet eastward, the nominal reason
being that the dead person should rise from his temporary abode with
his face to the east, whence Christ will come; the real reason being
in all probability the survival of a much older custom, in which
that venerable divinity, the Sun, stood in the place of the Savior of

                              CHAPTER II.

                          CONSECRATED PLACES.

Consecrated actions of various kinds being the primary method of
approaching the beings in whose honor they are performed, there remain
various secondary methods; sometimes tending to heighten the effect of
the primary method, sometimes supplementing it. These secondary means
of giving effect to the religious sentiment may be divided into three
classes:—the consecration of places, of things, and of persons; while
the last of these falls into two subdivisions: the self-dedication of
certain individuals to their deity, and the dedication of a certain
class to the more special performance of religious services on behalf
of the community.

Consecration of places evidently confers on the actions performed
within them a higher sanctity. Prayer offered in a place which has been
devoted to the service of God is more likely to be successful. Praise
from within its walls will be more acceptable. Wedlock contracted under
its influence will be more solemn, and will possess a more binding
character. Children may most fitly enter upon life by a profession of
faith made in their behalf in a consecrated temple. And the bodies of
the dead will rest more peacefully in consecrated earth.

It is scarcely needful to offer evidence of the fact that in various
lands, and by many kinds of belief, the performance of certain
ceremonies is held to consecrate places to the purpose of communication
between man and the higher powers. From the savage in Sierra Leone,
where "a small shed of dry leaves" presents perhaps the rudest form
of temple to be found on earth (S. L., p. 65), to the European who
worships his God in St. Peter's or Westminster Abbey, the same opinion
prevails. Everywhere the consecration of places is conceived to render
them fitter for the celebration of religious rites, and unfit for all
profaner uses.

Of the state of feeling with which such localities are endowed by the
ordinary worshiper, an excellent example is offered in Solomon's speech
at the dedication of the temple. He specially requests Jehovah that
when prayers are made to him in this place, or toward this place, he
will hear such prayers: that is, he expects that the sanctity he will
confer upon the temple, by devoting it to Jehovah, will add something
to the efficacy of petitions in which it is in some way concerned. The
manner in which he dedicates the temple may serve, too, as a type of
this kind of ceremony. "Solomon," we are told, "offered a sacrifice
of peace-offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two-and-twenty
thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep." With this
barbaric magnificence he "dedicated the house of the Lord," and he
subsequently hallowed the middle of the court by "burnt-offerings, and
meat-offerings, and the fat of the peace-offerings" (1 Kings viii). How
great was the respect attached to this temple by the Israelites, and
how anxiously they sought to guard it against such profanation as it
received at the hands of Pompey, is well known.

The lavish splendor with which Solomon adorned his temple is a common
feature of consecrated places. Like the ancient Hebrews, the Mexicans
and Peruvians had buildings in honor of their gods, of extreme
magnificence. The temple of Pachacamac, or the Creator, in Peru, was
a very large and ancient building, richly decorated, which was found
to contain an immense wealth of gold and silver vessels (H. I., b. v.,
chs. iii., xii). The boundless munificence with which pious Christians
have sought to beautify their places of worship needs no description.
Along with the more formal consecration given to such sanctuaries of
the Most High by special rites, they have sought to render them more
worthy of his habitation by the liberality displayed in their erection
and embellishment.

                             CHAPTER III.

                         CONSECRATED OBJECTS.

Besides consecration of places to religious uses, material things
may be consecrated to the deity worshiped by those who thus apply
them. These things may be of the most varied description, from common
objects of the most trifling value, to those of the utmost possible
estimation. Among consecrated objects are the furniture of temples or
churches, which is reserved for divine service; the garments worn by
priests in their liturgical functions; the votive tablets in which men
record their gratitude for preservation in danger; pictures, statues,
endowments of land for monasteries or the support of ecclesiastical
offices; and anything else which the owners may part with from pious
motives, and with the view of bestowing it entirely on their god or his
vicegerents on earth.

Such consecrated objects were seen in abundance by Lieutenant Matthews
in Sierra Leone, where the natives devoted them to the idols who
reigned in the small sheds of dry leaves mentioned in the preceding
chapter. The offerings made by the natives to these superhuman beings
consisted of "bits of cloth, pieces of broken cups, plates, mugs, or
glass bottles, brass rings, beads, and such articles." But a still more
precious object was bestowed upon these gods by the people when they
wished to render them particularly complaisant. Then "they generally
provide liquor," of which they make a very small libation to the object
of their petitions and drink the rest. Moreover, they have also little
genii, or household gods, consisting of images of wood from eight to
twelve inches long, to whom they consecrate certain things. These might
be of a very miscellaneous order. There might be seen, for instance,
"a brass pan fastened to the stump of a tree by driving a country axe
through it—a glass bottle set up on the stump of a tree—a broken bottle
placed upon the ground with two or three beads in it, covered with a
bit of cloth, and surrounded with stones—a rag laid upon small sticks
and covered with a broken calabash," and so forth. As in more civilized
countries, the sanctity conferred upon the objects by religion places
them under the special protection of the law. "To remove one of them
even unknowingly," continues the author, "is a great offense, and
subjects the aggressor to a _palaver_, or action in their courts of
law" (S. L., p. 65-67). The Tartar chiefs, as described by the traveler
Carpin, kept idols in their places of abode, to whom they offered not
only the first milk of their ewes and mares, and something of all they
ate, but to whom they even consecrated horses. After this dedication to
the idol no one might mount these horses (Bergeron, Voyage de Carpin,
p. 30). Among the Singhalese a curious mode prevails of consecrating
fruit to some demon, in order to prevent its being stolen. "A band of
leaves" is to be seen fastened around the stem of a fruit-tree, and
it is supposed that no thief will be so sacrilegious as to touch the
fruit that has been thus hallowed. "Occasionally," says Sir Emerson
Tennent, "these dedications are made to the temples of Buddha, and even
to the Roman Catholic altars, as to that of St. Anne of Calpentyn. This
ceremony is called Gokbandeema, 'the tying of the tender leaf,' and
its operation is to prevent the fruit from pillage, till ripe enough
to be plucked and sent as an offering to the divinity to whom it has
thus been consecrated." He adds, that a few only of the finest are
offered, the rest being kept by the owner (Ceylon, vol. i. p. 540, 3d
ed.). Another author, describing the same custom, says, "To prevent
fruit being stolen, the people hang up certain grotesque figures around
the orchards and dedicate it to the devils, after which none of the
native Ceylonese will dare even to touch the fruit on any account.
Even the owner will not venture to use it, till it be first liberated
from the dedication. For this purpose, they carry some of it to the
pagoda, where the priests, after receiving a certain proportion for
themselves, remove the incantations with which it was dedicated" (A. I.
C., p. 198). Here the consecration, contrary to the usual rule, is made
with an interested motive, and is of the nature of a direct bargain
for temporal advantages. Of the common form of consecration among the
same people, another visitor gives evidence; their temples are, he
says, "adorned with such things as the people's ability and poverty
can afford; accounting it the highest point of devotion, bountifully
to dedicate such things unto their gods, which in their estimation are
most precious" (A. R. C., p. 73).

Sometimes consecration is held to confer special powers, not otherwise
possessed, upon the objects on which it is performed. Thus, among
the rude Mongolians, the consecrating rites to which sacred writings
and images of Buddha are subjected are described by a word meaning
to _animate_, which is held by a learned Orientalist to express
their sense of the communication of living power, of which the
religious ceremony is the vehicle (G. O. M., p. 330). Thus, too, among
Christians, the consecration of bread and wine by a priest is regarded
as the means of a still more extraordinary communication of living
power to those lifeless elements. And the writer has been present at
the Vatican when a vast number of rosaries, and other such trinkets,
were held up by a crowd of devotees to receive the Papal blessing,
which was evidently considered, by their owners, to confer upon them
some kind of virtue that was otherwise lacking.

Naturally it follows from the theory of consecration—which is that
of a gift from men to God—that the more valuable the objects given,
the more pleasing will they be. Hence, men generally endeavor to
consecrate valuable objects, though instances to the contrary may be
found. The horses bestowed by the Tartars were, no doubt, among their
most precious possessions. And the large endowments of land devoted in
perpetuity to the Church during the middle ages, were gifts of the most
permanent and most coveted form of property.

Consecration differs from sacrifice, in that the objects of sacrifice
are intended for the immediate gratification of the deity, those of
consecration for his continued use. Hence, things sacrificed are
consumed upon the spot; things consecrated are preserved as long as
their nature permits of it. So strong is the sense of permanence
attaching to consecration, that there are probably even now persons
among us, who would regard it as a sort of crime for the State to
assume the ownership of lands once devoted to religious purposes, or
to divert the proceeds to some other employment. A like sentiment, no
doubt, prevails with regard to the material and the furniture of places
of worship. With regard to sacrifice the case is different. Animals,
fruits, or other articles intended for sacrifice, are given to the god
or his representative for the single occasion, and as a requisite in
the performance of some momentary rite. If a homely comparison may be
permitted on so sacred a subject, it might be not inaptly said, that
things sacrificed are like the meat and drink placed before a guest
who is invited to dinner, while things consecrated rather resemble the
present which he carries away to his own residence, and keeps for the
remainder of his life.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                         CONSECRATED PERSONS.

We have seen the religious instinct leading to the consecration of
actions, to the consecration of places, and to the consecration of
things. We are now to follow it in a yet more striking exhibition of
its power, the consecration by human beings of their own lives and
their own persons (or sometimes of the lives and persons of their
children). Not only is such self-dedication to the service of religion
common; it is well-nigh universal. There is no phenomenon more
constant, none more uniform, than this. Differing in minor details, the
grand features of self-consecration are everywhere the same, whether
we look to the saintly Rishis of ancient India; to the wearers of the
yellow robe in China or Ceylon; to the Essenes among the Jews; to the
devotees of Vitziliputzli in pagan Mexico; or to the monks and nuns
of Christian times in Africa, in Asia, and in Europe. Throughout the
various creeds of these distant lands there runs the same unconquerable
impulse, producing the same remarkable effects. This is not the place
to attempt a psychological explanation of asceticism as a tendency of
human nature. We have now only to notice some of its most conspicuous
manifestations, and thus to assign to it its proper place in a history
of the mode in which man endeavors to approach and to propitiate his

Generally speaking, we may premise that the consecration of individuals
to a life in which religion is the predominating element, means the
abandonment of the ordinary pleasures of the world. This is of the
very essence of self-devotion. Sanctity, and the enjoyment of all
those things in which the body is largely concerned, have always
been regarded as inconsistent and opposite. Hence, in the first line
of things prohibited to consecrated persons, we always discover
the pleasures of sex. To indulge in these is usually considered the
most flagrant outrage against their rules. Next to sexual delights,
or equally with them, the luxuries of choice food, rich clothing,
comfortable beds, well-furnished rooms, and similar ministrations to
physical ease are withheld from the votaries. They are very frequently
voluntary paupers or mendicants; or where this is not the case, they
usually depend on some endowment derived from the liberality of others.
Where their numbers are large, they are placed under rules, and bound
to the strictest obedience to their superiors in the same line of
life. Moreover, mere abstinence from ordinary pleasures is not enough
to prove their devotion; they are called on to undergo extraordinary
pains. These vary with the rule of the order, or their own fervor.
Sometimes they are obliged to live in rooms which, in the coldest
weather, no fire is permitted to cheer; sometimes their sleep is broken
by rising at unseasonable hours to worship their deity; sometimes the
garment they wear is too thick in summer, and too scanty in winter;
and sometimes they tear their own flesh by scourging and flagellation.
Fasting, too, is often imposed at certain times. And the zeal of
individuals always outruns the compulsory hardships of their position.
They will show the intensity of their devotion by fasting more
rigorously than others, sleeping on harder couches, bearing greater
inflictions. Self-consecration continually tends towards greater and
greater self-denial; but the actual degrees of self-denial vary from
the mere observance of some simple rules to the extremest possibility
of self-torture. Confining ourselves, however, to the general marks
which characterize this devotion of persons to religion, we may say
that it involves principally two things: chastity and poverty.

When the Spaniards had established themselves in Mexico and Peru, they
were astonished to find, in the religious customs and practices of the
new world they had invaded, so much that resembled those of the old
world they had left behind. Especially was this the case with regard to
monastic institutions, in respect of which it seemed that the Christian
missionaries had little to teach their heathen brothers. "Certainly it
is a matter of surprise," says the Reverend Father Acosta, "that false
religious opinion should have so much power with those young men and
young women of Mexico, that they should do with such austerity in the
service of Satan that which many of us do not do in the service of the
most high God. Which is a great confusion to those who are very proud
and very well satisfied with some trifling penance which they perform"
(H. I., b. 5, ch. 16, sub fine). In describing more particularly the
manner in which the devil had contrived to be served in Mexico, he
states that around the great temple there were two monasteries, one
of young women and the other of young men, whom they called monks
(religiosos). Those young men who served in the temple of Vitziliputzli
lived in poverty, chastity, and obedience; ministered like Levites to
the priests and dignitaries of the temple, and had manual labor to do.
Besides these were others who performed menial services, and carried
the offerings that were made when their superiors went in quest of
alms. All these had persons who took charge of them, and when they
went abroad they held their heads low and their eyes on the ground,
not daring to raise them to look at the women they might come across.
Should they not receive enough by way of alms, they had the right of
going to the sown fields, and plucking the ears of corn of which they
had need. They practised penance, rising at midnight, and also cutting
themselves so as to draw blood; but this exercise and penance did not
last more than a year (H. I., b. 5, ch. 16).

Both in Mexico and in Peru young girls were consecrated to a religious
life, but this consecration was sometimes only temporary; a certain
proportion of the Peruvian nuns being drafted off into the harem of
the Inca. Acosta, describing this consecration of virgins, is again
impressed with the abilities of the devil. Since, he observes, the
religious life is so pleasing in the eyes of God, the father of lies
has contrived, not only to imitate it, but to cause his ministers to
be distinguished in austerity and regularity. Thus in Peru there were
many convents for girls, who were placed under the tuition of old women
whom they called Mamaconas. Indoctrinated by the Mamaconas in "various
things necessary for human life, and in the rites and ceremonies of
their gods," they were removed, after they had attained fourteen years,
either to the sanctuaries where they preserved a perpetual virginity,
or to be sacrificed in some religious ceremonial, or to become wives
and mistresses of the Inca and his friends. The consecration of these
damsels was not, as usual in such cases, voluntary on their part, but
the same idea of merit inspired the gift on the part of those who made
it. For, while the surrender of female children to the monastery was
compulsory when demanded by an officer named the "Appopanaca," yet
"many offered their girls of their own free will, it appearing to them
that they gained great merit, inasmuch as they were sacrificed for the
Inca." If any of the older nuns, who presided over the children, had
sinned against her honor, she was invariably buried alive or subjected
to some other cruel death.

"In Mexico," continues the pious Jesuit, "the devil also found his own
kind of nuns, although the profession did not last more than one year."
As has been said, there were two houses, one for men and another for
women. Like the monks, the nuns also wore a distinctive costume, and
dressed their hair in a distinctive fashion. Like them, they had manual
labor to perform; like them, they rose at midnight for matins. They had
their abbesses, who occupied them in making robes for the adornment of
the idols. They also had their penance, in which they cut themselves in
the points of the ears. They lived with honor and circumspection, and
any delinquency, even the smallest, was punished with death; for they
said that the sinner had violated the honor of their god (H. I., b. 5,
ch. 15).

Another author, describing the religious orders of Peru, states that
fathers, anxious that their children's lives should be preserved, used
to dedicate them in infancy to some form of monastic establishment,
to which they were actually committed at the age of fifteen. If, for
instance, they were promised to the house of Calmecac, it was that
they might perform penance, and serve the gods, and live in purity
and humility and chastity, and be altogether preserved from carnal
vices. A Christian parent could have desired no more. "And if it were
a woman, she was a servant of the temple called Civatlamacazqui; she
had to be subject to the women who governed that order; she had to
live in chastity, and abstain from every carnal act, and to live with
the virgins who were called _the sisters_," who were shut up in the
convent. A feast was made when the child was dedicated by its parents,
and the head of the order took it in his arms in token that it was his
subject till it was married; the consecration not being perpetual.
Its reception was accompanied by a solemn ceremonial, in which the
following prayer was offered to their god: "O Lord, most merciful,
protector of all, here stand thy handmaidens, who bring thee a new
handmaid, whose father and mother promise and offer her, that she
may serve thee. And well thou knowest that the poor thing is thine:
vouchsafe to receive her, that for a few days she may sweep and adorn
thy house, which is a house of penance and weeping, where the daughters
of the nobles place their hand on thy riches, praying and weeping to
thee with tears and great devotion, and where they demand with prayers
thy words and thy power. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to show her grace, and to
receive her: place her, O Lord, in the company of the virgins who are
called Tlamacazque, who do penance and serve in the temple, and wear
their hair short. O Lord, most merciful, protector of all, vouchsafe
to do with her whatever is thy holy will, showing her the grace which
thou knowest to be suited to her." If then the girl was of age, she was
marked in the ribs and breast, in evidence of her being a nun; and if
she was still a child, a string of beads was put round her neck, which
she wore until she could fulfil the vow of her parents (A. M., vol. v.
p. 484-486).

But in addition to these temporary nuns, Peru had others, whose vows
were perpetual. Vega relates in his Commentaries, that besides the
women who entered into monasteries to profess perpetual virginity,
there were many women of the blood-royal who lived in their own houses,
subject to a vow of virginity, though not in "clausura." They went
out to visit their relations on various occasions. They were held in
the greatest respect for their chastity and purity, which was by no
means feigned, but altogether genuine. Any failure to observe their
vow was punished by burning or drowning. The writer knew one of these
women when advanced in life, and occasionally saw her when she visited
his mother, whose great-aunt she was. He bears witness himself to the
profound veneration with which this old lady was everywhere received,
the place of honor being always assigned to her, as well by his mother
as by her other acquaintances (C. R., b. 4, ch. 7). Thus we find
celibacy, as a mark of piety, in full force in the new world at the
time of its discovery, no less than in the old; and religious chastity
as much respected by the idolatrous Mexicans and Peruvians as by their
Catholic invaders.

Monasticism, in countries where Buddhism reigns supreme, is a vast
and powerful institution. In the early times of Buddhistic fervor, it
would almost seem from the language of the legends, that to embrace
the faith of Sakyamuni and to become an ascetic were one and the same
thing. At least every convert who aspired to be not only a hearer, but
a doer of the word, is described as instantly assuming the tonsure and
the yellow robe. At the same time the distinction between Bhikshus,
mendicants, and Upâsakas, laymen, is no doubt an early one; and we
must assume, that as soon as the religion of the gentle ascetic began
to spread among the people at large, those whose circumstances did not
permit them to be monks or nuns were received on easier terms. "What,"
asked a disciple, "must be done in the condition of a mendicant?"—"The
rules of chastity must be observed during the whole of life." "That
is impossible; is there no other way?"—"There is another, friend; it
is to be a pious man (Upâsaka)." "What is there to be done in this
condition?"—"It is necessary to abstain during the whole of life
from murder, theft, pleasure (the illicit pleasures of sex must be
understood), lying, and the use of intoxicating liquors" (H. B. I., p.
281). To these five commandments, binding on every Buddhist, the rule
imposed upon the mendicants adds five more, to say nothing of many
more special obligations and regulations to which they are subject.
Murder, theft, unchastity, lying, and drinking, are forbidden to them
as to all others; the sixth commandment prohibits eating after mid-day;
the seventh singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments; the
eighth adorning the person with flowers and bands, or using perfume
and ointment; the ninth sleeping on a high and large bed; the tenth
accepting gold and silver. These several prohibitions aim, as is
evident, at precisely the same objects which the founders of Christian
orders have always had in view; that, namely, of weaning their
disciples from the world by keeping from them the enjoyment of its
luxuries, and preventing the acquisition of personal property.

The obligation to observe these rules commenced with the novitiate;
a condition which, in Buddhist as in Catholic communities, precedes
that of complete ordination. The novices are termed Sramanera, a word
meaning little Sramanas, while the monks themselves are either Sramana
or Bhikshu. Both these designations serve to express the nature of
their vocation; Sramana being "an ascetic who subdues his senses," and
Bhikshu "one who lives by alms" (H. B. I., pp. 275, 276). The sisters
are called Bhikshunî, and they are said to owe their origin to Maha
Prajapati, the aunt of the great Sramana Gautama, who obtained from her
nephew, through the intercession of the beloved disciple Ananda, the
permission for her sex to follow their brothers in the way of salvation
by poverty and chastity (Ibid., p. 278).

There can be no question that, according to the original practice
of the mendicant orders, the vow was taken for life; and this is, I
believe, still the custom in most of the lands where Buddhism is in the
ascendant. But in Siam, the monastic vow can at any time be cancelled
by the superior of the monastery; and this rule, which involves a
gross abuse of the original institution, renders temporary asceticism
universal in that country (Wheel, p. 45). Another kind of degeneracy
has occurred in Nepaul, where the ministers of religion, who elsewhere
must be monks, are permitted to be married (Hodgson, T.R.A.S., vol. ii.
p. 245).

The objects proposed to themselves by Buddhists, in embracing an
ascetic life, are precisely the same as those proposed to themselves
by Christians. By denying themselves the pleasures of this world, they
hope to obtain a higher reward than other mortals; whether in the shape
of birth in a happier condition, or in that of complete emancipation
from all birth whatsoever, which is the supreme goal of their religion.
The means they pursue to attain these ends are also similar. The
Prâtimoksha Sûtra, or Sûtra of Emancipation, which forms the universal
_regula_ in all their monasteries, is worthy of a St. Benedict or a
St. Francis. It lays down with the minutest elaboration, not only all
the moral precepts that must be obeyed by the monk or nun, but all
the little observances in regard to dress, eating, walking, social
intercourse, and so forth, to which he must attend. It contains two
hundred and fifty rules, and the breach of any of these is attended
with its appropriate penance, according to the magnitude of the offense.

Asceticism was deeply rooted in the native land of Buddhism long
before the appearance of the reformer who gave it, by the foundation
of communities, an organization and a purpose. Just as in Egypt there
were many solitary saints before the time of Pachomius and Antony, so
in India there were holy men who had subdued their senses before the
gospel of deliverance was preached by Gautama Buddha. Some of these
dispensed altogether with clothing, a custom which was frowned upon
by Buddhism and put down wherever its influence was paramount. Others
lived in lonely places, exposed to every sort of hardship and avoiding
every form of carnal pleasure. The popular mind combined the practice
of austerity with the acquisition of extraordinary powers over nature.
Hence, no doubt, an additional motive for its exercise. The Râmâyana
abounds with descriptions of holy hermits, living on roots in the
forests, and practising the utmost austerity. Visvamitra, for example,
the very type of an ascetic, was a monarch, who determined to obtain
from the gods the title of "Brahman saint," the highest to which he,
not by birth a Brahman, could aspire. This was the manner in which he
went to work:—

    "His arms upraised, without a rest,
    With but one foot, the earth he pressed;
    The air his food, the hermit stood
    Still as a pillar hewn from wood.
    Around him in the summer days
    Five mighty fires combined to blaze.
    In floods of rain no veil was spread,
    Save clouds, to canopy his head.
    In the dark dews both night and day
    Couched in the stream the hermit lay."[5]

Twice did the gods, alarmed at the power he was likely to acquire,
direct their efforts against his chastity. The first time the perfect
nymph deputed on this errand, seen by him while bathing herself naked
in the stream, caused him to forget his vow and dally with her for
ten years. The second time the saint perceived the plot, but allowed
himself to burst forth in words of unholy rage against the damsel
who was trying to seduce him, and thus lost the merit of his former
penance. After this he resolved never to speak a word, and persisted
in his resolution, until the gods, in a body, addressed him in the
long-desired form: "Hail, Brahman Saint" (Griffith, The Ramayan, vol.
i. p. 274).

Visvamitra is of course a mythical character, and his penance
imaginary; but the ascetic life he is described as leading was taken
from models which the writers had before their eyes. All the marvels of
the Thebaid in Christian times were, in fact, anticipated in India by
at least one thousand years.

How deeply the ascetic tendency is implanted in human nature is
strikingly shown in the case of the Essenes, the Nazarites, and the
Therapeutæ, who sprang from a religion whose ostensible precepts are
eminently opposed to all such courses, that of the Jews. Judaism
powerfully encouraged all those inclinations to which monasticism is
fatal: the propagation of the species, the acquisition of property, the
maintenance of family ties, and the enjoyment of the good things which
this world has to offer. Yet from the bosom of this sober faith sprang
bodies of men who neither ate flesh, nor drank wine, nor cohabited
with women. It may be that the Jewish ascetics were not very numerous;
but it is clear, too, that they were not so few as to be deemed by
contemporary observers altogether unimportant. And the fascination
which John the Baptist, pre-eminently an ascetic, exercised over his
countrymen in the first century, is a sign that this mode of living
was conducive among the Jews to that spiritual supremacy which is so
constantly received at the hands of Christians.

That Christianity should encourage a disposition which even Judaism
could not check was no more than might be expected from the language
and conduct of its founder and his earliest disciples. Christ was
never married, and probably lived in complete chastity. Paul goes so
far as to compare marriage unfavorably with celibacy. James upholds
poverty as preferable to riches in the eyes of God. The whole of the
New Testament abounds with passages in which present misery is declared
to be the forerunner of future happiness, and present prosperity of
future suffering. This is the very spirit of monasticism, and it is not
surprising that from such a root such fruits have sprung. From a very
early age devout Christians have felt that in renouncing individual
property, marriage, personal freedom, and the various other joys
which life in the world offers, they were fulfilling the dictates of
their religion and preparing themselves for heaven. To illustrate
this proposition effectually would be to write the history of the
monastic orders. Beginning in the deserts of Egypt, these have extended
throughout Europe, and have exercised a vast and potent influence on
the extension of the Christian faith. Monks have been missionaries,
preachers, martyrs, persecutors, bishops and popes. The greatest names
who have ranged themselves under the banner of the Catholic Church have
belonged to one or other of the several orders. And alongside of the
monks, living by the same rule, helping them in their several tasks,
the nuns have ever been forward in undergoing their share of austerity
and undertaking their share of labor.

Very various have been the immediate motives that have led such large
numbers of Christians to betake themselves to the monastery or the
convent. Some have fled from riches and luxury; others from poverty and
wretchedness. Some have been sick of earthly pleasures; others have
sought to avoid the temptation of ever knowing them. Many have been
drawn by the irresistible spell of asceticism to flee from opposing
parents and unsympathizing friends in order to embrace it; others have
been destined from their infancy, like the Mexican and Peruvian youth,
to wear the cowl or to take the veil. But throughout the history of
every order there has been the same fundamental idea sustaining its
existence; the idea, namely, that in becoming an ascetic, the person
was consecrated to God, and became by that consecration purer, holier,
and better than those who continued to pursue the ordinary avocations
of secular life.

This consecration is not given without due solemnity. It is only after
a novitiate, in which he has full experience of the privations to be
undergone, that the candidate can be received into the order of which
he desires to be a member. Should his resolution be unshaken after his
year's trial as a novice, he may take the irrevocable vow of obedience,
under which those of poverty and chastity are comprehended. He is now a
consecrated person. He has sacrificed himself completely to his divine
Master, and whatever reward he may hope to receive must be given by
that Master in a future state.

It is one of the principal weaknesses of Protestantism that it has
omitted to provide for the ascetic instinct. It has lost thereby the
mighty hold which the Catholic Church must ever possess over those
who feel themselves moved to crucify the flesh and devote themselves
wholly to spiritual things. Strange to say, this remarkable instinct
has nevertheless broken out afresh within the bosom of Protestantism
in recent times. The Shakers are but a somewhat novel species of monks
and nuns. They abstain from marriage though the two sexes live together
in one community. Their chastity is said to be perfect. They give up
all individual property for the common good. They wear a peculiar dress
and are subject to peculiar rules. Lastly, they believe that they stand
under the special guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit.

                              CHAPTER V.

                        CONSECRATED MEDIATORS.

Having seen the manner in which individuals devote themselves to the
special service of their deities, we have now to observe the further
fact that a whole class of men is devoted to this service by the
demands of society. This class is the priesthood. They differ from
the persons last treated of, inasmuch as the consecration of ascetics
has reference exclusively to their own personal salvation, while the
consecration of priests has reference exclusively to the salvation
of others. A monk or a nun becomes by the act of profession a holier
being; less occupied with the world; mentally nearer to God; better
fitted to communicate with him than ordinary unchaste mortals. A
priest becomes by the act of ordination a being endowed with special
powers; better entitled to offer up the public prayers than others;
more likely to be heard when he does so; more eligible as a channel of
communication between men and God than unordained mortals. In other
words, his functions are of a public, those of the monk of a private,

We must not be confused by the fact that among Buddhists and among
Catholics the two species of consecration are no longer completely
distinct, the monks in both of those great religions being at the
same time priests. The early writings of Buddhism sufficiently evince
the fact that no kind of public ministry was at first connected with
the profession of a mendicant. He had simply to observe the precepts
of his order, and to aim at such perfection as should ensure the
deliverance of his soul. Priestly duties are now indeed performed by
monks in Buddhist countries, but this is an addition to their regular
vocation, not a necessary part of it; while in Catholic countries,
the ecclesiastical character which the monks at present enjoy in no
way belonged to them when the monastic orders were first established.
The monks, as Montalembert observes, were at first an intermediate
body between laity and clergy, in whom the latter were to see an ideal
which it was not possible for all to attain. Technically, however, the
monks formed a part of the laity, and the steps by which they came
to be considered as the "regular clergy" are, according to the same
high authority, difficult to follow (M. d'O., vol. i. p. 288; vol. ii.
p. 57). Self-consecration, and consecration to ecclesiastical duties
were therefore two very different things, and the distinction between
regular and secular clergy shows that, though somewhat obliterated in
appearance, the two ideas are still kept apart.

In all religions that have risen above the rudest stage, those who
desire to become priests are initiated by certain fixed ceremonies.
Thus is the consecration given which fits them to convey to God the
wishes of mortals, and to mortals the will of God. To take an example
from a very primitive form of faith, the "Angekoks," or priests
of the Greenlanders, receive their commission only after long and
exhausting rites, in which a familiar spirit is supposed to appear
to them, and to accompany them to heaven and hell. Should they fail
ten times in obtaining the assistance of such a spirit, they are
compelled to lay down their offices. The spirit, when he comes,
holds a conversation with the Angekok, who is thus installed in his
profession by supernatural means (H. G., p. 253-256). So also, among
the American tribes in New France, we are told that the "Jongleurs"
by profession never obtained this character till after they had been
prepared for it by fasts, which they carried to a great extent, and
during which they beat the drum, cried, shouted, sung and smoked. Their
installation was subsequently accomplished in a sort of Bacchanalia,
with ceremonies of a highly extravagant nature (N. F., vol. iii. p.
363). Among a certain tribe of negroes, the priests are taken from a
class of men termed "living sacrifices" (G. d. M., p. 328), who live
at the expense of others, taking whatever they require, and who wear
their hair, like the Nazarites, unshorn. Here their consecration is
marked by these peculiar characteristics, and appears to be impressed
upon them by some dedication made without their own consent. In another
negro nation, there is a priestess of a certain snake, who is marked
in a peculiar way over the whole body, and held in great esteem. Every
year some young girls are seized by force and taken to this priestess,
who marks them artistically, initiates them in religious songs and
dances, marries them in a manner to the snake, and consecrates them
as priestesses of that divinity. With others again the priesthood is
hereditary, the consecration in this case being imprinted once for all
on certain families, and not imparted, as in the instances given above,
by rites affecting only the individual who undergoes them. A peculiar
modification of the hereditary principle is where the preference
is given to him, among several sons, who dares to pull certain
grains (which have been previously put in) out of the teeth of his
deceased father, and place them in the mouth of the corpse. Here the
consecration is partly inherited, partly personal. Elsewhere a priest
or fetich-maker is made "by all sorts of silly ceremonies at a meal,"
and a string with consecrated objects is hung round his neck in token
of his condition (G. d. M., p. 328).

Both principles, the hereditary and the personal, were known in Mexico.
The priests of Vitziliputzli succeeded by right of birth; the priests
of other idols by election or by an offering made in their infancy.
Priests were consecrated to their holy office by an unction which, as
Father Acosta justly observes, resembled that of the Catholic Church.
They were anointed from head to foot, and the hair was left to hang
down in tresses moist from the application of the ointment. But when
they were going to perform the offices of their sacred calling on
mountains, or in dark caves, they were anointed with an altogether
different substance, compounded by a peculiar process from certain
venomous reptiles. This was supposed to give them courage (H. I., b. 5,
ch. 26).

The consecration of the Levitical priesthood, originally personal,
descended from father to son, and was moreover confined to the members
of this single tribe. It could not be repeated after its first
performance. Hence we have in this case an interesting example, not
only of an hereditary priesthood, but also of the manner in which its
exclusive sanctity was supposed to have been originally established.
Moses, who derived his appointment directly from Jehovah, was employed
to consecrate Aaron and his sons by means of an elaborate and imposing
ritual communicated to him by that deity himself. The means thus taken
(in Jehovah's own words) "to hallow them, to minister unto me in the
priest's office," were effectual for all time; the descendants of Aaron
after that being priests by nature. How great was the value of the
consecration thus given, may be seen by the fact that Moses was ordered
to threaten the penalty of death against any one who should dare to
manufacture oil similar to that used in anointing Aaron and his sons
(Exod. xxviii. 29; xxx. 30-33).

Priestly power among Christian nations is communicated in a solemn
ceremonial, and is conferred only upon the individual recipient. It
does not descend in his family, but it is capable of being imparted
by bishops, who have themselves received a higher grade of priestly
consecration. By some it is actually supposed that a mysterious virtue,
derived directly from Christ through the apostles, is conveyed to the
recipient of holy orders. But whether the apostolical succession be
conveyed or not in the Ordination Service of the Church of England,
it is certain that a high authority is held to be given to the priest
by the laying on of the hands of the Bishop and of the other priests
present at the time.

The rights which he receives are thus expressed:—

"Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a priest in the
Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands.
Whose sins thou dost forgive they are forgiven; and whose sins thou
dost retain, they are retained, and be thou a faithful dispenser of the
Word of God, and of his holy sacraments. In the name of the Father and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

After this the Bishop delivers the Bible to each of the candidates,

"Take thou authority to preach the Word of God, and to minister the
holy sacraments in the congregation where thou shalt be lawfully
appointed thereunto."

Here it may be observed that there are three powers conveyed by this
ordination: the power of preaching, the power of administering the
sacraments, and the power of forgiving and retaining sins. Since
the salvation of Christians depends upon their admission to the
sacraments, and upon the forgiveness of their sins, it is obvious that
the priest who may debar them from the one, and refuse the other,
receives in his consecration the keys of the kingdom of heaven. In
their communications to the Almighty through the mediation of such
priests, men are in possession of an instrument of the very highest

The terrible reality which the belief in the ecclesiastical privilege
of forgiving sins may sometimes have, is graphically exhibited in M.
de Lamartine's touching poem entitled "Jocelyn." Therein a bishop,
taken prisoner and condemned to death in the French Revolution, sends
for a young deacon who was living in concealment in the Alps with a
maiden who loved him deeply, and whom (since the irrevocable vows of a
priest were not yet taken) he intended to marry. Regardless of all his
pleading the Bishop, under the threat of his dying anathema, forces
the unhappy youth to receive priestly orders at his hands, solely in
order that he may then listen to the episcopal confession and forgive
the episcopal sins. Marriage was now rendered impossible by the vow he
had taken; and thus two lives were consigned to enduring misery that a
bishop might die in peace. Surely the morality which could lead to such
a consummation is self-condemned!


                             SECOND PART.



We proceed now from the several methods by which men, in all ages and
in all countries, have sought to convey their wishes, aspirations, and
emotions upwards, to those by which their several deities have in their
opinion conveyed their commands, decisions, and intentions downwards.
The classification will follow as closely as the subject permits that
of the preceding part. Consecration, the quality pertaining to man's
instruments of communication with God, will be replaced by holiness,
the quality pertaining to God's instruments of communication with man.
Thus, corresponding to the consecrated actions of prayer, sacrifice,
and praise, we shall have the holy events of omens, signs, miracles,
and so forth. Corresponding to the consecrated places where men pay
their devotions, we shall find the holy places which some higher
being has blessed with tokens of his presence. Corresponding to the
consecrated objects bestowed by the creature on the Creator, we shall
discover holy objects through which some peculiar grace is conveyed by
the Creator to the creature. To consecrated men will correspond holy
men, who speak to their fellows with an authority higher than their
own; and these holy men will fall into two classes, those whose regular
work it is to represent the deity on earth and those who are sent on
some special occasion for some special purpose. Lastly, a separate
division (having no correlative among means of communication upwards)
must be given to holy books, for a most important place in the history
of religions is occupied by treatises written by the gods for the use
of men. To these then the final chapter of this portion of the work
must be devoted. Pass we now to holy events.

                              CHAPTER I.

                             HOLY EVENTS.

Manifold beyond the possibility of complete computation are the signs
and intimations vouchsafed to the ignorance and weakness of man by the
celestial powers. They speak to him through the ordinary phenomena
of nature; they instruct him through her rare and more striking
exhibitions; they guide his footsteps through prodigies and marvels.
Sometimes addressing him spontaneously, without any attempt on his
part to elicit their intentions, they open their views or announce the
future; sometimes replying to his anxious inquiries, they point out
the truth and relieve his perplexity. Consider first the former class
of divine manifestations, in which the human being is a merely passive
recipient of the communication granted.

Dreams are an excellent example of this class of events. The belief
that they are of supernatural origin is both wide-spread and ancient.
Possibly there is no country in which it has not been held to a greater
or less extent, even though it may not have formed an article in the
established creed. Among the Africans in and about Sierra Leone, for
example, a dream is received as judicial evidence of witchcraft, and
the prisoner accused on this slender testimony "frequently acknowledges
the charge and submits to his sentence without repining" (N. A., vol.
i. p. 260). On the American continent, where dreams (says Charlevoix)
"are regarded as true oracles and notices from heaven" (H. N. F., vol.
iii. p. 348), it is plain that the like faith in their intimations
prevails. Although explained in a variety of ways, now as the rational
soul going abroad, while the sensitive soul remained behind, now as
advice from the familiar spirits, now as a visit from the soul of the
object dream pt of, the dream is always regarded as a sacred thing.
It was thought to be the most usual way taken by the gods of making
their wills known to men. Hence they took care to obey the intimations
given in dreams; a savage who had dreamt that his little finger was
cut off actually submitting to that operation; and another, who had
found himself in his dream a prisoner among enemies, getting himself
tied to a stake and burnt in various parts of the body (H. N. F., vol.
iii. pp. 353, 354). The Jews have in their ritual a singular ceremony
for removing the influence of bad dreams. The person who has dreamt
something which seems to portend evil, is said to choose three friends,
and standing before them as they sit, to repeat seven times: "A good
dream have I seen." To which they reply: "A good dream thou hast seen;
it is good and shall be good; the compassionate God, who is good, make
it good." And the conversation between the dreamer and the interpreters
continues for some time, the general effect being to convey God's
blessing to the former and convert his trouble into gladness. At the
end the interpreters say: "Go eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy
wine with a cheerful heart, for God now accepteth thy works. And
penitence and prayers and righteousness will set aside the evil that
hath been doomed, and peace be unto us and unto all Israel, Amen." To
this the author of the book appends the remark that "the Jews believe
that all dreams come to pass according to the interpretation that is
made of them," for which reason they relate their dreams to none but
friends (Rel. of Jews, p. 71-74). But that they can believe it to be in
the power of their friends to _change_ the meaning of the dream by an
arbitrary interpretation seems scarcely possible. It may, therefore, be
the meaning of this passage that an unfavorable interpretation is in
itself ominous of misfortune, or that they are desirous not to hear the
worst construction that can be put upon a dream.

Belief in the prophetic signification of dreams is not only not
discountenanced by the Christian religion, but is explicitly taught
by it. If in the present age this belief has fallen somewhat out of
repute, this is not because there can be any doubt that the inspired
writers of the Christian Scriptures firmly held it, but is a feature
of the general relaxation of the bonds of dogma which characterizes
the modern mind. To take a few instances: when Abraham had called Sarah
his sister, and thus permitted the king of Gerar to appropriate her,
God himself came to Abimelech by night in a dream, and told him that
she was a married woman (Gen. xx. 3). Highly important information as
to the future of his race was given to Jacob in a dream (Gen. xxviii.
11-15). His son Joseph enjoyed an extraordinary faculty, not only of
dreaming true dreams himself, but also of interpreting the dreams of
others. It was his own prophetic dreams which led to his sale into the
hands of the traders by his brothers, and it was his power of correct
interpretation which both freed him from his prison in Egypt, and led
to his promotion to the high office he afterwards held at the Egyptian
court (Gen. xxxvii., 5-11; Gen. xl., xli). Moreover, Joseph, who must
be considered an authority on the subject, expressly informed Pharaoh,
when that monarch had related his dreams that God had showed him what
he was about to do (Gen. xli. 25-28). A most important dream was
granted to Solomon, to whom "the Lord appeared in a dream by night,"
and told him to ask whatever favor he might wish: on which occasion
the king preferred his celebrated request for wisdom (1 Kings iii.,
5-15). Another ruler, Nebuchadnezzar, was also visited by a prophetic
dream, the nature of which was revealed to the interpreter, Daniel, "in
a night vision," by God himself, who thus admitted that it was he who
had sent it. A further communication was made to Nebuchadnezzar, in the
dream which he himself has recorded in the proclamation which bears
witness at the same time to the fulfillment of its warning (Daniel ii.,
iv). But of all the dreams handed down to us by the Scriptural writers,
by far the most material, as evidence of their Divine character, is
that on which the mystery of the Incarnation mainly rests. Take away
the dream in which Joseph was informed that the Holy Ghost was the
parent of Mary's first-born child (Matt. i. 20), and that mystery
will depend exclusively on a story of an angel's visit, of necessity
related by Mary herself (Luke i. 35); for obvious reasons not the most
trustworthy witness on so delicate a point. But this is not all; for
it was by a dream that the Magi, after their adoration, were warned
to escape the vengeance of Herod (Matt. ii. 12); and by a dream that
the life of the infant Christ was preserved in the massacre of the
innocents (Matt. ii. 13). Christianity, therefore, may be said to owe
its very existence to the celestial intimations conveyed in dreams,
and Christians cannot consistently embrace any theory which would lead
to a denial of their holy and prophetic character. Since, moreover,
we have numerous instances in the Bible of such dreams being granted
to heathens and idolaters it is plain that the Christian deity does
not confine his nocturnal visitations to orthodox believers. If the
chief butler, the chief baker, Pharaoh, and Nebuchadnezzar dreamt
prophetically, so may any of us at any time according to this teaching.
On the other hand, this power may be due to a special outpouring of
the Holy Spirit, as implied in the prediction of Joel that "your sons
and your daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams,
your young men shall see visions" (Joel ii. 28). So that we may
completely endorse the conclusion of the Rev. Principal Barry, who
discusses this subject with much solemnity in Smith's "Dictionary of
the Bible," "that the Scripture claims the dream, as it does every
other action of the human mind, as a medium through which God may speak
to man, either directly, that is, as we call it, 'providentially,' or
indirectly, in virtue of a general influence upon all his thoughts;
but whether there is anything to be said in support of the further
inference that 'revelation by dreams' may be expected to pass away, is
not equally clear." Assuredly no passage can be produced which, even by
implication, states that this method of communication was temporary or
transient; and considering that it continued in operation from the days
of Abraham to those of Jesus, it is hard to see how the Bible can be
made to support the notion that it is to cease entirely at any period
of human history. On the contrary, the Scriptural writers, both old and
new, would practically have agreed with Homer: "The dream also is from
Zeus" (Iliad, i. 63). Indeed, the passage in which that deity sends the
personified Dream to bear a message to Agamemnon (Ibid., ii. 8-15),
differs only in its mythological coloring from the representations in
the Bible of dreams in which God comes or appears to the sleeper, or
in which he charges an angel to convey to him his purpose or his will.
And the discrimination commanded to be exercised between prophecies
or dreams deserving attention, and prophecies or dreams contrived
merely to test the fidelity of the Israelites, and therefore not to
be received as true, fully corresponds to the distinction drawn in
the Odyssey between dreams passing through the iron gate, and dreams
passing through the ivory gate. Those that came through the horn gate
brought true intimations; but those that came through the ivory gate
were sent to deceive (Od. xix. 560-568).

Another involuntary action through which God communicates with man is
sneezing. From the lowest savages to the most educated nation on the
face of the earth, this simple physical event is viewed as an omen. A
peculiarity attending this particular kind of manifestation is, that
it is usual for those present when it occurs to notice it by saying
something of favorable augury. In Samoa, one of the Polynesian islands,
it was common to say, "Life to you!" (N. Y., p. 347.) an exclamation
which in sense corresponds almost exactly to the German "Gesundheit!"
(health) to the Italian "Salute!" and to our own "God bless you!" on
the same occasion. South African savages have the same sentiment of
the religious nature of the omen involved in sneezing. Thus, among the
Kafirs we learn that "it used always to be said when a man sneezed,
'May Utikxo [God] ever regard me with favor.'" Canon Callaway, who
has acutely noticed the parallelism among various nations in respect
of the feeling associated with this action, further informs us that
"among the Amazulu, if a child sneeze, it is regarded as a good sign;
and if it be ill, they believe it will recover. On such an occasion
they exclaim, 'Tutuka,' Grow. When a grown up person sneezes, he says,
'Bakiti, ngi hambe kade,' Spirits of our people, grant me a long life.
As he believes that at the time of sneezing the spirit of his house is
in some especial proximity to him, he believes it is a time especially
favorable to prayer, and that whatever he asks for will be given; hence
he may say, 'Bakwiti, inkomo,' Spirits of our people, give me cattle,
or 'Bakwiti, abntwana,' Spirits of our people, give me children.
Diviners among the natives are very apt to sneeze, which they regard
as an indication of the presence of the spirits; the diviner adores
by saying, 'Makosi,' Lords, or Masters" (R. S. A., part i. p. 64). A
similar belief prevails among the Parsees, who consider a sneeze as a
mark of victory obtained over the evil spirits who besiege the interior
of the body by the fire which animates man, and who accordingly render
thanks to Ahuramazda when this event happens (Z. A., vol. ii. p. 598).

Classical antiquity presents us with an example of a famous sneeze.
At a critical moment in the expedition of the Ten Thousand against
Artaxerxes, when they were left in a hostile country surrounded with
perplexities and perils, Xenophon encouraged them by an address in
which he urged that if they would take a certain course, they had with
the favor of the gods, many and good hopes of safety. Just at these
words, "somebody sneezes," and immediately the drooping hearts of the
soldiery were comforted by this assurance of divine protection. With
one impulse they worshipped the god; and Xenophon remarked that since,
when they were in the very act of speaking of safety, this favorable
augury of Zeus the Savior had appeared, it seemed proper to him that
they should vow thank-offerings to this deity, to be presented on
their first arrival in a friendly country, and also that they should
make a vow to sacrifice to the other gods according to their ability
(Xen. Anab. iii. 2. 9). Not only is it customary in Germany to welcome
a sneeze with the above-mentioned exclamation of "Gesundheit!" but
a notion is stated to prevail that should one person be thinking of
something in the future, and another sneeze at the moment he is thus
engaged, the thing thought of will come to pass. So that the commonest
character ascribed to sneezing is that of an auspicious omen.

Other phenomena may serve as omens, and such phenomena may be either
natural or preternatural. In the first case their prophetic or
significant character is entirely due to the interpretation put upon
them by men; in the second, it is inherent in their very nature, which
at once renders them conspicuous as exceptions to the usual course.
Those of the first class have thus a dual function; contemplated on the
other side, they are merely events belonging to the regular sequence
of causes and effects; contemplated on the other, they are especially
contrived as indications of the divine purposes. Hence, to one observer
they may bear the appearance of ordinary phenomena; to another, better
informed, they may convey important intimations of the future. Tacitus
mentions, for example, the favorable augury that was granted to the
Romans on the eve of a battle with the Germans by the flight of eight
eagles who sought the woods (Tac. Ann., ii. 17. 2). The same author
informs us of a melancholy omen which occurred to Paetus when he and
his army were crossing the Euphrates. Without apparent cause, the horse
which bore the consular insignia turned backwards (Ibid., xv. 7. 3).
Each of these signs was of course followed by its appropriate events.
A belief which is thus found in a civilized nation naturally has its
prototype among the uncivilized. The Kafirs believe that the spirits
send them omens. Thus a wild animal entering a kraal is "regarded as
a messenger from the spirit to remind the people that they have done
something wrong." Another omen which is considered very terrible is the
bleating of a sheep while it is being slaughtered. A councilor, to whom
it occurred to hear this sign, was told by a prophet that it "foreboded
his death." Strange to say, his chief soon after sent soldiers to kill
him, and the man only averted his threatened fate by escaping to Natal.
Among other natural events which are omens to the Kafirs are, "a child
born dead; a woman two days in parturition; a man burnt while sitting
by the fire, unless he were asleep or drunk" (K. N. pp. 162, 163). "An
unexpected whirlwind will suggest to" the Chinese "the contest of evil
spirits; and the flying of a crow in a peculiar direction fill them
with consternation. In such a deplorable state," gravely observes the
missionary who records these facts, "is the heathen mind" (C. O., vol.
ii. p. 208). Perhaps he did not consider that there were many in more
enlightened countries who would be alarmed at the omen implied by a
dinner-party of thirteen, and who would regard it as of evil augury to
begin a journey on Friday. In such a deplorable state is the Christian

Ceylon appears to be remarkable for the faith placed by its inhabitants
in omens, which are even said to regulate their whole conduct and to
intimate their destiny from birth onwards. Children, of whose future
the astrologers predict evil, are sometimes destroyed in order to
avoid their pre-determined misery. On going out in the morning, the
Singhalese anxiously remark the object they encounter first, in order
to deduce from it a favorable or unfavorable augury for the business of
the day. "I, as a European," says the author who tells us these facts,
"was always a glad sight to them;" for "a white man or a woman with
child" were good omens; but beggars and deformed persons so unlucky,
as even to stop these hapless folk from proceeding in the work they
were about during the day on which these boding signs were the first
things to meet their gaze (A. I. C., p. 194). Another phenomenon of a
somewhat less ordinary kind serves as an omen to the Singhalese, though
apparently only in reference to a single fact. There is visible in
Ceylon "a peculiar and beautiful meteor," termed "Buddha rays," which
"is supposed by the natives only to appear over a temple or tomb of
Buddha's relics, and from thence to emanate." The appearance of these
rays is taken by believers as a sign that the Buddhist faith will
last for the destined span of five thousand years from its founder's
death (E. Y., vol. i. p. 337); much as the rainbow is held by Jews
and Christians to be the token of a promise that God will never again
punish the world by a universal deluge.

The next class of omens need not consist of phenomena which are
absolutely beyond the range of physical law, provided they be
sufficiently rare to strike the imagination of observers as marvelous
occurrences. For example, an eclipse of the sun may be an omen to
savage or very uninstructed people; a comet, being more unusual,
will seem ominous to nations standing on a much higher grade of
culture. Advancing still higher, extraordinary and inexplicable
sights in the heavens or on earth will stand for portents to all but
the scientifically minded. An example of the latter class is found
in the temporary withering of the Ruminal tree, which had sheltered
the infancy of Romulus and Remus 840 years before (Tac. Ann., xiii.
58). At the time at which Tacitus begins his history, there were, he
says, prodigies in the sky and on earth, warnings of lightnings and
presages of future things (Tac. Hist., i. 3. 2). Popular imagination,
besides converting natural, but rare, phenomena into omens, invents
others which are altogether supernatural. In the disturbed days of
Otho and Vitellius, it was rumored that a form of larger than human
dimensions had issued from the shrine of Juno; that a statue of Julius
on the Tiberine island had turned round from west to east without any
perceptible agency; that an ox in Etruria had spoken; that animals had
brought forth strange progeny; and that other alarming exceptions to
the laws of nature had been observed (Ibid., i. 86. 1). The supposed
contraction of a man's shadow is thought in South Africa to portend his
death (R. S. A., pt. i. p. 126). The Irish Banshee is a being who does
not belong to any species recognized by science, and who, moreover,
is heard to scream only before a death in the family to which she is
attached. The ticking sound produced by a small insect in the wooden
furniture of a room is termed in Scotland the death-watch, and has
the same ominous significance. To one family, a drummer heard to drum
outside the castle is significant of death; in another, it may be that
a particular ghost, seen by a casual visitor who knows nothing of its
meaning, conveys a similar intimation. The birth of great men is often
supposed to be marked by extraordinary signs. "At my nativity," says
Owen Glendower,

    "The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
    Of burning cressets; and at my birth,
    The frame and huge foundation of the earth
    Shak'd like a coward."

And again:—

    "The goats ran from the mountains, and the herds
    Were strangely clamorous to the frighted fields.
    These signs have marked me extraordinary;
    And all the courses of my life do show
    I am not in the roll of common men."[6]

From signs which the bounty of nature supplies without effort on the
part of human beings, we proceed to those which are granted only
in reply to solicitations on the part of some person or persons in
quest of supernatural information. Of these, a leading place must be
assigned to those which are obtained through the medium of diviners.
Divination is in many parts of the world a highly-developed and
lucrative art. The natives of South Africa, being in any perplexity,
resort to the professional diviner to help them out of it. Should
cattle be lost, should a goat be too long in giving birth to its kids,
should a relation be ill, the diviner is asked to inform those who
consult him, both what it is that has happened, and what they are to
do. Sometimes his replies are assisted by sticks held by the people,
who beat them vehemently on the ground when he divines correctly, and
gently when he divines incorrectly; sometimes he himself makes use of
small sticks or bones, which indicate by their movements the thing
desired to be known; sometimes again mysterious voices, supposed to
be those of spirits, are heard to speak. In a case related by one of
Canon Callaway's informants (who was quite sceptical as to that class
of diviners who required the people to strike the ground), a correct
answer was given by a diviner who employed bones as his professional
instruments. He had gone to inquire about a goat of his brother's,
which had been yeaning some days, and had not brought forth. The
diviner discovered from his bones what was the matter; he declared that
the she-goat had been made ill by sorcerers, and told them that when
they reached home it would have given birth to two kids. The prediction
was fulfilled. On reaching home there were two kids, a white and a grey
one; the very colors the diviner had seen in his inspired vision. "I
was at once satisfied," observes the narrator (R. S. A., pt. iii. p.
334-336). Another mode of divining is by the aid of "familiar spirits,"
who address the consulting party without being themselves visible. A
native relates that his adopted father went to inquire of a diviner
by spirits (named Umancele) concerning his wife's illness. When the
relations of the sick woman entered to salute, some heard the spirits
saluting them, saying, "Good-day, So and So." The person thus addressed
started, and exclaimed, "Oh, whence does the voice come? I was saluting
Umancele yonder." The divination in this case was not successful,
and the narrator pathetically regrets that a bullock was given to
the diviner for his false information. In another case a woman, who
likewise divined by means of spirits, was perfectly correct in all she
said. Some members of a family in which a little boy suffered from
convulsions went to consult her; and she discovered, or rather the
spirits discovered for her, what was the matter with him; what was the
relationship of those who had come; and what were their circumstances.
She prescribed a remedy, and predicted a complete recovery. The cause
of the illness was, according to her, the displeasure of ancestral
spirits. A sacrifice was to be offered to them; and the village was to
be removed to another place. These things done, she declared that the
boy would have no more of the convulsions from which he suffered. If he
did, they might take back their money. All turned out as she had said,
to the very letter (R. S. A., pt. iii. p. 361-374).

The priests of the North American tribes have a peculiar method of
divination. Having received a handful of tobacco as a fee, they will
summon a spirit to answer the inquiries of their visitors. This they do
by enclosing themselves in lodges, in which they utter incantations. As
may be supposed, the spirits who obey the summons of the Indian priest
are not much more useful as guides to action than those who figure at
the seance of his civilized competitor, the medium. Their replies,
"though usually clear and correct, are usually of that profoundly
ambiguous purport which leaves the anxious inquirer little wiser than
he was before" (M. N. W., p. 268). Brinton, however, having stated
this, proceeds to speak of cases, apparently well attested, in which
the diviners have foreseen coming events with unaccountable clearness.
For instance, when Captain Jonathan Carver, in 1767, was among the
Killistenoes, and that tribe was suffering from want of food, the chief
priest consulted the divinities, and predicted with perfect accuracy
the hour on the following day when a canoe would arrive. Brinton adds,
on the authority of John Mason Brown, that when Mr. Brown and two
companions were pursuing an "apparently hopeless quest" for a band of
Indians, they were met by some warriors of that very band, who declared
that the appearance of the white man had been exactly described by the
medicine-man who had sent them. And what renders the story remarkable
is, that "the description was repeated to Mr. Brown by the warriors
before they saw his two companions." The priest was unable to explain
what he had done, except by saying that "he saw them coming, and heard
them talk on their journey" (M. N. W., pp. 270, 271).

Among the Ostiacks in former days, the priests, when they intended
to divine, caused themselves to be bound, threw themselves on the
ground, and made all sorts of grimaces and contortions till they felt
themselves inspired with a reply to the question that had been put to
the idol. Those who had come to consult the oracle, sighed and moaned
and struck upon certain vessels so as to make a noise, till they saw a
bluish vapor, which they conceived to be the spirit of prophecy, and
which, while spreading over all the spectators, seized the diviner and
caused him to fall into convulsions (Bernard, vol. viii. p. 412).

In ancient China, "the instruments of divination were the shell of the
tortoise and the stalks of a certain grass or reed" (C. C., vol. iii.
Proleg. p. 196). These are frequently spoken of in the sacred books as
the "tortoise and milfoil," and there are historical examples of their
employment. The following rules for divination are given by a speaker
in the Shoo King:—

"Having chosen and appointed officers for divining by the tortoise
and by the milfoil, they are to be charged _on occasion_ to perform
their duties. _In doing this_, they will find _the appearances_ of
rain, clearing up, cloudiness, want of connection, and crossing; and
_the symbols_, solidity and repentance. In all, _the indications_ are
seven;—five given by the tortoise, and two by the milfoil, by which
the errors of _affairs_ may be traced out. These officers having been
appointed, when the operations with the tortoise and milfoil are
proceeded with, three men are to obtain and interpret the indications
and symbols, and the consenting words of two of them are to be
followed" (C. C., vol. iii. p. 335).

Further instructions are then given in case the Emperor, nobles,
officers, or people, and any or all of these, should disagree with the
tortoise and milfoil; the greater weight being given to the latter
(Ibid., p. 327).

Of modern divination in China, Dr. Legge recounts the following story:—

"I once saw a father and son divining after one of the fashions of
the present day. They tossed the bamboo roots, which came down in the
unlucky positions for a dozen times in succession. At last a lucky
cast was made. They looked into each other's faces, laughed heartily,
and rose up, delighted, from their knees. The divination was now
successful, and they dared not repeat it!" (Ibid., Proleg. p. 197).

Here it seems that heaven was merely called in to give its sanction to
a foregone conclusion.

The Singhalese have a curious method of discovering, by a species of
divination, what god it is who has caused the illness of a patient.
"With any little stick," says Knox, "they make a bow, and on the string
thereof they hang a thing they have to cut betel-nuts, somewhat like
a pair of scissors; then holding the stick or bow by both ends, they
repeat the names of all, both god and devils: and when they come to him
who hath afflicted them, then the iron or the bowstring will swing" (H.
R. C., p. 76).

Divination, as is well known, was regularly practiced by the ancients,
who read the will of the gods in the entrails of animals, and who
employed, as a help in foreseeing the future and guiding their conduct,
the class of professional diviners known as augurs.

Another method, by which it has often been supposed that God entered
into communication with man, is that of the movements of the stars
and planets. Hence the pseudo-science of astrology, which was so much
cultivated in the middle ages before its supersession by astronomy. In
India, observes Karl Twesten, the stars were very early consulted as
oracles. Manu excludes astrologers from the sacrifices; and in later
times astrology became very general. According to Twesten, there is
an astrologer in almost every Hindu community, who is much consulted,
and determines the favorable moment for every important undertaking
(R. I., p. 285). Antiquity, wide extension, and great persistency may
all be pleaded on behalf of the notion that terrestrial events are
foreshadowed by a system of celestial signals. There is a touch of
astrological belief in the evangelical narrative that the birth of
Christ was intimated to the Magi by a star in the east.

Sometimes, when it was desirable not to ascertain future events, but
to decide between guilt and innocence, truth and falsehood, the divine
Being himself was called in as umpire, and was supposed to convey his
judgment by the turn of events in a pre-arranged case. This is the
theory of those communications from God to man which are made by
ordeals. Ordeals were of various kinds, according to the nature of
the issue to be tried. Did one man charge another with some kind of
disgraceful conduct, the accuser was summoned to put his words to the
test of a single combat, in which truth was held to lie on the side of
the victor; was an old woman suspected of witchcraft, she was thrown
into the nearest pond, with thumbs and toes tied together, where her
floating was regarded as certain evidence of her guilt. Innocence of
legal crime, or in the case of women, of adultery, has very frequently
been established by the method of ordeals. Several authors have noticed
the ordeals in use among the natives on the west coast of Africa. One
of them, writing of Sierra Leone, informs us that if an accused person
can find a chief to patronize him, he is permitted to clear himself by
submitting either to have a hot iron applied to his skin, or to dip his
hand in boiling oil to pull out some object put into it, or to have his
tongue stroked with a red-hot copper ring. Since his being burnt is
considered as a proof of guilt, it would not appear that the chances
of escape were great. "Upon the Gold Coast, the ordeal consists in
chewing the bark of a tree, with a prayer that it may cause his death
if he be not innocent." In the neighborhood of Sierra Leone, a very
peculiar ordeal is practiced, that, namely, of drinking water prepared
from the bark of a certain tree, and termed "red water." Before
taking it, the drinker repeats a prayer containing an imprecation
on himself if guilty. Should this decoction cause purging or pains
in the bowels, it is a proof of guilt; should it, on the contrary,
excite vomiting, and produce no effect on the bowels for twenty-four
hours, an acquittal ensues, and the person who has thus successfully
undergone the trial is held in higher esteem than he enjoyed before
(N. A., vol. i. p. 129-133). Sometimes this singular mode of trial
is employed in cases where a corpse is supposed to have accused some
person of causing the death of its former owner (S. L., p. 124-127). On
the Gold Coast, "every person entering into any obligation is obliged
to drink the swearing liquor." Thus, should one nation intend to assist
another, "all the chief ones are obliged to drink this liquor, with an
imprecation that their _fetiche_ may punish them with death if they do
not assist them with utmost vigor to extirpate their enemy." Since,
however, a dispensing power over such oaths has been exercised by the
priests, some negroes observe the precaution, before taking oaths, of
causing the priest to swear first, and then drink the red water, with
an imprecation that the fetich may punish him if he absolves any one
without the consent of all the parties interested in the contract (D.
C. G., pp. 124, 125).

The sanction of Scripture is given to an ordeal of precisely this
nature is the case of women charged with adultery; and it is curious
to find the very same mode of testing the fidelity of wives employed
both by the ancient Hebrews and modern negroes. The law of Moses was,
that if a man suspected his wife of unfaithfulness, and the "spirit
of jealousy" came upon him, he might take her to the priest (with an
offering, of course), and leave him to deal with her in the following
manner: Taking holy water in an earthen vessel, the priest was to mix
in it some of the dust of the floor of the tabernacle, and set the
woman with her head uncovered, and the jealousy offering in her hands,
"before the Lord." He was then to "charge her with an oath," saying,
that if she was pure, she was to be free from the bitter water that
caused the curse, but if not, the Lord was to make her a curse and an
oath among her people, causing her hips (or thighs) to disappear and
her belly to swell. The water was to go into her bowels to produce
these effects. Hereupon the woman was to say, "Amen, amen." According
to the effects of the bitter water upon her constitution, was her guilt
or her innocence adjudged to be (Num. v. 11-31).

Now the procedure of the negroes, in similar cases, is almost an
exact reproduction (it can scarcely be an imitation) of that enjoined
by Jehovah. "Red water" is administered, instead of "bitter water;"
but with this exception, precisely the same method is pursued, and
precisely the same doctrine underlies the use of the ordeal. God is
expected, both by Jews and negroes, to manifest the truth where human
skill is incompetent to discover it. The negroes, according to Bosman,
believe that where the red water is drunk by one who makes a false
declaration, he will either "be swelled by that liquor till he bursts,"
or will "shortly die of a languishing sickness; the first punishment
they imagine more peculiar to women, who take this draught to acquit
them of any accusation of adultery:" a belief which curiously reminds
us of the old Jewish superstition, that the hips will fall away and the
belly swell in the case of the adulterous wife who has taken the bitter
water on a false pretence. Bosman himself has correctly observed on the
remarkable similarity of the two procedures (D. C. G., p. 125).

A slightly different mode of trying suspected adultresses by ordeal
prevails among the Ostiacks (in Northern Asia). Should an Ostiack
entertain doubts of his wife's fidelity, he cuts off a handful of hair
from a bear's skin, and takes it to her. If innocent, she receives
it without hesitation; but if guilty, she does not venture to touch
it, and is accordingly repudiated. The conviction reigns among these
people, that were a woman to lie under these circumstances, the bear to
whom the hair belonged would revive in three days and come to devour
her (Bernard, vol. viii. pp. 44, 45).

More important, however, and more universal than any of the above
means of communication from God to man, is the method of communication
by miracles. There is probably no great religion in the world, the
establishment of which has been altogether dissociated from miracles.
They form the most striking, most indisputable, most intelligible
proof of the divine will. Not indeed that there is any close logical
connection between the performance of a wonder, and the truth of the
wonder-worker's doctrines; but popular imagination jumps readily to
the conclusion that a man, whom rumor or tradition has invested with
supernatural powers over nature, must also be in possession of correct
opinions, or even of superhuman knowledge, on the mysterious questions
with which religion deals. Hence ecclesiastical historians, of all ages
and countries, have sought to show that those from whom they deduced
the systems in which they wished their readers to believe, were either
themselves gifted with thaumaturgic faculties, or were the subjects of
special marvels worked upon them. Such miracles have always served as
their credentials, indicating their high character, and entitling them
to demand the obedience of mankind to the commands they brought.

The establishment of Buddhism, for example, was attended by the
performance of extraordinary miracles. Not only did the Buddha himself
frequently perform supernatural feats; not only did his disciples,
when they attained a certain grade of sanctity, receive the faculty of
flying and doing other wonderful things; but he actually proved the
superiority of his claims over those of others by a pitched battle in
thaumaturgy. Certain Tirthyas, or heretical teachers, had the audacity
to challenge him to contend with them in working miracles, and the
trial of skill ended, of course, in their ignominious defeat (H. B.
I., p. 162-189). Much in the same way did Moses enter into a rivalry
with Pharaoh's magicians, who were overcome by his superior miracles
as the Tirthyas were by those of Gautama Buddha. As Jewish prophets
and Christian saints received by spiritual inheritance the power of
performing miracles, so also did the Fathers of Buddhism. Of one of
the greatest of these, named Nagardjuna, it is related that a Brahman
who had entered into a dispute with him produced a magical pond, in
the middle of which was a lotus with a thousand leaves, but that
Nagardjuna produced a magical elephant which destroyed the magical
pond (Wassiljew, p. 231). This again may remind us of the serpent of
Moses, which swallowed up the serpents of the magicians; or of the
fire brought down from heaven by Elijah in his controversy with the
prophets of Baal. Another eminent Buddhist, Asvagosha, was remarkable
as a preacher. The officials at the court of a certain king reproached
him with holding this holy man in too high esteem. The king thereupon
took seven horses, kept them six days without food, and then led them
to the place where Asvagosha was preaching to be fed. The horses would
not touch the food that was offered, but shed tears at the words of the
preacher (Wassiljew, p. 232).

The history of the Mongols records some equally wonderful performances
on the part of a Lama (or priest) named Bogda. When some messengers
came to meet him, he raised his hand in a threatening way against a
river, the waters of which immediately began to run upwards instead of
downwards; "by which miracle," observes the historian, "an unshakeable
faith was established in all minds." No wonder. The division of the Red
Sea and the Jordan were child's play to this. The same man caused many
others to believe by suddenly producing a spring in a dry place. In
another country which he visited, he subdued all the dragons and other
baneful creatures to his will (G. O. M., p. 227).

If the founder of the Mussulman religion did not claim any direct power
of performing miracles, yet the communication to him of the Suras which
compose the Koran was a standing miracle. He professed to fall into an
ecstatic condition, in which he received the direct instructions of his
God; and his care, when entering the sick-room of a friend, to avoid
treading on the angels' wings which he saw extended in all directions,
indicates a pretension to more than human faculties. The present
votaries of the Mohammedan faith believe in the power of their saints
to work miracles, for we read of the sick being taken to their Sheik to
be cured by the imposition of his feet (Dervishes, p. 347).

That the Christian religion was largely indebted to miracles for its
success during its early years need hardly be remarked. Not only did
Christ himself perform miracles of the most extraordinary kind, but
the power was, if not wholly, yet to some extent, transmitted to his
apostles, and was frequently exercised by the saints and Fathers of the
early Church. Jesus himself, according to tradition, relied largely on
his miracles as proofs of his divine mission; for when John the Baptist
sent disciples to inquire who he was, he replied by telling them to
report to their master that the blind received sight, the lame walked,
the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised up,
and the poor had the gospel preached to them. So that the possession
of this unusual gift of healing and re-animating, was regarded by him
(or, more accurately, by his biographers) as a sufficient answer to
the doubt entertained by John whether he were really the Messiah, or
whether another were to come.

How great was the importance attached to the possession of miraculous
powers by the early Christian Church, may be gathered from a passage
in which Irenæus endeavors to cover certain heretics with confusion,
by asserting that they are unable to do the things that are commonly
done by the adherents of the true faith. "For they can neither confer
sight on the blind, nor hearing on the deaf, nor chase away all sorts
of demons—[none, indeed], except those that are sent into others by
themselves, if they can even do so much as this. Nor can they cure
the weak, or the lame, or the paralytic, or those who are distressed
in any other part of the body, as has often been done in regard to
bodily infirmity. Nor can they furnish effective remedies for those
external accidents which may occur. And so far are they from being
able to raise the dead, as the Lord raised them, and the apostles did
by means of prayer, and as has been frequently done in the brotherhood
on account of some necessity—the entire Church in that particular
locality entreating [the boon] with much fasting and prayer, the
spirit of the dead man has returned, and he has been bestowed in
answer to the prayers of the saints—that they do not even believe this
can possibly be done, [and hold] that the resurrection from the dead
is simply an acquaintance with that truth which they proclaim."[7]
Thus, the cure of infirmities and diseases by supernatural means were
every-day achievements of the early Christians; and even the dead
were sometimes restored to life, when sufficient pains were taken to
obtain the favorable attention of the Almighty. "It is not possible,"
observes the same author in another place, "to name the number of the
gifts which the Church [scattered] throughout the whole world has
received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under
Pontius Pilate, and which she exerts day by day for the benefit of the

Hence the Mormons, who claim to possess at the present day the powers
which have departed from Christians in general, are perfectly in
accordance with Irenæus in holding that signs like these are invariably
attendant on the kingdom of God. Revelations, visions, the powers of
prophecy, of healing, of speaking with tongues, of casting out devils,
and working other miracles, are (they contend) the prerogatives of
those who belong to this kingdom. History, in relating first the
miracles of the Jewish patriarchs and prophets, then those of the
Christian Fathers, powerfully supports this theory. Scripture in
several unambiguous passages entirely confirms it. And the daily
experience of the Latter-day Saints, if we accept their statements,
bears witness to its truth, by presenting abundant examples of the
actual exercise of such supernatural gifts within their own society.
Thus, one person is cured of blindness; another of dislocation of the
thigh; another has his fractured backbone restored; in the fourth case
it is a rupture that is healed; in the fifth convulsive fits that
are stopped.[9] I have myself been present at a Mormon meeting for
public worship, and have heard the saints who were gathered together
narrate, with perfect solemnity and apparent good faith, the miraculous
cures which they themselves experienced, or which they had personally
witnessed. One after another rose to bear his testimony to some case
of the kind which had fallen within his immediate knowledge. To
these uncultivated and fanatical people, holy events still were what
they have long ceased to be to the ordinary Christian world—living
realities; and we may still study in them the mental condition of
those who could accept as phenomena occurring in their own day the
restoration of sight, hearing, or speech; the expulsion of devils; and
the resurrection of the dead.

                              CHAPTER II.

                             HOLY PLACES.

"Draw not nigh hither," said the occupant of the burning bush to
Moses; "put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon
thou standest is holy ground" (Exod. iii. 5). This verse embodies
the universal theory of holy places. They are spots occupied in a
special and peculiar manner by the deity or his representative; and
where he finds it easier to communicate with mankind than it is
elsewhere. Hence, those who hope or desire to receive some celestial
intimation, resort to such holy places. The oracles of the ancient
world, and the temple at Jerusalem, are instances of holy places
where the respective gods worshiped by those who frequented them gave
responses, or manifested their presence. Holy places are not always
consecrated places. Sometimes—as in the case of the Delphian oracle—the
consecration is the work of nature; the divinity intimates in some
unmistakable way his presence in the sanctuary which he has himself
selected; and human beings have nothing to do but humbly to receive
such communications as he may desire to make. Frequently, however, holy
places have only become holy by the act of consecration; the local
god has not occupied them until they have been duly prepared for him
by human labor. On the other hand, consecrated places are always holy
places. Not indeed that there are always conspicuous intimations of the
divine presence; but it is nevertheless vaguely supposed to haunt the
buildings where worship is offered, and rites are performed, more than
it does the outer world.

To begin with a few instances of holy places which have not undergone
consecration. On the coast of Guinea "almost every village hath a small
appropriated grove." Offerings are made in these groves, and they
are regarded as so sacred that no one ventures to injure the trees by
plucking, cutting, or breaking their branches. "Universal malediction"
would be one of the consequences of such misconduct (D. C. G., p.
128). Mr. Turner states that "as of old in Canaan, sacred _groves_ for
heathen worship, with and without temples, were quite common in the
islands of the Pacific" (N. Y., p. 329). These are instances of the
sacredness so frequently attached to woods and forests by primitive

    "The groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned
    To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,
    And spread the roof above them; ere he framed
    The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
    The sound of anthems,—in the darkling wood,
    Amidst the cool and silence he knelt down.
    And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
    And supplication."[10]

Natural characteristics in the same manner determine the quality of
holiness attributed to certain spots by the natives of Africa. Holy
places among them are those where a god dwells either visibly or
invisibly; particular buildings, huts, or hills; or trees which are
remarkable for age, size, and strength. They have also sacred groves
into which no negro, not being a priest ventures to intrude. One of the
tribes asserts that their god has his dwelling-place in the cavern of a
rock that is situated in the bushes (G. d. M., p. 326).

A singular example of a holy place in a more advanced religion is the
neighborhood of the Bo tree, or Bogaha tree, in Ceylon, under whose
shade the people worship at the great festival. This tree derives its
sanctity from the circumstance of its having sheltered Buddha at an
eventful crisis of his life. Near it ninety kings are interred; huts
are erected around it for the use of the devotees who repair to it;
and as "every sort of uncleanness and dust must be removed from the
sacred spot," the approaches are continually swept by persons appointed
for the purpose. Besides the Bo tree, and the pagodas—or public
temples—many of the Singhalese have private holy places in their own
houses. They "build in their yards _private_ chapels, which are little
houses like to closets," and in these they place an image of the Buddha
which they worship (H. R. C., p. 73).

Graves of the dead whom we have loved are apt to become holy places
to us all; and in some religious creeds, such as those of Islam and
Christianity, this veneration is extended to the tombs of persons who
have been distinguished by their sanctity. Mussulmans "pray at the
tomb of those they repute saints;" and expect by offering vows at
such places, to obtain "relief, through their saintly intercession,
from sickness, misfortune. sterility, &c." Miracles take place at
these tombs, and supernatural lights float over them (Dervishes, pp.
79, 80). It is believed, too, that "the merits of the deceased will
insure a favorable reception of the prayers which they offer up in such
consecrated places" (Dervishes, p. 272).

Sometimes, again, the place where some striking event in the history of
religion has occurred, acquires a holiness of its own. Thus the Scala
Santa at Rome enjoys a preëminent holiness possessing the merit of
procuring a considerable remission of punishment for those who perform
the task of ascending it on their knees.

The oracle of Clarius Apollo at Colophon, mentioned by Tacitus, is an
example of a large and important class of holy places which were not
consecrated places. Here it was not a woman, as at Delphi (observes
Tacitus), who gave the responses; but a priest, who descended into a
cavern, and drank water from a secret fountain (Tac. Ann., ii. 54). In
Jewish history we meet with a remarkable instance of a place originally
hallowed by the actual appearance of God, in the case of Bethel, "the
house of God," where Jacob was favored with his remarkable dream. "How
dreadful is this place!" exclaimed the patriarch on waking; "this
is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven"
(Gen. xxviii. 17). In the spot whose holiness had thus been rendered
manifest, Jacob proceeded to perform consecrating rites; but, contrary
to the usual order, the holiness preceded and induced the consecration.

More generally, consecration forms a sort of invitation to the deity to
inhabit the place which has thus been rendered suited to his abode.
Of the holy places which are also consecrated, a conspicuous place is
due to Solomon's temple; in the dedication of which the theory just
stated is clearly embodied. Solomon, or his historians, perceived the
difficulty of causing a being so transcendently powerful as Jehovah to
dwell within local limits. The monarch, in his consecrating prayer,
explains that he is well aware that even the heaven of heavens cannot
contain him; much less this house that he has built. Nevertheless,
he cannot give up the notion that this house may, in some degree, be
peculiarly favored by having his especial attention directed towards
it. His eyes at least may be open towards it, and if he cannot be
there himself, his name may. Moreover, when prayers are offered in
the temple, he may listen to them more graciously than to other
supplications; and when the asseverations of contending parties are
confirmed by oaths taken before the altar it contains, he may take
unusual pains to execute justice between them. Jehovah fully approves
of his servant's proposals. He emphatically declares in reply that he
has hallowed this house which he has built, to put his name there for
ever; and that his eyes and his heart shall be there perpetually (Kings
viii. 22-ix. 3).

Very primitive peoples hold similar views of the relation of their
deities to their temples. Just as there was "an oracle" in the Jewish
temple, where "the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord, as
it had filled the corresponding place in the tabernacle, so in most
of the Fijian temples there is a shrine, where the god is supposed
to descend when holding communication with the priests; and there is
also a long piece of native cloth hung at one end of the building, and
from the very ceiling, which is also connected with the arrival and
departure of the god invoked" (Viti, p. 393). It seems to have been
a general rule in the temples of these islands to have some object
specially connected with the deity, and through which he might manifest
his presence in the place. Thus, in one of them there was a conch
shell, which "the god was supposed to blow when he wished the people
to rise to war" (N. Y., p. 240). Nay, there was even an altar erected
to Jehovah and Jesus Christ in one of the islands, "to which persons
afflicted with all manner of diseases were brought to be healed;
and so great was the reputation which this maræ obtained, that the
power of Jehovah and Jesus Christ became great in the estimation of
the people" (N. M. E., p. 28). Here an altar, erected of course by a
man not yet converted to Christianity, received a blessing no less
conspicuous than that granted in ancient times to Solomon's temple.

The Mexicans and Peruvians entertained a precisely similar belief to
that which we have observed among the Fijians and the Hebrews. Father
Acosta describes the ruins of a very large building in Peru which had
been a place of worship, where immense plunder had been carried off by
the Christians. In this temple there was a sure tradition that "the
devil" had spoken, and given responses in his oracle. The fact of the
devil speaking and answering in these false sanctuaries is, according
to the learned father, a very common thing in America; but the father
of lies has become silent since the sign of the cross has been raised
in those regions of his previous power (H. I., b. v. ch. 12). Not only
were the temples holy in Peru, but the whole of the imperial city of
Cozco, the residence of the Incas, enjoyed an exceptional holiness.
So much was this the case, that if two natives of equal rank met one
another on the road, the one coming from Cozco, and the other going to
it, the one coming from it received respect and reverence from the one
going to it, which was enhanced to a higher degree if he were a native
of Cozco (C. R., b. iii. ch. 20). In approaching the great temple at
Cozco, there were certain limits where all who passed were obliged to
take off their shoes: the very same sign of regard for holy places
which Moses was commanded to observe at the burning bush; which is
practiced by Parsee priests when ministering in their temples, and by
Mussulmans in reference to their mosques (Ibid., b. iii. ch. 23).

Prohibition to all but holy persons to enter holy places is not
uncommon. The holy of holies in the Jewish temple might be entered by
no one but the high priest, and the utmost horror was felt by the Jews
at the violation of their sanctuary by Pompey. A European traveler in
Africa, finding a grove with a mat hung before it, wished to enter;
but was entreated not to do so by the negroes, who informed him that
a great spirit, who might kill him if displeased, dwelt within. He,
however, went in, and found a delightful place; this being one of
those to which only priests were admitted (G. d. M., p. 326). Similarly
among the Parsees, the Atesch-gâh, or holy place where worship is
performed, may be entered only by the priests, except under special
circumstances, when laymen may enter it after due observance of
preparatory rites, and with the face covered. Such a case would occur
if there were no priest to keep up the sacred fire (Z. A., vol. ii. p.
569). In Mexico, where there were two important holy places—the Cu,
or great temple of Vitziliputzli, and the temple of Tezcatlipuca—the
priests alone had the right of entry to this last (H. I., b. 5, ch. 13).

We thus find, among the several nations of the world, a consistent and
all-pervading theory of holy places. These are not always the scenes
of divine revelations, or of striking events produced by the divine
agency; but they are much more likely to be so favored than other
places, and if communications are distinctly sought, it must generally
be by resorting to such local sanctuaries as are commonly reputed to
be fitted for the purpose. Where no revelation is either given or
expected, the holy place is yet the abiding home of the deity whose
worship is celebrated within its enclosure. And although Christians may
consider their God as present everywhere, yet they are conscious on
entering a church, of coming, in a peculiar sense, into his presence;
and they indicate that consciousness by removing their hats, if men,
and keeping the head covered, if women. For such is the outward
indication of respect which the Christian God is supposed to require of
those who set their feet within his holy places.

                             CHAPTER III.

                             HOLY OBJECTS.

While a highly-exalted conception of the First cause of nature would
see him equally in everything, and believe the whole world to be alike
natural and divine, no actual religion, believed by any considerable
number of persons, has ever reached so abstract an idea. To all of them
some things are more sacred than others; in the more primitive forms
of faith these things are either a species of divinities themselves,
or they are the abode of some divinity; in the more advanced types,
they are held to be sanctified by the power of God, or to be the
earthly representatives of his invisible majesty. To the class of holy
objects belong all charms, amulets, fetishes, sacred animals, and other
things of whatever kind, which are believed in any country to possess
a different order of powers from those which scientific investigation
discovers in them.

The theory underlying the use of such objects among the negroes—and
it is practically the same as that of more civilized nations—is well
explained by a German missionary. "Fetishes, or Shambu," according to
him, "are holy things, which are supposed to have received a particular
power from God, both to drive away evil spirits, as also to be useful
in all illnesses and dangers, especially against sorcery." They cover
both themselves and their gods with fetishes. These descend from father
to son, and are preserved with the greatest care. Some are kept in
sanctuaries of their own. There exists among these negroes (the Mavu)
a class of professional fetish-makers, who are mostly old women, and
who wear a peculiar dress. A man, who had fetishes at the bottom of
his staircase, informed the writer that their use was to keep the
devil from getting into his house. Another tribe of negroes prefer to
take things which have been struck by lightning for their fetishes:
the lightning-stroke being, as the missionary justly concludes, an
indication that a divine power has united itself to these objects (G.
d. M., pp. 322, 323).

The natives of Sierra Leone are described as placing unlimited faith in
"griggories," or charms. These are made of goats' skin; texts of the
Koran are written upon them, and they are worn upon various parts of
the person. They have distinct functions, each one being designed to
preserve the wearer from a certain kind of evil or danger (S. L., p.

Numerous objects were holy in Peru. Rivers, fountains, large stones,
hills, the tops of mountains, are mentioned by Acosta as having been
adored by the Peruvians; indeed, he says that they adored whatever
natural object appeared very different from the rest, recognizing
therein some peculiar deity.

A certain tree, for instance, which was cut down by the Spaniards,
had long been an object of adoration to the Indians, on account of
its antiquity and size (H. I., b. 5, ch. 5). In another part of the
American continent, the neighborhood of Acadia, a traveler tells us of
a venerable tree which was likewise holy. Many marvels were recounted
of it, and it was always loaded with offerings. The sea having washed
the soil from about its roots, it maintained itself a long time "almost
in the air," which confirmed the savages in their notion that it was
"the seat of some great spirit;" and even after it had fallen, its
branches, so long as they were visible above the surface of the water,
continued to receive the worship of the people (N. F., vol. iii. p.

Not unfrequently the holy object is an animal, and then it may be
regarded either as itself a god, or as sacred to some god, who
either makes it in some sense his abode, or regards it with favor
and takes it under his care. Among animals, there is none more
frequently worshiped than the serpent; and it has been supposed, with
some plausibility, that the Hebrew legend of the fall was directed
against serpent-worship. However this may be, that worship is clearly
discernible in the story of the brazen serpent which healed the
sickness of the Israelites in the wilderness (Num. xxi. 8). This would
seem to be a dim tradition of a time at which the adoration of the
serpent was still practiced by the people of Jehovah. Many other
countries afford examples of the same worship. To take a single case;
the Chevalier des Marchais, who traveled in the last century, relates
that serpents of a certain kind were worshiped in Guinea. There was
one, however, which was called the father of these gods, and was
reputed to be of prodigious size. It was kept in a place of its own,
where it had "secret apartments," and none but the chief sacrificer was
permitted to enter this holy of holies. The king himself might only see
it once, when, three months after his coronation, he went to present
his offerings (V. G., vol. ii. p. 169).

Even Christianity did not entirely put an end to the worship of the
serpent; for an early Christian writer, in a treatise against all
heresies, makes mention of a sect of Ophites who (he says) "magnify the
serpent to such a degree, that they prefer him even to Christ himself;
for it was he, they say, who gave us the origin of the knowledge of
good and evil. His power and majesty (they say) Moses perceiving, set
up the brazen serpent; and whoever gazed upon him obtained health.
Christ himself (they say further) imitates Moses' serpent's sacred
power in saying: 'And as Moses upreared the serpent in the desert, so
it behoveth the Son of man to be upreared.' Him they introduce to bless
their eucharistic [elements]" (Adv. omn. haereses., II.—A. N. L., vol.
18, p. 262).

Holy objects are very often connected with some eminent man, from
whose relation to them they derive their sanctity. Such are all the
innumerable relics of saints to which so much importance is attached
in Catholic countries. Such is that pre-eminently sacred relic, the
tooth of Buddha, so carefully preserved and guarded in Ceylon. When
Major Forbes witnessed the tooth festival at Kandy, fifty-three years
had passed since the last exhibition of this deeply revered member of
the founder of the faith. It was kept in its temple within six cases;
of which the three larger ones having been first removed, the three
inner ones, containing it, were placed "on the back of an elephant
richly caparisoned." It was shown to the people on a temporary altar,
surrounded with rich hangings; the festival being attended by crowds of
pious worshipers, who thought that the privilege of seeing the tooth,
so rarely exhibited to the public, was a sufficient proof of the
merits they had obtained in former lives (E. Y, vol. i. p. 290-293).

Mussulmans have their holy objects, consisting of verses of the Koran,
suspended or written on their dwellings, which are supposed to insure
their protection. Such verses, or short Suras, are sometimes carried on
the person engraved on stones (Dervishes, p. 313).

Conspicuous among holy objects for the extraordinary virtues ascribed
to them, are the bread and wine of the Lord's supper. These are
believed by Christians either to be or to represent (according to
their several doctrines) the actual flesh and blood of Jesus; and the
mere fact of eating and drinking them, in faith, is held to exercise
a mystic efficacy over the life of the communicant. A more singular
instance of the holiness attributed by an act of the imagination to
material things can scarcely be produced. Another curious case of the
same notion is the belief in holy water; which enjoys so great a power,
that some drops of it dashed upon an infant's forehead contribute to
ensure its eternal happiness; while it has also the gift of conferring
some kind of advantage upon the worshipers who, on entering a church,
sprinkle it upon their persons.

Images of the gods or saints worshiped in a country form a large and
important class of holy objects. Such were the "teraphim" or "gods"
stolen by Rachel from her father, and which she concealed in the
furniture of her camel (Gen. xxxi. 19, 30-35). Similar images are
employed by the Tartars, who place them at the heads and feet of their
beds in certain fixed positions, and who carry them about with them
wherever they go (Bergeron, Voyage de Rubruquis, ch. 3, p. 9).

                              CHAPTER IV.

                             HOLY ORDERS.

Rites, acts of worship and sacrifices, originally performed by each
individual at his own discretion, or by each household in its own way,
fall (as we have seen) with advancing development into the hands of
professional persons consecrated for this especial purpose. Very great
importance attaches to these consecrated persons. The place they occupy
in all societies above the level of barbarism is one of peculiar honor;
and their influence on the course of human history has in all ages
with which that history is acquainted been conspicuous and profound.
Once devoted to their religious duties, they become the authorized
representatives of deity on earth. In treating of their consecration,
we consider them as channels of communication from earth to heaven; we
have now to consider them as channels of communication from heaven to

Endowed by the general wish of all human society with a special right
to convey their petitions to the divine beings whom they worship, they
do not fail to claim for themselves the correlative right of conveying
to men the commands, the intentions, the reproofs, and the desires of
these divine beings. It is the priests alone who can pretend to know
their minds. It is the priests alone who can correctly interpret their
often enigmatic language. It is the priests alone through whom they
generally deign to converse with mortals.

Such is the ecclesiastical theory throughout the world; and it is as
a general rule accepted by the communities for whose guidance it is
constructed. Exceptions do indeed present themselves, above all in
the case of the remarkable men whose careers we shall deal with in
the ensuing chapter, who have founded new religions independently
of, or even in spite of, very powerful existing priesthoods. And,
speaking generally, the holy class is not always coëxtensive with
the consecrated class. We shall notice further on an important order
among the Jews who were universally received as holy, without being
consecrated. Moreover, there has often existed a species of men who,
without regular consecration, have nevertheless served as a channel
of communication from God or from inferior spirits to man. Such were
magicians, astrologers, "et hoc genus omne," in ancient times; such are
the so-called mediums in the present day. Conversely, consecration,
though by its very nature implying holiness as its correlative, implies
it less and less as we rise in the scale of culture. Thus, in the
more advanced forms of Protestantism, such as the Presbyterian or the
Unitarian, the minister is scarcely more than a mere teacher; he has
little or no more power to convey commands or intimations from God
than any member of his congregation. So that we should have a rough
approximation to the truth were we to say that in the lower grades of
religious culture we have holy orders without consecration; while in
the higher grades we have consecrated orders without holiness.

Between these extremes there lies the great body of regular and
qualified priests, appointed to communicate upwards, and entitled
to communicate downwards. Invasions of their authority by irregular
pretenders are the exceptions, not the rule. It is the usual order of
things, that the decisions of priests on matters pertaining to religion
should be accepted in submissive faith, by the societies to which
they belong. Where, as in the case of Jesus of Nazareth, some bold
individual brushes aside successfully the pretentions of ecclesiastical
castes, the theory is only modified to suit the individual instance.
Ecclesiastical castes, deriving their title from the innovator himself,
spring up again at once; and differ only in so far as the God whose
will they expound is either another God, or a new modification of the
same God.

Numerous privileges are generally accorded to priests. Sometimes they
enjoy exemptions from the operation of the ordinary laws; sometimes
they are permitted a disproportionate share in the government of their
country; sometimes, without possessing recognized legislative powers,
they control the destinies of nations by the expression of their
views. Often, the whole physical force of the government is at their
disposal, for the propagation and support of the system they uphold;
occasionally, when their authority has reached its highest point,
the mere solemn declaration of their commands is enough to ensure
the acquiescence of monarchs and the obedience of their subjects.
Corresponding to these considerable rights, they perform a considerable
variety of functions, which are regarded by the societies who employ
them as not only useful, but indispensable. We find them in all
primitive communities acting as the recognized doctors of the people,
treating their diseases by the method of supernatural inspiration.
Rising a little higher, they predict that class of events which is
so interesting to each individual, namely, the prospects of his or
her life. In other words, they become fortune-tellers, astrologers,
or (by whatever means) readers of the future. Or they control the
weather, calling down from heaven the needful rain. They are inspired
by the deity in whose service they are enrolled, and they announce
his will. In his name they threaten evil-doers with punishment, and
promise rewards to the faithful and obedient. Benefits from on high are
declared to be the lot of those who pay them honor. They proclaim the
fact that their presence is essential to the performance of important
rites, and that their assistance at these must be duly rewarded.
Sometimes they are in possession of knowledge which is only permitted
to be imparted to their own caste. They are at all times the authorized
expositors of theological dogma, and the authorized guardians of public

Let us enter on a more detailed account of these several
characteristics of the priestly order.

First, it has to be noted that the differentiation of this order from
the rest of society is in primitive communities very incomplete.
Fathers of families, or any venerable and respected men, act as
priests, and perform the requirements of divine worship according to
their own notions of propriety. Thus in Samoa, Mr. Turner tells us
that "the father of the family was _the high-priest_, and usually
offered a short prayer at the evening meal, that they might all be
kept from fines, sickness, war, and death." He also directed on what
occasions religious festivals should be held, and it was supposed
that the god sometimes spoke through the father or another member of
the family (N. Y., p. 239). So in the early period of the history of
the Israelites, there was no formal and regular priesthood, and no
established ritual. The Levites were not devoted to the functions they
subsequently discharged, until, in the course of the Exodus, they had
proved their qualification by the holy zeal with which they slaughtered
their brethren. It was for the perpetration of this massacre that they
were promised by Moses the blessing of God (Exod. xxxii. 25-29). With
advancing culture, the necessity for separating priests from laymen is
always felt. The ministrations of unskilled hands are not held to be
sufficient. Ritual grows fixed; and for a fixed ritual there must be a
special apprenticeship. Ceremonies multiply; and the original family
prayer having grown into a more elaborate system of worship, takes more
time, and demands the attention of a class who make this, and kindred
matters, their exclusive occupation.

While, however, the ministers of the gods are thus differentiated from
the people at large, they are not differentiated until a later stage
from the ministers of the human body. Medicine and priestcraft are
for a long time united arts. On this connection, Brinton very justly
remarks, that "when sickness is looked upon as the effect of the anger
of a god, or as the malicious infliction of a sorcerer, it is natural
to seek help from those who assume to control the unseen world, and
influence the fiats of the Almighty" (M. N. W., p. 264). Thus in
America the native priests were called by the European colonists,
"medicine men." The New Zealand priests were "expert jugglers," and
when called in to the sick would ascribe some diseases to a piece
of wood lodged in the stomach; this they pretended to extract, and
produced it in evidence of their assertion. An acquaintance of
the author from whom I borrow this fact, saw one of these doctors
tear open the leg of a rheumatic patient, and (apparently) take
out of it a knotted piece of wood (N. Z., p. 80). In the Fiji
islands they occasionally use their medical powers malevolently,
instead of benevolently. In Tanna, there was a class of men termed
"disease-makers," and greatly dreaded by the people, who thought that
these men could exercise the power of life and death, the calamity of
death being the result of burning rubbish belonging to the sufferer.
When a Tannese was ill, he believed that the disease-maker was burning
his rubbish, and would send large presents to induce him to stop;
for if it were all burned he would die (N. Y. p. 89-91). The Samoans
believed disease to be the result of divine wrath, and sought its
remedy at the hands of the high-priest of the village. Whatever he
might demand was given; in some cases, however, he did not ask for
anything, but merely commanded the family of the patient to "confess,
and throw out." Confessing, and throwing out, consisted of a statement
by each member of the family of the crimes he had committed, or of the
evil he had invoked on the patient or his connections, accompanied by
the ceremony of spurting out water from the mouth towards him (N. Y.,
p. 224). Like the Fijians, the natives of Australia employ priests
to cure their illnesses. Their ecclesiastical practitioners "perform
incantations over the sick," and also pretend to suck out the disease,
producing a piece of bone which they assert to be its cause (S. L. A.,
p. 226). The Africans have an exactly similar belief in the influence
of fetish over disease. Reade observes that epileptic attacks are (as
is natural from their mysterious character) ascribed to demoniacal
possession, and that fetish-men are called in to cure them. This they
attempt to accomplish by elaborate dances and festivities, "at the
expense of the next of kin," which sometimes end in driving the patient
into the bush in a state of complete insanity. When cured, he "builds
a little fetish-house, avoids certain kinds of food, and performs
certain duties" (S. A., p. 251). The negroes on the coast of Guinea,
when ill, apply to their priest, who informs them what offerings are
required to ensure their recovery (D. C. G., p. 213). When an Amazulu
is troubled by bad dreams, he applies to a diviner, who recommends
certain ceremonies by which the spirit causing the dreams is supposed
to be banished. Should he be ill, his friends apply to the diviner, who
discovers the source of the illness, and probably demands the sacrifice
of a bullock. A remarkable sensitiveness about the shoulders indicates
the spiritual character of the doctor. If he fail to remove disease,
he is said to have no "Itongo," or spirit, in him (R. S. A., pt. ii.
pp. 159, 160, 172). The Fida negroes sent to consult their divine
snake through a priest when ill, and the priest (unless he announced
that the disease would be fatal) received a reward for indicating the
remedies to be used. Moreover, the priests were the physicians of the
negroes. Two theories prevailed among the people as to the origin of
illnesses. Some tribes held them to be due to evil spirits, who were
accordingly driven away by a prescribed system of armed pursuit. But
the priests in other places regarded them as a consequence of discord
between spirit and soul, and required the patient in the first instance
to confess his sins. This being done, they obtain from their deity an
indication of the offerings to be made, or the vows to be fulfilled,
to restore mental harmony. They then undertook the treatment of the
body by physical means (G. d. M., pp. 335, 336). In Sierra Leone, as
in other parts of Africa, "the practice of medicine, and the art of
making greegrees and fetishes, in other words, amulets ... is generally
the province of the same person." Those who practice medicine are
looked upon as witches, and believed not only to converse with evil
spirits, but to exercise control over them (N. A., vol. i. p. 251).
In New France, in the eighteenth century, the principal occupation of
the native priests was medicine (N. F. vol. iii. p. 364). In Mexico,
the people came from all parts to the priests to be anointed with the
peculiar unguent used in the special consecration mentioned above
(_Supra_, p. 116). This they termed a "divine physic," and considered
as a cure for their diseases (H. I., b. 5, ch. 26).

Such rude notions as these, implying a supernatural as opposed to a
natural theory of the physical conditions of the body, are not wholly
extinct even among ourselves. They exist, like so many of the crude
conceptions of the savage, in the form of respected survivals wholly
inconsistent with our practical habits. True, we do not call in the
clergyman to assist or to direct at the sick-bed. But we do ask him to
put up prayers for the recovery of the sick; and in the case of royal
princes, the clergy throughout the land are set to work to induce
the divine Being to give their illnesses a favorable turn. Now, this
proceeding, however disguised under refined and imposing forms, is
practically on a level with that of the Amazulu, who seeks to pacify
the offended spirit that has attacked him with pain by the sacrifice
of a bullock; or with that of the Fijian who, when his friend is ill,
blows a shell for hours as a call to the disease-maker to stop burning
the sick man's rubbish, and as a sign that presents will speedily reach
his hands. Nay, the very missionary who relates this Fiji custom gives
at least one proof of his fitness to understand the native mind, in a
passage showing that in reference to beliefs like these his own was
almost on a par with it. A war, of which the missionaries disapproved,
had been going on for four months, "and the end of it was, the war
was raised against ourselves. After they had been fighting for months
among themselves, contrary to all our entreaties, God commenced to
punish them with a deadly epidemic in the form of dysentery." Now,
the conviction that diseases are punishments sent by some god, or at
any rate direct results of an intention on the part of some god to
harm the sufferer, is at the root of the priestly, as opposed to the
scientific, treatment. For if God punishes with a deadly epidemic, it
is an obvious inference that the mode of cure and of prevention is
not to take physical remedies, and observe physical precautions, but
to avoid the sin for which the punishment is given. And this is the
common conclusion of the savage and the Christian, though the superior
information of the Christian renders his conduct self-contradictory and
confused, where that of the savage is logical and simple.

Nearly related to the supposed influence of priests over physical
suffering, is their supposed power to foretell the future. Here,
however, a number of unauthorized and schismatic priesthoods often
enter into competition with those sanctioned by the state. Technically,
they would not be termed priests at all; but tested by the true mark
of priesthood, the gift, alleged by themselves and admitted by others,
of forming channels of communication from the celestial powers to man,
they are entitled to that name, and this although they may perhaps
receive no regular consecration to their office. The Roman Senate
during the Empire came into frequent collision with these irregular
priests. It endeavored from time to time to combat the growing belief
in the unorthodox practices of astrologers and magi, by decreeing their
expulsion from Italy, and occasionally by visiting some of them with
severer penalties; but such endeavors to stem the tide of popular
superstition are naturally useless (Tac. Ann., ii. 32; xii. 52). Magic
of some description is universal. In New Zealand the priest "seems
to unite in his person the offices of priest, sorcerer, juggler, and
physician." He predicts the life or death of members of his tribe (N.
Z., p. 80). By the Kafirs the prophet is consulted on all kinds of
domestic occasions, and (while the people beat the ground in assent to
what he says) he is held to see in a vision the event which has led to
the consultation (K. N., p. 167 ff). The inhabitants of Sierra Leone
have other methods of divining. Their diviners make dots and lines in
sand spread upon a goat's skin, which dots and lines they afterwards
decipher; or they place palm-nuts in heaps upon a goat's skin, and by
shifting them about suppose that an answer is obtained (N. A., vol. i.
p. 134). The heathen Mexican had the habit, on the birth of a child,
of consulting a diviner in order to ascertain its future. The diviner,
having learnt from the child's parents the hour at which it was born,
turned over his books to discover the sign under which its nativity
had occurred. Should that sign prove to be favorable, he would say
to the parents: "Your child has been born under a good sign; it will
be a senor, or senator, or rich, or brave," or will have some other
distinction. In the opposite case he would say: "The child has not been
born under a good sign; it has been born under a disastrous sign." In
some circumstances there was hope that the evil might be remedied; but
if the sign were altogether bad, they would predict that it would be
vicious, carnal, and a thief; or that it would be dull and lazy; or
possibly that it would be a great drunkard; or that its life would be
short. A third alternative was when the sign was indifferent, and the
expected fortune was therefore partly good and partly bad. The diviner,
in this case and in that of a bad, but not hopelessly bad, sign,
assisted the parents by pointing out an auspicious day for the baptism
of the infant (A. M., vol. v. pp. 479, 480).

Prediction of coming events was practiced by the priests in North
America, as it was elsewhere. They persuaded the multitude, says
Charlevoix, that they suffered from ecstatic transports. During
these conditions, they said that their spirits gave them a large
acquaintance with remote things, and with the future (N. F., vol.
iii. p. 347). Moreover, they practiced magic, and with such effect
that Charlevoix felt himself compelled to ascribe their performances
to their alliance with the devil. They even pretended to be born in a
supernatural manner, and found believers ready to think that only by
some sort of enchantment and illusion had they formerly imagined that
they had come into the world like other people. When they went into
the state of ecstasy, they resembled the Pythoness on the tripod; they
assumed tones of voice and performed actions which seemed beyond human
capacity. On these occasions they suffered so much that it was hard
to induce them, even by handsome payment, thus to yield themselves to
the spirit. So often did they prophesy truly, that Charlevoix can only
resort again to his hypothesis of a real intercourse between them and
the "father of seduction and of lies," who manifested his connection
with them by telling them the truth. Thus, a lady named Madame de
Marson, by no means an "esprit faible," was anxious about her husband,
who was commanding at a French outpost in Acadia, and who had stayed
away beyond the time fixed for his return. A native woman, having
ascertained the reason of her trouble, told her not to be distressed,
for that her husband would return on a certain day at a certain hour,
wearing a grey hat. Seeing that the lady did not believe in her, she
returned on the day and at the hour named, and asked her if she would
not come to meet her husband. After much pressing, she induced the
lady to accompany her to the bank of the river. Scarcely had they
arrived, when M. de Marson appeared in a canoe, wearing a grey hat upon
his head. The writer was informed of this fact by Madame de Marson's
son-in-law, at that time Governor-General of the French dominions in
America, who had heard it from herself (N. F., vol. iii. p. 359-363).
The priests of the Tartars are also their diviners. They predict
eclipses, and announce lucky and unlucky days for all sorts of business
(Bergeron, Voyage de Rubruquis, ch. 47).

Among the Buddhist priesthood of Thibet, there is a class of Lamas
who are astrologers, distinguished by a peculiar dress, and making it
their business to tell fortunes, exorcise evil spirits, and so forth.
The astrologers "are considered to have intercourse with Sadag," a
spirit who is supposed to be "lord of the ground," in which bodies are
interred, and who, along with other spirits, requires to be pacified
by charms and rites known only to these priests. To prevent them from
injuring the dead, the relations offer a price in cattle or money to
Sadag; and the astrologers, when satisfied with the amount, undertake
the necessary conjuration (B. T., pp. 156, 271).

In the Old Testament, this class of unofficial priests is mentioned
with the reprobation inspired by rivalry. The Hebrew legislator is at
one with the Roman Senate in his desire to expel them from the land.
"There shall not be found among you any one that ... useth divination,
or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or
a consultor with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For
all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because
of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before
thee" (Deut. xviii. 10-12). The very prohibition evinces the existence
of the objects against whom it is aimed; and proves that, along with
the recognized worship of Jehovah, there existed an unrecognized resort
to practices which the sterner adherents of that worship would not

In addition to their claim to be in possession of special means of
ascertaining the occult causes of phenomena (as in illness), and of
special contrivances for penetrating the future (as in astrology or
fortune-telling), priesthoods pretend to a more direct inspiration from
on high, qualifying them either to announce the will of their god on
exceptional occasions, or to intimate his purpose in matters of more
ordinary occurrence. This inspiration was granted to the native North
American priests at the critical age of puberty, "It was revealed to
its possessor by the character of the visions he perceived at the
ordeal he passed through on arriving at puberty; and by the northern
nations was said to be the manifestation of a more potent personal
spirit than ordinary. It was not a faculty, but an inspiration; not an
inborn strength, but a spiritual gift" (M. N. W., p. 279). So in India;
among the several meanings of the word Brahman, is that of a person
"elected by special divine favor to receive the gift of inspiration"
(O. S. T., vol. i. p. 259). The missionary Turner, who has an eye
for parallels, observes, among other just reflections, that "the way
in which the Samoan priests declared that the gods spoke by them,
strikingly reminds us of the mode by which God of old made known his
will to man by the Hebrew prophets" (N. Y., p. 349). Although the
Levites were said to be the Lord's, and to have been hallowed by him
instead of all the first-born of Israel, yet it does not appear that
they were in general endowed with any high order of inspiration. The
high-priest no doubt received communications from God by the Urim
and Thummim. Priests were also the judges whom the Lord chose, and
whose sentence in court was to be obeyed on penalty of death; but the
inspiration that was fitted to guide the Israelites was supplied not so
much by them as by the prophets, a kind of supplementary priesthood of
which the members, sometimes priests, sometimes consecrated by other
prophets, were as a rule unconsecrated, deriving their appointment
directly from Jehovah. While, therefore, it was attained in a somewhat
unusual way, the general need of an inspired order was supplied no
less perfectly among the Israelites than elsewhere. Christian priests
enjoy two kinds of inspiration. In the first place, they are inspired
specially when assembled in general councils, to declare the truth
in matters of doctrine, or in other words, to issue supplementary
revelations; in the second place, they are inspired generally to remit
or retain offenses, their sentence being—according to the common
doctrine of Catholics and Episcopalian Protestants—always ratified in
the Court above.

Consistently with this exalted conception of their authority, priestly
orders threaten punishment to offenders, and announce the future
destiny of souls. Thus the Mexican priests warned their penitents after
confession not to fall again into sin, holding out the prospect of the
torments of hell if they should neglect the admonition (A. M., vol.
v, p. 370). The priests in some parts of Africa know the fate of each
soul after death, and can say whether it has gone to God or to the evil
spirit (G. d. M., p. 335).

Sometimes the priests are held to be protected against injury by the
especial care of heaven. To take away a Brahman's wife is an offense
involving terrible calamities, while kings who restore her to the
Brahman enjoy "the abundance of the earth" (0. S. T., vol. i. p. 257).
A king who should eat a Brahman's cow is warned in solemn language
of the dreadful consequences of such conduct, both in this world and
the next (Ibid., vol. i. p. 285). The sacred volumes declare that
"whenever a king, fancying himself mighty, seeks to devour a Brahman,
that kingdom is broken up, in which a Brahman is oppressed" (Ibid.,
vol. i. p. 287). "No one who has eaten a Brahman's cow continues to
watch (_i.e._, to rule) over a country." The Indian gods, moreover,
"do not eat the food offered by a king who has no ... Purohita," or
domestic chaplain (A. B., p. 528). The murder of a king who had honored
and enriched the Buddhist priesthood, is said to have entailed the
destruction of the power and strength of the kingdom of Thibet, and
to have extinguished the happiness and welfare of its people (G. O.
M., p. 362). And Jewish history affords abundant instances of the
manner in which the success or glory of the rulers was connected, by
the sacerdotal class, with the respect shown towards themselves as the
ministers of Jehovah, and with the rigor evinced in persecuting or
putting down the ministers of every other creed. That the same bias has
been betrayed by the Christian priesthood and their adherents in the
interpretation of history needs no proof.

The presence of a priest or priests at important rites is held to be
indispensable by all religions. With the negroes visited by Oldendorp,
the priest was in requisition at burials; for he only could help
the soul to get to God, and keep off the evil spirit who would seek
to obtain possession of it (G. d. M., p. 327). "For most of the
ceremonies" (in Thibet) "the performance by a Lama is considered
indispensable to its due effect; and even where this is not so, the
efficacy of the rite is increased by the Lama's assistance" (B. T., p.
247). Much the same thing may be said here. For certain ceremonies,
such as confirmation, the administration of the sacrament, the conduct
of divine service on Sundays, the priest is a necessary official. For
others, such as marriage, the majority of the people prefer to employ
him, and no doubt believe that "the efficacy of the rite is increased"
by the fact that he reads the words of the service. Nor is this
surprising when we consider that, until within very recent times, no
legitimate child could be produced in England without the assistance of
a priest.

Not only is the ecclesiastical caste required to render religious rites
acceptable to the deity, but they are often endowed with the attribute
of ability to modify the course of nature. Tanna, one of the Fiji
group, "there are rain-makers and thunder-makers, and fly and musquito
makers, and a host of other 'sacred men;'" and in another island "there
is a rain-making class of priests" (N. Y., pp. 89, 428). In Christian
countries all priests are rain-makers, the reading of prayers for fine
or wet weather being a portion of their established duties.

Naturally, the members of a class whose functions are of this high
value to the community enjoy great power, are regarded as extremely
sacred, and above all, are well rewarded. First, as to the power
they enjoy. This is accorded to them alike by savage tribes and by
cultivated Europeans. According to Brinton, all North American tribes
"appear to have been controlled" by secret societies of priests.
"Withal," says the same authority, "there was no class of persons who
so widely and deeply influenced the culture, and shaped the destiny
of the Indian tribes, as their priests" (M. N. W., p. 285). Over the
negroes of the Caribbean Islands the priests and priestesses exercised
an almost unlimited dominion, being regarded with the greatest
reverence. No negro would have ventured to transgress the arrangements
made by a priest (G. d. M., p. 327). On the coast of Guinea there
exists, or existed, an institution by which certain women became
priestesses; and such women, even though slaves before, enjoyed, on
receiving this dignity, a high position and even exercised absolute
authority precisely in the quarter where it must have been sweetest to
their minds, namely, over their husbands (D. C. G., p. 363). Writing of
the Talapoins in Siam, Gervaise says, that they are exempted from all
public charges; they salute nobody, while everybody prostrates himself
before them; they are maintained at the public expense, and so forth
(H. N. S., troisième partie, chs. 5, 6). Of the enormous power wielded
by the clerical order in Europe, especially during the Middle Ages,
it is unnecessary to speak. The humiliation of Theodosius by Ambrose
was one of the most conspicuous, as it was one of the most beneficent,
exercises of their extensive rights.

Secondly, the sanctity attached to their persons is usually
considerable, and may often, to ambitious minds, afford a large
compensation for the loss (if such be required) of some kinds of
secular enjoyment. The African priestesses just mentioned are "as much
respected as the priest, or rather more," and call themselves by the
appellation of "God's children." When certain Buddhist ecclesiastics
were executed for rebellion in Ceylon, the utmost astonishment was
expressed by the people at the temerity of the king in so treating
"such holy and reverend persons. And none heretofore," adds the
reporter of the fact, "have been so served; being reputed and called
_sons of Boddon_" (H. R. C., p. 75), or Buddha; a title exactly
corresponding to that of God's children bestowed upon the priestesses.
In Siam the "Talapoins," or priests, are of two kinds: secular, living
in the world; and regular, living in the forest without intercourse
with men. There is no limit to the veneration given by the Siamese
to these last, whom they look upon as demigods (H. N. S., troisième
partie, p. 184). "The Brahman caste," according to the sacred books of
the Hindus, "is sprung from the gods" (O. S. T., vol. i. p. 21); and
the exceptional honor always accorded to them is in harmony with this
theory of their origin. The title "Reverend," man to be revered, given
to the clergy in Europe, implies the existence, at least originally, of
a similar sentiment of respect.

Lastly, the services of priests are generally well rewarded, and they
themselves take every care to encourage liberality towards their order.
Payment is made to them either in the shape of direct remuneration, or
in that of exceptional pecuniary privileges, or in that of exemptions
from burdens. Direct remuneration may be, and often is, given in the
shape of a fixed portion abstracted from the property of the laity
for the benefit of the clergy. Such are the tithes bestowed by law
upon the latter among the Jews, the Parsees, and the Christians. Or,
direct remuneration may consist in fees for services rendered, and in
voluntary gifts. Such fees and gifts are always represented by the
priesthood as highly advantageous to the givers. If the relatives of a
deceased Parsee do not give the priest who officiates at the funeral
four new robes, the dead will appear naked before the throne of God at
the resurrection, and will be put to shame before the whole assembly
(Av., vol. ii. p. xli.; iii. p. xliv). Moreover, those Parsees who
wish to live happily, and have children who will do them honor, must
pay four priests, who during three days and three nights perform the
Yasna for them (Z. A., vol. ii. p. 564). In Thibet there is great merit
in consecrating a domestic animal to a certain god, the animal being
after a certain time "delivered to the Lamas, who may eat it" (B. T.,
p. 158). Giving alms to the monks is a duty most sedulously inculcated
by Buddhism, and the Buddhist writings abound in illustrations of the
advantages derived from the practice. Similar benefits accrue to the
clergy from the custom, prevailing in Ceylon, of making offerings
in the temples for recovery from sickness; for when the Singhalese
have left their gift on the altar, "the priest presents it with all
due ceremony to the god; and after its purpose is thus served, very
prudently converts it to his own use" (A I. C., p. 205). Of the Levites
it is solemnly declared in Deuteronomy that they have "no part nor
inheritance with Israel," and that "the Lord is their inheritance." But
"the Lord" is soon seen to be a very substantial inheritance indeed.
From those that offer an ox or a sheep the priests are to receive "the
shoulder, the two cheeks, and the maw;" while the first-fruits of corn,
wine, and oil, and the first of the sheep's fleeces are to be given to
them (Deut. xviii. 1-5). Moreover, giving to the priest is declared to
be the same thing as giving to the Lord (Num. v. 8). A similar notion,
always fostered by ecclesiastical influence, has led to the vast
endowments bestowed by pious monarchs and wealthy individuals upon the
Christian clergy.

Occasionally, the priests enjoy exemptions from the taxes, or other
burdens levied upon ordinary people. A singular instance of this is
found in the privilege of the Parsee priests, of not paying their
doctors (J. A., vol. ii. p. 555). Large immunities used to be enjoyed
by ecclesiastics among ourselves, especially that of exemption from the
jurisdiction of the ordinary courts of law.

While the life of a priest often entails certain privations, he is
nevertheless frequently sustained by the thought that there is merit in
the sacrifices he makes. Thus, it is held by a Buddhist authority, that
the merit obtained by entering the spiritual order is very great; and
that his merit is immeasurable who either permits a son, a daughter, or
a slave, to enter it, or enters it himself (W. u. T., p. 107).

Priesthoods may either be hereditary or selected. The Brahmins in
India, and the Levites in Judæa, are remarkable types of hereditary,
the Buddhist and the Christian clergy of selected, sacerdotal orders.
Curious modifications of the hereditary principle were found among the
American Indians. Thus, "among the Nez Percés of Oregon," the priestly
office "was transmitted in one family from father to son and daughter,
but, always with the proviso that the children at the proper age
reported dreams of a satisfactory character." The Shawnees "confined it
to one _totem_:" but just as the Hebrew prophets need not be Levites,
"the greatest of their prophets ... was not a member of this clan."
The Cherokees "had one family set apart for the priestly office," and
when they "abused their birthright" and were all massacred, another
family took their places. With another tribe, the Choctaws, the
office of high-priest remained in one family, passing from father
to son; "and the very influential piaches of the Carib tribes very
generally transmitted their rank and position to their children." A
more important case of hereditary priesthood is that of the Incas of
Peru, who monopolized the highest offices both in Church and State.
"In ancient Anahuac" there existed a double system of inheritance and
selection. The priests of Huitzilopochtli, "and perhaps a few other
gods," were hereditary; and the high-priest of that god, towards
whom the whole order was required to observe implicit obedience, was
the "hereditary pontifex maximus." But the rest were dedicated to
ecclesiastical life from early childhood, and were carefully educated
for the profession (M. N. W., p. 281-291).

Christianity entirely abandoned the hereditary principle prevalent
among its spiritual ancestors, the Jews, and selected for its ministers
of religion those who felt, or professed to feel, an internal vocation
for this career. Doubtless this is the most effectual plan for securing
a powerful priesthood. Those who belong to it have their heart far more
thoroughly in their work than can possibly be the case when it falls to
them by right of birth. Just the most priestly-minded of the community
become priests; and a far greater air of zeal and of sanctity attaches
to an order thus maintained, than to one of which many of the members
possess no qualification but that of family, tribe, or caste.

Nothing can be more irrational than the denunciation of priests
and priestcraft which is often indulged in by Liberal writers and
politicians. If it be true that priests have shown considerable
cunning, it is also true that the people have fostered that cunning by
credulity. And if the clergy have put forth very large pretensions to
inspiration, divine authority, and hidden knowledge, it is equally the
fact that the laity have demanded such qualifications at their hands.
An order can scarcely be blamed if it seeks to satisfy the claims which
the popular religion makes upon it. Enlightenment from heaven has in
all ages and countries been positively demanded. Sacrifices have always
had to be made; and when it was found more convenient to delegate
the function of offering them to a class apart, that class naturally
established ritualistic rules of their own, and as naturally asserted
(and no doubt believed) that all sacrifices not offered according to
these rules were displeasing to God. And they could not profess the
inspiration which they were expected to manifest without also requiring
obedience to divine commands. Priests are, in fact, the mere outcome
of religious belief as it commonly exists; and partly minister to that
belief by deliberate trickery, partly share it themselves, and honestly
accept the accredited view of their own lofty commission.

Divine inspiration leads by a very logical process to infallibility.
A Church founded on revelation needs living teachers to preserve
the correct interpretation of that revelation. Without such living
teachers, revealed truth itself becomes (as it always has done among
Protestants) an occasion of discord and of schism. But the interpreters
of revelation in their turn must be able to appeal to some sole and
supreme authority, as the arbiter between varying opinions, and the
guide to be followed through all the intricacies of dogma. Nowhere
can such an arbiter and such a guide be found more naturally than
in the head of the Church himself. If God speaks to mankind through
his Church, it is only a logical conclusion that within that Church
there must be one through whom he speaks with absolute certainty, and
whose prophetic voice must therefore be infallible. There cannot be a
more consistent application of the general theory of priesthood; and
there is no more fatal sign for the prospects of Christianity than the
inability of many of its supporters to accept so useful a doctrine,
and the thoughtless indignation of some among them against the single
Church which has had the wisdom to proclaim it.

                              CHAPTER V.

                             HOLY PERSONS.

Although for the ordinary and regular communications from the divine
Being to man the established priesthoods might suffice, yet occasions
arise when there is need of a plenipotentiary with higher authority
and more extensive powers. What is required of these exceptional
ambassadors is not merely to repeat the doctrines of the old religion,
but to establish a new one. In other words, they are the original
founders of the great religions of the world. Of such founders there is
but a very limited number.

Beginning with China, and proceeding from East to West, we find six:—

  1. CONFUCIUS, or KHUNG-FU-TSZE, the founder of Confucianism.
  2. LAÒ-TSÉ, the founder of Taouism.
  3. SAKYAMUNI, or GAUTAMA BUDDHA, the founder of Buddhism.
  4. ZARATHUSTRA, or ZOROASTER, the founder of Parseeism.
  5. MOHAMMED, or MAHOMET, the founder of Islamism.
  6. JESUS CHRIST, the founder of Christianity.

All these men, whom for convenience sake I propose to call _prophets_,
occupy an entirely exceptional position in the history of the human
race. The characteristics, or marks, by which they may be distinguished
from other great men, are partly external, belonging to the views of
others about them; partly internal, belonging to their own view about

1. The first external mark by which they are distinguished is, that
within his own religion each of these is recognized as the highest
known authority. They alone are thought of as having the right to
change what is established. While all other teachers appeal to them
for the sanction of their doctrines, there is no appeal from them
to any one beyond. What they have said is final. They are in perfect
possession of the truth. Others are in possession of it only in so
far as they agree with them. No doubt, the sacred books are equally
infallible with the prophets; but the sacred books of religions founded
by prophets derive their authority in the last resort from them, and
are always held to be only a written statement of their teaching. Thus,
the sacred books of China are partly of direct Confucian authorship;
partly by others who recognize him as their head. The only sacred
book of the Tao-tsé is by their founder himself. The sacred books
of the Buddhists are supposed discourses of the Buddha. The Avesta
is the reputed work of Zarathustra. The Koran is the actual work of
Mahomet. And lastly, the New Testament is all of it written in express
subordination to the authority of Christ, to which it constantly
appeals. These books, then, are infallible, because they contain the
doctrines of their founders.

The same thing is true where there is an infallible Church. The Church
never claims the same absolute authority as it concedes to its prophet.
Its infallibility consists in its power to interpret correctly the
mind of him by whom it was established. He it is who brought the
message from above which no human power could have discovered. It is
the Church's function to explain that message to the world; and, where
needed, to deduce such inferences therefrom as by its supernatural
inspiration it perceives to be just. Beyond this, the power of the
Church does not extend.

A second external mark, closely related to the first, is, that the
prophet of each religion is, within the limits of that religion, the
object of a more or less mythical delineation of his personality. His
historical form is, to some extent, superseded by the form bestowed
upon him by a dogmatic legend. According to that legend there was
something about his nature that was more than human. He was in some
way extraordinary. The myths related vary from a mere exaltation
of the common features of humanity, to the invention of completely
supernatural attributes. But their object is the same: to represent
their prophet as more highly endowed than other mortals. Even where
there is little of absolute myth, the representation we receive is
one-sided; we know nothing of the prophet's faults, except in so far as
we may discover them against the will of the biographers. To them he
appears all-virtuous. These remarks will be abundantly illustrated when
we come to consider the life of Jesus, and to compare it with that of
his compeers.

2. The internal mark corresponds to the first external mark, of which
it is indeed the subjective counterpart. These prophets conceive
themselves deputed to teach a faith, and they virtually recognize in
the performance of this mission no human authority superior to their
own. In words, perhaps, they do acknowledge some established authority;
but in fact they set it aside. No Church or priesthood has the smallest
weight with them, as opposed to that intense internal conviction which
appears to them an inspiration. Hence it was observed of Jesus, that
he taught with authority, and not as the scribes. Without being able
themselves to give any explanation of the fact, they feel themselves
endowed with plenary power to reform. And it is not, like other
reformers, in the name of another that they do this; they reform in
their own right, and with no other title than their own profound
consciousness of being not only permitted, but charged to do it.

Nevertheless, it must not be imagined that the prophets sweep away
everything they find in the existing religion. On the contrary, it
will be found on examination that they always retain some important
element or elements of the older faith. Without this, they would have
no hold on the popular mind of their country, from which they would
be too far removed to make themselves understood. Thus, Allah was
already recognized as God by the Arabians in the time of Mahomet,
whose reform consisted in teaching that he was the only God. Thus, the
Messiah was already expected by the Jews in the time of Jesus, whose
reform consisted in applying the expectation to himself. Prophets
take advantage of a faith already in existence, and making that the
foundation of a new religion, erect upon it the more special truths
they are inspired to proclaim.

No prophet can construct a religion entirely from his own brain.
Were he to do so, he would be unable to show any reason why it
should be accepted. There would be no feeling in the minds of his
hearers to which he could appeal. A religion to be accepted by any
but an insignificant fraction, must find a response not only in the
intellects, but in the emotions of those for whom it is designed.

This, it appears to me, is the weak point of Positivism. Auguste Comte,
having abolished all that in the general mind constitutes religion
at all, attempted to compose a faith for his disciples by the merely
arbitrary exercise of his own ingenuity. He perhaps did not consider
that in all history there is no example of a religion being invented by
an individual thinker. It is like attempting to sell a commodity for
which there is no demand. Even if his philosophical principles should
be accepted by the whole of Europe, there can be no reason why the
special observances he recommends should be adopted, or the special
saints whom he places in the calendar be adored. Those who receive
his philosophy will have no need for his ceremonies. While even if
ceremonies cannot be entirely dispensed with, it is not the mere fact
of a solitary thinker planning it in his own mind that can ever ensure
the adoption of a ritual.

Very different has been the procedure of the prophets of whom we are
now to speak. Intellectually, they were no doubt far inferior to
the founder of the Positive Philosophy. But emotionally, they were
fitted for the part which he unsuccessfully endeavored to play. They
entered into the religious feelings of their countrymen, and gave
those feelings a higher expression than had yet been found for them.
Instinctively fixing on some conspicuous part of the old religion,
they made that the starting-point for the development of the new. They
reformed, but the reformation linked itself to some conviction that was
already deeply rooted in the nature of their converts. They assumed
boundless authority; but it was authority to proclaim a pre-existing
truth, not to spin out of their purely personal ideas of fitness a
system altogether disconnected from the past evolution of religion, and
to impose that system upon the remainder of mankind.

                       SECTION I.—CONFUCIUS.[11]

The life of the prophet of China is not eventful. It has neither the
charm of philosophic placidity and retirement from the world which
belongs to that of Laò-tsé, nor the romantic interest of the more
varied careers of Sakyamuni, Christ, or Mahomet. For Confucius, though
a philosopher, did not object, indeed rather desired, to take some
share in the government of his country, but his wishes received very
little gratification. Rulers refused to acquiesce in his principles
of administration, and he was compelled to rely for their propagation
mainly on the oral instruction imparted to his disciples. His life,
therefore, bears to some extent the aspect of a failure, though for
this appearance he himself is not to blame. Another cause, which
somewhat diminishes the interest we might otherwise take in him, is his
excessive attention to proprieties, ceremonies, and rites. We cannot
but feel that a truly great man, even in China, would have emancipated
himself from the bondage of such trifles. Nevertheless, after all
deductions are made, enough remains to render the career and character
of Confucius deserving of attention, and in many respects of admiration.

Descended from a family which had formerly been powerful and noble,
but was now in comparatively modest circumstances, he was born in
B.C. 551, his father's name being Shuh-leang Heih, and his mother's
Ching-Tsae. The legends related of his nativity I pass over for the
present. His father, who was an old man when he was born, died when
the child was in his third year; and his mother in B.C. 528. At
nineteen, Confucius was married; and at twenty-one he came forward
as a teacher. Disciples attached themselves to him, and during his
long career as a philosopher, we find him constantly attended by some
faithful friends, who receive all he says with unbounded deference,
and propose questions for his decision as to an authority against whom
there can be no appeal. The maxims of Confucius did not refer solely to
ethics or to religion; they bore largely upon the art of government,
and he was desirous if possible of putting them in actual practice
in the administration of public affairs. China, however, was in a
state of great confusion in his days; there were rebellions and wars
in progress: and the character of the rulers from whom he might have
obtained employment was such, that he could not, consistently with the
high standard of honor on which he always acted, accept favors at their
hands. One of them proposed to grant him a town with its revenues; but
Confucius said: "A superior man will only receive reward for services
which he has done. I have given advice to the duke Ting (see below),
but he has not obeyed it, and now he would endow me with this place!
very far is he from understanding me" (C. C., vol. i., Prolegomena, p.
68). In the year 500 the means were at length put within his reach of
carrying his views into practice. He was made "chief magistrate of a
town" in the state of Loo; and this first appointment was followed by
that of "assistant-superintendent of works," and subsequently by that
of "minister of crime." In this office he is said to have put an end to
crime altogether; but Dr. Legge rightly warns us against confiding in
the "indiscriminating eulogies" of his disciples. A more substantial
service attributed to him is that of procuring the dismantlement of two
fortified towns which were the refuge of dangerous and warlike chiefs.
But his reforming government was brought to an end after a few years
by the weakness of his sovereign, duke Ting, who was captivated by a
present of eighty beautiful and accomplished girls, and one hundred and
twenty horses, from a neighboring State. Engrossed by this present, the
duke neglected public affairs, and the philosopher felt bound to resign.

We need not follow him during the long wanderings through various parts
of China which followed upon this disappointment. After traveling from
State to State for many years, he returned in his sixty-ninth year to
Loo, but not to office. In the year 478 his sad and troubled life was
closed by death.

Our information respecting the character of Confucius is ample. From
the book which Dr. Legge has entitled the "Confucian Analects," a
collection of his sayings made (as he believes) by the disciples of
his disciples, we obtain the most minute particulars both as to his
personal habits and as to the nature of his teaching. The impression
derived from these accounts is that of a gentle, virtuous, benevolent,
and eminently honorable man; a man who, like Socrates, was indifferent
to the reward received for his tuition, though not refusing payment
altogether; who would never sacrifice a single principle for the
sake of his individual advantage; yet who was anxious, if possible,
to benefit the kingdom by the establishment of an administration
penetrated with those ethical maxims which he conceived to be
all-important. Yet, irreproachable as his moral character was, there is
about him a deficiency of that bold originality which has characterized
the greatest prophets of other nations. Sakyamuni revolted against
the restrictions of caste which dominated all minds in India. Jesus
boldly claimed for moral conduct a rank far superior to that of every
ceremonial obligation, even those which were held the most sacred by
his countrymen. Mahomet, morally far below the Chinese sage, evinced
a far more independent genius by his attack on the prevalent idolatry
of Mecca. Confucius did nothing of this kind. His was a mind which
looked back longingly to antiquity, and imagined that it discovered
in the ancient rulers and the ancient modes of action, the models of
perfection which all later times should strive to follow. Nor was
this all. He was so profoundly under the influence of Chinese ways of
thinking, as to attach an almost ludicrous importance to a precise
conformity to certain rules of propriety, and to regard the exactitude
with which ceremonies were performed as matter of the highest concern.
In fact, he could not emancipate himself from the traditions of his
country; and his principles would have resulted rather in making his
followers perfect Chinamen than perfect men.

A far more serious charge is indeed brought against him by Dr.
Legge—that of insincerity (C. C., vol. i.—Prolegomena— p. 101). I
hesitate to impugn the opinion of so competent a scholar; yet the
evidence he has produced does not seem to me sufficient to sustain the
indictment. Granting that he gave an unwelcome visitor the excuse of
sickness, which was untrue, still, as we are ignorant of the reasons
which led him to decline seeing the person in question, we cannot
estimate the force of the motives that induced him to put forward a
plea in conformity with the polite customs of his country. It does not
appear, moreover, that he practiced an intentional deceit. And though
on one occasion he may have violated an oath extorted by rebels who
had him in their power, therein acting wrongly (as I think), it is
always an open question how far promises made under such circumstances
are binding on the conscience. Whatever failings, however, it may be
necessary to admit, there can be no question of the preëminent purity
alike of his life and doctrine. His is a character which, be its
imperfections what they may, we cannot help loving; and there have been
few, indeed, who would not have been benefited by the attempt to reach
even that standard of virtue which he held up to the admiration of his

A few quotations from the works in which his words and actions are
preserved, will illustrate these remarks. In the tenth Book of the
Analects (C. C., vol. i. p. 91-100), his manners, his garments,
his mode of behavior under various circumstances, are elaborately
described. There are not many personages in history of whom we have so
minute a knowledge. We learn that "in his village" he "looked simple
and sincere, and as if he were not able to speak." His reverence
for his superiors seems to have been profound. "When the prince was
present, his manner displayed respectful uneasiness; it was grave,
but self-possessed." When going to an audience of the prince, "he
ascended the dais, holding up his robe with both his hands, and his
body bent; holding in his breath also, as if he dared not breathe.
When he came out _from the audience_ (the italics, here and elsewhere,
are in Legge), as soon as he had descended one step, he began to relax
his countenance, and had a satisfied look. When he had got to the
bottom of the steps, he advanced rapidly to his place, _with his arms_
like wings, and on occupying it, his manner _still_ showed respectful
uneasiness." He was rather particular about his food, rejecting meat
unless "cut properly," and with "its proper sauce."

Whatever he might be eating, however, "he would offer a little of it
in sacrifice." "When any of his friends died, if the deceased had
no relations who could be depended on for the necessary offices, he
would say, 'I will bury him.'" "In bed, he did not lie like a corpse."
And it is satisfactory to learn of one who was such a respecter of
formalities, that "at home he did not put on any formal deportment."
Notwithstanding this, he does not appear to have been on very intimate
terms with his son, to whom he is reported to have said that unless
he learned "the odes" he would not be fit to converse with; and that
unless he learned "the rules of propriety" his character could not be
established. The disciple, who was informed by the son himself that
he had never heard from his father any other special doctrine, was
probably right in concluding that "the superior man maintains a distant
reserve towards his son" (Lun Yu, xvi. 13).

But with his beloved disciples Confucius was on terms of affectionate
intimacy which does not seem to have been marred by "the rules of
propriety." For the death of one of them at least he mourned so
bitterly as to draw down upon himself the expostulation of those who
remained (Ibid., xi. 9). The picture of the Master, accompanied at all
times by his faithful friends, who hang upon his lips, and eagerly
gather up his every utterance, is on the whole a pleasant one. "Do you
think, my disciples," he asks, "that I have any concealments? I conceal
nothing from you. There is nothing that I do which is not shown to you,
my disciples;—that is my way" (Ibid., vii. 23). And with all the homage
he is constantly receiving, Confucius is never arrogant. He never
speaks like a man who wishes to enforce his views in an authoritative
style on others; never threatens punishment either here or hereafter to
those who dissent from him.

"There were four things," his disciples tell us, "from which the
Master was entirely free. He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary
predeterminations, no obstinacy, and no egoism" (Lun Yu, ix. 4). And
his conduct is entirely in harmony with this statement. It is as a
learner, rather than a teacher, that he regards himself. "The Master
said, 'When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my
teachers. I will select their good qualities, and follow them; their
bad qualities, and avoid them'" (Ibid., vii. 21). Or again: "The sage
and the man of perfect virtue, how dare I _rank myself with them_? It
may simply be said of me, that I strive to become such without satiety,
and teach others without weariness" (Ibid., vii. 33). "In letters I am
perhaps equal to other men, but _the character_ of the superior man,
carrying out in his conduct what he professes, is what I have not yet
attained to" (Ibid., vii. 32).

Notwithstanding this modesty, there are traces—few indeed, but not
obscure—of that conviction of a peculiar mission which all great
prophets have entertained, and without which even Confucius would
scarcely have been ranked among them. The most distinct of these is
the following passage:—"The Master was put in fear in K'wang. He
said, 'After the death of king Wan, was not the cause of truth lodged
here _in me_? If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish,
then I, a future mortal, should not have got such a relation to that
cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can
the people of K'wang do to me?'" (Lun Yu, ix. 5). These remarkable
words would be conclusive, if they stood alone. But they do not stand
alone. In another place we find him thus lamenting the pain of being
generally misunderstood, which is apt to be so keenly felt by exalted
and sensitive natures. "The Master said, 'Alas! there is no one that
knows me.' Tse-kung said, 'What do you mean by thus saying—that no
one knows you?' The Master replied, 'I do not murmur against Heaven.
I do not grumble against men. My studies lie low, and my penetration
rises high. But there is Heaven;—that knows me!'" (Ibid., xiv. 37). Men
might reject his labors and despise his teaching, but he would complain
neither against Heaven nor against them. If he was not known by men,
he was known by Heaven, and that was enough. On another occasion, "the
Master said, 'Heaven produced the virtue that is in me, Hwan T'uy—what
can he do to me?'"[12]

These passages are the more remarkable, because Confucius was not in
the ordinary sense a believer in God. That is, he never, throughout his
instructions, says a single word implying acknowledgment of a personal
Deity; a Creator of the world; a Being whom we are bound to worship
as the author of our lives and the ruler of our destinies. He has
even been suspected of omitting from his edition of the Shoo-king and
the She-king everything that could support the comparatively theistic
doctrine of his contemporary, Laò-tsé (By V. von Strauss, T. T. K.,
p. xxxviii). That his high respect for antiquity would have permitted
such a procedure is, to say the least, very improbable; and Dr. Legge
is no doubt right in acquitting him of any willful suppression of,
or addition to, the ancient articles of Chinese faith (C. C., vol.
i. Prolegomena, p. 99). For our present purpose it is enough to note
that he avoided all discussion on the higher problems of religion;
and contented himself with speaking, and that but rarely, of a vague,
and hardly personal Being which he called Heaven. Thus, in a book
attributed (perhaps erroneously) to his grandson, he is reported as
saying, "Sincerity is the very way of Heaven" (Chung Yung, xx. 18).
Of king Woo and the duke of Chow, two ancient worthies, he says: "By
the ceremonies of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth they served God"
(where he seems to distinguish between Heaven and God, whom I believe
he never mentions but here); "and by the ceremonies of the ancestral
temple they sacrificed to their ancestors. He who understands the
ceremonies of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, and the meaning of
the several sacrifices to ancestors, would find the government of a
kingdom as easy as to look into his palm" (Ibid., xix. 6). Elsewhere,
he remarks that "he who is greatly virtuous will be sure to receive
the appointment of heaven" (Ibid., xvii. 5). Again: "Heaven, in the
production of things, is surely bountiful to them, according to their
qualities" (Ibid., xvii. 3). Nothing very definite can be gathered
from these passages, as to his opinions concerning the nature of the
power of which he spoke thus obscurely. Yet it would be rash to find
fault with him on that account. His language may have been, and in all
probability was, the correct expression of his feelings. His mind was
not of the dogmatic type; and if he does not teach his disciples any
very intelligible principles concerning spiritual matters, it is simply
because he is honestly conscious of having none to teach.

There are, indeed, indications which might be taken to imply the
existence of an esoteric doctrine. "To those," he says, "whose
talents are above mediocrity, the highest subjects may be announced.
To those who are below mediocrity, the highest subjects may not be
announced" (Lun Yu, vi. 19). We are further told that Tsze-kung said,
"the Master's _personal_ displays _of his principles_, and _ordinary_
descriptions of them may be heard. His discourses about _man's_ nature,
and the way of Heaven, cannot be heard" (Ibid., v. 12). This last
passage appears to mean that they were not open to the indiscriminate
multitude, nor perhaps to all of the disciples. But we may reasonably
suppose that the intimate friends who recorded his sayings were
considered by him to be above mediocrity, and were the depositaries of
all he had to tell them on religious matters.

Yet this, little as it was, may not always have been rightly
understood. Once, for example, he says to a disciple, "Sin, my doctrine
is that of an all-pervading unity." This is interpreted by the disciple
(in the Master's absence) to mean only that his doctrine is "to be
true to the principles of our nature, and the benevolent exercise of
them to others" (Ibid., iv. 15). I can hardly believe that Confucius
would have taught so simple a lesson under so obscure a figure; and it
is possible that the reserve that he habitually practiced with regard
to his religious faith may have prevented a fuller explanation. "The
subjects on which the Master did not talk were—extraordinary things,
feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings" (Lun Yu, vii. 20).
And although, in the Doctrine of the Mean (a work which is perhaps
less authentic than the Analects) we find him discoursing freely on
spiritual beings, which, he says, "abundantly display the powers that
belong to them" (Chung Yung, 16), there are portions of the Analects
which confirm the impression that he did not readily venture into
these extra-mundane regions. Heaven itself, he once pointed out to an
over-curious disciple, preserves an unbroken silence (Lun Yu, xvii.
19). Interrogated "about serving the spirits of the dead," he gave this
striking answer: "While you are not able to serve men, how can you
serve their spirits?" And when "Ke Loo added, 'I venture to ask about
death?' he was answered, 'While you do not know life, how can you know
about death?'" (Ibid., xi. 11). Another instance of a similar reticence
is presented by his conduct during an illness. "The Master being very
sick, Tsze-Loo asked leave to pray for him. He said, 'May such a thing
be done?' Tsze-Loo replied, 'It may. In the prayers it is said, Prayer
has been made to the spirits of the upper and lower worlds.' The Master
said, 'My praying has been for a long time'" (Ibid., vii. 34). I am
unable to see "the satisfaction of Confucius with himself," which Dr.
Legge discovers in this reply. To me it appears simply to indicate the
devout attitude of his mind, which is evinced by many other passages in
his conversation. In short, though we may complain of the indefinite
character of the faith he taught, and wish that he had expressed
himself more fully, there can scarcely be a doubt that Confucius had a
deeply religious mind; and that he looked with awe and reverence upon
that power which he called by the name of "Heaven," which controlled
the progress of events, and would not suffer the cause of truth to
perish altogether.

It is true, however, that he confined himself chiefly, and indeed
almost entirely, to moral teaching. His main object undoubtedly was
to inculcate upon his friends, and if possible to introduce among the
people at large, those great principles of ethics which he thought
would restore the virtue and well-being of ancient times. Those
principles are aptly summarized in the following verse: "The duties
of universal obligation are five, and the virtues wherewith they
are practiced are three. The duties are those between sovereign and
minister, between father and son, between husband and wife, between
elder brother and younger, and those belonging to the intercourse of
friends. Those five are the duties of universal obligation. Knowledge,
magnanimity, and energy, these three are the virtues universally
binding; and the means by which they carry the duties into practice is
singleness" (Chung Yung, xx. 7). In the Analects, "Gravity, generosity
of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness," are said to constitute
perfect virtue (Lun Yu, xvii. 6).

It is as an earnest and devoted teacher, both by example and by
precept, of these and other virtues, that Confucius must be judged.
And in order to assist the formation of such a judgment, let us take
his doctrine of Reciprocity, to which I shall return in another place.
"Tsze-kung asked, saying, 'Is there one word which may serve as a rule
of practice for all one's life?' The Master said, 'Is not Reciprocity
such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to
others'" (Lun Yu, xv. 23). On a kindred topic he thus delivered his
opinion: "Some one said, 'What do you say concerning the principle
that injury should be recompensed with kindness?' The Master said,
'With what, then, will you recompense kindness? Recompense injury with
justice, and recompense kindness with kindness'" (Ibid., xiv. 26).

If in the above sentence he may be thought to fall short of the highest
elevation, there are some among his apothegms, the point and excellence
of which have, perhaps, never been surpassed. Take for instance
these:—"The superior man is catholic and no partizan. The mean man is
a partizan and not catholic." "Learning without thought is labor lost;
thought without learning is perilous" (Ibid., ii. 14, 15). Or these:—"I
will not be afflicted at men's not knowing me; I will be afflicted that
I do not know men" (Ibid., i. 16). "A scholar, whose mind is set on
truth, and who is ashamed of bad clothes and bad food, is not fit to
be discoursed with" (Ibid., iv. 9). "The superior man is affable, but
not adulatory; the mean is adulatory, but not affable" (Ibid., xiii.
23). "Where the solid qualities are in excess of accomplishments, we
have rusticity; where the accomplishments are in excess of the solid
qualities, we have the manners of a clerk. When the accomplishments and
solid qualities are equally blended, we then have the man of complete
virtue" (Lun Yu, vi. 16). Lastly, I will quote one which, with a slight
change of terms, might have emanated from the pen of Thomas Carlyle:
"There are three things of which the superior man stands in awe:—He
stands in awe of the ordinances of heaven; he stands in awe of great
men; he stands in awe of the words of sages. The mean man does not know
the ordinances of heaven, and _consequently_ does not stand in awe of
them. He is disrespectful to great men. He makes sport of the words of
sages" (Ibid., xvi. 8).

These, and various other recorded sayings, go far to explain, if
not to justify, the unbounded admiration of his faithful follower,
Tsze-kung: "Our Master cannot be attained to, just in the same way as
the heavens cannot be gone up to by the steps of a stair. Were our
Master in the position of the prince of a State, or the chief of a
family, we should find verified the description _which has been given
of a sage's rule_:—he would plant the people, and forthwith they would
be established; he would lead them on, and forthwith they would follow
him; he would make them happy, and forthwith _multitudes_ would resort
to _his dominions_; he would stimulate them, and forthwith they would
be harmonious. While he lived, he would be glorious. When he died, he
would be bitterly lamented. How is it possible for him to be attained
to?" (Ibid., xix. 25.)

                       SECTION II.—LAÒ-TSÉ.[13]

Concerning the life of Laò-tsé, the founder of the smallest of the
three sects of China (Confucians, Buddhists, and Taouists), we have
only the most meagre information. Scarcely anything is known either of
his personal character or of his doctrine, except through his book. His
birth-year is unknown to us, and can only be approximately determined
by means of the date assigned to his famous interview with his great
contemporary, Confucius. This occurred in B. C. 517, when Laò-tsé
was very old. He may, therefore, have been born about the year B. C.
600.[14] All we can say of his career is, that he held an office in
the State of Tseheu, that of "writer (or historian) of the archives."
When visited by Confucius, who was the master of a rival school, he is
said to have addressed him in these terms:—"Those whom you talk about
are dead, and their bones are mouldered to dust; only their words
remain. When the superior man gets his time, he mounts aloft; but when
the time is against him, he moves as if his feet were entangled. I
have heard that a good merchant, though he has rich treasures deeply
stored, appears as if he were poor; and that the superior man, whose
virtue is complete, is yet to outward seeming stupid. Put away your
proud air and many desires; your insinuating habit and wild will.
These are of no advantage to you. This is all which I have to tell
you." After this interview, Confucius thus expressed his opinion of
the older philosopher to his disciples:—"I know how birds can fly, how
fishes can swim, and how animals can run. But the runner may be snared,
the swimmer may be hooked, and the flyer may be shot by the arrow. But
there is the dragon. I cannot tell how he mounts on the wind through
the clouds and rises to heaven. To-day I have seen Laò-tsé, and can
only compare him to the dragon" (C. C., vol. i. Proleg. p. 65.—T. T.
K., p. liii.—L. T.., p. iv).

Troubles in the State in which he held office induced him to retire,
and to seek the frontier. Here the officer in command requested him
to write a book, the result of which request was the Taò-tĕ-Kīng. "No
one knows," says the Chinese historian, "where he died. Laò-tsé was a
hidden sage" (T. T. K., p. lvi).

To this very scanty historical information we may add such indications
as Laò-tsé himself has given us of his personality. One of these is
contained in the twentieth chapter of his work, in which he tells
us that while other men are radiant with pleasure, he is calm, like
a child that does not yet smile. He wavers to and fro, as one who
knows not where to turn. Other men have abundance; he is as it were
deprived of all. He is like a stupid fellow, so confused does he feel.
Ordinary men are enlightened; he is obscure and troubled in mind. Like
the sea he is forgotten, and driven about like one who has no certain
resting-place. All other men are of use; he alone is clownish like a
peasant. He alone is unlike other men, but he honors the nursing mother
(T. T. K., ch. xx).

It is obvious that an estimate so depreciatory is not to be taken
literally. To understand its full significance, it should be compared
to the magnificent description in Plato's Theætetus of the outward
appearance presented by the philosopher, who, in presence of practical
men, is the jest alike of "Thracian handmaids," and of the "general
herd;" who is "unacquainted with his next-door neighbor;" who is
"ignorant of what is before him, and always at a loss;" and who is
so awkward and useless when called on to perform some menial office,
such as "packing up a bag, or flavoring a sauce, or fawning speech."
Yet this philosopher, like Laò-tsé, "honors his nursing Mother;" he
moves in a sphere of thought where men of the world cannot follow
him, and where they in their turn are lost (Theætetus, 174-176). Just
such a character as that drawn by Plato, Laò-tsé seems to have been.
Living in retirement, and devoted to philosophy, he appeared to his
contemporaries an eccentric and incompetent person. Yet he says that
they called him great (Ch. lxvii), which seems to imply that his
reputation was already founded in his life-time.

One other reference to himself must not be omitted, for it evinces the
sense he had of the nature of his work in the world. "My words," so he
writes in his paradoxical manner, "are very easy to understand, very
easy to follow,—no one in the world is able to understand them, no
one is able to follow them. The words have an author, the works have
one who enjoins them; but he is not understood, therefore I am not
understood" (Ch. lxx). On this Stanislas Julien observes, "There is not
a word of Laò-tsé's that has not a solid foundation. In fact, they have
for their origin and basis Tao and Virtue" (L. V. V. p. 269, n. 2).
These expressions, then, suffice to show that Laò-tsé was not destitute
of that sense of inspiration of which other great prophets have been so
profoundly conscious.

                   SECTION III.—GAUTAMA BUDDHA.[15]

                SUBDIVISION 1. _The Historical Buddha._

Were we to write the history of the Buddha according to the fashion of
Buddhist historians, we should have to begin our story several ages
before his birth. For the theory of his disciples is, that during many
millions of years, through an almost innumerable series of different
lives, he had been preparing himself for the great office of the
savior of humanity which he at length assumed. Only by the practice
of incredible self-denial, and unbounded virtue, during all the long
line of human births he was destined to undergo, could he become fitted
for that consummate duty, the performance of which at last released
him forever from the bonds of existence. For the total extinction of
conscious life, not its continuation in a better sphere, is, or at any
rate was, the goal of the pious Buddhist. And it was the crowning merit
of the Buddha, that he not only sought this reward for himself, but
qualified himself by ages of endurance to enlighten others as to the
way in which it might be earned.

But we will not encumber ourselves with the pre-historic Buddha,
the tales of whose deeds are palpable fictions, but will endeavor
to unravel the thread of genuine fact which probably runs through
the accepted life of Sakyamuni in his final appearance upon earth.
And here we are met with a preliminary difficulty. That life is not
guaranteed by any trustworthy authority. It cannot be traced back to
any known disciple of Buddha. It cannot be shown to have been written
within a century after his death, and it may have been written later.
Ancient, however, it undoubtedly is. For the separation of northern
from southern Buddhism occurred at an early period in the history
of the Church, probably about two hundred years after the death of
its founder; and this life is the common property of all sections of
Buddhists. It was consequently current before that separation. But
its antiquity does not make it trustworthy. On the contrary, it is
constructed in accordance with an evident design. Every incident has a
definite dogmatic value, and stands in well-marked dogmatic relations
to the rest. There is nothing natural or spontaneous about them.
Everything has its proper place, and its distinct purpose. And it is
useless to attempt to deal with such a life on the rationalistic plan
of sifting the historical from the fabulous; the natural and possible
from the miraculous and impossible elements. The close intermixture of
the two renders any such process hopeless. We are, in fact, with regard
to the life of Gautama Buddha, much in the position that we should
be in with regard to the life of Jesus Christ, had we no records to
consult but the apocryphal gospels.

Nevertheless, while holding that his biography can never now be
written, it is by no means my intention to imply that it is impossible
to know anything about him. On the contrary, a picture not wholly
imaginary may unquestionably be drawn of the character and doctrines
of the great teacher of the Asiatic continent. Let us venture on the

An imposing array of scholars agrees in fixing the date of his death
in B.C. 543, and as he is said to have lived eighty years, he would
thus have been born in B.C. 623. Without entering now into the grounds
of their inference, I venture to believe that they have thrown him
back to a too distant date. I am more inclined to agree with Köppen,
who would place his death from B.C. 480 to 460, or about two centuries
before the accession of the great Buddhist king Asoka. Westergaard,
it is true, would fix this event much later, namely about B.C. 370.
Supposing the former writer to be correct in his conclusions, the
active portion of the Buddha's life would fall to the earlier years of
the fifth century B.C., and possibly to the conclusion of the sixth.
His birth, about B.C. 560-540, occurred in a small kingdom of the north
of India, entitled Kapilavastu. Of what rank his parents may have
been, the accounts before us do not enable us to say. The tradition
according to which they were the king and queen of the country, I
regard with Wassiljew as in all probability an invention intended to
shed additional glory upon him. The boy is said to have been named
Siddhartha, though possibly this also was one of the many titles
bestowed on him by subsequent piety. At an early age he felt—as so many
young men of lofty character have always done—the hollowness of worldly
pleasures, and withdrew himself from men to lead a solitary and ascetic
life. After he had satisfied the craving for self-torture, and subdued
the lusts of the flesh, he came forth, full of zeal for the redemption
of mankind, to proclaim a new and startling gospel. India was at
that time, as always, dominated by the system of caste. The Buddha,
boldly breaking through the deepest prejudices of his countrymen,
surrounded himself with a society in which caste was nothing. Let but
a man or even a woman (for it is stated that at his sister's request
he admitted women) become his disciple, agree to renounce the world,
and lead the life of an ascetic, and he or she at once lost either the
privileges of a high caste, or the degradations of a low one. Rank
depended henceforth exclusively upon capacity for the reception of
spiritual truth; and the humblest individual might, by attending to
and practicing the teacher's lessons, rise to the highest places in
the hierarchy. "Since the doctrine which I teach," he is represented
as saying in one of the Canonical Books, "is completely pure, it makes
no distinction between noble and commoner, between rich and poor. It
is, for example, like water, which washes both noblemen and common
people, both rich and poor, both good and bad, and purifies all without
distinction. It may, to take another illustration, be compared to
fire, which consumes mountains, rocks, and all great and small objects
between heaven and earth without distinction. Again, my doctrine is
like heaven, inasmuch as there is room within it, without exception,
for whomsoever it may be; for men and women, for boys and girls, for
rich and poor" (W. u. T., p. 282). This was the practical side of
Sakyamuni's great reform. Its theoretical side was this. Life was
regarded by Indian devotees, not as a blessing, but as an unspeakable
misery. Deliverance from existence altogether, not merely transposition
to a happier mode of existence, was the object of their ardent longing.
The Buddha did not seek to oppose this craving for annihilation, but to
satisfy it. He addressed himself to the problem, How is pain produced,
and how can it be extinguished? And his meditations led him to what
are termed "the four truths"—the cardinal dogma of Buddhism in all its
forms. The four truths are stated as follows:—

  1. The existence of pain.
  2. The production of pain.
  3. The annihilation of pain.
  4. The way to the annihilation of pain.

The meaning of the truths is this:—Pain exists; that is, all living
beings are subject to it; its production is the result of the existence
of such beings; its annihilation is possible; and lastly, the way to
attain that annihilation is to enter on the paths opened to mankind by
Gautama Buddha. In other words, the way to avoid that awful series of
succeeding births to which the Indian believed himself subject, was
to adopt the monastic life; to practice all virtues, more especially
charity; to acquire a profound knowledge of spiritual truths; and, in
fine, to follow the teaching of the Buddha. Renounce the world, and
you will—sooner or later, according to your degree of merit—be freed
from the curse of existence; this seems to sum up, in brief, the gospel
proclaimed with all the fervor of a great discovery by the new teacher.
After about forty-five years of public life devoted to mankind, he died
at the age of eighty, at Kusinagara, deeply mourned by a few faithful
disciples who had clustered around him, and no doubt regretted by
many who had found repose and comfort in his doctrines, and had been
strengthened by his example. The names of his principal disciples
become almost as familiar to a reader of Buddhist books as those of
Peter, James, and John, to a Christian. Maudgalyâyana and Sariputtra,
the eminent evangelists, and Ananda, the beloved disciple, the close
friend and servant of the Buddha, are among the most prominent of this
little group. With them rested propagation of the faith, and the vast
results, which in two centuries followed their exertions, prove that
they were not remiss. The stories of the thousands who embraced the
proffered salvation in the life-time of the Buddha are pious fancies.
It was the apostles and Fathers of the Church who, while developing his
doctrines and largely adding to their complexity and number, almost
succeeded in rendering his religion the dominant creed of India.

Such is, in my opinion, the sum total of our positive knowledge with
regard to the life lived, and the truths taught, by this great figure
in human history. The two points to which I have adverted—namely, the
formation of a society apart from the world in which caste was nothing,
and the hope held out of annihilation by the practice of virtues and
asceticism—are too fundamental and too ancient to be derived from
any but the founder. After all, ecclesiastical biographers, while
they adorn their heroes with fictitious trappings, do not invent
them altogether. A man from whose tuition great results have flowed,
cannot be a small man; something of those results must needs be due
to the impulse he has given. And if the Buddha must have taught
something, must have inaugurated some reform, what is he more likely
to have taught, than the way to the annihilation of pain? what reform
more likely to have inaugurated than the creation of a society held
together by purely spiritual ties? Both are absolutely essential to
Buddhism as we know it. Both are closely connected. For Buddhism
would have had nothing to offer without the hope of extinction; and
this hope, while leading to the practice of an austere and religious
life, can itself be fulfilled only by that life; implying as it does a
detachment from the bonds of carnality which hold us to this scene of
suffering. Thus, these corner-stones of Buddhism—flowing as they must
have done from a master-mind—may, with the highest probability, be
assigned to its author.

On one other point there is no reason to call in question the testimony
of the legend. We need not doubt he really was the pure, gentle,
benevolent, and blameless man which that legend depicts him to have
been. Even his enemies have not attempted (I believe) to malign his
character. He stands before us as one of the few great leaders of
humanity who seem endowed with every virtue, and free from every fault.

                 SUBDIVISION 2. _The Mythical Buddha._

Buddhistic authorities divide the life of their founder into twelve
great periods, under which it will be convenient to treat of it:—

  1. His descent from heaven.
  2. His incarnation.
  3. His birth.
  4. His display of various accomplishments.
  5. His marriage, and enjoyment of domestic life.
  6. His departure from home, and assumption of the monastic character.
  7. His penances.
  8. His triumph over the devil.
  9. His attainment of the Buddhaship.
  10. His turning the Wheel of the Law.
  11. His death.
  12. His cremation, and the division of his relics.

1. Following, then, the guidance of the accepted legend, we must begin
with his resolution to be born on earth for the salvation of the
world. After thousands of preparatory births, he was residing in a
certain heaven called Tushita, that being one of the numerous stages
in the ascending series of the abodes of the blessed. At length, the
end of his sojourn in this heaven arrived. He determined to quit the
gods who were his companions there, and to be born on earth. Careful
consideration convinced him that the monarch Suddhodana, and his
queen, Maya Devi, alone possessed these preëminent qualifications
which entitled them to become the parents of a Buddha. Suddhodana
lived in the town of Kapila, and belonged to the royal family of the
Sakyas, the only family which the Bodhisattva (or destined Buddha) had
discovered by his examination to be free from faults by which it would
have been disqualified to receive him as one of its members. His wife,
in addition to the most consummate beauty, was distinguished for every
conjugal and feminine virtue. Here, then, was a couple worthy of the
honor about to be conferred upon their house.

2. At this critical moment Maya had demanded, and obtained, the
permission of the king to devote herself for a season to the practice
of fasting and penance. While engaged in these austerities, she dreamt
that a beautiful white elephant approached her, penetrated her side,
and entered her womb. At this very time, Bodhisattva actually descended
in the shape of a white elephant, and took up his abode within her
body. On waking, she related the dream to her husband, who called upon
the official Brahmins to interpret it. They declared it to be of good
augury. The queen, they said, carried in her womb a being who would
either be a "Wheel King," or Sovereign of the whole world; or if he
took to a monastic career, would become a Buddha. All things went well
during Maya's pregnancy. According to all accounts she underwent none
of the discomforts incidental to that state. One writer states that
"her soul enjoyed a perfect calm, the sweetest happiness; fatigue and
weariness never affected her unimpaired health." Another remarks that
she enjoyed "the most perfect health, and was free from fainting fits."
An additional gratification lay in the fact, that she was able to see
the infant Bodhisattva sitting calmly in his place within her person.

3. Ten months having passed (a Buddha always takes ten), the queen
expressed a desire to walk in a beautiful garden called Lumbini;
and, with the king's ready permission, proceeded thither with her
attendants. In this garden the hour of her delivery came on. Standing
under a tree (the _ficus religiosa_), which courteously lowered its
branches that she might hold on by them during labor, she gave birth to
the child who was afterwards to be the first of humankind. Gods from
heaven received him when born, and he himself at once took several
steps forward, and exclaimed: "This is my last birth—there shall be
to me no other state of existence: I am the greatest of all beings."
Ananda, his cousin, and afterwards his disciple, was born at the same
moment. Maya, notwithstanding her excellent health, died seven days
after her child's birth. This was not from any physical infirmity,
but because it is the invariable rule that the mother of a Buddha
should die at that exact time. The reason of this, according to the
Lalitavistara, is, that when the Buddha became a wandering monk her
heart would break. Other respectable authorities assert, that the womb
in which a Bodhisattva has lain is like a sanctuary where a relic is
enshrined. "No human being can again occupy it, or use it" (P. A., No.
III. p. 27). Maya was born again in one of the celestial regions, and
the infant was confided to her sister, his aunt Prajapati, or Gautami,
who was assisted in the care of her charge by thirty-two nurses. He
was christened Sarvarthasiddha, usually shortened into Siddhartha. He
is also known as Gautama Buddha, by which name he is distinguished
from other Buddhas: as Sakyamuni, the hermit of the Sakya race; as
the Tathâgata, he who walks in the footsteps of his predecessors; as
Bhagavat, Lord; and by other honorific titles.

Soon after the birth of the Bodhisattva, he was visited and adored by
a very eminent Rishi, or hermit, known as Asita (or Kapiladevila), who
predicted his future greatness, but wept at the thought that he himself
was too old to see the day when the law of salvation would be taught by
the infant whom he had come to contemplate.

4. When the appropriate age for the marriage of the young prince
arrived, a wife, possessing all the perfections requisite for so
excellent a husband, was sought. She was found in a maiden named Gopa
(or Yasodhara), the daughter of Dandapani, one of the Sakya race. An
unexpected obstacle, however, arose. The father of the lovely Gopa
complained that Siddhartha's education had been grossly neglected, and
that he was wanting alike in literary accomplishments and in muscular
proficiency—things which were invariably demanded of the husbands of
Sakya princesses. It does, indeed, appear that Suddhodana had taken
little pains to cultivate his son's abilities, and that he had mainly
confined himself to the care of his personal safety by surrounding him
with attendants. Accordingly, he asked the prince whether he thought
he could exhibit his skill in those branches of knowledge, the mastery
of which Dandapani had declared to be a necessary condition of his
consent. Siddhartha assured his father that he could; and in a regular
competitive examination, which was thereupon held, he completely
defeated the other princes, not only in writing, arithmetic, and such
matters, but in wrestling and archery. In the last art, especially, he
gained a signal victory, by easily wielding a bow which none of the
others could manage.

5. Gopa was now won, and conducted by her husband to a magnificent
palace, where, surrounded by a vast harem of beautiful women, he spent,
some years of his life in the enjoyment of excessive luxury. But
worldly pleasure was not to retain him long in its embrace.

6. A crisis in his life was now approaching. Suddhodana had been warned
that Siddhartha would assume the ascetic character if four objects were
to meet his sight; an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a recluse.
Suddhodana, who would have much preferred his son being a universal
monarch to his becoming a Buddha, anxiously endeavored to guard him
from coming across these things. But all was in vain. One day, when
driving in the town, he perceived a wrinkled, decrepit, and miserable
old man. Having inquired of the coachman what this strange creature
was, and having learnt from him that he was only suffering the general
fate of humanity, the Bodhisattva was much affected; and, full of
sad thoughts, ordered his chariot to be turned homewards. Meeting on
two other occasions, likewise when driving, with a man emaciated by
sickness, and with a corpse, he was led to still further reflections
on the wretchedness of the conditions under which we live. Prepared by
these meditations, he yielded completely to the tendencies aroused
within him when, on a fourth excursion, he came across a monk. The
aspect of this man—his calmness, his dignity, his downcast eyes, his
decent deportment—filled him with desire to abandon the world like him.

The die was cast. Nothing could now retain the Bodhisattva, at this
time a young man of nine-and-twenty, from the course that approved
itself to his conscience. In vain did his father cause his palace
to be surrounded with guards. In vain did the ladies of the harem
(acting under instructions) deploy their most ravishing arts to
captivate and to amuse him. His resolution was finally fixed by a
singular circumstance. The beautiful damsels who ministered to him had
sought to engage his attention by an exhibition of the most graceful
dancing, accompanied by music, displaying their forms before his eyes
as they executed their varied movements. But the Bodhisattva, deep
in his meditations, was wholly unaffected. He fell asleep; and the
women, baffled in their attempts and wearied out, soon followed his
example. But in the course of the night the prince awoke. And then
the sight of these girls, slumbering in all sorts of ungainly and
ungraceful postures, utterly disgusted him. Summoning a courtier,
named Chandaka, he ordered him at once to prepare his favorite horse
Kantaka, that he might quit the city of his fathers, and lead the life
of a humble recluse. But before thus abandoning his home, there was
one painful parting to be gone through. One tie still held him to the
world. His wife had just become a mother. Anxious to see his infant
son, Rahula, before his departure, he gently opened the door of his
wife's apartment. He found her sleeping with one hand over the head
of the child. He would fain have taken a last look at his little boy,
but fearing that if he withdrew the mother's hand she would awake and
hinder his departure, he retired without approaching the bed. In the
dead of night, mounted on Kantaka, and with the one attendant whom he
had taken into the secret, he managed to leave Kapilavastu unperceived,
never to return to it again till he had attained the full dignity of a

7. Having sent back Chandaka with the horse, the Bodhisattva commenced,
alone and unaided, a course of austerities fitted to prepare him
for his great duty. He tried Brahminical teachers, but was soon
dissatisfied with their doctrine. Five of the disciples of one of these
teachers followed him for six years in the homeless and wandering
life he now began. He adopted the most rigid asceticism, reducing his
body to the last degree of feebleness and emaciation. But this too
discovered itself to his mind as an error. He took to eating again, and
regained his strength, whereupon the five disciples left him, viewing
him as a man who had weakly abandoned his principles.

8. After this period of gradual approach to the required perfection the
Bodhisattva went to Bodhimanda, the place appointed for his reception
of the Buddhaship. Here he had to withstand a furious attack by the
demon Mara, who first endeavored to annihilate him by his armies, and
then to seduce him by the fascination of his three daughters. But
Gautama withstood his male and female adversaries with equal calmness
and success. Of the latter he had possibly had enough in his princely

9. All these trials having been surmounted, he placed himself under the
Bodhi (or Intelligence) tree, and there, engaging in the most intense
meditations, gradually reached the intellectual and moral height
towards which he had long been climbing. He was now in possession
of Bodhi, or that complete and perfect knowledge which constitutes
a Buddha. He was thus fit to teach the law of salvation, but the
Lalitavistra represents him as still doubting for a moment whether
he should engage in a task which he feared would be thankless and
unavailing. Men, he thought, would be incapable of receiving so sublime
a doctrine, and he would incur fatigue and make exertions in vain.
Silence and solitude recommended themselves at this moment to his
spirit. But from a resolution so disastrous he was turned aside by the
intercession of the god Brahma.

10. He proceeded accordingly to "turn the Wheel of the Law," or to
preach to others, during the forty-five remaining years of his long
life, the truths he had arrived at himself. The current lives speak, in
their exaggerated manner, of his magnificent receptions by the kings
whose countries he visited, and of the thousands of converts whom he
made by his preaching, or who, in technical language, obtained Nirvâna
through him. His father and other members of his family were among
his followers. But among the first-fruits of his teaching were the
five Brahmins who had abandoned him when he had relaxed in his ascetic
habits. These, on first perceiving him, spoke of him with contempt as
a glutton and a luxurious fellow spoilt by softness. But his personal
presence filled them with admiration, and they at once acknowledged
his perfect wisdom. During this time the two orders of monks and nuns,
with their strict regulations enforcing continence and temperance, were
founded. Gautama's aunt and nurse, Prajapati, was the first abbess;
the Buddha, who had intended to exclude women from his order, having
consented to admit them at her request. Rahula, his son, received the

11. After he had firmly established his law in the hearts of many
devoted disciples, the Buddha "entered Nirvâna" at the age of eighty,
at Kusinagara. That his death was deeply mourned by the friends who had
hung upon his lips, and drawn their knowledge of religious truth from
him, need not be related.

12. A pompous account is given of his funeral rites, of which it will
be sufficient to mention here that his body was laid upon a pyre,
and burnt after the manner of burning in use for Chakravartins, or
Universal Monarchs. The princes of Kusinagara wished to keep his relics
to themselves; but seven kings, each of whom demanded a share, made
threatening demonstrations against them, and after some quarrelling it
was agreed to distribute the relics among the whole number. They were
therefore divided into eight portions, the royal family of each country
taking one. A dagoba, or monument, was erected over them in each of the
capitals governed by these royal Buddhists.

Of the numerous stories that are told with regard to the effects of
the Buddha's preaching, of the amazing miracles he is said to have
performed, and of the wonders reported to have happened at his death
and his cremation, there will be an opportunity of speaking in another
place. For the present, it is enough to relate the legend of his life
in its main features, according to the version piously believed by the
millions of human beings who—in China, Tartary, Mongolia, Siam, Burmah,
Thibet, and Ceylon—look to him as their law-giver and their savior.

                     SECTION IV.—ZARATHUSTRA.[16]

Slaves, condemned to make bricks without straw, would hardly have
a more hopeless task than he who attempts to construct, from the
materials now before him, a life of Zarathustra. Eminent as we know
this great prophet to have been, the details of his biography have been
lost forever. His name and his doctrines, with a few scattered hints in
the Gâthâs, are all that remain on record concerning the personality of
a man who was the teacher of one great branch of the Aryan race, and
whose religion, proclaimed many centuries, possibly even a thousand
years, before Christ taught in Galilee, was a great and powerful faith
in the days when Marathon was fought, and is not even now extinct. We
will gather from these fragmentary sources what knowledge we can of the
Iranian prophet, but we will refuse to fill up the void created by the
absence of historical documents with ingenious hypotheses or subtle

Something approaching to a bit of biography is to be found in the
opening verses of the fifth Gâthâ, which are to this effect:—

"It is reported that Zarathustra Spitama possessed the best good; for
Ahura Mazda granted him all that may be obtained by means of a sincere
worship, forever, all that promotes the good life, and he gives the
same to all those who keep the words and perform the actions enjoined
by the good religion.

"Thus may Kava Vistaspa, Zarathustra's companion, and the most holy
Frashaostra, who prepare the right paths for the faith which He who
Liveth gave unto the priests of fire, faithfully honor and adore Mazda
according to his (Zarathustra's) mind, with his words and his works!

"Pourutschista, the Hetchataspadin, the most holy one, the most
distinguished of the daughters of Zarathustra, formed the doctrine, as
a reflection of the good mind, the true and wise one."[17]

Here we find an allusion to the interesting fact that the Zarathustra
had a daughter who contributed to the formation of the Parsee creed.
The phrase, most distinguished of the daughters, probably does not
mean that the prophet was the father of several daughters, but merely
that this one was celebrated as his coadjutor. Spiegel has in vain
endeavored to discover the name of this lady's husband, but it seems to
be doubtful whether anything is known of her matrimonial relations. The
fact which it concerns us to notice is, that already in these primitive
ages we have a female saint appearing on the scene. In addition to St.
Pourutschista, mention is made of two disciples, who were evidently
leaders in the apostolic band. The evangelic ardor of Frashaostra is
touched upon in the preceding Gâthâ, where it is stated that "he wished
to visit my Highlands (_i. e._, Bactria) to propagate there the good
religion," and Ahura Mazda is implored to bless his undertaking. Rava
Vistaspa is celebrated in the same place as having obtained knowledge
which the living Wise One himself had discovered (Yaspa li. 16, 17.
Parsees, p. 161). The names of both are well known, being frequently
mentioned in the Gâthâs. They appear to have been intimate associates
of the prophet. Thus a supposed inquiry is addressed to Zarathustra,
"Who is thy true friend in the great work? who will publicly proclaim
it?" and the answer is, "Kava Vistaspa is the man who will do this"
(Yasna, xlvi. 14). And Frashaostra is spoken of as having received from
God, in company with the speaker (probably the prophet himself), "the
distinguished creation of truth" (Ibid., xlix. 8). It is added, "for
all time we will be thy messengers," or in other words, Evangelists.

Not only do we obtain from the Gâthâs a glimpse of Zarathustra attended
by zealous disciples, eager to proclaim the good tidings he brought:
we learn something also of the opposition he encountered from the
adherents of the older faith. And since he actually names himself in
the course of one of these compositions, which bears every appearance
of genuineness and antiquity, we need not doubt the authenticity
of the picture therein given of his relations to these opponents.
They were the adherents of the old Devas, the gods whom Zarathustra
dethroned;—polytheists, averse to this unheard-of introduction of
monotheism into their midst. And they formed, at least during a part
of the prophet's life-time possibly during the whole of it, by far the
stronger party, for he refers to them in these terms:—

"To what country shall I go? where shall I take refuge? what country
gives shelter to the master (Zarathustra) and his companion? None of
the servants pay reverence to me, nor do the wicked rulers of the
country. How shall I worship thee further, living Wise One?

"I know that I am helpless. Look at me being amongst few men, for I
have few men (I have lost my followers or they have left me); I implore
thee weeping, thou living God who grantest happiness as a friend gives
_a present_ to his friend. The good of the good mind is in thy own
possession, thou True One!...

"The sway is given into the hands of the priests and prophets of idols,
who, by their _atrocious_ actions, endeavor to destroy the life of

"To him who makes this very life increase by means of truth to the
utmost for me, who am Zarathustra myself, to such an one the first
(earthly) and the other (spiritual) life will be granted as a reward
together with all good things to be had on the imperishable earth.
Thou, living Wise One, art the very owner of all these things to the
greatest extent; thou, who art my friend, O Wise One!" (Yasna. xlv. 1,
2, 11, 19.)

And elsewhere we come across this exclamation: "What help did
Zarathustra receive, when he proclaimed the truths? What did he obtain
through the good mind?" (Ibid., xlix. 12.)

And the piteous question is put to Ahura Mazda: "Why has the truthful
one so few adherents, while all the mighty, who are unbelievers, follow
the Liar in great numbers?" (Ibid., xlvii. 4.)

These simple and natural verses point to a prophet who was—for a
time at least—without honor in his own country. Whereas the later
representations of his career depict him as the triumphant revealer
of a new faith, before whose words of power the "Devas," or god
of polytheism, flee in terror and dismay, we meet with him here
in the character of a persecuted and lonely man, unsupported by
the authorities of his nation, opposed by a powerful majority,
and imploring, in the distress and desolation of his mind, the
all-powerful assistance of his God. Such is the reality; how widely
it differs from the fiction we have already seen. But as is always
the case with great prophets, who are rejected in their own days and
honored after their death, the reality is forgotten; the fiction is
universally accepted.

Little need be said of the doctrines taught by Zarathustra. His
main principle is belief in the one great God, Ahura Mazda, whom he
substitutes for the many gods of the ancient Aryans. He was in fact the
author of a monotheistic reformation. The worshipers of these deities
are often referred to in opprobrious terms, more especially as "liars,"
or "adherents of lies," while the devotees of Ahura are spoken of as
the good, or as those who are in possession of the truth. It is only
through the spirit of lying that the godless seek to do harm; through
the true and wise God they cannot do it (Yasna, xlvii. 4). This God,
the friend of the prophet, is honored in language of deep and simple
adoration; not with the mere vapid epithets of praise which become
common in the later sections of the Zend-Avesta. Zarathustra feels
himself entirely under his protection, and describes himself ready to
preach whatever truths this great Spirit may instruct him to declare.

Beyond this great central dogma—which he announces with all the fervor
of a discoverer—there is nothing of a very distinctive kind in his
theology. The doctrine of a separate evil spirit opposed to Ahura Mazda
does not hold in the Gâthâs that place which it afterwards obtained
in the sacred literature of the Parsee. Dr. Haug considers that
Zarathustra held merely a philosophical dualism, the two principles
of existence—bad and good—being united in the supreme nature of the
ultimate Deity. From this great and all-wise Being every good thing
emanates. He is the inspirer of his prophet; the teacher of his people;
the counselor in the many perplexing questions that harass the minds of
his worshipers. To him the pious souls resort in trouble; by him both
earthly possessions and spiritual life are granted to those who rightly
seek him. Ahura Mazda is the true God; and there is no other God but
Ahura Mazda.

                        SECTION V.—MAHOMET.[18]

The last man who has obtained the rank of a prophet is Mohammed,
or Mahomet, the son of Abdallah and Amina. Since his time none has
succeeded in founding a great, and at the same time an independent
religion. Many have wrought changes in preëxisting materials; but no
one has built from the foundation upwards. The religion of Mahomet,
though compounded of heathen, Judaic, and Christian elements, is not a
mere reformation of any of the faiths in which these constituents were
found. It depends for its original sanction upon none of these, but
derives its _raison d'etre_ exclusively from the direct inspiration of
its author.

This prophet was born at Mecca in 571, and was the posthumous child of
Abdallah, by his wife Amina. His mother died when he was six years old,
and he was then taken charge of by his grandfather Abd-al-Mottalib,
who, dying in two years, left the child to the care of his son
Abu Talib. Mahomet was poor, and had to work for his living in a
very humble occupation. In process of time, however, he obtained a
comfortable employment in the service of a rich widow, named Khadija,
who was engaged in business, and whom he served in the capacity of a
commercial traveler; or at first perhaps in a lower situation. His
mercenary relation to her was soon superseded by a tenderer bond. He
married her in 595, she being then thirty-eight or thirty-nine years of
age, and fifteen years older than himself. She was evidently a woman of
strong character, and retained an unbroken hold upon the affection of
Mahomet until her death in 619. He subsequently married many wives, of
whom Ayisha was the most intimate with him; but none of them appears to
have exercised so much influence upon his character as Khadija.

She it was who was the first to believe in the divine inspiration which
her husband began to disclose in the year 612, at the mature age of
forty; and she it was who encouraged and comforted the rising prophet
during his early years of trouble and persecution. His first revelation
was received by him in 612. It purported to be dictated by the angel
Gabriel, who was Mahomet's authority for the whole of the Koran.

"Recite thou," thus spoke his heavenly instructor, "in the name of thy
Lord who created;—created man from clots of blood:—Recite thou! For thy
Lord is the most beneficent, who hath taught the use of the pen;—hath
taught man that which he knoweth not" (K., p. 1.—Sura xcvi).

After this first reception of the word of God, Mahomet passed through
that period of extreme depression and gloom which appears to be the
universal lot of thoughtful characters, and which Mr. Carlyle has
designated "the Everlasting No." For many months he received no more
revelations, and in his despondency he entertained a wish to throw
himself down from high mountains, but was prevented by the appearance
of the angel Gabriel. In time another communication came to strengthen
him in his work; and revelations now began to pour down abundantly. His
earliest disciples, besides his wife and his daughters, were his cousin
Ali, and the slave Zayd, whom he had adopted as a son. By and by he
obtained other important converts, among whom were Abu Bakr, Zobayr,
and Othman, afterwards the Chalif.

His earliest revelations were inoffensive to the Meccans; and it
was only when he began to preach distinctly the unity of God, the
resurrection, and responsibility to the Deity, that opposition was
aroused. Persecution followed upon disapproval. Some of Mahomet's
followers were compelled to take refuge in Abyssinia, and he himself
told the Meccans instructive legends of nations whom God had destroyed
for their wickedness in rejecting the prophets who had been sent
to them. In 616, however, Mahomet was guilty of a relapse, for he
published a revelation recognizing three Meccan idols, Lat, Ozza, and
Manah, as intercessors with Allah. In consequence of this concession to
their faith, the Korayschites—his own tribe—fell down on their faces
in adoration of Allah, and the exiles in Abyssinia returned to their
native land. But the prophet was soon ashamed of the weakness by which
he had purchased public support. The verse was struck out of the Koran,
and the passing recognition of idolatry attributed to the suggestion
of the devil. Tradition assigns to this occasion the following verses:

"We have not sent any apostle or prophet before thee, among whose
desires Satan injected not some wrong desire; but God shall bring
to nought that which Satan had suggested. Thus shall God affirm his
revelations, for God is Knowing-Wise! That he may make that which Satan
hath injected, a trial to those in whose hearts is a disease, and whose
hearts are hardened" (K. p. 593—Sura xxii. 51, 52).

After his renewed profession of Monotheism, Mahomet and his followers
were naturally subjected to renewed persecutions. Conversions, however,
did not cease; and that of Omar, in 617, was of great importance to
the nascent community. Yet matters were at last pushed to extremities
by the unbelievers. Mahomet's family, the Haschimites, were excluded
from all commercial and social intercourse by the other Korayschites,
and compelled to withdraw into their own quarter. This state of
quarantine probably lasted from the autumn of 617 to that of 619. At
its conclusion Mahomet lost his wife Khadija, and his uncle Abu Talib,
who had given him protection.

He was now exposed to many insults and much annoyance. The insecurity
in which he lived at Mecca forced him to seek supporters elsewhere. Now
the Caaba or holy stone at Mecca was the scene of an annual pilgrimage
from the surrounding country. Mahomet made use of the advent of the
pilgrims in 621 to enlist in his cause six inhabitants of Medina, who
are reported to have bound themselves to him by the following vow:—Not
to consider any one equal to Allah; not to steal; not to be unchaste;
not to kill their children; not willfully to calumniate; to obey the
prophet's orders in equitable matters. Paradise was to be the guerdon
of the strict observance of this vow, which from the place where it was
taken was called the first Akaba. In the following year, 622, Mahomet
met seventy-two men of Medina by night at the same ravine, and the oath
now taken was the second Akaba. The believers swore to receive the
prophet and to expend their property and their blood in his defense.
Twelve of the seventy-two disciples were selected as elders, the
prophet following therein the example of Christ.

A place of refuge from the hostility of their countrymen was now open
to the rising sect. All the Moslems who were able and willing gradually
found their way to Medina. At length none of the intending emigrants
remained at Mecca but the prophet himself and his two friends Abu Bakr,
and Ali. The designs of the Korayschites against Mahomet's life failed,
and he effected his escape to a cave at some little distance from
Mecca, and in the opposite direction from Medina. Here he remained in
concealment with Abu Bakr for three days, the daughter of the latter
bringing food for both. After this time a guide brought three camels
with which they proceeded in safety to Medina. The prophet reached
Koba, a village just outside it, on the 14th of September 622. He
remained here three days, and received the visits of his adherents in
Medina every day. This was the celebrated Hegira, or flight, from which
the Mussulman era is dated.

In the course of a year, the majority of the inhabitants of Medina had
adopted Islam, and a little later those who remained heathens were
either compelled or persuaded to embrace, or at least to submit to,
the new creed and its apostle. The Jews alone retained their ancient
religion. But while Mahomet was thus successful with Medina, he was
still exposed to the bitter hostility of Mecca. War between the two
cities was the result of the hospitality accorded to him by the former.
Mahomet, who now united in his person the temporal and spiritual
supremacy in his adopted home, did not shrink from the contest, but
carried it on with vigor and success. In the year 624, having gone
in pursuit of a Meccan caravan, he met the army of the Korayschites
at Badr, and defeated them; although he had not much more than three
hundred men, while they commanded from nine hundred to one thousand. In
the following year indeed the Moslems were defeated in the battle of
Ohod; but in 627 the siege of Medina, undertaken by Abu Sofyân at the
head of ten thousand men, was raised after three weeks without serious
loss on either side.

Notwithstanding the enmity of its inhabitants, Mecca still retained
in the eyes of Mahomet and his disciples its ancient prerogative of
sanctity. The Kibla, or point towards which the Moslem was to turn
in prayer, had for a time been Jerusalem; but Mahomet had restored
this privilege to his native town two years after the Hegira. There
too was the sacred stone, no less venerated by the pious worshiper of
Allah than by the adherents of Lat, Ozza and Manah; and thither it was
that the religious pilgrimage had to be performed, for Mahomet had
no intention of giving up this part of his ancestral faith. He was
desirous in the spring of 628 of performing the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Koreish, however, came out to meet him with an army, determined to
preclude his entrance to the city. The design was therefore abandoned;
but an important treaty was concluded between Mahomet and Sohayl, who
acted as envoy from Mecca. By this compact both parties agreed to
abstain from all hostilities for ten years; Mahomet was to surrender
fugitives from Mecca, but the Meccans were not to surrender fugitives
from him; no robbery was to be practiced; it was open to any one to
make an alliance with either party; Mahomet and his followers were
to be permitted to enter Mecca for three days in the following year
for the festival. After making this agreement Mahomet, yielding to
circumstances, performed the ceremonies of the festival at Hodaybiya
near Mecca and then withdrew.

The treaty caused great dissatisfaction among the Moslems, as well it
might; and the humiliation was heightened when the prophet, shortly
after making it, was compelled to fulfil its provisions by giving up
certain proselytes who had fled to him, from Mecca. Nevertheless his
power continued to grow, and a tribe residing near Mecca took advantage
of the treaty to conclude an alliance with him.

Mahomet now began to place himself on a level with crowned heads. In
628 he had a seal made with the inscription upon it: "Mahomet the
messenger of God." Furnished with this official seal, he despatched
six messengers with letters to the Emperor Heraclius; to the King of
Abyssinia; to the Shah of Persia; to Mokawkas, lord of Alexandria;
to Harith the Ghassanite chief; and to Hawda in Yamama, a province
of Arabia. The purport of all these missives was an exhortation to
the various sovereigns and chiefs to embrace the new religion, and a
promise that God would reward them if they did, with a warning that
they would bear the guilt of their subjects if they did not.

In the same year Mahomet besieged the town of Chaybar, whose
inhabitants were Jews. Many of them were killed; the rest were
permitted to withdraw with their families. Kinana, their chief, was
executed; and his wife Cafyya was added to the already numerous harem
of the victor.

The following year, 629, witnessed the performance by the Moslems
of the pilgrimage to Mecca for the first time since the Hegira. The
prophet summoned those who had accompanied him to Hodaybiya the year
before to go with him now. The Koreish, according to the stipulations
of the treaty, left the city; the Moslems entered it, performed their
devotions, and retired after three days. This year was also marked by
a signal victory over a Ghassanite chief, who had executed a Mussulman

In January, 630, taking advantage of the invitation of an allied tribe
who had quarreled with Mecca, Mahomet quitted Medina with a large army
for the purpose of taking that city. The exploit was facilitated by
the desertion of the general of the Koreish, Abu Sofyân, who privately
escaped to the Moslem camp and made his confession of faith. Next day
the forces of the prophet entered Mecca with scarcely any resistance.
In the following year he laid down the terms upon which the conquered
city was to be dealt with. Abu Bakr, accompanied by 300 Moslems, was
sent to Mecca as leader of the pilgrims. Ali was charged to make the
proclamation to the people which is found in the 9th Sura of the Koran.

"An Immunity from God and his Apostle to those with whom ye are in
league, among the Polytheist Arabs! (those who join gods with God).
Go ye, therefore, at large in the land four months: but know that God
ye shall not weaken; and that those who believe not, God will put to
shame—And a proclamation on the part of God and his Apostle to the
people on the day of the greater pilgrimage, that God is free from any
engagement with the votaries of other gods with God as is his Apostle!
If therefore ye turn to God it will be better for you; but if ye turn
back then know that ye shall not weaken God: and to those who believe
not, announce thou a grievous punishment. But this concerneth not those
Polytheists with whom ye are in league, and who shall have afterwards
in no way have failed you, nor aided any one against you. Observe,
therefore, engagement with them through the whole time of their treaty:
for God loveth those who fear him. And when the sacred months are
passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find
them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every
kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay
the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is gracious,
merciful. If any one of those who join gods with God ask an asylum
of thee, grant him an asylum, that he may hear the Word of God, and
then let him reach his place of safety. This, for that they are people
devoid of knowledge" (K., p. 611.—Sura ix. 1-6).

Without quoting the proclamation at full length, we may observe that in
substance the terms granted were these. Those of the heathen with whom
treaties had been made were informed that they should be free for four
months. These are the "sacred months" alluded to in the text, and which
had always been observed as a time of truce by the heathen Arabs, but
which Mahomet deprived of their privilege. After this period was past
the Moslems might kill the heathens or take them prisoners wherever
they might find them. With other heathens, with whom there was no
treaty in existence, Allah announced that he would have nothing further
to do. Moreover, the heathen were excluded by this proclamation from
approaching the holy places of Mecca in future. "O believers!"—such are
the words of this last decree—"only they who join gods with God are
unclean! Let them not, therefore, after this year, come near the sacred
Temple" (K., p. 615.—Sura ix. 28).

The prophet was now at the climax of his power. All Arabia was his;
both materially and spiritually subdued beneath his authority. The city
of his birth, which had spurned him as one of her humble citizens, was
now compelled to receive him as her lord. No triumph could be more
complete; and it is a rare, if not a unique, example of a new religion
being persecuted, imperilled, well-nigh crushed, rescued, strengthened,
contending for supremacy, and supreme, within the life-time of its
founder. But that life-time was now approaching its end. Mahomet in
632 celebrated the last festival he was destined to witness with the
utmost pomp. He went with all his wives to Mecca, and thousands of
believers assembled around him there. He preached to them from his
camel. He sacrificed one hundred camels. On the 8th of June, 632, he
expired in the hut of Ayischa of a remittent fever from which he had
been suffering a short time.

The character of the prophet Mahomet is an open question. Between the
glowing admiration bestowed upon him by Carlyle, and the sneering
depreciation of Sprenger, there lie numerous intermediate possibilities
of opinion. His sincerity, his veracity, his humanity, his originality,
are all topics of discussion admitting of varied treatment. The old
and simple method of treating Mahomet as an impostor scarcely merits
notice. Among serious students of his life it may be pronounced
extinct. But between positive imposture and a degree of truthfulness
equal to that which all would concede to Confucius, or to Jesus,
there are many degrees, and a man may be more or less sincere in
many particulars which do not involve the fundamental honesty of his
conduct. It is in such particulars that the character of Mahomet is
most open to suspicion. Few, I believe, would be able to read the
earlier Meccan Suras, instinct as they are with a spirit of glowing
devotion to a new idea, without entire conviction of the sincerity
of their author. Nor can we reasonably doubt that he himself fully
believed in the inspiration he professed to receive. The Koran is
written precisely in that loose, rambling, and irregular style, which
would indicate that its author was above the laws of human composition.
If (as is said by some) there is beauty in the original Arabic, that
beauty entirely evaporates in translation. The man whose work it is
gave utterance to the thoughts of the moment as they were borne in
upon him, in his opinion by an external power. But while he no doubt
conceived himself as the instrument of the divine being, it is also
exceedingly probable that in his later life he abused the weapon
which he had thus got into his possession. That is to say, instead of
waiting patiently for the revelation, and allowing Allah to take his
own time, he in all likelihood put forth as revealed whatever happened
to suit the political purpose of the day, and that at whatever moment
was convenient to himself. In other words, he may have become less
of a passive, and more of an active agent in the composition of the
Koran. Take, for example, the two following Suras, belonging to his
earliest period, as specimens of the inspired poetic style:—"Say: O
ye unbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship, and ye do not
worship that which I worship; I shall never worship that which ye
worship, neither will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your
religion; to me my religion." "Say: He is God alone: God the eternal!
He begetteth not, and is not begotten; and there is none like unto him"
(K., pp. 12, 13.—Suras cix., cxii).

Contrast these fervent exclamations with such a passage as this, from
one of the latest Suras:—

"This day have I perfected your religion for you, and have filled up
the measure of my favors upon you: and it is my pleasure that Islam be
your religion; but whoso without willful leanings to wrong shall be
forced by hunger to transgress, to him, verily, will God be indulgent,
merciful. They will ask thee what is made lawful for them. Say: Those
things which are good are legalized to you, and the prey of beasts
of chase which ye have trained like dogs, teaching them as God hath
taught you. Eat, therefore, of what they shall catch for you, and make
mention of the name of God over it, and fear God: Verily, swift is God
to reckon: This day, things healthful are legalized to you, and the
meats of those who have received the Scriptures are allowed to you, as
your meats are to them. And you are permitted to marry virtuous women
of those who have received the Scriptures before you, when you shall
have provided them their portions, living chastely with them without
fornication, and without taking concubines" (K., p. 632.—Sura v. 5-7).

The doctrine of direct inspiration, applied to matters like these, is
almost a mockery. Yet Mahomet may have continued to think that God
assisted him in the task of laying down laws for the believers, and we
cannot accuse him of positive insincerity, even though his revelations
were no longer the spontaneous outpourings of an overflowing heart.

A more difficult question is raised when we inquire how much of his
teaching was borrowed from others, and whether there was any one who
acted as his prompter in the novel doctrines he announced. Now there is
evidence enough, some of it supplied by the Koran itself, that Mahomet
was preceded by a sect called Hanyfites, who rejected the idolatry
of their countrymen and held monotheistic doctrines. He spoke of
himself as belonging to this sect, of which the patriarch Abraham was
considered the representative and founder. Abraham is referred to in
the Koran with the epithet "Hanyf," and as one of those who do not join
gods with God (_E.g._, Sura iii. 89; vi. 162; xvi. 121). A dozen or so
of the contemporaries of the prophet renounced idolatry before him,
and were Hanyfites. Three of these became Christians, and a fourth, by
name Zayd, professed to be neither Jew nor Christian, but to follow
the religion of Abraham. Zayd was acknowledged as his forerunner by
Mahomet himself. But besides these sources of conversion which lay open
to the prophet, it is plain from the Koran itself that he had had much
intercourse with a person (or persons) of the Jewish faith. Mahomet was
not a scholar, and his continual allusions to events in Jewish history
plainly indicate a personal source. Moreover, the narratives are given
in that somewhat perverted form which we should expect to find if
they were derived from loose conversation rather than from study. His
belief in the unity of God is not therefore a peculiarity which cannot
be explained by reference to the circumstances in which his youth was
passed. What was original with him was not the doctrine so much as the
intensity with which it took possession of his mind, and the fervor
which allowed him no rest until he had done his best to impart to
others the profound conviction he entertained of this great truth.

Mahomet in fact began his public career as a simple preacher. The
resistance he met with at home, and the necessity of relying for
self-preservation on the swords of the men of Medina, converted him
from a prophet to a potentate. The change was not one which he could
avoid without sacrificing all chances of success; but it does appear
to have exercised an unfortunate influence upon his character. As
the governor of Medina he became tyrannical and even cruel. Among
the worst features of his life is his conduct to the Jews after his
attempts at conciliation had been shown to be fruitless. For instance,
a Jewish tribe, the Banu Kaynoka, with whom a treaty of friendship
had been concluded, were expelled from Medina. Another tribe of the
same religion, the Banu Nadhyr, were blockaded in their quarter, and
driven to capitulate, on condition of being allowed to leave Medina
with their movable property. On the very day upon which the siege by
Abu Sofyân in 627 came to an end, Mahomet blockaded the Banu Koraytza,
also Jews, and compelled them to surrender at discretion. All the men,
six hundred in number, were put to death, and the women were sold as
slaves; a punishment which, even on the supposition that the tribe
was hostile to the prophet, was unpardonably severe. In the ensuing
year he marched against Chaybar, a town inhabited by Jews, besieged
and took it. All the Jews taken in arms were put to death, whereupon
the rest surrendered on condition of being permitted to withdraw with
their families and their portable goods, exclusive of weapons and
the precious metals. Kinana, their leader, was executed, and it is a
suspicious circumstance that Mahomet married his widow Cafyya. Nor
were these the worst of the prophet's misdeeds. He even stooped to
sanction, if not to order, private assassination. Shortly after his
victory at Badr, a woman and an old man, both of whom had rendered
themselves offensive by their anti-Mussulman verses, were murdered in
the night; and in both instances the murderers received the protection
and countenance of the prophet and his followers.

Unbridled authority had in fact corrupted him. All those who did not
adhere to his cause committed in his eyes the crime of opposing the
will of God. To a man empowered by a special commission like his,
the ordinary restraints of morality could not apply. Hence also, if
he required a larger number of wives than was permitted to any other
Moslem, a special revelation was produced to justify the excess. This
was one of the weakest points in the prophet's character. Instead of
setting an example to the community, he was driven to justify his
self-indulgence by means which were nothing short of a perversion of
religion to his own ends. There would have been nothing reprehensible,
considering his age and country, in his indulgence in polygamy, had he
observed any kind of moderation as to its extent. Where he happened
to take a fancy to a woman, and that woman did not object to him, the
moral sense of his countrymen would not have revolted by his taking
her to wife. But it was revolted by the unrestricted freedom with
which he added wife to wife, and concubine to concubine; a freedom so
great as to degenerate into mere debauchery. He married women whom he
had never seen, and who were sometimes already married. Mere beauty
seems to have justified in his own eyes the addition of a new member
to his harem, and there could be no pretence of real affection in the
case of the women whom, without previous acquaintance, he took to his
matrimonial bed. Exclusive of Khadija, the total number of his wives
was thirteen, of whom nine survived him. He had also three concubines.

That his procedure scandalized the faithful is shown by the necessity
he felt of defending it by the pliant instrument of revelation. Not
only did he obtain from God a special law entitling him to exceed
the usual number of wives; other peculiarities in his conduct were
justified, either by an _ex post facto_ decision applicable to all, or
by an appeal to his extraordinary rights in his character of prophet.
He had, for example conceived a desire to possess Zaynab, the wife of
his adopted son Zayd. Zayd obligingly divorced her, and received the
greatest favor from the prophet for this friendly conduct. Zaynab made
it a condition of her compliance that the union with Mahomet should be
sanctioned by revelation, and this sanction was of course procured.
Marriage with an adopted son's wife was somewhat shocking, and the
following reference in the Koran indicates the manner in which the
affair was regarded:

"And, remember, when thou saidst to him unto whom God had shown favor
[_i. e._, to Zayd], and to whom thou also hadst shown favor, 'Keep
thy wife to thyself, and fear God;' and thou didst hide in thy mind
what God would bring to light, and didst fear man; but more right
had it been to fear God. And when Zayd had settled concerning her to
divorce her, we married her to thee, that it might not be a crime in
the faithful to marry the wives of their adopted sons, when they have
settled the affair concerning them. And the behest of God is to be
performed. No blame attacheth to the prophet where God hath given him a
permission" (K., p. 566.—Sura xxxiii. 38,39).

In another case he wished to induce a cousin, who was already married,
though only to a heathen husband living at Mecca, to become his wife;
but she, believer as she was, refused to be untrue to her conjugal
duties. He permitted himself also to accept the love of women who
simply surrendered themselves to him without the sanction of their
relations, conduct which placed them in a highly disadvantageous
position, since in case of dismissal by her husband, a woman thus
informally married was not entitled to the dowry which other married
women would receive, nor could she claim the protection of her family.
"Among the heathen Arabs," observes Sprenger, "a man who accepted such
a favor would have been killed by the woman's family" (L. L. M., vol.
iii. p. 84). But for the case of the cousin and for the case of such
obliging female devotees the Koran had its suitable provisions:—

"O Prophet! we allow thee thy wives whom thou hast dowered, and the
slaves whom thy right hand possesseth out of the booty which God hath
granted thee, and the daughters of thy uncle, and of thy paternal and
maternal aunts who fled with thee _to Medina_, and any believing woman
who hath given herself up to the prophet, if the prophet desired to
wed her—a privilege for thee above the rest of the faithful.... Thou
mayest decline for the present whom thou wilt of them, and thou mayest
take to thy _bed_ whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou shalt long for of
those thou shalt have before neglected; and this shall not be a crime
in thee. Thus will it be easier to give them the desire of their eyes,
and not to put them to grief, and to satisfy them with what thou shalt
accord to each of them. God knoweth what is in your hearts, and God is
knowing, gracious."

By a combination of qualities which is not uncommon, he added to an
unrestricted license in his own favor an equally unrestricted jealousy
concerning others. He could not bear the thought that any other man
might possibly enjoy one of his wives even after his death. His
followers were told that they "must not trouble the Apostle of God, nor
marry his wives after him, for ever. This would be a grave offense with
God." In the same paltry spirit he orders them, when they would ask a
gift of any of his wives, to ask it from behind a veil. "Purer will
this be for your hearts and for their hearts." Lest any stranger should
trouble this uneasy husband by obtaining a sight of his wives' naked
faces, he required them invariably to wear a veil in public, and never
to expose themselves unveiled except to near male relations, slaves, or
women (K., p. 569.—Sura xxxiii. 51, 53, 55).

Texts like these exhibit the degeneracy of the prophet's character
in his later days. He wanted the stimulus of adversity to keep him
pure. But he had done his work, and that work was on the whole a good
one. Not indeed that there was anything very original or striking in
the doctrines he announced. The Koran rings the changes on the unity
of God, his power, his mercy, and his other well-known qualities; on
the resurrection, with its delights for the faithful and its terrible
judgments for the wicked; and on the vast importance of belief in
the prophet and submission to his decrees. But this religion, though
containing no elements that did not already exist in its two parents,
Judaism and Christianity, was an improvement on the promiscuous
idolatry which it superseded. It was less sensual and more abstract;
and its moral tone was higher. Greater still than the improvement in
the creed of the Arabs was the improvement in their material _status_.
Unity of faith brought with it unity of action. From a number of
scattered, independent, and often hostile tribes, the Arabs became a
powerful and conquering nation. Other peoples were in course of time
converted, and the religion of Mahomet was in the succeeding centuries
carried in triumph over vast districts where the name of Christ had
hitherto reigned supreme. Districts of heathen Africa have also
accepted it. Were the prophet able to speak to us now, he would be
entitled to say that the manifest blessing of Allah had rested upon the
work he had begun in obscurity and persisted in through persecution;
and that the partiality of heaven was evident from the fact that
Christianity had never succeeded, and had no prospect of succeeding, in
regaining the vast territory in Europe and in Africa from which Islam
has expelled it.

                       SECTION VI.—JESUS CHRIST.

When we endeavor to write the life of Jesus Christ, the greatest of
the prophets, we are beset by peculiar difficulties arising from the
nature of the materials. While in the case of the Buddha we receive
from authorities a life which, though largely composed of fiction,
is at least uniform and consistent, in the case of Jesus we have
biographies from several sources, all of them partly historical, partly
legendary, and each in some respects at issue with all the rest. Hence
the labor of sifting fact from fiction, as also that of reproducing
and classifying the fictitious element itself, is far more difficult.
In sifting fact from fiction we have to judge, among two, three, or
four versions of an occurrence, which is likely to be the most faithful
statement of the truth, and within this statement itself how much we
may accept, how much we must reject. And in reproducing and classifying
the fictitious element we have not merely to relate a simple story, but
to combine into our narrative varying, and sometimes conflicting, forms
of the same fundamental myth.

Hence further subdivision will be needed in the case of Jesus than was
requisite in treating the lives of any of the other prophets. We may
in fact discern in the gospels three distinct strata: a stratum of
fact; a stratum of miracle and marvel; and a stratum (in John) of mere
imagination _within_ the realm of natural events. Correspondently to
these divisions in the sources we will treat Jesus first as historical;
secondly, as mythical; thirdly, as ideal. The historical Jesus is the
actual human figure who remains after abstraction has been made of
the miraculous and legendary portions of his biography. The mythical
Jesus, who is found in the three first gospels, is the human subject
of legendary narratives; the ideal Jesus, who is found in John, is a
completely superhuman conception.

Finally, it may be needful to remark that the names affixed to the
several gospels are merely traditional, and that in using them as
a brief designation for these works, no theory as to their actual
authorship is intended to be implied. The gospels (excepting perhaps
the fourth) were the work of many authors, though ultimately compiled
and edited by a single hand. Who this editor was is of little moment;
and who the original authors were we never can discover. So that the
gospels are to all intents and purposes anonymous; but it will be
convenient, after noting this fact, to continue to describe them by
their current titles.

                SUBDIVISION 1.—_The Historical Jesus._

In attempting to sketch the outline of the actual life of Jesus—and
anything more than an outline must needs be highly conjectural—there
are some general principles which it is advisable to follow.
Recollecting that we have to deal with biographers who have mingled
in promiscuous confusion the supernatural with the natural,
impossibilities with probabilities, fables with facts, it becomes our
duty to endeavor to separate these heterogeneous elements according to
some consistent plan. That this can ever be perfectly accomplished is
not to be expected. The figure of Jesus must ever move in twilight, but
we may succeed in reducing the degree of unavoidable obscurity.

The first of the maxims to be observed will be furnished by a little
consideration of the kind of thing likely to be the earliest committed
to writing, as also to be the most accurately handed down by tradition.
This, it appears to me, would be sayings, rather than doings. Nothing
in the life of Jesus is more characteristic and remarkable than his
oral instruction; this would impress itself deeply upon the minds of
his hearers, and nothing, we may fairly conjecture, would be so soon
committed to writing either by them or by their followers. Moreover,
the records of discourses and parables would be, in the main, more
accurate than those of events; slight differences in the words
attributed to a speaker being (except in special cases) less material
than divergences in the manner of portraying his actions. Historical
confirmation of this hypothesis is not wanting. There is the well-known
statement of Papias that Matthew wrote down the "sayings" of Christ in
Hebrew [Syro-Chaldaic]. And if we look for internal evidence, we find
it in the far greater agreement among the synoptical gospels as to the
doctrines taught by Jesus than as to the incidents of his career. The
incidents bear traces of embellishment undergone in passing from mouth
to mouth from which the doctrines are free. In some cases, moreover,
there is concurrence as to the doctrines taught along with divergence
as to the place where, and the circumstances under which, they were
delivered. Added to which considerations there is the all-important
fact that the events in the life of Christ are often of a supernatural
order, while his discourses (excepting those in John) present nothing
irreconcilable with his position in regard either to his epoch, his
presumable education, or his nationality.

Giving this preference to sayings in general, over doings in general,
we may next establish an order of preference among doings themselves.
Of these, some are natural and probable; others unnatural and
improbable; others again supernatural and impossible. The first kind
will, of course, be accepted rather than the second; while the third
kind must be rejected altogether. And as a corollary from this general
principle, it follows that where one narrative gives a simpler version
than another of the same event or series of events, the simpler version
is to be preferred.

A third rule of the utmost importance is that when any statement
is opposed, either directly or by its implications, to subsequent
tradition, that statement may be confidently received. For when the
whole course of opinion in the Christian Church has run in a given
direction, the preservation in one of our Gospels of an alleged or
implied fact conflicting with the established view, is an unmistakable
indication that the truth has been rescued from destruction in a case
where succeeding generations would gladly have suppressed it.

A fourth maxim, which is likely to be useful, is that wherever we can
perceive traces of faults or blemishes in the character of Christ,
we may presume them to have actually existed. For his biographers
were deeply interested in making him appear perfect, and they would
have been anxious wherever possible to conceal his weaknesses. Where,
therefore, they suffer such human frailties to be perceived, their
unconscious testimony is entitled to great weight. For although they
themselves either do not see or do not acknowledge that what they
record is really evidence of faultiness at all, yet it is plain that
circumstances conveying such an impression to impartial minds are not
likely to have been invented. The conduct ascribed to Jesus might be
capable of justification from his peculiar mission or his peculiar
conception of his duties, but admiring disciples would not wantonly
burden him with a load not rightly his. Yet this principle, though
unquestionable in the main, must be tempered with the qualification
that there are cases where his followers may have misunderstood and
misrepresented him. It must be added that a similar presumption of
truth attaches to the record of faults or blunders in the conduct of
the disciples, whose characters their disciples were likewise anxious
to exalt.

In the fifth place, it is a reasonable supposition that the less
complete the outline of the life of Jesus contained in any Gospel, the
more authentic is that Gospel. Gaps in the story told by one writer
which, in another writer, have been filled up, are strong indications
of actual gaps in the life as known to the first Christians. While it
is true that the compiler of one Gospel might, from ignorance or from
design, omit some historical fact which the compiler of another would
insert, yet it is unlikely that whole years would be passed over in
silence, or remarkable events left out, where any genuine knowledge
of those years or those events was possessed by the biographer. But
nothing is more natural than that a space, subsequently felt to be
a serious and almost intolerable void, should in process of time be
removed by the exercise of the imagination craving to fill the empty
canvas with living figures. Nor even where there is no positive blank,
is it surprising that many actions conformable to the notion formed of
Christ should be fitted into his career, and made to take their places
alongside of others of a more unquestionable nature. We shall therefore
prefer the scantiest account of the life of Jesus to the fullest.

A careful comparison of the first three Gospels—which alone can pretend
to an historical character—will establish the fact that the second,
ascribed to Mark, is the most trustworthy, or to speak accurately, the
least untrustworthy, according to these canons. For in the first place,
it absolutely omits many of the most noteworthy events comprehended by
the other Gospels in the life of Jesus. Secondly, it sometimes gives
a natural version of a circumstance which appears in the others as
supernatural; or a comparatively simple version of a circumstance which
the others have converted into something mystical. It surpasses the
others in statements, and still more in omissions, implying divergence
from well-established subsequent tradition; and in general the far
greater scantiness of detail, the failure to fill up blanks as the
other Evangelists have done, the almost fragmentary character of this
Gospel, are points telling largely in its favor. That, however, we
have the earliest, or anything approaching the earliest form of the
life of Jesus in Mark it would be a great error to assume. As much as
Mark differs from Matthew and Luke, so much at least did the primitive
story differ from his, and in the same direction. Nay, it must have
differed far more, for by the time the second Gospel was committed to
its present form, a cloud of marvels had already surrounded the person
of Jesus, and obscured his genuine figure. Through the mist of this
cloud we must endeavor to discern such of his lineaments as have not
been totally and forever hidden from our scrutinizing gaze.

Very little is known of the parents of Jesus, and even that little
has rather to be inferred from casual references than gathered from
direct statements. Joseph, his father, was a carpenter or builder,
but his status is nowhere clearly defined. He and his family appear,
however, to have been well known in their native country, and he was
probably, therefore, not a mere workman, but a tradesman in comfortable
circumstances.[19] At any rate, he was the father of a considerable
family, consisting of five sons and of more than one daughter (Mt.
xiii. 55, and xii. 46; Mk. vi. 3, and iii. 31; Lu. viii. 19). The names
of the brothers of Jesus,—James, Joses, Simon, and Judas,—have been
preserved, while those of his sisters are unknown.

Whether there is not some confusion here, may indeed be doubted, for
we hear also of another Mary, the mother of James and Joses (Mk. xv.
40; Mt. xxvii. 56), and it is possible (as M. Renan supposes), that the
names of her children have been substituted for those of the genuine
brothers of Christ which had been forgotten. Paul certainly mentions
James, the Lord's brother (Gal. i. 19), and it would be natural to
interpret this literally. But the question does not admit of any
positive decision. Of the actual existence, however, of both brothers
and sisters there can be no reasonable doubt; for they are spoken of
as personages who were familiar to their neighbors, while the very
fact that they play no part in the subsequent history is a guarantee
that they have not been invented for a purpose. Little is known of
his mother Mary, her genuine form having been transfigured at a very
early period by the Christian legend. The first and third Gospels have
made her the subject of a story which would force us—if we accept it
at all—to consider Jesus as her illegitimate child, born of some other
father than Joseph. But there is no adequate ground to ascribe to her
such laxity of conduct. For aught we can discern to the contrary,
she seems to have borne a fair reputation among her countrymen, who
undoubtedly, according to the incidental and therefore unbiased
testimony of all four Evangelists, believed Jesus to have been the son
of Joseph, begotten, like the rest of his family, in wedlock (Mt. xiii.
55; Mk. vi. 3; Lu. iv. 22; Jo. vi. 42.)

Beyond the fact that Joseph and Mary occupied a respectable position in
Nazareth, we can say little of them. The lineage of both was plainly
unknown to the compilers of the Gospels, since Joseph has been endowed
with two different fathers, while the parentage of Mary has not even
been alluded to. All that we can venture to assert is, that neither of
them were reputed to be of the family of David, for Jesus took pains to
prove that the Messiah need not, as was commonly believed, be descended
from that monarch (Mt. xxii. 41-46; Mk. xii. 35-37; Lu. xx. 41-44).
There would have been no occasion for his ingenious suggestion that
David, by calling the Messiah Lord, disproved the theory that this Lord
must be his son, unless he had felt that his belonging to a family
which could not claim such a pedigree might be used as an argument
against his Messianic character. We may confidently conclude then that
his lineage was obscure.

That his birth took place at Nazareth is abundantly obvious from the
very contrivances resorted to in Matthew and Luke to take his parents
to Bethlehem for that event. According to either of these narratives
one fact is plain: that the habitual dwelling-place of the family
was Nazareth; while Matthew has preserved the valuable information
that he was called a Nazarene (Mt. ii. 23), a statement which is
confirmed by the manner in which he is alluded to in John, as "Jesus
of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (Jo. i. 45). Jesus therefore passed in
his life-time for a native of Nazareth, and as it does not appear that
he ever contradicted the current assumption, as moreover the only two
authorities which are at issue with this assumption are also at issue
with one another on all but the bare fact of the birth at Bethlehem, we
need not hesitate to draw the inference that he was born at Nazareth.

In his youth the son of Joseph was apprenticed to his father's trade,
and he may have practiced it for many years before he took to his more
special vocation of a public teacher. He was at any rate known to his
neighbors as "the carpenter," and his abandonment of that calling
for one in which he seemed to pretend to a position of authority
over others, caused both astonishment and indignation among his old

His public career was closely preceded by that of an illustrious
prophet, by whom he must have been profoundly influenced—John the
Baptist. Very little of the doctrine of John has been preserved to us,
his fame having been eclipsed by that of his successor. But that little
is sufficient to evince the great similarity between his teaching and
that of Jesus. He was in the habit of baptizing those who resorted to
him in the Jordan, and of inculcating repentance, because the kingdom
of heaven was at hand (Mt. iii. 2). Now precisely the same tone was
adopted by Jesus after the captivity of John. Repentance was inculcated
on account of the approaching advent of the kingdom of heaven, and
a mode of instruction similar to that of John was practiced. Both
these prophets, affected no doubt by the troubled condition of Judea,
enjoined the simple amendment of the lives of individuals as the means
towards a happier state of things. Both attracted crowds around them
by the force and novelty of their preaching. Jesus, according to a
probable interpretation of the narrative, was so much impressed by the
lessons of his predecessor, and by the baptism received from him, that
he for a time retired to a solitary place, living an ascetic life,
and pondering the stirring questions that must have burnt within him.
During this retirement Jesus could mature his designs for the future,
and on emerging from it he was able at once to take up the thread of
John the Baptist's discourses. Possibly John himself had perceived
the high capacity of the young Nazarene, and had appointed him to
the prophetic office. But the story of his baptism by John has been
unfortunately so surrounded with mythical circumstances, that the true
relations between these teachers can no longer be discerned.

Meditating in the wilderness on the words of John the Baptist, and
on the state of his country, the notion may have entered the mind of
Jesus that he himself was the destined Messiah. While the power he
felt within him may have given birth to the idea, the idea once born
would react upon his nature and increase the power within him. But
whether the conception of his own Messiahship arose now or at some
other period, it is plain that he was animated by it during his public
career, and that it gave to all his teaching its peculiar tone of
independent authority. How far he was completely convinced of his own
claim to the Messianic title will be considered in another place; it
is sufficient to say here that he was plainly anxious that this claim
should be acknowledged, and the rights it conferred upon him recognized.

On emerging from his retreat, he began the public promulgation of his
doctrines; at first, however, with caution and reserve, and keeping
within the lines marked out by John the Baptist. Attracted by the
young enthusiast, a select band of followers gathered around him, and
while he inspired them with implicit trust, they no doubt inspired him
in their turn with higher confidence. The reticence which modesty or
hesitation had produced gradually melted away, and he began boldly to
put forth pretensions which, while they repelled and scandalized many,
drew others into a closer companionship and a more implicit submission.
Simon and Andrew, James and John, were the first, or among the first,
of his disciples. Eight others joined him at about the same period
of his life, their names being Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas,
James the son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas (Mk.
iii. 14-19; Mt. x. 1-4). While these formed the inner circle, we must
suppose that he had many other admirers and followers, who were either
less intimate with him, or less constant in their attendance. And there
may even have been others of equal intimacy with the twelve apostles,
whose names have not been handed down to us. For all the apostles
did not enjoy an equally close and unreserved friendship with their
master. Three of their number—Simon, James, and John—stood towards him
in an altogether special and peculiar relationship. They are far more
prominent than any of the other nine. They were selected to accompany
Jesus when others were left behind. They formed an inmost circle within
the circle of his more constant companions. Them alone he is said to
have distinguished by names of his own invention. On Simon he conferred
the name of Peter. To James and John, the sons of Zebedee, he applied
the familiar nickname of Boanerges, or sons of thunder, which seems to
indicate that they were distinguished by the fervor of their zeal (Mk.
iii. 16, 17).

The admirers of Jesus were scarcely, if at all, less numerous among
the female than among the male sex. Indeed, he seems to have exercised
a very marked fascination over women. When he went to Jerusalem, he
was followed by many women from Galilee, who had been accustomed to
contribute to his wants, and to give him that personal attention which
kindly women know so well how to confer. Mary Magdalene whom he had
healed of some mental ailment, Mary the mother of James, Salome the
mother of the sons of thunder, were among the most devoted of these,
while two sisters, Mary and Martha, Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's
steward, and Susanna, are also mentioned (Mk. xv. 40, 41; Lu. viii. 2,
3, x. 38, 39). If we may believe one of the Evangelists, who stands
alone in this respect, the homage of women was particularly agreeable
to Jesus, who received it with words of the highest praise (Lu. vii.
36-50, x. 38-42). That some among these many female followers were
drawn to him by the sentiment of love is, at least, highly probable.
Whether Jesus entertained any such feeling towards one of them it
is impossible to guess, for the human side of his nature has been
carefully suppressed in the extant legend.

Supported then by adherents of both sexes, Jesus entered upon his
career of a public teacher. His own house was at Capernaum (Mt. iv.
13), but he wandered from place to place in the exercise of his
vocation, staying, no doubt, with friends and disciples. It is not
necessary to follow him in these peregrinations, of which only the
vaguest accounts have been preserved by the Evangelists. But two
remarkable circumstances deserve to be noted; namely, that his own
family rejected his pretensions, and that he met with no success in
his own district. Of the former, in addition to the negative evidence
furnished by the fact that neither Mary nor the brothers of Jesus
are mentioned among the believers, we have the positive evidence of
John that his brothers did not believe (Jo. vii. 5), confirmed by
the statement in the other Gospels that his family attempted to see
him during the earlier part of his career, and that Jesus positively
refused to have anything to do with them (Mk. iii. 31-35; Mt. xii.
46-50; Lu. viii. 19-21). This desire on the part of the family to
confer with him, and the manner in which Jesus, disavowing all special
ties, adopts all who "do the will of God" as mother, brother and
sister, admits of but one construction. Mary and her other children
were anxious to draw him away from the rash and foolish mode of life—as
they deemed it—on which he had entered, and Jesus, understanding their
design, avoided an unpleasant interview by simply declining to be
troubled with them. And if, as is highly probable, it was they who
thought him mad (Mk. iii. 21), we have further proof that neither
his mother nor any of the other members of his family can be counted
among his converts, at any rate during his life-time. The second
circumstance, his complete failure in his own neighborhood, is attested
by a saying of his own, recorded by all four Evangelists. A prophet,
he is reported to have said, is without honor in his own country,
among his own kin, and in his own house (Mk. vi. 4). To which it was
added that he was unable to perform any work of power there, beyond
curing a few sick people. And these cures evidently did not impress the
skeptical Nazarenes, for we are told that "he marveled because of their
unbelief" (Mk. vi. 5, 6).

Leaving, therefore, these hard-hearted neighbors, he proceeded to
address the people of Galilee and Judea in discourses which excited
great attention; sometimes inculcating moral truths in plain but
eloquent language, sometimes preferring to illustrate them by little
stories, the application of which he either made himself or left to his
hearers to discover. Had these stood alone, they would have sufficed
to give him a high reputation. But he did not depend on words alone
for his success among the people. The peculiar condition of Palestine
at this epoch gave him a favorable opportunity of supplementing
words by deeds. The trials and sufferings they had undergone, both
from the Herodian family and the Romans; the constant outrage to
their deepest feelings afforded by the presence of an alien soldiery;
the insults, humiliations, and cruelties they endured at the hands
of their conquerors, had wrought the people up to a state of almost
unbearable tension and extreme excitement. That under the pressure of
such a state of things nervous disorders should be widely prevalent,
is not to be wondered at. And these affections, as is well known,
are peculiarly infectious, easily spreading through a whole village
and raging in a whole country (See, for example, Hæcker's Epidemics,
_passim_). Hysteria, moreover, takes many forms. Now it may show
itself as species of madness; now as the imagination of some positive
disease. Here it may be violent and outrageous; there morbid and
gloomy. Another peculiarity is its tendency to increase the more, the
greater the attention paid to it by friends and onlookers. To be an
object of interest to those around is enough to inflame the symptoms of
the hysterical patient. And when this interest took shape in a belief
that he was inhabited by some bad spirit—which was equally the theory
of the Jews in the time of Christ, and of Christians up to the middle
ages—it was natural that the evil should be magnified to the highest
degree. There are, however, some individuals who exercise a peculiar
power over sufferers of this description. Their looks, their touch,
their words, are all soothing. By addressing the victims of hysteria in
tones of authority, by taking their hands, or otherwise endeavoring to
calm their excited nerves, these physicians of nature may put a stop to
the pain, or expel the illusion. In modern days they would be called
mesmerists, and though the peculiarities of temperament to which they
owe their mesmeric faculty are not yet understood, their influence is
well known to those who have examined into the subject.

Among the Jews, the subjects of these current maladies were said to
be possessed by devils. And it was a common profession to cast out
these so-called devils,[20] for we are told that it was practiced by
the adherents of the Pharisees. What means they employed we do not
know. Probably they were not of the mesmeric order, but consisted in
charms and exorcisms which, being believed by the patients to have
the power of curing them, actually had it. At any rate, the fact
remains that Jesus and the Pharisees are reputed to have possessed a
similar influence over the demons, and if we accept the statement as
true in the one case we cannot consistently reject it in the other.
It remains to be considered, however, whether the evidence is such
as to induce us to believe it in either. Now it is quite true that
a great many absurd and impossible miracles are ascribed to Jesus
in the Gospels. But considering the important place occupied in his
life—as it has come down to us—by his cures of sick people; considering
the possibility above suggested that many of these might have taken
place by known methods; considering too the extremely easy field
which Palestine presented for their application, it would appear more
likely that there might be a basis of truth in the numerous accounts
of sudden recoveries effected by him, than that they were all mere
inventions. We may then assume, without here entering into details,
that a number of unfortunate people, thought to be possessed by devils,
either met him on his way, or were brought to him by relations, and
were restored to health by the authoritative command addressed to the
evil spirit to depart; mingled with the sympathetic tone and manner
towards the tormented subject of possession. Individual examples of
these apparently miraculous cures may be open to doubt from the very
inaccurate character of the records, and for this reason it will be
better for the present to admit the general fact without binding
ourselves to this or that special instance of its occurrence.

Possessing this power himself, and ignorant of its source, Jesus
attempted to communicate it to his disciples. It is expressly stated
that he gave them power to heal sicknesses and cast out devils (Mk.
iii. 15), though it is doubtful whether they met with much success in
this vocation. On one occasion, at least, a signal failure is reported,
and as the fact stated redounds neither to the glory of Christ, who
had appointed his disciples to the work, nor of the disciples who
had received the appointment, we may believe it to be true (Mk. ix.
14-29). A parent had brought his little son to the apostles to be
delivered from some kind of fits from which he suffered. The apostles
could do nothing with him. When Jesus arrived he ordered the spirit
to depart, and the boy, after a violent attack, was left tranquil.
We are not told indeed how long his calmness lasted, nor whether the
fits were permanently arrested. For the moment, however, a remedy was
effected, and the disciples naturally inquired why they had not been
equally successful. The extreme vagueness of the reply of Jesus renders
it probable that his remedial influence was due to some personal
characteristic which he could not impart to others. This conclusion is
confirmed by the noteworthy fact that an unknown person exercised the
art of casting out devils in the name of Jesus, though not one of his
company (Mk. ix. 38-40). Here the name would be valuable only because
of its celebrity, the expulsion of the devils being due, as in the
case of Jesus himself, to the personal endowments of the exorcist. At
any rate, we have the broad facts that the Pharisees, Jesus himself,
and the unknown employer of his name, were all proficient in the art
of delivering patients from the supposed possession of evil spirits.
Possibly too the apostles did the same, and it was certainly the
intention of Jesus that they should.

Such exhibitions of power, though they might tend to strengthen the
influence of Jesus among the multitude, were not the principal means
on which he depended for acceptance. His sermons and his parables were
both more remarkable and more original. In addition to the fact that he
taught, in the main, pure and beautiful moral doctrines, he well knew
how to exemplify his meaning by telling illustrations. The parables
by which he enforced his views have become familiar to us all, and
deserve to remain among our most precious literary possessions. What
more especially distinguished his mode of teaching from that of other
masters was the air of spiritual supremacy he assumed, and his total
independence of all predecessors but the writers of Scripture. Not
indeed that he ventured upon any departure from the accepted tradition
with regard to the history of his nation, or the authority of the Old
Testament. On the contrary, he was entirely free from any approach
to a critical or inquiring attitude. But in so far he did not teach
like the scribes, that he boldly put forth his own interpretations of
Scripture and his own views of ethics, without the smallest regard for
the established opinions of the schools, and without seeking support
from any authority but his own. In this course he was evidently
strengthened by an inward conviction that he was the destined Messiah
of the Jewish people. Deputed, as he conceived, directly from God, he
could afford to slight the restrictions which others might place upon
their conduct. He was not bound by the rules which applied to ordinary

This assumption, with its corresponding behavior, could not fail to
give great offense to those by whom his title was not conceded. And
we accordingly find that he comes into constant collision with the
recognized legal and religious guides of the Jews. Among the first of
the shocks he inflicted on their sense of propriety was his claim to
be authorized to forgive sins (Mk. ii. 7). To the Jewish mind this
pretension was highly blasphemous; no one, they thought, could forgive
sins but God, and they did not understand the credentials in virtue
of which this young man acted as his ambassador. Further scandal was
caused by his contempt for the common customs observed on the Sabbath
day (Mk. ii. 24, and iii. 6), which appeared to him inconsistent
with the original purpose of that institution. The language he was
accustomed to use to his disciples, and to his hearers generally, was
not of a nature to soothe their growing animosity. Designating himself
by the Messianic term of "the Son of man," he announced the approach,
even during the generation then extant, of a kingdom of heaven wherein
he himself was to return clothed with glory, and his followers were to
be gathered round him to enjoy his triumph. Along with these promises
to his friends, there flowed forth indignant denunciation of the
Pharisees and Scribes, who were held up to the scorn of the populace.

Having thus provoked them to the utmost, he imprudently accepted
the honor of a sort of triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the pomp of
which, however, has probably been somewhat exaggerated (Mk. xi. 1-11).
Nor was this all. He proceeded to an act of violence which it was
impossible for the authorities to overlook. The current Roman money
not being accepted at the temple, the outer court of this building
was used by money-changers, who performed the useful and necessary
service of receiving from those who came to make their offerings the
ordinary coinage, and giving Jewish money instead of it. Doves being
also required by the law to be offered on certain occasions, there
were persons outside the temple who sold these birds. Indignant at
what seemed to him a violation of the sanctity of the spot, Jesus
upset the tables of these traffickers, and described them all as
thieves. It is added in one account that he interfered to prevent
vessels being carried through the temple (Mk. xi. 15-17). That, after
this, the spiritual rulers should ask him to produce his authority
for such conduct, was not unnatural. Nor is it surprising that, after
his unsatisfactory reply to their inquiry, they should take steps to
prevent the repetition of similar scenes.

The efforts of the chief priests to bring about his destruction are
described in two of our Gospels as the direct result of his proceedings
about the temple, the impression he had made on the multitude being a
further inducement (Mk. xi. 18; Lu. xix. 48). Aware of the indignation
he had excited, Jesus soon after these events retired into some
private place, known only to his more intimate friends. So at least I
understand the story of his betrayal. Either Judas never betrayed him
at all, or he was lurking in concealment somewhere in the neighborhood
of Jerusalem. That the conduct attributed to Judas should be a pure
invention appears to me so improbable, more especially when the
history of the election of a new apostle is taken into account, that
I am forced to choose the latter alternative. The representation of
the Gospels, that Jesus went on teaching in public to the very end
of his career, and yet that Judas received a bribe for his betrayal,
is self-contradictory. The facts appear to be that Jesus ate the
passover at Jerusalem with his disciples, and that immediately after
it, conscious of his growing danger, he retired to some hidden spot
where he had lived before, and where friends alone were admitted to
his company. Judas informed the authorities of the temple where this
spot was. They thereupon apprehended Jesus, and brought him before the
Sanhedrim for trial.

So confused and imperfect is the account of this trial given by the
Evangelists, that we are unable to make out what was the nature of
the charge preferred against him, or of the evidence by which it was
supported. It is clear, however, that the gravamen of the accusation
was that he had put forth blasphemous pretensions to be the Messiah,
"the Son of the Blessed One." And this was supported by a curious bit
of evidence. Two witnesses deposed, either that they had heard him
say he _would_ destroy this temple made with hands and build another
made without hands within three days, or that he _was able_ to destroy
the temple, and to rebuild it in three days (Mt. xxvi. 61; Mk. xiv.
58). The witnesses are called false witnesses, both in Mark and in
Matthew. But if we turn to John (Jo. ii. 19), we find the probable
source of the charge brought against him by these two witnesses, and
we find reason also to think that they were not perjurers. There we
are told that after he had driven the money-changers and traders from
the temple, the Jews asked him for a sign that might evince his right
to do such things. In reply to their demand, Jesus is reported to have
said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
Connecting this statement in the one Gospel with the evidence given on
the trial according to others, we may form a tolerably clear notion of
the actual fact. Pressed by his opponents for some justification of
his extraordinary conduct, Jesus had taken refuge in an assertion of
his supernatural power. If they destroyed the temple he would be able,
with the favor bestowed on him by God, to rebuild it in three days.
These words might possibly be misconstrued by some of his hearers into
a threat that he himself would destroy the temple, an outrage which
would in their view have been less difficult to imagine after his
violence to those engaged in business in its outer court. But whether
so understood or not, there could be no question about the pretension
to something like divinity in the promise to rebuild it in three days.
There is not a shadow of probability in favor of the interpretation
put upon the words in the fourth Gospel, that he spoke of the temple
of his body. And even had that been his secret meaning, the witnesses
who appeared against him could have no conception that he was thinking
of anything but the material temple, to which the whole dialogue
had immediate reference. They were therefore simply repeating, to
the best of their ability, words which had actually fallen from the
prisoner. The evidence for the prosecution being concluded, the high
priest appealed to Jesus to know whether he had nothing to reply. Jesus
being silent, the high priest proceeded to ask him directly whether
he was "Christ, the Son of the Blessed One." Jesus answered that he
was, and that they would hereafter see him "sitting on the right hand
of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Such an answer was an
explicit confession of the very worst that had been alleged against
him. After it, there was no option but to convict him, and we read
accordingly that they all condemned him as worthy of death. But capital
punishment could not be inflicted except by Roman authority. He was
accordingly taken before the procurator, Pontius Pilate, charged with
the civil crime of claiming to be king of the Jews. Pontius appears to
have regarded him as a harmless fanatic, and to have been anxious to
discharge him, in accordance with a custom by which one prisoner was
released at the festival which fell at this time. But the Jews clamored
for the release of a man named Barabbas, who was in prison on account
of his participation in an insurrectionary movement in which blood had
been shed. Barabbas accordingly was set at liberty, and Jesus, though
with some reluctance on the part of the procurator, was sentenced to
crucifixion. The sentence was carried into effect immediately. Unable,
probably from exhaustion through his recent sufferings, to carry his
own cross, Jesus was relieved of the burden by one Simon, on whom
the soldiery imposed the duty of bearing it. He was crucified along
with two thieves, and an inscription in which he was entitled "King
of the Jews" was placed upon his cross, apparently in mockery of the
Jewish nation much more than of him. His ordinary disciples had fled
in terror from his melancholy end, but he was followed to the cross by
some affectionate women, who had previously attended him in Galilee.
And after he was dead, his body was honorably interred by a well-to-do
adherent, named Joseph of Arimathæa.

                 SUBDIVISION 2.—_The Mythical Jesus._

The life of the mythical Jesus is found in the synoptical Gospels,
but more especially in the first and third. It is by no means pure
fiction, but an indistinguishable compound of fact and fiction, in
which the fictitious elements bear so large a proportion that it is
impossible to disentangle from them the elements of genuine history.
Part of this life moreover is wholly mythical, and of this wholly
mythical portion there are certain sections that are constructed on
a common plan, the biographers in these sections having only fitted
the typical incidents in the lives of great men to the special case
of Jesus, the son of Joseph. Not that this need have been done
consciously; the probability is that the circumstances and mode of
thought which led to the invention of such typical incidents in the
lives of others, led to it equally in that of Jesus. However this may
be, we shall find in the mythical life of Jesus the following three
classes of myths: 1. Myths of the typical order, common to a certain
kind of great men in certain ages, and therefore purely unhistorical;
2. Myths peculiar to Jesus, in which the miraculous element so
predominates, that it is impossible to recognize any, or more than the
very slightest, admixture of history; 3. Myths, peculiar to Jesus,
in which there is a more or less considerable admixture of history;
And 4. Statements not of necessity mythical, which may or may not be
historical, but of which the evidence is inadequate.

At the outset of our task we are met by the assumed genealogy of Jesus,
which has caused some trouble to theologians, and which is mainly
important as an indication of the degree of credit due to writers
who could insert such a document. For these awkward pedigrees afford
an absolute proof of the facility with which the Christians of the
earliest age supplemented the actual life of Jesus by free invention.
We are happily in possession of two conflicting lists of ancestors,
and happily also they are both of them lists of the ancestors of
Joseph, who, according to the very writers by whom they are supplied,
stood in no relation whatever to Christ, the final term of the
genealogies. Double discredit thus falls upon the witnesses. In the
first place, both lists cannot be true, though both may be false; one
of them therefore must be, and each may be, a deliberate fiction. In
the second place, both the Gospels bear unconscious testimony to the
fact that Joseph was originally supposed to be, by the natural course
of things, the father of Jesus, for otherwise why should the early
Christians have been at the trouble to furnish the worthy carpenter
with a distinguished ancestry? They thus discredit their own story
that Jesus was the son of Mary alone. Either then Jesus was the son of
Joseph, or neither of the two genealogies is his genealogy at all. The
solution of these inconsistencies is to be found in the fact that two
independent traditions have been blended together by the Evangelists.
The one, no doubt the more ancient of the two, considered Jesus as the
child of Joseph and Mary, and the ingenuity of his biographers has
not succeeded in obliterating the traces of this tradition (Mt. xiii.
55). Another and much later one, treated him as the offspring of Mary
without the aid of a human father. Those who believed in the first and
more authentic story had busied themselves with the discovery of a
royal descent for their hero, in order that he might fulfill what they
considered the conditions of the Messiahship. They had naturally traced
his ancestry upwards from his father, not from his mother, according to
the usual procedure. But the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written
entirely on the hypothesis that he had no father but God; all necessity
for showing that Joseph was of the house of David was therefore gone.
Nevertheless the writers or the editors of these Gospels did not like
to neglect entirely what seemed to them to strengthen their case,
and, forgetful of the ridiculous jumble they were making, inserted an
elaborate pedigree of Joseph along with the statement that Jesus was
not his son.

Let us now examine the genealogies in detail, placing them in columns
parallel to one another. Luke begins a stage earlier than Matthew,
making God his starting-point instead of Abraham. From Abraham to
David the two authorities proceed together. Matthew, who has cut his
genealogical tree into three sections of fourteen generations each,
makes this his first division. After this the divergence begins:—

         MATTHEW.                   |        LUKE.
   1. Solomon.                      |   1. Nathan.
   2. Rehoboam.                     |   2. Mattatha.
   3. Abia.                         |   3. Menan.
   4. Asa.                          |   4. Melea.
   5. Jehoshaphat.                  |   5. Eliakim.
   6. Joram.                        |   6. Jonan.
        [_Ahaziah._                 |
        _Joash._                    |
        _Amaziah._[21]]             |
   7. Ozias (or Uzziah).            |   7. Joseph.
   8. Jotham.                       |   8. Juda.
   9. Ahaz.                         |   9. Simeon.
  10. Hezekiah.                     |  10. Levi.
  11. Manasseh.                     |  11. Matthat.
  12. Amon.                         |  12. Jorim.
  13. Josiah. [_Jehoiakim._]        |  13. Eliezer.
  14. Jeconiah (or Jehoiachin).     |  14. Jose.
  Here the captivity closes the     |
  second period. After the captivity|
  we have—                          |
  1. Jeconiah.                      |  15. Er.
  2. Salathiel (or Shealtiel).      |  16. Elmodam.
  3. Zerubbabel.                    |  17. Cosam.
  4. Abiud.                         |  18. Addi.
  5. Eliakim.                       |  19. Melchi.
  6. Azor.                          |  20. Neri.
  7. Sadoc.                         |  21. Salathiel.
  8. Achim.                         |  22. Zorobabel.
  9. Eliud.                         |  23. Rhesa.
  10. Eleazar.                      |  24. Joanna.
  11. Matthan.                      |  25. Juda.
  12. Jacob.                        |  26. Joseph.
  13. Joseph.                       |  27. Semei.
  14. JESUS.                        |  28. Mattathias.
                                    |  29. Maath.
                                    |  30. Nagga.
                                    |  31. Esli.
                                    |  32. Naum.
                                    |  33. Amos.
                                    |  34. Mattathias.
                                    |  35. Joseph.
                                    |  36. Janna.
                                    |  37. Melchi.
                                    |  38. Levi.
                                    |  39. Matthat.
                                    |  40. Heli.
                                    |  41. Joseph.
                                    |  42. JESUS.[22]

Various observations offer themselves on these discrepant genealogies.
In the first place it will be observed that Matthew, in his anxiety
to show that the whole period comprised is divisible into three equal
parts of fourteen generations each, has actually omitted no less than
four generations contained in the authorities he followed. For since he
traced the descent of Joseph through the royal line of Judah, we are
enabled to check his statements by reference to the Book of Chronicles
(1 Chron. iii.), and thus to convict him of positive bad faith. In the
first instance he omits three kings, representing Uzziah as the son of
Joram, who was his great great grandfather; in the second he passes
over Jehoiachim, making Jehoiachin the son instead of the grandson of
Josiah. In the third period we have no authority by which to verify
his statements beyond Zerubbabel, but his determination to carry out
his numerical system at all hazards is shown by the double reckoning
of Jehoiachin, at the close of the second and the beginning of the
third division. The latter has in fact but thirteen generations, and
it was only by this trick—a little concealed by the break effected
through his allusion to the captivity—that the appearance of uniformity
was maintained. Luke has adopted a different method. Leaving the line
of kings, he connects Joseph with David through Nathan instead of
Solomon. Now beyond the fact that Nathan was the offspring of David and
Bathsheba, nothing whatever is known about him. Indeed it may have been
his very obscurity, and the consequent facility of creating descendants
for him, that led to his selection in preference to Solomon, though
unless it were that his name stood next above Solomon's (2 Sam. v.
14)—there is no obvious reason for his being preferred to several other
children of David. However, he answered the purpose as well as any, and
after him it was not a difficult operation to invent a plausible list
of names to fill up the gap between him and Joseph. The compiler of the
list in Matthew had the advantage in so far that he did not require to
draw on his imagination except for nine names between Zerubbabel and
Joseph, while the compiler of the list in Luke had to supply the whole
period from Nathan downwards with forefathers. But the second compiler
had the advantage over the first inasmuch as his fraud did not admit of
the same easy exposure by reference to its sources, and it was, on the
whole, a safer course to desert history altogether than to falsify it
in favor of an arithmetical fancy.

Another discrepancy between the two writers remains to be noted; it
is the enormous disproportion in the number of generations between
David and Joseph. Matthew has twenty-five generations, and Luke forty,
excluding Joseph himself. A difference of this magnitude—involving
something like 400-450 years—is not to be surmounted by any process
of harmonizing. To which it may be added that the two Evangelists, by
assigning to Joseph different fathers, clearly inform us that his true
father was unknown.

We have here, in short, an excellent instance of the first order of
myth, or myth typical. It has been a common practice in all ages, more
especially among ignorant and uncultivated nations, to endow those
who had risen from obscurity to greatness with illustrious ancestors.
Royal connections have always been regarded with especial favor for
such purposes. Thus, the Buddha is represented as the descendant of
the great Sakya monarchs. Thus, the ancestors of Zarathustra, in the
genealogy provided for him in Parsee authorities, were the ancient
kings of Persia. Thus, Moslem biographers declare that Mahomet sprang
from the noblest family of the noblest nation, and many historians give
him even a princely lineage (L. L. M., vol. i. p. 140). Thus, according
to Sir John Davis, "the pedigree or Confucius is traced back in a
summary manner to the mythological monarch _Hoang-ty_, who is said to
have lived more than two thousand years before Christ" (Chinese, vol.
ii. p. 45). Thus, the founder of Rome was placed by popular legend in a
family relationship to Æneas.

Leaving these genealogies—which are important only from the light they
shed on the literary character of their authors and transmitters—we
pass to the first legend directly concerning Jesus himself, that of his
birth. Here again the second and fourth Evangelists are silent, leaving
us to suppose that Jesus was the natural son of Joseph and Mary,
and certainly never hinting that they entertained any other belief
themselves. But the first and third each relate a little fable on this
subject, though unhappily for them the fables do not agree. Both had
to observe two conditions. The first was that Jesus should be born of a
virgin mother; the second that he should be born at Bethlehem. Matthew
accomplishes this end by informing us that Mary, when espoused to
Joseph, was found to be with child. Joseph, who thereupon contemplated
the rupture of his engagement, was informed by an angel in a dream that
his bride was with child by no one but the Holy Ghost; that she was
to bear a son, and that he was to call him Jesus. Being satisfied by
this assurance, he married Mary, but respected her virginity until she
had brought forth her first-born son, whom in obedience to his dream
he named Jesus. The child was born in Bethlehem where it would appear
from this account that Mary lived, and it is only after a journey to
Egypt that this Gospel brings the parents of Christ to Nazareth where a
tradition too firm to be shaken placed their residence (Mt. i. 18-25;
ii. 23).

Widely different is the treatment of this subject in Luke. According
to him there was a priest named Zacharias whose wife Elizabeth was
barren. The couple were no longer young, but they were not old enough
to have lost all hope of progeny, for we are told that when Zacharias
was engaged in his duties in the temple, an angel appeared to him
and informed him that his prayer was heard, and that his wife was to
have a son whom he was to call John. Zacharias had therefore been
praying for offspring, though when the angel—who announced himself
as Gabriel—appeared, he was troubled with some impious doubts, in
punishment of which he was struck dumb. After this Elizabeth conceived,
and went into retirement. From five to six months after the above scene
Gabriel was again despatched from heaven, this time to a virgin named
Mary, living at Nazareth. Arrived at her house, he addressed her thus:
"Hail, thou that art highly favored; the Lord is with thee; blessed
art thou among women." Seeing Mary's confusion he reassured her; and
informed her that she should have a son called Jesus, who was to
possess the throne of David, and reign over the house of Jacob forever.
Like Zacharias, Mary was disposed to raise troublesome questions,
and she accordingly inquired of Gabriel how she could bear a child,
"seeing I know not a man." But Gabriel was ready with his answer. The
Holy Ghost would come upon her; moreover, her cousin Elizabeth had
conceived (which, however, was not a parallel case), and nothing was
impossible with God. Soon after this visit, Mary went to see Elizabeth,
who interpreted an ordinary incident of pregnancy as a sign that the
fruit of Mary's womb was blessed, and that Mary was to be the mother of
her Lord. The virgin replied in a very elaborate little speech, which
if uttered must have been carefully prepared for the occasion. In due
time the child of Zacharias and Elizabeth was born, and named John
by his parents' desire. What Joseph thought of his bride's condition
we are not told, nor do we know whether she made known to him her
interview with the angel Gabriel. At any rate he did not repudiate
her, for we find him taking her with him, about five months later,
to Bethlehem, for the purpose of the census which took place when
Quirinus was governor of Syria, his descent from David requiring him
to attend at that town. During this census it was that Jesus was born,
and because of the crowded condition of the inn at this busy time, he
was placed in a manger (Lu. i. 1; ii. 7). There let us leave him for
the present, while we compare these narratives with others of a like

Birth in some miraculous or unusual manner is a common circumstance in
the lives of great persons. We have here therefore another instance of
the typical species of myth. Thus, in classical antiquity, Here is said
to have produced Hephaistos "without the marriage bed" (Bib., i. 3-5).
Turning to a remote part of the globe, there was in the present century
a person living in New Zealand who, according to native tradition, was
"begotten by the attua," a species of deity, "his mother being then
unmarried. The infant was produced at her left arm-pit, but there was
no visible mark left.... He is held as a great prophet; when he says
there will be no rain there will be none" (N. Z., p. 82). An example
of the same kind of legend occurs in the ancient history of China.
The hero is one How-tseih, who was the founder of the royal house of
Chow. His mother, it appears, was barren, like Elizabeth, for she "had
presented a pure offering and sacrificed, that her childlessness might
be taken away." Her devotion received a fitting reward, for:—

    "She then trod on a toe-print made by God, and was moved,
    In the large place where she rested.
    She became pregnant, she dwelt retired;
    She gave birth to, and nourished [a son],
    Who was How-tseih."

His mode of coming into the world was peculiar too:—

    "When she had fulfilled her months
    Her first-born son [came forth] like a lamb.
    There was no bursting, nor rending;
    No injury, no hurt:—
    Showing how wonderful he would be.
    Did not God give her the comfort?
    Had he not accepted her pure offering and sacrifice,
    So that thus easily she brought forth her son?"[23]

The gestation of the Buddha was in many ways miraculous. He entered
the womb of his mother by a voluntary act, resigning his abode in
heaven for the purpose. At the time of his descent upon earth Mâyâ
Devi dreamt that a white elephant of singular beauty had entered into
her, a dream which portended the future greatness of the child (R. T.
R. P., vol. ii. p. 61). During the time of his remaining in the womb,
his body, which was visible both to his mother and to others, had a
resplendent and glorious appearance.[24] "Mâyâ the queen, during the
time that Bodhisattva remained in the womb of his mother, did not feel
her body heavy, but on the contrary light, at ease and in comfort, and
felt no pain in her entrails. She was nowise tormented by the desires
of passion, nor by disgust, nor by trouble, and had no irresolution
against desire, no irresolution against the thought of evil or of
vice. She suffered the sensation neither of cold, nor of heat, nor of
hunger, nor of thirst, nor of trouble, nor of passion, nor of fatigue:
she saw nothing of which the form, the sound, the smell, the taste
and the touch did not seem to her agreeable. She had no bad dreams.
The tricks of women, their inconstancy, their jealousy, the defects
of women and their weaknesses, she did not share" (Ibid., vol. ii.
p. 77). And although it is never expressly stated that the Buddha's
nominal father had no part in his production, it is remarkable that at
the time of her conceiving, Mâyâ was living in a place apart from him,
having craved permission to retire for a season, to practice fasting
and penance. During this time she had told the king that she would be
"completely delivered from thoughts of stealing, desire and pride,"
and that she would not "yield to one illicit desire" (R. T. R. P.,
vol. ii. pp. 54, 55). Some sects of Buddhists are more explicit, and
maintain that Bodhisattvas do not pass through the earlier stages of
fœtal development; namely, those of _Kalalam_, mixing up, the period
of the first week, when the future body is like milk: _arbudam_, the
period of the second week, where a form rises like something inflated;
peci, thickening: and _ghana_, hardening, the periods of the third
and fourth weeks (Wassiljew, p. 260). But all this does not exclude
the coöperation of a human father. Passing to another great religion,
we find that even the sober philosopher Confucius did not enter the
world, if we may believe Chinese traditions, without premonitory
symptoms of his greatness. It is said that one day as his mother was
ascending a hill, "the leaves of the trees and plants all erected
themselves and bent downwards on her return. That night she dreamt the
Black _Te_ appeared, and said to her, 'You shall have a son, a sage,
and you must bring him forth in a hollow mulberry tree.'" In another
dream she received a prophecy of the importance of her coming progeny
(C. C., vol. i. p. 59—Proleg.). Another account states that "various
prodigies, as in other instances, were the forerunners of the birth
of this extraordinary person. On the eve of his appearance on earth,
two dragons encircled the house, and celestial music sounded in the
ears of his mother. When he was born, this inscription appeared on
his breast—'The maker of a rule for settling the world'" (Chinese,
vol. ii. p. 44). The mother of Mahomet is said to have related of
her pregnancy, that she felt none of the usual inconveniences of that
state; and that she had seen a vision in which she had been told that
she bore in her womb the Lord and Prophet of her people. A little
before her delivery the same figure appeared again, and commanded her
to say, "I commend the fruit of my body to the One, the Eternal, for
protection against the envious" (L. L. M., vol. i. p. 142).

Miraculously born, it was necessary that Jesus should also be
miraculously recognized as a child of no common order. The story would
have been incomplete without some one to acknowledge his superhuman
character even in his cradle. Matthew and Luke again accomplish the
common end by widely different means. Luke's is the simpler narrative,
and it will be more convenient to begin with. He tells us that there
were in the same country, that is, near Bethlehem, shepherds watching
their flocks. An angel appeared to them and said that a Savior, Christ
the Lord, was born in the city of David. They were to know him by his
being in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. In this humility of his
external circumstances immediately after birth, as in the supernatural
recognition which he received, he again resembles the Chinese hero.

            "was placed in a narrow lane,
    But the sheep and oxen protected him with loving care.
    He was placed in a wide forest,
    Where he was met by the woodcutters.
    He was placed on the cold ice,
    And a bird screened and supported him with its wings."[25]

"And suddenly," the narrative in Luke proceeds, "there was with the
angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 'Glory
to God in the highest, and on earth the peace of good-will among men'"
(Lu. ii. 8-14). Similar demonstrations of celestial delight were not
wanting at the birth of the Buddha Sakyamuni. He was received by the
greatest of the gods, Indra and Brahma. All beings everywhere were
full of joy. Musical instruments belonging to men and gods played
of themselves. Trees became covered with flowers and fruit. There
fell from the skies a gentle shower of flowers, garments, odoriferous
powders, and ornaments. Caressing breezes blew. A marvelous light was
produced. Evil passions were put a stop to, and illnesses were cured;
miseries of all kinds were at an end (R. T. R. P., vol. ii. pp. 90,
91). So also we read in Moslem authorities that at the birth of Ali,
Mahomet's great disciple, and the chief of one of the two principal
sects into which Islam is divided, "a light was distinctly visible,
resembling a bright column, extending from the earth to the firmament"
(Dervishes, p. 372). But let us complete the narrative in Luke.

Urged by the angelic order, the shepherds went to Bethlehem and found
the infant Christ, whose nature, as revealed by the angels, they made
known to the people with whom they met. Returning, they praised and
glorified God for all they had heard and seen (Lu. ii. 15-20).

Quite dissimilar is the form in which the same incident appears in
Matthew. Here, instead of shepherds, we have magi coming from the East
to discover the King of the Jews. A star in the East had revealed to
them the birth of this King of the Jews _de jure_, and in the search
for him they run straight into the very jaws of Herod, the king
_de facto_. The author is obliged to make them take this absurdly
improbable course for the sake of introducing Herod, whom he required
for a purpose shortly to be explained. How utterly superfluous the
visit to Herod was is evinced by the fact that, after that monarch has
found out from the chief priests the birthplace of the Messiah, the
magi are guided onwards by the star, which had been omitted from the
story since its first appearance in order to allow of their journey to
Jerusalem, a mistake for which the star could not be made responsible.
However, after leaving Herod, they were led by that luminary to the
very spot where Christ lay. On seeing the infant they worshiped him,
and offered him magnificent presents, after which a dream informed
them—what their waking senses might surely have discovered—that it was
not safe to return to Herod after having thus acknowledged a rival
claimant to the throne. They accordingly went home another way.

Interwoven with this visit of the magi we have a myth which belongs
to a common form, and which in the present instance is merely adapted
to the special circumstances of the age and place. I term it the myth
of THE DANGEROUS CHILD. Its general outline is this: A child is born
concerning whose future greatness some prophetic indications have
been given. But the life of this child is fraught with danger to some
powerful individual, generally a monarch. In alarm at his threatened
fate, this person endeavors to take the child's life; but it is
preserved by the divine care. Escaping the measures directed against
it, and generally remaining long unknown, it at length fulfills the
prophecies concerning its career, while the fate which he has vainly
sought to shun falls upon him who had desired to slay it. There is
a departure here from the ordinary type, inasmuch as Herod does not
actually die or suffer any calamity through the agency of Jesus.
But this failure is due to the fact that Jesus did not fulfill the
conditions of the Messiahship, according to the Jewish conception which
Matthew has here in mind. Had he—as was expected of the Messiah—become
the actual sovereign of the Jews, he must have dethroned the reigning
dynasty, whether represented by Herod or his successors. But as his
subsequent career belied these expectations, the Evangelist was obliged
to postpone to a future time his accession to that throne of temporal
dominion which the incredulity of his countrymen had withheld from him
during his earthly life (Mt. xxiv. 30, 31; xxv. 31 ff.; xxvi. 64).

In other respects the legend before us conforms to its prototypes. The
magi, coming to Herod, inquire after the whereabouts of the king of the
Jews, whose star they have seen in the East. Herod summons the chief
priests and scribes to council, and ascertains of them that Christ was
to be born at Bethlehem. This done, he is careful to learn from the
magi the exact date at which the star had appeared to them. He further
desires them to search diligently for the young child, that he also
may worship it. They, as previously related, returned home without
revisiting Herod, whereupon that monarch, in anger at the deception
practiced upon him, causes all the children under two years of age,
in and about Bethlehem, to be slaughtered. All is in vain. Joseph,
warned by a dream, had taken his wife and step-son to Egypt, where they
remained until after the death of Herod, when another dream commanded
them to return. When afraid to enter the dominions of Archelaus,
another of these useful dreams guided them to Galilee, where they took
up their quarters at Nazareth (Mt. ii).

How wide-spread and of what frequent recurrence is this myth of the
Dangerous Child, a few examples may suffice to show. In Grecian
mythology the king of the gods himself had been a dangerous child.
The story of Kronos swallowing his children in order to defeat the
prophecy that he would be dethroned by his own son; the manner in
which Rhea deceived him by giving him a stone, and Zeus, armed with
thunder and lightning, deposed him from the government of the world,
are familiar to all (Bib. 1. 1. 5-7, and 1. 2. 1). If we descend from
gods to heroes, we find a similar legend related of Perseus, whose
grandfather, Akrisios, vainly tried to avert his predicted fate, first
by scheming to prevent his grandson's birth, and then by seeking to
destroy him when born (Ibid., 2. 4. 1. 4.); and of Oidipous, who in
spite of the attempt to cut short his life in infancy, inevitably
and unconsciously fulfilled the oracle by slaying his father and
marrying his mother. Within historical times, Kyros, the son of
Kambyses is the hero of a similar tale. His grandfather, Astyages,
had dreamt certain dreams which were interpreted by the magi to mean
that the offspring of his daughter Mandane would expel him from his
kingdom. Alarmed at the prophecy, he handed the child to his kinsman
Harpagos to be killed; but this man having entrusted it to a shepherd
to be exposed, the latter contrived to save it by exhibiting to the
emissaries of Harpagos the body of a stillborn child of which his own
wife had just been delivered. Grown to man's estate, Kyros of course
justified the prediction of the magi by his successful revolt against
Astyages and assumption of the monarchy (Herodotos, i. 107-130).
Jewish tradition, like that of the Greeks and the Persians, has its
dangerous child in the person of the national hero Moses, whose death
Pharaoh had endeavored to effect by a massacre of innocents, but who
had lived to bring upon that ruler his inevitable fate. From these
well-known examples it is interesting to turn to the chronicles of
the East-Mongols, and find precisely the same tale repeated there.
We read that a certain king of a people called Patsala, had a son
whose peculiar appearance led the Brahmins at court to prophesy that
he would bring evil upon his father, and to advise his destruction.
Various modes of execution having failed, the boy was laid in a copper
chest and thrown into the Ganges. Rescued by an old peasant who brought
him up as his son, he in due time learnt the story of his escape, and
returned to seize upon the kingdom destined for him from his birth.
This was in B. C. 313 (G. O. M., pp. 21, 23). This universal myth—of
the natural origin of which it would lead me too far to speak—was now
adapted to the special case of Christ, who runs the usual risk and
escapes it with the usual good fortune of dangerous children.

Having thus preserved the infant Christ from the dangers that
threatened him, Matthew tells us absolutely nothing about him until
he has arrived at manhood, and is ready to enter on his public life.
Luke is much less reticent. True, he knows nothing whatever of the
star that appeared in the East; nothing of Herod's inquiries as to
the birthplace of Christ; nothing of the massacre of the innocents,
nor of the flight into Egypt and the return from that country to
Nazareth. On the contrary, his narrative by implication excludes all
this, for he makes Joseph and Mary go up to Bethlehem for the census
only, and return to Nazareth soon after it; so that Herod could have
had no occasion to kill the infants up to the age of two years, for
Christ could not have been above a few weeks old at most (Lu. ii. 39).
Moreover, we learn definitely from one verse that his parents went up
_from Nazareth_ to Jerusalem every year at the passover (Ibid., ii.
41). But the absence of any statements like those just taken from the
first Gospel is amply compensated in the third by several pleasing
details relating to his infancy and boyhood. In the first place we
learn that after eight days he was circumcised, and named Jesus
according to the angel's desire (Ibid., ii. 21). Next, we are told
that after his mother's purification—which would last thirty-three
days after the circumcision—she and his step-father took him to the
temple to be presented, and to make the customary offering. There was
in the temple a man named Simeon who had been promised by the Holy
Ghost that he should not die till he had seen Christ. This man, who
came by the Spirit into the temple, took the baby in his arms and gave
vent to his emotion in the beautiful little hymn known as the _Nunc
Dimittis:_—"Now, O Lord, thou dost release thy servant according to
thy word in peace, because mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which
thou hast prepared before the face of all nations; a light for the
revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel" (Lu. ii.

Less exquisite in its simplicity, but not altogether dissimilar in
tone, is the prophecy of the Rishi Asita on the infant Buddha. This old
and eminent ascetic had come to see the child whose marvelous gifts had
been known to him by supernatural signs. Having embraced its feet, and
predicted its future preëminence, he had surprised the king by bursting
into tears and heaving long sighs. Questioned about the meaning of
this he replied: "Great king, it is not on account of this child that
I weep; truly there is not in him the smallest vice. Great king, I am
old and broken; and this young prince (Literally, Sarvarthasiddha) will
certainly clothe himself with the perfect and complete intelligence
of Buddha, and will cause the wheel of the law that has no superior
to turn.... After becoming Buddha he will cause hundreds of thousands
of millions of beings to pass to the other border of the ocean of
wandering life, and will lead them forever to immortality. And I—I
shall not see this pearl of Buddhas! Cured of illness, I shall not be
freed by him from passion! Great king, that is why I weep, and why in
my sadness I heave long sighs" (R. T. R. P., vol. ii. pp. 106, 107).

So Abd-al-mottalib, Mahomet's grandfather, on seeing his grandchild
immediately after his birth, is reported to have exclaimed: "Praise be
to Allah, who has given me this glorious youth, who even in the cradle
rules over other boys. I commend him to the protection of Allah, the
Lord of the four elements, that he may show him to us when he is well
grown up. To his protection I commend him from the evil of the wicked
spirit" (L. L. M., vol. i. p. 143).

Prognostications of greatness in infancy are, indeed, among the
stock incidents in the mythical or semi-mythical lives of eminent
persons. Not content with Simeon's recognition, Luke introduces an
old prophetess called Anna, living in the temple, and represents her
as giving thanks, and speaking of the child to all who looked for
redemption in Jerusalem (Lu. ii. 36-38).

Twelve years are now suffered to elapse without further account of the
young Jesus than that he grew and strengthened, filled with wisdom,
and that the grace of God was upon him (Ibid., ii. 40). At twelve
years old, the blank is filled by a single event. His parents had gone
to Jerusalem to keep the passover, taking Jesus with them. On their
way back they missed him, and having failed to find him among their
traveling companions, returned to look for him at Jerusalem. There
they found him in the temple sitting among the doctors of the law,
listening to them and putting questions. Those who heard him are said
to have been astonished at his intelligence. Questioned by his mother
as to this extraordinary conduct, he replied, "How is it that ye sought
me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Lu. ii.
41-50.) Were this incident confirmed by other authorities, and did
it stand in some kind of connection with the events that precede and
follow it, we might accept it as a genuine reminiscence of the boyhood
of Jesus. That a precocious boy, eager for information, should take
the opportunity of a visit to the headquarters of Hebraic learning to
seek from the authorities then most respected a solution of questions
that troubled his mind, would not in itself be so very surprising.
And those who are familiar with the kind of inquiries made by clever
children, especially on theological topics, will not think it strange
that his youthful wits should occasionally be too much for those of
professed theologians. But the isolation in which this single event
stands in the first thirty years of Christ's life, and the total
absence of confirmation from any other source, compel us to regard it
as an invention designed to show an early consciousness in Jesus of his
later mission, and also to prove the inability of the doctors to cope
with him. We must, therefore, reject it along with the other myths of
the infancy, of which some are typical myths, others (like this) myths
peculiar to Jesus, but none in the smallest degree historical.

Before entering on the later life of Jesus, let us note certain
differences between Matthew and Luke in their treatment of the infancy,
which will confirm the above conclusion. In the first place, it is
to be observed that they effect the desired end by totally unlike
methods. Given the problem of getting the infant Christ born without
the assistance of a father, there were various ways in which readers
could be assured of the truth of such a miracle. One was to inform
Joseph in a dream of the coming event; another was to announce it to
Mary by means of an angel. In choosing between these expedients each
Evangelist is guided by his own idiosyncrasy. Matthew selects the
dream; Luke the angel; and it is noteworthy that on other occasions
they exhibit similar preferences. Matthew gets out of every difficulty
by a dream. In the course of his two first chapters he uses this
favorite contrivance no less than five times; four times for Joseph,
and once for the magi (Mt. i. 20, and ii. 12, 13, 22). Twice, it is
true, he mentions an angel of the Lord as appearing in the dream,
but the angel in his narrative plays a very subordinate part, and
is, indeed, practically superfluous. With Luke, on the contrary, the
principal agent in the events of the infancy is the angel, who supplies
the place of the dream in Matthew. An angel informs Zacharias that his
wife is to have a son; an angel declares to Mary that she is destined
to give birth to the Son of God; an angel announces that event to the
shepherds after its occurrence; and angels appear in crowds above them
as soon as the announcement has been made (Lu. i. 11, 26, and ii. 9,
13). Another striking difference is the extreme fondness of Matthew
for ancient prophecies, and of Luke for little anthems and for songs
of praise. The diverse natures of the two writers are well exemplified
by this distinction; the former being the more penetrated with the
history and literature of the Jewish race; the latter the more flexible
and the more imbued with the spirit of his age. Hence, Matthew almost
avowedly constructs his narrative in such a manner as to ensure the
fulfillment of the prophecies. After describing Mary's miraculous
conception, he says that all this was done to fulfill Isaiah's words:
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive" (more accurately; the maiden has
conceived), "and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel"
(Mt. i. 23; Isa. vii. 14). And this he quotes, regardless of the fact
that Christ never was called Immanuel, and that if the one clause of
the prophecy is to be understood literally, so must the other. Thus
also he reveals his reason for assigning to Bethlehem the honor of
being Christ's birthplace, when he places in the mouths of the priests
at the court of Herod a verse from Micah, in which it is asserted that
from Bethlehem Ephratah shall come a man who is to be ruler in Israel
(Mt. ii. 6; Mic. v. 2). Further, he massacres the innocents in order to
corroborate a saying of Jeremiah (Mt. ii. 18; Jer. xxxi. 15), and he
takes Joseph and Mary to Egypt to confirm an expression of Hosea (Mt.
ii. 15; Hos. xi. 1). In each case, he perverts the natural sense of
the prophets; for in Jeremiah, the children are to return to their own
land, which the innocents could not do; and in Hosea, the son who is
called out of Egypt is the people of Israel. Lastly, in his exceeding
love of quoting the Old Testament, he commits the most singular blunder
of all in applying to Christ the words spoken of Samson by the angel
who announced his birth. If, indeed, the allusion be to this passage
(and it can scarcely be to any other), the Evangelist is barely honest;
for he converts the angelic words, "he shall _be a Nazarite_," into the
words "he shall _be called a Nazarene_" (Mt. ii. 23; Judg. xiii. 5).
So Judaic a writer could hardly be ignorant that a Nazarite was not
the same thing as an inhabitant of Nazareth. But from whatever source
the quotation may come, its object plainly is to lead to the belief
that notwithstanding his birth at Bethlehem, Jesus was called by his
contemporaries a Nazarene.

Luke does not trouble himself with the search for ancient oracles,
but indulges a far freer and more inventive genius. His personages
give utterance to their feelings in highly finished songs, which are
sometimes very beautiful, but most certainly could never have been
uttered by the simple people to whom he attributes them. Among these
are the salutation of Elizabeth to Mary, and the still more elaborate
answer of Mary. Zacharias, the very instant he recovers his speech,
recites a complete hymn of no inconsiderable length (Lu. i. 68-79).
Again, Simeon expresses his joy at the birth of the Savior in a similar
manner (Ibid., ii. 29-32); but in his case it may be said that he had
so long expected to see the Christ that his hymn of thanksgiving might
well be ready.

Passing now to the manhood of Jesus, we find the four Evangelists all
agreed in recording the baptism by John as the earliest known event in
his adult career, and it is unquestionably with this consecration by
a great man that his authentic life begins. Mark and John indeed were
unaware of anything previous to this period, and the former introduces
it by the words, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son
of God" (Mk. i. 1), showing that for him at least the history of his
Master began at this point. As usual, the myth appears in its simplest
form in his pages. After applying to John the Baptist a prophecy by
Isaiah, he states that this prophet was engaged in baptizing in the
wilderness, and that all Judea and all the Jerusalemites went out
to him and were baptized, confessing their sins. He declared that a
mightier than he was coming after him, the latchet of whose shoes he
was unworthy to unloose. Jesus, like the rest of the world, went to be
baptized, and as he came out of the water he saw the heavens opened,
and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. There was a voice from
the heavens, "Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased."
Matthew and Luke describe the baptism of John in a similar manner,
Matthew adding a conversation between Jesus and John. They also mention
the baptism of Jesus, the descent of the dove, and the voice, but with
slight variations. For whereas Mark merely says that _Jesus saw_ the
heavens opened and the Spirit like a dove descending, and Matthew, in
substantial accordance with him, relates that the heavens were opened
[to him], and that _he saw_ the Spirit descend as a dove, Luke going
further, pretends that the heavens were opened, and that the spirit did
descend in a bodily form like a dove upon him (Mk. i. 1-12; Mt. iii.;
Lu. iii. 1-22). Thus is the subjective fact in the consciousness of
Jesus gradually changed into an objective fact, a transition deserving
to be noted as illustrative of the trivial changes of language by which
a myth may grow. Several other examples of a like process will meet us
in the course of this inquiry. The scene at the baptism is described
differently again in the fourth Gospel. There the testimony of John the
Baptist to Christ is rendered far more emphatic; he receives him with
the words, "Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the
world;" and he explains his knowledge of him by the fact that he has
received a special revelation concerning him. On whomsoever he saw the
Spirit descend and remain, that was he who was to baptize with the Holy
Ghost. Now he had seen the Spirit descend like a dove on Jesus, and
therefore had borne witness that he was the son of God (John i. 6-37).
Of the opening of the heavens and of the voice nothing is said, and the
meaning of the whole story evidently is that this descent of the Spirit
was a private sign arranged between God and John the Baptist, but of
which the bystanders either perceived nothing, or understood nothing.
For had they known that the Holy Ghost itself was thus bearing witness
to Jesus, what need was there of the witness of John? It is evident,
however, that even if they saw the dove flying down and alighting upon
Jesus, they were not informed that it represented the Holy Spirit. Thus
the whole fact is reduced to a peculiar interpretation given by John
to a natural occurrence. We have then three versions of the baptismal
myth:—in the first certain circumstances are perceived by Jesus; in the
second they are perceived by John; in the third they actually occur.

Strangely inconsistent with this distinct acknowledgment of Christ as
the son of God, is the inquiry addressed to him at a subsequent period
by John the Baptist through his disciples. It appears that on hearing
of the extraordinary fame of Jesus and of the course he was pursuing,
John sent two disciples from the prison where he was confined to put
this question to him, "Art thou he that should come, or do we expect
another?" in other words, Are you the Messiah? Thus interrogated, Jesus
replied, not by appealing to the testimony of the dove at his baptism,
or the voice from heaven, but by citing the miraculous cures he was
then performing. Nor did he in the least resent the doubt implied in
John the Baptist's query. On the contrary, he immediately entered upon
a glowing panegyric of his precursor, describing him as the messenger
sent before his face to prepare his way, and as the prophet Elias who
was expected to come—(Mt. xi. 1-15; Lu. vii. 18-30)—a title which in
another Gospel the Baptist had expressly repudiated (Jo. i. 21). This
remarkable transaction between the two teachers could not easily have
occurred, if the elder had previously discovered "him that should
come" in the person of Jesus. For then we must suppose that since
the baptism he had seen reason to hesitate as to the correctness of
his opinion. And in that case, could he have referred the question
to Jesus himself for his decision? And could Jesus have employed the
terms of praise here given, in speaking of one who had lapsed from his
former faith into a state of doubt? Plainly not. The Evangelists have
overshot the mark in their narrative of the baptism. Eager to make
John bear witness to Jesus, they have forgotten that it was only at a
later period that he was convinced—if he was convinced at all—of the
Messianic claims of the young man who had passed under his influence,
and derived from him some of his earliest inspirations. His doubts are
historical; his conviction is mythical.

Temporary retirement into solitude naturally followed upon the
consecration administered by John in the baptismal rite. Jesus spent
some time wandering in a lonely place, the period of forty days
assigned to this purpose being naturally suggested by the forty years
of Israel's troubles in the wilderness. If there mingled among his
meditations any lingering feelings of reluctance to follow the course
pointed out by the Baptist, he would have afterwards described such
feelings as temptations of the devil. Hence, it may be, the story of
his conversations with Satan. These are not alluded to at all in Mark,
who simply mentions the fact that he was tempted by Satan. Neither
is there any reference in Mark to fasting for the whole of the forty
days or any part of them. Greatly improving upon this bald version,
the other two Synoptics tell us that he ate nothing during all this
time, and describe the very words of his dialogues with the tempter.
Satan had besought him to make bread out of stones; to cast himself
down from a high place, and to accept at his hands all the kingdoms
of earth in return for a single act of worship (Mk. i. 12, 13; Mt.
iv. 1-11; Lu. iv. 1-13). Jesus, like the Buddha at the corresponding
period of his life, emerged triumphant from the trial. It was by no
means equal in severity to that which Sakyamuni underwent. He also
was obliged to overcome the devil before he could attain perfection.
"Mârâ, the sinner," the Indian Satan, assailed him not only by
force of arms, despatching an immense army against him; but finding
this onslaught a failure, he tried the subtler mode of attempting
to corrupt his virtue by the seductions of women. His beautiful
daughters were despatched with orders to display all their charms, and
employ all their fascinations before the young monk. They faithfully
executed the commission, but all was in vain. Calm and unmoved, the
Bodhisattva regarded them with complete indifference, and emerged from
this severest of trials a perfect Buddha (R. T. R. P., vol. ii. p.
286-327). In like manner Zarathustra was tempted by the Parsee devil,
Angra-mainyus, who held out a promise of happiness if he would but
curse the good law. Like Jesus, Zarathustra repelled the suggestion
with indignation: "I will not curse the good Mazdayasna law, not even
if limbs, soul, and life were to part from one another" (Av., vol. i.
p. 244.—Fargard xix. 23-26).

Not long after his return from the desert, Jesus took up his abode at
the village of Kapharnaoum, or Capernaum, in Galilee, Nazareth being
in several ways uncongenial to him (Mk. ii. 1; Mt. iv. 12-16). In the
first place it was the abode of his family, who did not believe in the
pretensions he now began to advance. Moreover, he was well known to
the Nazarenes as the carpenter, or the carpenter's son, and it seemed
an unwarrantable presumption in their young townsman, undistinguished
by advantages either of birth or education, to claim to become their
teacher (Mk. vi. 3). His relations also not only discredited him by
their unbelief, but occasionally took active measures to stop his
proceedings (Mk. iii. 21, 31). From these and perhaps other causes, he
entirely failed to accomplish any important miracle at Nazareth, and he
had to excuse his failure by the remark that a prophet is not without
honor except in his own country, among his own relations, and in his
own house (Ibid., vi. 4). The more natural version—that of Mark—adds
that he marvelled because of their unbelief. With less simplicity
Matthew relates, not that he was unable to do, but that he did not do
many mighty works there because of their unbelief (Mt. xiii. 54-58).
Further confirmation of the incredulity of the Nazarenes is afforded
by their reception of a remarkable sermon said to have been delivered
by Jesus in their synagogue. It seems that after he had preached in
various parts of Galilee, and had been well received, he came to
Nazareth and, having read a Messianic prophecy from Isaiah, proceeded
to apply it to himself. Having noticed the demand which he expected
would be addressed to him, that he should repeat there such works as
he was reported to have performed at Capernaum, he proceeded to convey
by some pointed illustrations from the Old Testament the unflattering
intimation that Nazareth was to be less favored by God than his adopted
home. Hereupon a storm arose in the synagogue, and an effort was made
by the enraged audience to cast him from the brow of a hill. But he
escaped in safety to his own residence at Capernaum (Lu. iv. 14-30).

Whether or not any such sermon was preached or any such attempt upon
his life was made, the narrative bears further witness to the fact
of ill success in the town where he had been brought up, and to his
possession of a house or lodging at Capernaum. Whether he himself
was the owner of the abode, or whether it belonged to a disciple who
received him (of which latter there is no evidence), makes little
difference; the representation afterwards made that foxes had holes,
and birds had nests, but the son of man had not where to lay his head
(Mt. viii. 19, 20; Lu. ix. 57, 58), is equally negatived by either
supposition. Mark and John know nothing of this condition of the son
of man. In John's Gospel, indeed, it is distinctly contradicted by the
statement that two of the Baptist's disciples asked him to show them
where he lived; that he did so, and that they staid with him that day
(Jo. i. 39). Indirect evidence of the same kind is afforded by the
notice of an entertainment given by Jesus at his own house, to which
he invited a very promiscuous company. Luke, indeed, represents this
feast as having been given by Levi, but this is evidently for the sake
of an artistic connection with the summons to Levi, which in all three
narratives immediately precedes it. For the same reason he departs from
both other Evangelists in making the scribes at this very feast put the
question why Jesus and his disciples did not fast, which, according to
the more trustworthy version, is put by the disciples of the Baptist
(Mk. ii. 18-22; Mt. ix. 14-17; Lu. v. 33-39). Thus Luke contrives to
convert three unconnected stories into a single connected one. That
Jesus received the more degraded classes of his countrymen on equal
terms, and that his habits were not ascetic, are the important facts
which we have to gather from these several statements.

The inference from the evidence on the whole is that Jesus was in
comfortable, though not opulent circumstances; and even had he been in
want, he had friends enough whose devotion would never have allowed him
to remain without a good lodging and sufficient food.

These friends he seems to have begun collecting round him as soon as
he entered upon his career of preaching in Galilee. Among the earliest
were four fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, James and his
brother John. The first pair of brothers Jesus called away from their
occupation, saying, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"
(Mk. i. 16-20; Mt. iv. 18-22). So say two Gospels, but a very different
account appears in John. There we are told that two of the disciples of
John the Baptist having heard Jesus, left their master to follow him.
One of these two was Andrew, Simon's brother, and it was Andrew who
went and informed Simon that he had discovered the Messiah. On seeing
Simon, Jesus addresses him, "Thou art Simon the son of John; thou
shalt be called Kephas" (Jo. i. 38-43). Not a word is said here of the
calling of fishermen pursued by these brothers, nor of the remarkable
promise to make them fishers of men. Moreover it is they who present
themselves to Jesus; not he who summons them. The two accounts are
mutually exclusive.

Luke has a third version, not absolutely irreconcilable with that of
Mark and Matthew, though inconsistent in all its details. According
to him, Jesus had once been speaking to the people from Simon's boat,
which was lying on the lake of Gennesaret. The address concluded, he
desired Simon to launch into the lake and let down the nets. Simon
replied that they had toiled all night and caught nothing; yet he
would obey. On casting out the net it was found to inclose so great a
multitude of fishes that it broke. Simon called to his partners, James
and John, to come to his assistance, and both vessels were not only
filled with fish, but began to sink with the weight. Peter, ascribing
this large haul to the presence of Jesus, begged him to depart from
him, for he was a sinful man. Jesus told him, as in the other Gospels
he tells him and his brother Andrew (who does not appear here), that
he shall henceforth catch men. Hereupon all the three forsook all,
and followed him; from which it must clearly be understood that they
had not followed him before. Thus, that which the simpler version
represents as a mere summons, obeyed at once, is here converted into a
summons enforced upon the fishermen by a professional success so great
as to appear to them miraculous, and to lead in their minds to the
inference that since Jesus had commanded them to let down the nets, and
their obedience had been thus rewarded, he was in some obscure manner
the cause of the good fortune which had attended their efforts (Lu. v.

Leaving aside for the present all that is peculiar to John, who alone
mentions the calling of Philip, there is but one other disciple
concerning whom we have any information as to the mode in which he was
led to join Jesus. This is Levi, or Matthew, the publican. Jesus found
him sitting at the receipt of custom, and commanded him to follow him,
which he instantly did (Mk. ii. 14; Mt. ix. 9; Lu. v. 27, 28). But
we are not compelled to suppose that from this time forward Levi did
nothing but accompany Jesus or go through the country preaching the
new faith. He may have done so, or he may only have left his business
from time to time to listen to the prophet who had so deeply impressed
him. For while three Evangelists mention this circumstance, only one of
them, and that the least trustworthy, adds that in following Jesus he
left all things.

The names of the other seven disciples are given with but a single
variation in all of the synoptical Gospels (Mk. iii. 14-19; Mt. x.
1-4; Lu. vi. 12-16). To these twelve their master gave power to heal
diseases and to cast out devils, and sent them forth into the world to
preach the coming of the kingdom of heaven, giving them instructions
as to the manner in which they should fulfill their mission (Mk. iii.
14, 15; Mt. x. 5-15; Lu. ix. 1-6). When not thus engaged, they were to
remain about his person, and form an inner circle of intimate friends,
to receive his more hidden thoughts, and help him in the work he had

The four who were the first to join him seem to have stood towards him
in a closer relationship than anyone else, and to have been in fact his
only thorough disciples during the earliest period of his life. For we
read that after the cure of a demoniac effected in the synagogue at
Capernaum (Mk. i. 21-28; Lu. iv. 31-37), he retired into the house
of Simon and Andrew, with James and John, and there healed Simon's
mother-in-law of a fever by the touch of his hands, a species of remedy
which requires no miracle to render it effectual (Mk. i. 29-31; Mt.
viii. 14, 15; Lu. iv. 38, 39). His reputation as a thaumaturgist had
now begun to spread, and crowds of people besieged his door, whom he
relieved of various diseases, and from whom he expelled many devils
(Mk. i. 32-34; Mt. viii. 16, 17; Lu. iv. 40, 41). The anxiety of the
devils to bear witness to his Messiahship he repressed, on this as on
other occasions. Mentioning these circumstances, Matthew, ever prone to
strengthen his case by the authority of a Hebrew prophet, cites Isaiah,
"He himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses." Certainly
not a very happy application of prophecy; since it nowhere appears that
Jesus bore the diseases he cured, or was possessed by the devils he

Anxious to escape from the pressure of the people, who clamored for
miracles, he retired to a desert place to pray. But here Simon and
others followed him and told him that all men were seeking him. He
replied that he must carry his message to other villages also, and
proceeded on a tour through Galilee, preaching and casting out devils
(Mk. i. 35-39; Lu. iv. 42-44). It was on some occasion during this
Galilean journey, when crowds, eager to hear his doctrine and see his
wonders, had pressed around him from every quarter that he delivered
the celebrated sermon the scene of which is laid by Matthew on a
mountain, and by Luke in a plain (Mt. chs. v.-vii., inclusive; Lu.
vi. 20-49). A part only of this discourse has been preserved to us,
for Matthew has evidently collected into one a great number of his
best sayings, which were no doubt actually uttered on many different
occasions and in many different places. Luke, with more sense of
fitness, has scattered them about his Gospel, assigning to some an
earlier, to others a later date. Notably is this unlike arrangement
remarkable in the case of the Lord's prayer, and in nothing is the
untrustworthiness of these Gospels, as to all exterior circumstances,
more conspicuous than in their assigning to the communication of this
most important prayer totally different times, different antecedents,
and different surroundings. For whereas Matthew brings it within his
all-comprehensive sermon on the mount, Luke causes it to be taught
in "a certain place" where Jesus was praying. The former makes Jesus
deliver it spontaneously; the latter in answer to the request of a
disciple; the former to a vast audience; the latter to the disciples
alone (Mt. vi. 9-13; Lu. xi. 1-4).

Discrepancies like these evince the hopelessness of attempting to
follow with accuracy the footsteps of Christ. We can obtain nothing
beyond the most general conception of his movements, if even that; and
of the order of the several events in his life we can have scarcely
any notion. Discourses, parables, conversations, miracles, follow one
another now in rapid succession. Leaving the consideration of the
doctrines taught for another place, we will notice here, without aiming
at a chronological arrangement, the principal scenes of his life; and,
beginning with his miracles, we will take before any others those in
which devils are expelled; or as we should say, maniacs are restored to

A strange miracle of this kind is related of a man in the country of
the Gadarenes or Gergasenes. Matthew indeed, according to a common
habit of his, has made him into two men, but the other two Evangelists
agree that there was but one. This man was a raving lunatic, who had
defeated every effort to confine him hitherto made, and who lived
among tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones. Seeing Jesus, he
addressed him as the Son of the Most High God, and adjured him not to
torment him. On being asked his name, he said it was Legion, for they
were many. Having been ordered out by Jesus, he begged for leave to
enter into a herd of swine which was feeding near at hand; this was
granted, and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea and
were all drowned, their number being about two thousand (Mk. v. 1-20;
Mt. viii. 28-34; Lu. viii. 26-39). After this wanton destruction of
property, it is not surprising that the people "began to pray him to
depart out of their coasts." Jesus on this occasion certainly displayed
a singular tenderness towards the devils, and very little consideration
for the unfortunate owners of the pigs. Nor did the Legion gain much
by the bargain; for they lost their new habitation the moment they had
taken possession of it.

The disciples, as we have seen, had received power over devils, but
it appears from a remarkable story that they were not always able to
master them. For on returning to them after the transfiguration, Jesus
found a crowd about them engaged in some disputation. Having demanded
an explanation, a man told him that he had brought his son, who was
subject to violent fits, probably epileptic (Mark alone makes him deaf
and dumb), and begged the disciples to cure him, which they had been
unable to do. Hereupon, Jesus, bursting into an angry exclamation
against the "faithless and perverse generation" with whom he lived,
took the boy and healed him. Luke omits the private conversation with
the disciples which followed on this scene. They asked him, it is
said, why they had been thus unsuccessful. The answer is different in
Matthew and in Mark. In the former Gospel, he assigns a plain reason:
"because of your unbelief;" adding afterwards, "this kind does not
come out except by fasting and prayer." In Mark, the latter statement
constitutes the whole reply, no allusion being made to the disciples'
unbelief. It is noticeable, however, that in Mark alone the father is
required to believe before the boy is healed; a singular condition to
exact, since belief may generally be expected to follow on a miracle
rather than to precede it (Mk. ix. 14-29; Mt. xvii. 14-21; Lu. ix.

In the case of the Syro-phœnician woman, however, there was no need
to impose it, for her faith, founded on the reputation of Jesus was
perfect. This woman came to him when he had gone upon an excursion
to the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon, and begged him to cast out a
devil from her daughter, who was not present. He at first refused on
the ground of her being a Gentile, but after a remarkable dialogue,
confessed himself convinced by her arguments, and told her that on
her return she would find the daughter cured, which actually happened
(Mk. vii. 24-30; Mt. xv. 21-28). Here we have an instance of a remedy
effected at a distance, which can scarcely be credited at all unless
on the supposition that the daughter knew of her mother's expedition,
and had equal faith in Jesus. The probability is, however, that her
recovery is an invention, though the argument with the woman may
possibly be historical.

Belief in the production of diseases by demoniacal possession, and
in the power of exorcism over diseases so produced, is the common
condition of mind in barbarous or semi-civilized nations. The phenomena
which occurred in the first century in Judea are reproduced at the
present day in more than one quarter of the globe. Take, to begin with,
the theory of possession in Abyssinia, which I find quoted by Canon
Callaway from Stern's "Wanderings among the Falashes." Canon Callaway
observes that "in Abyssinia we meet with the word _Bouda_, applied to
a character more resembling the Abatakadi or wizards of these parts
[South Africa].... The _Bouda_, or an evil spirit called by the same
name and acting with him, takes possession of others, giving rise to
an attack known as 'Bouda symptoms,' which present the characteristics
of intense hysteria, bordering on insanity. Together with the _Boudas_
there is, of course, the exorcist, who has unusual powers, and, like
the _inyanga yokubula_, or diviner among the Amazulu, points out
those who are _Boudas_, that is, Abatakati" (R. S. A., part iii. pp.
280, 281). Describing the diseases of the Polynesian islanders, the
missionary Turner says: "Insanity is occasionally met with. It was
invariably traced in former times to the immediate presence of an
evil spirit" (N. Y., p. 221). Rising somewhat higher in the scale of
culture, the Singhalese, as depicted by Knox, present the spectacle
of patients whose symptoms are an almost exact reproduction of those
which afflicted the objects of the mercy of Jesus. "I have many times,"
he relates, "seen men and women of this country strangely possest,
insomuch that I could judge it nothing else but the effect of the
devil's power upon them, and they themselves do acknowledge as much. In
the like condition to which I never saw any that did profess to be a
worshiper of the holy name of Jesus. They that are thus possest, some
of them will run mad into the woods, screeching and roaring, but do
mischief to none; some will be taken so as to be speechless, shaking
and quaking, and dancing, and will tread upon the fire and not be hurt;
they will also talk idle, like distracted folk." The author proceeds to
say that the friends of these demoniac patients appeal to the devil for
their cure, believing their attacks to proceed from him (H. R. C., p.

The striking successes of Jesus with maladies of this order naturally
brought him the reputation of ability to deal no less powerfully with
other diseases. Accordingly, a leper presented himself one day, and
kneeling to him said that if he wished he could make him clean. He
did so, and the leper, though enjoined to keep silence, went about
proclaiming the power of Jesus, who was consequently besieged by still
further throngs of applicants and of curious spectators (Mk. i. 40-45;
Mt. viii. 1-4; Lu. v. 12-16).

Illustrating the manner in which he was pursued, we find a curious
story. Jesus was in his own house at Capernaum, when a paralytic,
borne upon a couch, was brought to him to be healed. Unable from the
concourse about him to penetrate to Jesus, his bearers let him down
through an opening in the roof. After forgiving the man's sins, which
he claimed a right to do, he told him to take up his bed and walk.
This the paralytic at once did, to the amazement of the bystanders
(Mk. ii. 1-12; Mt. ix. 1-8; Lu. v. 18-26). Matthew, telling the same
story, omits the crowd and the circumstance of letting down the patient
through the roof; and these adjuncts may be fictitious in the special
case, but in so far as they bear witness to the thaumaturgic repute of
Jesus, have in them an element of genuine history.

Of various other miracles of healing with which Jesus is credited,
one of the most interesting is the alleged resuscitation of Jairus'
daughter. Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue; a personage therefore
of some note in his district; and his daughter, a little girl of
twelve years old, was dangerously ill, and supposed by her friends
to be at the point of death. At this critical moment Jairus repaired
to Jesus, and requested him to come and lay his hands on the little
maid, that she might live. Jesus consented, but before he could reach
the house messengers arrived who informed Jairus that his child was
already dead; he need not trouble the master. None the less did Jesus
proceed to the house, taking with him only the most intimate disciples,
Peter, James, and John. Here a strange scene awaited him. About, and
probably in the sick-room had gathered a crowd of people, relations,
friends, and dependants of Jairus, who were engaged in raising a wild
clamor of grief around the child. Flute-players were performing on
their instruments, while their lugubrious music was accompanied by the
tumultuous wailing and howling of the mourners. Jesus, having entered
the place, declared that the maiden was not dead, but sleeping; or
as we should say, in a state of insensibility. The people laughed in
derision at the assertion, but Jesus at once took the very proper and
sensible measure of turning them all out of the room (which was either
the sick-room itself or one close to it), and taking the damsel's
hand, commanded her to rise. She did so, and Jesus (again exhibiting
excellent sense) ordered that she should have something to eat (Mk.
v. 21-24, and 35-43; Mt. ix. 18, 19, and 23-26; Lu. viii. 40-42,
and 49-56). In this case we have a peculiarly valuable instance of
the manner in which miracles may be manufactured. Analyzed into its
elements of fact and its elements of inference, we find in it nothing
which cannot be easily understood without supposing either any exercise
of supernatural power or any deliberate fraud in the narrators. Observe
first, that in two out of the three versions the girl is reported by
Jairus not to be dead, but dying. True, before Jesus can get to her
it is announced that she is actually dead. But Jesus, having reached
the house, and having evidently seen the patient (though this fact
is only suffered to appear in Luke's version), expressly contradicts
this opinion, declaring that she is not dead, but unconscious. On what
particular symptom he founded this statement we do not know, but we
cannot, without accusing Jesus of deliberate untruthfulness, believe
that he made it without reason. At any rate, the measures taken by
him implied a decided conviction of the accuracy of his observation.
If she were, as he asserted, not dead, though dangerously ill, the
hubbub in the house, if suffered to continue, would very likely have
rendered her recovery impossible. Quiet was essential; and that having
been obtained, it was perfectly possible that under the soothing touch
and the care of Jesus she might awake from her trance far better than
before, and to all appearance suddenly restored to health. The crisis
of her case was over, and it may have been by preventing her foolish
friends from treating that crisis as death, that Jesus in reality saved
her life. And when she awoke, the order to give her food implied a
state of debility in which she could be assisted, not by supernatural,
but by very commonplace measures. Observe, however, the manner in
which in this case the myth has grown. In two of the Gospels, Mark and
Luke, Jairus comes to Jesus, not when his daughter is dead, but only
when she is supposed to be at the last gasp. There is no reason from
their accounts to believe that she died at all, her friends' opinion on
that point being contradicted by Jesus. But in Matthew the miracle is
enhanced by the statement of the father to Jesus that she was just dead
(Mt. ix. 18). Consistently with this account the message afterwards
sent to him from his house is omitted. Again, while it seems from the
manner in which Matthew and Mark relate what happened, that the words
of Jesus, "The maiden is not dead, but sleepeth," preceded his entry
into her room, it is clear from Luke that they succeeded it. And this
is consistent with the requirements of the case. Some of the mourners
and attendants must obviously have been by the bedside, and he could
not turn them out till he was himself beside it. Then clearing the
sick-chamber of useless idlers, he could proceed in peace to treat the
patient; while if we suppose that these people were all outside the
door, there is far less reason for their prompt expulsion. That this
is the true explanation of the miracle I do not venture to assert; I
have only been anxious to show, by a single instance, how easily the
tale of an astounding prodigy might arise out of a few perfectly simple

A curious incident took place on the way to the house of Jairus. A
woman who had had an issue of blood for twelve years, came behind Jesus
and touched his clothes, whereupon she was instantly healed. Jesus,
turning round, told her that her faith had saved her (Mk. v. 25-34;
Mt. ix. 20-22; Lu. viii. 43-48). Such is the fact as related by the
first Evangelist; but the other two, magnifying the marvel, place Jesus
in the midst of a throng of people pressing upon him, and make him
supernaturally conscious that some one has touched him in such a manner
as to extract remedial power out of him. Discovered by this instinct,
the woman tremblingly confesses her deed.

Neither contact, however, nor even the presence of Jesus on the spot,
were essential to a miracle of healing. A centurion, having a paralytic
servant, either went or sent others to Jesus, requesting that he would
heal him. Before Jesus could reach the house, he declared that he
was unworthy of receiving him within it, but entreated that the word
might be spoken, adding that his servant would then be healed. This
was done; and Jesus took occasion to point the moral by contrasting
the faith of this heathen with that of the Jews, dwelling on the
superior strength of the former (Mt. viii. 5-13; Lu. vii. 1-10). This
myth, which appears only in two Gospels, and in them with considerable
variations, seems to have been designed to glorify Jesus by making a
Roman officer acknowledge his powers. This intention is more evident in
Luke than in Matthew; for in Matthew the centurion comes himself; but
in Luke he sends "the elders of the Jews" to prefer his request, their
appearance evincing his importance, and therefore increasing the honor
done to Jesus by the suppliant attitude in which he stands. When Jesus
is near his house the officer still does not approach in person, but
sends friends, distinctly stating that he thought himself unworthy to
come himself, and intimating his belief that a mere word will be enough
to heal his servant. It is impossible to see why this message might
not have been sent in the first instance by the elders, and the cure
effected at once, but the two embassies to Jesus make a better story.
Thus, in this version the centurion, who in the other version gives an
interesting account of his official status, and receives the highest
praise for his faith, never actually sees Jesus at all; and the eulogy
is spoken not _to_ him, but _of_ him. Here, then, is another example of
the way in which tales of this kind grow in passing from mouth to mouth.

Sometimes much more materialistic means of healing were adopted. One
day, by the sea of Galilee, a deaf and dumb man was brought to Jesus.
In this case he took the man aside, put his fingers into his ears,
spat, touched his tongue, looked up to heaven, sighed, and said,
Ephphatha, or, Be opened (Mk. vii. 31-37). When a word was sufficient,
it was singular to go through all these performances, and the whole
proceeding has somewhat the air of a piece of jugglery. At Bethsaida
he dealt in like manner with a blind man, leading him out of the town,
spitting upon his eyes, and then putting his hands upon him. Asked
whether he saw, the man replied that he saw men as trees walking,
whereupon a further application of the hand to his eyes caused him to
see clearly (Mk. viii. 22-26). Here the remark presents itself that if
anything of the sort ever occurred, the man could not have been born
blind, since he would then have been unable to distinguish either men
or trees by sight. It must have been a blindness due to accident or
disease of the eyes, and might not have been total. But the whole story
is probably mythical.

Two more miracles of healing rest on the authority of the third
Gospel alone. By one of them ten lepers, who had asked for mercy,
were suddenly cleansed after they had gone away. One only of the ten,
a Sâmaritan, turned round to glorify God and to utter his gratitude.
Jesus then observes: "'Were not the ten cleansed? Where are the nine?
Were there none found that returned to give glory to God, except this
stranger?' And he said to him, 'Arise, go; thy faith hath saved thee'"
(Lu. xvii. 11-19). Here the intention of exalting the Sâmaritan above
the Jews is very evident.

Another prodigy was worked at the town of Nain, where the only son
of a widow was just dead, and his body was being carried out to the
burial-place. Jesus touched the bier, and the widow's son rose to life,
to the terror of the spectators, who declared that a great prophet
had been raised up, and that God had looked upon his people (Lu. vii.

Though the miracles of Jesus were principally of a remedial character,
there were others which were rather designed to evince his power.
Conspicuous among this class is that of feeding a multitude of five
thousand people who had followed him into a desert place, and whose
hunger he satisfied by the supernatural multiplication of five loaves
and two fishes (Mk. vi. 30-45, and viii. 1-9; Mt. xiv. 14-21, and xv.
29-38; Lu. ix. 10-17; Jo. vi. 1-15). Of this wonder a double version,
slightly different in details, has been embodied in the first two
Gospels. It is plainly the same story coming from different sources.
John, whose miracles are seldom identical with those of the synoptics,
relates this one nearly in the same way; except that according to him
it was a lad and not (as in the other Gospels) the disciples, who had
the food on which the marvel was operated. The number of persons is
stated in all four Gospels to be five thousand (and on the second
occasion in the two first Gospels four thousand); but Matthew alone has
striven to enhance the miracle still further by adding to these numbers
the words, "besides women and children."

Immediately after this miracle the disciples entered a boat to cross
the lake of Galilee, leaving their master on land. A storm overtook
them at night, and as they were laboring through it, they saw Jesus
walking towards them on the water. Alarmed at such an apparition they
cried out in fear; but Jesus reassured them, and was received into
their boat, whereupon the wind fell (Mk. vi. 45-52; Mt. xiv. 22-33;
Jo. vi. 16-21). To this Matthew, unlike Mark and John, adds that Peter
also attempted the feat of walking on the lake; but being timid, began
to sink, and had to be rescued by Jesus. John alone adds to the first
miracle a further one: namely, that immediately upon his entrance into
the ship, they were at the land whither they went.

A somewhat similar performance is that of stilling a violent storm on
the lake of Galilee, which seems to have astonished even the disciples
in the boat, accustomed as they must have been to prodigies. At least
their exclamation, "What sort of man then is this, that even the wind
and the sea obey him?" looks as if all his influence over devils and
diseases had failed to convince them of his true character (Mk. iv.
35-41; Mt. viii. 23-27; Lu. viii. 22-25).

All doubt upon this score must have been removed in the minds of three
at least of the disciples by a scene which occurred in their presence.
Peter, James and John accompanied him one day to a high mountain,
where he was transfigured before them; his raiment becoming white and
shining. Elijah and Moses were seen with him, and Peter, evidently
bewildered, proposed to make three tabernacles. A voice came from
heaven: "This is my beloved son: hear him." Suddenly the apparition
vanished; Jesus alone remained with the disciples, and on the way
down charged them to tell no one of what they had seen till after the
resurrection (Mk. ix. 2-13; Mt. xvii. 1-13; Lu. ix. 28-36). This is a
suspicious circumstance, which means, if it mean anything, that the
transfiguration was never thought of till after the death of Jesus,
and that this order of his was invented to account for the otherwise
unaccountable silence of the three disciples. For is it to be imagined
that Peter, James, and John could keep the secret of this marvelous
event, which was so well fitted to confirm the faith of believers, and
to convince the Jews in general of the Messianic nature of the prophet?
And if they did keep the secret, what weight is to be attached to their
evidence, given long after the event, and when exalted views of the
divinity of the Christ who had risen from death were already current?

Such are some of the "mighty works" for which Jesus claimed, and his
disciples yielded, the title of "son of man," or "son of God," and
assumed the authority of the "Messiah" whom the Jewish nation expected.
But this claim was recognized neither by the spiritual heads of the
Jews, nor by the great bulk of the people. Indeed he had given great
offense to their religious sentiment both by putting forward such
pretensions, and by the opinions he had expressed on various topics.
The language which had caused their hostility, as belonging to his
historical and not to his mythical personality, will be considered
elsewhere. But the accounts—semi-mythical, semi-historical—which have
reached us of the closing scenes of his life, must be passed under
review now.

Long before his actual arrest, the Gospels tell us that he had
predicted to his disciples the sufferings that were to befall him.
Peter, according to one of the versions, had remonstrated with him on
these forebodings, and had received from him in consequence one of the
sharpest reprimands he had ever given, with the opprobrious epithet
of "Satan." It is further stated that he prophesied his resurrection,
and his return to earth in glory with the angels of his Father. To
this was added another prediction which proved false, that there were
some standing there who should not taste of death till the son of man
came in his kingdom. Gloomy expressions as to the necessity of his
followers taking up their crosses and being ready to lose their lives
also escaped him (Mk. viii. 31-ix. 1; Mt. xvi. 21-28; Lu. ix. 22-27).
A little later, he is said to have distinctly given vent to similar
expectations as to his approaching end, though without being able to
make himself understood by his disciples (Mk. ix. 30-32; Mt. xvii. 22,
23; Lu. ix. 44, 45). Again, on the way to Jerusalem where he intended
to celebrate the passover, he took all his twelve disciples aside, and
distinctly foretold his execution there, and his resurrection on the
third day (Mk. x. 32-34; Mt. xx. 17-19; Lu. xviii. 31-34).

Those portions of his prophecies which related to his death at the
hands of the Jewish rulers, though not those which related to his
return in glory, were destined to be soon fulfilled. Determined to
insist publicly upon his title to the Messianic throne, Jesus resolved
upon a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Having sent two disciples from
the Mount of Olives to fetch a colt, hitherto unridden, which he
informed them the owners would surrender on hearing that the Lord had
need of it, he mounted this animal and rode into the city amid the
shouts and acclamations of his supporters. Many are said to have spread
their garments in his path; others to have cut down branches from
trees, and strewed them before him. Those that went before and behind
him kept cheering as he rode, exclaiming: "Hosanna, blessed is he who
cometh in the name of the Lord; blessed is the coming kingdom of our
father David; hosanna in the highest" (Mk. xi. 1-11; Mt. xxi. 1-11; Lu.
xix. 29-39; Jo. xii. 12-16).

This remarkable scene is described in all the Gospels; but while the
three first represent Jesus as sending to fetch the colt, or the ass
and colt, which he in some mysterious manner knows that the man will
give up, the fourth makes him take the ass and mount it; not as in
the other versions before the triumphal reception, but after it had
begun. So that as to these important circumstances the two accounts
are entirely at issue; that of John being the more natural. That Jesus
actually entered Jerusalem in this fashion is highly probable, for
we find in the Gospels themselves a motive assigned which might well
have led him to select it for his approach to the capital. There was
a prophecy in Zechariah with which he was no doubt familiar: "Rejoice
greatly, O daughter of Zion: shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold,
thy King cometh unto thee, just and victorious is he; lowly, and riding
upon an ass, and upon a foal, the young of asses" (Zech. ix. 9). With
the views he held as to his Messiahship, Jesus may well have been
anxious to show that this prophecy was fulfilled in his person.

On the day after his entry on the ass, on coming from Bethany he was
hungry, and finding a fig-tree without fruit, he cursed it. Mark says
that the disciples found it withered the next day; Matthew increasing
the marvelous element, that they saw it wither "immediately." Mark also
adds that it was not the season for figs, which, if correct, would have
made it absurdly irrational in Jesus to expect them (Mk. xi. 12-14,
and 20-26; Mt. xxi. 18-22). If we accept the more natural supposition
that it was the season, but that this individual tree was barren, then
we may easily understand that the absence of fruit and the withered
condition of the tree were both parts of the same set of phenomena, and
that the disciples may have observed them about the same time.

Human beings were the next victims of the wrath of Jesus. The
money-changers and dove-sellers were turned out of the temple by him;
the fourth Gospel alone mentioning a scourge of small cords as the
weapon employed (Mk. xi. 12-14; Mt. xxxi. 12, 13; Lu. xix, 45, 46;
Jo. ii. 15-18). A question put by the authorities as to his right to
act thus was met by a counter-question, and finally left unanswered
(Mk. xi. 27-33; Mt. xxi. 23-27; Lu. xx. 1-8.). The chief priests now
consulted together as to the measures to be taken with a view of
bringing him to trial, but hesitated to do anything on the feast-day
for fear of popular disturbances. Matthew tells us, what the other
two do not know, that they assembled at the palace of the high priest
Caiaphas, and also puts in the mouth of Jesus a distinct prophecy that
after two days he will be betrayed to be crucified (Mk. xiv. 1, 2; Mt.
xxvi. 1-5; Luke xxii. 1, 2.).

A similar foreboding is expressed, according to Matthew, Mark, and
John, in reference to an incident which is variously described by these
three Evangelists. Matthew and Mark agree in saying, that on this
occasion he was taking a repast at the house of Simon the leper, when
a woman came up to him with a box of very precious ointment and poured
it on his head. Here, according to Mark, "some," according to Matthew,
"the disciples," were indignant at the waste of the ointment, which
might, they said, have been sold "for much," or "for three hundred
pence," and the proceeds given to the poor. But Jesus warmly took up
the woman's cause, for, he remarked, "she has wrought a good work on
me. For you always have the poor with you, but me ye have not always.
For in pouring this ointment on my body she has done it for my burial."
Mark now how strangely this simple story has been perverted in the
fourth Gospel to suit the purposes of the writer. The date he assigns
to it—six days before the passover—is nearly the same as that given in
the second Gospel, where it is placed two days before that festival.
The place, Bethany, is also identical. But the other circumstances are
widely different. In this Gospel alone is anything known of an intimate
friend of Jesus, Lazarus by name. In it alone is there any mention of
one of his most astounding miracles, the restoration of Lazarus to
life. Consistently with his peculiar notion of the relations of Jesus
with this man's family he says nothing of Simon the leper, but without
telling us in whose house Jesus was, mentions that Lazarus was among
the guests, and that his sister Martha was serving. Further, he asserts
that the woman who brought the ointment was Mary, the other sister.
Instead of pouring it on his head, she is made to anoint his feet, and
wipe them with her hair. Instead of the disciples, or some unknown
people, being angry at the waste, it is Judas Iscariot in whose mouth
the obnoxious comment is placed. The sum he names, three hundred pence,
is the same as that assigned in Mark as the value of the ointment. But
in order to cover Judas with still further obloquy, the Evangelist
charges him with a desire to obtain this sum, not for the poor, but
for himself; he being the bearer of the common purse, and being in the
habit of dishonestly appropriating some portion of its contents (Mk.
xiv. 3-9; Mt. xxvi. 6-13; Jo. xii. 3-8). Of such an accusation not a
trace is to be found in the other Gospels, whose writers were assuredly
not likely to spare the reputation of Judas if it were open to attack.
Nor does the author of this insinuation offer one particle of evidence
in its support.

The steps by which a story grows from an indefinite to a definite,
from a historical to a mythical form, are admirably illustrated in
this instance. A tradition is preserved in which, while the main event
is clear, many of the surrounding circumstances have been suffered
to escape from memory. Writer after writer takes it up, and finding
it thus imperfect, adds to it detail after detail until its whole
complexion is altered. Even the main event may not always be exempted
from the transfiguring process; as here, where the feet of Jesus are
substituted for the head, and the interesting picture introduced of
Mary wiping them with her hair, and consequently placing herself in a
situation of the deepest humility. And if the central incident is thus
unsafe, still more so are its adjuncts. First, the woman is unknown,
as are those who murmur against her. Then, in the second stage, the
woman is still unknown, but the murmurers are known generally as the
disciples. But no bad motive is as yet assigned for their censure.
Lastly, in the third stage, the woman is known, the murmurer is known
specifically as _one_ disciple, and a bad motive is assigned for his
censure. Such is the way in which myths grow up.

The circumstance we have next to deal with is obscure, not because too
much has been added, but because something has been omitted. Jesus had
now drawn upon him the mortal hatred of the priests of the temple.
He was well aware of his danger, as many of his expressions show. He
endeavored to avoid it by living in concealment in or near Jerusalem.
Not that we are told of this in so many words, but that the course of
the story renders it a necessary assumption. For all the Gospels inform
us that one of his disciples, Judas named Iscariot, went to the chief
priests and betrayed him, receiving a pecuniary reward for the service
thus rendered (Mk. xiv. 10, 11; Mt. xxvi. 14-16; Lu. xxii. 3-6; Jo.
xiii. 2, 27). As to this fact there is complete unanimity, and it is
borne out by the manner of his arrest as subsequently depicted. We
cannot then treat it as a fiction; but it is plain that had Jesus been
leading the open and public life described in the Gospels, there would
have been no secret to betray, and no reward to be earned. A period,
more or less long, of retirement to some spot known only to friends,
must therefore be taken for granted. John alludes to something of the
sort, though not distinctly, when he relates that there was a garden
across the brook Cedron, to which he often resorted with his disciples,
and which was known to Judas. But the Christian tradition did not like
to acknowledge that Christ, whom it represents as braving death, ever
lurked in hidden places like a criminal, and at the same time it wished
to brand the memory of Judas with infamy. Hence the suppression of a
fact without which the story cannot be understood. The expressions,
"he sought how he might conveniently betray him" (Mk. xiv. 11); or "he
sought opportunity to betray him" (Mt. xxvi. 26), plainly point to the
same inference.

There are some differences in the manner in which the proceedings of
Judas are related. All the Gospels agree that he received money, but
Matthew alone knows how much. This Evangelist had in his mind a passage
in Zechariah, which he erroneously attributes to Jeremiah, and which
moreover he misquotes (Mt. xxvii. 9). In the original it runs thus:
"And I said unto them [the poor of the flock], If it is good in your
eyes, give me my hire; and if not, forbear. And they weighed for my
hire thirty pieces of silver."[26] Matthew and Mark merely state that
Judas betrayed his master, giving no reason for his conduct. Luke,
however, represents it as a consequence of Satan having entered into
him (Lu. xxii. 3); while John in like manner states that the devil put
it into his heart, and even knows the very moment when Satan entered
into him (Jo. xiii. 2, 27). This Evangelist alone places the first
steps taken by Judas after the last supper, instead of before it, and
strangely enough so arranges the course of events, that he only acts
upon the resolution to betray him after a distinct declaration by Jesus
that he was about to do so.

Slightly anticipating the course of the narrative, we may mention here
the singular myth of the unhappy end of the traitor Judas; a myth
which is of peculiar interest inasmuch as its origin is distinctly
traceable to a mistranslation of a verse in Zechariah. The passage
quoted above continues thus: "And Jehovah spoke to me: Throw it to the
treasure, the costly mantle with which I am honored by them; and I took
the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the temple of Jehovah
to the treasure." But the word here used for the treasure commonly
signifies potter, and was hence interpreted "Throw it to the potter."
Out of this mistake arose the story that Judas, ashamed of his bargain,
returned the money to the chief priests, who, deeming it unlawful to
put it in the treasury, bought therewith the "potter's field to bury
strangers in." Thus, observes Matthew, "was fulfilled that which was
spoken by Jeremy the prophet." Judas, having parted with his ill-gotten
gain, committed suicide by hanging (Mt. xxvii. 3-10). So at least says
Matthew; but Luke, making confusion worse confounded, represents Judas
himself as purchasing the field "with the reward of iniquity;" after
which he fell headlong, and bursting in the middle, his bowels gushed
out (Acts i. 18, 19). Of this notorious fact, "known," according to the
Acts of the Apostles, "to all the dwellers at Jerusalem," Matthew at
least was wholly ignorant. But both versions equally originate in the
defective Hebrew of the translators of Zechariah.

In all the synoptical Gospels, the celebration of the passover by
Jesus and his disciples succeeds the secret arrangement of Judas
with the high priests. He kept it in Jerusalem, in the house of a
man whose name is not mentioned, but who must have been one of his
adherents. The encounter with this man is represented in two of the
three versions as something miraculous. On the first day of unleavened
bread Jesus told two of his disciples (according to Mark), James and
John (according to Luke), to go into Jerusalem, where they would meet a
man bearing a pitcher of water. Him they were to follow, and wherever
he went in, they were to say to the master of the house, "Where is the
guest-chamber, where I may eat the passover with my disciples?" He
would then show them a large furnished upper room, where they were to
prepare it. Nothing but a perfectly natural version of all this appears
in Matthew. There Jesus tells his disciples to go into the city to
So-and-so (the name therefore having been given), and tell him that he
wished to keep the passover at his house (Mk. xiv. 12-16; Mt. xxvi.
17-19; Lu. xxii. 7-13). Here again we see how easily a wondrous tale
may originate in a very simple fact.

Supper was accordingly prepared in the man's house, and Jesus ate the
passover there with his disciples. At this supper, according to all
the Gospels, he mentioned the fact that one of them would betray him.
Whether in so doing he actually named the traitor is uncertain. Mark's
account is that when he had predicted that one would betray him, the
disciples in sorrow inquired one by one, "Is it I?" and that Jesus told
them it was the one who dipped with him in the dish. Luke leaves it
still more indefinite. There Jesus merely says, "the hand of him that
betrays me is with me on the table," and no further inquiry is made
by any one. Matthew, like Mark, represents each disciple as asking
whether he was the one, and Jesus as giving the same indication about
the dish. But he adds that Judas himself asked, "Is it I?" and that
Jesus answered, "Thou hast said." Quite different is the account in
John. There, instead of all the disciples inquiring whether it was he,
a single disciple, leaning on the breast of Jesus, asks, on a sign
from Peter, who it was to be. Jesus does not reply that it was he who
dipped in the dish, but he to whom he should give a sop. He then gives
the sop to Judas, and tells him to do quickly that which he is about
to do; words understood by no one present.[27] The improbability of
any of these stories is obvious. In the three first, Judas is pointed
out to all the eleven as a man who is about to give up their master to
punishment, and probable death, yet no step was taken or even suggested
by any of them either to impede the false disciple in his movements,
or to save Jesus by flight and concealment. The announcement is taken
as quietly as if it were an every-day occurrence that was referred to.
John's narrative avoids this difficulty by supposing the intimation
that Judas was the man to be conveyed by a private signal understood
only by Peter and the disciple next to Jesus. These two may have felt
it necessary to keep the secret, but why then could they not understand
the words of Jesus to Judas, or why not at least inquire whether they
had reference to his treachery, which had just before been so plainly
intimated? That Jesus, with his keen vision, may have divined the
proceedings of Judas, is quite possible; that he could have spoken of
them at the table in this open way without exciting more attention, is
hardly credible.

It was at this same passover that Christ, conscious of his approaching
end, blessed the bread and the cup of wine, and giving them to his
disciples, told them that the one was his body, and the other his blood
in the new testament, or the new testament of his blood (Mk. xiv.
22-25; Mt. xxvi. 26-29; Lu. xxii. 14-21; I Cor. xi. 23-25). John who
was confused about dates in his biography, supposes that this supper
took place before the feast of the passover, instead of at it, and,
consistently with this view, he says nothing of the institution of the
Eucharist, which had a peculiar reference to the Jewish feast-day.
Instead thereof, he introduces another ceremony, of which neither the
other Evangelists nor Paul say a word; that of washing the disciples'
feet by Jesus. This was done to make them "clean every whit" (though it
had no such effect on Judas), and also to set them an example of mutual
kindness (Jo. xiii. 4-17).

The passover eaten, Jesus retired with his disciples to the Mount of
Olives. Being in a prophetic mood, he foretold that all his disciples
would forsake him in the hour of danger now approaching, and that
Peter would deny him. This Peter resented, though it was destined to
be soon fulfilled. After this Jesus went to Gethsemane, and taking
his three principal disciples apart from the rest, told them that his
soul was sorrowful unto death, and begged them to remain and watch
while he prayed. Going a little forward, he prayed earnestly that the
coming trial might pass from him, yet with submission to God's will.
Returning, he found his three friends asleep, and this happened twice
again, these devoted men sleeping calmly on until the very moment when
the officers of the Sanhedrim came to arrest their Lord. Luke adorns
this scene—which he places at the Mount of Olives without mentioning
the garden of Gethsemane—with ampler details. Mark and Matthew know
nothing of the exact distance of Jesus from his disciples; Luke knows
that it was about a stone's throw. Moreover, all the number are
present, not only Peter, James, and John. Sweat like drops of blood
falls from Christ. An angel appears to strengthen him. All this is
new; as is the representation that the disciples were sleeping from
sorrow,—a motive which the Evangelist no doubt felt it needful to
assign in order to vindicate their honor. The other two biographers,
who content themselves with saying that "Their eyes were heavy,"
certainly keep more within the limits of probability (Mk. xiv. 32-42;
Mt. xxvi. 36-46; Lu. xxii. 39-46).

No sooner was the prayer concluded than Judas, accompanied by a large
_posse comitatus_ armed with swords and staves, came from the Jewish
authorities. Resistance to the arrest must have been expected, and
not wholly without reason; for as soon as the officers, in obedience
to the preconcerted signal of a kiss from Judas, had seized Jesus, one
of his party drew a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest's
servant. This incident is related in various ways in all the Gospels.
In Mark, Jesus addresses no rebuke to the disciple who commits this
action. In Matthew, he tells him to put up his sword, for all who
take the sword shall perish by the sword. In Luke, the progress to
greater definiteness which has been noted as characterizing these
semi-historical myths has begun. In the first place, before going to
the Mount of Olives, the disciples provide themselves with two swords;
and Jesus, on their mentioning the fact, says, "It is enough." Then the
writer knows that it was the right ear which was cut off. More than
this, he gives artistic finish to the whole by making Jesus touch the
place and heal the wound: though whether a new ear grew, or the old
one was put on again, he does not tell us. More definite still is the
version in John. This Evangelist, as we saw in another case, is fond of
supplying names. Thus, he pretends to know here that it was Peter who
cut off the ear, and that its owner was called Malchus. Peter is called
to order in his version, but Malchus is not healed. Plainly it was the
sense of justice of the third Evangelist that made him shrink from
leaving an innocent dependent in this mutilated condition, when he knew
that Christ might so easily have restored the missing member.

While in the synoptical Gospels it is Judas who by a kiss points
out Jesus, in John it is Jesus himself who comes forward to declare
himself. Hereupon the party deputed by the priests go backwards and
fall to the ground. They soon recover themselves enough to arrest him.
In all the versions he suffers himself to be quietly taken, while in
all but John he resents, with much dignity, the sending of such a force
against him, as though he had been a thief; while in fact he had often
taught openly in the temple and had not been stopped. Their master
once taken, the courage of the disciples was at an end. They all fled.
Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrim, and evidence, of the tenor
of which we are not informed, was produced against him. Lastly, two
witnesses deposed that they had heard him say, "I am able to destroy
this temple, and in three days to rebuild it;" or, "I will destroy this
temple made with hands, and will build another not made with hands in
three days." Mark endeavors to depreciate these witnesses by saying
that their evidence did not agree; and he himself is liable to the
remark that his report of their evidence does not agree with that of
Matthew, while in neither Gospel does the utterance attributed by these
men to Jesus tally exactly with that assigned to him in John, "Destroy
this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (Jo. ii. 19). The
agreement, however, is close enough to render it probable that some
such expression was used, and some such evidence given. Neither Luke
nor John know anything of witnesses against Jesus. But Luke, in common
with the other synoptical Gospels, asserts that he not only admitted,
but emphatically confirmed the charge—distinctly put to him by the high
priest—of being the Son of God. On this confession he was unanimously
found guilty of blasphemy.

Wholly different is the conduct of the trial in John, whose account,
moreover, is confused and ill-written in the extreme. With his usual
proneness to give names, he says that Jesus was taken first before
Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas the high priest. Annas sent him
bound to Caiaphas. The high priest (the council is not alluded to)
carried on an informal conversation with Jesus, inquiring about his
doctrine and disciples; questions which the latter, on the plea of the
publicity of his teaching, refused to answer. There is no mention of
blasphemy; no conviction on any charge; no expression of opinion on the
part of Caiaphas; though from the fact that he committed the prisoner
for trial before the Roman court, it may be inferred that he considered
him guilty.[28]

During the trial by the Sanhedrim, a singular scene was passing in the
ante-room. There Peter, who alone of the disciples had followed his
master (for the mention of another is peculiar to John), was warming
himself among the attendants. Questioned by maids and officers of the
court whether he had not been among the disciples of the accused, he
vehemently, three several times, repudiated the supposition, though
his Galilean accent told heavily against him. According to John, the
question was put on the third occasion by a relative of Malchus, who
had seen him in the garden. The other Evangelists are less specific.
Now Jesus had foretold that Peter would thus deny him, and that his
falsehoods would be followed by the crowing of a cock. Immediately
after the last denial, this signal occurred; and Peter, according to
all the Gospels but the fourth, went out and wept over his meanness.[29]

Convicted by the Sanhedrim, the prisoner was now placed at the bar of
the civil tribunal. The procurator of Judea at this time was a man
named Pontius Pilatus. His character does not stand high. Neander
terms him "an image of the corruption which then prevailed among
distinguished Romans" (Leben Jesu, p. 687). Appointed in the year 23,
he was recalled in 37 on account of the slaughter of some Sâmaritans
in a battle. He had insulted the prejudices of the people he governed
by setting up the standards of the Roman army within the walls of
Jerusalem, and had threatened an armed attack upon the peaceable Jews
who went to Cæsarea to remonstrate against this novel measure. On
another occasion he had taken some of the revenues of the temple to
construct an aqueduct, and when the work was interrupted by the people,
had set disguised soldiers upon them, who killed them without mercy.

Such a man was not likely to be excessively troubled by scruples about
the execution of an innocent victim. On the other hand it is perfectly
possible that he might, comparing the prisoner with the prosecutors,
prefer the former. Having no love for the Jewish people, an object
of their antipathy might become to a certain extent an object of his
sympathy. But beyond this, it would be absurd to suppose that a man of
the character of Jesus would inspire him with any sort of regard, or
that he would hesitate to take his life if it suited his purpose. The
simplest account of the trial bears out this expectation. Questioned by
Pilate as to the charge preferred against him, of claiming to be the
king of the Jews, the prisoner answered by an admission of its truth:
"Thou sayest it." To other accusations urged against him by the priests
he made no reply. Pilate wondered at his silence, and endeavored, but
without success, to extract an answer. While the conduct of the accused
man must have appeared to him not a little strange, Pilate may also
have thought that the pretensions to kingship of a peaceable fanatic,
with but few and obscure followers, were nowise dangerous to the Roman
government. It was his custom at this festival to release a prisoner,
leaving the people, or the Jewish authorities, to decide whom. He now
proposed to release Jesus, but the suggestion was not accepted, and the
liberation of a well-known political prisoner, who had been engaged in
an insurrectionary enterprise, was demanded instead. Pilate naturally
enough preferred the would-be Messiah to the actual rebel. The Jews as
naturally preferred the rebel. They clamored for the crucifixion of
Jesus, and Pilate—afraid perhaps that by too much anxiety to save him
he would expose himself to misrepresentation before Tiberius—gave way
to their demand.

So far Mark; and as to the charge against Jesus, and the procurator's
treatment of it, the other Evangelists are all at one with him. But
each has adorned the trial with additional incidents after his own
fashion. Matthew has a ridiculous story of an interference with the
course of justice by Pilate's wife, who on the strength of a dream
entreated him to have nothing to do with "that just man." Matthew, as
we have seen before, was a great believer in dreams. Then he is so
desirous of clearing the character of the Roman, that he describes him
as washing his hands in token of his innocence before the multitude,
who cry out that the blood of Jesus is to be on them and their
children. In Luke, there is a new variation. Learning that Jesus was a
Galilean, Pilate sent him to Herod, who had long been anxious to see
him, but who could not now induce him to answer any of his questions.
Herod, like Pilate, found no fault in him, and sent him back after
treating him with ridicule. Pilate's reluctance to convict Jesus is
much magnified in this Gospel. He insists on Herod's inability, as
well as his own, to discover any capital offense committed by him,
and three several times proposes to the prosecution to chastise him
and then dismiss him. In John, the conversation of Pilate with Jesus
is wholly different. In the first place, it takes place alone, or at
any rate in the absence of the accusers, for these had refused to be
defiled by entering the court; and Pilate is represented as going out
to them to inquire into the charge. This is to suit the blunder about
dates committed in this Gospel, according to which the last supper was
before, and the trial at the very time of, the passover. The Jews,
therefore, stand without, and the prisoner is within. The prisoner does
not refuse, as in all the other versions, to answer Pilate's questions,
but enters at some length into his doctrine, explaining the unworldly
nature of his kingdom. Pilate places the purple robe and the crown
of thorns upon him before his condemnation, instead of after it, and
then tells the Jews that he finds no fault in him. Yet after this he
desires them to crucify him, although he was guiltless. Hereupon the
Jews tell him that he had made himself the Son of God. At this, Pilate
is frightened, and enters into further conversation with Jesus. After
hearing him expound another theory, he is still very anxious to release
him, but is forced to yield by an intimation that no friend of Cæsar's
would protect a rival to the throne (Mk. xv. 1-14; Mt. xxvii. 1, 2,
and 11-25; Lu. xxiii. 1-23; Jo. xviii. 28-40). Anything more utterly
improbable than this scene it is difficult to imagine. The picture
of the Roman governor of Judea going backwards and forwards between
accusers and accused; listening to the theological fancies of the
accused; helpless against the pressure of the accusers; alarmed at the
pretensions to divinity of a young Galilean artisan; are sufficient in
themselves to stamp this Gospel with the mark of unveracity.

Sentenced to death, Jesus was now scourged; a purple robe was put
upon him, and a crown of thorns about his head (not upon it as was
afterwards said): he was saluted in mockery as king of the Jews, and
smitten with a reed upon the head. After this cruel ceremony he was led
out to Golgotha to be crucified, a man named Simon being compelled to
bear his cross (Mk. xv. 15-21; Mt. xxvii. 26-32; Lu. xxiii. 24-26; Jo.
xix. 1-16). Luke is singular in the introduction of a large company of
women who follow Jesus to the crucifixion and draw from him a prophecy
of terrible evils to come upon them and their children; for themselves,
and not for him, they were to weep (Lu. xxiii. 27-31). The other
versions say nothing of any friends or followers, male or female, as
being present at this period, though they do mention many women as
looking on from a distance during the crucifixion. These, however,
were not daughters of Jerusalem (like the women in Luke), but Galilean
admirers who had followed him to the capital. His mother was certainly
not among them, or she could not fail to have been mentioned in the
synoptical Gospels; whereas the only names we meet with are those of
Mary Magdalene; Mary, mother of James and Joses; and Salome, apparently
the same person as the mother of Zebedee's children (Mk. xv. 40, 41;
Mt. xxvii. 55, 56).

These were among the spectators of the melancholy end of him who had
been their teacher and their friend. He was crucified between two
criminals, with an inscription on his cross which is differently
reported in every Gospel, but of which the substance was that he was
the king of the Jews. A stupifying drink which Matthew (in accordance
with a supposed prophecy) (Ps. lxix. 21) calls vinegar and gall, was
offered him by the executioners; not as Luke supposes, in mockery,
but with the humane intention of allaying the pain. His clothes were
divided among the party of soldiers; a circumstance in which the
Evangelists as usual endeavor to see the fulfillment of prophecy. In
Psalm xxii. 18, we read: "They part my garments among them, and cast
lots upon my vesture." The Synoptics content themselves here with
stating that the soldiers drew lots for his clothing, but John anxious
to fulfill this prophecy in the most literal manner possible, pretends
that they divided the articles of his apparel into four parts, but
finding the coat without seam, agreed not to tear it, but to apportion
it by lot. Luke is the sole reporter of a saying of Jesus uttered in
his last moments: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they
do" (Mk. xv. 23-28; Mt. xxvii. 34-38; Lu. xxiii. 32-34, 36; Jo. xix.

The pangs of death must have been greatly embittered to Jesus if
it be true that not only the priests and passers by, but the very
criminals who were crucified with him, ridiculed his claim to be king
of Israel, and suggested that he should prove it to demonstration by
saving himself from the cross. All the synoptical Gospels agree in
this account, with the single exception that Luke includes only one
of the malefactors among the scorners. According to this Gospel, the
other rebuked his fellow-convict for his misbehavior, and addressed
to him a few moral remarks; which, however, were perhaps not quite
disinterested, for at its close he requested Jesus to remember him in
his kingdom, and received an ample reward in the shape of a promise
from the latter that he should be with him that day in Paradise. But
where was the impenitent criminal to be? About his fate there is an
ominous obscurity, and it evidently did not occur to the writer that
the forgiveness which Jesus had just been praying his Father to grant
his enemies, he might himself have extended to this miserable man (Mk.
xv. 29-32; Mt. xxvii. 39-44; Lu. xxiii. 35-43).

Another incident of the closing hours of Jesus is known to the fourth
Evangelist alone. According to the others, the women who watched him
expire were standing far off. But according to John, his mother Mary,
her sister, and Magdalene were all at the foot of the cross. There also
was the disciple whom Jesus loved, and who in the three other Gospels
had run away. Before he died, Jesus committed his mother to the care
of this disciple as to a son, and he afterwards took her home. The
dogmatic purpose of this story is evident. Mary had not been converted
by her son during his life-time, and it was important to bring her to
the foot of the cross at his death, and to place her in this close
connection with one of his principal disciples (Jo. xix. 25-27).

As to the last words of Jesus, there is an amount of divergence which
shows that no account can be regarded as trustworthy. Mark and Matthew
both relate that he called out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" an
exclamation which he may really have uttered, or which, as coming
from a prophetic Psalm, may have seemed to them appropriate. Hereupon
a sponge of vinegar was offered him under the impression that he was
calling Elias, and with a loud cry he gave up the ghost. In Luke he
cries loudly, and then says, "Father, into thy hands I commend my
spirit." With these words (also from one of the Psalms) upon his lips,
he dies. In John he says, "I am thirsty:" and after receiving some
vinegar, adds, "It is finished;" and bowing his head, gives up the
ghost (Mk. xv. 34-37; Mt. xxvii. 46-50; Lu. xxiii. 46; Jo. xix. 28-30).

With the death of Christ, and indeed immediately before it, we pass
from the region of mixed history and mythology into that of pure
mythology. With the exception of his burial, all that follows has been
deliberately invented. The wonders attendant upon his closing hours
belong in part to the typical order of myths, and in part to an order
peculiar to himself. The darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour, the
rending of the temple veil, the earthquake, the rending of the rocks,
are altogether like the prodigies attending the decease of other great
men. The centurion's exclamation, "Truly this man was just," or "Truly
this man was the son of God" (it is differently reported), is a myth
belonging peculiarly to Christ, and designed to exhibit the enforced
confession of his greatness by an incredulous Roman. In Matthew, where
the more modest narratives of Mark and Luke are greatly improved upon
by additional details, it is further added that many bodies of saints
arose, and after the resurrection appeared to many in Jerusalem (Mk.
xv. 33-39; Mt. xxvii. 45, and 51-54; Lu. xxiii. 44-47).

John, who knows nothing whatever of the darkness, the accident to the
temple veil, the revival of the saints, or the centurion's exclamation,
has a myth of his own constructed for the especial purpose of
fulfilling certain prophecies. The next day being a festival, the Jews,
he says, were anxious that the bodies should not remain on the crosses.
They therefore requested Pilate to break their legs and remove them. He
ordered this to be done, and the legs of the two criminals were broken,
but not those of Jesus, who was already dead; one of the soldiers,
however, pierced his side, from which blood and water gushed out. The
writer adds a strong asseveration of his veracity, but immediately
betrays himself by letting out that in relating the omission to break
the legs of Jesus he was comparing him to the Paschal lamb, of whom not
a bone was to be broken; while in telling of the soldier who pierced
his side, he was thinking of a phrase in Zechariah: "They shall look
upon me whom they have pierced" (Zech. xii. 10; Jo. xix. 31-37).

The burial of the body took place quietly. Joseph of Arimathæa, a
secret admirer of Jesus, placed it in a new sepulchre of his own.
With him John associates a character who exists only in his Gospel,
Nicodemus, and whom he introduces here as taking some part in the
interment. To the circumstance of the burial in the rock sepulchre,
Matthew adds an audacious fiction of his own; namely, that the chief
priests, remembering Christ's prediction that he should rise on the
third day, obtained leave to seal the stone of the tomb and keep it
watched, lest the disciples should take the body by night and pretend
that he was risen (Mk. xv. 42-47; Mt. xxvii. 57-66; Lu. xxiii. 50-56;
Jo. xix. 38-42).

Certainly if the Evangelist had meant to convey the impression that
no human means could prevent the resurrection of Christ, he would
have been perfectly right. An actual body was not necessary for the
purpose. For the legends appertaining to the resurrection belong
to a region in which imagination, unhampered by the controlling
influence of historical fact, has been permitted the freest play. Of
the appearances of Jesus after his death we have accounts by no less
than seven different hands, each story being distinct from, though
not always inconsistent with, the other six. Let us begin with what
is probably the oldest of all, containing but a germ of the rest; the
first eight verses of the last chapter of Mark. There we are told that
on the day after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary James's mother, and
Salome went to the sepulchre at sunrise. They found it empty, the stone
having been rolled away. A young man in white clothes was sitting in
it. He told them that Jesus was risen, and desired them to tell the
disciples that he was going to Galilee, where they would see him. All
that follows in this Gospel is added by a later hand, and the very
first verse of the addition is plainly written in total disregard of
what has just preceded it. Observe then that _the simplest form of the
story of the resurrection contains no mention of any actual appearance
of Jesus whatever_, but merely an assertion that the body was not in
the tomb, and that a man, sitting inside it, made certain statements to
three women. To this the forger has added that Jesus appeared first to
Magdalene, whose account, given to the disciples, was disbelieved by
them; secondly, to two disciples while walking, whose evidence was also
disbelieved; thirdly, to the eleven at dinner, to whom he addressed a
discourse (Mk. xvi.).

The writer of the first Gospel is much more elaborate. He was a little
embarrassed by the guards whom he had set to watch the tomb, whom it
was essential to find some convenient method of getting out of the
way. Like Mark, he takes the two Marys (not Salome) to the sepulchre
early on the first day of the week; unlike Mark, he does not make them
examine the tomb and find it deserted. On the contrary, there is an
earthquake (the author is rather fond of these natural convulsions),
and an angel with a face like lightning, clothed in the purest white,
descends. He rolls back the stone and sits upon it. His appearance so
terrifies the keepers that they become like corpses. The angel tells
the women that Jesus is risen, and that they are to let the disciples
know that he would go before them to Galilee, where they would see him.
As they are engaged on this errand, Jesus himself appears and gives
them a similar injunction. The second appearance occurred before the
eleven disciples, who saw him at an appointed place in Galilee, "but
some doubted." Here Jesus addressed to them a parting discourse, and
this Gospel does not state how or when he quitted them. The awkward
circumstance of the presence of the guards, who had certainly not
testified to the angel's descent, had still to be surmounted. This is
accomplished by a ridiculous story that they had been heavily bribed by
the priests and elders to say that the disciples had stolen the body
while they were asleep (Mt. xxviii).

Unlike either of the preceding writers, Luke conceives the first
appearance of the risen Christ to have been, not to the women, but to
two disciples. He does indeed relate that on the morning of the first
day of the week Magdalene, Mary, Joanna, and other women went to the
tomb, and found the stone rolled away and the body gone. While they
were wondering at this, two men in shining garments stood by them,
and told them that he whom they sought was risen. They returned to
report to the apostles, to whom their words seemed as idle tales.
Peter, however, ran to the sepulchre to verify their statement, and
found only the clothes in it. Two of the disciples were going that
same day to Emmaus. While walking and talking, a stranger joined them
and entered into a conversation, in which he expounded the prophecies
relating to the Messiah. They requested this man to remain with them
for the night at the house where they were lodging. During supper he
took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them; whereupon they
recognized him as Jesus, and he vanished from their eyes. On returning
to Jerusalem, they found the eleven and the rest asserting that Christ
was risen and had appeared to Peter. The two wanderers related their
experiences in their turn. While the disciples were talking, Jesus
himself appeared in their midst, and said, "Peace unto you." Some
skeptical doubts, however, troubled them even now, for Jesus thought it
necessary to prove his actual carnality by showing his hands and feet,
as well as by eating some broiled fish and a piece of honeycomb. After
this he "opened their understanding," by an expository discourse in
reference to some of his own sayings and to the Scriptures; concluding
with an exhortation to remain at Jerusalem till they were endowed with
power from on high (Lu. xxii. 1-49). This last passage is explained by
the same author in the Acts of the Apostles to refer to the descent
of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles, which in that work is much more
definitely promised by Jesus (Acts i. 5, 8). We also find in it an
important addition to the details furnished by the Gospel about the
resurrection; namely, that Jesus was seen by his disciples for forty
days after his physical death, during which time he kept speaking to
them about matters pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts i. 3).

Directly contradicting Mark and Matthew, John states that Magdalene
(no one else is mentioned) went to the sepulchre while it was still
dark (not at dawn or sunrise), and found the stone taken away. Making
no further inspection, she ran to Peter and to the beloved disciple,
saying that the body had been abstracted. The two ran together to the
place, and going in, found the clothes lying in the tomb, whereupon
the beloved disciple "saw and believed," though what he believed is
not stated. Magdalene was standing outside; but after the two men had
concluded their examination she entered, and saw what they had not
seen—two angels, sitting one at each end of the place where the body
had been. These angels asked her why she was weeping; she answered,
because her Lord's body had been taken. Turning round, she saw a man
whom she at first took for the gardener, but whom she soon recognized
as Jesus. She returned and informed the disciples that she had seen
him. The same day, in the evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples,
said, "Peace unto you," and showed them his hands and feet. He then
breathed the Holy Ghost into them, and gave them authority to remit
or retain sins. Thomas, who was not present on this occasion, roundly
refused to believe these facts unless he himself could touch the marks
of the nails, and put his hand into the side. A week later Jesus again
appeared, and Thomas was now enabled to dispel his doubts by actual
examination of his person. To these three appearances, with which the
genuine Gospel closed, a later hand has added a fourth. According
to this new writer, a number of disciples were about to fish on the
lake of Tiberias, when Christ was observed standing on the shore. The
miraculous draught of fishes is introduced here in a form slightly
different from that which it has in Luke. By acting on a direction from
Jesus, the disciples caught a vast number. He then bade them come and
dine with him, which they did. After dinner, he instructed Peter to
feed his flock, and hinted that the beloved disciple might possibly
live till his return in glory (Jo. xx., xxi.).

Completely different from any of these narratives is the account of the
resurrection contributed by Paul. It is somewhat confused and difficult
to understand. Christ, he says, rose on the third day according to the
Scriptures, and was seen by Cephas; then by the twelve; after that by
more than five hundred brethren; after that by James; next by all the
apostles; and lastly by himself (1 Cor. xv. 3-8). It is to be noted
that since Paul does not say that Christ appeared _first_ to Cephas,
we may if we please combine with this account one of those which make
him appear first to Magdalene, or to her and other women. But even then
the difficulties do not disappear. For how could so notorious an event
as the manifestation of Christ to five hundred people be passed over
_sub silentio_ in all the Gospels and in the Acts? And granting that
Paul may by an oversight have put "the twelve" for "the eleven," are
we not compelled to suppose that "all the apostles" are distinct from
"the twelve," and if so, who are they? What, again, are we to think
of the appearance to James, of which nothing is said elsewhere? Above
all, what are we to think of the fact that the purely spiritual vision
granted to Paul, which was not even seen by his traveling companions,
is placed by him exactly on a level with all the other reappearances of
Christ, the physical reality of which so much trouble has been taken to

Comparing now the several narratives of the resurrection with one
another, we find this general result. In Mark, Jesus is said to have
appeared three times:—

  1. To Mary Magdalene.
  2. To two disciples.
  3. To the disciples at meat.

Two such appearances only are recorded in Matthew:—

  1. To the women.
  2. To the eleven in Galilee.

In Luke he appears:—

  1. To Cleopas and his companion.
  2. To Peter.
  3. To the eleven and others.

In the two last chapters of John the appearances amount to four:—

  1. To Mary Magdalene.
  2. To the disciples without Thomas.
  3. To the disciples with Thomas.
  4. To several disciples on the Tiberias lake.

Paul extends them to six:—

  1. To Peter.
  2. To the twelve.
  3. To more than 500.
  4. To James.
  5. To all the apostles.
  6. To Paul.

Upon this most momentous question, then, every one of the Christian
writers is at variance with every other. Nor is this all, for two of
the number bring the earthly career of Jesus to its final close in a
manner so extraordinary that we cannot even imagine the occurrence of
such an event, of necessity so notorious and so impressive, to have
been believed by the other biographers, and yet to have been passed
over by them without a word of notice or allusion. Can it be for a
moment supposed that two out of the four Evangelists had heard of the
ascension of Christ—that the most wonderful termination of a wonderful
life—and either forgot to mention, or deliberately omitted it? And may
it not be assumed that Paul, when detailing the several occasions on
which Christ had been seen after his crucifixion, must needs, had he
known of it, have included this, perhaps the most striking of all, in
his list? In fact the ascension rests entirely on the evidence of two
witnesses, both of them comparatively late ones, the forger of the
last verses of Mark, and the third Evangelist. Neither of them stand
as near the events described as the true author of Mark, as Matthew,
or as Paul, from no one of whom do we hear a word of the ascension.
Nor do even these two witnesses relate their story in the same terms.
The finisher of Mark merely tells us that after his parting charge to
the eleven, he was received into heaven and sat at God's right hand; a
statement couched in such general terms as even to leave it doubtful
whether there was any distinct and visible ascension, or whether Jesus
was merely taken to heaven like any other virtuous man, though enjoying
when there a higher precedence (Mk. xvi. 19). Especially is this doubt
fostered by the fact that this Gospel, when speaking of the witnesses
to Christ's resurrection, never alludes to any of the physical proofs
of his actual existence so much dwelt upon in Luke and the last chapter
of John. Very much more definite is the statement at the close of the
third Gospel. There it is related that Jesus led his disciples out to
Bethany, where he blessed them and that, in the very act of blessing,
he was parted from them and carried up into heaven (Lu. xxiv. 50, 51).
The same author subsequently composed the Acts of the Apostles, and in
the interim he had greatly improved upon his previous conception of
the ascension. When he came to write the Acts, he was able to supply,
what he had omitted before, the last conversation of the master with
the disciples he was about to leave; he knows too that after the final
words—no blessing is mentioned here—he was taken up and received by a
cloud; that while the disciples were gazing up, two men in white—no
doubt the very couple who had been seen at the sepulchre— were
perceived standing by them, and that these celestial visitors told them
that Jesus would return from heaven in the same way in which he had
gone to it (Acts i. 9-11). Unhappy Galileans! little could they have
dreamt for how many centuries after that day their successors would
watch and wait, watching and waiting in vain, for the fulfillment of
that consoling prophecy.

Casting a retrospective glance at the stories of the Resurrection
and the Ascension, we may perhaps discern at least a psychological
explanation of their origin and of the currency they obtained. Whatever
other qualities Jesus may have possessed or lacked, there can be
no question that he had one—that of inspiring in others a strong
attachment to himself. He had in his brief career surrounded himself
with devoted disciples; and he was taken from their midst in the full
bloom of his powers by a violent and early death. Now there are some
who have been taught by the bitter experience of their lives how
difficult, nay, how impossible it is to realize in imagination the
fact that a beloved companion is in truth gone from them forever. More
especially will this mental difficulty be felt when he whom death has
parted from our sides is young, vigorous, full of promise; when the
infinite stillness of eternal rest has succeeded almost without a break
upon the joyous activity of a well-spent life; when the being who is
now no more was but a moment ago the moving spirit of a household, or
the honored teacher of a band of friends who were linked together by
his presence.

Where the association has been close and constant; where we have been
accustomed to share our thoughts and to impart our feelings; where,
therefore, we have habitually entwined not only our present lives,
but our hopes and wishes for the future around the personality of the
dead, this refusal of the mind to comprehend its loss is strongest of
all. Emotion enters then upon a strange conflict with Reason. Reason
may tell us but too distinctly that all hope of the return of the
beloved one to life is vain and foolish. But Emotion speaks to us in
another language. Well nigh does it prevent us from believing even
the ghastly realities which our unhappy eyes have been compelled to
witness. Deep within us there arises the craving for the presence of
our friend, and with it the irrepressible thought that he may even yet
come back to those who can scarcely bear to live without him. Were
these inevitable longings not to be checked by a clear perception
that they originate in our own broken hearts, we should fancy that we
saw the figure of the departed and heard his voice. In that case a
resurrection would have taken place for us, and for those who believed
our tale. So far from the reappearance of the well-known form seeming
to be strange, it is its failure to reappear that is strange to us in
these times of sorrow. We fondly conceive that in some way the dead
must still exist; and if so, can one, who was so tender before, listen
to our cry of pain and refuse to come? can one, who soothed us in
the lesser troubles of our lives, look on while we are suffering the
greatest agony of all and fail to comfort? It cannot be. Imagination
declines to picture the long future of solitude that lies before us.
We cannot understand that we shall never again listen to the tones of
the familiar voice; never feel the touch of the gentle hand; never be
encouraged by the warm embrace that tells us we are loved, or find a
refuge from miserable thoughts and the vexations of the world in the
affectionate and ever-open heart. All this is too hard for us. We
long for a resurrection; we should believe in it if we could; we do
believe in it in sleep, when our feelings are free to roam at pleasure,
unrestrained by the chilling presence of the material world. In dreams
the old life is repeated again and again. Sometimes the lost one is
beside us as of old, and we are quite untroubled by the thought of
parting. Sometimes there is a strange and confusing consciousness
that the great calamity has happened, or has been thought to happen,
but that now we are again together, and that a new life has succeeded
upon death. Or the dream takes a less definite form. We are united
now; but along with our happiness in the union there is an oppressive
sense of some mysterious terror clouding our enjoyment. We are afraid
that it is an unsubstantial, shadowy being that is with us; the least
touch may dissipate its uncertain existence; the slightest illness may
extinguish its feeble breath. Granting only a strong emotion and a
lively phantasy, we may comprehend at once how, in many lands, to many
mourners, the images of their dreams may also become the visions of
their waking hours. They see him again; they know that he is not gone;
he is beside them still.

But for us, who live in a calmer age, and see with scientific eyes,
there is no such comfort. Not to us can the bodily forms of those who
have gone before us to the grave appear again in all the loveliness of
life. In the first shock of our bereavement we may indeed indulge in
some such visionary hope; but as day after day passes by and leaves us
in a solitude that does but deepen with the lapse of time, we learn to
understand only too well that we are bereft forever. Hope gradually
dwindling to a fainter and fainter remnant, is crushed at last by the
miserable certainty of profound despair. Yet even then, the mind of
man refuses to accept its fate. The scene of the reunion, which we
cannot but so ardently desire, is postponed to another season and to
a better world. Many are they to whom this final hope is an enduring
consolation, but if even that should fail us in the hour of darkness,
as the more primitive and simpler hope failed before it; if here again
emotion is reluctantly compelled to yield to reason; then there is
still one refuge in despondency, and a refuge of which we can never
be deprived. It is the thought that death, so cruel now, will one day
visit us with a kinder touch; and that the tomb, which already holds
the nearest and the dearest within its grasp, will open to receive us
also in our turn to its everlasting peace.

                   SUBDIVISION 3.—_The Ideal Jesus._

The Gospel attributed by the current legend to St. John differs from
the other three Gospels in almost every respect in which difference
is possible. The events recorded are different. The order of events
is different. The conversations of Jesus are different. His sermons
are different. His opinions are different. The theories of the writer
about him are different. Were it not for the name and a few leading
incidents, we should be compelled to say that the subject of the
biography himself is different. A more conspicuous unlikeness than that
of the synoptical to the Johannine Jesus it is not easy to conceive
in two narratives which depict the same hero. In the synoptical
Gospels Jesus is plain, direct, easy of comprehension, and fond of
illustrating his meaning by short and simple parables. In John he is
obscure, mystical, symbolic, and of his favorite method of teaching
by parables there is not a trace. Both descriptions cannot be true.
It would be monstrous to suppose either that the synoptical Gospels
omitted some of his most extraordinary miracles and some of his most
remarkable discourses, or that the Gospel of John passed over in
silence the whole of that side of his character which is portrayed
in the ethical maxims, the parables, and the exhortations of its
predecessors. Were it so, none of the four could be accepted as other
than an extremely one-sided and imperfect biography, and each of them
is plainly regarded by its author as complete within itself. None of
them refers to extraneous sources to supplement its own deficiencies.
The concluding verse of the fourth Gospel does indeed allude to many
unrecorded actions of Jesus, which, if they were all written, would
fill more books than the world could contain. But, not to rely on
the fact that the last chapter is spurious, these words contain no
intimation that a mode of teaching completely different from that here
recorded was ever employed by Jesus. And this is the point in which
John's narrative is peculiar. Again, to turn to the Synoptics, there
is no shadow of an intimation in them that, between the last supper
and arrest, Jesus addressed to his disciples a long and remarkable
discourse, full of the most interesting revelations. Can we suppose
that they could have forgotten it, delivered as it was at such a moment
as this, the very last before their master's condemnation at which he
was able to speak to them? Such a supposition is utterly untenable. The
two traditions embodied in these versions of his life do not therefore,
as some learned men—Ewald, for example—have supposed, supplement, but
exclude one another.

Let us enter into detail into some of the peculiar characteristics of
the Jesus of John. In the first place, we may note that his miracles
are altogether new. One of them at least is so astounding that no
biographer who had heard of it could have passed it by. The raising
of Lazarus is the greatest feat that Jesus ever performed. In other
cases he brought persons who were supposed to be just dead to life,
but skeptical Jews might have suspected that they had never in reality
died at all. Ample precautions against such cavils were taken in the
case of Lazarus. This man lived at Bethany, and his sisters, Mary and
Martha, were devoted admirers of Jesus. These women sent word to Jesus,
who had retired "beyond Jordan," to say that their brother was ill.
He replied that this illness was for the glory of God. After he had
heard of it he remained two days in the same place. Then, disregarding
the dissuasions of the disciples, who reminded him that the Jews had
recently sought to stone him, he proceeded towards Judea. He informed
them in that obscure manner which he almost invariably affects in this
Gospel, that Lazarus was asleep; but on their misunderstanding him,
consented to speak plainly and say that he was dead. He added that
for their sakes he was glad he had not been there, in order that they
might believe—even the disciples' faith being apparently still in need
of confirmation. On reaching Bethany, he found that Lazarus had been
buried four days. Martha, who came to meet him, observed that had he
been there, her brother would not have died, and that even now whatever
he asked of God would be given. Jesus told her that her brother would
rise again; a saying which she interpreted as referring to the general
resurrection; but he replied that whoever believed in him would never
die, and required of her an explicit declaration of her faith in this
dogma. Martha evaded the inquiry by a profession of her conviction
that he was the Christ and went to summon Mary. She too remarked that
if he had been there Lazarus would not have died. Distressed by her
distress, Jesus himself wept. Going to the grave, he ordered the stone
which covered it to be removed, in spite of Martha's objection that
putrefaction had set in. A curious scene followed. "Jesus lifted up
his eyes and said, 'Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And
I know that thou hearest me always, but because of the people which
stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.'" We
must suppose these last words to have been spoken _sotto voce_, for
"the people which stood by" would have been little likely to believe
in him had they known that the thanksgiving to God was a mere pious
pretence, offered up for the purpose of impressing their imaginations
by the event that was to follow. Knowing that his father always heard
him, he certainly had no occasion to thank him on this one occasion;
if indeed he could properly be thanked at all for taking the necessary
measures to ensure the credit of his own son, in whom he desired
mankind to believe, and who is over and over again described as one
with himself. This is perhaps the only instance in any of the Gospels
in which something like hypocrisy is ascribed to Jesus; in which he
is represented as consciously acting a part for the benefit of the
bystanders, and speaking simply with a view to effect. Happily for
his reputation we are not obliged to believe in the accuracy of his
biographer. After this he called loudly, "Lazarus, come forth." The
dead man accordingly arose, and came forth from the tomb clad in his
grave-clothes (Jo. xi. 1-46). His restoration to life was permanent,
for we find him afterwards among the guests at a supper to which Jesus
was invited (Jo. xii. 2).

Another singular miracle to which there is no allusion in any other
Gospel is that which is here declared to be the first; the conversion
of water into wine. Jesus was at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and when
the wine provided for the entertainment had all been consumed, his
mother informed him of the state of things. He gave her a repelling
answer; but she told the servants to do what he bade them. He then
ordered six waterpots to be filled with water, and the contents to be
drawn. It was found that they contained wine of a superior quality to
that at first provided (Jo. ii. 1-11).

The second miracle according to John is not unlike some of those
recorded elsewhere. It consisted in the cure by a mere word, without
visiting the place, of a nobleman's son who was on the point of death.
This time also Jesus was at Cana, though the patient lay at Capernaum
(Jo. iii. 46-54). Another cure was wrought at the pool of Bethesda,
the healing virtues of which are known only to this Gospel. A man who
had long been lying on its steps, too infirm to descend at the proper
moment, was enjoined to rise and walk, which he did (Jo. v. 1-9). It
is singular that although "a great multitude of impotent folk" were
waiting at the pool, many of whom must needs have been kept long, since
only one could be cured each time the water was troubled, this man
alone was selected for the object of a miracle. Why were not all of
them healed at once?

Not only are the most wonderful proofs of Christ's divinity contained
in this Gospel unknown to the rest, but its _dramatis personæ_ are
in several respects altogether novel. Nathanael, whose difficulties
about thinking that any good thing can come from Nazareth are overcome
in a conversation with Jesus (Jo. i. 45-51); Nicodemus, the secret
adherent who came by night and received instruction in the doctrine
of regeneration (Jo. iii. 1-21), who at a later period supported him
against the attacks of the Pharisees (Jo. vii. 51), and lastly brought
spices to his interment (Jo. xix. 39); Lazarus, brother of Mary and
Martha, who owed him his life (Jo. xi. 44; xii. 2); the woman of
Sâmaria, to whom an important prophecy was made, and whose past life he
knew by intuition (Jo. iv. 1-30); are all new personages, and they hold
no mean place in the story. The immediate attendants on his person are
no doubt the same; but the representation that there was one disciple
"whom Jesus loved" above the rest, and to whom a greater intimacy was
permitted (Jo. xiii. 23), is uncountenanced by anything in the other
Gospels; and indicates a fixed purpose of exalting the apostle John
above his compeers.

While the scene, the persons, and the plot are thus diverse, the
style of the principal actor is in striking contrast to that which
he employs elsewhere. Its most conspicuous characteristic is the
continual recurrence to symbols. It is true that in the other Gospels
Jesus frequently exchanges the direct explanation of his views for the
indirect method of illustration. But an illustration serves to clear up
the meaning of a speaker, a symbol to disguise it. Illustrations cast
light upon the principal thesis; symbols merely darken it. And this
is the difference between the synoptical and the Johannine Jesus. The
one is anxious to be understood; the other, in appearance at least,
is seeking to perplex. Hence the exchange of the parable for the
symbol. The number of such symbols in John is considerable. Jesus is
continually inventing new ones. Near the beginning of the Gospel, he
explains to Nicodemus that it is needful to be born again; a statement
by which Nicodemus is considerably perplexed (Jo. iii. 3, 4). But his
symbols are more generally applied to himself or his relations to the
Father. He is the bread of life or the bread of God (Jo. vi. 33-48);
again, he is the living water (Jo. iv. 10), or he gives a water which
prevents all future thirst (Jo. iv. 14); he is the true vine, his
Father the husbandman, and his disciples the branches (Jo. xv. 1-5);
elsewhere he is both the good shepherd and the door by which the sheep
enter the fold (Jo. x. 7-16); he is the way, the truth, and the life
(Jo. xiv. 6); he is the light that came into the world (Jo. xii. 46;
iii. 19); or he is the Resurrection and the Life (Jo. xi. 25). John the
Baptist, also, unlike the John of the other Gospels, adopts the same
manner. Christ is spoken of by him as the Lamb of God, which takes away
the sins of the world (Jo. i. 29); or as the Bridegroom whose voice
he rejoiced to hear, while he himself was but the Bridegroom's friend
(Jo. iii. 29). Sometimes "the Jews," as they are termed in this Gospel,
are puzzled by the enigmatical style of Jesus, the sense of which they
cannot unriddle. Thus, when he tells them that if they destroy the
temple he will rebuild it in three days, they are naturally unable to
perceive that he is speaking of the temple of his body (Jo. ii. 19-21).
They murmured because he spoke of himself as the Bread that came down
from heaven, nor was any explanation offered them beyond a reiteration
of the same statement (Jo. vi. 41-51). Not only the Jews, but also many
of his own partisans, were hopelessly perplexed by the statement that
no one could have life in him who did not eat his flesh and drink his
blood (Jo. vi. 53, 60), a statement which differs materially from that
made at the passover (in the other Gospels), where the bread and wine
were actually offered as signs of his flesh and blood, and the apostles
alone (who were present) were required to receive them. At other times
he confused them by mysterious intimations that he was going somewhere
whither they could not come, and that they should seek him and be
unable to find him (Jo. vii. 33-36; viii. 21, 22). On one occasion, his
auditors were unable to comprehend his assertion that he must be lifted
up, and requested him to explain it. The only reply was another enigma,
namely, that the light was with them but a little while, and that
they should believe in it while they had it (Jo. xii. 32-36). To such
language they might well have retorted, that what they had from him was
not light, but a twilight in which no object could be distinctly seen,
and which never advanced towards clear daylight.

Closely connected with this tendency to speak in obscure images was
his predilection for argument with the Jews on abstruse theological
topics. In the other Gospels he teaches the people who surround him,
and the subject of his teaching is generally the rules of moral
conduct; comparatively seldom theology. In John he does not so much
teach as dispute, and the subject of the dispute is not morals—a field
he scarcely ever enters—but his personal pretensions. Upon these he
carries on a continual wrangle, supporting his claims by his peculiar
views of the divine nature and of his relation to it (Jo. v. 16-47;
vi. 41-59; vii. 14-36; viii. 12-29; ix. 39-41; x. 19-37). In the same
spirit the blind man whom he cures enters into a discussion with the
Pharisees on the character of him who had restored his sight (Jo.
ix. 24-34). The Jews are depicted as continually occupied about this
question. Even their own officers receive from them a reproof for
making a laudatory remark about him (Jo. vii. 47, 48), while Nicodemus,
who interposes in arrest of judgment, is sharply asked whether he also
is of Galilee (Jo. vii. 51-52).

The very best instruction of Jesus is not given, as in the other
Gospels, to a multitude, but is reserved for a select circle of his
own followers. It is in the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters that he
rises to the sublimest heights of his doctrine, and the whole of this
remarkable discourse is delivered to the disciples after Judas has
left the supper-table in order to betray him. The substance of his
teaching is no less peculiar than its occasions. The writer conceives
of him as holding an altogether singular relation to the Father, and
that relation he represents his Christ as continually expounding and
insisting upon as of vital moment. The Evangelist himself begins his
work by a concise statement of his doctrine on this point. The Logos,
he says, was with God in the beginning; the Logos was God. All things
were made by it, and nothing was made without it. In it was life, and
the life was the light of men. This Light came into the world, but the
world did not know him. Even his own, whoever these may have been,
did not receive him. To those who did receive him, he gave power to
become the sons of God; and these were born, not of blood, nor of the
will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The Logos was
made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, as of the
only-begotten of the Father (Jo. i. 1-14).

The language of Christ is duly adjusted to this very speculative
theory. Thus, he scandalizes the Jews by the bold assertion that he and
his Father are one; and adds to their horror by further maintaining
that he is in the Father, and the Father in him (Jo. x. 30, 38).
Elsewhere, Philip is required to believe in the same truth. In reply to
his ignorant request that he may be shown the Father, he is told that
seeing Jesus is equivalent to seeing the Father. Moreover, the Father
who dwells in Christ performs the works which are apparently done by
Christ alone (Jo. xiv. 9-11). The disciples, too, are included in this
mystic unity, for they are in Jesus in the same sense in which he is in
God (Jo. xiv. 20; xvii. 21, 23). His Father, nevertheless, is greater
than himself (Jo. xiv. 28). Jesus has been glorified with the Father
before the world existed, and looks forward to a return to that glory.
He wishes that those who have been given him on earth may be with him
to behold the glory which God, who loved him before the foundation of
the world, has given him. That glory he has given them, and they are to
be one, even as he and his Father are one; he in them, and God in him
(Jo. xvii. 5, 22-24).

After these preliminary observations, we need not dwell long on the
historical incidents of the Gospel, of which there are but few. The
meeting of Jesus with Andrew and Simon, and his reception of Nathanael,
related in the first chapter, have already been noticed. It only
remains to be said, that Nathanael was deceived by a prophecy which
was not fulfilled; for at the end of the interview, Jesus, referring
to his amazement that he had been discovered under the fig-tree, which
had quite put him off his balance, tells him that he shall see greater
things than these, and especially mentions among them the opening of
the heavens and the descent of angels upon the Son of man. Nathanael
never saw anything of the kind (Jo. i. 35-51).

The conversion of water into wine follows next. A peculiarity in the
notions of this writer is evinced by the assertion that his mother and
brothers went with him to Capernaum, for his family do not accompany
him, according to any other statement, while here his mother not only
is with him, but is aware that he is able to work a miracle (Jo. ii.
1-12). Jesus, after visiting Capernaum, proceeded for the passover to
Jerusalem, where it is said that many believed in him because of his
miracles. His expulsion of the money-changers, however, brought him
into collision with the authorities of his nation, who asked him for
a sign; a question to which he replied by the undertaking to rebuild
the temple, if destroyed, in three days (Jo. ii. 13-25). But one of
the Jewish rulers, named Nicodemus, was disposed to believe in his
pretensions. This man came to him by night, and heard from him a long
theological disquisition (Jo. iii. 1-21). Jesus then went into Judea,
and remained there with his disciples baptizing his converts. John the
Baptist is made to bear an emphatic testimony to his superiority (Jo.
iii. 22-36). A visit to Sâmaria is the occasion for an interesting
dialogue with a Sâmaritan woman who had come to draw water at a well;
and her report leads the inhabitants to come out and see the prophet by
whom she had been so much impressed.

This incident is reproduced with curious fidelity in a Buddhist story.
Ananda, one of Sakyamuni's disciples, met with a Matangi woman, one
of a degraded caste, who was drawing water, and asked her to give him
some of it to drink. Just as the Sâmaritan wondered that Jesus, a
Jew, should ask drink of her, one of a nation with whom the Jews had
no dealings, so this young Matangi girl warned Ananda of her caste,
which rendered it unlawful for her to approach a monk. And as Jesus
nevertheless continued to converse with the woman, so Ananda did not
shrink from this outcast damsel. "I do not ask thee, my sister," he
replied, "either thy caste or thy family; I only ask thee for water,
if thou canst give me some." The Buddha himself, to whom the Matangi
girl afterwards presented herself, treated her with equal kindness.
He contrived to divert the profane love she had conceived for Ananda
into a holy love of religion; much as Jesus led the Sâmaritan from
the thought of her five husbands, and of him who was not her husband,
to the conception of the universal Father who was to be worshiped "in
spirit and in truth." And as the disciples "marveled" that Jesus should
have conversed with this member of a despised race, so the respectable
Brahmins and householders who adhered to Buddhism were scandalized
to learn that the young Matangi had been admitted to the order of
mendicants (Jo. iv. 1-42; H. B. I., pp. 205, 206).

After two days spent at Sâmaria Jesus went on to Galilee, where
he healed the nobleman's sons (Jo. iv. 43-54). Having returned to
Jerusalem for another feast, he cured the impotent man on the Sabbath,
which endangered his life at the hands of the indignant Jews, and led
him to deliver a long vindication (Jo. v). The feeding of the five
thousand was followed by an attempt to make him king, from which he
prudently escaped. The disciples took ship to go to Capernaum, and
Jesus joined them by walking on the water. On the ensuing day he
preached to the people who followed him, and shocked even some of the
disciples by the loftiness of the claims he advanced. Many of them are
said to have left him at this time (Jo. vi).

A singular proceeding is now mentioned. Urged by his brothers, who were
still incredulous, to go to Jerusalem for the feast of tabernacles, he
declined on the ground that his time was not yet come. When they were
gone he himself went also, though secretly (Jo. vii. 1-10). There is
no reason assigned for this little stratagem, and he soon emerged from
his incognito and taught openly in the temple. The public mind was
much divided about his character, some maintaining him to be Christ,
others contending that Christ could only come from the seed of David
and the town of Bethlehem. An attempt to arrest him failed, owing to
the impression he made upon the police (Jo. vii. 11-53). A discussion
with the Jews was terminated by their taking up stones to throw at
him, a peril from which he escaped apparently by miracle (Jo. viii.
12-59; verses 1-11 are spurious). Further offense was given by the
restoration of a blind man's sight on the Sabbath (Jo. ix). A discourse
on his title to authority provoked divisions, and at the feast of
the dedication he was plainly asked whether he was the Christ. His
answer again led to an attempt to stone him, from which he escaped
to the place beyond Jordan where John had formerly baptized (Jo. x).
The raising of Lazarus and the anointing by Mary are the next events
recorded (Jo. xi. 1-xii. 9). The passover followed six days after the
latter incident, and his preaching at this festival was interrupted
in a singular manner. Jesus had used the words, "Father, glorify thy
name!" whereupon a voice was heard from heaven, saying, "I both have
glorified it, and will glorify it again." Thereupon Jesus observed that
this voice came not for his sake, but for that of the bystanders. It
seems, however, to have produced but little effect upon them, for a few
verses later we find a complaint that, in spite of his many miracles,
they did not believe in him (Jo. xii. 12-50). The last supper with the
disciples was immediately succeeded by a parting discourse of much
beauty, conceived in an elevated tone; and his last moments of freedom
were occupied in a prayer of which the pathos has been rarely equaled
(Jo. xiii.-xvii).

The remainder of his career—his trial, execution, and alleged
resurrection—have been fully treated in another place.

           SUBDIVISION 4.—_What did the Jews think of him?_

Victorious over Jesus Christ at the moment, the Jewish nation have,
from an early period in Christian history, been subject in their
turn to his disciples. Their polity—crushed under the iron heel of
Vespasian, scattered to the winds by Hadrian—vanished from existence
not long after it had successfully put down the founder of the new
faith. Their religion, tolerated by the heathen Romans only under
humiliating and galling conditions, persecuted almost to death by the
Christians, suffered until modern times an oppression so terrible and
so cruel, that but for the deep and unshakeable attachment of its
adherents, it could never have survived its perils. Hence the course
of events has been such that this unhappy nation has never until quite
recently enjoyed the freedom necessary to present their case in the
matter of Jesus the son of Joseph; while the gradual decay of the
rancor formerly felt against them, at the same time that it gives them
liberty, renders it less important for them to come forward in what
would still be an unpopular cause. Thus it happens that one side only
in the controversy, that of the Christians, has been adequately heard.
They certainly have not shrunk from the presentation of their views.
Every epithet that scorn, hatred, or indignation could suggest has been
heaped upon the generation of Jews who were the immediate instigators
of the execution of Jesus, while all the subsequent miseries of their
race have been regarded—by the party which delighted to inflict
them—as exhibitions of the divine vengeance against that one criminal
act. Nor have even freethinkers shrunk from condemning the Jews as
guilty of gross and unpardonable persecution, and that towards one who,
if they do not think him a God, nevertheless appears to them singularly
free from blame. On the one side, according to the prevailing
conception, stands the innocent victim; on the other the bloodthirsty
Jewish people. All good is with the one; all evil with the other. It is
supposed that only their hard-heartedness, their aversion to the pure
doctrine of the Redeemer, their determination to shut their eyes to the
light and their ears to the words of truth, could have led them to the
commission of so great a crime.

Whether or not this theory be true, it at least suffers from the vice
of having been adopted without due examination. An opinion can rest on
no solid basis unless its opposite has been duly supported by competent
defenders. Now in the present instance this has not happened. Owing to
the causes mentioned above, the Christian view has been practically
uncontested, and writer after writer has taken it up and repeated
it in the unreflecting way in which we all of us repeat assertions
about which there is no dispute. Yet a very little consideration will
show that so simple an explanation of the transaction has at least no
_a priori_ probability in its favor. That a whole nation should be
completely in the wrong, and a few individuals only in the right, is a
supposition which can be accepted only on the most convincing evidence.
And in order even to justify our entertaining it for a moment, we must
be in possession of a report of the circumstances of the case from
the advocates of the nation, as well as from the advocates of the
individuals who suffered by its action. A one-sided statement from the
partizans of a convicted person can never be sufficient to enable us to
pronounce a conclusive verdict against his judges. The most ordinary
rules of fairness prohibit this. Yet this is what is commonly done. No
account whatever of the trial of Jesus has reached us from the side of
the prosecution. Josephus, who might have enlightened us, is silent. On
the other hand, the side of the defense has furnished us with its own
version of what passed, and from the imperfect materials thus supplied
we must endeavor to discriminate between the two as best we can. To
do this justly, we must bear in mind, that even though the charges
produced against Jesus should not appear to justify the indignation
of his accusers, it is at least unlikely that that indignation was
altogether without reasonable cause. And painful as it may be to be
compelled to think that Jesus was in the wrong, it would surely—had
not long habit perverted our natural sentiments—be quite as painful
to believe that a large multitude of men, impelled by mere malignity
against a virtuous citizen, had conspired to put him to death on
charges which were absolutely groundless. The honor of an heroic,
and above all, of a deeply religious people, is here at stake. It is
no light matter to deal in wholesale accusations of judicial murder
against them. It would surely be a happier solution if it could be
shown that the individual condemned was not absolutely guiltless. But
possibly we may be able to elude either alternative. Just as, according
to the able reasoning of Grote, the upright character of Socrates may
be compatible with a sense of justice on the part of the Athenians
who condemned him to death, so it is conceivable that the innocence
of Jesus may consist with the fact that the Jews who caused him to be
crucified were not altogether without excuse.

An examination of this question must be conducted with a careful regard
to the hereditary feelings of orthodox Hebrews in matters of religion;
with an attention to the conceptions they had formed of holiness, and
consequently of blasphemy, its negation; with a desire to do justice
if possible to the very prejudices that clouded their vision, and to
realize the intensity of the sentiment that ruled their national life
and bound them to uphold their law in all its severe integrity. We must
remember that the Jews were above all things monotheists. Ever since,
after the captivity, they had put away every remnant of idolatry, they
had clung to the unity and majesty of Jehovah with a stern tenacity
which no alluring temptations, no extremity of suffering, had been
able to break. If they were now ready to persecute for this faith,
they had at least shown themselves able—they soon showed themselves
able again—to bear persecution for its sake. Their law, with its
monotheistic dogmas and its practical injunctions, was to them
supremely holy. Any attempt to infringe its precepts, or to question
its authority, excited their utmost horror. To set up any other object
of worship than that which it recognized, to teach any other faith than
that which rested on this foundation, was blasphemy in their eyes. The
happiness, nay, the very existence, of the nation was bound up with
its strict observance. This may have been a delusion, but it was one
for which the existing generation was not responsible. It had been
handed down from their ancestors, and had reached them with all the
sanctity of venerable age. If it were a delusion, it was one which the
compilers of the Pentateuch; which Josiah, with his reforming measures;
which Ezra, with his purifying zeal; which the prophets and priests of
olden times who had fought and labored for the religion of Jehovah, had
mainly fostered. They had succeeded but too well in impressing upon the
mind of the nation the profound conviction that, in order to ensure the
favor of God, they must maintain every iota of the revealed truth they
had received, and that his anger would surely follow if they suffered
it to be in the smallest degree corrupted or treated with neglect.

Nevertheless the utmost efforts of the people to guard the purity of
the faith had been rewarded hitherto with little but misery. Their
exemption from troubles did not last long after the rebuilding of the
temple. A prey now to the Seleucidæ, now to the Ptolemies, their native
land the scene of incessant warfare, they enjoyed under the Asmonean
kings but a brief period of independence and good government. Their
polity received a rude shock from the capture of Jerusalem by Pompey;
maintained but a shadow of freedom under the tyranny of Herod; and fell
at last—some time before the public appearance of Christ—under the
direct administration of the unsympathetic Romans. A more intolerable
fate could hardly be imagined. The Romans had no tenderness for their
feelings, no commiseration for their scruples, no comprehension
of their peculiar practices. Hence constant collision between the
governors and the governed. It is needless to enter in detail upon
the miserable struggles between those who were strong in the material
force and those who were strong in the force of conscience. Suffice
it to say, that provocation on provocation was inflicted on the Jews,
until at length the inevitable rebellion came, to be terminated by
the not less inevitable suppression with its attendant cruelties. But
in the time of Jesus the crisis had not yet come. All things were in
a state of the utmost tension. It was of the highest importance to
the people, and their authorities were well aware of it, that there
should be nothing done that could excite the anger of their rulers.
The Romans knew, of course, that no loyalty was felt towards them in
Palestine. And the least indication of resistance was enough to provoke
them to the severest measures. All that remained of independence to the
Jews—the freedom to worship in their own way; their national unity;
their possession of the temple; their very lives—depended on their
success in conciliating the favor of the procurator who happened to be
set over them. The assertion by any one of rights that might appear
to clash with those of Rome, even the foolish desire of the populace
to honor some one who did not pretend to them, were fraught with the
utmost danger. It was necessary for the rulers to prove that they did
not countenance the least indication of a wish to set up a rival power.

Their task was more difficult because the people were continually
looking for some great national hero who should redeem them from
their subjection. The conception of the "Messiah," the Anointed
One, the King or High Priest who should restore, and much more than
restore, the ancient glory of their nation, who should lead them to
victory over their enemies and then reign over them in peace, was
ineradicably imbedded in their minds. Consequently they were only
too ready—especially in those days of overstrung nerves and feverish
agitation under a hateful rule—to welcome any one who held out the
chance of deliverance. The risk was not imaginary. Prophets and
Messiahs, if they were not successful, could do nothing but harm.
Theudas, a leader who did not even claim Messiahship, had involved
his followers in destruction. Bar-cochab, who at a later time was
received by many as the Messiah, brought upon his countrymen not only
enormous slaughter, but even the crowning misfortune of expulsion from
Jerusalem. Now, although the high priests and elders no doubt shared
the popular expectation of a Messiah, they were bound as prudent men
to test the pretensions of those who put themselves forward in that
character, and if they were imperiling the public peace, to put a stop
to their careers. It was not for them, the appointed guides of the
people, to be carried away by every breath of popular enthusiasm. They
would have been wholly unworthy of their position had they permitted
floating reports of miracles and marvels, or the applauding clamor of
admirers, to impose upon their judgment. Calmly, and after examination
of the facts, it was their duty to decide.

Jesus had professed to be the Messiah. So much is undisputed. Could
his title be admitted? Now, in the first place, it was the central
conception of the Messianic office that its holder should exercise
temporal power. He was not expected to be a teacher of religious
doctrines, for this was not what was required. The code of theological
truth was, so far as the Jews were aware, completed. The Revelation
they possessed never hinted, from beginning to end, that it was
imperfect in any of its parts, or that it needed a supplementary
Revelation to fill up the void which it contained. Whatever Christians,
instructed by the gospel, may have thought in subsequent ages, the
believers in the Hebrew Bible neither had ascertained, nor possibly
could ascertain, that Jehovah intended to send his Son on earth to
enlighten them on questions appertaining to their religious belief.
This they thought had long been settled, and he who tried either to
take anything from it or add anything to it was in their eyes an
impious criminal. Such persons, they knew, had been sternly dealt with
in the palmy days of the Hebrew state, and the example of their most
honored prophets and their most pious kings would justify the severest
measures that could be taken against them. A spiritual reformer, then,
was not what they needed: a temporal leader was. And this they had
a perfect right to expect that the Messiah would be. The very word
itself—the Anointed One, a word commonly applied to the king—indicates
the possession of the powers of government. Their prophecies all
pointed to this conception of the Messiah. Their popular traditions all
confirmed it. Their political necessities all encouraged it. The very
disciples themselves held it like the rest of their nation, for when
they met Jesus after his resurrection we find them inquiring, "Lord,
wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?" (Acts i. 6.).
The conversation may be imaginary, but the state of mind which such
a question indicates was doubtless real. The author represented them
as speaking as he knew that they had felt. Now, if ever they, who had
enjoyed the intimate friendship of Jesus, could still look to him as
one who would restore to Israel something of her bygone grandeur, was
it to be expected that the less privileged Jews, who had inherited
from their forefathers a fixed belief in this temporal restoration,
should suddenly surrender it at the bidding of Jesus of Nazareth? For
he at least did not realize the prevailing notions of what the Messiah
ought to be. For temporal sovereignty he was clearly unfit, nor does
he seem to have ever demanded it. There was a danger no doubt that his
enthusiastic followers might thrust it upon him, and that, thus urged,
he might be tempted to accept it. But his general character precludes
the supposition that he could ever be fit to stand at the head of a
national movement. The absence, moreover, of all political enthusiasm
from his teaching proved him not to be the Savior for whom they were
looking. His assertions that he was the Son of God, though they might
provoke sedition and endanger the security of his countrymen, could
bring them no corresponding good.

Christians have maintained that the Jews were entirely wrong in their
conception of the Messiah's character, and that Jesus by his admirable
life brought a higher and more excellent ideal than theirs into the
world. They admire him for not laying claim to temporal dominion, and
laud his humility, his meekness, his submissiveness, the patience
with which he bore his sufferings, and the whole catalogue of similar
virtues. It was, according to them, the mere blindness of the Jews that
prevented them from recognizing in him a far greater Messiah than they
had erroneously expected. Moreover, they tell us that another of the
mistakes made by this gross nation was the expectation of an earthly
kingdom in which Christ was to reign, whereas it was only a spiritual
kingdom which he came to institute. But who were to be judges of the
character of the Messiah if not the Jews to whom he was to come? The
very thought of a Messiah was peculiarly their own. It had grown up
in the course of their national history, and was embodied in their
national prophecies. They alone were its authorized interpreters;
they alone could say whether it was fulfilled in the case of a given
individual. It is surely a piece of the most amazing presumption
on the part of nations of heathen origin to pretend that they are
more competent than the Jews themselves to understand the meaning of
a Jewish term; a term, moreover, which neither had nor could have
before the time of Jesus any sense at all except that which the Jews
themselves attached to it. Christians, who derive not only their idea
of the Messiah's character, but their very knowledge of the word, from
the case of Jesus alone, undertake to set right the Jews, among whom it
was a current notion for centuries before he had been conceived in his
mother's womb!

Granting, however, that this difficulty might have been surmounted,
supposing that it was a spiritual kingdom which the ancient prophets
under uncouth images referred to, the question still remains whether
Jesus in other respects fulfilled the conditions demanded by Scripture.
For this purpose it will be the fairest method to confine ourselves
to the discussion of those prophecies alone which are quoted by the
Evangelists, and are therefore relied upon by them as proving their
case. Where, however, they have quoted only a portion of a prophecy,
and the remainder gives a somewhat different complexion to the passage
extracted, justice to their opponents requires that we should consider
the whole.

Take first the circumstances of Christ's birth. It was expected that
the Messiah was to be of the family of David, and born at Bethlehem
Ephratah. Now, according to two of our authorities, he fulfilled
both of these conditions. But, without at all discussing the point
whether their statement is true, it is abundantly sufficient for the
vindication of the Jews to observe, that they neither knew, nor could
know, anything at all, either of his royal lineage or of his birth at
Bethlehem. For he himself never stated either of the two capital facts
of which Luke and Matthew make so much, nor does it appear that any of
his disciples alluded to them during his life-time. He was habitually
spoken about as Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew, in endeavoring to account
for the name by misquoting a prophecy, bears witness to the fact that
it expressed the general belief. Luke makes him speak of Nazareth
as his own country. Nowhere does it appear that he repudiated the
implication conveyed by his ordinary title. Still less did he ever
maintain—what his over-busy biographers maintained for him—that he
was of the seed of David. Quite the reverse. He contends against the
Pharisees that the Messiah was not to be a descendant of David at all.
The dialogue as given by Matthew runs thus: "'What is your opinion
about the Christ? whose son is he?' They say to him, 'David's.' He says
to them, 'How then does David in the spirit call him Lord, saying, The
Lord said to my lord, Sit on my right hand until I place thine enemies
under thy feet? If then David calls him lord, how is he his son?'"
(Mt. xxii. 42-46). No answer was given by the Pharisees, nor was any
explanation of the paradox ever granted them by Jesus. In the absence,
then, of any further elucidation we can only put one interpretation
upon his argument. It was clearly intended to show not only that the
Messiah _need_ not, but that he _could_ not be of the house of David.
David in that case would not have called him Lord. The Pharisees may
have been but little impressed by the force of the argument, but of
one thing they could scarcely entertain a doubt. Jesus wished it to be
thought that he was the Messiah. He also wished it to be thought that
the Messiah was not a son of David. He himself therefore was certainly
not a son of David. But if anything more were needed to excuse the
ignorance—supposing it such—of the Jewish rulers about the birthplace
and family of Jesus, we find it even super-abundantly in the work of
one of his own adherents—the fourth Evangelist. Not that this writer
is to be taken as an authority on the facts, but he is an authority on
the views that were current, at least in a portion of his own sect, and
on that which he himself—writing long after the death of Christ—had
received by tradition. Now, in the beginning of his Gospel he describes
Philip the disciple as going to Nathanael, and saying, "We have found
him of whom Moses in the law and of whom the prophets wrote, Jesus _the
son of Joseph from Nazareth_." At this Nathanael skeptically asks, "Can
anything good come from Nazareth?" and Philip replies, "Come and see"
(Jo. i. 45, 46). According to this account, then, the very disciples
of Jesus believed in his Nazarene nativity, as also (by the way) in
his generation by a human father. Nor is this all the evidence. In
another chapter an active discussion is represented as going on among
the Jews as to whether Jesus was the Christ or not. Opinions differed.
Foremost among the arguments for the negative, however, was the appeal
to the Scriptural declaration that the Christ must be of David's seed,
and emanate from the village of Bethlehem (Jo. vii. 42). No answer to
this was forthcoming from the partizans of Jesus, nor is any suggested
by the Evangelist. There is but one rational inference to be drawn
from his silence. He either had not heard, or he purposely ignored,
the story of Christ's birth at Bethlehem, and the genealogies which
connected him with David. His mind (if he had ever been a Jew) was
to no small extent emancipated from Jewish limitations, and with his
highly refined views of the Logos, he did not believe in the necessity
of these material conditions. It was nothing to him that they were
not fulfilled. More orthodox believers in the prophecies of the Old
Testament may be pardoned if they could not so lightly put them aside.
But what shall be said of the conduct of Jesus? If he really were
a descendant of David, born at Bethlehem, and wrongly taken for a
Nazarene, can we acquit him of an inexcusable fraud upon the Jews in
not bringing these facts under their notice? Assuredly not. If, knowing
as he did the weight they would have in the public mind, he kept them
back; knowing that they would overcome some of the gravest objections
that were taken against his claim, he did not urge them in reply;
knowing at the close of his life that he was charged with an undue
assumption of authority, he did not produce them as at least a portion
of his credentials,—he played a part which it would be difficult to
stigmatize as severely as it deserves. He believed that his reception
by his nation would be an immense benefit to themselves, yet he did not
speak the word which might have helped them to receive him. He thought
he had a mission from God, yet he failed to use one potent argument in
favor of the truth of that idea. He saw finally that he was condemned
to death for supposed impiety, yet he suffered the Sanhedrim to incur
the guilt of his condemnation without employing one of his strongest
weapons in his defense. Happily we are not obliged to suspect him of
this iniquity. The contradictory stories by which his royal descent
and his birth at Bethlehem are sought to be established sufficiently
betray their origin to permit us to believe in the honor and honesty of

Another Messianic prophecy which he is supposed to have fulfilled is
that of birth from a virgin, the necessity of which was deduced from
an expression of Isaiah's. That the writer of the fourth Gospel was
ignorant of this virgin-birth we have already shown, and that the
Jewish people in general took him to be the son of Joseph is obvious
enough from their allusions to his father (Mk. vi. 3; Mt. xiii. 55, 56;
Lu. iv. 22; Jo. vi. 42). Here again he never contradicted the prevalent
assumption. But even had they known of the miraculous conception, the
Jews might have denied that the passage from Isaiah bore any such
construction as that put upon it by Matthew. He renders it: "Behold,
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son" (Mt. i. 23). But a
more proper translation would be: "The maiden shall conceive, and bear
a son," for the word translated _virgin_ by Matthew does not exclude
young women who have lost their virginity. Nay, it curiously enough
happens to be used elsewhere of maidens engaged in the very conduct by
which they would certainly be deprived of it.

Moreover, the two prophecies quoted by Matthew, which were, no doubt,
familiar to the Jews, could by no possibility be applied by them to a
person of the character of Jesus. Even the small fragments torn away
from their context by the Evangelist convict him of a misapplication.
In the first fragment, the Virgin's son is called Immanuel, a name
which Jesus never bore (Mt. i. 23). In the second, he is described as
"a ruler, who shall govern my people Israel," which Jesus never was
(Mt. ii. 6). But the unlikeness of the predicted person to Jesus is
still further shown by comparing the circumstances as conceived by the
prophet with the actual circumstances of the time. Immanuel's birth is
to be followed, while he is still too young to choose between good and
evil, by a terrible desolation of the land. Hosts, described as flies
and bees, are to come from Egypt and Assyria, and camp in the valleys,
the clefts of the rocks, the hedges and meadows. Cultivable land will
produce only thorns and thistles. Cultivated hills will be surrendered
to cattle from fear of thorns and thistles (Isa. vii. 14-25). Nothing
of all this happened in the time of Jesus. But the prophecy of Micah is
still more inappropriate. The "ruler" who is to be born in Bethlehem
is to lead Israel to victory over all her enemies. He is to deliver
his people from the Assyrian. The remnant of Jacob is to be among the
heathen, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young
lion among flocks of sheep. Its hand is to be lifted up against its
adversaries, and all its enemies are to be destroyed (Micah v).

These references to prophecy were certainly not happy. An allusion by
Matthew to the words, "The people who walk in darkness see a great
light," is not much more to the purpose, for Isaiah in the passage
in question proceeds to describe the child who is to bring them this
happiness as one who shall have the government upon his shoulder, who
is to be on the throne of David, to establish and maintain it by right
and justice for ever (Mt. iv. 15, 16; Is. ix. 1-7). Another extract
from Isaiah, beginning, "Behold my servant whom I have chosen," and
depicting a gentler character, is more appropriate, but is too vague to
be easily confined to any one individual.

Jesus himself is reported by one of his biographers to have relied on
certain words from the pseudo-Isaiah as a confirmation of his mission.
If the account be true, the circumstance is of great importance as
showing the view he himself took of his office, and the means he
employed to convince the Jews of his right to hold it. Entering the
synagogue at Nazareth, he received the roll of the prophet Isaiah,
and proceeded to read from the sixty-first chapter as follows: "The
Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, because Jehovah has anointed
me to announce glad tidings to the poor; he has sent me to bind up
the broken-hearted; to cry to the captives, Freedom, and to those in
fetters, Deliverance; to cry out a year of good-will from Jehovah."
Here Jesus broke off the reading in the middle of a verse, and declared
that this day this scripture was fulfilled (Lu. iv. 16-21). But let
us continue our study of the prophetic vision a little further. "To
cry out a year of good-will from Jehovah, and _a day of vengeance from
our God_: to comfort all that mourn; to appoint for the mourners of
Zion,—to give them ornaments for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a
garment of praise for a desponding spirit; that they may be called oaks
of righteousness, a plantation of Jehovah to glorify himself. And they
will build up the ruins of old times, they will restore the desolations
of former days; and they will renew desolate cities, the ruins of
generation upon generation. And strangers shall stand and feed your
flocks, and the sons of foreigners shall be your husbandmen and your
vine-dressers. And you shall be called 'Priests of Jehovah;' 'Servants
of our God,' shall be said to you; the riches of the Gentiles you shall
eat, and into their splendor you shall enter" (Is. lxi. 1-6). Had Jesus
concluded the passage he had begun, he could scarcely have said, "This
day is the scripture fulfilled in your ears." The contrast between the
prediction and the fact would have been rather too glaring.

Perhaps the most striking apparent similarity to Jesus is found in
the man described in such beautiful language by an unknown prophet in
the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. But these words could hardly be
applied to him by the Jews; in the first place, because they would
not be construed to refer to him until after his crucifixion, seeing
that they describe oppression, prison, judgment, and execution; in the
second place, because there was no reason to believe that he bore their
diseases, and took their sorrows upon him. And although the familiar
words—doubly familiar from the glorious music of Handel,—"He was a
man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," may seem to us, who know
his end, to describe him perfectly, they could hardly describe him to
the Jews, who saw him in his daily life. In that, at least, there was
nothing peculiarly unhappy.

Failing the prophecies, which were plainly two-edged swords, Jesus
could appeal to his remarkable miracles. He and his disciples evidently
thought them demonstrations of a divine commission. But, in the first
place, it is clear that the evidence of the most wonderful of these
consisted only of the rumors circulating among ignorant peasants, which
the more instructed portion of the nation very properly disregarded.
Their demand for a sign (Mt. xii. 38) proves that they were not
satisfied by these popular reports, if they had ever heard them. And in
the second place, those miracles which were better attested were not
convincing from the fact that others could perform them. Jesus, charged
with casting out devils by Baäl-zebub, the prince of devils, adroitly
retorted on the Pharisees by asking, if that were so, by whom their
sons cast them out? (Mk. iii. 22; Mt. xii. 24-30; Lu. xi. 14-24). But
thus he admitted that he was not singular in his profession. Miracles,
in short, were not regarded by the Jews as any proof of Messiahship.
Their own prophets had performed them. Their own disciples now
performed them. Others might possibly perform them by diabolic agency.
The Egyptian magicians had been very clever in their contest with
Moses, though Moses had beaten them, and had performed far more amazing
wonders than those of Jesus, in so far as these latter were known to
the Pharisees.

Miracles being too common to confer any peculiar title to reverence on
the thaumaturgist, there remained the doctrine and personal character
of Jesus by which to judge him. It must be borne in mind that the
impression which these might make upon his antagonist would depend
mainly upon his bearing in his relations with them. He might preach
pure morals in Galilee, or present a model of excellence to his own
followers in Judea; but this would not entitle him to reception as the
Messiah, nor would it remove an unfavorable bias created by his conduct
towards those who had not embraced his principles. Let us see, then,
what was likely to be the effect on the Pharisees, scribes, and others,
of those elements in his opinions and his behavior by which they were
more immediately affected.

There existed among the Jews, as there still exists among ourselves,
an institution which was greatly honored among them, as it is still
honored, though in a minor degree, among ourselves. The institution
was that of a day of rest sacred to God once in every seven days.
This custom they believed to have been founded by the very highest
authority, and embodied by Moses in the ten commandments which he
received on Sinai. Nothing in the eyes of an orthodox Jew could be
holier than such an observance, enjoined by his God, founded by the
greatest legislator of his race, consecrated by long tradition. Now
the ordinary rules with regard to what was lawful and what unlawful on
this day were totally disregarded by Jesus. Not only did his disciples
make a path through a cornfield on the Sabbath, but Jesus openly cured
diseases, that is, pursued his common occupation, on this most sacred
festival (Mk. ii. 23iii. 7; Mt. xii. 1-14; Lu. vi. 1-11, xiii. 10-17,
xiv. 1-6). When these violations of propriety (as they seemed to them)
first came under the notice of the Pharisees, they merely remonstrated
with Jesus, and endeavored to induce him to restrain the impiety of his
disciples. Not only did he decline to do so, but he expressly justified
their course by the example of David, and by that of the priests, who,
according to his mode of reasoning, profane the Sabbath in the temple
by doing that to which by their office they were legally bound. Such
an argument could scarcely convince the Pharisees, but they must have
been shocked beyond measure when he proclaimed himself greater than the
temple, and asserted his lordship even over the Sabbath-day. They then
inquired of him—a perfectly legitimate question—whether it was lawful
to heal on the Sabbath, to which he replied that if one of their own
sheep had fallen into the pit they would pick it out. Confirming his
theory by his practice, he at once healed a man with a withered hand.
It is noteworthy that the desire of the Pharisees to inflict punishment
upon Jesus is dated by all three Evangelists from this incident; so
that the hostility towards him may be certainly considered as largely
due to his unsabbatarian principles.

Now in this question it is almost needless for me to say that my
sympathies are entirely with Jesus. Although I do not perceive in his
conduct any extensive design against the Sabbath altogether, yet it is
much that he should have attempted to mitigate its rigor. For that the
world owes him its thanks. But surely it cannot be difficult, in this
highly sabbatarian country, to understand the horror of the Pharisees
at his apparent levity. Seeing that it is not so very long since the
supposed desecration of the Sunday in these islands subjected the
offender to be treated as a common criminal; seeing that even now a
total abstinence from labor on that day is in many occupations enforced
by law; seeing that a custom almost as strong as law forbids indulgence
in a vast number of ordinary amusements during its course,—we can
scarcely be much surprised that the sabbatarians of Judea were zealous
to preserve the sanctity of their weekly rest. The fact that highly
conscientious and honorable persons entertain similar sentiments about
the Sunday is familiar to all. We know that any one who neglected the
usual customs; who, for example, played a game at cricket, or danced,
or even pursued his commercial avocations on Sunday, would be visited
by them with perfectly genuine reproaches. Yet this was exactly the
sort of way in which Christ and his disciples shocked the Jews. To make
a path through a cornfield and pluck the ears was just one of those
little things which the current morality of the Sabbath condemned, much
as ours condemns the opening of museums or theatrical entertainments.
Their piety was scandalized at such a glaring contempt of the divine
ordinances. Nor was the reasoning of Jesus likely to conciliate them.
To ask whether it was lawful to do good or evil, to save life or to
kill on the Sabbath-day was nothing to the purpose. The question was
what _was_ good or evil on that particular day, when things otherwise
good were by all admitted to be evil. Nor were the cures effected by
Jesus necessary to save life. All his patients might well have waited
till evening, when the Sabbath was over. One of them, for instance,
a woman who had suffered from a "spirit of weakness" eighteen years,
being unable to hold herself erect, was surely not in such urgent need
of attendance that a few hours more of her disease would have done her
serious harm. Jesus, with his principles, was of course perfectly right
to relieve her at once, but it is not to be wondered at that the ruler
of the synagogue was indignant, and told the people that there were six
working days; in them therefore they should come and be healed, and not
on the Sabbath. The epithet of "hypocrite," applied to him by Jesus,
was, to say the least, hardly justified (Lu. xiii. 10-17).

Another habit of Jesus, in itself commendable, excited the displeasure
of the stricter sects. It was that of eating with publicans and
sinners. This practice, and the fact of his neglecting the fasts
observed by the Pharisees, gave an impression of general laxity
about his conduct, which, however unjust, was perfectly natural
(Mk. ii. 15-22; Mt. ix. 10-17; Lu. v. 29-39). Here again I see no
reason to attribute bad motives to his opponents who merely felt as
"church-going" people among ourselves would feel about one who stayed
away from divine service, and as highly decorous people would feel
about one who kept what they thought low company.

Eating with unwashed hands was another of the several evidences of his
contempt for the prevalent proprieties of life which gave offense.
The resentment felt by the Pharisees at this practice was the more
excusable that Jesus justified it on the distinct ground that he had no
respect for "the tradition of the elders," for which they entertained
the utmost reverence. This tradition he unsparingly attacked, accusing
them of frustrating the commandment of God in order to keep it (Mk.
vii. 1-13; Mt. xv. 1-9). Language like this was not likely to pass
without leaving a deep-seated wound, especially if it be true (as
stated by Luke) that one of the occasions on which he employed it was
when invited to dinner by a Pharisee. Indifferent as the washing of
hands might be in itself, courtesy towards his host required him to
abstain from needless outrage to his feelings. And when, in addition to
the first offense, he proceeded to denounce his host and host's friends
as people who made the outside of the cup and the platter clean, but
were inwardly full of ravening and wickedness, there is an apparent
rudeness which even the truth of his statements could not have excused
(Lu. xi. 37-39).

Neither was the manner in which he answered the questions addressed to
him, as to a teacher claiming to instruct the people, likely to remove
the prejudice thus created. The Evangelists who report these questions
generally relate that they were put with an evil intent: "tempting
him," or some such expression being used. But whatever may have been
the secret motives of the questioners, nothing could be more legitimate
than to interrogate a man who put forward the enormous pretensions of
Jesus, so long as the process was conducted fairly. And this, on the
side of the Jews, it apparently was. There is nowhere perceptible in
their inquiries a scheme to entrap him, or a desire to entangle him in
difficulties by skillful examination. On the contrary, the subjects on
which he is questioned are precisely those on which, as the would-be
master of the nation, he might most properly be expected to give clear
answers. And the judgment formed of him by the public would naturally
depend to a large extent on the mode in which he acquitted himself in
this impromptu trial. Let us see, then, what was the impression he
probably produced.

On one occasion the Pharisees came to him, "tempting him," to ascertain
his opinion on divorce. Might a man put away his wife? Jesus replied
that he might not, and explained the permission of Moses to give a wife
a bill of divorce as a mere concession to the hardness of their hearts.
A divorced man or woman who married again was guilty of adultery. Even
the disciples were staggered at this. If an unhappy man could never be
released from his wife, it would be better, they thought, not to marry
at all (Mk. x. 1-12; Mt. xix. 1-12). Much more must the Pharisees have
dissented from this novel doctrine. Rightly or wrongly, they reverenced
the law of Moses, and they could not but profoundly disapprove this
assumption of authority to set it aside and substitute for its precepts
an unheard of innovation.

Another question of considerable importance was that relating to the
tribute. Some of the Pharisees, it seems, after praising him for
his independence, begged him to give them his opinion on a disputed
point: Was it lawful or not to pay tribute to the Emperor? All three
biographers are indignant at the question. They attribute it as usual
to a desire to "catch him in his words," or, as another Evangelist
puts it, to "entangle him in his talk." Jesus (they remark) perceived
what one calls their "wickedness," a second their "hypocrisy," and the
third their "craftiness." "Why do you tempt me?" he began. "Bring me
a denarium that I may see it." The coin being brought, he asked them,
"Whose image and superscription is this?" "Cæsar's." "Then render to
Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and to God the things that are
God's" (Mk. xii. 13-17; Mt. xxii. 15-22; Lu. xx. 20-26). One of the
Evangelists, reporting this reply, rejoices at the discomfiture of the
Pharisees, who "could not take hold of his words before the people."
Doubtless his decision had the merit that it could not be taken hold
of, but this was only because it decided nothing. Taking the words in
their simplest sense, they merely assert what nobody would deny. No
Pharisee would ever have maintained that the things of Cæsar should
be given to God; and no partizan of Rome would ever have demanded
that the things of God should be given to Cæsar. But practically it
is evident that Jesus meant to do more than employ an unmeaning form
of words. He meant to assert that the tribute was one of the things
of Cæsar, and that because the coin in which it was paid was stamped
with his image. More fallacious reasoning could hardly be imagined,
and it is not surprising that the Pharisees "marveled at him." Nobody
doubted that the Emperor possessed the material power, and no more
than this was proved by the fact that coins bearing his effigy were
current in the country. The question was not whether he actually ruled
Judea, but whether it was lawful to acknowledge that rule by paying
tribute. And what light could it throw on this question to show that
the money used to pay it was issued from his mint? It must almost be
supposed that Jesus fell into the confusion of supposing that the
denarium with Cæsar's image and superscription upon it was in some
peculiar sense Cæsar's property, whereas it belonged as completely to
the man who produced it at the moment as did the clothes he wore. Had
the Roman domination come to an end at any moment, the coin of the
Empire would have retained its intrinsic value, but the Romans could
by no possibility have founded a right of exacting tribute upon the
circumstance of its circulation. Either, therefore, this celebrated
declaration was a mere verbal juggle, or it rested on a transparent

After the Pharisees had been thus disposed of, their inquiries were
followed up by a puzzle devised by the Sadducees in order to throw
ridicule on the doctrine of a future state. These sectaries put an
imaginary case. Moses had enjoined that if a man died leaving a
childless widow, his brother should marry her for the purpose of
keeping up the family. Suppose, said they, that the first of seven
brothers marries, and dies without issue. The second brother then
marries her with the like result; then the third, and so on through all
the seven. In the resurrection whose wife will this woman be, for the
seven have had her as their wife? To this Jesus replies: first, that
his questioners greatly err, neither knowing the Scriptures nor the
power of God; secondly, that when people rise from death they do not
marry, but are like angels; thirdly, that the resurrection is proved
by the fact that God had spoken of himself as the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, and that he is not the God of the dead, but of the
living (Mk. xii. 18-27; Mt. xxii. 23-33; Lu. xx. 27-40). Whether the
Sadducees were or were not satisfied by this answer we are not told,
but it is quite certain that their modern representatives could not
accept it. For the inquirers had hit upon one of the real difficulties
attending the doctrine of a future life. We are always assured that one
of the great consolations of this doctrine is the hope it holds out of
meeting again those whom we have loved on earth, and living with them
in a kind of communion not wholly unlike that which we have enjoyed
here. Earthly relationships, it is assumed, will be prolonged into
that happier world. There the parent will find again the child whom
he has lost, and the child will rejoin his parent; there the bereaved
husband will be restored to his wife, and the widow will be comforted
by the sight of the companion of her wedded years. All this is simple
enough. Complications inevitably arise, however, when we endeavor to
pick up again in another life the tangled skein of our relations in
this. Not only may the feelings with which we look forward to meeting
former friends be widely different after many years' separation from
what they were at their death; but even in marriage there may be a
preference for a first or a second husband or wife, which may render
the thought of meeting the other positively unpleasant. And if the
sentiments of the other should nevertheless be those of undiminished
love, the question may well arise, whose husband is he, or whose wife
is she of the two? Are all three to live together? But then, along with
the comfort of meeting one whom we love, we have the less agreeable
prospect of meeting another whom we have ceased to love. Or will one
of the two wives or two husbands be preferred and the other slighted?
If so, the last will suffer and not gain by the reunion. Take the
present case. Assume that the wife loved only her first husband, but
that all the seven were attached to her. Then we may well ask, whose
wife will she be of them? Will her affections be divided among the
seven, or will they all be given to the first? In the former case, she
will be compelled to live in a society for which she has no desire; in
the latter, six of her seven husbands will be unable to enjoy the full
benefit of her presence. The question is merely evaded by saying that
in the resurrection there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage,
but that men are like angels. Either there is no consolation in living
again, or there must be some kind of repetition of former ties. Still
less logical is the argument by which Jesus attempts to prove the
reality of a future state against the Sadducees. In syllogistic form it
maybe thus stated:—

 God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. God told Moses in
 the bush that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore
 they are not dead, but living (Mk. xii. 18-27; Mt. xxii. 23-33; Lu.
 xx. 27-40).

What is the evidence of the major premiss? The moment it is questioned
it is seen to be invalid. Nothing could be more natural than that
Moses, or any other Hebrew, should speak of his God as the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, meaning that those great forefathers of his
race had adored and been protected by the same Jehovah in their day,
but not therefore that they were still living. The Sadducees must have
been weak indeed if such an argument could weigh with them for a moment.

After this a scribe or lawyer drew from Jesus the important declaration
that in his opinion the two greatest commandments were that we
should love God with the whole heart, soul, mind, and strength; and
our neighbors as ourselves (Mk. xii. 28-34; Mt. xxii. 34-40; Lu. x.
25-37). How gratuitous the imputations of ill-will thrown out against
those who interrogate Jesus may be, is admirably shown in the present
instance. One Gospel (the most trustworthy) asserts that the question
about the first commandment was put by a scribe, who thought that Jesus
had answered well, and who, moreover, expressed emphatic approval of
the reply given to himself. Such (according to this account) was his
sympathy with Jesus, that the latter declared that he was not far from
the kingdom of God. Mark now the extraordinary color given to this
simple transaction in another Gospel. The Pharisees, we are told, saw
that the Sadducees had been silenced, and therefore drew together.
Apparently as a result of their consultation (though this is not
stated), one of _them_ who was a lawyer asked a question, _tempting
him_, namely, Which is the great commandment in the law? Diverse,
again, from both versions is the narrative of a third. In the first
place, all connection with the preceding questions is broken off,
and without any preliminaries, a lawyer stands up, and, _tempting
him_, inquires, "Master, by what conduct shall I inherit eternal
life?" To which Jesus replies by a counter-question, "What is written
in the law?" and then, strange to say, these two great commandments
are enunciated, not by him, but by the unknown lawyer, whose answer
receives the commendation of Jesus.

The bias thus evinced by the Evangelists, even in reporting the fairest
questions, seems to show that Christ did not like his opinions to be
elicited from him by this method, feeling perhaps that it was likely
to expose his intellectual weaknesses. In this way, and possibly in
others, a sentiment of hostility grew up between himself and the
dominant sects, which, until the closing scenes of his career, was
far more marked on his side than on theirs. Beautiful maxims about
loving one's enemies and returning good for evil did not keep him
from reproaching the Pharisees on many occasions. Unfortunately, a
man's particular enemies are just those who scarcely ever appear to
him worthy of love, and this was evidently the case with Jesus and
the men upon whom he poured forth his denunciations. Judging by his
mode of speaking, we should suppose that all religious people who did
not agree with him were simply hypocrites. This is one of the mildest
terms by which he can bring himself to mention the Pharisees or the
scribes. Of the latter, he declares that they devour widows' houses,
and for a pretence make long prayers; therefore they would receive the
greater damnation (Mk. xii. 40; Mt. xxiii. 14). The scribes and the
Pharisees, it is said, bind heavy burdens on others, and refuse to
touch them themselves (surely an improbable charge). They do all their
works to be seen of men (their outward behavior then was virtuous).
One of their grievous sins is that they make their phylacteries broad,
and enlarge the borders of their garments. Worse still: they like
the best places at dinner-parties and in the synagogues (to which
perhaps their position entitled them). They have a pleasure in hearing
themselves called "Rabbi," a crime of which Christ's disciples are
especially to beware. They shut up the kingdom of heaven, neither
entering themselves, nor allowing others to enter. They compass sea and
land to make one proselyte, but all this seeming zeal for religion is
worthless: when they have the proselyte, they make him still more a
child of hell than themselves. They pay tithes regularly, but omit the
weightier virtues; unhappily too common a failing with the votaries of
all religions. They make the outside of the cup and platter clean, but
within they are full of extortion and excess. Like whited sepulchres,
they look well enough outside, but this aspect of righteousness is a
mere cloak for hypocrisy and wickedness. They honor God with their
lips, but their heart is far from him.[30]

He uses towards them such designations as these: "Scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites;" "you blind guides;" "you fools and blind;"
"thou blind Pharisee;" "you serpents, you generation of vipers." If
we may believe that he was the author of a parable contained only
in Luke, he used a Pharisee as his typical hypocrite, and held up a
publican—one of a degraded class—as far superior in genuine virtue to
this self-righteous representative of the hated order (Lu. xviii. 9-14).

Had the Pharisees been actually guilty of the exceeding wickedness
which Jesus thought proper to ascribe to them, his career would surely
have been cut short at a much earlier stage. As it was, they seem to
have borne with considerable patience the extreme license which he
permitted himself in his language against them. Nay, I venture to say
that had he confined himself to language, however strong, he might
have escaped the fate which actually befell him. And the evidence of
this proposition is to be found in the extreme mildness with which
his apostles were afterwards treated by the Sanhedrim, even when they
acted in direct disobedience to its orders (Acts iv. 15-21, and v.
27-42). Only Stephen, who courted martyrdom by his language, was put to
death, and that for the legal offense of blasphemy. Ordinary prudence
would have saved Jesus. For his arrest was closely connected with his
expulsion of the money-changers from the temple court. Not indeed that
he was condemned to death on that account, but that this ill-considered
deed was the immediate incentive of the legal proceedings, which
subsequently ended, contrary perhaps to the expectation of his
prosecutors, in his conviction by the Sanhedrim on a capital charge.
Let us consider the evidence of this. For the convenience of persons
going to pay tribute to the temple, some money-changers—probably
neither better nor worse than others of their trade—sat outside for the
purpose of receiving the current Roman coinage and giving the national
money, which alone the authorities of the temple received in exchange.
Certain occasions in life requiring an offering of doves, these too
were sold in the precincts of the temple, obviously to the advantage
of the public. Had Jesus disapproved of this practice, he might have
denounced it in public, and have endeavored to persuade the people to
give it up. Instead of this, he entered the temple, expelled the buyers
and sellers (by what means we do not know), upset the money-changers'
tables and the dove-sellers' seats, and permitted no one to carry a
vessel through the temple. "Is it not written," he exclaimed, "'My
house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?' but you have
made it a den of thieves" (Mk. xi. 15-18; Mt. xxi. 12, 13; Lu. xix.
45-48). The action and the words were alike unjustifiable. The extreme
care of the Jews to preserve the sanctity of their temple is well known
from secular history. Nothing that they had done or were likely to do
could prevent it from remaining a house of prayer. And even if they had
suffered it to be desecrated by commerce, was it, they would ask, for
Jesus to fall suddenly upon men who were but pursuing a calling which
custom had sanctioned, and which they had no reason to think illegal or
irreligious? Was it for him to stigmatize them all indiscriminately as
"thieves"? Plainly not. He had, in their opinion, exceeded all bounds
of decorum, to say nothing of law, in this deed of violence and of
passion. Thus, there was nothing for it now but to restrain the further
excesses he might be tempted to commit.

No immediate steps were, however, taken to punish this outrage. It is
alleged that Jesus escaped because of the reputation he enjoyed among
the people. At any rate, the course of the authorities was the mildest
they could possibly adopt. They contented themselves with asking Jesus
by what authority he did these things, a question which assuredly they
had every right to put. He answered by another question, promising
if they answered it, he would answer theirs. Was John's baptism from
heaven or from men? Hereupon the Evangelists depict the perplexity
which they imagine arose among the priests. If they said, from heaven,
Jesus would proceed to ask why they had not received him; if from men,
they would encounter the popular impression that he was a prophet. All
this, however, may be mere speculation; we return within the region of
the actual knowledge of the Evangelists when we come to their answer.
"And they say in answer to Jesus, '_We do not know._' And Jesus says to
them, '_Neither do I tell you_ by what authority I do these things.'"
(Mk. xi. 27-33; Mt. xxi. 23-27; Lu. xx. 1-8). Observe in this reply the
conduct of Jesus. He had promised the priests that if they answered his
question, he would also answer theirs. They _did_ answer his question
as best they could, and he refused to answer theirs! Even in the
English version, where the contrast between him and them is disguised
by the employment of the same word "tell" as the translation of two
very different verbs in the original, the distinction between "We
_cannot_ tell" and "I _do not_," that is "will not tell" is palpable
enough. But it is far more so in the original. The priests did not by
any means decline to answer the question; they simply said, what may
very likely have been true, that they did not know whence the baptism
of John was. In the divided state of public opinion about John, nothing
could be more natural. They could not reply decidedly if their feelings
were undecided. Their reply, "We do not know," was then a perfectly
proper one. The corresponding reply on the part of Jesus would have
been, "I do not know by what authority I do these things;" but this
of course it was impossible to give. The chief priests, scribes and
elders had more right to ask Jesus to produce his authority for his
assault than he had to interrogate them about their religious opinions.
But Jesus, though he had for the moment evaded a difficulty, must have
been well aware that he was not out of danger. He found it necessary to
retire to a secret spot, known only to friends. Here, however, he was
discovered by his opponents, and brought before the Sanhedrim to answer
to the charges now alleged against his character and doctrine.

To some extent these charges are matter of conjecture. The Gospels
intimate that there was much evidence against him which they have not
reported. Now it is impossible for us to do complete justice to the
tribunal which heard the case unless we know the nature and number
of the offences of which the prisoner was accused. One of them, the
promise to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, may have
presented itself to their minds as an announcement of a serious
purpose, especially after the recent violence done to the traders.
However this may be, there was now sufficient evidence before the court
to require the high priest to call upon Jesus for his reply. He might
therefore have made his defense if he had thought proper. He declined
to do so. Again the high priest addressed him, solemnly requiring him
to say whether he was the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus admitted that
such was his conviction, and declared that they would afterwards see
him return in the clouds of heaven. Hereupon the high priest rent his
clothes, and asked what further evidence could be needed. All had
heard his blasphemy; what did they think of it? All of them concurred
in condemning him to death (Mk. xv. 53-64; Mt. xxvi. 57-66; Lu. xxii.

The three Evangelists who report the trial all agree that the blasphemy
thus uttered was accepted at once as full and sufficient ground for
the conviction of Jesus. Now, I see no reason whatever to doubt
that the priests who were thus scandalized by his declaration were
perfectly sincere in the horror they professed. All who have at all
realized the extremely strong feelings of the Jews on the subject of
Monotheism, will easily understand that anything which in the least
impugned it would be regarded by them with the utmost aversion. And
a man who claimed to be the Son of God certainly detracted somewhat
from the sole and exclusive adoration which they considered to be due
to Jehovah. As indeed the event has proved; for the Christian Church
soon departed from pure Monotheism, adopting the dogma of the Trinity;
while Christ along with his Father, and even more than his Father,
became an object of its worship. So that if the Jews considered it
their supreme obligation to preserve the purity of their Jehovistic
faith, as their Scriptures taught them to believe it was, they were
right in putting down Jesus by forcible means. No doubt they were
wrong in holding such an opinion. It was not, in fact, their duty to
guard their faith by persecution. They would have been morally better
had they understood the modern doctrine of religious liberty, unknown
as it was to Christians themselves until some sixteen centuries after
the death of Christ. But for their mistaken notions on this head they
were only in part responsible. They had inherited their creed with its
profound intolerance. Their history, their legislators, their prophets,
all conspired to uphold persecution for the maintenance of religious
truth. They could not believe in their sacred books, and disbelieve the
propriety of persecution. Before they could leave Jesus at large to
teach his subversive doctrines, they must have ceased to be Jews; and
this it was impossible for them to do. We must not be too hard upon men
whose only crime was that they believed in a false religion.

According to the dictates of that religion, Jesus ought to have been
stoned. But the Roman supremacy precluded the Jews from giving effect
to their own laws. Jesus was therefore taken before the procurator,
and accused of "many things." The charge of blasphemy of course would
weigh nothing in the mind of a Roman; and it is evident that another
aspect of the indictment was brought prominently before Pilate: namely,
the pretension of Jesus to be king of the Jews. As to the substantial
truth of this second charge, we are saved the necessity of discussion,
for Jesus himself, when questioned by Pilate, at once admitted it. But
whether it was made in malice, and in a somewhat different sense from
that in which Pilate understood it, is not so clear. Jesus at no time,
so far as we know, put forward any direct claim to immediate temporal
dominion. At the same time it must be remembered that the ideas of
Messiahship and possession of the kingdom were so intimately connected
in the minds of the Jews, that they were probably unable to dissociate
them. Unfit as Jesus plainly was for the exercise of the government,
they might well believe that, if received by any considerable number of
the people, it would be forced upon him as the logical result of his
career. Nor were these fears unreasonable. His entry into Jerusalem
riding on an ass (an animal expressly selected as emblematic of his
royalty), with palm-branches strewed before him, and admirers calling
"Hosanna!" as he went, pointed to a very real and serious danger.
Another such demonstration might with the utmost ease have passed into
a disturbance of the peace, not to say a tumult, which the Romans would
have quenched in blood unsparingly and indiscriminatingly shed. Jesus
was really therefore a dangerous character, not so much to the Romans,
as to the Jews. Not being prepared to accept him as their king in fact,
they were almost compelled in self-preservation to denounce him as
their would-be king to Pilate.

His execution followed. His supposed resurrection, and the renewed
propagation of his faith, followed that. It has been widely believed
that because Christianity was not put down by the death of its founder,
because, indeed, it burst out again in renewed vigor, therefore the
measures taken against him were a complete failure, and served only
to confer additional glory and power on the religion he had taught.
But this opinion arises from a confusion of ideas. If they aimed at
preserving their own nation from what they deemed an impious heresy—and
I see no proof that they aimed at anything else—the Jewish authorities
were perfectly successful. Christianity, which, if our accounts
be true, threatened to seduce large numbers of people from their
allegiance to the orthodox creed, was practically extinguished among
the Jews themselves by the death of Christ. They could not possibly
believe in a crucified Messiah. Only a very small band of disciples
persisted in adhering to Jesus, justifying their continued faith by
asserting that he had risen from the tomb. But it was no longer among
the countrymen of Jesus, whom he had especially sought to attach to
his person and his doctrine, that this small remnant of his followers
could find their converts. Neither then, nor at any subsequent time,
has Christianity been able to wean the Jews from their ancient faith.
The number of those who, from that time to this, have abandoned it in
favor of the more recent religion has been singularly small. If, as is
probable, there was during the earthly career of Jesus a growing danger
that his teaching might lead to the formation of a sect to which many
minds would be attracted, that danger was completely averted.

True, Christianity, when rejected by the Jews, made rapid progress
among the Gentiles. But it was no business of the authorities at
Jerusalem to look after the religion of heathen nations. They might
have thought, had they foreseen the future of Christianity, that
a creed which originated among themselves, and had in it a large
admixture of Hebrew elements, was better than the worship of the pagan
deities. Be this as it may, the particular form of error which the
Gentiles might embrace was evidently no concern of theirs. But they had
a duty, or thought they had one, towards their own people, who looked
to them for guidance, and that was to preserve the religion that had
been handed down from their forefathers uncorrupted and unmixed. This
they endeavored to do by stifling the new-born heresy of Jesus before
it had become too powerful to be stifled. Their measures, having regard
to the end they had in view, were undoubtedly politic, and even just.

For were they not perfectly right in supposing that faith in Christ
was dangerous to faith in Moses? The event has proved it beyond
possibility of question. Not indeed that they could perceive the extent
of the peril, for neither Jesus nor any of his disciples has ventured
then to throw off Judaism altogether. But they did perceive, with a
perfectly correct insight, that the Christians were setting up a new
authority alongside of the authorities which alone they recognized,—the
Scriptures and the traditional interpretation of the Scriptures. And
it was precisely the adoption of a new authority which they desired to
prevent. So completely was their foresight on this point justified,
that not long after the death of Christ, his assumed followers received
converts without circumcision, that all-essential rite; and that, after
the lapse of no long period of time, Judaism was entirely abandoned,
and a new religion, with new dogmas, new ritual, and new observances,
was founded in its place. Surely the action of the men who sat in
judgment upon Jesus needs no further justification, from their own
point of view, than this one consideration. They had no more sacred
trust, in their own eyes, than to prevent the admission of any other
object of worship than the Lord Jehovah. Christ speedily became among
Christians an object of worship. They owned no more solemn duty than
to observe in all its parts the law delivered by their God to Moses.
That law was almost instantly abandoned by the Christian Church. They
knew of no more unpardonable crime than apostasy from their faith. That
apostasy was soon committed by the Jewish Christians.

On all these grounds, then, I venture to maintain that the spiritual
rulers of Judea were not so blameworthy as has been commonly supposed
in the execution of Jesus of Nazareth. Judged by the principles
of universal morality, they were undoubtedly wrong. Judged by the
principles of their own religion, they were no less undoubtedly right.

            SUBDIVISION 5.—_What did he think of himself?_

Having endeavored, as far as our imperfect information will admit, to
realize the view that would be taken of Jesus by contemporary Jews, let
us seek if possible to realize the view which he took of himself. In
what relation did he suppose himself to stand to God the Father? And
in what relation to the Hebrew law? What was his conception of his own
mission, and of the manner in which it could best be fulfilled?

Though, in replying to these questions, we suffer somewhat from the
scarcity of the materials, we do not labor under the same disadvantages
as those we encountered in the preceding section. For there we had
to judge between two bitterly hostile parties, of which only one had
presented its case. And from the highly colored statement of this one
party we had to unravel, as best we could, whatever circumstances
might be permitted to weigh in favor of the other. Here we have no
conflicting factions to obscure the truth. The opinion formed by Jesus
of himself has been handed down to us by his own disciples, who,
even if they did not perfectly understand him, must at least have
understood him far better than anybody else. And if the picture they
give us of the conception he had formed of his own office be consistent
with itself, there is also the utmost probability that it is true.
Especially will this hold good if this conception should be found to
differ materially from that not long afterwards framed about him by the
Christian Church.

Consider first the idea he entertained concerning his Messianic
character, and his consequent relation to God. His conviction that he
was the Messiah, who was sent with a divine message to his nation, was
evidently the mainspring of his life. It was under this conviction that
he worked his cures and preached his sermons. Probably it strengthened
as he continued in his career, though of this there is no possible
evidence. Possibly, however, the instructions he gave on several
occasions to those whom he had healed, and once to his disciples, to
tell no man about him, arose from a certain diffidence about the power
by which his miracles were effected (_E.g._, Mk. i. 44; Mt. ix. 30),
and a reluctance to accept the honor which the populace would have
conferred upon him. However this may be, he certainly put forward
his belief on this subject plainly enough, and its acceptance by his
disciples no doubt confirmed it in his own mind, while its rejection by
the nation at large, especially the more learned portion of it, gave
a flavor of bitterness to the tone in which he insisted upon it. The
title by which he habitually designates himself is the Son of man. This
was, no doubt, selected as a more modest name than "Son of God." The
latter was never (if we exclude the fourth Gospel) applied by Jesus to
himself, but when applied to him by others, he made no objection to it,
but accepted it as his due. The inference from his behavior is, that he
liked to be thought the Son of God (as indeed is shown by his eulogy of
Peter when that apostle had so described him) (Mt. xvi. 17; vers. 18
and 19 are probably interpolations), but that he did not quite venture
to claim the title for himself. That he was ever imagined, either by
himself or others, to be the Son of God in the literal, materialistic
sense in which the term was afterwards understood, it would be an
entire mistake to suppose. No such notion had ever been formulated
by the Jewish mind, and it would, no doubt, have filled his earliest
disciples with horror. As Mr. Westcott truly observes, "Years must
elapse before we can feel that the words of one who talked with men
were indeed the words of God" (Canon of New Testament, p. 64). Nor was
the Hebrew Jehovah the sort of divinity who would have had a son by a
young village maiden. Proceedings of that kind were left to the heathen
deities. Nor did Christ, in claiming a filial relationship to God, ever
intend to claim unity with the divine essence, still less to assert
that he actually was God himself. This notion of identity would receive
no sanction even from the fourth Gospel, which does, quite unlike its
predecessors, lend some sanction to that of unity in nature. The best
proof of this is that Jesus never, at any period of his life, desired
his followers to worship him, either as God or as the Son of God. Had
he believed of himself what his followers subsequently believed of him,
that he was one of the constituent persons in a divine trinity, he must
have enjoined his apostles both to address him in prayer themselves,
and to desire their converts to address him. It is quite plain that he
did nothing of the kind, and that they never supposed him to have done
so. Belief in Christ as the Messiah was taught as the first dogma of
apostolic Christianity, but adoration of Christ as God was not taught
at all. But we are not left in this matter to depend on conjectural
inferences. The words of Jesus are plain. Whenever occasion arose,
he asserted his inferiority to the Father (as Milton has proved to
demonstration),[31] though, as no one had then dreamt of his equality,
it is natural that the occasions should not have been frequent. He made
himself inferior in knowledge when he said that of the day and hour of
the day of judgment no one knew, neither the angels in heaven, nor the
Son; no one except the Father (Mk. xiii. 32). He made himself inferior
in power when he said that seats on his right hand and on his left
in the kingdom of heaven were not his to give (Mk. x. 40); inferior
in virtue when he desired a certain man not to address him as "Good
master," for there was none good but God (Mk. x. 18). The words of his
prayer at Gethsemane, "all things are possible unto thee," imply that
all things were not possible to him; while its conclusion, "not what
I will, but what thou wilt," indicates submission to a superior, not
the mere execution of a purpose of his own (Mk. xiv. 36). Indeed, the
whole prayer would have been a mockery, useless for any purpose but the
deception of his disciples, if he had himself been identical with the
Being to whom he prayed, and had merely been giving effect by his death
to their common counsels. While the cry of agony from the cross, "My
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mk. xv. 34,) would have been
quite unmeaning if the person forsaken and the person forsaking had
been one and the same. Either, then, we must assume that the language
of Jesus has been misreported, or we must admit that he never for a
moment pretended to be co-equal, co-eternal, or con-substantial with

Throughout his public life he spoke of himself as one who was sent
by God for a certain purpose. What was that purpose? Was it, as
the Gentile Christians so readily assumed, to abolish the laws and
customs of the Jews, and to substitute others in their stead? Did
he, for example, propose to supplant circumcision by baptism? the
Sabbath by the Sunday? the synagogue by the church? the ceremonial
observances of the law of Moses by observances of another kind? If so,
let the evidence be produced. For unless we find among his recorded
instructions some specific injunction to his disciples that they were
no longer to be Jews, but Christians, we cannot assume that he intended
any such revolution. Now, not only can no such injunction be produced,
but the whole course of his life negatives the supposition that any was
given. For while teaching much on many subjects, he never at any time
alludes to the Mosaic dispensation as a temporary arrangement, destined
to yield to a higher law. Yet it would surely have been strange if he
had left his disciples to guess at his intentions on this all-important
subject. Moreover, it came directly in his way when he censured the
Pharisees. He frequently accuses them of overlaying the law with a
multitude of unnecessary and troublesome rules; but while objecting to
these, he never for a moment hints that the very law itself was now
to become a thing of the past. Quite the reverse. The Pharisees were
very scrupulous about paying tithes and disregarded weightier matters;
these, he says, they ought to have done, and not to have left the
other undone. If those tithes were no longer to be paid (at least not
for the same objects), why does he not say so? Again, he charges them
with transgressing the commandment of God by their tradition; where
it is the accretions round the law, and not the law itself, which he
attacks. In one case he even directly imposes an observance of the
legal requirements on a man over whom he has influence (Mk. i. 44).
Moreover, he himself evidently continued to perform the obligations of
his Jewish religion until the very end of his life, for one of his last
acts was to eat the passover with his disciples. The only institution
which he apparently desires to alter at all is the Sabbath, and there
it is plain that he aims at an amendment in the mode of its observance,
not at its entire abolition. Indeed, he justifies his disciples by
invoking the example of David, an orthodox Hebrew; and very happily
remarks, that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath—one
of his best and most epigrammatic sayings. But an institution made for
man was indeed one to be rationally observed, but by no means one to be
lightly tampered with. Jesus, in fact, was altogether a Jew, and though
an ardent reformer, he desired to reform within the limits of Judaism,
not beyond them.

If further proof were needed of this than the fact that he himself
neither abandoned the religion of his birth, nor sought to obtain
disciples except among those who belonged to it, it would be found in
his treatment of the heathen woman whose daughter was troubled with
a devil. To her he distinctly declared that he was not sent except
to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In reply to her further
persistence, he told her that it was not well to take the children's
meat and throw it to dogs. Nothing but her appropriate yet modest
answer induced him to accede to her request (Mt. xv. 21-28). Further
confirmation is afforded by his instructions to his disciples, whom he
desired not to go either to the Gentiles or the Sâmaritans, but to the
lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mt. x. 5, 6). His own practice was
altogether in conformity with these instructions. He markedly confined
the benefits of his teaching to his fellow-countrymen. Once only is
he said to have visited the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon, and then
he was anxious to preserve the strictest incognito (Mk. vii. 24).
Even when the Jews refused to believed in him, he sought no converts
among the Gentiles. He never even intimated that he would receive such
converts without their previous adoption of the Jewish faith, and after
his decease his most intimate disciples were doubtful whether it was
lawful to associate with uncircumcised people (Acts x. 28; xi. 2, 3).
Not only, therefore, had he himself never done so, but he had left no
instructions behind him that such a relaxation of Jewish scruples might
ever be permitted. True, when disappointed among his own people, he
now and then contrasted them in unflattering terms with the heathen.
Chorazin and Bethsaida were worse than Tyre and Sidon; Capernaum less
open to conviction than Sodom (Mt. xi. 20-24). The faith of the heathen
centurion was greater than any he had found in Israel (Mt. viii. 10).
But all these expressions of embittered feeling imply that it was in
Israel he had looked for faith, towards Israel that his desires were
turned. To discover faith out of it might be an agreeable surprise, but
as a general rule, was neither to be expected nor sought.

Having, then, determined, what the purport of his mission was not,
let us try to discover what it was. The quest is not difficult. The
whole of his teaching is pervaded by one ever-recurring keynote, which
those who have ears to hear it cannot miss. He came to announce the
approach of what he termed "the kingdom of heaven." A great revolution
was to take place on earth. God was to come, accompanied by Jesus, to
reward the virtuous and to punish the wicked. A totally new order of
things was to be substituted in lieu of the present unjust and unequal
institutions. And Jesus was sent by God to warn the children of Israel
to prepare for this kingdom of heaven. There was but little time to
lose, for even now the day of judgment was at hand. The mind of Jesus
was laden with this one great thought, to which, with him, all others
were subordinate. It runs through his maxims of conduct, his parables,
his familiar converse with his disciples. Far from him was the notion
of founding a new religion, to be extended throughout the world and to
last for ages. It was a work of much more immediate urgency which he
came to do. "Prepare for the kingdom of heaven, for it will come upon
you in the present generation;" such was the burden of his message. Let
us hear his own mode of delivering it to men.

The very beginning of his preaching, according to Mark, was in this
strain: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has approached;
repent, and believe the Gospel" (Mk. i. 15). Precisely similar is the
purport of his earliest doctrine according to Matthew (Mt. iv. 7).
How thoroughly he believed that the time was fulfilled is shown by
his decided declaration that there were some among his hearers who
would not taste of death till they had seen the kingdom of God come
with power (Mk. ix. 1), a saying which, as it would never have been
invented, is undoubtedly genuine. He told his disciples that Elias,
who was expected to precede the kingdom of heaven, had already come
(Mk. ix. 13).

Over and over again, in a hundred different ways, this absorbing
thought finds expression in his language. The one and only message the
disciples are instructed to carry to the "lost sheep of the house of
Israel" is that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt. x. 17). When a
city does not receive them, they are to wipe off the dust of it against
them, and bid them be sure that the kingdom of God is near them (Lu.
x. 11). In the coming judgment, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and above all his
own place Capernaum, were to suffer more than Tyre and Sidon. Earthly
matters assume, in consequence of this conviction of their temporary
nature, a very trivial aspect. The disciples are to take no thought
for the morrow; the morrow will take thought for itself. Nor are they
to trouble themselves about food and clothing, but to seek first the
kingdom of God (Mt. vi. 31-34). They are not to lay up treasure on
earth, but in heaven, in order that their hearts may be there (Mt.
vi. 19-21). Moreover, they must be always on the watch, as the Son of
man will come upon them at an unexpected hour. It would not do then
to be engaged as the wicked antediluvians were when overtaken by the
flood, in the occupations of eating and drinking, or marrying and
giving in marriage. Instead of this, they must be like the faithful
servant whom his master on returning to his house found watching (Mt.
xxiv. 38, 42, 43; Lu. xii. 37, 38). Preparation is to be made for the
kingdom which their Father will give them by selling what they have
and bestowing alms, so laying up an incorruptible treasure; by keeping
their loins girded and their lights burning (Lu. xii. 32). Neglect of
these precautions will be punished by exclusion from the joys of the
kingdom, as shown in the parable of the ten virgins (Mt. xxv. 1-13).
But the indications of the great event are not understood by the
people, who are able to read the signs of the coming weather, but not
those of the times (Lu. xii. 54-57); an inability which might have been
due to the fact that they had had some experience of the one kind of
signs and none of the other. On another occasion, he observes that the
law and the prophets were till John; since then the kingdom of God has
been preached, and every man presses into it (Lu. xvi. 16). Here he
specially proclaims himself as the preacher of the kingdom; the man who
brought mankind this new revelation. Such was the manner in which this
revelation was announced, that some at least of those who heard him
thought that the kingdom was to come immediately. To counteract this
view he told the parable of the nobleman who went from home to receive
a kingdom, leaving his servants in charge of certain monies, and
rewarded them on his return according to the amount of interest they
had obtained by usury, punishing one of them who had made no use of
the sum intrusted to him (Lu. xix. 11-27). He himself, of course, was
the nobleman who received his kingdom and returned again to judge his
servants. So urgent was the message he had to deliver, that (according
to one Evangelist) a man who wished to bury his father before joining
him was told to let the dead bury their dead, but to go himself and
announce the kingdom of God; while another, who asked leave to bid
farewell to his family, was warned that no man, having put his hand to
the plough, and looking back, was fit for that kingdom (Lu. ix. 58-62).

The arrival of the kingdom was to be preceded by various signs. There
would be false Christs; there would be wars, earthquakes, and famines;
there would be persecutions of the faithful; but the Gospel (that is,
the announcement of the approach of this new state of things) must
first be published in all nations.[32] Then the sun and moon would be
darkened and the stars fall; the Son of man would come in power and
glory, and gather his elect from all parts of the earth. The existing
generation was not to pass till all these things were done. Not even
the Son knew when this would happen; but as it might come suddenly and
unexpectedly upon them, they were to be continually on the watch (Mk.
xiii.; Mt. xxiv). The apostles would not even finish the cities of
Israel before the Son of man had come (Mt. x. 23).

Little is said in description of the nature of the kingdom of heaven
except by the method of illustration. The main result to be gathered
from numerous allusions to it is that justice is to prevail. Thus, the
kingdom of heaven is said to be like a man who sowed good seed in his
field, but in whose property an enemy maliciously mingled tares. At
the harvest the tares are to be burnt, and the wheat gathered into the
barn. This parable Jesus himself explained. The tares are the wicked;
the wheat represents "the children of the kingdom." And as tares are
burnt, so "the Son of man shall send his angels, and collect from his
kingdom all offenses, and those who do wickedness, and shall throw them
into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Then the just shall shine out like the sun in the kingdom of their
Father." The same idea is expressed in the illustration of the net cast
into the sea, which gathers good fish and bad. Just as the fishermen
separate these, so the angels at the end of the world will separate
the wicked from the midst of the just. Other comparisons represent the
influence on the heart of faith in the kingdom. Thus, the kingdom of
heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which, though the smallest of
seeds, becomes the largest of herbs. Or it is like leaven leavening
three measures of meal. Again, it is like treasure hid in a field, or a
pearl of great price (Mt. xiii. 24-50).

The best qualification for preëminence in the kingdom was humility.

When asked who was to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus
replied that it would be he who humbled himself like a little child
(Mt. xviii. 1-4). He delights in the exhibition of striking contrasts
between the present and the future state of things. The first are to be
the last, and the last first. Those who have made great sacrifices now
are then to receive vast rewards (Mk. x. 29-31). He who has lost his
life for his sake is to find it, and he who has found it is to lose it
(Mt. x. 39). The stone rejected by the builder is to become the head
of the corner (Mk. xii. 10). The kingdom of God is to be taken from
the privileged nation and given to another more worthy of it (Mt. xxi.
43). Publicans and harlots are to take precedence of the respectable
classes in entering the kingdom (Mt. xxi. 31). It is scarcely possible
for rich men to enter it at all, though God may perhaps admit them by
an extraordinary exertion of power (Mk. x. 23-27). Many even who trust
in their high character for correct religion will find themselves
rejected. But they will be safe who have both heard the sayings of
Jesus and done them. They will have built their houses on rocks, from
which the storms which usher in the kingdom will not dislodge them.
Those, however, who hear these sayings, and neglect to perform them,
will be like foolish men who have built their houses on sand, where
the storms will beat them down, and great will be their fall (Mt. vii.
22-29). That the kingdom is to be on earth, not in some unknown heaven,
is manifest from the numerous references of Jesus to the time when
the Son of man will "come;" a time which none can know, yet for which
all are to watch. He never speaks of men "going" to the kingdom of
heaven; it is the kingdom of heaven which is to come to them. And the
most remarkable of the many contrasts will be that between the present
humiliation of the Son and his future glory. He will return to execute
his Father's decrees. His judges themselves will see him "sitting on
the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Mt. xxvi.
64). Instead of standing as a prisoner at the bar, he will then be
enthroned as a judge. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory,
and all the angels with him, then he shall sit on the throne of his
glory; and all the nations shall be collected before him, and he shall
separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep
from the goats; and he shall put the sheep on his right hand, but the
goats on his left." The goats, who have done harm, are then to go into
everlasting punishment; and the sheep, who have done good, are to pass
into eternal life (Mt. xxv. 31-46).

This equitable adjustment of rewards and punishments to merit and
demerit is the leading conception in the revolution which the kingdom
of heaven is to make. The faithful servant is to be made ruler over his
master's goods; the unfaithful one to be cut off and assigned a portion
with the hypocrites. The virgins whose lamps are ready burning will
be admitted to the marriage festival. The servants who make the best
use of the property committed to their charge will be rewarded, while
those who have failed to employ it properly will be cast into outer
darkness (Mt. xxiv. 42-xxv. 30). So also the wicked husbandmen in the
vineyard, who ill treated their master's servants and killed his heir,
are to be destroyed when he comes, and the vineyard is to be committed
to other cultivators (Mk. xii. 1-9). All those, on the other hand,
who have made great sacrifices for the sake of Christ will receive a
hundred-fold compensation for all that they have now abandoned (Mt.
xix. 29, 30).

Such was the sort of notion—rude, yet tolerably definite—which Jesus
had formed of the kingdom his Father was about to found, and for
the coming of which he taught his disciples to pray. This hope of a
reign of justice, of an exaltation of the lowly and virtuous, and a
depression of the proud and wicked, animated his teaching and inspired
his life. To make known this great event, so shortly to overtake them,
to mankind, was a duty with which in his opinion he had been charged by
God; to receive this message at his hands was in his judgment the first
of virtues, to spurn it the most unpardonable of crimes.

         SUBDIVISION 6.—_What did his disciples think of him?_

There is on record a remarkable conversation which affords us a
glimpse, both of the rumors that were current about Christ among the
people, and also of the view taken of him by his nearest friends during
his life-time. Jesus had gone with his disciples into the towns of
Cæsarea Philippi. On the way, being apparently curious about the state
of public opinion, he asked them, "Whom do men say that I am?" To this
they replied, "John the Baptist; and some say Elias, and others that
thou art one of the prophets." To which Jesus rejoined, "But you, whom
say you that I am?" Peter returned the answer, "Thou art the Messiah;"
or "Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God." It is remarkable
that Peter alone is represented as replying to this second question, as
if the others had not yet attained to the conviction which this apostle
held of the Messiahship of Jesus. Especially would this conclusion be
confirmed if we adopted the version of Matthew, where Jesus expresses
his high approbation of Peter's answer (Mk. viii. 27-30; Mt. xvi.
13-20). If this apostle was peculiarly blessed on account of his
perception of this truth, it may be inferred that his companions had
either not yet perceived, or were not yet sure of it. That Peter did
not mean by calling him the Messiah to state that he was a portion
of the deity himself, is evident from what follows; for Jesus having
predicted his future sufferings, "Peter began to rebuke him," anxious
to avert the omen. Had he believed that it was God himself with whom he
was conversing, he could hardly have ventured to question his perfect
knowledge of the future.

The doctrine of the divinity of Christ is not, in fact, to be found
in the New Testament. Even the writer of the fourth Gospel, who holds
the highest and most mystical view of his nature, does not teach that.
Often indeed in that Gospel does Jesus speak of himself as one with the
Father. But the dogmatic force of all these expressions is measured by
the fact that precisely in the same sense he speaks of the disciples as
one with himself. As the Father and he are in one another, so he prays
that the disciples may be one in them (Jo. xvii. 21). Moreover, when
the Jews charged him with making himself God, he met them by inquiring
whether it was not written in their law, "I said, Ye are gods." If,
then, those to whom the word of God came were called gods, was it
blasphemy in him, whom the Father had sanctified and sent, to say, "I
am the Son of God?" (Jo. x. 33-37). Here, then, the term which Jesus
appropriates is "Son of God," and this he considers admissible because
the Hebrew people generally had been called gods. Evidently, then, he
does not admit the charge of making himself God.

The authority of the fourth Gospel is, of course, of no value in
enabling us to determine what Jesus said or did, but it is of great
value as evidence of the view taken about him by those of his disciples
who, at this early period, had advanced the furthest in the direction
of placing him on a level with God himself. It is either the latest,
or one of the latest, compositions in the New Testament, and it proves
that, at the period when its author lived, even the boldest spirits had
not ventured on the dogma which afterwards became the corner-stone of
the Christian creed.

Throughout the rest of the canonical books, Jesus is simply the
Messiah, the Son of God; in whom, in that sense, it is a duty to
believe. Whoever believes this much is, according to the first epistle
of John, born of God (1 John v. 1).

Clearer still is the evidence that, in the opinion of those most
competent to judge, Jesus had no intention of abolishing the
observance of the law of Moses. So far were his disciples from
imagining that he contemplated any such change, that they were at first
in doubt whether it was allowable for them even to relax the rules
which forbade social intercourse with heathens. The writer of the Acts
of the Apostles, however, informs us that, when an important convert
was to be won over from the pagan ranks, Peter had the privilege of a
vision which enjoined him not to call anything which God had cleansed
common or unclean. Interpreting this to mean that he might associate
with the Gentiles, he received the heathen convert, Cornelius, with all
cordiality, and even preached the gospel of Jesus to the uncircumcised
company by whom he was surrounded. That this was a novel measure is
plainly evinced by the fact that the Jewish Christians who were present
were astonished that the gift of the Holy Ghost should be poured out
upon the Gentiles. They therefore had conceived that Christianity was
to be confined to themselves (Acts x).

But there is more direct evidence of the same fact. When Peter returned
to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers there found fault with him
because he had gone in to uncircumcised men, and had eaten with them.
Peter, of course, related his vision in self-defense, and since there
was no reply to be made to such an argument as this, they accepted the
new and unexpected fact which he announced: "Well, then, God has given
repentance to life to the Gentiles also" (Acts xi. 1-18). Paul, who was
too strong-minded to need a revelation to teach him the best way of
promoting Christian interests, also received heathen converts without
requiring them to come under Jewish obligations. But the conduct of
these apostles was far from meeting with unmixed approbation in the
community. Some men from Judea came to Antioch, where Paul and Barnabas
were, and informed the brethren there that unless they were circumcised
they could not be saved. So important was this question deemed, that
Paul and Barnabas, after much disputing with these Judaic Christians,
agreed to go with them to Jerusalem to refer the matter to a council
of the apostles and elders. Obviously, then, it was a new case which
had arisen. No authoritative _dictum_ of Jesus could be produced. The
possibility of having to receive heathens among his disciples was one
he had never contemplated. Called to deal with this supremely important
question, on which the whole future of the Church turned, the apostles
displayed moderation and good sense. Acting on the concurrent advice
of Peter, Paul, James, and Barnabas, they wrote to the brethren in
Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, that they had determined to lay no greater
burden upon them than these necessary things:—1. Abstinence from meat
offered to idols; 2. from blood; 3. from things strangled; 4. from
fornication. Hence it will be seen that they absolved the heathen
believers from all Jewish observances except two, those that forbade
blood and things strangled. These, from long habit and the fixed
prejudices of their race, no doubt appeared to them to have some deeper
foundation than a mere arbitrary command. These therefore they enjoined
even upon pagans (Acts xv. 1-31).

Be it observed, however, that this dispensation applied only to those
who were not of Hebrew blood. The apostles and elders assembled at
Jerusalem had no thought of dispensing _themselves_ from the binding
force of the law of Moses. To observe it was alike their privilege
and their duty. They did not conceive that, in becoming Christians,
they had ceased to be Jews, any more than a Catholic who becomes a
Protestant conceives that he has ceased to be a Christian. The question
whether those who had been born Jews should abandon their ancient
religion was not even raised at this time among them. The only question
was whether those who had not been born Jews should adopt it.

Innovation, however, is not to be arrested at any given point. Liberty
having been conceded to the Gentiles, it was not unnatural that some
of the apostles, when living among the Gentiles, should take advantage
of it for themselves. No overt rule was adopted on this subject. It
seems to have been tacitly understood that all Jews should continue
to be bound by the rigor of their native customs, except in so far as
they had been modified by common consent: and the attempt of some to
escape from this burden was an occasion of no small scandal to the
more orthodox members of the sect (Acts xxi. 20; Gal. ii. 12). Both
Peter and Paul indeed, at separate times, were compelled to make some
concessions to the extremely strong feeling in favor of the law which
existed at headquarters. The conduct of these two eminent apostles
merits examination.

Peter, it appears, never gave up Judaism in his own person; but when
staying at Antioch he mixed freely with Gentiles, making no attempt to
impose the law upon them, and approving of the proceedings of Paul. It
so happened, however, that there came to Antioch some brethren from
James at Jerusalem. These men were strict Jews, and Peter was so much
afraid of them, that he "withdrew and separated himself" from his
former companions. The other Jewish Christians, and even Barnabas,
the former friend of Paul, were induced to act in the same way. Paul,
who was not likely to lose the opportunity of a little triumph over
Peter, ruthlessly exposed his misconduct. According to his account, he
publicly addressed him in these terms: "If thou, being a Jew, livest
like a Gentile and not like a Jew, why dost thou compel the Gentiles
to be like Jews?" (Gal. ii. 11-14.). What answer Peter returned, or
whether he returned any, Paul does not inform us. His charge against
Peter I understand to be, not that the apostle had positively adopted
heathen customs, and then taken up Jewish ones again, but that he had
relaxed in his own favor the rules which forbade Jews from eating with
Gentiles. On the appearance of the stricter Christians from Jerusalem
he put on the appearance of a strictness equal to their own. Such
conduct was consistent with the character of the disciple who had
denied his master.

Paul himself, on the other hand, was a complete freethinker. Once
converted, the system of which he had formerly been the zealous
upholder no longer had any power over his emancipated mind. His
robust and logical intellect soon delivered him from the fetters in
which he had been bound. Far, however, from following his example,
the Christians at Jerusalem were shocked at the laxity of his morals.
The steps he took to conciliate them are graphically described in the
Acts of the Apostles. On visiting the capital, Paul and his companions
went to see James, with whom were assembled all the elders; and Paul
described the success he had met with among the Gentiles. Hereupon the
assembled company, or more probably James as their spokesman, informed
Paul what very disadvantageous reports were current concerning him.
"Thou seest, brother," they began, "how many thousands of believers
there are among the Jews, and all are zealots for the law; and they
have been informed of thee that thou teachest the Jews among the
Gentiles apostasy from Moses, saying that they should not circumcise
their children, nor walk in the customs. What is it, then? It is quite
necessary that the multitude should meet, for they will hear that thou
art come. Do then this that we tell thee. We have four men who have
a vow upon them; take these and be purified with them, and bear the
expense with them of having their heads shaven; and all will know that
there is nothing in what they have heard about thee, but that thou also
walkest in the observation of the law" (Acts xxi. 20-24). This sensible
advice was adopted by Paul; and the "zealots for the law," who composed
the Christian community at Jerusalem, had the satisfaction of seeing
him purify himself and enter the temple with the men under the vow.
On a later occasion, too, when charged with crime before Felix, Paul
mentioned the fact that twelve days ago he had gone up to worship at
Jerusalem, as if he had been an orthodox Jew (Acts xxiv. 11).

But although he might think it expedient to satisfy James and his
friends at Jerusalem by a concession to public opinion, the rumor which
had reached the brethren there, if unfounded in the letter, was in
fact an accurate representation of the inevitable outcome of Paul's
teaching. Possibly he did not wish to press his own views upon others
of his nation, and therefore did not interfere with such of them as,
though living among heathens, yet adhered religiously to their national
customs. But unquestionably his own feelings were strongly enlisted
in favor of the abolition of the law, and if the Jewish Christians
read and accepted his writings, they could hardly fail to adopt his
practice. The law in his opinion was no longer necessary for those who
believed in Christ. He is not the true Jew who is one outwardly, nor
is that the true circumcision which is outward. He is a Jew who is so
internally, and circumcision is of the heart in the spirit, not in
the letter. If it be asked what advantage the Jew has, Paul replies
that he has much: the first of all, that to his nation were confided
the oracles of God (Rom. ii. 28, 29, iii. 1, 2). He knows, he says,
and is persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean in
itself, though to him who thinks it so it may be unclean. It is well
to abstain from eating flesh or drinking wine, or anything else that
may give offense to others, but these things are all unimportant in
themselves. One man esteems one day above another; another man esteems
them all alike; let each be fully persuaded in his own mind. Only let
us not judge one another, nor put stumbling-blocks in one another's way
(Rom. xiv).

From these considerations it appears that the suspicions entertained
of Paul at Jerusalem were substantially true. Possibly he did not
absolutely teach the Jews to abandon the law; possibly he did not even
completely abandon it himself. But in his writings he constantly treats
it as a thing indifferent in itself; Christians might or might not
believe in its obligations, and provided they acted conscientiously,
all was well. Along with these very skeptical opinions, however,
Paul strongly held to the necessity of worldly prudence. He is very
indignant with the "false brethren privily introduced, who slipped in
to spy out the liberty we have in Jesus Christ, that they might enslave
us; to whom," he adds, "we did not yield by subjection even for an
hour" (Gal. ii. 4, 5). But whether the brethren at Jerusalem required
him to clear himself from the report that he was not an observer of the
law, there came in another principle of action, which he has himself
explained with praiseworthy frankness. "To the Jews," he tells the
Corinthians, "I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to those
under the law as under the law, not being myself under the law, that I
might gain those under the law; to those without law, as without law
(not being without law to God, but law-abiding to Christ), that I might
gain those without law; to the weak I became weak, that I might gain
the weak; I became all things to all men, that by all means I might
save some" (1 Cor. ix. 20-22). Acting on this elastic rule, Paul might
easily comply with all the demands of James and his zealots. To the
Jews he became a Jew for the nonce. It was perhaps in the same spirit
of worldly wisdom that he took the precaution of circumcising a young
convert who was Jewish only on the mother's side, his father having
been a Greek (Acts xvi. 1-3).

While such was the conduct of this strong-minded reformer, it is plain
that his attitude towards the law was not shared by the personal
friends of Jesus. James at Jerusalem adhered strictly to Judaism.
The other apostles, so far as we know, did the same. The rest of the
brethren there did the same. Paul was tolerated, and even cordially
received, as the apostle of the Gentiles, but it does not appear that
he had any following among the Jews. Had any of the original apostles
followed him in his bold innovations, he would surely have mentioned
the fact, as he has mentioned the partial adhesion of Peter. On the
contrary, he seems in his epistles, when attacking the Judaic type
of Christianity, to be arguing as much against them as against the
unchristian Jews or the heathen.

Stronger evidence than mere inference is, however, obtainable on this
point. The Jewish Christians, who had received their doctrines direct
from the companions of Jesus, soon came to form a sect apart, and
were known by the name of Ebionites. Of these men, Irenæus tells us
that "they use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate
the apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law."
Moreover, "they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of
those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their
style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house
of God" (Adv. Hær. i. 26). It was a strange fate that befell these
unfortunate people, when, overwhelmed by the flood of heathenism that
had swept into the Church, they were condemned as heretics. Yet there
is no evidence that they had ever swerved from the doctrines of Jesus,
or of the disciples who knew him in his life-time. Jesus himself had
been circumcised, and he certainly never condemned the rite, or spoke
of it as useless for the future. He was so Judaic in his style of life
that he reverenced the temple at Jerusalem as "a house of prayer for
all nations," and deemed it his special duty to purify it from what
he regarded as pollution. But the torrent of progress swept past the
Ebionites, and left them stranded on the shore.

Should the position here maintained with reference to the Judaic
character of the early Christians be thought to require further
confirmation, I should find it in the weighty words of a theologian
who, while entirely Christian in his views, is also one of the highest
authorities on the history of the Church. Neander, speaking of this
question, observes that the disciples did not at once arrive at the
consciousness of that vocation which Christ (in his opinion) had
indicated to them, namely, that they should form a distinct community
from that of the Jews. On the contrary, they attached themselves to
this community in every respect, and all the forms of the national
theocracy were holy to them. "They lived in the conviction that these
forms would continue as they were till the return of Christ, by which
a new and higher order of things was to be founded; and this change
they expected as one that was near at hand. Far from them, therefore,
lay the thought of the foundation of a new cultus, even if from the
light of belief in the Redeemer new ideas had dawned upon them about
that which belonged to the essence of the true adoration of God. They
took part as zealously in the service of the temple as any pious Jews.
Only they believed that a sifting would take place among the theocratic
people, and that the better part of it would be incorporated in _their_
community by the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah" (Neander,
Pflanzung der Christlichen Kirche, vol. i. p. 38). Neander proceeds to
point out—and here too his remarks are valuable—that the outward forms
of Judaism gave facilities for the formation of such smaller bodies
within the general body, by means of the division into synagogues. The
Christians, therefore, constituted merely a special synagogue, embraced
within the mass of believers who all accepted the law of Moses, all
worshiped at the temple of Jerusalem. It will be seen, however, that
I differ from Neander in so far as he supposes that the members of
the Christian synagogue, in adhering to Judaism, were neglecting any
indications given by their founder. On the contrary, it appears to me a
more reasonable explanation of their conduct that the founder himself
had never contemplated that entire emancipation from Judaic forms which
was soon to follow.

On these two points, then—the humanity of Jesus and his Judaism—the
early history of the Church affords our position all possible support.
How is it about the third—his announcement of a kingdom of heaven soon
to come? Paul must have derived his doctrine on this point, whatever it
was, from those who were disciples of Christ before him, for it does
not appear that he had any special revelation on the subject. Let us
hear what was the impression made upon his mind by their report of the
teaching of Jesus. "We do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren"—so he
writes to the Thessalonians—"that you may not grieve like the rest who
have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, thus
also will God bring those who sleep through Jesus. For this we say to
you _by the word of the Lord_" (Paul therefore is speaking with all the
authority of his apostolic commission), "_that we who are alive and are
left for the coming of the Lord_ shall not take precedence of those who
are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with the
word of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet
of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive
and are left shall be snatched with them in the clouds to meet the
Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess.
iv. 13-17). Clearer than this it is difficult to be. There can be no
question whatever, unless we put an arbitrary significance on these
words, that Paul looked for the second coming of Christ and the final
judgment long before the existing generation had passed away. Some will
fall asleep before that day, but he fully expects that he himself and
many of those whom he is addressing will be alive to witness it. So
confident is he of this, that he even describes the order in which the
faithful will proceed to join their Lord, the dead taking a higher rank
than the living. He differs from Jesus, and probably from the other
apostles, in placing the kingdom of heaven somewhere in the clouds,
and not on earth. But he entirely agrees with them as to the date of
the revolution. Quite consistent with the above passage is another (of
which, however, the correct reading is doubtful): "We shall not all
sleep, but we shall all be changed."

Filled with the like hope, he prays that the spirit, mind, and _body_
of the Thessalonians may be preserved blameless to the coming of Christ
(1 Thess. v. 23). And he comforts them in a subsequent letter by the
promise that they who are troubled shall have "rest with us in the
revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power"
(2 Thess. i. 7). While, in writing to the Corinthians, he speaks of
the existing generation as those "upon whom the ends of the ages have

Not less clear is the language of the other apostles. Peter on that
memorable day of Pentecost when the apostles exhibit the gift of
tongues, and some irreverent spectators are led to charge them with
inebriety, explains to the assembly that the scene which had just
been witnessed was characteristic of the "last days," as foretold by
the prophet Joel. In those days their sons and their daughters were
to prophesy, their young men to see visions, and their old men to
dream dreams; the Spirit was to be poured out on God's servants and
handmaidens; there were to be signs and wonders; blood, fire, and
smoke; the sun was to be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood;
and whoever called on the name of the Lord was to be saved. Thus Peter,
than whom there could be no higher authority as to the mind of Christ,
applied to his own time the prophetic description of the "day of the
Lord" given by Joel (Acts ii. 14-21). James exhorts his disciples
not to be in too great a hurry for the arrival of Christ. They are
to imitate the husbandman waiting for the ripening of his crops. "Be
you also patient: confirm your hearts; for the coming of the Lord
draws near" (James v. 7, 8). The author of the first epistle of Peter
distinctly informs the Christian community that "the end of all things
is at hand." And he warns them not to think it strange concerning the
fiery trial which is to try them, "but rejoice, inasmuch as you share
in the sufferings of Christ; that in the revelation of his glory you
may also rejoice with exceeding joy" (1 Pet. iv. 7, 12, 13). Further on
he promises that when the chief Shepherd appears, they shall receive
"the unfading crown of glory" (1 Pet. v. 4). In the first epistle of
John the disciples are thus exhorted: "And now, little children, remain
in him, that when he comes we may have boldness, and may not be ashamed
before him at his coming" (1 Jo. ii. 28).

In the next chapter he tells them that, "when he appears we shall
be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 Jo. iii. 2). Of the
Apocalypse it cannot be necessary to speak in detail. The one great
thought that inspires it from beginning to end is that of the speedy
return of Jesus, accompanied as it will be by the judgment of the
wicked, the reward of the faithful, and the establishment of a new
heaven and a new earth far more glorious and more beautiful than those
that are to pass away. The end of the book is conclusive as to its
meaning: "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify these things to you
in the churches." "He that testifies these things says, 'Surely I come
quickly. So be it; come, Lord Jesus'" (Rev. xxii. 16, 20).

There is another passage bearing on this subject, which, as it appears
to have been written at a later date than any of those hitherto
quoted, may best be considered last. It is found in the second epistle
attributed to Peter. The epistle was probably written after the first
generation of Christians had passed away, but the forger endeavors
to assume the style of the apostle whose name he borrows. From the
language he employs it is evident that there was some impatience among
believers in his day on account of what seemed to them the long delay
in the second coming of Christ. Scoffers had arisen, who were putting
the awkward question, "Where is the promise of his coming? for since
the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the
beginning of creation." Such scoffers, he tells them, are to come "in
the last days," and he warns them how to resist the influence of their
specious arguments. For this purpose he reminds them of the former
destruction of the earth by water, and assures them that the present
heavens and the present earth are to be destroyed by fire. They are
not to let the consideration escape them that with the Lord one day is
a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Hence God is not
really slow about fulfilling his promise, as some people believe; he is
only waiting out of kindness, not being willing that any should perish,
but desiring that all should come to repentance. But the day of the
Lord will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night; wherefore the
Christians who are looking for new heavens and a new earth, according
to his promise, must take care to be ready that they may be found by
him spotless and blameless (2 Pet. iii). Here, then, we have a further
proof of the hopes entertained by the early Christians; for this
writer, who evidently felt that the promises held out by the original
apostles were in danger of being discredited by the long delay in the
expected catastrophe, concerns himself to show that the postponement
of its arrival is not after all so great as it may seem, and seeks
to dispel the doubts that had grown up concerning it. He thus bears
important testimony to the nature of the expectations entertained by
those who had gone before him.

But even if we had not this epistle, we should find some evidence of
the same fact in the writings of the earliest fathers. Thus, in the
first epistle of Clement, the Christians are warned in the following

"Far from us be that which is written, 'Wretched are they who are of
a double mind and of a doubting heart;' who say, 'These things we
have heard even in the time of our fathers; but behold, we have grown
old and none of them has happened unto us!' Ye foolish ones! compare
yourselves to a tree; take [for instance] the vine. First of all it
sheds its leaves, then it buds, next it puts forth leaves, and then it
flowers; after that comes the sour grape, and then follows the ripened
fruit. Ye perceive how in a little time the fruit of a tree comes to
maturity. Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall his will be accomplished,
as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, 'Speedily will he come,
and not tarry;' and, 'The Lord shall suddenly come to his temple, even
the Holy One, for whom ye look'" (First Ep. of Clement, ch. xxiii.—A.
N. L., vol. i. p. 24).

Further on, the same writer expressly states that what the apostles
of Christ preached was the speedy advent of the new order of things.
"Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the
resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of
God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming
that the kingdom of God was at hand" (Ibid., ch. xli.—A. N. L., vol. i.
p. 37). Here, then, we have authority of this very early writer for the
statement that such was the view taken of the mission of Jesus by his
original disciples.

Again, in the second epistle of Clement, this expression occurs:—"Let
us expect, therefore, hour by hour, the kingdom of God in love and
righteousness, since we know not the day of the appearing of God"
(Second Ep. of Clement, ch. xii.—A. N. L., vol. i. p. 62). Thus it
appears that the apostles received from Jesus, and the early Christians
from the apostles, the doctrine that the return of the Messiah in his
glory would take place soon.

             SUBDIVISION 7.—_What are we to think of him?_

We come now to the most important question of all, namely, what
opinion the evidence we possess should lead us to form of the moral
character of Jesus, and of the value of his teaching. In considering
this subject, we are met at the threshold of the inquiry by the
extreme difficulty of discarding the traditional view which has gained
currency among us. Not only believers in the Christian religion, but
freethinkers who look upon Christ as no more than an extraordinary man,
have united to utter his praises in no measured terms. His conduct has
been supposed to present an ideal of perfection to the human race, and
his aphorisms to embody the supreme degree of excellence and of wisdom.
Some critics, not being Christians, have even gone so far as to assume
that whatever items in his reported language or behavior seemed to
reflect some discredit upon him could not be genuine, but must be due
to the imaginations of his disciples.

All this unbounded panegyric naturally raises in the minds of critics
who have freed themselves from the accepted tradition a slight
prejudice against him, and this may lead them to regard his errors
with too unsparing a severity, and to mete out scant justice to the
merits he may really possess. No task can be less easy than that of
approaching this question with a mind entirely devoid of bias on the
one side or on the other. For my own part, I shall endeavor, if I
cannot attain perfect impartiality, at least neither to praise nor to
blame without adequate reason.

Before proceeding, however, it may be well to state that I
shall not attempt to discriminate between the authentic and the
unauthentic utterances of Jesus, but shall take for granted that his
reporters—excluding the fourth Evangelist—have in the main reported him
correctly. No doubt this position is not strictly true. There must be
errors, and there may be grave errors in the record, since those who
transmitted the language of their master trusted only to memory. But it
is on the whole much more likely that the parables, sermons, and short
sayings ascribed to Jesus represent with some approach to fidelity what
he really said, than that they, or any considerable portion of them,
were invented by any of his disciples afterwards. They have, moreover,
a characteristic flavor which it would have been difficult for a
forger to give to the fictitious utterances he might have added to the
genuine remains. It is, however, a question of minor import whether
the synoptical writers are or are not faithful reporters. Jesus is
presented to our admiration by them as the Son of God, and as a pattern
of virtue and of wisdom. Therefore, even if we are not criticising a
portrait from life, we are at least criticising the ideal portrait
which they have held up as an object of worship, and which Christendom
has accepted as such.

Omitting (as already considered) those very considerable portions of
his doctrine which refer to himself and to his kingdom, we may proceed
to the more strictly ethical elements which are to be found scattered
about in his instructions to his hearers, sometimes contained in those
striking parables which, following the habit of his nation, he was fond
of relating; sometimes in the short, clear, and incisive sentences of
which he was a master. In considering the value and originality of his
views, it will be of advantage to compare them, where we can, with
those of other great teachers of mankind.

Perhaps one of the most conspicuous peculiarities is his fondness for
impressive contrasts. He has a peculiar pleasure in contemplating
the reversal of existing arrangements. The first are to be last; the
humble exalted; the poor preferred to the rich; the meanest to become
the greatest, and so forth. Strangely similar to this favorite idea,
so continually making its appearance in his moral forecasts, is the
language frequently used by his Chinese predecessor Laò-tsé, who in
more than one respect greatly resembles him. Thus Jesus tells his
disciples that he who is greatest among them shall be their servant,
and that he who exalts himself shall be abased, while he who humbles
himself shall be exalted (Mt. xxiii. 10, 11). Elsewhere he declares
that if any man desire to be first, he shall be last, and servant of
all (Mk. ix. 35). Presenting a child, to render his lesson the more
impressive, he tells them that he who humbles himself like this little
child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Mt. xviii. 4). Exactly
in the same tone Laò-tsé observes that "the holy man places himself
behind, and comes to the front; neglects himself and is preserved" (T.
t. k., ch. vii). Heaven, according to the same sage, does precisely as
Jesus expects his Father to do in the kingdom of heaven. "It lowers
the high, it raises the low. The way of heaven is to diminish what is
superfluous, to complete what is deficient. The way of man is not this;
he diminishes what is deficient to add it to what is superfluous" (T.
t. k., ch. lxxvii).

On the same subject of humility, an opinion of the philosopher Mang, or
Mencius, may be compared with one of Christ's. There was a strife among
the disciples of the latter which should be accounted the greatest.
Christ said: "The kings of the earth have dominion over them, and they
who have authority over them are called benefactors. But be not you
so: but let the greater among you be as the younger, and he that leads
as he that serves" (Lu. xxii. 25, 26). Now Mang in like manner warns
his disciples against the craving for authority. "Mencius said: 'The
superior man has three things in which he delights, and to be ruler
over the empire is not one of them. That his father and mother are both
alive, and that the condition of his brothers affords no cause for
anxiety;—this is one delight. That, when looking up, he has no occasion
for shame before heaven; and below, he has no occasion to blush before
men;—this is a second delight. That he can get from the whole empire
the most talented individuals, and teach and nourish them;—this is the
third delight. The superior man has three things in which he delights,
and to be ruler over the empire is not one of them'" (Mang, vii. 1,
20.—C. C., vol. ii. p. 334). This definition of the pleasures of the
high-minded man is quite equal of its kind to anything that has been
said on the same subject by Jesus. It is true that Mang ranges over
a somewhat wider field, and that therefore the sentences just quoted
do not admit of exact comparison with anything coming from Jesus.
But while both agree in reprobating the desire to exercise power,
Mang goes beyond Jesus in proposing to substitute other interests for
that of political ambition. And these interests are of the best kind.
His "superior man" rejoices in the prosperity of his family, in the
consciousness of his innocence of any disgraceful conduct, and in his
opportunities of teaching those who are most worthy of his instructions
and most likely to carry on his work. The latter is a pleasure which
is rarely mentioned, and it shows much thoughtfulness on the part of
the philosopher to have upheld it as an object in life.

Curiously enough, another Chinese sage has anticipated another of the
best points in the doctrine of Jesus. Jesus enjoined his hearers not
to practice charity in a public and ostentatious manner, like the
hypocrites, "but when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what
thy right hand doeth" (Mt. vi, 3). In this admirable maxim he would
have had the support of all true Confucians, for one of their canonical
writers had also told them that "it is the way of the superior man
to prefer the concealment of his virtue, while it daily becomes more
illustrious, and it is the way of the mean man to seek notoriety, while
he daily goes more and more to ruin" (C. C., i. 295.—Chung Yung, ch.
xxxiii. 1).

On another question, that of the admonition of an erring friend,
Jesus gave an opinion which is in perfect accord with an opinion
given by Confucius. If a man's brother trespass against him, he is
first, according to Jesus, to take him to task in private; should
that fail, to call in two or three witnesses to hear the charge; and
should the offender still be obdurate, to inform the Church.[33] If
his impenitence continue even after this, he is to become to him
"as a heathen and a publican" (Mt. xviii. 15-17). Turning to the
conversations of Confucius, we find the following:—"Tsze-kung asked
about friendship. The Master said, 'Faithfully admonish your friend,
and kindly try to lead him. If you find him impracticable, stop. Do not
disgrace yourself'" (Lun Yu, b. xii. ch. 33.—C. C., i. 125). The steps
inculcated by the two teachers are, making allowance for difference of
country, almost identical.

The thoughts as well as the language of Jesus are often reproduced with
singular fidelity in the sacred works of Buddhists. As the Buddha is,
on the whole, the prophet whose character approaches most closely to
that of Jesus, so we are almost certain to find in the literature of
Buddhism nearly all the most exalted features of his ethical teaching.
Thus Jesus praises the poor widow who contributes her mite to the
temple treasury, because she has given all that she had. In one of the
numerous legends supposed to have been related by Sakyamuni an exactly
similar incident occurs. A former Buddha was traveling through various
countries, accompanied by his attendant monks. The rich householders
presented them with all kinds of food as offerings. A poor man, who had
no property whatever, and lived by collecting wood in the mountains
and selling it, had gained two coins by the pursuit of his industry.
Perceiving the Buddha coming from a visit to the royal palace, he
devoutly gave him these two coins; his sole possession in the world.
The Buddha received them, and mercifully remembered the donor, who
(as Sakyamuni now explained) was richly rewarded during ninety-one
subsequent ages (W. u. Th., p. 53). The widow's mite is no less closely
reflected in the following anecdote from the same collection. In the
time of a former Buddha, a certain monk belonging to his train had
gone out to collect the offerings of the pious. He arrived at the hut
of a miserable couple, who had nothing between them but an old piece
of cotton-wool. When the husband went out to beg, the wife sat at home
naked in the hay; and when the wife went out, the husband remained in
the same condition. To these people then the monk approached, crying
out as usual, "Go and prostrate yourself before Buddha! present him
with gifts!" It happened that the wife was wearing the cotton-wool on
this occasion. She therefore requested the holy man to wait a little,
promising to return. Hereupon she entered the house and requested the
permission of her husband to offer the cotton-wool to Buddha. He,
however, pointed out that as they had not the smallest property beyond
this, extreme inconvenience would result from the loss of it, for both
of them must then remain at home. To this she replied that they must
needs die in any case, and that their hopes for the future would be
much improved if they died after presentation of an offering. She then
returned to the monk, and requested him to turn away his eyes a moment.
But he told her to give her alms openly in her hands, and that he would
then recite a benediction over them. The full delicacy of her situation
had now to be explained. "Except this cotton-wool stuff on my body I
have nothing, and no other clothing; since, then, it would be improper
for thee to behold the foul-smelling impurity of the female body, I
will reach thee out the stuff from within." So saying she retired into
the house and handed out her garment. When the monk delivered it to
Buddha, it caused great offense to the king's courtiers, who surrounded
him, on account of its being old and dirty. But Buddha, who knew their
thoughts, said, "I find, that of all the gifts of this assembly, no
single one surpasses this in cleanliness and purity" (W. u. Th., p.

Not only in the case of the widow at the treasury did Jesus dwell
upon the value of even trifling gifts made for the sake of religion.
Another time he declared to those about him that whoever gave them a
cup of cold water in his name, because they belonged to Christ, would
not lose his reward. In Buddhist story the very same ideas are to be
found; almost the same words. An eminent member of the Buddha's circle
says that "whoever with a purely-believing heart offers nothing but a
handful of water, or presents so much to the spiritual assembly or to
his parents, or gives drink therewith to the poor and needy, or to a
beast of the field;—this meritorious action will not be exhausted in
many ages" (W. u. Th., p. 37).

The simile of fishing for men, employed by Jesus in his summons to
Simon and Andrew, is likewise to be discovered in the works of the
great Asiatic religion. The images of the Bodhisattvas, or Buddhas
yet to come, frequently hold in their hands a snare, which is thus
explained in the _Nippon Pantheon_:—"He disseminates upon the ocean of
birth and decay the Lotus-flower of the excellent law as bait; with
the loop of devotion, never cast out in vain, he brings living beings
up like fishes, and carries them to the other side of the river, where
there is true understanding" (B. T., p. 213). And in the book from
which some illustrations have already been taken, it is said of a
believer that "he had been seized by the hook of the doctrine, just as
a fish, who has taken the line, is securely pulled out" (W. u. Th., p.

Hitherto we have noticed a few of the minor points in the doctrine of
Jesus, and while there has been little in these to object to, there
has also been little to excite excessive admiration. The extreme
exaltation of humility, and the evident anxiety to see, not equality
of conditions, but a reversal of the actual inequalities, are not
among the best features of his ideal system. We cannot but suspect
something of a personal bias. Thus, in the parable of the Pharisee and
the publican, aimed at a hostile and detested order, the publican is
justified by nothing but his humility; while in that of Lazarus and
Dives, Lazarus is eternally rewarded for nothing but his poverty. It
is no doubt well to be humble, and we should be glad to see poverty
removed; but it is not to be assumed that the Pharisee, conscious of
leading an honorable life, is therefore a bad man; nor that the rich
proprietor should be tormented in hell merely because he does not give
alms to all the beggars who throng about his gates. When Jesus desires
that virtuous actions should be done as quietly and even as secretly
as possible, he inculcates an important principle of morals, and it is
devoutly to be wished that we had among us more of this unconspicuous
kindness, and less ostentatious charity. Where, however, he preaches
on the virtue of bestowing alms on his disciples, he does but echo
a sentiment which is natural to religious teachers in all ages, and
to which, as we have seen, the emissaries of another and earlier
faith, were equally alive. Passing from these comparatively trifling
questions, let us consider some of his decisions on the greater moral
problems with which he felt called upon to deal.

On a vast social subject—that of divorce—he pronounced an opinion
which gives us a little insight into his mode of regarding that most
important of all topics, the relations of the sexes. The Pharisees,
it appears, came to him and asked him whether it was permissible for
a man to put away his wife, Moses having allowed it. Jesus explained
that this precept had been given for the hardness of their hearts.
His own view was, that man and wife are one flesh, and that if either
should leave the other, except on account of unfaithfulness, and marry
again, that one would be guilty of adultery. This severe doctrine he
supported by one of his short sayings: "What God hath joined together,
let not man put asunder" (Mk. x. 1-12; Mt. xix. 1-12, and v. 31, 32).
But surely this judgment assumes the very point at issue. The joining
together in wedlock is ascribed to God; the putting asunder to man.
But granting the sacredness of the marriage tie, it would still be no
less possible to invoke the divine sanction for its dissolution than
for its original formation. And in many instances the maxim might be
exactly reversed. So unfortunate is the result of many marriages, that
it would be easy for a religious reformer to say of them, with perfect
sincerity, "What man hath joined together, let God put asunder." There
is, in fact, almost as much to be said on moral grounds for the divorce
of unhappy couples as for the marriage of happy ones. Nor does Jesus
by any means face the real difficulties of the question by allowing
divorce where either of the parties has been guilty of adultery. This,
no doubt, is the extreme case, and if divorce is not to be given here,
it can be given nowhere. But why is adultery to be the sole ground of
separation? Why is an institution which may bring so much happiness to
mankind to be converted into one of the most fertile sources of human
misery? Why, when both parties to the contract desire separation, is
an external authority, whether that of opinion or of law, to enforce
union? None of these questions appear to have presented themselves to
the mind of Jesus. Supposing even that his decision were right, he
assigns no reasons for it, but simply lays down the law in a trenchant
manner, without giving us the least clue to the process by which he
arrived at so strange a conclusion. Nor is it in the least likely
that the many perplexities encompassing this, and all other questions
affecting the morals of sex, had ever troubled him. His mind was not
sufficiently subtle to enter into them; and thus it is that, throughout
the whole course of his career, he lays down no single doctrine (if we
except this one on divorce) which can be of the smallest service to his
disciples in the many practical troubles that must beset their lives
from the existence of a natural passion of which he takes no account.

Another weak point in the system of Jesus is his aversion to wealth
and wealthy men, apart from the consideration of the good or bad use
they may make of their property. Thus, the only advice he gives to the
rich man who had kept all the commandments was to sell everything he
had and give the proceeds to the poor; a measure of very questionable
advantage to those for whose benefit it is intended. When the man
naturally declined to take this course—practically a mere throwing off
of the responsibilities of life—Jesus remarked that it was hard for
those who had riches to enter the kingdom of God. Seeing the amazement
of his disciples, he emphasized his doctrine by adding that it was
easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a
rich man to enter that kingdom. Hereupon his disciples, "excessively
astonished," asked who then could be saved, and Jesus left a loophole
for the salvation of the rich by the declaration that, impossible as it
might be for men to pass a camel through a needle's eye, all things are
possible with God (Mk. x. 17-27). A like _animus_ against the wealthier
classes is evinced in the story of the king who invited a number of
guests to a wedding festivity. Those who had received invitations made
light of them, one going to his farm, another to his merchandise, and
so forth; or, according to another version, alleging their worldly
affairs as excuses. Seeing that they would not come, the king bade his
servants go out into the highways, and bring in whomsoever they might
find; or, as Luke puts it, the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the
blind (Mt. xxii. 1-10; Lu. xiv. 16-24).

More indiscriminately still is this aversion to the rich expressed
in the parable of Lazarus and Dives. Here we are not told that the
great proprietor had been a bad man, or had acted with any unusual
selfishness. The utmost we may infer from the language used about
him is that he had not been sufficiently sensitive to the difference
between his own condition and that of the beggar. But no positive
unkindness is even hinted at. Nor had the beggar done anything to
merit reward. He had only led one of those idle and worthless lives of
dependence on others which are too common among Southern nations. Yet
in the future life the beggar appears to be rewarded merely because in
this life he had been badly off; and the rich man is punished merely
because he had been well off (Lu. xvi. 19-25). A stronger instance of
apparently irrational prejudice it would be difficult to find.

In connection with these notions about wealth there is a curious theory
of social intercourse deserving to be considered. Jesus has expressed
it thus: "When thou makest a supper or a dinner, do not invite thy
friends, or thy brothers, or thy relations, or thy rich neighbors,
lest they also should invite thee in return, and thou shouldst have
a recompense. But when thou makest a feast, invite the poor, the
maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed because they
have not the means of making thee a recompense. For thou shalt be
recompensed at the resurrection of the just" (Lu. xiv. 12-14). Nobody
can object to charitable individuals asking poor people or invalids
without rank to dinner at their houses; indeed, it is to be wished that
the practice were more common than it is. But we cannot admit that
this kind action ought to be rendered obligatory, to the exclusion
of other modes of conduct. Society, properly speaking, cannot exist
except by reciprocity. That sort of friendly intercourse between
equals which constitutes society implies giving and taking; and it
is eminently desirable that we should do exactly what Christ would
forbid us doing, namely, invite our neighbors and be invited by them as
circumstances may require. The fear that we may receive a recompense
for the dinner-parties we may give is surely chimerical. Pleasantness
and mutual advantage are alike promoted by this reciprocity, which,
moreover, avoids the discomfort produced when the obligation is wholly
on one side. Jesus, in fact, overlooks entirely the more intellectual
side of society, and dwells exclusively on the moral side. What he
wishes to establish, is not converse between men, but charity. So that
a person acting on his views would be excluded from the society of
those who might benefit him either materially or morally, and would be
confined to those whom he might benefit. Such an arrangement would not
in the end be good either for the benefactors or the benefited.

His conceptions of justice are seemingly not more perfect than his
conceptions of social arrangements. The parable of the laborers is
intended to justify the deity in assigning equal rewards to those who
have borne unequal burdens, and also to illustrate his doctrine that
the first will be last, and the last first. A householder hires a
number of laborers to work in his vineyard; some of whom he engages
in the morning, others later in the day, others towards its close.
All of them receive a denarium in payment, though some had worked the
whole day, and others only an hour. At this result the class which had
worked the longer time grumble; but the householder defends himself by
appealing to the strict terms of his contract, by which he had bound
himself to give the same wages to all (Mt. xx. 1-16). No doubt the
laborers who had borne the burden and heat of the day had no _legal_
standing-point for their complaint; but the sentiment that prompted it
was none the less a just one. Granting the validity of the master's
plea that he had honorably fulfilled his bargain, it may still be urged
that the bargain itself was not of an equitable character. Plainly, a
sum which is adequate pay for an hour, is inadequate for ten or twelve;
and that which is sufficient for a day is excessive for an evening.
And the same argument applies to a future state. If, as is so often
urged, it is to be a compensation for the sufferings of this state,
then it ought to bear some proportion to those sufferings. But how can
this be effected? Jesus saw the difficulty, and endeavored, but not
successfully, to meet it by this parable.

But the imperfection of his sense of justice is nowhere more
conspicuously shown than in the conduct he ascribes to God. To recur
again to the case of Lazarus and Dives. Not only is the rich man
punished with frightful torture, but his humble and kindly request that
Lazarus might be allowed to warn his five brothers of their possible
fate is met with a peremptory refusal. The only reason alleged for this
cruelty is that they have Moses and the prophets, who certainly did not
inform them that the mere possession of wealth or enjoyment of luxury
was punished by everlasting misery (Lu. xvi. 27-31). In other places,
too, the horrible doctrine of unending punishment is asserted by Jesus,
and all the efforts of his modern disciples will not explain away this
fact. The tares are to be bound up in bundles to be burnt. The wicked
are to be cast into a furnace of fire, where there will be wailing and
gnashing of teeth (Mt. xiii. 30, 42, 50). It is better to enter into
life mutilated than to be thrown unmutilated into the fire (Mt. xviii.
8, 9) of hell which is never quenched (Mk. ix. 43-46). The servant who
had made no money by usury is cast into outer darkness (Mt. xxv. 30).
The righteous go into eternal life; the wicked to eternal punishment
(Mt. xxv. 46). Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost cannot be forgiven,
but involves eternal damnation (Mk. iii. 29). It is almost needless to
observe that no wickedness could ever justify punishment without an
end; that is, punishment for punishment's sake; and that the creation
of human beings whose existence _terminated_ in torture would be
itself a far more terrible crime than any which the basest of mankind
can ever commit.

There is one more point as to which his teaching will not bear
investigation. It is the doctrine of the power of prayer. He tells his
hearers, in the most absolute manner, that they will receive whatever
they may ask in prayer, provided they believe (Mk. xi. 24; Mt. xxi.
22). Faith is the grand and sole condition of the accomplishment of
all desires. This is the explanation of the withered fig-tree. It was
faith that had wrought the change. By faith the disciples might effect
not only such matters as the destruction of fig-trees, but far more
stupendous miracles (Mt. xxi. 19-21). This is the explanation of the
disciples' failure with the lunatic child. It was owing to their want
of faith. Had they but faith as a grain of mustard seed—so Jesus told
them—they would be able to say to a mountain, "Remove hence thither,"
and it would be removed. Nothing would be impossible to them (Mt.
xvii. 20). And if they had faith themselves, if they really believed
in their master's words, and ever attempted the experiment of working
such transformations in nature, they must have experienced the bitter
disappointment so graphically described by the authoress of "Joshua
Davidson" in the case of that sincere Christian. But short of this
extreme trial of the power of faith over matter, many generations of
pious believers will bear sad witness to the fact that they have asked
many things in prayer which they have _not_ received; not least among
the number being moral excellence, which they have but imperfectly
attained. Yet this, it would seem, might be the most easily granted
without interference with the physical universe. And if it be pleaded
that no Christian has ever really succeeded in acquiring the degree of
faith required to move mountains, what becomes of the promise of Jesus?
Is it not a mere form of words, depending for its truth on a condition
which human nature never can fulfill?

The opinions of Jesus on the question of the lawfulness of the tribute,
and his reply to the Sadducean difficulty about due adjustment of
matrimonial relations in a future state, have been already noticed.
Neither of these decisions, it has been shown, can be regarded as
evincing wisdom or depth of thought. On the other hand, his answer
to the scribe who asked him which was the first commandment fully
deserves the approbation which his questioner bestowed. After this,
remarks the Evangelist triumphantly, no man dared to interrogate him.
Passing from these isolated judgments, let us consider now the fullest
exposition to be found anywhere of the moral system of Jesus,—the
so-called Sermon on the Mount (Mt. v.-vii. inclusive). As reported
by Matthew, this is a vast collection of precepts on many different
subjects, delivered no doubt on many different occasions. Taken
together, they contain the concentrated essence of his teaching, and
offer therefore the fairest field for discussion and criticism. He
opens his discourse with a series of blessings, in which his extreme
fondness for contrasting the present with the future order is markedly
exhibited. Those whom he selects as the objects of benediction are the
poor in spirit; mourners; the meek; those who hunger and thirst after
righteousness; the merciful; the pure in heart; the peace-makers; those
who are persecuted for righteousness' sake; the disciples when reviled,
persecuted, and unjustly accused. Of the nine classes of those who are
thus blessed, five are composed of those whose present condition makes
them objects of pity, and who are consoled with the assurance that they
shall be rewarded in the kingdom of heaven. After this, the followers
of Jesus are admonished that they are the salt of the earth, and that
they must cause their light to shine before men. This is followed by
that remarkable declaration (already noticed) as to the permanence of
the law, and by a warning that, if they wished to enter the kingdom of
heaven, their righteousness must exceed that of those odious people,
the scribes and Pharisees.

Hereupon Jesus takes up three great commandments—not to kill, not to
commit adultery, not to commit perjury—and proceeds to expand their
meaning beyond the literal signification of the words. Thus, it had
been said, "Thou shalt not kill." But he says, that whoever is angry
with his brother shall be liable to the judgment; that whoever says
"Raka" to his brother shall be liable to the Sanhedrim; but that
whoever says "Fool," shall be liable to hell, or literally, to "the
gehenna of fire." The punishment is of undue severity in proportion
to the offense; but when, in the following verses, Jesus insists on
the importance of doing justice to men before performing religious
obligations, he speaks in the truest spirit of humanity. Proceeding
to the commandment not to commit adultery, he enjoins an excess of
self-discipline. It is _not_ desirable to pluck out the right eye and
cut off the right hand because they offend us, though it is well to
train them to obey the higher faculties. The argument of Jesus rests
only on the assumption that the sinful members, if not destroyed by
such violent measures as this, may land the whole body in hell. Dealing
next with the question of oaths, he enlarges the prohibition of perjury
into a prohibition of all swearing whatsoever, assigning the strangest
reasons for avoiding the employment, when taking oaths, of the names
of various objects. They are not to swear by heaven, because it is
God's throne; nor by the earth, because it is his footstool; nor by
Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great king; nor by the head,
because we cannot make a single hair black or white. Granting even that
the advice is good, what is to be said of these reasons? What would be
thought of a Member of Parliament using an exactly parallel argument:
namely, that it is wrong to swear by the New Testament, because the
person taking the oath cannot make a single type larger or smaller?

The theory embodied in the following verses occupies so cardinal a
place in the philosophy of Jesus, that in order to do him justice they
must be quoted at length. "You have heard that it has been said, An eye
for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to resist evil;
but whoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other
also. And as for him who wishes to sue thee, and take thy coat, give
him thy cloak also. And whoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go
two with him. Give to him that asketh thee; and turn not away from him
that wishes to borrow of thee. You have heard that it has been said,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you,
Love your enemies, and pray for them who persecute you, that you may be
sons of your father in heaven; for he causes his sun to rise on bad and
good, and sends rain on just and unjust" (Mt. v. 38-45).

Perhaps there is no single point in the moral teaching of Jesus
which has been more celebrated than this. It is thought to represent
the very acme of perfection, and Christianity takes credit to itself
for the embodiment of so magnificent a doctrine in its moral system.
And certainly the words of Jesus are so sublime as almost to extort
admiration and disarm criticism. Nor would it at all detract from
his merits if the principle here laid down should turn out to be no
new discovery of his own, but one already reached by great teachers
in other lands; for it was through him that it was made known to the
Jews of his own age, and thus to the whole of Christendom. Moreover,
we cannot suppose that he had ever heard of those who had anticipated
the sentiments, and almost the words, of these beautiful sentences in
the Sermon on the Mount. Nevertheless, these anticipations exist; and
whatever glory this rule may confer on the religion of Christ must
belong equally, and even by prior right, to the religion of Lao-tsze
and the religion of Buddha. Thus Lao-tsze says, "Return enmity by doing
good" (T. t. k., 63). Or again, "I treat the good man well; the man
who is not good I also treat well" (Ibid., 49). The very perfection of
patience under injustice, extending to the length of blessing those
who curse, and turning the other cheek to those who smite the one—is
exhibited in the old Buddhistic legend of Pûrna. Pûrna is a convert
who spontaneously betakes himself as a missionary to a savage nation.
The Buddha asks him what he will do if they address him in coarse and
insolent language. He replies that he will consider them good and
gentle people not to strike him with their fists or stone him. Should
they strike him with their fists or stone him, he will still think them
good and gentle neither to strike him with sticks or swords; should
they strike him with sticks or swords, he will equally praise them for
not killing him; should they even kill him, he will still say, "They
are certainly good people, they are certainly gentle people, they who
deliver me with so little pain from this body full of impurity" (H. B.
I., p. 253). This is certainly a most consistent application of the
principle of non-resistance to evil, and of loving one's enemies. No
Christian saint or martyr could have followed his master's precepts
more faithfully than this Buddhist apostle. But whether those precepts
admit of general adoption into the scheme of human morals is a much
more difficult question than whether in occasional instances here
and there they have led to admirable conduct. Let us call in another
Chinese philosopher to our assistance on this point.

The doctrine of returning good for evil, proclaimed, as we have seen,
by Lao-tsze, was thus dealt with by his great rival, Confucius. "Some
one said, 'What do you say concerning the principle that injury should
be recompensed with kindness?' The Master said, 'With what, then,
will you recompense kindness? Recompense injury with justice, and
recompense kindness with kindness.'" How shall we decide between these
authorities? None can question the nobility of the conduct enjoined by
Jesus in certain instances. There are cases where the return of good
for evil, of blessing for cursing, of benevolence for persecution,
is not only the highest practicable virtue, but also the best
punishment of the evil-doers. Nevertheless, there is great force in the
observations of Confucius. If we are to reward injury by kindness, how
are we to reward kindness? Is there to be no difference made between
those who do us good and those who do us harm? To so pertinent a
question we are compelled to answer that the practical results of such
conduct on our part would be simply disastrous. Unkindness would not
receive its natural and appropriate penalty, nor kindness its natural
and appropriate reward. Not only should we ourselves be losers by our
failure to resist injustice, but the worst classes of mankind would
receive by that non-resistance a powerful stimulus to evil. Imagine,
for example, that, instead of opposing an extortionate claim, we give
up our cloak also to the man who wishes to take our coat. Plainly
such conduct can have but one result. We shall become the victims of
extortionate claims, and our property will be squandered among the
undeserving instead of being kept for better uses. Or suppose that
persecution for the sake of our opinions, instead of being met with
armed resistance, wherever that resistance is likely to be successful,
is received only with blessings showered on the heads of the
oppressors; without doubt, the hands of the persecuting party will be
strengthened, and liberty, which is everywhere the result of resisting
evil, will never be established. The freedom we ourselves enjoy, both
as a nation in respect of other nations, and as individuals in respect
of our domestic government, is the consequence of acting on a principle
the direct reverse of that laid down by Jesus. Our ancestors, who were
good Christians but much better patriots, would have been amazed indeed
at any attempt to persuade them to turn the left cheek to him who smote
them on the right. A doctrine more convenient for the purposes of
tyrants and malefactors of every description it would be difficult to

At the same time it must be conceded that there is in it some truth,
provided we discriminate between fitting and unfitting occasions
for its application. It is not the violent man who assaults us, the
unscrupulous man who sues us, or the persecutor who tramples on our
freedom, who should be met by a benevolent return. But there are
offenses of so personal a nature, affecting our individual interest
so largely, and the public interest so slightly, that the best way of
dealing with them may often be not to resent them, but to receive them
with unruffled gentleness. Each person must judge for himself what are
the cases to which this possibility applies. But the guiding rule in
thus acting must be that we expect by thus returning good for evil to
soften the heart of him who has done us wrong, and in the language of
Paul to "heap coals of fire on his head." Should the effect be simply
to relieve him from the penalty of our resentment without inducing
him to change his course, we shall have done him a moral injury and
society a material injury, and the probability or improbability of such
result should be measured in deciding upon the conduct to be pursued.
Properly guarded, and borne in mind as the occasional exception, by no
means as the rule, the return of injustice or ill-will by benevolence
and kindly feeling may be of the utmost value, both in cultivating
the best emotions in those who practice it, and in calling forth the
repentance of those towards whom it is practiced; but as a universal
and absolute principle it must be utterly rejected. Lao-tsze and Jesus
when they affirmed it undoubtedly struck one of the highest notes in
human nature. Yet it must be granted that Khung-tsze took a wider view,
and that his injunction to recompense injury with justice, and kindness
with kindness, is more consistent with a philosophic regard for the
interests of mankind, and with a practicable scheme of social ethics.

Jesus proceeds to enjoin his disciples neither to give alms, nor to
pray, nor to fast in an ostentatious manner; and in connection with
this excellent advice he teaches them the short prayer which has become
so famous under his name. The clauses of this prayer may be worth some
consideration. It begins with a formula of adoration addressed to "Our
father in heaven." Then follows a petition full of meaning to Jesus
and those to whom he imparted it, but of little or no signification in
the mouths of the millions of modern Christians who daily repeat it:
"Thy kingdom come." Jesus hoped, and his disciples caught the hope,
that God's kingdom would come very soon; and this prayer was a request
for the early realization of the glories of that kingdom. Those who
then employed it believed that at any moment it might be granted, and
that at no distant period it certainly would be granted. "Thy will be
done, as in heaven so also on earth;" a clause embodying the popular
conception of another region in which God's will is perfectly obeyed,
while here it is met by some counteracting influence. "Give us this
day our daily bread," for beyond the daily provision they were not
to look; a doctrine which we shall notice shortly. "And forgive us
our debts" (or, in Luke, our sins) "as we forgive our debtors; and
lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Passing over
the singular conception of God as leading men into temptation, let
us rather notice the preceding petition, on which Jesus himself has
supplied a commentary, that we may be forgiven, as we forgive others.
In reference to this he tells his hearers, that if they forgive men
their trespasses, their heavenly father will forgive theirs; and that
if they do not thus behave, neither will he. A kindred doctrine is laid
down in the beginning of the next chapter, where he tells them not to
judge, that they may not be judged; that with what measure they mete,
it shall be measured to them again. And this illustrated in another
place by the parable of the servant who, having been excused from the
immediate payment of a large debt by his master, refused to excuse a
fellow-servant from the payment of a small one; whereupon his master
flew into a passion, and "delivered him to the tormentors" (Mt. xviii.
23-35). There is an apparent justice and real emotional satisfaction
in the harsh treatment of those who are harsh themselves. But we must
not be misled by the immediate gratification we experience at the
punishment of the unforgiving servant, supposing that it is right to
mete out to each man the measure he metes out to others. Assuredly
it does not follow that because a man is unjust or cruel, he should
be treated with injustice or cruelty himself. Either it is right to
forgive a man's sins, or it is not. If right, then his own harshness
in refusing forgiveness to another is one of the sins which should
be forgiven. If not right, then neither that nor any other offense
should be forgiven by the supreme dispenser of justice. For what reason
should the one crime of not forgiving those who trespass against us
be selected for a punishment of such extraordinary severity, while it
is implied that the penalty of other and graver crimes may by God's
mercy be remitted? The fact is, that Jesus is misled by a false analogy
between the conduct of one man towards another, in a case where he is
personally concerned, and the conduct of a judge towards criminals.
Offenses against morality are treated as personal offenses against God,
who has therefore the same right to forgive them as a creditor has to
excuse his debtor from payment. But in a perfect system of justice,
human or divine, there could be no question of forgiveness at all.
Every violation of the law would bring its appropriate penalty, _and
no more_. The penalty being thus proportioned to the offense, there
could be no question of that sort of "forgiveness" which implies a
suspicion that it is, or may be, too severe. No doubt, the temper of
the offender, and the probability of his repeating the crime, would be
elements to be considered in awarding the sentence. But it must always
be borne in mind that either the hope of complete pardon, or the threat
of a punishment far heavier than is needed to deter, equally tend to
neutralize the effects of our system of justice. And thus it has been
in Christendom. The threat of everlasting torture, accompanied with the
expectation of complete forgiveness, has been less efficacious than
would have been the most moderate of earthly penalties, provided they
had been certain. But Jesus was encumbered with a system in which there
were no gradations. Thus he represents the deity now as extending
complete forgiveness to sins which should have received their fitting
retribution; now as visiting with immoderate severity offenses for
which more lenient measures would have amply sufficed.

Proceeding to another subject, the speaker dwells upon the comparative
unimportance of terrestrial affairs. He advises men not to lay up
treasure on earth, but in heaven, for where their treasure is, there
will their heart be also; and he goes on to say, "Take no thought for
your life what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor for your
body what you shall put on. Is not the life more than nourishment,
and the body than raiment? Look at the birds of the sky, for they sow
not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns, and your heavenly
father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? And which of
you by taking thought can add a single cubit to his stature? And why
do you take thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field,
they toil not, neither do they spin: and I say to you that not even
Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these. And if God
so clothe the grass of the field which exists to-day and to-morrow
is cast into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of
little faith?" Therefore his disciples are to take no thought about
eating, drinking, or clothing (as the Gentiles do), for their heavenly
father knows that they have need of these things. They are to seek
the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and these will be added.
They are to take no thought for the morrow, but let the morrow take
thought for itself (Mt. vi. 25-34). Upon which extraordinary argument
it would have been interesting to ask a few questions. In the first
place, how did Jesus suppose that it had happened that men had in
fact come to trouble themselves about food, drink, and clothing? Did
he imagine that an inherent pleasure in labor had driven them to do
so? Would he not rather have been compelled to admit that, not by any
choice of their own, but just because their heavenly father had _not_
provided these things in the requisite abundance, they had been forced
to "take thought" for the morrow, all their primitive inclinations
notwithstanding? Every tendency of human nature would have prompted men
to take no thought either for food or raiment, had not hunger and cold
brought vividly before them the necessity of doing so. But for this
they would only have been too glad to live like the birds of the air
or the lilies of the field. But let us examine a little more closely
the reasoning of Jesus. Birds neither sow nor reap; God feeds them;
therefore he will feed us without sowing or reaping. A more unfortunate
illustration of the care of Providence for his creatures it would be
difficult to find. Was Jesus ignorant of the fact that he feeds some
birds upon others whom they seize on as their prey, and these again
upon an inferior class of animals? So that, if he is careful of the
hawk, it is at the expense of the dove; and if he is careful of the
sparrow, it is at the expense of the worm. Cannibalism, or at least a
recourse to wild animals as the only obtainable diet, must have been
the logical results of the doctrine of Jesus. Not less singular would
be the effects of his teaching as to clothes. The lily which remains
in a state of nature is more beautifully arrayed than was Solomon.
Granted; but does it therefore follow that we are to imitate the lily?
We might agree with Jesus that nudity, alike in flowers and in human
beings, is more beautiful than the most superb dressing: yet there are
conveniences in clothes which may even justify taking a little thought
in order to obtain them, and those who really omit to do this are
generally the lowest types of the human race. That God would not give
us clothing if we ourselves made no effort to obtain it, is not only
admitted, but almost asserted, in the argument of Jesus; for he refers
us to the grass of the field, which remains in its natural condition,
as an example of the kind of raiment which our heavenly father
provides. So absurd are these precepts, that no body of Christians has
ever attempted to act upon them. Some there have been, indeed, who took
no thought for the morrow, and who never exerted themselves to procure
the necessaries of life. But then they lived in the midst of societies
where these things were provided by the labor of others, and where they
well knew that their pious indolence would not leave them a prey to
hunger, but would rather stimulate the charitable zeal of their more
secular brethren.

After laying down the rule against judging others, which has been
already referred to, Jesus gives the excellent advice to those who
would pull the mote out of their brother's eye to attend first to the
beam in their own. This is followed by the proverbial warning not to
cast pearls before swine. A singular passage succeeds, in which the
doctrine is broadly stated that whatever men desire of God they are
to ask it, "for every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds."
And it is added, that as they give their children good gifts, so their
heavenly father gives good things to those who ask him. But what of
those who do not ask him? Does he, like an unwise human parent, give
most to those who are the loudest in their petitions, neglecting the
humble or retiring children who make no noise? These verses allow us
no option but to suppose that Jesus thought he did, and this inference
receives strong confirmation from the parable of the unjust judge, who
yielded to clamor what he would not give from a sense of justice (Lu.
xviii. 1-5), as also from the illustration of the man who was wearied
by the importunity of his friend into doing what he would not have
done for the sake of friendship (Lu. xi. 5-9). In the former case, the
parable is related for the express purpose of showing "that men ought
always to pray and not to faint;" in the latter, the illustration is
given in connection with the very verses which we are now criticising.
There is, then, no escape from the conclusion that the conceptions
Jesus had of the deity were of a nature to lead to the belief that God
might be worried by continual prayer into concessions and favors which
would not otherwise have been granted.

Excepting a single verse, the remainder of the sermon is occupied with
a warning that the way to life is narrow, that to destruction broad;
with a caution against false prophets, and a very fine description of
the future rejection from heaven of many who have made loud professions
of religion, and contrariwise, of the reception of those who have done
their father's will, and whom he likens to one who has built his house
upon the solid rock as distinguished from one who has built it on the
sand. One verse, however, remains, and that not only the most important
in the whole of this discourse, but ethically the most important in the
whole of its author's system. That verse is the well-known commandment:
"All things whatsoever you may wish men to do to you, thus also do
you to them. For this is the law and the prophets" (Mt. vii. 12; Lu.
vi. 31). Whether Jesus perceived that in this brief sentence he was
enunciating the cardinal principle of all morality is of necessity
uncertain. But from the addition of the phrase "this is the law and
the prophets," it is probable that he regarded it as a summary of the
moral teachings of the religion he professed. If so, he has rightly
laid the foundation of scientific ethics. Utilitarians, who believe
that the object of morality is human happiness, may claim him (as one
of them has already done) as the father of their system. While Kant,
who gives the fundamental law, so to act that the rule of your conduct
may be such as you yourself would wish to see adopted as a general
principle, will be equally in agreement with him. Nor does it detract
from the merits of Jesus that this very doctrine should have been
announced in China about five centuries before he proclaimed it in
Judea. He remains not less original; but we, while giving him his due,
must be careful to award an equal tribute to his great predecessor,
Confucius. Twice over did that eminent man assert the principle taught
in the Sermon on the Mount. In the first instance, "Chung-kung asked
about perfect virtue. The Master said, 'It is, when you go abroad, to
behave to every one as if you were receiving a great guest; to employ
the people as if you were assisting at a great sacrifice; _not to do to
others as you would not wish done to yourself_; to have no murmuring
against you in the country, and none in the family'" (C. C., vol. i.
p. 115.—Lun Yu, xii. 2). Much more strikingly is this law enunciated
in the second case. "Tsze-kung asked, saying, 'Is there one word which
may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?' The Master said,
'Is not RECIPROCITY such a word? What you do not want done to yourself,
do not do to others'" (C. C., vol. i. p. 165.—Lun Yu, xv. 23). And we
have another statement of the rule in the work ascribed to the grandson
of Confucius, where he is reported to have said, "What you do not
like when done to yourself, do not do to others" (Chung Yung, xiii.
3.—C. C., vol. i. p. 258). It is true, as remarked by the translator,
that the doctrine is here stated negatively, and not positively; but
practically this can make little difference in its application. Not
to do to others what we wish them not to do to us would amount to
nearly the same thing as doing what we wish them to do. Obviously it
prohibits all actual injury which we should resent if inflicted on
ourselves. But it also enjoins active benevolence; for as we do not
like the lack of kindness towards ourselves when in distress or want,
so we must not be guilty of showing such lack of kindness to others.
Take the parable of the good Sâmaritan, told in illustration of the
kindred maxim to love our neighbors as ourselves. Plainly we should not
like the conduct of the priest and the Levite were we in the situation
of the plundered man. And if so, the behavior of the good Sâmaritan is
that which the Chinese as well as the Jewish prophet would require us
to pursue.

Much more might be said of the doctrines of Jesus, but it is time to
bring this over-long section to a close. What answer shall we now
return to the query which stands at the head of this final division?
What are we to think of him? Is our judgment to be mainly favorable or
mainly unfavorable? or must it be a mixture of opposing sentiments?
The reply may be given under three separate heads, relating the one to
his work as a prophet, the next to his intellectual, and the last to
his moral character. Considered as a prophet, he forms one of a mighty
triad who divide among them the honor of having given their religions
to the larger portion of Asia and to the whole of Europe. Confucius,
to whom Eastern Asia owes its most prevalent faith; Buddha Sakyamuni,
whose faith is accepted in the south and centre of that continent;
and Christ, to whom Europe bows the knee, are the members of this
great trinity not in unity. All three are alike in their possession
of prophetic ardor and prophetic inspiration. Two of them, the
Chinaman and the Jew, speak as the conscious agents of a higher Power.
The other, of whom his creed prevents us from saying this, is yet
represented in his story as predestined to a great mission, becoming
aware of that destiny at a certain epoch of his life, and thenceforth
feeling that no temptations and no sufferings can induce him to swerve
from his allotted task. Of these three men it would perhaps be accurate
to say that Confucius was the most thoughtful, Sakyamuni the most
eminently virtuous, and Christ the most deeply religious. Not that a
description like this can be regarded as exhaustive. Each trespasses
to some degree on the special domain of the others. Especially is it
hard to compare the moral excellence of Jesus with that of Buddha. The
Hindu, as depicted in his biographies, offers a character of singular
beauty, and free from some of the defects which may be discerned in
that of the Jew. History, however, was too much despised by these
Oriental sectaries to enable us to form a trustworthy comparison. All
we can affirm is, that, assuming the pictures of both prophets to be
correctly drawn, there is in Sakyamuni a purity of tone, an absence
of violence or rancor, an exemption from personal feeling and from
hostile bias, which place him even on a higher level than his Jewish
fellow-prophet. Supposing, on the other hand, that either picture
is not historical, then it must be conceded that primitive Buddhism
attained a more perfect ideal of goodness than primitive Christianity.
Both ideals, however, are admirable, and they closely resemble one

Morally not unlike, Jesus and Sakyamuni have another point of
similarity in a certain mournfulness of spirit, a sorrowing regret for
the errors of human kind, and a tender anxiety to summon them from
those errors to a better way. Each in his own manner felt that life
was very sad; each desired to relieve that sadness, though each aimed
at effecting his end by different means. Sakyamuni offered to his
disciples the peace of Nirvâna; Jesus, the favor of God and the rewards
to be given in his kingdom. There is a striking similarity in the
manner in which the summons to suffering humanity is expressed in each
religion. Here are the words ascribed to Buddha: "Many, driven by fear,
seek an asylum in mountains and in woods, in hermitages and in the
neighborhood of sacred trees. But it is not the best asylum, it is not
the best refuge, and it is not in that asylum that men are delivered
from every pain. He, on the contrary, who seeks a refuge in Buddha, in
the Law and in the Assembly, when he perceives with wisdom the four
sublime truths, ... that man knows the best asylum, the best refuge;
as soon as he has reached it, he is delivered from every pain" (H. B.
I., p. 186). Still more beautifully is the like sentiment expressed by
Jesus: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and
lowly of heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke
is easy and my burden is light" (Mt. xi. 28-30).

While in tenderness and sympathy for human sorrow Christ resembles
Buddha, in the nature of his moral precepts he sometimes resembles
Confucius. The plain duties of man towards his fellow-man are
inculcated in the same spirit by both, while in Buddhism it is
generally the most extreme and often prodigious examples of charity
or self-sacrifice that are held up to admiration. Buddhism, moreover,
teaches by means of long stories; Confucius and Jesus by means of short
maxims. To a certain extent, indeed, Jesus combines both methods, the
first being represented in his parables; but these are much simpler,
and go far more directly to the point, than the complicated narratives
of the Buddhistic canon. On the whole, we may safely say that Jesus is
certainly not surpassed by either of these rival prophets, and that in
some respects, if not in all, he surpasses both.

Another comparison is commonly made, and may be just touched on here.
It is that between the Hebrew prophet and the Athenian sage, "who," in
the words of Byron, "lived and died as none can live or die." Without
fully endorsing this emphatic opinion of the poet, we may admit that
Socrates is not unworthy to stand beside Jesus in the foremost rank
of the heroes of our race. He shares with the prophets who have been
already named the inspiring sense of a divine mission which he is
bound to fulfill. At all hazards and under all conditions he will
carry on the special and peculiar work which the divine voice commands
him to do. And this plenary belief in his own inspiration is not
accompanied, as sometimes happens, by mental poverty. Intellectually
his superiority to Jesus cannot be disputed. It is apparent in the very
manner of his instruction. Socrates could never have enunciated the
truths he had to tell in that authoritative tone which is appropriate
to the religious teacher. Whatever knowledge he thinks it possible to
acquire at all must be acquired by reasoning and inquiry; and must be
tested by comparison of our own mental condition with that of others.
Nothing must be assumed but what is granted by the hearer. Socrates
would have thought that there was little gained by the mere dogmatic
assertion of moral or spiritual truths. He must carry his interlocutor
along with him; must compel him to admit his errors; must stimulate
his desire of improvement by bringing him face to face with his own
ignorance. Much as we must value the moral teaching of Christ, it must
be confessed that the peculiar gift of Socrates is one of a far rarer
kind. The power of inculcating holiness, purity, charity, and other
virtues, either directly by short maxims (as in the Confucian Analects,
in Mencius, or in Marcus Aurelius), or indirectly by stories (as in
Buddhagosha's parables), is by no means so uncommon as the Socratic
gift of searching examination into men's minds and souls. If Jesus is
unsurpassed in the former—"primus inter pares"—Socrates is absolutely
without a rival in the latter.

Whether the shock of the _elenchus_ of Socrates, or the touching beauty
of the parables and the Sermon on the Mount, produced the greatest
benefit to the hearers is a question that can hardly be determined.
The effect of either method must depend upon the character of those to
whom it is applied. Outward appearances would lead us to assign more
influence to the method of Jesus; for Socrates left no Socratics, while
Christ did leave Christians to hand on his doctrine. But, in the first
place, it may be confidently asserted that no lasting sect could have
been formed upon the basis of the few truths taught by Jesus himself;
and, in the second place, the fact that he became the founder of a new
religion must be attributed as much to the state of Judea at the time
as to his personal influence. That the influence of Socrates was not
small in his own life-time might be inferred from the bitterness of the
prosecution alone, even if Plato had not remained to attest the abiding
impress he left upon an intellect by the side of which those of Peter,
James, and John, are but as little children to a full-grown athlete.
We can imagine the havoc that would have been made in the statements
and arguments of Jesus had Socrates met him face to face and subjected
him to his testing method. How ill would his loose popular notions have
borne a close examination of their foundations; how easily would his
dogmatic assertions have been exposed in all their naked presumption by
a few simple questions; how quickly would his careless reasoning have
been shattered by the dialectic art which would have forced him to
exhibit its fallacies himself before the assembled audience! But there
was no one competent to the task, and when his opponents attempted to
perplex him by what they thought awkward questions, he was able to
baffle them without much trouble by his superior skill.

It is not, however, as an intellectual man that we must consider Jesus.
He himself laid no claim to the character, and, if we would do him
justice, we must judge him by his own idea of his function and his
duties. So judging, there can be no question that we must recognize in
him a man of the highest moral grandeur, lofty in his aims, pure in
his use of means, earnest, energetic, zealous, and unselfish. No doubt
he was sometimes misled by that very ardor which inspired him with
the courage required to pursue his work. No doubt he suffered himself
to forget the charity that was due to those who could not accept his
mission nor bow before his preaching. No doubt he returned curse for
curse, and hatred for hatred, with unsparing hand. Perhaps, too, he
was sometimes the first to give way to angry passion, and to express
in scathing words the bitterness he felt. Yet his failings are those
of an upright and honorable character, and while they ought not to be
extenuated or denied, neither ought they to outweigh his great and
unquestionable merits. Appointed, as he believed, to a special work,
he bravely and honestly devoted his powers to the fulfillment of that
work, not even shrinking from his duty when it led him to the cross.

His unhappy end has cast its shadow over his life. He has been
continually spoken of as "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."
There is no reason to suppose that in any special sense he corresponded
to the prophetic picture. Undoubtedly he had his sorrows; undoubtedly
he was acquainted with grief. But unless there had been in his private
life some tragedy of which we are not informed, those sorrows were not
of the bitterest, nor was that grief of the deepest. There is no doubt
in his language a tinge of that sadness which all great natures who are
not in harmony with their age must needs experience. He believed that
he had great truths to tell, and he found his countrymen unwilling to
receive them. Here was one source of unhappiness; and another he had
in common with all who are deeply conscious of the miseries of human
existence. But in no special or transcendent sense can he be termed a
man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. So far as our evidence goes,
he was exempt from the most terrible calamities that befall mankind.
Free from all earthly ties but those of friendship with his chosen
companions, he was not exposed to many of the anxieties and trials
which afflict more ordinary men. Dying young, he did not suffer (so
far as we know) from any serious illness, nor from the troubles, both
physical and mental, that scarcely ever fail to beset a longer life.
Bereavement, the most terrible or human ills, never afflicted him.
Whether in his youth he had suffered the pains of unrequited love at
the hands of some Galilean maiden we cannot tell. But there is nothing
in his language or his career that would lead us to see in him an
embittered or disappointed man.

Judging by the representation given in the Gospels, it does not
appear that his life was in any special measure sad or gloomy. On
the contrary, his circumstances were in the main conducive to a fair
share of happiness. Surrounded by admiring friends of his own sex,
and attended by sympathizing (perhaps loving) women, he passed from
place to place, drawing crowds around him, speaking his mind freely,
and receiving no inconsiderable homage. Granting that he had enemies,
he was able until his prosecution to meet them on equal terms, and
was not prohibited (as he would have been in most Christian countries
until recent times) from proclaiming aloud his unorthodox opinions.
True, this liberty was not allowed to continue for ever, but it was no
small matter for him that it had continued so long. True, he suffered
a painful death; but far less painful than many a humble martyr has
undergone for his sake; far less painful even than those torturing
illnesses which so often precede the hour of rest. Nor is it possible
that his death could reflect its agonies back upon his life. His life,
on the whole, seems to have been one, if not of abundant happiness,
yet of a fair and reasonable degree of cheerfulness and of comfort.
The notion that he had not where to lay his head is of course utterly
unfounded. Not only had he his own house at Nazareth, but he had
friends who at all times were happy to receive him. If he himself ever
drew this sad picture of his desolation (which I doubt), he must
have done it for a special purpose, and without regard to the literal
accuracy of his words.

While, then, I see no proof of the peculiar sorrow ascribed to him on
the strength of a prophecy, I freely admit that he had the melancholy
which belongs to a sympathetic heart. His words of regret over
Jerusalem are unsurpassed in their beauty. At this closing period of
his career we may indeed detect the sadness of disappointment. And in
the bitter cry that was wrung from him at the end, "My God, my God,
why hast thou forsaken me?" we look down for a moment into an abyss
of misery which it is painful to contemplate; physical suffering and
a shaken faith, the agonies of unaccomplished purposes, and the still
more fearful agony of desertion by the loving Father in whom he had put
his trust.

But Jesus, though he knew it not, had done his work. Nay, he had done
more than he himself intended. After-ages saw in him—what he saw only
in his God—an ideal to be worshiped and a power to be addressed in
prayer. We, who are free from this exaggeration of reverence, may
yet continue to pay him the high and unquestioned honor which his
unflinching devotion to his duty, his gentle regard for the weak and
suffering, his uncorrupted purity of mind, and his self-sacrificing
love so abundantly deserve.

                              CHAPTER VI.

                        HOLY BOOKS, OR BIBLES.

Vast, and even immeasurable, as the influence has been which has been
exercised on the course of human development by the great men of whom
we have spoken, it has been equaled, if not surpassed, by the influence
of the peculiar class of writings which we have grouped together under
the designation of Holy Books. Of this, the last manifestation of the
Religious Idea, it will be necessary to speak in considerable detail;
both on account of its intrinsic importance, and because it is a
branch of the subject which has not hitherto received the attention it

We have been far too much accustomed in Europe to treat the Bible as
a book standing altogether by itself; to be admired, reverenced and
loved, or, it may be, to be criticised, objected to and rejected,
not as one of a class, but as something altogether peculiar and
unparalleled in the literary history of the world. And, undoubtedly,
if we compare it with ordinary literature of whatever description,
whatever age, and whatever nation, this opinion is just. Neither in
the poetry, the history, or the philosophy of any other nation do we
find any work that at all resembles it. Nevertheless it would be a
very rash conclusion to arrive at, that because in the whole field
of Greek or Roman, Italian or French, Teutonic or Celtic literature,
there is nothing that admits of being put in the same category with
the Bible, therefore the Bible cannot be placed in any category
at all. It is one of a numerous class; a class marked by certain
distinct characteristics; a class of which some specimen is held in
honor from the furthest East of Asia, to the extreme West of America,
or, in other words, throughout every portion of the surface of the
earth which is inhabited by any race with the smallest pretense to
civilization and to culture. Wherever there is literature at all, there
are Sacred Books. If in some isolated cases it is not so, these cases
are exceptions too trifling in extent to invalidate the rule. Speaking
generally we may say, that every people which has risen above the
conditions of savage life; every nation which possesses an organized
administration, a settled domestic life, a religion with developed
and complex dogmas, possesses also its Sacred Books. If this truth
has been too generally forgotten; if the Bible has been too commonly
treated as something exceptional and peculiar which it was the glory
of Christianity to possess, this omission is probably in great part
due to the fact that the attention of scholars has been too much
confined to the literature, the religion, and the general culture of
the Greeks and Romans. From special circumstances these nations had no
Sacred writings among them. Their religion was independent of any such
authorities; and our notions of pagan religion have been largely drawn
from the religions of Greece and Rome. But the Greeks and Romans were
only an insignificant fraction of the Aryan race; and other far more
numerous branches of that race had their recognized and authoritative
Scriptures, containing in some portions those most ancient traditions
of the original stock which entered into the intellectual property of
the Hellenic family, in the form of mythological tales and current
stories of their gods. We must not therefore be led by the example of
classical antiquity to ignore the existence of these writings, or to
overlook their importance.[34]

We may classify the Sacred Books to which reference will be made in
this chapter as follows, proceeding (as in the case of prophets) from
East to West:—

 1. THE THIRTEEN KING, or Canon of the Confucians. 2. The TAÒ-TĔ-KĪNG,
 or Canon of the Taò-sè. 3. The VEDA, or Canon of the Hindus. 4. The
 TRIPITAKA, or Canon of the Buddhists. 5. The ZEND AVESTA, or Canon
 of the Parsees. 6. The KORAN, or Canon of the Moslems. 7. The OLD
 TESTAMENT, or Canon of the Jews. 8. The NEW TESTAMENT, or Canon of the

The works included in the above list,—which are more numerous than
might at first appear, owing to the vast collections comprised under
the titles "Vedas," and "Tripitaka,"—are distinguished, as has been
already stated, by certain common characteristics. It would be an
exaggeration to say that all of these characteristics apply to each one
of the writings accepted by any portion of mankind as canonical. This
cannot be so, any more than the peculiar qualities which may happen to
distinguish any given race of men can ever belong in equal measure to
all its members. Hence there will necessarily be some exceptions to
our rules, but on the whole I believe we may say with confidence that
canonical or sacred books have the following distinctive marks:—

A. There are certain external marks, the presence of which is essential
to constitute them sacred at all.

1. They must be accepted by the sectaries of the religion to which
they belong as being either inspired, or, if the nature of the faith
precludes this idea, as containing the highest wisdom to which it is
possible for man to attain, and indeed a much higher wisdom than can
be reached by ordinary men. Nor do those who accept these books ever
expect to attain it. They regard the authors, or supposed authors, as
enlightened to a degree which is beyond the reach of their disciples,
and receive their words as utterances of an unquestionable authority.
But wherever a divine being is acknowledged, these books are regarded
as emanating from him. Either they have fallen direct from heaven and
been merely "seen" by their human editors, as was the case with the
Vedic hymns; or their contents have been communicated in colloquies
to holy men by the Deity himself, as happened with the Avesta; or an
angel has revealed them to the prophet while in a fit or a state of
ecstacy, as Mahomet was made acquainted with the Suras of the Koran; or
lastly, as is held to have been the case with the Jewish and Christian
Scriptures, the mind of the writer has been at least so guided and
informed by the Spirit of God, that in the words traced by his pen it
was impossible he should err.

Such a conviction is expressly stated in the Second Epistle to
Timothy, where it is said that "all Scripture is given by inspiration
of God." And a claim to even more than inspiration is put forward in
the Apocalypse, whose author first calls his work "the Revelation of
Jesus Christ," which he says God sent to him by an angel deputed for
the purpose, and then proceeds to describe voices heard, and visions
perceived; thus resting his prophetic knowledge not on supernatural
information communicated to the mind, but on the direct testimony of
his senses.

2. With this theory of inspiration, or of a more than human knowledge
and wisdom, is closely connected an idea of _merit_ to be obtained
by reading such books, or hearing them read. With tedious iteration
is this notion asserted in the later works of the Buddhist Canon.
These indeed represent the degeneracy of the idea. One of them is so
filled with the panegyrics pronounced upon itself by the Buddha or
his hearers, and with the recital of the advantages to be obtained
by him who reads it, that the student searches in vain under this
mass of laudations for the substance of the book itself (H. B. I.,
p. 536). A Sûtra translated by Schlagintweit from the Thibetan,
and bearing the marks (according to its translator) of having been
written at a period of "mystic modification of Buddhism," promises
that, at a future period of intense and general distress this Sûtra
"will be an ablution for every kind of sin which has been committed
in the meantime: all animated beings shall read it, and on account of
it all sins shall be wiped away" (B. T., p. 139). In another Sûtra,
termed the Karanda vyuha, a great saint is introduced as exhorting
his hearers to study this treatise, the efficaciousness of which he
highly exalts (H. B. I., p. 222). Another speaker recites in several
stanzas the advantages which will accrue to him who either reads the
Karanda vyuha or hears it read (Ibid., p. 226). Such was the force of
the idea that the mere mechanical reading or copying of the sacred
texts was in itself meritorious, that, by a still further separation
of the outward action from its rational signification, the purely
unintelligent process of turning a cylinder on which sentences of
Scripture were printed came to be regarded as equally efficacious. An
author who has given an interesting account of these cylinders observes
that, as few men in Thibet knew how to read, and those who did had not
time to exercise their powers, "the Lamas cast about for an expedient
to enable the ignorant and the much-occupied man also to obtain the
spiritual advantages" (namely, purification from sin and exemption from
metempsychosis) "attached to an observance of the practice mentioned;
they taught that the mere turning of a rolled manuscript might be
considered an efficacious substitute for reading it." So completely
does the one process take the place of the other that "each revolution
of the cylinder is considered to be equal to the reading of as many
sacred sentences or treatises as are enclosed in it, provided that the
turning of the cylinder is done slowly and from right to left;" the
slowness being a sign of a devout mind, and the direction of turning
being a curious remnant of the original practice of reading, in which,
as the letters run from left to right, the eye must move over them in
that direction (B. T., pp. 230, 231). Similar sentiments, though not
pushed to the same extravagance, prevail among the Hindus. One of the
Brâhmanas, or treatises appended to the metrical portion of the Vedas,
lays down the principle that "of all the modes of exertion, which are
known between heaven and earth, study of the Veda occupies the highest
rank (in the case of him) who, knowing this, studies it" (O. S. T.,
vol. iii. p. 22). Manu, one of the highest of Indian authorities,
observes that "a Brahman who should destroy these three worlds, and
eat food received from any quarter whatever, would incur no guilt if
he retained in his memory the Rig Veda. Repeating thrice with intent
mind the Sanhitâ of the Rik, or the Yajush, or the Sâman, with the
Upanishads, he is freed from all his sins. Just as a clod thrown into
a great lake is dissolved when it touches the water, so does all sin
sink in the triple Veda" (Ibid., vol. iii. p. 25). Reading the Holy
Scriptures is with the Parsees a positive duty. And these works, read
in the proper spirit, are thought to exert upon earth an influence
somewhat similar to that of the primeval Word at the origin of created
beings (Z. A. Q., p. 595). It is needless to speak of the importance
attached among Jews and Christians to the reading and re-reading
of their Bibles, or of the spiritual benefits supposed to result
therefrom. It is worth remarking, however, that this constant perusal
of Holy Writ is altogether a different operation from that of studying
it for the sake of knowing its contents. People read continually what
they are already perfectly familiar with, and they neither gain, nor
expect to gain, any fresh information from the performance. And this is
a species of reading to which among Christian nations the Bible alone
is subjected.

The genesis of this notion is not difficult to follow. Once let a given
work be accepted as containing information on religious questions which
man's unaided faculties could not have attained, and it is evident that
there is no better way of qualifying himself for the performance of his
obligations towards heaven than by studying that work. Its perusal and
re-perusal will increase his knowledge of divine things, and render him
more and more fit, the oftener he repeats it, to put that knowledge
into practice. But if it is thus advantageous to the devout man to be
familiar with the sacred writings of his faith, it is plain that the
attention he gives to them must be in the highest degree agreeable
to the divinity from whom they emanate. For, to put it on the lowest
ground, it is a sign of respect. It renders it evident that he is not
indifferent to the communication which his God has been pleased to
make. It evinces a pious and reverential disposition. Hence not only
is the reader benefited by such a study, but the Deity is pleased by
it. Or if the books are not conceived as inspired by any deity, yet
a careful attention to them shows a desire for wisdom, and a humble
regard for the instructions of more highly-gifted men who in these
religions stand in the place of gods. Thus the action of reading these
works, and becoming thoroughly familiar with their contents, is for
natural reasons regarded as meritorious. But this is not all. An act
which at first is meritorious as a means, tends inevitably to become
meritorious as an end. Moreover, actions frequently repeated for some
definite reason come to be repeated when that reason is absent. Thus,
the reading of Sacred Books, originally a profitable exercise to the
mind of the reader, is soon undertaken for its own sake, whether the
mind of the reader be concerned in it or not. And the action, having
become habitual, is stereotyped as a religious custom, and therefore
a religious obligation. The words of the holy books are read aloud to
a congregation, without effort or intelligence on their part, perhaps
in a tongue which they do not comprehend. Even if the vernacular be
employed, there is not the pretence of an effort to penetrate the sense
of difficult passages. Holy Writ has become a charm, to be mechanically
read and as mechanically heard, and the notion of merit—arising in the
first instance from the high importance of understanding its meaning
with a view to practicing its precepts—now attaches to the mere
repetition of the consecrated words.

3. The exact converse of this unintelligent reverence for the sacred
writings is the excessive and over-subtle exercise of intelligence upon
them. It is the common fate of such works to be made the subject of the
most minute, most careful, and most constant scrutiny to which any of
the productions of the human mind can be subjected. The pious and the
learned alike submit them to an unceasing study. No phrase, no word,
no letter, passes unobserved. The result of this devout investigation
naturally is, that much which in reality belongs to the mind of the
reader is attributed to that of the writer. Approached with the fixed
prepossession that they contain vast stores of superhuman wisdom, that
which is so eagerly sought from them is certain to be found. Hence the
natural and simple meaning of the words is set aside, or is relegated
to a secondary place. All sorts of forced interpretations are put upon
them with a view of compelling them to harmonize with that which it
is supposed they ought to mean. Statements, doctrines, and allusions
are discovered in them which not only have no existence in their
pages, but which are absolutely foreign to the epoch at which they
were written. This process of false interpretation is greatly favored
by distance of time. When an ancient book is approached by those who
know but little of the external circumstances, or of the intellectual
and spiritual atmosphere, of the age in which it was composed, much
that was simple and plain enough to the contemporaries of the writer
will be dubious and obscure to them. And when they are determined to
find in the venerable classic nothing but perfect truth, the result of
such conditions is an inevitable confusion. Their own actual notions
of truth must at all hazards be discovered in the sacred pages. The
assumption cannot be surrendered; all that does not agree with it must
therefore be suitably explained.

Are proceedings or actions which shock the improved morality of a
later age spoken of with approbation in the canonical books? Some
evasion must be discovered which will reconcile ethics with belief. Are
doctrines which the religion of a later age rejects plainly enunciated,
or statements of facts, which later investigation has shown to be
impossible, unequivocally made? The inconvenient passages must be
shown to bear another construction. Are there portions whose character
appears too trivial or too mundane to be consistent with the dignity
of works given for the instruction of mankind? These portions must be
shown to possess a mystical significance; a spirit hidden beneath the
letter; profound instruction veiled under ordinary phrases. Are the
dogmas cherished as of supreme importance by subsequent generations
unhappily not to be found in the text of Revelation? These dogmas must
be read out of them by putting a strain upon words which apparently
refer to some other subject. Perhaps, if they are not contained in
them _totidem verbis_, they may be _totidem syllabis_: or if not even
_totidem syllabis_, at least _totidem literis_. And the absence of a
letter (like the k in shoulder-knots) can always be got over somehow.
Lastly, are there palpable contradictions? At whatever cost they must
be explained away, for Holy Writ, being inspired, can never contradict

Let us consider a few of the most striking examples of these methods
of treatment. China, usually so matter of fact, has manifested in this
field a subtlety of interpretation not altogether unworthy of the
more mystical India. The Ch'un Ts'ëw, one of the books of the Chinese
Canon, is a historical compilation attributed to Confucius himself,
and is therefore of more than ordinary authority even for a Sacred
Book. Concerning one of the years of which it contains a record, the
following statements are made:—

"In the ninth month, on Kang-seuk, the first day of the moon, the sun
was eclipsed.

"In winter, in the tenth month, on Kang-shin, the first day of the
moon, the sun was eclipsed" (C. C., vol. v. p. 489.—Ch'un Ts'ëw, b. 9,
ch. xxi. p. 5, 6).

Two eclipses in such close proximity were of course an impossibility.
Chinese scholars were fully aware of this, and knew, moreover, that
the second eclipse mentioned did not take place. A similar mistake
occurred in another chapter, so that there were two unquestionable
blunders to be got over. No wonder then that "the critics," as Dr.
Legge says, "have vexed themselves with the question in vain." But one
of them proposes an explanation. "In this year," he remarks, "and in
the twenty-fourth year, we have the record of eclipses in successive
months. According to modern chronologists such a thing could not be;
but _perhaps it did occur in ancient times_!" (Ibid., vol. v. p. 491).
Dr. Legge has italicized the concluding words, and put an exclamation
after them, as if they embodied a surprising absurdity. But his
experience of Biblical criticism must have presented him with abundant
instances of similar interpretations of the glaring contradictions to
modern science found in Scripture. Is it more ridiculous to suppose
that the two eclipses might have occurred in two months than to believe
that the sun stood still, in other words, that the revolution of the
earth on its axis ceased for a space of time? or that an ass could be
endowed with human speech? or that a man, instead of dying, could rise
from earth to heaven? And if these and similar strange occurrences be
explained as miracles, then such miracles "did occur in ancient times,"
and do not now. Or if it be attempted, as it is by interpreters of the
rationalistic school to get over the difficulty by supposing a natural
event as the foundation of the story—as one writer suggests that the
descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was a strong blast of wind—then
European critics, like those of China, "vex themselves in vain."

No country, however, has done more than India, possibly none has done
so much, in the peculiar exercise of ingenuity by which all sorts of
senses are deduced from sacred texts. The Veda formed in that highly
religious land the common basis on which each variety of philosophy was
founded, and by which each was thought to be justified. Dr. Muir has
collected a number of facts in proof of the diverse interpretations
that found defenders among the champions of the several schools. In
these facts, according to him, "we find another illustration (1)
of the tendency common to all dogmatic theologians to interpret in
strict conformity to their own opinions the unsystematic and not
always consistent texts of an earlier age which have been handed
down by tradition as sacred and infallible, and to represent them as
containing, or as necessarily implying, fixed and consistent systems of
doctrine; as well as (2) of the diversity of view which so generally
prevails in regard to the sense of such texts among writers of
different schools, who adduce them with equal positiveness of assertion
as establishing tenets and principles which are mutually contradictory
or inconsistent" (O. S. T., vol. iii. p. xx).

Exactly the same methods were applied to the sacred books of Buddhism.
"It is in general," says Burnouf, "the same texts that serve as a
foundation for all doctrines; only the explanation of these texts
marks the naturalistic, theistic, moral or intellectual tendency" (H.
B. I., p. 444). To meet the case of contradictions occurring in the
Buddhistic Sûtras a theory of a double meaning has been invented. The
various schools that had arisen in the course of time did not venture
to reject the Sûtras that failed to harmonize with their own opinions,
as not having emanated from Buddha, but maintained he had not expressed
them in the form of absolute truth. He had often, they thought, adapted
himself to the conceptions of his hearers, and uttered what was
directly contradictory to his veritable ideas. Hence his words must
be taken in two senses; the palpable and the hidden sense (Wassiljew,
pp. 105, 329). As it has been with the Chinese Classics, with the
Veda, and with the Tripitaka, so it has been with the Zend Avesta.
Speaking of the progress of scholarship in deciphering the sense of
that ancient work, Professor Max Müller justly observes that "greater
violence is done by successive interpreters to sacred writings than to
any other relics of ancient literature. Ideas grow and change, yet each
generation tries to find its own ideas reflected in the sacred pages of
their early prophets, and in addition to the ordinary influences which
blur and obscure the sharp features of old words, artificial influences
are here at work distorting the natural expression of words which have
been invested with a sacred authority. Passages in the Veda or Zend
Avesta which do not bear on religious or philosophical doctrines,
are generally explained simply and naturally, even by the latest of
native commentators. But as soon as any word or sentence can be so
turned as to support a doctrine, however modern, or a precept, however
irrational, the simplest phrases are tortured and mangled till at last
they are made to yield their assent to ideas the most foreign to the
minds of the authors of the Veda and Zend Avesta" (Chips, vol. i. p.

It is remarkable that almost identical expressions are employed by
a Roman Catholic writer in reference to the efforts that have been
made by theologians to discover the doctrine of the Trinity in the
pages of the Hebrew Bible. I am glad to be able to quote an authority
so unexceptionable as that of M. Didron for the proposition, that
the poverty of the Old Testament in texts relating to the Trinity
has caused the commentators to torture the sense of the words and
the signification of facts. He adds the interesting information that
artists, pushed on by the commentators, have represented the signs of
the Trinity in scenes which did not admit of them. Thus, commentators
and artists have united to find a revelation of the three persons
of the Godhead in the three angels whom Abraham met in the plain of
Mamre; in the three companions of Daniel who were thrown into the fiery
furnace, and in other passages of equal relevance. No wonder, when such
are the texts relied upon to prove the presence of this cardinal dogma,
that M. Didron should observe that the Old Testament contains very few
texts that are clear and precise upon the subject, and that in this
portion of the Sacred Books we do not see a sufficient number of real
and unquestionable manifestations of the Holy Trinity (Ic. Ch., pp.

Perhaps, however, the most conspicuous instance of the power of
preconceptions in deciding the sense of Holy Writ is the traditional
interpretation of the Song of Solomon. In this little book, which is
altogether secular in its subject and its nature, the love of a young
damsel to her swain is described in peculiarly plain and sensuous
language. But precisely because it was so plain was it necessary to
find allegorical allusions under its rather glowing phrases. Hence such
expressions as "let him kiss me with a kiss of his mouth; thy caresses
are softer than wine," are held to refer to "the Church's love unto
Christ," and an enthusiastic encomium passed by the Shulamite upon the
physical perfections of her lover is called "a description of Christ by
his graces." So, when another speaker, in this case a man, flatters
a woman by enumerating the beauties of her form, the feet, the joints
of her thighs, the navel, the belly, the two breasts so passionately
praised by her admirer, are thought in some mystic way to signify the
graces of the Church. A passage referring to a young girl not yet fully
developed is made out to be a foreshadowing of "the calling of the
Gentiles," and the natural and simple appeal to a lover to make haste
to come is "the Church praying for Christ's coming."

Equal, or nearly equal, absurdities are found in the Chinese
interpretations of certain Odes contained in their classics. These
Odes are, like the Song of Songs, mere expressions of human love. But
the critics find in them profound historical allusions; history being
the staple of the Chinese sacred books, as theology is of the Hebrew
ones. Now it happened in China, as it has happened in Europe, that
there was a traditional meaning attached to this portion of the sacred
books; and the traditional meaning was embodied in a Preface which was
generally supposed to have descended from very ancient times, which
came to be incorporated with the Odes, and thus appeared to rest on
the same authority as the text itself. But a Chinese scholar, named
Choo He, who examined the preface in a freer spirit than was usual
among the commentators, formed a very different opinion as to its age
and its authority. He believed it to be of much more recent date that
was commonly supposed, and by no means to form an integral portion of
the Odes. The prevailing theory was that the Preface had existed as a
separate document in the time of a scholar named Maou, "and that he
broke it up, prefixing to each Ode the portion belonging to it. The
natural conclusion," observes Choo He, "is that the Preface had come
down from a remote period, and Hwang" (a scholar who, in one account,
is said to have written the Preface) "merely added to it and rounded it
off. In accordance with this, scholars generally hold that the first
sentences in the introductory notices formed the original Preface which
Maou distributed, and that the following portions were subsequently
added. This view may appear reasonable, but when we examine those
first sentences themselves we find some of them which do not agree
with the obvious meaning of the Odes to which they are prefixed, and
give merely the rash and baseless expositions of the writers." Choo He
adds, that after the prefatory notices were published as a portion of
the text, "they appeared as if they were the production of the poets
themselves and the Odes seemed to be made from them as so many themes.
Scholars handed down a faith in them from one to another, and no one
ventured to express a doubt of their authority. The text was twisted
and chiseled to bring it into accordance with them, and nobody would
undertake to say plainly that they were the work of the scholars of the
Han dynasty" (C. C., vol. iv. Proleg., p. 33).

Ample confirmation of the justice of Choo He's opinion will be found on
turning to the Odes and comparing them with the notices in the Preface,
which bear a family likeness to the headings of the chapters in the
Song of Songs. Here, for example, is an Ode:—

    "If you, Sir, think kindly of me,
    I will hold up my lower garments, and cross the Tsin.
    If you do not think of me,
    Is there no other person [to do so?]
    You foolish, foolish fellow!"[35]

The second stanza is identical, with this exception, that the name of
the river is changed. Now this young lady's coquettish appeal to her
lover is said in the Preface to be an expression "of the desire of the
people of Ch'ing to have the condition of the State rectified" (C. C.,
vol. iv. Proleg., p. 51). Another Ode runs thus:—

    1. "The sun is in the east,
    And that lovely girl
    Is in my chamber.
    She is in my chamber;
    She treads in my footsteps, and comes to me.

    2. "The moon is in the east,
    And that lovely girl
    Is inside my door.
    She is inside my door;
    She treads in my footsteps, and hastens away."[36]

This simple poem is supposed by the Preface to be "directed against
the decay [of the times]." Observe the theory that anything appearing
in a sacred book must have a moral purpose. "The relation of ruler
and minister was neglected. Men and women sought each other in lewd
fashion; and there was no ability to alter the customs by the rules of
propriety" (C. C., vol. iv. Proleg., p. 52). A commentator, studious
to discover the hidden moral, urges that the incongruous fact of
the young woman's coming at sunrise and going at moonrise "should
satisfy us that, under the figuration of these lovers, is intended a
representation of Ts'e, with bright or with gloomy relations between
its ruler and officers" (C. C., vol. iv. p. 153, note). In another Ode
a lady laments her husband's absence, pathetically saying that while
she does not see him, her heart cannot forget its grief:

    "How is it, how is it,
    That he forgets me so very much?"

is the burden of every stanza. This piece, according to the Preface,
was directed against a duke, "who slighted the men of worth whom his
father had collected around him, leaving the State without those who
were its ornament and strength" (C. C., vol. iv. p. 200, and the
note.—She King, pt. i. b. 11, ode 7).

With such methods as these there is no marvel which may not be
accomplished. And when, by the lapse of many centuries, the very
language of the sacred records has been forgotten—as the Sanscrit of
the Vedas was forgotten by the Hindus, the Zend by the Parsees, and the
Hebrew by the Jews—the process of perversion is still further favored.
The original works are then accessible but to a few; and when these few
undertake to explain them in the ordinary tongue, they will do so with
a gloss suggested by their own imperfect comprehension of the thoughts
and language of the past.

These, then, may be accepted as the external marks of Sacred Books:
1. The unusual veneration accorded to them by the adherents of each
religion, on the ground that they contain truths beyond the reach
of human intelligence when not specially enlightened; or in other
words, the theory of their _inspiration_. 2. The notion of _religious
merit_ attached to reading them. 3. The application to them of _forced
interpretation_, in order to bring them into accordance with the
assumptions made regarding them.

B. Passing now to the internal marks by which writings of this class
are distinguished, we shall find several which, taken together,
constitute them altogether a peculiar branch of literature.

1. Their subjects are generally confined within a certain definite
range, but in the limits of that range there is a considerable portion
which has the peculiarity that their investigation transcends the
unaided powers of the human intellect. Almost the whole of the vast
field of theological dogma comes under this head. The sublimer subjects
usually dealt with, and not only dealt with, but emphatically dwelt
upon, in the Sacred Books are, the nature of the Deity and his mode
of action towards mankind; the creation of the world and its various
constituent parts, including man himself; the motives of the Deity in
these exercises of his power; the dogmas to be believed in reference
to the Deity himself and in reference to other superhuman powers or
agencies, whether good or bad; and the condition of the soul after
death with the rewards and the punishments of vicious conduct. Coming
down to matters of a less purely celestial character, but still beyond
the reach of the uninspired faculties of ordinary minds, they treat of
the primitive condition of mankind when first placed upon the earth;
of his earliest history; of the rites by which the divine being is to
be worshiped; of the sacrifices which are to be offered to him; of the
ceremonies by which his favor is to be won. Here we move in a region
which is at least intelligible and free from mysteries, though it is
plain that we could not arrive at any certain conclusions on such
things as these without divine assistance and superhuman illumination.

Lastly, the Sacred Books of all nations profess to give information on
a subject the nature of which is altogether mundane, and with regard to
which truth is accessible to all, inspired or uninspired;—the rules of
moral conduct. These are, I believe, the main subjects which will be
found treated of in the various books that lay claim to the title of
Sacred. These subjects may be briefly classified as, 1. Metaphysical
speculations as to the nature of the Deity. 2. Doctrines as to the
past or future existence of the soul. 3. Accounts of the creation. 4.
Lives of prophets or collections of their sayings. 5. Theories as to
the origin of evil. 6. Prescriptions as to ritual. 7. Ethics. That this
does not pretend to be an exhaustive classification, I need hardly say;
other topics are treated in some of them to which no allusion is made,
and all of these topics themselves are not treated at all. But they are
those with which the Sacred Books are principally concerned; and more
than this, they are those in the treatment of which these books are
especially peculiar. One important feature both of the Chinese and the
Jewish Canon is passed over, namely, their historical records. If these
records were not exceptional appearances in sacred works, or if, though
exceptional, they presented some essential singularity marking them
off from all ordinary history, they should be included in the list of
subjects. But as the Chinese Shoo King are perfectly commonplace annals
of matters of fact; and as the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles
are not otherwise distinguished from secular history than by their
theological theories—in respect of which they are included under the
previous heads—I see no reason to include history among the matters
generally treated in Sacred Books. It is right, however, to note in
passing that in these two instances it is found in them.

2. Since, however, it will be obvious to all that these great topics
are discussed in many other works which have no pretension to be
thought sacred, we must seek for some further and more definite
criterion by which to separate them from general literature. And we
shall find it in the _manner_ in which the above-named subjects are
treated. The great distinction between sacred and non-sacred writings
in their manner of dealing with these great questions is the tone of
authority, and if the expression may be used, of finality, assumed
by the former. There is no appeal beyond them to a higher authority
than their own. Having God as their author and inspirer, or being the
product of the supreme elevation of reason, they take for granted
that human beings will not question or cavil at their statements.
While other writers, when seeking to enforce the doctrines of any
positive religion, invariably rest their contentions, implicitly or
explicitly, on some superior authority, referring their readers or
hearers either to the Vedas, the Koran, the Bible, the Church, or
some other recognized standard of belief and would think it in the
last degree presumptuous to claim assent except to what can be found
in or deduced from that standard; while those teachers who are not
the exponents of any positive, revealed religion, endeavor to prove
their conclusions from the common intuitions or the common reasoning
faculties of mankind; the writers of these books do neither. They seem
to speak with a full confidence that their words need no confirmation
either from authority or from reason. If they tell us the story of the
creation of the world, they do not think it needful to inform us from
what sources the narrative is derived. If they reveal the character of
God, it is without explaining the means by which their insight has been
obtained. If they lay down the rules of religious or moral conduct, it
is not done with the modesty of fallible teachers, but with the voice
of unqualified command emanating from the plentitude of power. Of their
decisions there can be no discussion; from their sentences there is no

3. It corresponds with this character that Sacred Books should very
generally be anonymous; or more strictly speaking, impersonal; that
is, that they should not be put forward in the name of an individual,
and that no individual should take credit for their authorship.
Understanding the expression in this somewhat wider sense, we may
say that anonymity is a general characteristic of this class of
writings. Their authors do not desire to invite attention to their
own personality, or to claim assent on the ground of respect or
consideration towards themselves. On the contrary, they withdraw
entirely from observation; they appear to be thoroughly engrossed in
the greatness of the subject; and to write not from any deliberate
design or with any artistic plan, but simply from the fullness of the
inspiration by which they are controlled. Hence not only are the names
of the authors in most cases completely lost to us, but they have left
us not a hint or an indication by which we could discover what manner
of men they were. Even where the name of a writer has been preserved
to us, it is often rather by some accident altogether independent of
the book, and which in no way alters its anonymous character. We happen
to know, on what seems to be good authority, that Laò-tsé composed
the Taò-tĕ-Kīng, but assuredly there is not a syllable in the work
itself which indicates its author. We happen to know beyond a doubt
that Mahomet composed the Koran; but the theory of the book is that it
had no human author at all, and it was put forth, not as the prophet's
composition, but as the literal reproduction of revelations made to
him from heaven. The most noteworthy exceptions are the prophets of
the Old Testament and the Pauline, Petrine and Johannine Epistles of
the New. But of the prophets, though their names are indeed given, the
great majority are little more than a mere name to us; while large
portions of the prophecies, attributed in the Jewish Canon to some
celebrated prophet, are in reality the work of unknown writers. This is
notoriously the case with the whole of the latter part of our Isaiah;
it is the case with parts of Jeremiah; it is the case with Malachi
(whose real name is not preserved); it is the case with Daniel.

The Pauline Epistles offer indeed a marked exception to the rule; and
some of them are of doubtful authenticity. The Epistles of Peter,
of John, of James and Jude, even if their authorship be correctly
assigned, are of too limited extent to constitute an exception of any
importance. The rest of the Christian Bible follows the rule. Like
the Vedic hymns, like the Sûtras of Buddhism, like the records of
the life and doctrines of Khung-tsé, like the Avesta, all the larger
books of the Bible—except the prophets—are anonymous. The whole of
the historical portion of the Old Testament, the four Gospels, the
Acts of the Apostles, the Epistle to the Hebrews, are—whatever names
tradition may have associated with them—strictly the production of
unknown authors. This characteristic is one of very high importance,
because it indicates—along with another which I am about to mention—the
spirit in which these works were written. They were written as it were
unconsciously and undesignedly; not of course without a knowledge on
the writer's part of what he was about, but without that conscious and
distinct intention of composing a literary work with which ordinary
men sit down to write a book. Flowing from the depths of religious
feeling, they were the reflection of the age that brought them forth.
Generations past and present, nations, communities, brotherhoods of
believers, spoke in them and through them. They were not only the work
of him who first uttered them or wrote them; others worked with him,
thought with him, spoke with him; they were not merely the voice of an
individual, but the voice of an epoch and of a people. Hence the utter
absence of any apparent and palpable authorship, the disappearance of
the individual in the grandeur of the subject. This phenomenon is not
indeed quite peculiar to Sacred Books. It belongs also to those great
national epics which likewise express the feelings of whole races and
communities of men; to the Mahâbhârata, to the Râmâyana, to the Iliad
and the Odyssey, to the Volsungen and Nibelungen Sagas, to the Eddas,
to the legends of King Arthur and his knights. These poems, or these
poetical tales, are anonymous, and they occupy in the veneration of the
people a rank which is second only to that of books actually sacred. In
some other respects they bear a resemblance to Sacred Books, but these
books differ from them in one important particular, which of itself
suffices to place them in a different category. What that particular is
must now be explained.

4. If I were to describe it by a single word, I should call it their
_formlessness_. The term is an awkward one, but I know of no other
which so exactly describes this most peculiar feature of Sacred Books.
Like the earth in its chaotic condition before creation, they are
"without form." That artistic finish, that construction, combination
of parts into a well-defined edifice, that arrangement of the whole
work upon an apparent plan, subservient to a distinct object, which
marks every other class of the productions of the human mind, is
entirely wanting to them. They read not unfrequently as if they had
been carelessly jotted down without the smallest regard to order, or
the least attention to the effect to be produced on the mind of the
reader. Sometimes they may even be said to have neither beginning,
middle, nor end. We might open them anywhere and close them anywhere
without material difference. Sometimes there is a distinct progress
in the narrative, but it is nevertheless wholly without methodical
combination of the separate parts into a well-ordered whole. Herein
they differ also from those poetical Epics which we have found agreeing
with them in being virtually anonymous. Nothing can exceed the grace,
the finish, the perfection of style, of those immortal poems which are
known as Homeric. The northern Epics are indeed simpler, ruder, far
more destitute of literary merit. The first part, for instance, of the
Edda Saemundar (which perhaps ought not to be called an Epic at all) is
to the last degree uncouth and barbarous. But then the subject-matter
of this portion of the Edda is such as belongs properly to Sacred
Books, and had it ever been actually current among the Scandinavians
as a canonical work—of which we have no evidence—it would be entitled
to a place among them. When we come to the second or heroic portion of
this Edda, the case is different. The mode of treatment is still rude
and unattractive, but if, unrepelled by the outward form, we study the
longest of the narratives which this division contains—the Saga of the
Volsungs—we shall discover in it a tale, which for the exquisite pathos
of its sentiments, for the deep and tragic interest which centres
round the principal characters, for the vivid delineation by a few
brief touches of the intensest suffering, is scarcely surpassed even
by the far more finished productions of Hellenic genius. No doubt the
foundation of the story is mythological, and this throws over many of
its incidents a grotesqueness which goes far in modern eyes to mar the
effect. But the mythological incidents of the Iliad and the Odyssey are
grotesque also, and it requires all the genius of the poet to render
them tolerable. Apart from this groundwork, the Volsunga-Saga treats
its personages as human, and claims from its readers a purely human
interest in their various adventures. It relates these adventures in
a connected form, it depicts the feelings of the several actors with
all the sympathy of the dramatist, and draws no moral, teaches no
lesson. In the whole range of sacred literature I recollect nothing
like this. Stories are doubtless told in it, but we are made to feel
that they are subservient to an ulterior purpose. In the Old Testament
and in the New, they serve to enforce the theological doctrines of
the writers; in the works of the Buddhists they generally impress
on the hearers some useful lesson as to the reward of merit, and the
punishment of demerit, in a future existence. Of the genuine and simple
relation of a rather elaborate romance, terminating in itself, there
is probably no instance. Such stories as are related are moral tales,
and not romances; and they are generally too short to absorb, in any
considerable degree, the interest of the reader.

While this is the difference between secular and Sacred Books in
respect of their narrative portions, the sacred are as a whole even
more decidedly below the secular in all that belongs to style and
composition. The dullest historian generally contrives to render his
chronicle more lucid, and therefore more readable, than the authors of
canonical books. In these last there is the most absolute disregard
of artistic or literary excellence. Hence they are, with scarcely
an exception, very tedious reading. M. Renan observes of the Koran
that its continuous perusal is almost intolerable. Burnouf hesitates
to inflict upon his readers the tedium he himself has suffered from
the study of certain Tantras. The inconceivable tediousness of the
Buddhistic Sûtras—excepting the earlier and simpler ones—is well
known to those who have read or attempted to read such works, as,
for instance, the Saddharma Pundarika. The Chinese Classics are
less repulsive, but few readers would care to study them for long
together. The Vedic hymns, though full of mythological interest, are
yet difficult and unpleasant reading, both from their monotony and
the looseness of the connection between each verse and sentence. The
Brâhmanas are barely readable. The Avesta is far from attractive. The
Bible, though vastly superior in this respect to all the rest of its
class, is yet not easy to read for any length of time without fatigue.
Doubtless, if taken as a special study, with a view to something
which we desire to ascertain from it, we may without difficulty read
large portions at a time; yet we see that Christians, who read it
for edification, invariably choose in their public assemblies to
confine themselves to very moderate sections of it indeed, while they
will listen to sermons of many times the length. There can be little
doubt that a similar practice is pursued in private devotion. Single
chapters, or at most a few chapters, are selected; these are perused,
and perhaps made the object of meditation; but even the most fervent
admirers of the Bible would probably find it difficult to read through
its longer books without pausing. They do not, so to speak, "carry us
on." It was essential to dwell on this tediousness of Sacred Books,
because it forms one of their most marked characteristics. Nor does
it arise, as is often the case, from indifference or aversion on the
part of the reader. Other books repel us because we have no interest
in the subjects with which they deal. In these, the keenest interest
in the subjects with which they deal will not suffice to render their
presentation tolerable.

                   SECTION I.—THE THIRTEEN KING.[37]

Sacred Books in general are in China termed _King_. But as the Chinese
Buddhists have their own sacred literature, and as Taouists are in
possession of a sacred work of their founder, Laò-tsé, I call the
Books of the State religion, that is, of the followers of Confucius,
_the_ King _par excellence_. For Confucianism is the official creed
of the Government of China, and the Confucian Canon forms the subject
of the Civil Service examinations which qualify for office. According
to a competent authority, "a complete knowledge of the whole of them,
as well as of the standard notes and criticisms by which they are
elucidated, is an indispensable condition towards the attainment of the
higher grades of literary and official rank" (Chinese, vol. ii. p. 48).

The writings now recognized as especially sacred in China are "the
five King," and "the four Shoo."[38] _King_ is a term of which the
proper signification is "the warp, the chain of a web: thence that
which progresses equally, that which constitutes a fundamental law,
the normal. Applied to books, it indicates those that are regarded as
canonical; as an absolute standard, either in general or with reference
to some definite object" (T. T. K., p. lxviii). In the words of another
Sinologue, it is "the Rule, the Law, a book of canonical authority, a
classical book" (L. T., p. ix). The word seems therefore on the whole
to correspond most nearly to what we mean by a "canonical book." _Shoo_
means "Writings or Books." The four Shoo, of which I shall speak first,
are these:—A 1. The Lun Yu, or Digested Conversations (of Confucius). A
2. The Ta Hëo, or Great Learning. A 3. The Chung Yung, or Doctrine of
the Mean. A 4. The Works of Mang-tsze, or Mencius. The five King are
these:—B 1. The Yih, or Book of Changes (Noticed in Pauthier, p. 137).
B 2. The Shoo, or Book of History. B 3. The She, or Book of Poetry. B
4. The Le Ke, or Record of Rites. B 5. The Ch'un Ts'ëw, or Spring and
Autumn, a chronicle of events from B. C. 721-B. C. 480. The oldest
enumeration specified only the five King, to which the Yoke, or Record
of Music (now in the Le Ke), was sometimes added, making six. There was
also a division into nine King; and in the compilation made by order of
Táe-Tsung (who reigned in the 7th century A. D.) there are specified
thirteen King, which consist of:[39]—1-7. The five King, including
three editions of the Ch'un Ts'ëw. 8. The Lun Yu (A 1). 9. Mang-tsze
(A 4). 10. The Chow Le, or Ritual of Chow. 11. The E Le, or Ceremonial
Usages. 12. The Urh Ya, a sort of ancient dictionary. 13. The Heaou
King, or Classic of Filial Piety. The apparent omission of the Ta Hëo
(A 2) and the Chung Yung (A 3) is accounted for by the fact that both
are included in the Le Ke (B 4). The only works which it is at present
in my power to speak of in detail are those classified as A 1 to A 4,
and as B 2.

The authenticity of these works is considered to be above reasonable
suspicion; for though an emperor who reigned in the third century B.
C., did indeed order (B. C. 212) that they should all be destroyed,
yet this emperor died not long after the issue of his edict, which was
formally abrogated after twenty-two years; and subsequent dynasties
took pains to preserve and recover the missing volumes. As it is of
course improbable that every individual would obey the frantic order
of the emperor who enjoined their destruction, there appears to be
sufficient ground for Dr. Legge's conclusion, that we possess the
actual works which were already extant in the time of Confucius, or (in
so far as they referred to him) were compiled by his disciples or their
immediate successors.

                     SUBDIVISION 1.—_The Lun Yu._

1. The first of the four Books is the Lun Yu, or "Digested
Conversations." From internal evidence it seems to have been compiled
in its actual form, not by the immediate disciples of Confucius, but
by their disciples. Its date would be "about the end of the fourth,
or beginning of the fifth, century before Christ;" that is, about 400
B.C. It bears a nearer resemblance to the Christian Gospels than any
other book contained in the Chinese Classics, being in fact a minute
account, by admiring hands, of the behavior, character, and doctrine,
of the great Master, Confucius. Since, however, it contains no notice
of the events of his life in chronological order, it answers much more
accurately to the description given by Papais of the "λόγι" composed
by Matthew in the Hebrew dialect than to that of any of our canonical

Biographical materials may indeed be discovered in it; but they
occur only as incidental allusions, subservient to the main object
of preserving a record of his sayings. In the minute and painstaking
mode in which this task is performed there is even a resemblance to
Boswell's "Johnson;" as in that celebrated work, we have as it were
a photographic picture of the great man's conversation, taken by a
reverent and humble follower. And as there is a total absence of
that fondness for the marvelous and that tendency to exaggerate the
Master's powers which so generally characterize traditional accounts
of religious teachers, we may fairly infer that we have here a
trustworthy, and in the main, accurate representation of Confucius'
personality and of his teaching. As I have largely drawn upon this work
in writing the Life of that prophet, I need not now detain the reader
with any further quotations.

                     SUBDIVISION 2.—_The Ta Hëo._

Passing to the Ta Hëo, or Great Learning, we find ourselves occupied
with a book which bears the same kind of relationship to the Lun Yu as
the Epistle to the Hebrews does to the Gospels. This work is altogether
of a doctrinal character; and as in the Epistle, the exposition of
the doctrines is by no means so clear and simple as in the oral
instructions of the founder of the school. The Ta Hëo is attributed by
Chinese tradition to K'ung Keih, the grandson of Confucius; but its
authorship is in fact, like that of the Epistle, unknown. It was added
to the Le Ke, or Record of Rites, in the second century A.D.

It begins with certain paragraphs which are attributed, apparently
without authority, to Confucius; and all that follows is supposed to be
a commentary on this original text. The text begins thus:—

1. "What the Great Learning teaches, is—to illustrate illustrious
virtue; to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest

4. "The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout
the Empire, first ordered well their own States. Wishing to order
well their States, they first regulated their families. Wishing to
regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing
to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing
to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their
thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended
to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the
investigation of things."

After a few more verses of text, we come to the "Commentary of the
philosopher Tsang," which is mainly occupied with what purports to be
an explanation of the process described in the foregoing verses. For
instance, the sixth chapter "explains making the thoughts sincere,"
the seventh, "rectifying the mind and cultivating the person;" until
at last we arrive at the right manner of conducting "the government of
the State, and the making of the Empire peaceful and happy." The object
of the treatise is therefore practical, and the subject a favorite one
with the Chinese Classics, that of Government. Great stress is laid on
the influence of a good example on the part of the ruler; and those
model sovereigns, "Yaou and Shun," are appealed to as illustrations
of its good effect in such hands as theirs. In the course of the
exposition of these principles, we meet with dry maxims of political
economy, worthy of modern times, such as this:—

"There is a great course also for the production of wealth. Let the
producers be many and the consumers few. Let there be activity in the
production, and economy in the expenditure. Then the wealth will always
be sufficient" (Ta Hëo).

                   SUBDIVISION 3.—_The Chung Yung._

The composition of the Chung Yung, or "Doctrine of the Mean," is
universally attributed in China to K'ung Keih, or Tsze-sze, the
grandson of Confucius. The external evidence of his authorship is, in
Dr. Legge's opinion, sufficient; though if that which he has produced
be all that is extant, it does not seem to be at all conclusive. Some
quotations from it have already been made in the notice of Confucius,
many of whose utterances are contained in it.

Its principal object is, or seems to be, to inculcate the excellence
of what is called "the Mean," but the explanation of what is intended
by the Mean is far from clear. The course of the Mean, however, is
that taken by the sage; the virtue which is according to the Mean is
perfect; the superior man embodies it in his practice; ordinary men
cannot keep to it; mean men act contrary to it; and Shun, a model
emperor, "determined the Mean" between the bad and good elements in
men, "and employed it in his government of the people." The Mean, from
the attributes thus assigned to it, would appear to be a state of
complete and hardly attainable moral perfection, of which they who have
offered an example in their conduct have (at least in modern times)
been rare indeed. In the beginning of the treatise we learn that:—

1. "What Heaven has conferred is called THE NATURE; an accordance with
this nature is called THE PATH _of duty_; the regulation of this path
is called INSTRUCTION."

4. "While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow or joy, the
mind may be said to be in the state of EQUILIBRIUM. When those feelings
have been stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what
may be called the state of HARMONY. This EQUILIBRIUM is the great root
_from which grow all the human actings_ in the world, and this HARMONY
is the universal path _which they all should pursue_" (The italics,
here and in future quotations, are in Legge).

5. "Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and
a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things
will be nourished and flourish" (Chung Yung).

In another part of the work, "the path" is described as not being "far
from the common indications of consciousness;" and the following rule
is laid down with regard to it:—

"When one cultivates to the utmost the principles of his nature, and
exercises them on the principle of reciprocity, he is not far from the
path. What you do not like, when done to yourself, do not do to others"
(Ibid., xiii. 3).

A large and important portion of the goodness required of those who
would walk in the path is sincerity. Sincerity is declared to be the
"way of Heaven" (Ibid., xx. 18), and it is laid down that "it is only
he who is possessed of the most complete sincerity that can exist under
Heaven, who can give its full development to his nature." Having this
power, he is said to be able to give development to the natures of
other men, animals, and things, and even "to assist the transforming
and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth," so that "he may with Heaven
and Earth form a ternion" (Chung Yung, xx. 7).

The doctrine of "Heaven" as a protecting power holds no inconsiderable
place in this short treatise. Thus it is stated that "Heaven, in the
production of things, is surely bountiful to them, according to their
qualities" (Ibid., xvii. 3). "In order to know men" the sovereign "may
not dispense with a knowledge of Heaven" (Ibid., xxii). "The way of
Heaven and Earth may be completely declared in one sentence. They are
without any doubleness, and so they produce things in a manner that is

"The way of Heaven and Earth is large and substantial, high and
brilliant, far reaching and long enduring" (Chung Yung, xxvi. 7, 8).

And in a very high-flown passage on the character of the sage—said to
refer to the author's grandfather—he is spoken of as "the equal of
Heaven" (Ibid., xxxi. 3).

Heaven, however, is not the only superhuman power that is mentioned in
the Chung Yung. In one of its chapters we are told that Confucius thus
expressed himself:—

"How abundantly do spiritual beings display the powers that belong to

"We look for them, but do not see them; we listen to, but do not hear
them; yet they enter into all things, and there is nothing without them.

"They cause all the people in the Empire to fast and purify themselves,
and array themselves in their richest dresses, in order to attend at
their sacrifices. Then, like overflowing water, they seem to be over
the heads, and on the right and left _of their worshipers_" (Chung
Yung, xvi. 1-3).

This positive expression of opinion is scarcely consistent with the
habitual reserve of Kung-tse on subjects of this kind (Lun Yu, vii.
20), and were it not that it rests apparently on adequate authority, we
might be tempted to reject it as apocryphal.

               SUBDIVISION 4.—_The works of Mang-tsze._

The next place in the Chinese Scriptures is occupied by the works
of Mang-tsze, the philosopher Mang, or as he is frequently called,
Mencius. Mang lived nearly two hundred years later than Confucius,
having been born about 371, and having died in 288 B. C. He was not an
original teacher asserting independent authority, and has no claim to
the title of prophet. On the contrary, he was an avowed disciple of
Confucius, to whose _dicta_ he paid implicit reverence, and whom he
quoted with the respect due to the exalted character which the sage had
already acquired in the eyes of his school.

The so-called "Works of Mang" are not original compositions of this
philosopher, but collections of his sayings, resembling the Lun Yu, or
Confucian Analects. Whether he compiled them, or took any part in their
compilation himself, is uncertain. But, considering their character,
the more probable hypothesis seems to be that they were committed to
writing by his friends, or disciples, either during his own life, or
immediately after his death.

The evidence of their antiquity and authenticity must be very briefly
touched upon. The earliest notice of Mang is antecedent to the Ts'in
dynasty (255-206 B. C.), that is, within thirty-three years after his
death. We are indebted for it to Seun K'ing, who "several times makes
mention of" Mang, and who in one chapter of his works, "quotes his
arguments and endeavors to set them aside." In the next place, we have
accounts of him, and references to his writings, in K'ung Foo, prior
to the Han dynasty, that is, before 206 B. C. Thirdly, he is quoted
by writers from 186-178 B. C., under the Han dynasty. About 100 B. C.
occurs the earliest mention now known of Mang's works. It emanates from
Sze-ma Tseen, who attributes to Mang himself the composition of "seven
books." While in a category of the date A. D. 1, the works of Mang are
entered as being "in eleven books;" a discrepancy which has given rise
to perplexities among Chinese scholars, with which we need not concern
ourselves. Suffice it to say, that Mang's works, as we now possess
them, consist only of seven books, and are not known to have ever
consisted of more.

This evidence would appear to be sufficient to prove the antiquity of
the collection, though not its Mencian authorship. Whoever may have
been its author, it was not admitted among the Sacred Books till many
centuries after it had been received among scholars as a valuable,
though not classical, work. Under the Sung dynasty, which began to
reign about A. D. 960-970, the works of Mang were at length placed on a
level with the Lun Yu, as part of the great Bible of China.

On the whole, Mang's writings are of little interest for European
readers, and I shall not trouble mine with any elaborate account of
them. They are mainly occupied with the question of the good government
of the Empire. What constitutes a good ruler? on what principles should
the administration of public affairs be carried on? how can the people
be rendered happy and the whole Empire prosperous? these are the
sort of inquiries that chiefly engaged the attention of Mang, and to
which he sought to furnish satisfactory replies. At the courts of the
monarchs who received him, he inculcated benevolent conduct towards
their subjects, with a paternal regard for their welfare, and sometimes
boldly reproved unjust or negligent rulers. Holding, in common with the
rest of his school, the doctrine of a superintendence of human affairs
by a power named Heaven, he asserted in uncompromising terms the theory
that Heaven expresses its will through the instrumentality of the
people at large. "Vox populi, vox Dei," is the sentiment that animates
the following passage, which contains one of the most courageous
assertions of popular rights to be found in the productions of any age
or country:—

"Wan Chang said, 'Was it the case that Yaou gave the empire to
Shun?'[40] Mencius said, 'No. The emperor cannot give the empire to

"'Yes;—but Shun had the empire. Who gave it to him?'

"'Heaven gave it to him,' was the answer.

"'Heaven gave it to him:—did _Heaven_ confer its appointment on him
with specific injunctions?'

"_Mencius_ replied, 'No. Heaven does not speak. It simply showed its
will by his personal conduct, and his conduct of affairs.'

"'It showed its will by his personal conduct and his conduct of
affairs:—how was this?' Mencius' answer was, 'The empire [? emperor]
can present a man to Heaven, but he cannot make Heaven give that man
the empire. A prince can present a man to the emperor, but he cannot
cause the emperor to make that man a prince. A great officer can
present a man to his prince, but he cannot cause the prince to make
that man a great officer. Yaou presented Shun to Heaven, and the
people accepted him. Therefore I say, Heaven does not speak. It simply
indicated its will by his personal conduct and his conduct of affairs.'

"_Chang_ said, 'I presume to ask how it was that _Yaou_ presented
_Shun_ to Heaven, and Heaven accepted him; and that he exhibited him to
the people, and the people accepted him." _Mencius_ replied, 'He caused
him to preside over the sacrifices, and all the spirits were well
pleased with them;—thus Heaven accepted him. He caused him to preside
over the conduct of affairs, and affairs were well administered, so
that the people reposed under him;—thus the people accepted him. Heaven
gave _the empire_ to him. The people gave it to him. Therefore I said,
The emperor cannot give the empire to another.

"'Shun assisted Yaou in the government for twenty and eight years;—this
was more than man could have done, and was from Heaven. After the
death of Yaou, when the three years' mourning was completed, Shun
withdrew from the son of Yaou to the south of South river. The princes
of the empire, however, repairing to court, went not to the son of
Yaou, but they went to Shun. Singers sang not the son of Yaou, but
they sang Shun. Therefore I said, Heaven _gave him the empire_. It was
after these things that he went to the Middle kingdom, and occupied
the emperor's seat. If he had, _before these things_, taken up his
residence in the palace of Yaou, and had applied pressure to the son
of Yaou, it would have been an act of usurpation, and not the gift of

"'This sentiment is expressed in the words of The great
Declaration,—_Heaven sees according as my people see; Heaven hears
according as my people hear_'" (The Italics are mine.—Mang-tsze, b. 5,
pt. i. ch. v.).

Mang's notion of what a really good government should do is fully
explained at the end of the first part of the first book, in an
exhortation to the king of Ts'e. His Majesty, he observed, should
"institute a government whose action shall all be benevolent," for then
his kingdom will be resorted to by officers of the court, farmers,
merchants, and persons who are aggrieved by their own rulers. The king
must take care "to regulate the livelihood of people," in order that
all may have enough for parents, wives, and children; for "they are
only men of education, who without a certain livelihood, are able to
maintain a fixed heart. As to the people, if they have not a certain
livelihood, it follows that they will not have a fixed heart. And if
they have not a fixed heart, there is nothing which they will not do,
in the way of self-abandonment, of moral deflection, of depravity, and
of wild license. When they have thus been involved in crime, to follow
them up and punish them,—this is to entrap the people. How can such a
thing as entrapping the people be done under the rule of a benevolent
man?" With a view then to their material and moral well-being, mulberry
trees should be planted, the breeding seasons of domestic animals be
carefully attended to, the labor necessary to cultivate farms not be
interfered with, and "careful attention paid to education in schools."
And it has never been known that the ruler in whose State these
things were duly performed "did not attain to the Imperial dignity"
(Mang-tsze, b. 1, pt. i. ch. vii. p. 18-24). The only virtue required
for "the attainment of Imperial sway" is "the love and protection of
the people; with this there is no power which can prevent a ruler from
attaining it" (Ibid., b. 1, pt. i. ch. vii. p. 3). In accordance with
his decided opinions as to the right of the people to be consulted
in the appointment of their rulers, he advised the same king to be
guided entirely by popular feeling in assuming, or not assuming, the
government of a neighboring territory which he had conquered. "If the
people of Yen will be pleased with your taking possession of it, then
do so.... If the people of Yen will not be pleased with your taking
possession of it, then do not do so" (Mang-tsze, b. 1, pt. ii. ch. x.
p. 3).

Mang was something of a political economist as well as a statesman.
There is in his writings a just and striking defense of the division
of labor, in opposition to the primitive simplicity recommended by a
man named Heu Hing, who wished the rulers to cultivate the soil with
their own hands. Mang's answer to Heu Hing's disciple is in the form of
an _ad hominem_ argument, showing that, as Heu Hing himself does not
manufacture his own clothes or make his own pots and pans, but obtains
them in exchange for grain, in order that all his time may be devoted
to agriculture, it is absurd to suppose that government is the only
business which can advantageously be pursued along with husbandry, as
Heu Hing desired (Mang-tsze, b. 1, pt. ii. ch. x. p. 3).

It was not enough, however, in Mang's eyes that a sovereign should
conduct the government of his country in accordance with the great
ethical and economical maxims he laid down; he must also pay strict
attention to the rules of Chinese etiquette. On some occasions Mang
insisted even haughtily on the observance towards himself of these
rules by the princes who wished to see him, even though one of his own
disciples plainly told him that in refusing to visit them because of
their supposed failure to attend to such minutiæ he seemed to him to
be "standing on a small point" (Ibid., b. 3, pt. i. ch. iv). In fact
the "rules of propriety" held in his estimation no less a place than
in that of his Master and predecessor. It is gratifying, however, to
find him admitting that cases may arise where their operation should
be suspended. Indecorous as it is for males and females to "allow
their hands to touch in giving or receiving anything," yet when "a
man's sister-in-law" is drowning he is permitted, and indeed bound to,
"rescue her with the hand." Nay, Mang in his liberality goes further,
and emphatically observes, that "he who would not so rescue a drowning
woman is a wolf" (Mang-tsze, b. 4, pt. i. ch. xvii. p. 1).

The most important doctrine of a moral character dwelt upon by Mang
is that of the essential goodness of human nature, on which he lays
considerable stress. According to him, "the tendency of man's nature
to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards," and it is
shared by all, as all water flows downwards. You may indeed force water
to go upwards by striking it, but the movement is unnatural, and it is
equally contrary to the nature of men to be "made to do what is not
good" (Ibid., b. 6, pt. i. ch. ii. pp. 2, 3). Yaou and Shun were indeed
great men, but all may be Yaous and Shuns, if only they will make the
necessary effort (Ibid., b. 6, pt. ii. ch. ii. pp. 1-5). "_Men's_
mouths agree in having the same relishes; their ears agree in enjoying
the same sounds; their eyes agree in recognizing the same beauty;—shall
their minds alone be without that which they similarly approve?
What is it then of which they similarly approve? It is, I say, the
principles _of our nature_, and the determinations of righteousness.
The sages only apprehended before me that of which my mind approves
along with other men. Therefore the principles of our nature and the
determinations of righteousness are agreeable to my mind, just as
the flesh of grass [?-fed] and grain-fed animals is agreeable to my
mouth" (Mang-tsze, b. 6, pt. i. ch. vii. p. 8). It ought not to be
said that any man's mind is without benevolence and righteousness. But
men lose their goodness as "the trees are denuded by axes and bills."
The mind, "hewn down day after day," cannot "retain its beauty." But
"the calm air of the morning" is favorable to the natural feelings of
humanity, though they are destroyed again by the influences men come
under during the day. "This fettering takes place again and again,"
and as "the restorative influence of the night" is insufficient to
preserve the native hue, "the nature becomes not much different from
that of the irrational animals," and then people suppose it never had
these original powers of goodness. "But does this condition," continues
Mang, "represent the feelings proper to humanity?" (Ibid., b. 6, pt.
i. ch. viii. p. 2). What some of these feelings are he has plainly
told us. Commiseration, shame, and dislike, modesty and complaisance,
approbation and disapprobation, are according to him four principles
which men have just as they have their four limbs. The important point
for all men to attend to is their development, for if they are but
completely developed, "they will suffice to love and protect all within
the four seas" (Ibid., b. 2, pt. i. ch. vi. pp. 5-7). And in another
place he insists on the importance of studying and cultivating the
nature which he asserts to be thus instinctively virtuous. "He who has
exhausted all his mental constitution knows his nature. Knowing his
nature, he knows Heaven.

"To preserve one's mental constitution, and nourish one's nature, is
the way to serve Heaven" (Ibid., b. 7, pt. i. ch. i. pp. 1, 2).

The moral tone of Mang's writings is exalted and unbending, and evinces
a man whose character will bear comparison with those of the greatest
philosophers or most eminent Christians of the western world.

                    SUBDIVISION 5.—_The Shoo King._

In this work are contained the historical memorials of the Chinese
Empire. The authentic history of China extends, as is well known, to an
earlier date than that of any extant nation. It possesses records of
events that occurred more than two thousand years before the Christian
era, although these events are intermixed with fabulous incidents.
"From the time of T'ang the Successful, however," Dr. Legge informs us,
"commonly placed in the eighteenth century before Christ, we seem to
be able to tread the field of history with a somewhat confident step"
(C. C., vol. iii. Proleg., p. 48). The exact dates, however, cannot be
fixed with certainty till the year 775 B. C. "Twenty centuries before
our era the Chinese nation appears, beginning to be" (Ibid., p. 90).

Without entering into the history of the text of the Shoo King, it
may be stated that its fifty-eight books may probably be accepted as
"substantially the same with those which were known to Seun-tsze,
Mencius, Mih-tsze, Confucius himself, and others" (C. C., vol. iii.
Proleg., p. 48).

Its earliest books—which must be regarded as in great part
legendary—contain accounts of three Chinese Emperors—Yaou, Shun,
and Yu—whose conduct is held up as a model to future ages, and who
represent the _beau idéal_ of a ruler to the Chinese mind.

These admirable sovereigns were succeeded by men of very inferior
virtue. T'ae-k'ang (B. C. 2187), the grandson of Yu, "pursued his
pleasure and wanderings without any restraint." An insurrection against
his authority took place, and his five brothers took occasion to
admonish him by repeating "the cautions of the great Yu in the form of
songs." The first of these songs may be quoted as a good specimen of
the doctrine of the Shoo King with reference to the imperial duties:—

    "It was the lesson of our great ancestor:—
    The people should be cherished;
    They should not be down-trodden:
    The people are the root of a country;
    The root firm, the country is tranquil.
    When I look throughout the empire,
    Of the simple men and simple women,
    Any one may surpass me,
    If I, the one man, err repeatedly:—
    Should dissatisfaction be waited for till it appears?
    Before it is seen, it should be guarded against.
    In my relation to the millions of the people,
    I should feel as much anxiety as if I were driving six horses with
      rotten reins.
    The ruler of men—
    How can he be but reverent _of his duty_?"[41]

Many successive dynasties, comprising sovereigns of various characters,
succeed these original Emperors. Throughout the Shoo King we find
great stress laid on the doctrine, that the rulers of the land enjoy
the protection of Heaven only so long as their government is good.
Should the prince become tyrannical, dissolute, or neglectful of his
exalted duties, the favor of the Divine Power is withdrawn from him
and conferred upon another, who is thus enabled to drive him from the
throne he is no longer worthy to fill. The emphatic and reiterated
assertion of this revolutionary theory is very remarkable. Thus, a king
who has himself just effected the overthrow of an incompetent dynasty,
is represented as addressing this discourse to the "myriad regions:"—

"Ah! ye multitudes of the myriad regions, listen clearly to the
announcement of me, the one man. The great God has conferred _even_ on
the inferior people a moral sense, compliance with which would show
their nature invariably right (the same doctrine insisted on by Mang).
_But_ to cause them tranquilly to pursue the course which it would
indicate, is the work of the sovereign.

"The king of Hea (the monarch whom the speaker had superseded,)
extinguished his virtue and played the tyrant, extending his oppression
over you, the people of the myriad regions. Suffering from his cruel
injuries, and unable to endure the wormwood and poison, you protested
with one accord your innocence to the spirits of heaven and earth. The
way of Heaven is to bless the good and punish the bad. It sent down
calamities on _the House of_ Hea, to make manifest its crimes.

"Therefore I, the little child, charged with the decree of Heaven and
its bright terrors, did not dare to forgive _the criminal_. I presume
to use a dark-colored victim, and making clear announcement to the
spiritual Sovereign of the high heavens, requested leave to deal with
the ruler of Hea as a criminal. Then I sought for the great sage, with
whom I might unite my strength, to request the favor of Heaven on
behalf of you, my multitudes. High Heaven truly showed its favor to
the inferior people, and the criminal has been degraded and subjected"
(Shoo King, iv. 3. 2).

It is true that this speech, proceeding from an interested party
naturally anxious to set his own conduct in the fairest light, is
liable to suspicion. But there is abundant evidence in the pages of the
Shoo King that the views expressed above were participated in by its
writers, who constantly hold the fate that befalls wicked Emperors as
a punishment from Heaven, and laud those who effect their own downfall
as Heaven's agents. They also frequently introduce sage advisers who
reprove the reigning Emperor for his faults, and admonish him to walk
in the ways of virtue in a spirit of the utmost frankness. One of
these monarchs candidly confesses the benefit he has derived from the
instructions of such a counselor, whose lessons have led him to effect
a complete reformation of his character (Ibid., iv. 5. pt. ii). Another
charged his minister to be constantly presenting instructions to aid
his virtue, and to act towards him as medicine which should cure his
sickness (Ibid., iv. 8. pt. i. 5-8). If, however, a dynasty persisted
in its evil courses, in spite of all the warnings it might receive,
it was doomed to perish. Losing the attachment of the people, it fell
undefended and unregretted. Such was the case with the house of Yin.
The Viscount of Wei, who is stated by old authorities to have been a
brother of the Emperor, thus described its career:—

"The Viscount of Wei spoke to the following effect:—'Grand Tutor and
Junior Tutor, _the House of_ Yin, we may conclude, can no longer
exercise rule over the four quarters of the empire. The great deeds of
our founder were displayed in former ages, but by our being lost and
maddened with wine, we have destroyed _the effects of_ his virtue, in
these after times. The people of Yin, small and great, are given to
highway robberies, villainies, and treachery. The nobles and officers
imitate one another in violating the laws; and for criminals there
is no certainty that they will be apprehended. The lesser people
_consequently_ rise up, and make violent outrages on one another. The
dynasty of Yin is now sinking in ruin;—its condition is like that of
one crossing a large stream, who can find neither ford nor bank. That
Yin should be hurrying to ruin at the present pace!'—

"He added, 'Grand Tutor and Junior Tutor, we are manifesting insanity.
The venerable of our families have withdrawn to the wilds; and now you
indicate nothing, but tell me of the impending ruin;—what is to be

"The Grand Tutor made about the following reply:—'King's son, Heaven in
anger is sending down calamities, and wasting the country of Yin.'" And
after mentioning the crimes of the Emperor, he proceeds:—"'When ruin
overtakes Shang, I will not be the servant _of another dynasty_. _But_
I tell you, O king's son, to go away as being the course _for you_....
Let us rest quietly in our several parts, and present ourselves to the
former kings. I do not think of making my escape'" (Shoo King, iv. 11).

In another portion of the Shoo the causes which lead to the
preservation or loss of Heaven's favor are thus described by "The Duke
of Chow:"—"The favor of Heaven is not easily preserved. Heaven is hard
to be depended on. Men lose its favoring appointment because they
cannot pursue and carry out the reverence and brilliant virtue of their
forefathers." Again:—"Heaven is not to be trusted. Our course is simply
to seek the prolongation of the virtue of the Tranquilizing king, and
Heaven will not find occasion to remove its favoring decree which King
Wan received" (Shoo King, xvi. 1).

The paramount importance to the national welfare of a wise selection
of ministers and officials receives its full share of attention in the
Chinese Bible. The Duke of Ts'in, another province of the Empire, is
represented as speaking thus:—

"I have deeply thought and concluded;—Let me have but one resolute
minister, plain and sincere, without other abilities, but having a
simple, complacent mind, and possessed of generosity, regarding the
talents of others, as if he himself possessed them: and when he finds
accomplished and sage-like men, loving them in his heart more than
his mouth expresses, really showing himself able to bear them:—such a
minister would be able to preserve my descendants and my people, and
would indeed be a giver of benefits" (Shoo King, v. 30. See also v. 19.

These extracts, without giving an adequate notion of the very
miscellaneous contents of the Shoo King, a work which could not be
accomplished without an undue extension of the subdivision referring
to it, will serve to show that its moral tone on matters relating
to the government of a nation is not inferior to that of any of the
productions of classical or Hebrew antiquity.

                    SUBDIVISION 6.—_The She King._

Whatever sanctity or authority may attach to the She King in the minds
of the Chinese, must belong to it solely on account of its antiquity,
for there is certainly nothing in the character of its contents that
should entitle it to a place in the consecrated literature of a nation.
Similar phenomena, however, are not unknown among more devout races
than the Chinese. Thus the Hebrews admitted into their Canon the Books
of Ruth and Esther, and the Song of Solomon, which contain but little
of an edifying nature, though full of human interest. The same may be
said of the She King. The play of human emotions is vividly represented
in it, but there is not much in which moral or religious lessons are to
be found, except by doing violence to the text.

The She King is a collection of ancient poems. Tradition attributes the
arrangement and selection of the Odes now contained in it to Confucius,
who is supposed to have selected them in accordance with some wise
design from a much larger number. The present translator, however,
assigns reasons for rejecting this tradition, and for believing that
the She King was current in China long before his time in a form not
very different from that in which we now possess it. At the present
day, its songs have not lost their ancient popularity, for it is
stated that they are "the favorite study of the better informed at
the present remote period. Every well-educated Chinese has the most
celebrated pieces by heart, and there are constant allusions to them in
modern poetry and writings of all kinds" (Davis' Chinese, ii. 60).

The poems, which were collected from many different provinces, relate
to a great variety of subjects. Some are political, some domestic, some
sacrificial, others festive. We have rulers addressing the princes of
their kingdom in laudatory terms, and princes in their turn extolling
the ruler; complaints of unemployed politicians, and groans from
oppressed subjects; husbands deploring their absence from their wives
on military service; forlorn wives longing for the return of absent
husbands; stanzas written by lovers to their mistresses, and maidens'
invocations of their lovers; along with a few allusions to amatory
transactions of a more questionable character. All these miscellaneous
matters are treated in short, simple, and rather monotonous poems,
which, if they have any beauty in the original, have completely
lost it in the process of translation. There is sometimes pathos in
the feelings uttered; but the expressions are of the most direct
and unornamental kind, and the whole book partakes largely of that
artlessness which we have noted as one of the ordinary marks of Sacred

A few specimens will suffice. Here is the "protest of a widow against
being urged to marry again:"—

    1. "It floats about, that boat of cypress wood,
    There in the middle of the Ho.
    With his two tufts of hair falling over his forehead;
    He was my mate;
    And I swear that till death I will have no other.
    O mother, O Heaven,
    Why will you not understand me?

    2. "It floats about, that boat of cypress wood,
    There by the side of the Ho.
    With his two tufts of hair falling over his forehead;
    He was my only one;
    And I swear that till death I will not do the evil thing.
    O mother, O Heaven,
    Why will you not understand me?"[42]

In the following lines a young lady begs her lover to be more cautious
in his advances, and that in a tone which may remind us of Nausikaa's
request to Odysseus to walk at some distance behind her, lest the
busybodies of the town should take occasion to gossip:—

    1. "I pray you, Mr. Chung,
    Do not come leaping into my hamlet;
    Do not break my willow-trees.
    Do I care for them?
    But I fear my parents.
    You, O Chung, are to be loved,
    But the words of my parents
    Are also to be feared.

    2. "I pray you, Mr. Chung,
    Do not come leaping over my wall;
    Do not break my mulberry-trees.
    Do I care for them?
    But I fear the words of my brothers.
    You, O Chung, are to be loved,
    But the words of my brothers
    Are also to be feared.

    3. "I pray you, Mr. Chung,
    Do not come leaping into my garden;
    Do not break my sandal-trees.
    Do I care for them?
    But I dread the talk of people.
    You, O Chung, are to be loved,
    But the talk of people
    Is also to be feared."[43]

The following Ode, conceived in a different spirit, will serve to
illustrate one of the most prominent features of Chinese character as
depicted in these ancient books,—its filial piety. It is supposed to
be the composition of a young monarch who has just succeeded to the
government of his kingdom:—

    "Alas for me, who am [as] a little child,
    On whom has devolved the unsettled State!
    Solitary am I and full of distress.
    Oh my great Father,
    All thy life long, thou wast filial.

    "Thou didst think of my great grandfather,
    [Seeing him, as it were] ascending and descending in the court.
    I, the little child,[44]
    Day and night will be so reverent.
    "Oh ye great kings,
    As your successor, I will strive not to forget you."[45]

                   SUBDIVISION 7.—_The Ch'un Ts'ëw._

According to Chinese tradition, the Ch'un Ts'ëw, or Spring and Autumn,
was the production of Confucius himself; not indeed his original
composition, but a compilation made by him from preëxisting sources.
The title of Ch'un Ts'ëw was not of his own making. It was the name
already in use for the annals of the several States. The annals were
arranged under the four seasons of each year, and then two of the
seasons—Spring and Autumn—were used as an abbreviated term for all the
four. And so strictly is this principle of parceling out the annals of
each year under the several seasons adhered to in the work, that even
when there is no event to be recorded we have such entries as these:
"It was summer, the fourth month." "It was winter, the tenth month."

The classical Ch'un Ts'ëw was compiled from the Ch'un Ts'ëw of the
State of Loo. It is even doubtful whether Confucius did anything more
than copy what he found in the annals of that country. Dr. Legge
evidently inclines to the belief that he altered nothing. At any rate,
the work can only be regarded as very particularly his own. More than
this, it is questionable whether the text we have at present is that of
the original Ch'un Ts'ëw at all. This classic is indeed said to have
been recovered in the Han dynasty after the destruction of the book.
But there are circumstances which may well make us hesitate before
we accept the Chinese account of this recovery as a fact. Mang, who
had the best opportunities of knowing what his master was believed to
have written, if not what he actually had written, speaks of the Ch'un
Ts'ëw in terms wholly inapplicable to the work before us. He asserts
expressly that it was composed by him because right principles had
dwindled away, because unseemly language and unrighteous deeds were
common, and he attributes to its completion the result that "rebellious
ministers and villainous sons were struck with terror." Now we may
allow what limits we please for the exaggeration natural to a disciple
when speaking of the labors of a revered master. But can we believe
that Mang, a man whose own teaching proves him to have been a moderate
and sensible thinker, would have spoken thus of a compilation which
from beginning to end contains absolutely no moral principles whatever?
Yet such is the case with the "Spring and Autumn" as we possess it.
There is not in it the faintest glimmer of an ethical judgment on the
historical events which it records. A birth, an eclipse, a fall of
snow, a plague of insects, a murder, a battle, the death of a ruler,
are all chronicled in the same dry, lifeless, unvarying style. Nowhere
would it be possible for an unprejudiced critic to detect the opinions
of the compiler, or to gather from his words that he viewed a virtuous
action with more favor than an abominable crime. Such being the case,
I hesitate, notwithstanding the high authority of Dr. Legge, to accept
the genuineness of this work as beyond cavil.

It has in fact been questioned in China, not indeed on very valid
grounds, by a scholar whose letter he has translated in his
Prolegomena, and he himself candidly acknowledges the extreme
difficulty of reconciling the character of our present text with the
statement of Mang. But he considers the external testimony to the
recovery of the book sufficiently weighty to dispose of this and other
difficulties. Yet, without disputing the strength of the grounds on
which this conclusion rests, we may still permit ourselves to entertain
a modest doubt whether this compilation was really the handiwork of
such a man as we know Confucius to have been, and that doubt will be
strengthened when we recall the common tendency of the popular mind to
connect the authorship of standard works with names of high repute.
And the bare existence of such a doubt will compel us to suspend our
judgment on the very serious charges of misrepresentation and falsehood
which Dr. Legge has brought against Confucius in his capacity of
historian. If the actual Ch'un Ts'ëw be shown to be identical with that
edited by Confucius, and if he simply adopted, without alteration,
or with very trivial alteration, the labors of his predecessors, the
gravity of these charges will be very considerably diminished. For
we know not but what some feeling of respect for that which he found
already recorded may have stayed his hand from revision and improvement.

Passing to the work itself, we shall find little in it worthy of
attention, unless by those who may be desirous of studying the
history of China. Chinese commentators have indeed discovered all
kinds of recondite meanings in it, as is usually the case with the
commentators on Sacred Books, but these are of no more value than the
similar discoveries of types and mystic foreshadowings in the Hebrew
Scriptures. In itself, the text is profoundly uninteresting. Here is
one of the shortest chapters as a specimen. The title of the Book from
which it is taken is "Duke Chwang:"—

 XXVI. 1. "In his twenty-sixth year, in spring, the duke invaded the

 2. "In summer, the duke arrived from the invasion of the Jung.

 3. "Ts'aou put to death one of its great officers.

 4. "In autumn, the duke joined an officer of Sung and an officer of
 Ts'e in invading Seu.

 5. "In winter, in the twelfth month, on Kwei-hae, the first day of the
 moon, the sun was eclipsed" (Ch'un Ts'ëw, iii. 26).

The events noted in these annals refer to various States—for it
appears that the several States were in the habit of communicating
remarkable occurrences to each other—but they are of a very limited
class, and are invariably recorded in the brief manner of the chapter
that has just been quoted. Eclipses of the sun are duly registered,
and the record thus acquires a chronological value of high importance
in historical researches. Among the other facts commonly mentioned
are sacrifices for rain, which occur very frequently; wars, with
the results of great battles; the marriages or deaths of rulers and
important persons; their journeys; occasionally their murder; meetings
of rulers for the purpose of common action in matters of State;
diplomatic missions; invasions of locusts or other troublesome insects;
and lastly, peculiarities of various kinds in the state of the weather.
It is plain that annals of this kind have no religious significance
beyond that which they derive from the mere fact of being reputed
sacred. And in this aspect the Ch'un Ts'ëw is certainly curious. Having
been assigned—rightly or wrongly—to the pen of the prophet of China, it
seems to have become a point of honor with Chinese scholars to extract
from it, by hook or by crook, the profoundest lessons on politics and

                   SECTION II.—THE TAÒ-TĔ-KĪNG.[46]

There are in China three recognized sects or "religiones
licitæ:"—Confucianism, Buddhism, and Tao-ism. We have examined the
Sacred Books of the first; those of the second will come under
review in another section. There remains the comparatively small and
unimportant sect of the Taò-tsé, or "Doctors of Reason," who derive
their origin from Laò-tsé, and who possess as their classic the single
written composition which emanated from their founder. It is entitled
the Taò-tĕ-Kīng.

Ancient as this book is (probably about B.C. 520), there is no reason
to doubt its authenticity.[47] This is sufficiently guaranteed by
quotations from it which are found in authors belonging to the fourth
century B.C., and by the fact that a scholar who wrote in B.C. 163
made it the subject of a commentary, which accompanies it sentence
by sentence. Nor does Chinese tradition state that it perished in
the Burning of the Books (B.C. 212-209), which was a measure leveled
against the Confucian school, and took place under an Emperor who
was favorable to the Taò-tsé. We may safely conclude that we are in
possession of the genuine composition of the ancient philosopher (T. T.
K., lxxiii., lxxiv).

Of the three words which compose its title, King has already been
explained (Supra p. 390-391). The full meaning of Taò will appear in
the sequel: we may here term it the Absolute. Te means Virtue; and the
title would thus imply either that this Canonical Book deals with the
Absolute _and_ with Virtue, or with that kind of virtue which emanates
from, and is founded upon, a belief in and a spiritual union with the

Whatever the signification of its name, its principal subjects
undoubtedly are Taò and Te: the Supreme Principle and human Virtue.
Let us see what is Laò-tsé's description of Taò, the great fundamental
Being on whom his whole system rests. "Taò, if it can be pronounced, is
not the eternal Taò. The Name, if it can be named, is not the eternal
Name. The Nameless One is the foundation of Heaven and Earth; he who
has a Name is the Mother of all beings" (Ch. 1). These enigmatical
sentences open the Taò philosophy. The idea that Taò is unnameable
is a prominent one in the author's mind, although he seems also to
recognize a subordinate creative principle—like the Gnostic Æons—which
is nameable. Thus we read: "Taò, the Eternal has no Name.... He who
begins to create, has a Name" (Ch. 32). Again: "For ever and ever it is
unnameable, and returns into non-existence." Or: "I know not its Name;
if I describe it, I call it Taò" (Ch. 25). We are reminded of Faust's
reply in Goethe:—

    "Ich habe keinen Namen
    Dafür? Gefühl ist alles;
    Name ist Schall und Rauch
    Umnebelnd Himmelsgluth."

Nor is Taò only without a Name; it is sometimes described as if devoid
of all intelligible attributes. Thus, in one chapter, we learn that
it is eternally without action, and yet without non-action (Ch. 37).
Nay, the entire absence of all activity is not unfrequently predicated
of Taò, whose great merit is stated to be complete quiescence. Taò
is moreover incomprehensible, inconceivable, undiscoverable, obscure
(Ch. 21). Its upper part is not clear, its lower part not obscure. It
returns into non-existence. It is the form of the Formless; the image
of the Imageless (Ch. 14). Mysterious as this Being is, yet in other
places attributes are ascribed to it which go far to elucidate the
author's conception of its nature. Productive energy, for instance, is
plainly attributed to Taò, for it is stated that Taò produces one, one
two, and two three, while three produces all creatures (Ch. 32). The
following account is less mystical: "Taò produces them [creatures],
its Might preserves them, its essence forms them, its power perfects
them: therefore of all beings there is none that does not adore Taò,
and honor its Might. The adoration of Taò, the honoring of its Might,
is commanded by no one and is always spontaneous. For Taò produces
them, preserves them, brings them up, fashions them, perfects them,
ripens them, cherishes them, protects them. To produce and not possess,
to act and not expect, to bring up and not control, this is called
sublime Virtue."[49] In addition to these creative and preservative
qualities, it has moral attributes of the highest order. Thus, its
Spirit is supremely trustworthy. In it is faithfulness (Ch. 21). All
beings trust to it in order to live. When a work is completed, it does
not call it its own. Loving and nourishing all beings, it still does
not lord it over them. It is eternally without desire. All beings turn
to it, yet it does not lord it over them (Ch. 34). It is eminently
straightforward. It dwells only with those who are not occupied with
the luxuries of this world (Ch. 53). Nay, it is altogether perfect (Ch.
25). The last assertion is found in a chapter which, as it is probably
the most important in the book for the purpose of understanding the
theology of the author, deserves to be translated in full:—"There
existed a Being, inconceivably perfect, before Heaven and Earth arose.
So still! so supersensible! It alone remains and does not change.
It pervades all and is not endangered. It may be regarded as the
Mother of the World. I know not its name; if I describe it, I call
it Taò. Concerned to give it a Name, I call it Great; as great, I
call it Immense; as immense, I call it Distant; as distant, I call it
Returning. For Taò is great; Heaven is great; the Earth is great; the
King is also great. In the world there are many kinds of greatness,
and the King remains one of them. The measure of Man is the earth; the
measure of earth, Heaven; the measure of Heaven, Taò; Taò's measure

Such is the picture of Taò; but the Taò-tĕ-Kīng is much more than a
treatise on theology; it is even more conspicuously a treatise on
morals. Taò is indeed the transcendental foundation on which the
ethical superstructure is raised; but the superstructure occupies
a much more considerable space than the foundation, and seems to
have been the main practical end for which the latter was laid down.
Intermingled with the image of Taò we find the image of the good man,
or, as we may call him, in Scriptural phraseology, the righteous man;
an ideal of perfect virtue, whom the author holds up, not as an actual
person, but as an imaginary model for the guidance of human conduct.
By putting together the scattered traits of his character, we may
arrive at a tolerable comprehension of the author's conception of
perfect goodness. In the first place, the righteous man is in harmony
in his actions with Taò; he becomes one with Taò, and Taò rejoices
to receive him (Ch. 23). He places himself in the background, and
by that very means is brought forward (Ch. 7). He does not regard
himself, and therefore shines; he is not just to himself, and is
therefore distinguished; does not praise himself, and is therefore
meritorious; does not exalt himself, and is therefore preëminent. As
he does not dispute, none can dispute with him (Ch. 22). If he acts,
he sets no store by his action; for he does not wish to render his
wisdom conspicuous (Ch. 77). He knows himself, but does not regard
himself; loves himself, but does not set a high price on himself (Ch.
72). Unwilling lightly to promise great things, he is thereby able
to accomplish the more; by treating things as difficult, he finds
nothing too difficult during his whole life (Ch. 63). Inaccessible
alike to friendship and enmity, uninfluenced by personal advantage or
injury, by honor or dishonor, he is honored by all the world (Ch. 56).
He is characterized by quiet earnestness; should he possess splendid
palaces, he inhabits them or quits them with equal calm (Ch. 26).
He clothes himself in wool (a very coarse material in China), and
hides his jewels (Ch. 70). He is ever ready to help others; for the
good man is the educator of the bad, the bad man the treasure of the
good (Ch. 27). "The righteous man does not accumulate. The more he
spends on others, the more he has; the more he gives to others, the
richer he is" (Ch. 81). "He who knows others is clever; he who knows
himself is enlightened" (Ch. 33). Thus the sage, like Socrates, makes
νῶθι σéαντον a main principle of his conduct. Should he be called
to the administration of the realm, he adopts a policy of _laisser
faire_, for he has observed the evils produced by over-legislation.
It is his belief that if he be inactive, the people will improve by
themselves; if he be quiet, they will become honorable; if he abstain
from intermeddling, they will become rich; if he be free from desires,
they will become simple (Ch. 57). Compelled to engage in war, he will
not make use of conquest to triumph or exalt himself, neither will he
take violent measures (Ch. 30). Mercy is a quality that must not be
despised; the merciful will conquer in battle (Ch. 67). Endowed with
these characteristics, the good man need fear nothing. Like Horace's

  "Integer vitæ scelerisque purus,"

he is preserved from danger. The horn of the rhinoceros, the claws of
the tiger, the blade of the sword, cannot hurt him (Ch. 50). He is like
a new-born child: serpents do not sting it, nor wild beasts seize it,
nor birds of prey attack it.[51]

A few features, which do not directly enter into the delineation of the
character of the sage, must still be added to complete that image. And
first, a prominent place must be assigned to a quality which is a large
ingredient in Laò-tsé's conception of goodness, both human and divine.
It is that of gentleness, or, as he would call it, weakness. It is a
favorite principle of his, that the weak things of the earth overcome
the strong, and that they overcome in virtue of that very weakness. He
has an aversion to all conspicuous exercise of force. The deity of his
philosophy is one who is indeed all-powerful, but who never displays
his power. The method of Heaven—and it should also be that of man—is
_apparent_ yielding, leading to real supremacy. "It strives not, yet is
able to overcome. It speaks not, yet is able to obtain an answer. It
summons not, yet men come to it of their own accord; is long-suffering,
yet is able to succeed in its designs" (Ch. 73). The superiority of
the weak—or the seeming weak—to the strong, is further illustrated
by Laò-tsé in several parallels. We enter life soft and feeble; we
quit it hard and strong. Therefore softness and feebleness are the
companions of life; hardness and strength of death (Ch. 76). And does
not the wife overcome her husband by her quietness? (Ch., 61.) Is not
water the softest and weakest of all things in the world, yet is there
anything which ever attacks the hard and strong that is able to surpass
it? (Ch., 78.) Thus, the most yielding of all substances overcomes the
most inflexible. Hence is manifest the advantage of inactivity and of
silence (Ch. 43). It is fully in accordance with these notions that
Laò-tsé should distinctly deprecate warfare, and should assert that the
most competent general will not be warlike. Calmly conscious of his
power, he is not quarrelsome or eager for battle, and thus possessing
the virtue of peaceable and patient strength, he becomes the peer
of Heaven (Ch. 68). War is altogether to be condemned, as pregnant
with calamity to the state (Ch. 30). "The most beauteous weapons are
instruments of misfortune; all creatures abhor them; therefore he who
has Taò does not employ them." They are not the instruments of the wise
man. If he must needs resort to them, yet he still values peace and
quietness as the highest aims. He conquers with reluctance. "He who has
killed many men, let him weep for them with grief and compassion. He
who has conquered in battle, let him stand as at a funeral pomp" (Ch.

Another striking characteristic of Laò-tsé's moral system is his
dislike of luxury, and his earnest injunction to all men to be
contented with modest circumstances. We have seen that the sage is
depicted as wearing coarse clothing, and Laò-tsé considers that the
very presence of considerable riches indicates the absence of Taò from
the minds of their possessors. As we should express it, the devotion
to worldly wealth is inconsistent with a spiritual life. "To wear fine
clothes, to carry sharp swords, to be filled with drink and victuals,
to have a superfluity of costly gems, this is to make a parade of
robbery (Or, this is "magnificent robbery," O. P., p. 41); truly not
to have Taò" (Ch. 53). Moreover, the very pomp of the palace leads
to uncultivated fields and empty barns (Ibid). Laò-tsé therefore
warns every one not to consider his abode too narrow or his life too
confined. If we do not think it too confined, it will not be so (Ch.
72). Nay, he goes further, and asserts that the world is best known by
staying at home. The further a man goes, the less he knows (Ch. 47).
A truly virtuous and well-governed people will never care to travel
beyond its own limits. To such a people its food will be so sweet, its
clothing so beautiful, its dwellings so comfortable, and its customs
so dear, that it will never visit the territory of its neighbors, even
though that territory should lie so close that the cackling of the hens
and the barking of the dogs may be heard across the boundary (Ch. 80).

It results from the above exposition of his ethical principles that
Laò-tsé insists mainly upon three virtues: Modesty, Benevolence, and
Contentment. "For my part," he says himself, "I have three treasures; I
guard them and greatly prize them. The first is called Mercy,[52] the
second is called Frugality, the third is called Not daring to be first
in the kingdom. Mercy—therefore I can be brave; Frugality—therefore I
can give away; Not daring to be first in the kingdom—therefore I can
become the first of the gifted ones" (Ch. 67).

       *       *       *       *       *

Of all the sacred books, the Taò-tĕ-Kīng is the most philosophical.
It stands, indeed, on the borderland between a revelation and a
system of philosophy, partaking to some extent of the nature of both.
Since, however, it forms the fundamental classic of a religious
sect, and since it has engaged in its interpretation a multitude of
commentators,[53] it appears to be fully entitled to a place among
Scriptures. Not indeed that the Chinese regard it as a revelation in
the same sense in which nations of a more theological cast of mind
apply that term to the books composing their Canon. But I see no reason
to doubt that the Taò-tsé, however little they attend to its precepts,
yet treat it as a work of unapproachable perfection and unquestionable
truth. Indeed, the writer of a fabulous life of Laò-tsé, who lived many
centuries after his death, expressly ascribes to it those peculiar
qualities which, as we have seen, are the special attributes of sacred
books (L. V. V., pp. xxxi., xxxii).

To the European reader who approaches it for the first time it
will probably appear a perplexing study. Participating largely in
that disorder and confusedness which characterizes the class of
literature to which it belongs, it presents, in addition, considerable
difficulties peculiarly its own. The correct translation of many
passages is doubtful. The sense of still more is ambiguous and obscure.
Laò-tsé is fond of paradox, and his constant employment of paradoxical
antithesis seems specially designed to puzzle the reader. If his
doctrine was understood by few, it must be confessed that this was
partly his own fault. Moreover, the reverence with which he speaks of
Taò, and the care with which he insists that Taò does nothing, seem
at first sight inconsistent. We feel ourselves in an atmosphere of
hopeless mysticism. Nevertheless, these superficial troubles vanish,
or at least retire into the background, after repeated perusals of the
work. There are few books that gain more on continued acquaintance.
Every successive study reveals more and more of a wisdom and a beauty
which we miss at first in the obscurity and strangeness of the style.

And first, Taò itself turns out to be a less incomprehensible and
contradictory being than we originally supposed. For although he may
sometimes be spoken of as doing nothing, or even as destitute of all
distinct qualities, yet other attributes expressly exclude the notion
of absolute inaction. A being which creates, cherishes and loves, and
in which all the world implicitly trusts, is not the kind of nonentity
that can be described as wholly devoid of "action, thought, judgment,
and intelligence."[54] Moreover, it is to be borne in mind that the
sage is to imitate Taò in the quality—for which he is highly lauded—of
doing nothing. The two pictures, that of Taò and his follower, must
be held side by side in order to be correctly understood. Now what is
the peculiar beauty, from a philosophical point of view, of the order
of Nature? It is that all its parts harmoniously perform their several
offices, without any violent or conspicuous intrusion of the presiding
principle which guides them all.

Other teachers, indeed, have seen God mainly in violent and convulsive
manifestations, and have appealed to miraculous suspensions of natural
order as the best proofs of his existence. Not so Laò-tsé. He sees him
in the quiet, unobtrusive, unapparent guidance of the world; in the
unseen, yet irresistible power to which mankind unresistingly submit,
precisely because it is never thrust offensively upon them. The Deity
of Laò-tsé is free from those gross and unlovely elements which degrade
his character in so many other religions. He rules by gentleness and
love, not by vindictiveness and anger. So should it be with the holy
man who takes him for his model. Assuredly we are not to understand
those passages which enjoin quiescence so earnestly upon him as a
meaning that he is to lead a life of absolute indolence. Like Taò, he
is to guide his fellow-creatures rather by the beauty of his conduct
than by positive commands laid imperatively upon them. Let him but be
a shining example; they will be drawn towards him. The activity from
which a wise ruler is to abstain is the vexatious multiplication of
laws and edicts, which do harm rather than good. But neither ruler
nor philosopher is told to do nothing; for benevolence, love, and the
requital of good for evil, to say nothing of other positive virtues,
are most strictly enjoined on all. Laò-tsé himself no doubt lived, and
loved, a retired contemplative life. This is the kind of existence
which he evidently considered the most perfect and the most godlike. He
counsels his followers to be wholly unambitious, and to abstain from
all active pursuit of political honor. Such counsel might possibly be
well adapted to the time in which he lived. But none the less does he
lay down rules for the guidance of kings, statesmen, and warriors,
in their several spheres. Nor is the book wanting in pithy apothegms
applicable to all, and remarkable alike for the wisdom of their
substance and the neatness of their form. Whether, in short, we look
to the simplicity and grandeur of its speculative doctrine, or to the
unimpeachable excellence of its moral teaching, we shall find few among
the great productions of the human mind that evince, from beginning to
end, so lofty a spirit and so pure a strain.

                        APPENDIX TO SECTION II.

              _Translations of the Taò-tĕ-Kīng_, ch. 25.

ABEL RÉMUSAT.—"Avant le chaos qui a précédé la naissance du ciel et de
la terre, un seul être existait, immense et silencieux, immuable et
toujours agissant sans jamais s'altérer. On peut le regarder comme la
_mère_ de l'univers. J'ignore son nom, mais je le désigne par le mot de

Forcé de lui donner un nom, je l'appelle _grandeur_, _progression_,
_éloignement_, _opposition_. Il y a dans le monde quatre grandeurs;
celle de la raison, celle du ciel, celle de la terre, celle du roi,
qui est aussi une des quatre. L'homme a son type et son modèle dans
la terre, la terre dans le ciel, le ciel dans la raison, la raison en

STANISLAS JULIEN.—"Il est un être confus qui existait avant le ciel et
la terre.

O qu'il est calme! O qu'il est immatériel!

Il subsiste seul et ne change point.

Il circule partout et ne périclite point.

Il peut être regardé comme la mère de l'univers.

Moi, je ne sais pas son nom.

Pour lui donner un titre, je l'appelle _Voie_ (Tao).

En m'efforçant de lui faire un nom, je l'appelle _grand_.

De _grand_, je l'appelle _fugace_.

De _fugace_, je l'appelle _éloigné_.

_D'éloigné_, je l'appelle (l'être) _qui revient_.

C'est pourquoi le Tao est _grand_, le ciel est _grand_, la terre est
_grande_, le roi aussi est _grand_.

Dans le monde, il y a quatre grandes choses, et le roi en est une.

L'homme imite la terre; la terre imite le ciel; le ciel imite le Tao;
le Tao imite sa nature" (L. V. V., p. 35).

JOHN CHALMERS.—"There is something chaotic in nature which existed
before heaven and earth. It was still. It was void. It stood alone and
was not changed. It pervaded everywhere and was not endangered. It may
be regarded as the Mother of the Universe. I know not its name, but
give it the title of Tau. If I am forced to make a name for it, I say
it is _Great_; being great, I say that it _passes away_; passing away,
I say that it is _far off_; being far off, I say that it _returns_.

Now Tau is great; Heaven is great; Earth is great; a king is great. In
the universe there are four greatnesses, and a king is one of them.
Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven;
Heaven takes its law from Tau; and Tau takes its law from what is in
itself" (O. P., p. 18).

REINHOLD VON PLÄNCKNER.—"Es existirt ein das All erfüllendes, durchaus
vollkommenes Wesen, das früher war denn der Himmel und die Erde. Es
existirt da in erhabener Stille, es ist ewig und unveränderlich, und
ohne Anstoss dringt es überall hin, überall da.

Man möchte es als den Schöpfer der Welt ansehen. Seinen Namen weiss
ich nicht, ich nenne es am liebsten das Tao; soll ich diesem eine
bezeichnende Eigenschaft beilegen, so würde es die der höchsten
Erhabenheit sein.

Ja, erhaben ist das Wesen, um das sich das All und Alles im All bewegt,
als solches muss es ewig sein, und wie es ewig ist, ist es folglich
auch allgegenwärtig.

Ja das Tao ist erhaben, erhaben ist auch der Himmel, erhaben die Erde,
erhaben ist auch das Ideal des Menschen. So sind denn vier erhabene
Wesen im Universum, und das Ideal des Menschen ist ohne Zweifel eins

Denn der Mensch stammt von der Erde, die Erde stammt vom Himmel, der
Himmel stammt vom Tao.—Und das Tao stammt ohne Frage allein aus sich
selbst" (L. T., p. 113).

                      SECTION III.—THE VEDA.[56]

The word _Veda_ is explained by Sanskrit scholars as meaning _knowing_
or _knowledge_, and as being related to the Greek oἵδα. The works
comprised under this designation are manifold, and appertain to
widely different epochs. In the first place they fall into two main
classes, the _Sanhitâ_ and the _Brâhmana_. The Sanhitâ portion of
the Veda consists of hymns or metrical compositions addressed to the
several deities worshiped by their authors, and expressing religious
sentiment; the Brâhmana portion, of theological treatises in prose
of an expository, ritualistic and didactic character. Across this
subdivision into two classes there runs another of the whole Veda into
four so-called Vedas, the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sâma-Veda,
and the Atharva-Veda. Each of these has its own Sanhitâs, and its own
Brâhmanas; but the Sanhitâ, or hymns, of the three other Vedas are
not materially different from those of the Rig-Veda. On the Rig-Veda
they are all founded; this is the fundamental Veda, or great Veda; and
in knowing this one we should know all. The other three, according to
Max Müller, contain "chiefly extracts from the Rig-Veda, together with
sacrificial formulas, charms, and incantations" (Chips, vol. i. p. 9).
It must not therefore be imagined that we have in these four Vedas four
different collections of hymns. They are rather four different versions
of the same collection, the Sâma-Veda, for instance, containing but
seventy-one verses which are wanting in the Rig-Veda (S. V., p.
xxviii), and being otherwise "little more than a repetition of the Soma
Mandala of the Rich" (Wilson, vol. i. p. xxxvii), or of that book of
the Rig-Veda which is devoted to the god Soma. The Atharva-Veda-Sanhitâ
is indeed to a certain extent an exception; belonging to a later age,
it has some hymns altogether peculiar to itself, and its fifteenth
book "has something of the nature of a Brâhmana" (O. S. T., vol. i. p.
2). It must be noted, moreover, that of the Yajur-Veda there are two
different versions, the Black and the White Yajur-Veda, said to have
descended from two rival schools. The hymns of the first are termed the
Taittiriya-Sanhitâ, those of the second the Vâjasaneyi-Sanhitâ.

The origin of those four distinct, yet not different Vedas, is thus
explained. In certain sacrifices, formerly celebrated in India, four
classes of priests were required, each class being destined for the
performance of distinct offices. To such of these classes was assigned
one of the Vedas, which contained the hymns required by that class.
Thus the Sâma-Veda was the prayer-book of the Udgâtri priests, or
choristers, who chant the hymns. The Yajur-Veda was the prayer-book
of the Adhvaryu priests, or attendant ministers, who prepare the
ground, slay the victims, and so forth. The Atharva-Veda was said to be
intended for the Brahman who was, according to one of the Brâhmanas,
the "physician of the sacrifice;" the general superintendent who was to
tell if any mistake had been committed in it (A. B., 5. 5.—vol. ii. p.
376). For the fourth class, the Hotri priests, or reciters of hymns,
no special collection was made in the form of a liturgy. They used the
Rig-Veda, a collection of the hymns in general without any special
object, and they were supposed to know the sacred poetry without the
help of a prayer-book (A. S. L., pp. 175, 473, and Chips, vol. i. p. 9).

Originally preserved by scattered individuals (for the Mantra part of
the Vedas, [or their Sanhitâ] was composed in an age when writing was
not in use), the hymns were subsequently collected and arranged in
their present form: a task which Indian tradition assigns to Vyâsa, the
Arranger, but which was probably the work of many different scholars,
possibly during many generations. The same tradition asserts that each
Veda was collected, under Vyâsa's superintendence, by a different
editor; and that the collections, transmitted from these primary
compilers to their disciples, were, in the course of transmission,
rearranged in various ways, until the number of Sanhitâs of each Veda
in circulation was very considerable. Each school had its own version,
but the differences are supposed by Wilson to have concerned only the
order, not the matter of the Sûktas.

The extreme antiquity of our extant Veda is guaranteed by the amplest
testimony. In the indexes compiled by native scholars 500 or 600
years before Christ, "we find every hymn, every verse, every word and
syllable of the Veda accurately counted" (Chips, vol. i. p. 11). Before
this was done, not only was the whole vast collection complete, but it
was ancient; for had it been a recent composition it would not have
enjoyed the preëminent sanctity which rendered it the object of this
minute attention. And not only is the Veda ancient, but it has been
shown that, from the variety of its component strata, it must have been
the growth of no small period of time, its earliest elements being
of an almost unfathomable antiquity. Max Müller, who has elaborately
treated this question, divides the Vaidik age—the age during which
the Veda was in process of formation—into four great epochs. The most
primitive hymns of the Rig-Veda he attributes to what he terms _the
Chhandas period_ (from Chhandas, or metre), the limits of which cannot
be fixed in the ascending direction, but which descends no later than
1000 B.C. And he thinks that "we cannot well assign a date more recent
than 1200 to 1500 before our era" (Ibid., vol. i. p. 13) for the
composition of these hymns. The ten books of the Rig-Veda, however,
comprise the poetry of two different ages. Some of the hymns betray a
more recent origin, and must be assigned to the second, or _Mantra
period_. These comparatively modern compositions belong to a time
which may have extended from about 1000 to about 800 B.C. After this
we enter on the _Brâhmana period_, in which the Rig-Veda-Sanhitâ not
only existed, but had reached the stage of being misinterpreted, its
original sense having been forgotten. During this period—which we may
place from B.C. 800 to 600—the national thought took the form of prose,
and the Brâhmanas were written. Here the age of actually-inspired
literature terminates, and we arrive at the _Sûtra period_, which may
have lasted till 200 B.C. Works of high authority, but not in the
strict sense revealed works, were produced during these four hundred
years (A. S. L., _passim_). An equal, or greater antiquity is usually
claimed by other Sanskritists for these several classes of sacred
literature. Wilson would place Manu (who belongs to the Sûtra period)
not lower than the fifth or sixth century; the Brâhmana literature in
the seventh or eighth; and would allow at least four or five centuries
before this for the composition and currency of the hymns, thus
reaching the date of 1200 or 1300 before the Christian era (Wilson,
vol. i. p. xlvii).

Haug, who believes that "a strict distinction between a Chhandas and
Mantra period is hardly admissible," and that certain sacrificial
formulas, considered by Max Müller to be more recent, are in fact some
centuries older than the finished hymns ascribed by that scholar to the
Chhandas age, carries back the composition of both Sanhitâ and Brâhmana
to a much earlier date. "The bulk of the Brâhmanas" he assigns to B.C.
1400-1200; and "the bulk of the Sanhitâs" to B.C. 2000-1400; while "the
oldest hymns and sacrificial formulas may be a few hundred years more
ancient still," and thus "the very commencement of Vedic literature"
might be between B.C. 2400 and 2000 (A. B., vol. i. pp. 47, 48). While
Benfey, considering that the Prâtisâkhyas (a branch of the Sûtras) must
have been composed from B.C. 800 to 600, observes that the text of the
Sâma-Veda must extend beyond this epoch (S. V., p. xxix).

Of the several Sanhitâs, that of the Rig-Veda (whose name is derived
from a word _rich_, praise) is usually considered the most ancient,
though Benfey expresses the opinion that the text of the Sâma-Veda may
possibly be borrowed from an older version of the Rig-Veda than before
us (Ibid., p. xxix). Max Müller, on the other hand, conceives the Sâma
and Yajur-Vedas to have been probably the production of the Brâhmana
period (A. S. L., p. 457). He even denies to any but the Rich the right
to be called Veda at all (Chips, vol. i. p. 9). Whatever claim, or want
of claim, they may possess to the honor, it is certain that they have
for more than 2,000 years invariably received it at the hands of the
Hindus themselves. So far from admitting the preëminence of the Rich,
the ancient Hindus, according to one of their descendants, held the
Sâma in the highest veneration (Chhand. Up., introduction, p. 1). If a
doubt can exist as to the canonicity of any one of them, it can only
apply to the Atharva-Veda; for in certain texts we find mention made
of three Vedas only, the Atharva, from its comparatively late origin,
having apparently been long denied the privilege of admission to an
equal rank with its compeers.

Whatever their antiquity, the sanctity of these works in Indian opinion
is of the highest order. Never has the theory of inspiration been
pushed to such an extreme. The Veda was the direct creation of Brahma;
and the Rishis, or Sages, who are the nominal authors of the hymns,
did not compose them, but simply "saw" them. Although, therefore, the
name of one of these seers is coupled with each hymn, it must not be
supposed that he did more than perceive the divine poem which was
revealed to his privileged vision. And the Veda is distinguished as
_Sruti_, Revelation, from the _Smriti_, Tradition, under which term
is included a great variety of works enjoying a high, but not an
independent, authority. They are to be accepted, in theory at least,
only when they agree with the Veda, and to be set aside if they happen
to differ from it; while no such thing as a contradiction within the
body of the Veda is for a moment to be thought of as possible, apparent
inconsistencies being only due to our imperfect interpretations. The
Sruti class comprises only the Mantra of each Veda and its Brâhmanas;
the Smriti consists of the great national epics, namely the Râmâyana
and Mahâbhârata; the Mânava-Dharma-Sastra, or Menu; the Purânas; the
Sûtras, or aphorisms; and the so-called six Vedângas, a term indicating
six branches of study carried on by the help of treatises on the
pronunciation, grammar, metre, explanation of words, astronomy, and
ceremonial of the Veda. How thoroughly the Veda was analyzed, how
minutely every word of it was investigated, is shown by the fact that
these Vedângas all have direct reference to it, and were intended to
assist in its comprehension. And in ancient times it was the duty of
Brahmans to be well acquainted both with the Sûktas (hymns), and with
their application to ritual. A Brahman, indeed, who wanted to marry was
not obliged to devote more than twelve years to learning the Veda, but
an unmarrying Brahman might spend forty-eight years upon it (A. S. L.,
p. 503).

                     SUBDIVISION 1.—_The Sanhitâ._

Passing now to a more detailed consideration of the Mantra division, we
find that the Rig-Veda-Sanhitâ—the most comprehensive specimen of this
division—comprises more than a thousand short poems, of which the vast
majority are addressed to one or more of the Indian gods. A few only,
and those believed to be of later origin, are of a different character.
This collection is divided in two ways; into ten Mandalas, or eight
Ashtakas, the two divisions being quite independent of one another.
Under each of these greater heads are several lesser ones, which it is
needless to enumerate. The deities to whom the hymns are devoted are
exceedingly various and numerous, but as this is not an essay specially
intended to elucidate the Veda, but aiming only at a general comparison
of this with other sacred books, it would be going beyond our scope to
attempt a full account of their several names, attributes, and honors.
A few only of the more conspicuous gods need be noticed.

Of these, Agni, as the one with whose praises the Rig-Veda opens, and
who, next to Indra, is the principal character in the Vedic hymnology,
claims our attention first. He is the god of fire, or more literally,
he is the fire itself, and a god at the same time. His name is almost
identical with the Latin _Ignis_. He is frequently spoken of as
generated by the rubbing of sticks, for in this manner did the Rishis
kindle the fire required for their sacrifices. The sudden birth of the
fiery element in consequence of this process must have impressed them
as profoundly mysterious. They allude to it under various images.
Thus, the upper stick is said to impregnate the lower, which brings
forth Agni. He is the bearer of human sacrifices to the gods; a kind of
telegraph from earth to heaven. Many are the blessings asked of him.
But let the Rishis speak for themselves. Here is the first Sûkta of the

 1. "I praise Agni, the household priest, the divine offerer of the
 sacrifice, the inviter who keeps all treasures. 2. Agni, worthy of the
 praises of the ancient Rishis, and also of ours, do thou bring hither
 the gods. 3. By Agni, _the sacrificer_ enjoys wealth, that grows from
 day to day, confers renown, and surrounds him with heroes. 4. Agni,
 the sacrifice which thou keepest from all sides uninvaded, approaches
 surely the gods. 5. Agni, inviter, performer of gracious deeds,
 thou who art truthful, and who shinest with various glories, come
 thou, O God, with the gods. 6. The prosperity, which thou, O Agni,
 bestowest upon the worshiper, will be in truth _a prosperity_ to thee,
 O Angiras. 7. We approach thee in our minds, O Agni, day after day,
 by night and day, to offer thee our adoration. 8. Thee the radiant
 guardian of the meet _reward_ of the sacrifices, who is resplendent
 and increasing in his sacred house. 9. Be thou, O Agni, accessible to
 us, as a father is to the son; be near us for our welfare" (Roer, p.

Even more important than Agni is Indra, the great national god of
the Hindus. He is above all things a combative god. His strength is
immense, and his worshipers implore him to give them victory and power.
He slays the demon Vrittra, a myth symbolizing the dispersion of clouds
by the sun. Above all, he loves the juice of the Soma plant (_Asclepias
acida_), which is poured out to him abundantly in sacrifice, which he
consumes with avidity, and from which he derives renewed force and
energy. These two stanzas, taken from the Sâma-Veda, express some of
his attributes:—

 "Thou, O Indra, art glorious, thou art victorious, thou art the lord
 of strength; thou conquerest the strong enemies singly and alone, thou
 unconquered refuge of men. To thee, living One, we pray; to thee now
 the very wise, for treasures, as for our share; may thy blessing be
 granted us" (S. V., ii. 6. 2. 12).

The following hymn brings into especial prominence the more warlike
functions of Indra, and may be regarded as a prayer "in the time of war
and tumults:"—

 8. "May Indra be the leader of these (our armies); may Brihaspati,
 Largess, Sacrifice and Soma march in front; may the host of Maruts
 precede the crushing, victorious armies of the gods. May the fierce
 host of the vigorous Indra, of King Varuna, of the Adityas, and the
 Maruts (go before us); the shout of the great-souled, conquering,
 world-shaking gods, has ascended.... 10. Rouse, O opulent god, the
 weapons, rouse the souls of our warriors, stimulate the power of the
 mighty men; may shouts arise from the conquering chariots. 11. May
 Indra be ours when the standards clash; may our arrows be victorious:
 may our strong men gain the upper-hand; preserve us, O gods, in the
 fray. 12. Bewildering the hearts of our enemies, O Apvâ (Apvâ is
 explained as a disease or fear), take possession of their limbs and
 pass onward; come near, burn them with fires in their hearts; may our
 enemies fall into blind darkness" (O. S. T., vol. v. p. 110.—Rig-Veda,
 x. 103).

Indra's Soma-drinking propensities are not particularly alluded to in
these verses: elsewhere they form the ever-recurring burden of the
chants of which he is the hero. Thus, to take but one specimen, which,
by its resemblance to others, may fitly stand for all, he is thus

 1. "May the Somas delight thee! bestow grace, O hurler of lightning!
 destroy him who hates the priest. 2. Thou who art praiseworthy, drink
 our drink! thou art sprinkled with streams of honey! from thee, O
 Indra, glory is derived.... 4. The Indus (the Somas) stream into thee,
 like rivers, Indra! into the sea, and never overfill thee" (S. V., i.
 1. 1).

Indra is, in fact, the Zeus of Indian mythology; the thunderer, the
god of the sky, the all-powerful protector of men and destroyer of
the demons of darkness. His functions are easily understood, but it
is curious that the Soma, which is offered to him in sacrifice, and
which he drinks with all the avidity of a confirmed toper, is itself
celebrated as a god of very considerable powers. Soma appears to be
regarded as a sort of mediator between the greatest gods and men,
especially between man and Indra. He is repeatedly entreated to go
to Indra, to flow around him, and thus to conciliate and delight him.
But Soma can confer benefits independently. One poet implores him to
stream forth blessing "on the ox, the man, and the horse; and, O king,
blessings on plants" (S. V., ii. 1. 1. 1). In the hymns devoted to him
he is raised to an exalted station among the celestial beings, while
the sacrifice in which he is drunk by the priests is the capital right
in the Brahmanical liturgy (A. B., vol. i. p. 59). The most eminent
virtues are inherent in this divine beverage, when taken with all the
ceremonies prescribed by traditional law. The Soma juice has, in the
opinion of Hindu theologians, "the power of uniting the sacrificer on
this earth with the celestial King Soma," and making him "an associate
of the gods, and an inhabitant of the celestial world" (Ibid., vol.
i. pp. 40, 80). Such was the excellence of this juice, that none
but Brahmans were permitted to imbibe it. Kings, at their inaugural
ceremonies, received a goblet which was nominally Soma, but on account
of their inferior caste they were in fact put off with some kind of
spirituous liquor which was supposed, by a mystical transformation,
to receive the properties of that most holy divinity (Ibid., vol. ii.
p. 522). Agreeably to this theory of Soma's extensive powers, he is
invoked in such terms, for instance, as these:—

 7. "Place me, O purified god, in that everlasting and imperishable
 world where there is eternal light and glory. O Indu (Soma), flow for
 Indra. 8. Make me immortal in the world where king Vaivasvata (Yama,
 the son of Vivasvat) lives, where is the innermost sphere of the sky,
 where those great waters flow" (O. S. T., vol. v. p. 266.—Rig-Veda,
 ix. 113).

Singular as it may seem that the juice of the Soma-plant should be at
once an object sacrificed on the altar to other gods and a god himself,
such a confusion of attributes will be less surprising to those who
are familiar with the Christian theory of the Atonement, in which the
same God is at once the person who decrees the sacrifice, the person
who accepts it, and the victim. At least the double function of Soma is
less perplexing than the triple function of Christ.

Considerable among Vedic deities are the Maruts, or gods of tempest.
They are in intimate alliance with Indra, to whom their violent nature
is closely akin. Their attributes are simple. A notion of them may
perhaps be gained from these verses:—

 1. "What then now? When will you take (us) as a dear father takes
 his son by both hands, O ye gods, for whom the sacred grass has been
 trimmed? 2. Whither now? On what errand of yours are you going, in
 heaven, not on earth? Where are your cows sporting? 3. Where are your
 newest favors, O Maruts? Where the blessings? Where all delights?...
 6. Let not one sin after another, difficult to be conquered, overcome
 us; may it depart together with lust. 7. Truly they are furious
 and powerful; even to the desert the Rudriyas bring rain that is
 never dried up. 8. The lightning lows like a cow, it follows as a
 mother follows after her young, that the shower (of the Maruts)
 may be let loose. 9. Even by day the Maruts create darkness with
 the water-bearing cloud, when they drench the earth. 10. From the
 shout of the Maruts over the whole space of the earth, men reeled
 forward. 11. Maruts on your strong-hoofed steeds go on easy roads
 after those bright ones (the clouds) which are still locked up. 12.
 May your felloes be strong, the chariots, and their horses; may your
 reins be well fashioned. 13. Speak out forever with thy voice to
 praise the Lord of prayer, Agni, who is like a friend, the bright
 one. 14. Fashion a hymn in thy mouth! Expand like a cloud! Sing a
 song of praise. 15. Worship the host of the Maruts, the brisk, the
 praiseworthy, the singers. May the strong ones stay here among us" (R.
 V. S., vol. i. p. 65.—Rig-Veda, i. 38).

The most charming member of the Vedic pantheon, and the one who seems
to have called forth from the Rishis the deepest poetical feeling,
is Ushas (Ἔως), the Dawn. Her continual reappearance, or birth,
morning after morning, seems to have filled them with delight and
tenderness. The hymn now to be quoted—too long to be extracted in
full—gives expression to the feelings with which they gazed upon this
ever-recurring mystery:—

 2. "The fair and bright Ushas, with her bright child (the Sun), has
 arrived; to her the dark (night) has relinquished her abodes; kindred
 to one another, immortal, alternating Day and Night go on changing
 color. 3. The same is the never-ending path of the two sisters, which
 they travel, commanded by the gods. They strive not, they rest
 not, the prolific Night and Dawn, concordant, though unlike. 4. The
 shining Ushas, leader of joyful voices (or hymns) has been perceived;
 she has opened for us the doors (of the sky); setting in motion all
 moving things, she has revealed to us riches. Ushas has awakened all
 creatures.... 6. (Arousing) one to seek royal power, another to follow
 after fame, another for grand efforts, another to pursue as it were
 his particular object,—Ushas awakes all creatures to consider their
 different modes of life. 7. She, the daughter of the sky, has been
 beheld breaking forth, youthful clad in shining attire: mistress of
 all earthly treasures. Auspicious Ushas, shine here to-day. 8. Ushas
 follows the track of the Dawns that are past, and is the first of the
 unnumbered Dawns that are to come, breaking forth, arousing life and
 awaking every one that was dead.... 10. How great is the interval that
 lies between the Dawns which have arisen, and those which are yet to
 arise! Ushas yearns longingly after the former Dawns, and gladly goes
 on shining with the others (that are to come). 11. Those mortals are
 gone who saw the earliest Ushas dawning; we shall gaze upon her now;
 and the men are coming who are to behold her on future morns.... 13.
 Perpetually in former days did the divine Ushas dawn; and now to-day
 the magnificent goddess beams upon this world: undecaying, immortal,
 she marches on by her own will" (O. S. T., vol. v. p. 188.—Rig-Veda,
 i. 113).

Hardly a trace of a moral element is to be found in those productions
of the Rishis which have hitherto been quoted. And such as these are is
the general character of the Rig-Veda-Sanhitâ. It consists in petitions
for purely material advantages, coupled with unbounded celebrations of
the power of the god invoked, often under the coarsest anthropomorphic
images. But while it must be admitted that the sentiment expressed is
rarely of a high order, it must not be supposed that the old Hindu
gods are altogether destitute of ethical attributes. Marked exceptions
to the general tenor of the supplications offered to them certainly
occur. There are passages which betray a decided consciousness of
sin, a desire to be forgiven and a conviction that certain kinds of
conduct entail divine disapprobation, while other kinds bring divine
approbation. Thus, in the hymns addressed to the Adityas, a class of
gods generally reckoned as twelve in number, and to Mitra and Varuna,
two of these Adityas, such feelings are plainly expressed (O. S. T.,
vol. v. p. 56 ff). Of these two, Mitra is sometimes explained as the
Sun, or the god of Day, Varuna as the god of Night. Varuna—whose name
corresponds to that of Ouranos—is a very great and powerful divinity,
who is endowed by his adorers with the very highest attributes. He is
said to have meted out heaven and earth, and to dwell in all worlds as
their sovereign, embracing them within him (Ibid., vol. v. p. 61). He
is said to witness sin, and is entreated to have mercy on sinners. One
penitent poet implores Varuna to tell him for what offense he seeks to
kill his worshiper and friend, for all the sages tell him that it is
Varuna who is angry with him. And he pleadingly contends that he was
not an intentional culprit; he has been seduced by "wine, anger, dice,
or thoughtlessness." Another begs the god that, in whatever way mortals
may have broken his laws, he will be gracious. A third admits that
he, who was Varuna's friend, has offended against him, but asks that
they who are guilty may not reap the fruits of their sin; concluding
with this amicable hint: "Do thou, a wise god, grant protection to
him who praises thee" (O. S. T., vol. v. pp. 66, 67). "The attributes
and functions ascribed to Varuna," observes Dr. Muir, "impart to his
character a moral elevation and sanctity far surpassing that attributed
to any other Vedic deity" (Ibid., vol. v. p. 66). And while even in the
earlier portion of the Rig-Veda—from which the above expressions have
been collected by Dr. Muir—such qualities are ascribed to Varuna, we
shall find a still higher conception of his character in a later work,
the Atharva-Veda. Here is the description of the Lord of Heaven from
the mouth of the Indian Psalmist:—

 1. "The great lord of these worlds sees as if he were near. If a man
 thinks he is walking by stealth, the gods know it all. 2. If a man
 stands or walks or hides, if he goes to lie down or to get up, what
 two people sitting together whisper, King Varuna knows it, he is there
 as the third. 3. This earth, too, belongs to Varuna, the king, and
 this wide sky with its ends far apart. The two seas (the sky and the
 ocean) are Varuna's loins; he is also contained in this small drop of
 water. 4. He who should flee far beyond the sky, even he would not be
 rid of Varuna, the king. His spies proceed from heaven towards this
 world; with thousand eyes they overlook this earth. 5. King Varuna
 sees all this that is between heaven and earth, and what is beyond. He
 has counted the twinklings of the eyes of men. As a player throws the
 dice he settles all things. 6. May all thy fatal nooses, which stand
 spread out seven by seven and threefold, catch the man who tells a
 lie; may they pass by him who tells the truth" (A. S. L.—Atharva-Veda,
 iv. 16).

A consciousness of the unity of Deity, under whatever form he may be
worshiped, adumbrated here and there in earlier hymns, becomes very
prominent in the later portions of the Veda. From the most ancient
times, possibly, occasional sages may have attained the conception so
familiar to the Hindu thinkers of a later age, that a single mysterious
essence of divinity pervaded the universe. And in the tenth book of the
Rig-Veda, which is generally admitted to belong to a more recent age
than the other nine books, as also in the Atharva-Veda, this essence
is celebrated under various names; as Purusha, as Brahma, as Prajapati
(Lord), or Skambha (Support). The hymns in which this consciousness
appears are extremely mystical, but a notice of the Veda, however
slight, would be very imperfect without a due recognition of their
presence. They form the speculative element partly in the midst of,
partly succeeding to, the simple, practical, naked presentation of
the commonplace daily wants and physical desires of the early Rishis.
Take the following texts from the first book of the Rig-Veda. They
give utterance to an incipient sentiment of divine unity. The first
celebrates a goddess Aditi: "Aditi is the sky, Aditi is the air, Aditi
is the mother and father and son. Aditi is all the gods and the five
classes of men. Aditi is whatever has been born. Aditi is whatever
shall be born" (O. S. T., vol. v. p. 354.—Rig-Veda, i. 89. 10). More
remarkable than this—for we may suspect here a sectarian desire to
glorify a favorite goddess—is this assertion: "They call him Indra,
Mitra, Varuna, Agni; and he is the celestial (well-winged) Garutmat.
Sages name variously that which is but one: they call it Agni, Yama,
Mâtarisvan" (O. S. T., vol. v. p. 353.—Rig-Veda, i. 164. 46). In the
tenth book of the Rig-Veda, the presence of the speculative element in
the theology of the Rishis,—their longing to find a universal Being
whom they could adore,—is much more marked. Thus do they express this
sentiment:—"Wise poets make the beautiful-winged, though he is one,
manifold by words" (Chips, vol. i. p. 29.—Rig-Veda, x. 114. 5). Or more
elaborately thus:—

 1. "In the beginning there arose the golden Child—He was the one born
 lord of all that is. He established the earth and this sky;—Who is
 the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice? 2. He who gives life,
 He who gives strength; whose command all the bright gods revere;
 whose shadow is immortality, whose shadow is death;—Who is the God
 to whom we shall offer our sacrifice? 3. He who through his power is
 the one 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?
 4. He whose greatness these snowy mountains, whose greatness 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? 5. He through whom the sky is bright and the earth firm—He
 through whom the heaven was established,—nay, the highest heaven;—He
 who measured out the light in the air;—Who is the God to whom we shall
 offer our sacrifice? 6. He to whom heaven and earth, standing firm
 by His will, took up, trembling inwardly—He over whom the rising sun
 shines forth;—Who is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?
 7. Wherever the mighty water-clouds went, where they placed the seed
 and lit the fire, thence arose He who is the sole life of the bright
 gods;—Who is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice? 8. He who
 by his might looked even over the water-clouds, the clouds which
 gave strength and lit the sacrifice; He who alone is God above all
 gods;—Who is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice? 9. May He
 not destroy us—He the creator of the earth; or He, the righteous, who
 created the heaven; He also created the bright and mighty waters;—Who
 is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?" (Chips, vol. i. p.
 29, or A. S. L., p. 569.—Rig-Veda, x. 121).

The same book contains a very important hymn, entitled the Purusha
Sûkta. In it we find ourselves transported from the transparent
elemental worship of the ancient Aryas into the misty region of
Brahmanical subtleties. Purusha appears to be conceived as the
universal essence of the world, all existences being but one-quarter
of him. The theory of sacrifice occupies, as in the later Indian
literature generally, a prominent position. Purusha's sacrifice
involved the momentous consequences of the creation of the several
Vedas and of living creatures. The four castes sprang from different
parts of his person, the parts corresponding to their relative
dignity. The purpose of this portion is obvious, namely, to give
greater sanctity to the system of caste, a system to which the earlier
hymn makes no allusion, and which we may suppose to have grown up
subsequently to the era of their composition. Tedious as it is, the
Purusha Sûkta is too weighty to be quite passed over.

 1. "Purusha has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet.
 On every side enveloping the earth, he overpassed (it) by a space of
 ten fingers. 2. Purusha himself is this whole (universe), whatever
 has been and whatever shall be. He is also the lord of immortality,
 since (or when) by food he expands. 3. Such is his greatness, and
 Purusha is superior to this. All existences are a quarter of him; and
 three-fourths of him are that which is immortal in the sky. 4. With
 three-quarters Purusha mounted upwards. A quarter of him was again
 produced here. He was then diffused everywhere over things which eat
 and things which do not eat. 5. From him was born Virāj, and from
 Virāj, Purusha. When born, he extended beyond the earth, both behind
 and before. 6. When the gods performed a sacrifice with Purusha as
 the oblation, the spring was its butter, the summer its fuel, and the
 autumn its (accompanying) offering. 7. This victim, Purusha, born in
 the beginning, they immolated on the sacrificial grass. With him the
 gods, the Sādhyas, and the Rishis sacrificed. 9. From that universal
 sacrifice sprang the rich and sāman verses, the metres and the yajush.
 10. From it sprang horses, and all animals with two rows of teeth;
 kine sprang from it; from it goats and sheep. 11. When (the gods)
 divided Purusha, into how many parts did they cut him up? what was his
 mouth? what arms (had he)? what (two objects) are said (to have been)
 his thighs and feet? 12. The Brahman was his mouth; the Râjanya was
 made his arms; the being (called) the Vaisya, he was his thighs; the
 Sûdra sprang from his feet. 13. The moon sprang from his soul (manas),
 the sun from his eye, Indra and Agni from his mouth, and Vāyu from his
 breath. 14. From his navel arose the air, from his head the sky, from
 his feet the earth, from his ear the (four) quarters; in this manner
 (the gods) formed the worlds. 15. When the gods, performing sacrifice,
 bound Purusha as a victim, there were seven sticks (stuck up) for it
 (around the fire), and thrice seven pieces of fuel were made. 16. With
 sacrifice the gods performed the sacrifice. These were the earliest
 rites. These great powers have sought the sky, where are the former
 Sādhyas, gods" (O. S. T., vol. i. p. 9.—Rig-Veda, x. 90).

The wide interval which separates theological theories of this kind
from the primitive hymns to the old polytheistic gods, is also marked
by a tendency to personify abstract intellectual conceptions, and to
confer exalted attributes upon them. Skambha, or Support, mentioned
above; Kâla, Time, celebrated in the Atharva-Veda; Speech, endowed
with personal powers in the tenth book of the Rig-Veda; Wisdom, to
whom prayer is offered in the Atharva-Veda, are instances of this
generalizing tendency. As a specimen, the hymn to Wisdom may be taken,
and readers may console themselves with the reflection that it is our
last quotation from the Mantra part of the Veda:—

 1. "Come to us, wisdom, the first, with cows and horses; (come)
 thou with the rays of the sun; thou art to us an object of worship.
 2. To (obtain) the succor of the gods, I invoke wisdom the first,
 full of prayer, inspired by prayer, praised by rishis, imbibed by
 Brahmachārins. 3. We introduce within me that wisdom which Ribhus
 know, that wisdom which divine beings (asurāh) know, that excellent
 wisdom which rishis know. 4. Make me, O Agni, wise to-day with that
 wisdom which the wise rishis—the makers of things existing—know. 5.
 We introduce wisdom in the evening, wisdom in the morning, wisdom at
 noon, wisdom with the rays of the sun, and with speech" (O. S. T.,
 vol. i. p. 255 note.—Atharva-Veda, vi. 108).

Interesting as the Mantra of the Vedas is from the fact of its being
the oldest Bible of the Aryan race, it is impossible for modern
readers to feel much enthusiasm for its contents. The patient labor of
these scholars who have engaged in translations of some parts of it
for the benefit of European readers is highly commendable, but it is
probable that few who have read any considerable number of these hymns
will be desirous of a further acquaintance with them, unless for the
purpose of some special researches. Indeed, it may be said that the
devoted industry of Benfey, Muir, Max Müller, and others, has placed
more than a sufficient number of them within reach of the general
public to enable us all to judge of their literary value and their
religious teaching. With regard to the former, it would be difficult to
concede to them anything but a very modest place. In beauty of style,
expression, or ideas, they appear to me to be almost totally deficient.
Assuming, as we are entitled to do, that all the best specimens have
been already culled by scholars eager to find something attractive in
the Veda, it must be confessed that the general run of the hymns is
singularly monotonous, and their language by no means conspicuous for
poetical coloring. No doubt, poetry always loses in translation; but
Isaiah and Homer are still beautiful in a German or English dress; the
Sûktas of the Rig-Veda are not. A few exceptions no doubt occur, as in
the stanzas to Ushas, or Dawn, quoted above, but the ordinary level is
not a high one.

Although, however, the literary merit of the Veda cannot be ranked
high, its value to the religious history of humanity at large, and of
our race in particular, can hardly be overrated. To the comparative
mythologist, above all, it possesses illimitable interest, from the
new light it sheds upon the origin and significance of many of those
world-wide tales which, in their metamorphosed Hellenic shape, could
not be effectually brought under the process of dissection by which
their primitive elements have now been laid bare. Mythology is beyond
the province of this work, and therefore I purposely refrain from
entering upon any explanation of the physical meaning of the old Aryan
gods, or of the stories in which they figure.[57] All that I have to do
with here is the grade attained in the development of religious feeling
among those who worshiped them. And this, it is plain, was at first a
very elementary one. The more striking phenomena of nature—the sun, the
moon, the sky, the storms, the dawn, the fire—at first attracted their
attention, and absorbed their adoration. To these personal beings, as
they seemed to the awe-struck Rishis, petitions of the rudest type were
confidently addressed. Very little allusion, if any, was made to the
necessities of the moral nature; the craving for spiritual knowledge
was scarcely felt; but great stress was laid on temporal prosperity.
Boons of the most material kind were looked for at the hands of the
gods. Plenty of offspring, plenty of physical strength, plenty of
property, especially in cattle, and victory over enemies; such are the
requests most commonly poured into the ears of Indra, or Agni, or the
Maruts. These gods are regarded as the sympathizing friends of men, and
if they should fail to do what may reasonably be expected of a god, are
almost upbraided for their negligence. The conception of their power
is a high one, though that of their moral nature is still rudimentary.
Their greatness and their glory, their victories, their splendor,
are described in vigorous and high-sounding phrases. The changes are
rung upon their peculiar attributes or their famous exploits. Each
god in his turn is a great god; but all are separate individuals;
there appears in the crude Aryan mind to be as yet no dawning of the
perplexing questions on the unity of the Divine which troubled its
later development. For as it progresses, the Hindu religion gradually
changes. External calm, succeeding the wars of the first settlers,
promotes internal activity. The great problem of the Universe is
no longer solved, five or six centuries after the older Rishis had
passed away, in the simple fashion which satisfied their curiosity.
Multiplicity is now resolved into unity; mystical abstractions take
the place of the elementary powers of nature. Speech is a goddess; the
Vedas themselves—as in the Purusha hymn—acquire a quasi-divinity; the
Brahmachârin, or student of theology, is endowed with supernatural
attributes, due to the sacred character of his pursuits. Sacrifice,
fixed and regulated down to the smallest minutiæ, has a peculiar
efficacy, and becomes something of far deeper meaning than a merely
acceptable present to the gods. Every posture, every word, every
tone acquires importance. There are charms, there are curses, there
are incantations for good and evil purposes, for the acquisition of
wealth or the destruction of an enemy. It is by its collection of such
magical formulæ that the Atharva-Veda is distinguished from its three
predecessors. It forms the last stone laid upon the edifice of the
genuine Veda, an edifice built up by the labor of many centuries, and
including the whole of that original revelation to which the centuries
that succeeded it bowed down in reverence and in faith.

                    SUBDIVISION 2.—_The Brâhmanas._

Attached to this edifice as an outgrowth rather than an integral part,
the treatises known as Brâhmanas took their place as appendages of
the Sanhitâ. Although they are reckoned by the Hindus as belonging
to the Sruti, although their nominal rank is thus not inferior to
that of the true Veda, yet it must have taken them many generations
to acquire a position of honor to which nothing but tradition could
possibly entitle them. For any gleams of poetical inspiration, of
imaginative religious feeling, of naturalness or simple earnestness
that had shone athwart the minds of devout authors in preceding ages,
had apparently passed away when the Brâhmanas were composed. They are
the elaborate disquisitions of scholars, not the outpourings of men of
feeling. Religion was cut and dried when they were written; every part
of it has become a matter of definition, of theory, of classification.
If in the Vedic hymns we are placed before a stage where religious
faith is a living body, whose movements, perhaps uncouth, are still
energetic and genuine, the Brâmhanas, on the other hand, take us into
the dissecting-room, where the constituent elements of its corpse are
exposed to our observation. Not indeed that a true or deep faith had
ceased in the Brâhmana period; such an assertion would no doubt be
extravagant; but the Brâhmanas themselves are the products of minds
more given to analysis than to sentiment, and of an age in which the
predominant tendency, at least among cultivated Brahmans, was not so
much to feel religion as to think about it. It is so everywhere. The
Hebrew Bible, once fixed and completed, gives rise to the Mishnah.
The Apostles and Fathers of the Christian Church are followed by
a race of schoolmen. The simple Sûtras of Buddhism, replete with
plain, world-wide lessons of moral truth, give place to the abstruse
developments of incomprehensible theology. Thus the Brâhmanas mark the
epoch when the Veda had finally ceased to grow, and its every word
and letter had become the object of an unquestioning adoration as the
immediate emanation of God.

But among a people so subtle and so inquisitive in all matters of
religious belief as the Hindus, opinion could not rest unmoved upon
the original foundation. Their minds did not, like those of the Jews,
stop short for ever in their intellectual progression, chained to the
unshakeable rock of a god-given Revelation. Ever active, ever attracted
to the enigmas of life, the Brahmans pushed their speculations into
new regions of thought, pondered upon new problems, and invented new
solutions. Not that we are to expect to find in the literature of
this period any valuable discoveries or any very striking philosophy.
The true philosophical systems came later. But still we do find a
restless spirit of inquiry, ever prompting fresh efforts to conceive
the significance of the gods or to penetrate the mysteries of nature,
though the questions discussed are often trifling, and the results
arrived at frivolous.

Every Veda has, as already stated, its own Brâhmana or Brâhmanas.
Thus, two of these treatises appertain to the Rig-Veda; three to the
Sâma-Veda, one to the Black and one to the White Yajur-Veda, and one to
the Atharva-Veda (O. S. T., vol. i. p. 5). Appended to the Brâhmanas,
and forming, according to Dr. Muir, their "most recent portions," are
the Âranyakas and Upanishads, a kind of supplementary works devoted
to the elucidation of the highest points of theology. The Brâhmanas
present an example of Ritualism in all its glory. They fix the exact
nature of every part of every ceremony; describe minutely the mode
in which each sacrifice is to be offered; mention the Mantras to be
recited on each occasion; declare the benefits to be expected from the
several rites, and explain the reasons—drawn from the history of the
gods—why they are all to be performed in this particular way and order,
and in no other. They are in fact liturgies, accompanied by exposition.
Hence they are totally unfit for quotation in a general work, for
they would be incomprehensible without an accompanying essay on the
Vedic sacrifices, entering into details which would interest none but
professional students of the subject.

Thus, the Aitareya Brâhmana occupies itself entirely with the duties of
the Hotri priests; for the recitation of the Rig-Veda, to which this
Brâhmana belonged, was their province. Occasionally, however, the
Brâhmanas, Upanishads, and Âranyakas are enlivened by the introduction
of apologues, intended to illustrate the point of theological dogma
to which the author is addressing himself. Some of these apologues
are curious, though the style in which they are related is generally
so prolix as to preclude extraction. A notion of them may be gathered
from condensed statements. Thus, in the Brihad Âranyaka Upanishad a
story is told of a dispute among the vital organs as to which of them
was "best founded," _i. e._, most essential to life. To obtain the
decision of this controversy they repaired to Brahma, who said, "He
amongst you is best founded by whose departure the body is found to
suffer most." Hereupon Speech departed, and returning after a year's
absence, inquired how the others had lived without it. "They said, 'As
dumb people who do not speak by speech, breathing by the vital breath,
seeing by the eye, hearing by the ear, thinking by the mind, and
begetting children, so have we lived.'" The eye, the ear, the mind, the
organ of generation, each departed for a year, and, _mutatis mutandis_,
with similar results; blindness, deafness, idiocy, impotence, were all
compatible with life. Lastly, "the vital breath being about to depart,
as a great, noble horse from the Sindhu country raises its hoofs, so it
shook these vital organs from their places. They said, 'Do not depart,
O Venerable. We cannot live without thee.' 'If I am such, then offer
sacrifice to me.' (They answered)—'Be it so.'" All the other organs
hereupon admitted that their own existence depended on that of the
vital breath (B. A. U., ch. vi. p. 259).

Several narratives in various Brâhmanas point to the fact that
theological knowledge was not in these early days confined to the
single caste by which it was afterwards monopolized, for they speak
of well-read kings by whom Brahmans were instructed. In the Chândogya
Upanishad, for example, five members of the Brahmanical caste engaged
in a debate upon the question "Which is our soul, and which is Brahma?"
Unable to satisfy themselves, they repaired, accompanied by another
theologian who had been unable to answer them, to a monarch named
Asvapati, and declining his proffered gifts, requested him to impart to
them the knowledge he possessed of the Universal Soul. He accordingly
asked each of them in turn which soul he adored. The first replied
that he adored the heaven; the second, the sun; the third, the winds;
the fourth, the sky; the fifth, water; the sixth, the earth. To
each of them in turn the king admitted that it was indeed a partial
manifestation of the Universal Soul which he worshiped, and that its
adoration would confer some advantages. But, he finally added, "You
consume food, knowing the Universal Soul to be many; but he who adoreth
that Universal Soul which pervadeth the heaven and the earth, and is
the principal object indicated by (the pronoun) _I_, consumeth food
everywhere and in all regions, in every form and in every faculty." Of
that all-pervading Soul the several phenomena of the visible Universe
worshiped by the Brahmans in their ignorance are but parts (Chhand.
Up., ch. v. section 11-18, p. 92-97). Other Brâhmanas tell similar
stories of the occasional preëminence of the Kshattriya caste in the
rivalry of learning. Thus, the Satapatha Brâhmana, the Brihad Âranyaka
Upanishad, and the Kaushîtaki Brâhmana Upanishad, all refer to a
certain king Ajâtasatru, who proved himself superior in theological
disputation to a Brahman named Bālāki, "renowned as a man well-read in
the Veda." Let us take the version of the last-named Upanishad. Bālāki
proposed to "declare divine knowledge" to the king, who offered to give
him a thousand cows for his tuition. But after he had propounded his
views on the Deity, and had been put to shame by the king's answers,
the latter said, "Thou hast vainly proposed to me; let me teach
thee divine knowledge. He, son of Balaka, who is the maker of these
souls, whose work that is,—he is the object of knowledge." Convinced
of his ignorance, Bālāki proposed to become the king's pupil. "The
king replied, 'I regard it as an inversion of the proper rule that a
Kshattriya should initiate a Brahman. But come, I will instruct thee'"
(O. S. T., vol. i. p. 431).

Both these stories illustrate the striving towards conceptions of the
unity of the divine essence which is characteristic of this speculative
age. The next, from the Satapatha Brâhmana, has reference to another
important point,—the future of the soul. A young Brahman, called
Svetaketu, came to a monarch who inquired whether he had received a
suitable education from his father. The youth replied that he had.
Hereupon the king proceeded to put him through an examination, in
which he completely broke down. One of the questions was this:—"Dost
thou know the means of attaining the path which leads to the gods, or
that which leads to the Pitris (Ancestors (_patres_)); by what act
the one or the other is gained?" In other words did he know the way
to heaven? The student did not. Vexed at his failure, the young man
hastened to his father, reproached him with having declared that he
was instructed, and complained that the Râjanya had asked him five
questions, of which he knew not even one. Gautama inquired what they
were, and on hearing them, assured his son that he had taught him all
he himself knew. "But come, let us proceed thither, and become his
pupils." Receiving his guest with due respect, the king offered Gautama
a boon. Gautama begged for an explanation of the five questions.
"That," said the king, "is one of the divine boons; ask one of those
that are human." But Gautama protested that he had wealth enough of all
kinds, and added, "Be not illiberal towards us in respect to that which
is immense, infinite, boundless." The king accordingly accepted them as
his pupils, saying, "Do not attach any blame to me, as your ancestors
(did not). This knowledge has never heretofore dwelt in any Brahman;
but I shall declare it to thee. For who should refuse thee when thou so
speakest?" (O. S. T., vol. i. p. 434.)

Unhistorical as they probably are in their details, these traditions
are curious both as illustrating the predominant inclination to
speculative inquiries, and the fact that in those inquiries the
priestly caste was sometimes outshone by their more secular rivals. The
following quotation bears upon another doctrine, the transcendent merit
of patience under trials, even of the severest kind. Manu, the typical
ancestor of mankind, is represented as resigning his most precious
possessions to enable impious priests to perform a sacrifice:—

 "Manu had a bull. Into it an Asura-slaying, enemy-slaying voice had
 entered. In consequence of this (bull's) snorting and bellowing,
 Asuras and Râkshasas (these are species of demons) were continually
 destroyed. Then the Asuras said, 'This bull, alas! does us mischief;
 how shall we overcome him?' Now there were two priests of the Asuras
 called Kilâta and Akuli. They said, 'Manu is a devout believer: let
 us make trial of him.' They went and said to him, 'Let us sacrifice
 for thee.' 'With what victim?' he asked. 'With this bull,' they
 replied. 'Be it so,' he answered. When it had been slaughtered,
 the voice departed out of it, and entered into Manu's wife Mânavî.
 Wherever they hear her speaking, the Asuras and Râkshasas continue to
 be destroyed in consequence of her voice. The Asuras said, 'She does
 us yet more mischief; for the human voice speaks more.' Kilâta and
 Akuli said, 'Manu is a devout believer: let us make trial of him.'
 They came and said to him, 'Manu, let us sacrifice for thee.' 'With
 what victim?' he asked. 'With this (thy) wife,' they replied. 'Be it
 so,' he answered" (O. S. T., vol. i. p. 188).

Sometimes, though not often, the Brâhmanas contain references to
moral conduct. A very theological definition of Duty is given in the
Chândogya Upanishad, where it is stated, "Threefold is the division of
Duty. Sacrifice, study, and charity constitute the first; penance is
the second; and residence by a Brahmachârin (a student of theology)
exclusively in the house of a tutor is the third. All those [who attend
to these duties] attain virtuous regions; the believer in Brahma alone
attains to immortality" (A. B., vii. 2. 10). In another Brâhmana it is
asserted that "the marriage of Faith and Truth is a most happy one. For
by Faith and Truth joined they conquer the celestial world" (Chhand.
Up., ch. ii. sec. 23). And the the story of Sunahsepa, which contains
an emphatic repudiation of human sacrifice, has a moral bearing. As a
rule, however, the Brâhmanas do not concern themselves with ethical
questions. The rules of sacrifice, and the doctrines of a complicated
theology, are their main business; and the topics they are thus led to
debate in elaborate detail must frequently impress the European reader
as not only uninteresting, but unmeaning.

                    SECTION IV.—THE TRIPITAKA.[58]

When the master-mind who, by oral and personal instruction, has led
his disciples to the knowledge of new and invaluable truths passes
away—when the lips that taught them are closed forever, and the
intellect that solved the problems of human life is at rest, when the
soul that met the spiritual cravings of their souls is no more near
them—a necessity at once arises for the collection of the sayings,
the apologues, or the parables which can now be heard no more, and
which only live in the memories of those who heard them. The precious
possession must not be lost. The light must not be suffered to die
out. Either the words of the Departed One must be transmitted orally
from disciple to disciple, from generation to generation (as happens
in countries where writing is uncommon or unknown), or they must be
rendered imperishable by being once for all recorded in books.

Such was the course of events upon the death of Gautama Buddha.
Tradition tells us that immediately after that great Teacher had
entered into Nirvâna, his disciples assembled in council to collect
his λόγια, and to fix the Canons of the Faith. This Canon consisted
of three portions, and is therefore called the _Tripitaka_, or Three
Baskets. Of these baskets, his disciple Upali was appointed to
recall to memory, and edit, the one termed _Vinaya_, or the Buddha's
instructions on discipline; Ananda (the intimate friend of Gautama),
the Sûtras, or practical teachings; and Kâsyapa, the Abhidharma, or
metaphysical lectures. Into these three classes the Buddhist Canon
remains still divided. But the text, as thus established, did not
escape the necessity of further revision. One hundred and ten years
after Sakyamuni's decease, certain monks brought considerable scandal
on the Church by disregarding his precepts. To meet the difficulty,
a council was held under the Buddhist king Asoka, the orthodox faith
was determined, and a new edition of the Canonical Works compiled by
seven hundred "accomplished priests." Divisions and heresies, however,
could not be prevented. In Kanishka's reign, four hundred years after
Buddha, the Church was split up into eighteen sects, and a third
council had to issue a third Revision of the Sacred Texts.[59]

All this is not to be taken as literally true. Especially is it
impossible to accept the story that a Text of the Buddha's precepts
and lectures was formed immediately after his death. It is probable
that not even the earliest parts of the Tripitaka were committed to
writing till long after that event, and it is quite certain that its
later elements could not have been added till some centuries after it.
Nevertheless, there may be, and indeed it is almost beyond doubt that
there are, some works in this Canon which were already current as the
Word of Buddha in the time of Asoka, who reigned in the third century
before Christ. In an inscription quoted by Burnouf, and indisputably
emanating from that monarch, it is stated that the law embraces the
following topics:—"The limits marked by the Vinaya, the supernatural
faculties of the Ariyas, the dangers of the future, the stanzas of
the hermit, the Sûtra of the hermit, the speculation of Upatisa
(Sariputtra) only, the instruction of Laghula (Rahula), rejecting false
doctrines. This," adds the proclamation, "is what has been said by the
blessed Buddha" (Lotus, p. 725). In this enumeration we recognize, as
Burnouf has observed, the classes Vinaya and Sûtra, which still form
two out of the three baskets, and we find also that certain texts
were accepted by the Church as containing the genuine teaching of the
Buddha. We must suppose, therefore, that at the epoch of the Council
held under Asoka in B. C. 246, there were already many unquestioned
works in circulation. Nor is there any reason to doubt that some of
these have descended to our times. Burnouf divides the Sûtras (in the
more general sense of instructions or sermons) into two kinds: simple,
and developed Sûtras, of which the simple ones bear marks of antiquity
and of fairly representing primitive Buddhism, while the developed
Sûtras contain the fanciful speculations of a later age.

Two most fortunate discoveries, the one made by Mr. Hodgson in Nepaul,
the other by Csoma Kőrösi in Thibet, have placed the vast collection
forming the Canon of Buddhism within the reach of European scholars.
Brian Houghton Hodgson was the British Resident in Nepaul in the early
part of the present century, and he there succeeded in obtaining a
large number of volumes in Sanskrit which he presented to the Asiatic
Societies of London and Paris. To the latter he presented first
twenty-four works, and subsequently sixty-four MSS., being copies of
works he had sent to the Asiatic Society in London. These books happily
fell into the hands of one of the greatest of Sanskrit scholars,
Eugène Burnouf, who, in his "History of Indian Buddhism," translated a
sufficient number of them to serve as specimens. About the same time
a zealous Hungarian, Csoma Kőrös, undertook an adventurous journey
into the heart of Asia, with a view of discovering the original stock
of the Hungarian race. Failing in this object, he achieved another of
greater value, that of unearthing the whole of the sacred books known
in Thibet under the name of the _Kah-gyur_, or _Kan-gyur_ (properly
b_kah_-h_gyur_), which is the Thibetan translation, in one hundred
volumes, of the very works of which Hodgson in Nepaul had discovered
the Sanskrit originals. Such is the nature of our guarantees for the
authenticity of the text.

                  SUBDIVISION 1.—_The Vinaya-Pitaka._

Let us proceed to consider in detail the division which stands first in
the Buddhist classification, the Vinaya-Pitaka, or basketful of works
on Discipline. These, according to Burnouf, are of very different ages,
some being, from the details they furnish with reference to Sakyamuni,
his institutions and his surroundings, of very ancient date, and
others, which relate events that did not occur till two hundred years
or more after his death, belonging to a more recent period. One of the
most instructive of the legends which form the staple of the works
on Discipline, is that of Pûrna. Only a brief extract of it can be
attempted here.

Bhagavat (that is, the Lord, or Buddha) was at Srâvasti, in the garden
of Anâtha-pindika. (Anâtha-pindika was a householder who had embraced
the religion of the Buddha, and in whose garden he was accustomed
to preach.) There resided at this time in the town of Surparaka a
very wealthy householder, named Bhava. This Bhava had three sons
by his legitimate wife, who were christened respectively Bhavila,
Bhavatrata, and Bhavanandin. After some years he fell into an illness
which led to his using language of extraordinary violence. His wife
with her three sons deserted him in consequence, but a young female
slave, reflecting that he had immense wealth, and that it would not
be suitable for her to desert him, remained in the house and nursed
him throughout his malady. Seeing that he owed her his life, Bhava
on his recovery told her that he would give her a reward. The young
woman begged that if satisfied she might be admitted to her master's
bed. Bhava endeavored to get off, promising a handsome sum of money
and her liberty instead, but the girl was determined, and obtained her
wish. The result was that "after eight or nine months" she gave birth
to a beautiful boy, to whom the name of Pûrna (the Accomplished) was
given. The infant Pûrna was confided to eight nurses, and subsequently
received a first-rate education. In due time, the three elder sons were
married by their father's desire, but the father, seeing them absorbed
in mere uxoriousness, reproved their indolence, telling them that he
had not been married until he had amassed a lac (100,000) of Suvarna
(representing about twenty-eight shillings). Struck by this reproof,
the three sons went to sea on a mercantile expedition, and returned
after having each made a lac of Suvarnas. But Pûrna, who had remained
at home to manage the shop, was found to have gained an equal sum in
the same time. Bhava, perceiving Pûrna's talents, impressed on his sons
the importance of union, and the duty of disregarding what was said by
their wives, women being the destroyers of family peace. He illustrated
his remarks by a striking expedient. Having desired his sons to bring
some wood, and to kindle it, he then ordered them all to withdraw the
brands. This being done, the fire went out, and the moral was at once
understood by the four young men. United the fuel burns; and thus the
union of brothers makes their strength. Bhavila in particular was
warned by his father never to abandon Pûrna. In course of time Bhava
died, and the three legitimate sons undertook another voyage. During
their absence, the wives of the two younger sons fancied themselves
ill-treated by Pûrna, who, in the midst of his business in the shop,
did not supply their maids fast enough with all they sent for. On the
return of their husbands these two complained to them that were treated
as happens to those in whose family the son of a slave exercises the
command. The two brothers merely reflected that women sowed divisions
in families. Unhappily, however, some trifling incidents, in which
Bhavila's child appeared to have been treated by Pûrna with undue
partiality, gave the sister-in-law a more plausible pretext for their
complaints. Such was the effect of their jealousy, that the younger
brothers determined to demand a division of the property, in which
Pûrna (as a slave) was to form one of the lots. Bhavila, as eldest
brother, had first choice, and remembering his father's advice,
chose Pûrna. One of the other brothers took the house and land, and
ejected Bhavila's wife; the other took the shop and the property
in foreign parts, and ejected Pûrna. Bhavila, his wife, and Pûrna,
retired penniless to the house of a relative. The wife in distress
sent out Pûrna with nothing but a brass coin, which had been attached
to her dress, to buy provisions. Pûrna met a man who had picked up
some stranded sandal-wood on the sea-shore, and buying it of him (on
credit) for five hundred Kârshâpanas, sold a portion of it again for
one thousand. With this sum he first paid the man who had sold the
wood, and then obtained provisions for the household. He had still in
his possession some pieces of the sandal-wood, which was of a very
valuable species called Gosirsha. Shortly after this, the king fell
ill, and his doctors having prescribed an unguent of this very wood,
it was found that no one but Pûrna had any in his possession. Pûrna
sold a piece of it to the Government at one thousand Kârshâpanas, and
the king recovered. Hereupon he reflected that he was but a poor sort
of king who had no Gosirsha sandal-wood in his establishment, and sent
for Pûrna. Pûrna, guessing his object, approached him with one piece in
his hand, and three in his robe. The king, after ascertaining that the
price of the one piece would be a lac of Suvarnas, inquired if there
was more. Pûrna then showed him the three other pieces, and the king
would have given him four lacs of Suvarnas. The wily merchant, however,
offered to present him with one piece, and when the grateful monarch
offered him a boon, requested that he might henceforth be protected
against all insults, which was at once accorded.

About this time five hundred merchants arrived at Surparaka with a
cargo of goods. The Merchants' Company passed a resolution that none
of them should act independently of the rest in buying any of these
goods; in short, that there should be no competition. Any one dealing
with the merchants alone was to pay a fine. Pûrna, however, at once
went to the vessel and bought the whole cargo at the price demanded,
eighteen lacs of Suvarnas, paying the three lacs he had received as
security. The Merchants' Company, finding themselves anticipated,
seized Pûrna and exposed him to the sun to force him to pay the fine.
No sooner was the king informed of this than he sent for the Merchants'
Company to learn the cause of their proceedings. They told him; but
being obliged to confess that they had never informed Pûrna or his
brother of the resolution passed, they had to release him with shame.
Fortune still favored him. Soon after this, the king happened to
require the very articles which Pûrna had purchased, and desired the
Merchants' Company to purchase them. Pûrna hereupon sold them at double
the price he had paid. His next step was to undertake a sea-voyage
for commercial purposes, and the first having been successful, it was
followed by five others, all equally so. His seventh was undertaken at
the instance of some Buddhist merchants from Srâvasti, where Gautama
was teaching. During the voyage he was profoundly impressed with
their religious demeanor. "These merchants, at night and at dawn,
read aloud the hymns, the prayers which lead to the other shore, the
texts which disclose the truth, the verses of the Sthaviras, those
relating to the several sciences, and those of the hermits, as well
as the Sûtras containing sections about temporal interests. Pûrna,
who heard them, said to them, 'Gentlemen, what is that fine poetry
which you sing?' 'It is not poetry, O prince of merchants; it is the
very words of the Buddha.' Pûrna, who had never till now heard this
name of Buddha mentioned, and who felt his hair stand up all over his
body, inquired with deep respect, 'Gentlemen, who is he whom you call
Buddha?' The merchants replied, 'The Sramana Gautama, descended from
the Sakya family, who having shaven his hair and beard, having put
on garments of yellow hue, left his house with perfect faith to enter
upon a religious life, and who has reached the supreme condition of an
all-perfect Buddha; it is he, O prince of merchants, who is called the
Buddha.' 'In what place, gentlemen, does he now reside?' 'At Srâvasti,
O prince of merchants, in the wood of Jetavana, in the garden of
Anâtha-pindika.'" The result of this conversation was that Pûrna, on
his return, announced to his brother his intention of becoming a monk,
and advised him never to go to sea, and never to live with his two
brothers. After this he went straight to Anâtha-pindika, and was by
him presented to the Buddha, who received him with the remark that the
most agreeable present he could have was a man to convert. Pûrna then
received the investiture and tonsure by miracle, and was instructed in
the law (in an abridged version) by his master. A beautiful, and very
characteristic conversation follows the reception of the new doctrine.
The Buddha inquired of Pûrna where he would now reside, and the latter
(who intended to lead an ascetic life) replied that he would reside "in
the land of the Sronaparantakas.[60] 'O Pûrna,' says Gautama, 'they are
violent, these men of Sronaparanta: they are passionate, cruel, angry,
furious, and insolent. When the men of Sronaparanta, O Pûrna, shall
address thee to thy face in wicked, coarse, and insulting language,
when they shall become enraged against thee and rail at thee, what
wilt thou think of that?' 'If the men of Sronaparanta, O Lord, address
me to my face in wicked, coarse, and insulting language, if they
become enraged against me and rail at me, this is what I shall think
of that: They are certainly good men, these Sronaparantakas, they are
gentle, mild men, they who address me to my face, in wicked, coarse and
insulting language, they who become enraged against me and rail at me,
but who neither strike me with the hand nor stone me.'" The rest must
be given in an abridged form. "But if they do strike thee with the hand
or stone thee?" "I shall think them good and gentle for not striking
me with swords or sticks." "And if they do that?" "I shall think them
good and gentle for not depriving me entirely of life." "And if they
do that?" (What follows is literal.) "If the men of Sronaparanta, O
Lord, deprive me entirely of life, this is what I shall think: There
are hearers of Bhagavat [the Lord] who by reason of this body full
of ordure, are tormented, covered with confusion, despised, struck
with swords, who take poison, who die of hanging, who are thrown down
precipices. They are certainty good people, these Sronaparantakas,
they are gentle people, they who deliver me with so little pain from
this body full of ordure." "Good, good, Pûrna; thou canst, with the
perfection of patience with which thou art endowed, yes, thou canst
live, thou canst take up thy abode in the land of the Sronaparantakas.
Go, Pûrna; delivered thyself, deliver; arrived thyself at the other
shore, cause others to arrive there; consoled thyself, console; having
come thyself to complete Nirvâna, cause others to arrive there."

Hereupon Pûrna took his way to Sronaparanta, where he converted a
huntsman who had intended to kill him, and obtained five hundred
novices composed of both sexes.

After a time, Bhavila, his brother, was requested by Bhavatrata and
Bhavanandin to enter into partnership with them; and his repugnance to
the proposal was overcome by the reproaches of his younger brothers,
who said that he would never have dared to go to sea as Pûrna had done.
Stung by this taunt, he engaged with them in a sea-voyage. The vessel
was attacked by a furious storm, raised by a demon in consequence of
the merchants having cut some sandal-wood which was under this demon's
protection. Bhavila stood dumbfounded; and when the passengers inquired
the reason, informed them that he was thinking of his brother's advice
never to go to sea. It turned out that the merchants on board knew of
Pûrna's great sanctity, and they addressed their prayers to him. He
came through the air, after the manner of Buddhist ascetics, appeared
sitting cross-legged over the vessel, and allayed the tempest. The
vessel, loaded with sandal-wood, was brought safety back to Surparaka.
The sandal-wood Pûrna took possession of in order to make a palace for
the Buddha, and desired his brothers to invite that personage and his
disciples to a repast. The invitation was miraculously conveyed to the
Buddha (who was a long way off, at Srâvasti), and he told his followers
to prepare to accept it. Pûrna returned suddenly to the Assembly
(around Buddha) and performed a miracle. The king of Surparaka, on his
side, made preparations on the grandest scale for the reception of the
Buddhist hierarchy, which came to his city by all kinds of supernatural
means. Pûrna, standing by him, explained the various prodigies as they
occurred. Omitting some marvelous conversions wrought by the Buddha
on his way, it may be mentioned that he descended into the middle of
the town of Surparaka from the air, and there taught the law, by which
hundreds of thousands of living beings attained the several degrees of
knowledge which lead, sooner or later, to salvation.

Passing over a passage in which two royal Nâgas (or serpent-kings)
make their appearance to receive the law, and another in which Gautama
proceeds to another universe to instruct the mother of his disciple
Maudgalyâyana, we arrive at the moral which always forms the conclusion
of these Buddhist tales. The monks surrounding the Buddha inquired
what actions Pûrna had performed in order, first, to be born in a
rich family; secondly, to be the son of a slave; and lastly, "when
he had entered on a religious life, to behold the condition of an
Arhat[61] face to face, after having annihilated all the corruptions
of evil?" Buddha replied, that in the very age in which we live, but
at a period of it when men lived twenty thousand years, there was
a venerable Tathâgata, or Buddha, named Kâsyapa, who resided near
Benares. Pûrna, who had adopted a religious life under him, "fulfilled
among the members of the Church[62] the duties of servant of the law."
The servant of a certain Arhat set himself to sweep the monastery, but
the wind blowing the dirt from side to side, he gave up the attempt,
intending to proceed when the wind should have abated. The servant of
the law coming in, and finding the monastery unswept, allowed himself
to be carried away by rage, and to utter these offensive words: "This
is the servant of some slave's son." When he had had time to recover
his calmness, the Arhat's servant presented himself, and asked if he
knew him. The servant of the law replied that he did, and that they
both had entered into a religious life under the Buddha Kâsyapa. The
other rejoined that while he had fulfilled all his duties, the servant
of the law had been guilty of a fault in giving way to his temper, and
exhorted him to diminish that fault by confession. The latter repented,
and was thereby saved from re-birth in hell; but he was doomed to be
re-born for five hundred generations in the womb of a slave. In this
last existence he was still the offspring of a slave; but because he
had formerly served the members of the Church, he was born in a rich
and prosperous family; and because he had formerly read and studied
Buddhist theology, he now became an Arhat under Gautama Buddha, after
annihilating evil (H. B. I., p. 235 ff.).

Such is a favorable specimen of a vast number of legends contained in
the Buddhist Canon. The following fragment is of a rather different
kind. It illustrates the extravagant adoration paid to the person of
Buddha some generations after his death. A king named Rudrayana had
sent to another, named Bimbisâra, an armor of marvelous properties and
priceless value. Bimbisâra, at a loss what present he could send back
which would be a fitting return for such a gift, determined to seek out
Buddha and consult him on the point:—

 "King Bimbisâra addressed him thus:—'In the town of Rôruka, Lord,
 there lives a king called Rudrayana; he is my friend; though I have
 never seen him, he has sent me a present of an armor composed of
 five pieces. What present shall I give him in return?' 'Have the
 representation of the Tathâgata traced on a bit of stuff,' answered
 Bhagavat, 'and send it him as a present.'

 "Bimbisâra sent for some painters, and said—'Paint on a bit of stuff
 the image of the Tathâgata.' The blessed Buddhas are not very easy to
 get at, which is the reason why the painters could find no opportunity
 of [painting] Bhagavat. So they said to Bimbisâra—'If the king would
 give a feast to Bhagavat in the interior of his palace, it would be
 possible for us to seize the occasion of [painting] the blessed one'
 King Bimbisâra having accordingly invited Bhagavat to his palace, gave
 him a feast. The blessed Buddhas are beings that people are never
 weary of looking at. Whichever limb of Bhagavat the painters looked
 at they could not leave off contemplating it. So they could not seize
 the moment to paint him. Bhagavat then said to the king—'The painters
 will have trouble, O great king; it is impossible for them to seize
 the moment to [paint the] Tathâgata, but bring the canvass.' The king
 having brought it, Bhagavat projected his shadow on it, and said to
 the painters—'Fill that outline with colors; and then write over it
 the formulas of refuge as well as the precepts of instruction; you
 will have to trace both in the direct order, and in the inverse order
 the production of the [successive] causes [of existence], which is
 composed of twelve terms; and on it will be written these two verses:

 "'Begin, go out [of the house]; apply yourself to the law of Buddha;
 annihilate the army of death, as an elephant upsets a hut of reeds.

 "'He who shall walk without distraction under the discipline of this
 law, escaping birth and the revolution of the world, will put an end
 to sorrow.[63]

 "'If any one asks what these verses are, you must answer: The first
 is the introduction; the second, the instruction; the third, the
 revolution of the world; and the fourth, the effort.'" (H. B. I., p.

Bimbisâra, acting under Bhagavat's dictation, then wrote to Rudrayana
that he was about to send him the most precious object in the three
worlds, and that he must adorn the way by which it would arrive for two
and a half yojanas. Rudrayana was rather irritated by this message, and
proposed immediate war, but was dissuaded by his ministers. The picture
therefore was received with all honor, and not uncovered till after it
had been duly adored. Certain foreign merchants who happened to be on
the spot, on seeing the portrait, cried out altogether: "Adoration to
Buddha." At this name the king felt his hair stand on end, and inquired
who Buddha was. His position, and the meaning of the inscription,
was explained to him by the merchants. The consequence, as may be
supposed, was his conversion to Buddhism. He reflected on the causes of
existence, and attained the degree of Srotâpatti (H. B. I., p. 344.)

Very little allusion is made in these legends to the immediate subject
of the Vinaya-pitaka, namely, Discipline. But a reference to Csoma's
Analysis of the Dulva (the Thibetan title for the Vinaya) will show
that it is in fact largely occupied in laying down rules for the
guidance of monks and nuns, these rules being frequently supposed to
have arisen out of particular events, while "moral tales" are freely
intermingled with the treatment of the main business. The hap-hazard
manner in which the regulations needful for the government of the
Church were framed—according to the theory of the Scriptures—may be
illustrated by a few specimens. Thus, two persons in debt had taken
orders, "Shakya (Sakyamuni) prohibits the admission into the religious
order of any one who is in debt" (As. Re., vol. xx. p. 53). This rule
entirely agrees with the general spirit of Gautama's proceedings, as
narrated in the Buddhist books, and we are warranted in supposing
that statements so harmonious rest on a historical foundation. Thus,
he is said to have refused to admit young people without the consent
of their parents, or servants of a king without their royal master's
sanction. Regulations like these may well have been made by Buddha
from a cautious anxiety to avoid all conflict with established
authorities. Further on in the same volume of the Dulva the reception
of hermaphrodites is likewise prohibited (As. Re., vol. xx. p. 55).
On another occasion, leave is given to learn swimming. "Indecencies"
are then "committed in the Ajirapati river. They are prohibited from
touching any woman;—they may not save even one that has fallen into
the river" (Ibid., vol. xx. p. 59). Elsewhere we are told of a pious
lady who provided the infant community with cloth to make bathing
clothes, since she had heard that both monks and nuns bathed without
any garments (Ibid., vol. xx. p. 70). A little further on, the dress
of the priesthood is prescribed. Some of the disciples wished to
wear one thing, and some another; others to go naked. "Shakya tells
them the impropriety and indecency of the latter, and prohibits it
absolutely: and rebuking them, adds that such a garb, or to go naked,
is the characteristic sign of a _Mu-stegs-chan_ (Sansk) _Tîrthika_"
(Ibid., vol. xx. p. 71). Here again we seem to have a historical
trait, for it was one of the distinctive features of Buddhism that its
votaries were never naked, like the Tîrthikas, or heretical ascetics,
but always wore the yellow robe. In other places there are rules on
lodging, on bedding, on the treatment of quarrelsome priests, the use
of fragrant substances, and many other trivial points of ecclesiastical
discipline. The volumes containing all these instructions are followed
by one in which the same stories are told, and the same morals deduced
from them, concerning the nuns. Then there are some injunctions
apparently peculiar to this sex, as, for instance, the restraint
imposed on their possession of a multiplicity of garments. Another
prohibition was called forth by the following conduct of a nun. A king
had sent a piece of fine linen cloth as a present to a brother king.
"It comes afterwards into the hands of _G_tsug-_D_gah-Mo (a lewd or
wicked priestess); she puts it on, appears in public, but from its
thin texture, seems to be naked. The priestesses are prohibited from
accepting or wearing such thin clothes" (As. Re., vol. xx. p. 85).

It will be observed from these few quotations that according to the
Canon the Buddha's usual mode of proceeding was to lay down rules as
occasion required. Some instructive anecdote is related, and the new
order follows as a natural consequence of the event. More probably the
rules were in fact made first, and the anecdotes subsequently composed
to account for them. However this may be, there exist in the Canon
some undoubtedly ancient ordinances not called forth by any special
circumstances, conformity to which was required of the monks, if not
by their founder himself, at least by the rulers of his Church in its
most primitive condition. Such, for example, are "the thirteen rules by
which sin is shaken," reported by Burnouf, which are also found, with
the exception of a